Is It Still Possible To Make Money Online?

by Sujan Patel from Mint

It can be quite difficult to make a living working online.  Sure, everyone has heard of people who have created web sites that they have sold for millions of dollars or iPhone applications that have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.  Unfortunately, online fortunes are hard to come by.  But finding a niche on the internet or using your skills to earn a little extra cash in your spare time, can prove worthwhile.  The best case scenario would be that you would eventually be able to quit your “day job” and work from the comfort of your own home or from whatever vacation destination that you were currently in. 

Here are some ideas for people who want to supplement their income or launch a second career online.  

    Resell things.  Selling on eBay can be more difficult than it seems.  But it is possible to make money on the site, or on other similar sites.  One strategy is to find what items are in-demand (the ones that are receiving multiple bids).  You can get a cheaper price per unit on such items by buying in bulk (at a wholesale price) and selling closer to the retail price.  Another option is to utilize membership sale sites, like Gilt, to find in-demand items for discounted prices.  Occasionally, there are items that you can buy at a 50% or more discount.  You can then turn around and sell these items on eBay for a small profit.

    Sell virtual goods.  Second Life and similar role-playing sites have virtual goods and virtual property that people can use in the game.  These can be sold for real money (or for virtual money that can be converted into real money later).  The more popular the game, the easier it is to buy and sell virtual real estate and goods that have value in the game. 

    Take online surveys.  There are several sites that offer online surveys that people can take for a small gratuity.  You are not going to get rich taking surveys, but you can earn a modest income each day.  This is one of the least stressful ways to get paid for something on the internet.  You can complete surveys while you are watching TV or laying in bed – if you have a laptop. 

    Be a virtual assistant.  If you have a specific set of skills but are unable to launch your own business because you don’t have the time or money to invest, you can work as a virtual assistant or subcontractor for other web-based businesses.  People looking for workers advertise at sites like eLance and oDesk.  Basic tasks like data entry are usually very low paying and highly competitive.  However, people who know more advanced computer programs or are able to work as translators (or have other special skills) can earn a decent amount of money even working part time. 

    Operate your own blog.  It is very, very difficult to earn money by writing and maintaining a blog.  You need to have a readership of thousands and rank highly on search engines like Google to make it worthwhile to maintain a blog for profit.  If you have a blog with decent readership, you can earn a modest amount by placing Google Adsense ads on your site.  You can also earn money by writing paid reviews and placing them on your site in between your actual posts.    

    Get creative.  Artists can sell their art online using one or several approaches.  Good artists can upload images to stock web sites.  They get a small amount of the sale price whenever their work is downloaded.  Artists can also sell their work on fine art print-on-demand sites like RedBubble and ImageKind. 

Sujan Patel has been blogging for 4 years and currently contributes to various blogs about maintaining a home budget and ways to implement application development.