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5 Real Ways to Make Money Online

Did you cringe reading the headline? Talking about money can be taboo, especially when there are numerous “get rich quick” hacks that don’t actually work. Read on for real ways to generate income online through your website and social media.

5 Real Ways To Make Money Online: Learn simple ways to make extra cash from home through your website, blog, or social media accounts. Even beginners can generate affiliate sales, write sponsored content, and build passive income.

Disclosure: Some of the links on my site are affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase from one.

With many people out of work right now due to the pandemic, and small businesses moving increasingly digital, I felt it was time to share real ways I have found to make money online. Before I write any guide, I do a quick scan on Pinterest and Google to look for popular search terms around my topic. I like to see what pain points are out there in order to narrow down my post. Today’s search was full of results like:

  • fast ways to make money online
  • how to make extra cash from home
  • passive income for beginners
  • from home no scams
  • from home legit free

Seeing that list, here’s my promise to you; everything I’m sharing below has generated actual income for me. However, none of this happened overnight and some of them are easier than others. Individual results may vary.

1. Affiliate / Referral Links

Affiliate links or referral links are some of the easiest ways to earn income online. They are very straight forward– you share your link and when a customer makes a purchase with your link, you receive a small commission at no additional cost to the buyer. It’s like a thank you from the company for sending business their way.

However, it isn’t as easy as just posting links on your blog or social media and then sitting back to rake in money. You need to make sure you’re following the terms and conditions of each agreement and you need an audience to purchase from your links. Including your referral links on your website, in your posts, and on social media increases your exposure. Click here to see my Instagram affiliate link page.

A few examples that have personally worked for me:

  • Amazon is a popular option. You can provide links to recommended products directly, or create a storefront like mine. The average commission is around 1-5%, but a high volume of referrals can lead to relatively passive income over time. You can recommend books, baby items, household items, etc. that align with your blog or social media posts.
  • Apps and Websites you actually use can be another referral income stream. I’ve created a Recommended Resources page with affiliate links to many of the services I use for my business and some of them even include promo offers as a perk for buyers too. I also include a few of my popular referrals in the sidebar of my website. When I write relevant blog posts I can include links there as well, like in this free guide about increasing Pinterest traffic. To become an affiliate, you sign up with each company individually and they provide your personalized link.
  • This next one is a little controversial, but becoming an affiliate with a network marketing company is another way to generate income. You don’t have to “host parties” or “build a team” or any of that to earn affiliate income. I’ve signed up with a couple companies that have products I actually use and love. When I share those products, I receive referral commission of 20-50% if a customer buys through my link. The items are drop-shipped from the company itself, much like your Amazon links. This has actually been one of my largest areas of bonus income, so if you have questions feel free to reach out. Examples: Cleaner Beauty on a Budget, Family Smoothie Recipes, Natural Cleaning Tips, DIY Gel Manicures.

2. Ads / Sponsored Content

The next “easiest” option takes affiliate links to the next level. You typically need a more established website or social media account to qualify for these opportunities. When I first started my education blog, I offered ad space directly. Companies could purchase sidebar space on my blog in exchange for an upfront payment.

Then as my site grew, I qualified to place Google Ads on my site instead. Those ads are targeted to visitors directly and I receive a small commission if they make a purchase from any of the ads. The more traffic you have, the higher your payments.

Another similar opportunity is writing sponsored content where companies pay you for blog posts, social media posts, or videos. I wrote sponsored posts for Tailwind about their Instagram and Pinterest options. These are great opportunities because you’re putting out valuable content for your readers and the company gains exposure. You receive payment from the company upfront and additional payment through your affiliate links. PLUS the company typically promotes your posts in their newsletters, social media, etc. to bring more traffic to your site.

If you’re just starting out with sponsored content, you are sometimes offered free products instead of cash. When I was starting on my education blog, I reviewed free products from 3M washi tape to iPad cases. You have to start somewhere, but make sure the opportunities make sense for your audience.

3. Goods

When I started my first education blog, part of my goal was to promote my digital products. I created teacher resources like classroom printables, learning activities, decor, etc. and sold them through TeachersPayTeachers. I used my blog to drive traffic to my store.

Keeping in line with my creative side, I opened an Etsy store for my digital craft paper packs and custom invitations. Then I opened a tshirt shop. I also have a small printable section of crafts that go along with my family blog. Fun fact: I had a short-lived sewing business making baby blankets at one time too.

As you can see, I take advantage of multiple income streams and my interests and strengths have changed over time. None of these things are my primary focus now, but still generate passive income from the work I put in building them years ago.

What goods do you have? Whether they’re physical products (clothing, art) or digital ones (printables, ebooks), chances are there’s a platform to help you sell them. You can host your own shop right on your website {I can help!} to save on fees.

4. Services

Perhaps you have marketable skills that you can sell. My website and logo design business has grown tremendously over the years and I now offer a wide range of digital marketing support and virtual assistance.

Many of my small business contacts are work at home moms who have found ways to use their professional skills in the online space. What talents do YOU have that you can monetize?? Virtual assistance, social media management, online business support, life coaching, editing/copywriting, and even transcriptions are becoming in-demand services.

5. Courses

Finally, you can also create your own courses to go along with the goods and/or services you offer. I personally have a Welcome to WordPress crash course for beginners. Platforms like Teachable make delivering content incredibly simple. The time you put in to develop your course up front can feel intimidating, but it pays off as the course sells over and over well into the future.

Final Thoughts

If you haven’t already started to monetize your website, blog, or social media account then now is absolutely the time to start. If you’re putting out valuable content anyway, why not see if there are ways to boost your income with it? With practice, these can all become naturals ways to make money online. As always if you get stuck, I’m here as your virtual business bestie!

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