Yes, Online Income is Real (Sometimes)

1 Oct

Online IncomeWe’ve all gotten the emails promising us millions of dollars online. We’ve all seen the advertisements that promise a six figure income with no work and no up front investment. And while most of these online income products are complete scams, it is also hard to ignore the fact that online income is very much a real thing. How do I know? Well for one thing I’m making some of it. Not much (yet), but I definitely am making some income from my various web sites. Also, there are quite a few bloggers out there that disclose their online income, including where it’s coming from and how much it is.

So how do you separate what is fake from what is real? Well the easiest way is just to use common sense. If the system sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You aren’t going to become a millionaire overnight by turning to the internet. In fact, the odds are good you won’t make much at all. So avoid anything that “guarantees” you’ll end up rich. Also, when looking at sites that claim income, notice what kind of reputation they have. If its a very popular blog for instance that gets lots of unique comments and has thousands of followers, it is far more likely to be legitimate than the site with only one page that got emailed to you from someone you don’t know.

As far as real online income goes, there are several different ways to make it. I’m going to talk about some of the most common, but remember they aren’t the only ways to make money online.


As you might have guessed, this is my favorite. While it is definitely the hardest of these income streams to build up, it can be huge if you do a good job of it.

A blog is basically any website that posts updates or articles on a regular basis. It typically builds a following on social media sites, and relies on getting traffic from other blogs, search engines, and a variety of other sources. Blog these days are literally a dime a dozen. The odds are extremely good that you know at least one person who has a blog already. However, this is one of those industries where the big dogs take 99% of the income.

The reason for this is simple and twofold. For one, readers are only going to read the very highest quality blogs on a regular basis. The only blogs that will build up a solid following will all provide totally unique content written by excellent writers with expertise in their subject area. This is pretty much without exception. The other reason is that growth of websites on the internet is totally exponential. If a person finds a blog that they really like and think is worthy of sharing, they are likely to tell their friends about it and share it online through social media. Then their friends will do the same thing if they also like the site. In this way, sites that start to grow tend to continue to grow, and often very exponentially.

Take for example Mr. Money Mustache. His site started out a year and a half ago, and, as of his last update, he is one of the biggest non-commercially-owned personal finance blogs out there. This happened because people really liked what he had to say and shared it with everyone they knew. The smaller blogs that don’t get any initial following will never have a chance of growing any bigger.

But for the blogs that do grow big and get thousands of visitors per day, there is some real money to be made. Take for example Pat Flynn, one of the biggest online marketing bloggers out there. His blog, Smart Passive Income, started out small a few years ago, but has since turned into a massive network that last month brought in over $40,000 through affiliate income. Here is his August income report. Basically he makes a sales commission whenever someone buys one of the products or services he recommends after going through a link on his blog. This is one of the most common ways that bloggers make money. Many also sell books or courses, and some run traditional online marketing on their websites.

If you think you have what it takes to become a blogger, and can really dedicate the time to writing excellent content on a regular basis, then I suggest you first do quite a bit of research. My first blogging adventure I jumped into without prior knowledge and little research, and it failed miserably. However, I have since read everything I can on the industry, and also had the opportunity to learn from my mistakes. About a month and a half ago I launched this blog, which has been very successful so far. I recommend you read as much of Pat Flynn’s blog as you can, and also do some reading on ProBlogger and CopyBlogger. Blogs are very easy to start, but its even easier to quit them if it’s not going well after a month or two.


Another big way to make some money online is through Ecommerce. If you need any proof that you can sell physical products online and make money, just check out Amazon’s yearly revenue. And while you’ll likely not start the next, there are still opportunities to make money by selling things online.

One option is to sell something that you invent or make yourself. If you have a product in mind but don’t really know where to sell it, the best place is definitely on the internet. There are sites that dedicated themselves purely to guiding people in the Ecommerce world, so I won’t go into too much depth here about it.

Another option is to resell other products. You can do this pretty easily by having all of your inventory sent to a fulfillment company, sell the product online, and then sending the orders to the fulfillment company. They take care of the rest.

One of the best books out there for those interested in this space is The 4-Hour Workweek. You can read my review of the book here. In this book, Tim Ferriss goes into details about various Ecommerce businesses, including his own, and how to make them both successful and automated.

Information Products

Another excellent way to make money online (and one that many people are literally making millions of dollars doing) is to sell information products. These information products include things like Ebooks, video courses, and memberships to exclusive sites.

Information products are great because they take next to nothing capitol wise to set up and sell. If you are an expert on a subject (which almost everyone is an expert at something), you can easily write a book on it and sell it online. People simply pay you through Paypal or something similar, and then download the product easily to their computer. The system is super simple, and has huge potential.

An information product is how Pat Flynn got started in the online income world, and is how many others make a substantial living. The key is that you have to create a top notch quality product. If people don’t like it, they’re more likely to request refunds, leave bad reviews, etc. And its much easier to sell a product that is created by an expert in the field and has positive feedback from users.

Once again, The 4-Hour Workweek is a great book to read on this topic, and Smart Passive Income is a great blog to read about it. If you poke around in those two places, you’ll be able to do most of the research that you need to do when preparing to launch an information product.

Niche Sites

The final way to make an income online that I’ll talk about is by creating small niche sites. These are sites that have content targeting a certain keyword, and hopefully rank for that keyword in the major search engines. Once people are going to the site through search engines, the owner of the site then makes money through advertisements placed on the site.

This system has a few key advantages. One of them being that the sites are essentially passive income after they have been set up. It takes a lot of hard work and often times some monetary investments to make the sites, but once they are ranked for their keywords they will bring in money on autopilot.

I’ve dabbled in niche sites myself in the last six months or so, and have to say there is big potential in it. I’ve already made a small amount of money from sites that I was able to quickly and easily create, and the sites will continue to make me money for the foreseeable future.

Unsurprisingly, one of the places I would go to if you want to learn more about doing niche sites is Pay Flynn’s blog. He has a whole section of his site, called the niche site duel, that is all about how he created an authority niche site that now is making a couple thousand dollars per month. If you want to build up a bunch of small niche sites that each make a small amount of money, but in total earn a lot, I recommend Niche Pursuits, a blog written by Spencer Haws.

Wrap Up

As long as you are careful to avoid the scams, there are quite a few ways that you can make money online. If you are good at what you do, then there is the chance that you can even make really, really good money online. But remember, making money online requires skill, hard work, and an entrepreneurial spirit, the same as starting any other business. There is also the need for technical skill. If you don’t think you have all of those things, then I wouldn’t suggest that you try it. It is a very roller coaster ride type of income stream, and the vast majority of people who try it won’t succeed. But if you’re in the minority that does, you might end up living the dream.

3 Responses to “Yes, Online Income is Real (Sometimes)”

  1. Jon Rhodes October 2, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Yes it is real! I earn a full time living off the internet, but it did take me a few years to get to this point.

    It is rarely quick and easy to make decent cash online (unlike what those dodgy products claim), but it is acheivable with hard work and direction. I make most of my cash selling hypnotherapy audio products. I had to learn so much before I started making any cash- particularly SEO and driving visitors.

    I have now started up a blog to help others make money online. I hope to make more money by helping others make money online the ethical way. All these scams and dodgy techiques are a waste of time. Provide good quality products and/or services in exchange for a fair price. Thats the way to go!

    • James October 2, 2012 at 9:05 am #

      Great advice Jon! Hard work is definitely what it takes in my experience as well.

  2. Amy May 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    James that’s a great article. Yours is the first article I came across that actually talks about the real ways to earn money online! Its a refreshing read. Since I have started my own blog just recently I found your tips on Blogging quite useful. Im hoping to make my blog work for me :)

    Great cause you are supporting here. I will make sure to spread the word around about your work. Keep it going.

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