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5 Important Lessons for Earning Money Online

John is an experienced freelance content writer with an eclectic employment history and enjoys sharing his home improvement knowledge.

Creating and monetizing your own work online can be a rewarding experience.

Creating and monetizing your own work online can be a rewarding experience.

How to Make Money Online

It’s the dream for many who have grown up in the digital age. And it’s a dream that’s ever more attainable as the internet becomes more and more enmeshed with our everyday lives.

Now, if you’re reading this, I’ll hazard a guess that this isn’t the first "Earn Money Online at Home!" kind of article you’ve looked at. Hopefully, those other articles have carefully explained to you the same thing that I’m about to explain to you in our first point . . . .

1. There's No Such Thing as "Get Rich Quick"

For most of us, that is. As with all things in life, there are exceptions to the rule, and often times those exceptions are themselves exceptional. People have been able to make a great deal of money online without any particular talent just by dint of fortunate timing or taking a gamble on something that turned out to be successful (Facebook shares, anyone?) More often than not, however, making money online requires one of two things:

  • A marketable talent
  • A strong work ethic

And many of the more successful cases have both.

Now, a person with a strong work ethic can eke out a respectable side income online without any particular talent (creative talent, that is); however, a person with talent might struggle without that all-important drive to succeed.

In short, unless you’re an exceptional human being in ability or circumstance, you’re going to need to put some effort in to earn your living online. And if you’ve got some kind of talent or ability that people are interested in, even better!

2. There's Not Much "Get Rich" at All

Again, for most of us. When the Internet first started providing ways to make a living online, it was the wild west, and people were able to make a killing in short bursts as opportunities arose and quickly fell away. Now that the web has been around and matured somewhat, making money online is more akin to making money in the real world.

Just about anyone can go out and get a job serving fries in a fast-food restaurant, but it doesn’t pay well, and it’s because anyone can do it that it doesn’t pay well. Being a professional football player pays immensely well, but very few people can do it and do it at that level. Earning money online now is similar. Anyone can sign up to a paid survey site and make a few dollars here and there, maybe earn enough to pay for a meal out every once in a while, but very few people can get tens of millions of views a month on their YouTube channel and reap the rewards that those kinds of numbers sow.

Fortunately, earning money online is not yet quite as difficult as doing it in the real world.

3. Wear All The Hats

Metaphorically speaking, that is. The key to earning a decent income from behind your keyboard is diversity. Think of your income as a small lake. The traditional way of earning is represented by a single, constantly flowing stream, pouring water into that lake as you earn a salary from one job. Maybe you also worked a night shift at another place for some extra cash. That would be a second, smaller stream.

When earning money from home, having a torrential river dumping money into your lake would be nice, but you shouldn’t aim for that, not least because it’s risky (see point 4). As discussed above, it is very difficult to make it big in any field. There is a multitude of YouTubers making content about video games, but only a select few are popular enough to be earning millions from it. Similarly, there are many writers on HubPages, but only a small percentage of them make anywhere near a living wage from it.

The key for average online earners like us is to work on as many avenues as possible. Make YouTube videos, write content on HubPages, do a podcast, sell items on eBay and sell eBooks on Amazon. You should aim to have as many little streams of income filling up your lake as possible, and that means trying your hand at many different opportunities.

It can be tempting to cheat the system for bigger profits, but if you get caught, you'll likely end up with no profits.

It can be tempting to cheat the system for bigger profits, but if you get caught, you'll likely end up with no profits.

4. Don't Try to "Game the System"

This is especially important if you’re looking at earning money online as a full-time gig—or at least your main gig. Don’t try and cheat the system to increase your earnings or earn money faster than you would otherwise.

For one thing, methods of gaming things like Google’s search algorithm to get more hits will only ever work for a period of time before Google gets wise and puts the hammer down. You don’t want to get used to a certain amount of income based on a quick fix and then have it all go away overnight because the fix no longer works!

Another reason to avoid cheating your way to riches is that the platforms you’re using may not take kindly to it. Sure, if it’s your own blog, you can do as you wish, but if it’s something like HubPages or Amazon, they may kick you out if they catch you doing shady things (remember, it’s their income as well), and then you won’t be earning anything from their service.

Combining this point with the previous one, we can add "don’t put all your eggs in one basket" to our list of idioms.

YouTube is a great way to earn a passive income . . . if you can come up with content that interests people.

YouTube is a great way to earn a passive income . . . if you can come up with content that interests people.

5. Be Passive

If this is indeed not your first article on the subject, you’ll no doubt have heard the word “passive” being thrown around. Just in case you haven’t, or you’re still not sure what it means, a passive income is one that trickles in without you having to do anything day to day. A good example of passive income is selling a book. You have a chunk of work to get done in writing the book in the first place, but once that’s done, as long as the book keeps selling, you keep earning. And you don’t have to do a thing.

Earning a passive income is a long game and is difficult for the metaphorically short-sighted to grasp the benefits of. For example, I might write an article for an oDesk client and be paid $50, or I could write the same article on HubPages for free and split the revenue it generates. I might earn anything from a few cents to a dollar or two the first week that article is live on HubPages, so it’s easy to see why you might want to opt for that $50 payout. Think ahead, though. That $50 is there and gone the minute you spend it. Those cents and dollars from the HubPages article keep rolling in day after day, week after week, until the article is no longer being viewed or gets taken down for some reason (see point four).

True financial security lies in this kind of income. Earning that $50 fee is great in the moment, but then you have to earn the next $50, and the next, and the next. The beauty of passive income is that those pennies are trickling in regardless once you’ve done the initial work. So you could actually go off and earn some bigger, one-off fees for your work while your passive income keeps rolling in.

Exploit Your Resources

Don’t be afraid to mix and match. There’s no reason a one-off $50 payment for an article can’t be one of your income streams, filling that lake up. You might not want to waste time on paid survey sites or sites like Amazon’s mTurk, but if you have half an hour spare one day, why not complete a few tasks? You might only make a couple of dollars, but it’s a couple of dollars that you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The true trick is to exploit your resources. If you have artistic talents, find a way to sell artwork. Good with code? Make apps and games. There are avenues out there for every skillset, and just as many avenues for the unskilled.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2016 John Bullock


Abby Slutsky from America on August 17, 2020:

This is a well written article. I agree that trying different avenues is a good idea. However, I think most people wind up putting most of their effort into one, especially if they are doing online work as aside hustle.

Evelyn from Wisconsin on April 23, 2020:

I've got ebooks on amazon, I've sold things on ebay, I have written articles on HubPages. Barely earned anything doing it... it's been years. makes me wonder whether I should give up. I don't have any other talents though, so idk what to do....

AGuest on October 11, 2016:

#6 - prepare to be pummeled by HubPages admins. Play by their rules or don't play at all.

John Bullock (author) from Yorkshire, England on October 11, 2016:

Thanks @rajeshcpandey. I'm new to Hubpages but I've been writing for over a decade. It's good to know that my experience shows. I do plan to cover this topic more in future hubs, looking at specific methods of earning an income online.

RAJESH CHANDRA PANDEY from India on October 11, 2016:

@John Bullock

Only 14 articles old, you have created a nice, meaningful hub. Kudos!!

I request you to write more on the subject, gradually find out specific and effective ways to earn on line and thus create value for your readers. All the best.

BASHARAT HUSSAIN on October 10, 2016:

What comment to my own writing perhaps some demerits onmy writing e.g. spelling etc. Sorry for that.

BASHARAT HUSSAIN on October 10, 2016:

There are so many reasons for this. First I hane to say about LUCK which in my wording

have very much contribution rather I must say that it is estimated as final. But yet to say that if destiny permits you can some how or even a lot of efforts. For example you may try as I am doing efforts to get some money for day to day life. I think before this writing I have completely unknoen that I may write some. But by GraceOf GOD I tried to do for just for the sake of money and I was able to do somethiong to writing.Thanks.