Monday, April 25, 2011

I make money online.

This blog started as a hobby, a mean of stress relief.  To this day, that remains its primary function.

However, I do make a little bit of money off of it.  I have also made money off other internet activities as well, all entirely legal and over-the-table.

Now, I'm not saying I make the crazy amounts you see boasted on sleazy sidebar ads, you know, the hundreds or thousands of dollars a day people claim to receive.  In a bad month, I pull in about an extra $20.  In a good month, it may be $100.

Also...it is work.  There's nothing easy and effortless about it.  It takes time, and it's not always enjoyable.  (Some of it is downright tedious.)  But, though it's low-paying and not always a ton of fun, it's something I can do in my spare time, from home.  And I've come to really appreciate having that little bit of extra income.

So, how does one do it?  How do you make money online?  Well, there are quite a few ways.  I'm going to break them down for you, and tell you what's worked for me.

Blog Advertising Revenue.  This one is pretty easy, if you're already writing a blog, and you know even a little bit about coding HTML.  It just involves signing up with a blog advertising company (most people use AdSense, but I use AdBrite) and inserting a bit of code into your blog.  The company you sign on with will then put ads where you allow them to, whether it be under posts, in the sidebar, in banners, wherever.  Depending on the company, you make money when people view and/or click on the ads.  How much you make is also often based on how popular your blog is, because, the higher your blog's ranking, the more advertisers will be competing for adspace, and the more you can charge.  This way doesn't make more than a few bucks a day for most people, but it's super easy because, once you install the code, your work is done.

Paid Blog Posts.  I do these only every once in a while, but they're a good, easy high pay-out.  This is where a company pays you to write a post about their company or product, with links back to the company website.  They prefer you to put a positive spin on their product, but it's not required.  What they're really paying you for is generating "buzz" about their company and leading traffic to their website.  I use a few different companies for this, but my favorite two are Blogsvertise and SocialSpark.

Blogsvertise is cool because the pay-outs for posts are pretty good.  (The average assignment I get from them is around $20.)  Also, a lot of companies want you to meet a certain minimum balance before they pay out, which Blogsvertise doesn't do.  You get paid on a per-assignment basis within 30 days after completion.

SocialSpark I love because they're incredibly ethical, with amazing customer service and support.  They also utilize a very easy-to-use interface where you actually edit your posts on their site and then they automatically update your blog with the paid post.  This makes submitting posts for approval a lot less hassle.  They do have a minimum $50 cash-out, however.

Online Store.  This is the one I have the most fun with.  As you no doubt have heard me plug a few thousand times, 8-Pound Preemie has its own store with various kinds of merchandise.  I only get a $3 commission off each item sold, but mostly I get an outlet to do weird things that amuse me, like designing really sarcastic maternity shirts.  A lot of people use CafePress, but I really prefer Printfection for my hosting service.

Freebie Trading.  My attempt at Freebie Trading was a failed experiment.  I'm sure it works for some people, but I found the people involved in it alternately pushy as used-car salesman and as "supportive" as cult inductees.  I know some people make a lot of money using freebie trading, but the whole business to me felt sordid.  It involves a lot of dishonesty, even if it's not of the illegal variety.  To make money, people sign up for free trials and offers which they have no interest in completing to earn credits and, honestly, it's all very sketchy and convoluted.  I also wasn't comfortable with giving out the amount of information a lot of these sites requested.  (Also, a few places wanted small "starter fees", and it's my policy to not pay money with the hopes of getting more future money.)  If you're interested in it, check it out, but buyer-definitely-beware.

Online Surveys.  This one really runs the gamut between shady and legit, and interesting and mindnumbing.  I've found a few legit sites where you make a couple of bucks a survey, but no one sells your information or tries to sell you anything.  Anything that promises $15 to $20 a survey is probably a scam.

As for what you take surveys on, I've answered questions about the personality characteristics I associate with laundry detergent, but I've also gotten to watch movie trailers that haven't come out yet.  So again, it's usually really boring, except for the few times when it's really interesting.  Here are the few sites I've had luck with:

Global Test Market.  No flashy website, just a list of available surveys for which you earn MarketPoints, which you can exchange for rewards or cash.

Surveyhead.  Very similar to Global Test Market, but they seem to have a better pre-qualifying stage for surveys, and a lot more surveys available.  However, it can take a while for your survey results to be validated, which means you can wait a little longer for cash-out.

Only Cash Surveys.  I love everything about these guys.  Like the name says, they're not trying to pay you with sweepstakes drawings or silly prizes or anything like that, just cash.  Also, when they show your list of available surveys, they show the percentage likelihood that you'll qualify to complete that survey.  You can then save time by only attempting the surveys you'll be most likely to complete.

Toluna.  Unlike the others, this site is very community-oriented.  In addition to being able to complete surveys for rewards, they have user-created polls and content.  A lot of the surveys are very interesting, and it is very easy to get enough points to cash out quickly.  Plus, they seem to almost never run out of surveys.  Probably my favorite of the bunch.

So there you have it.  While this is, obviously, not an exhaustive list, I hope it takes out some of the mystery of making money online.  I know, logically, it's not in my best interest to recommend these to people, as it increases the competition for me.  However, I'm not a stingy person and, if any of my friends and readers can make a few extra bucks off these methods I've found, then more power to 'em.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I will tell you that the link to SocialSpark is a referral link, where I could, in theory, be paid 5% commission off anything a publisher writes if someone were to follow the link, have their blog accepted, and then be paid for writing posts.  Every other link in this post is just a direct link to the mentioned website.)

I hope this helps any of my friends who are tight on money and looking to learn a little extra.  If you have any questions, there's always the Contact Page.

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