Five ways to make money on the internet
For many, the web is a companion, but others cash in on its e-trading opportunities, says Rob Griffin.
Friday 28 June 2013
It's hard to remember a time before the internet. For as long as most of us can recall it's the place we've automatically gone to research topics, book tickets, interact with friends and watch whacky video clips – but how can it be used to make money?
Considering how many hours we put in to surfing the web each week it makes sense to spend at least some of that time productively. Therefore, we asked a number of online gurus to give us their top tips on how it can be used to help generate a full or part-time income.
1. Become an eBay trader
The Godfather site of the e-commerce world has been going since 1995 and boasts more than a million users across the globe. It can be used to buy and sell virtually anything – and from a business perspective your "shop" can be viewed 24-hours-a-day.
The key to success is focusing on certain products, according to Emma Jones, founder of Enterprise Nation. "Don't try and sell everything – be as niche as possible," she says. "The businesses that I'm seeing perform best at the moment are those that have a very clear product that they market to a well-defined audience."
2. Sell goods you've made online
Stepping on from eBay trading is manufacturing the goods that you sell. This can include anything and everything from model cars and plates to jewellery and clothing. Services such as create.net enable you to set up and run your own online shop.
Lesley-Anne Pace set up The Cotton Bee (thecottonbee.co.uk) after being given her aunt's 40-year-old sewing machine just after her daughter, Phoebe, was born in November 2009. She used it to make a patchwork play mat and hasn't stopped sewing since!
"I create handmade patchwork quilts and sell a selection of fabrics," she says. "I am currently developing a range of hand-embroidered items which I'm looking forward to offering in the next couple of months."
The 39-year-old, from Gateshead, likes the fact she can run the website around her life and studies, although admits it can be tough keeping organised. "I have an artistic personality and am easily distracted with new projects," she says. "My advice is to make use of social media to advertise and connect to potential customers as it's free!"
3. Start up a blog
There are a staggering number of blogs around the world but setting one up and building a loyal readership cannot only provide a source of income but a potential springboard to full and part-time work opportunities.
Journalist Susie Boniface is a prime example. Under the alias Fleet Street Fox (fleetstreetfox.com) she wrote an opinionated blog as a way to move from being a national newspaper reporter to columnist – and it resulted in a book deal with The Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox being published earlier this year.
"I don't make very much money out of my blog but for me it's a shop window," she says. "I get asked to write about things that my followers have seen me talking about on the blog or to appear on television shows."
The 36-year-old says the keys to her success were having a memorable nickname, keeping on the pulse by tweeting during popular shows such as Britain's Got Talent, and falling back on established tabloid newspaper techniques to get readers. "I stuck to very simple colours – black, white and red – and a simple serif font," she says. "I also made sure there was plenty of spacing and regular use of photographs and links to substantiate the points I was making."
Susie's advice to would-be bloggers is to think up a catchy name and include lots of links to raise your profile as people will link back to you.
"You need to know what people are talking about and be interesting and witty," she adds. "You need to engage readers and this takes a long time as there's no brand loyalty on the internet. It's not like they go to the shops to buy the same paper every day."
Alex Campbell, deputy managing director at The Search Agency, says the most popular and simple way to monetise your blog is through services such as Google's AdSense which enables site owners to incorporate cost-per-click advertising.
"You can also use affiliate schemes to generate revenue, with hundreds of brands willing to offer commissions if your site helps directs traffic to them and generates revenue," he says. "Affiliate Window and Commission Junction are two of the most popular schemes."
AdSense effectively allows a site owner to include spaces within the design of their pages that Google will populate with either text or banner adverts targeted to the site's visitors. When a visitor clicks on one Google makes a little money (typically between £0.05 and a £2) and you get a share.
Affiliate schemes work with hundreds of individual brands who are willing to offer commission to sites that can help them generate revenue.
"You can then choose the affiliate schemes that you believe are most suitable to you," explains Mr Campbell. "Factors to consider are the percentage commission paid and the relevance of the product/service offered to the content of your site," he adds.
For example, if you blog about travel you might want to sign up with the affiliate programmes of an online travel agent.
When a visitor to your site clicks through one of these links and goes on to make a purchase or booking, you'll get a percentage of the revenue generated, typically 1-5 per cent.
4. Take online surveys
The deal is that you answer questions or review products and get rewarded for your efforts. While it won't make you thousands of pounds it's still a smart way to boost your income, according to Guy Anker, news editor of MoneySavingExpert.com.
"Dedicated survey-stashers can make £200 a year in cash and vouchers, while some of our users have even pushed it to the max and made £800 a year," he says. "It's best to focus on survey sites with decent payouts, low payment thresholds and a reliable volume of surveys."
Avoid sites that charge you to register and keep a record of all surveys that you've filled out, making a note of the title and the promised payment. Taking a screenshot and noting down any reference numbers can also help you with any subsequent disputes.
Of all the sites, MoneySavingExpert.com suggests Ipsos (iap-interactive.com), Swagbucks (swagbucks.com), Global Test Market (globaltestmarket.com), Crowdology (crowdology.co.uk), and MySurvey (mysurvey.com).
5. Set up a photo library
If you are a budding photographer then why not sell your images? You can, of course, set up your own website but it will be up to you to generate "traffic" to your site in order to make sales.
An alternative is to sign up to sites such as istockphoto.com and earn upwards of 15 per cent commission every time one of your images is downloaded.
Case study: Becoming a web entrepreneur
For anyone wanting to earn a decent income from the internet the dream ticket is to come up with a unique web-based idea and turn it into a proper business. That's just what entrepreneur James Uffindell is planning to do with his recruitment website Bounty Network.
The site, which went live a few months ago, encourages people to put forward friends and acquaintances for vacancies – and offers them bounties ranging from £300 to more than £5,000 if the individuals they recommend end up getting the job.
"We want to get to the stage where people spend even half-an-hour on a Sunday afternoon looking through the job listings," he says. "It's all about getting to know what jobs their friends do and identifying their skills to see which ones will be a good fit."
The idea for the site came when Mr Uffindell, 34, was looking to recruit an office manager for a separate business but was reluctant to pay a recruitment company a fee that equated to a 25 per cent cut of the person's first-year salary.
"Someone contacted me and said they had a recommendation," he recalls. "I said I wasn't prepared to pay a £5,000 fee (the job was £20,000 per annum) but if it worked out I would pay £2,000. They agreed. The person was perfect for the job so I got my employee and they got their money."
Although it's early days and the site currently focuses on London-based jobs paying salaries between £20,000 and £100,000, there are plans to extend it to all trades, as well as launching an app enabling people to match their friends with jobs.
His advice for those wanting to become web entrepreneurs is simple: Dream big but start small.
"Don't bet your house on an initial plan," he says. "Start to acquire information and find things out before going full on into it. You also need to have the mind-set that it's unlikely to be successful straight away, which means you'll constantly revisit ideas to see if they will work."
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums
China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'
Questions of Cash: 'Our dividends seem to have disappeared when TSB was bought and then born again'
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
The most expensive cities in the world 2015
- 1 Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
- 2 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 3 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 David De Gea to Real Madrid: Real finally get their man with £29m bid for Manchester United goalkeeper
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Day In a Page
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.