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."
- 3 Alton Towers crash: Four seriously injured and 16 guests trapped as Smiler ride carriages collide
- 4 Ann Summers survey reveals the UK's favourite sex position
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination
Migrants in Kos: Photos show real tragedy after Brits abroad complain of 'awkward' holidays
British tourists complain that impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Michael Gove determined to scrap the Human Rights Act – even if Scotland retains it
Threat to scrap Human Rights Act could see UK follow Nazi example, warns UN official
Church of England 'one generation away from extinction' after dramatic loss of followers
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...
£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...
£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...
Day In a Page
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 four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
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.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
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, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
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 four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
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.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
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.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
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.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
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.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
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
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool