10 Ways to Make Money Online for Passive & Scalable Income

It’s important to note that the top 10 ways to make money online in this article are my opinion and based on my experience. My top ten ways to make money may not be the same as someone else equally successful with an online business.

It’s safe to say the internet has improved the working lives for some entrepreneurs beyond their wildest dreams. Mine included.

In 1 month I’ll be finished with my 9 to 5 job, which is running my offline business. I’ll be transitioning to working full time online as an internet marketer.

I was able to transition part of my offline business into an a sole online enterprise, which is going to change my life for the better dramatically.

During my wild 3 plus year ride building up my offline business with internet marketing and establishing a profitable separate online business, I’ve learned a great deal about ways to make money online.

In this top 10 ways to make money online I’ll set out the various methods I use to make money online. I’ll give my opinion on each … I don’t particularly like all of them; however, they are all viable business models.

The most important elements I look at when assessing a method to make money online are:


Can it be leveraged (i.e. earn passive income)? and 2.

Can it be scaled?

The following top 10 ways to make money is in no particular order.

1. Adsense

I’ve used this method only a little, and while it generated some income, it wasn’t sufficient to warrant having my site filled with ads.

That said, my sites’ traffic volume is increasing steadily, which may warrant using Adsense on a limited basis in the future.

Adsense is great for websites that have plenty of volume. I wouldn’t build sites solely for Adsense income. Instead, Adsense for me would be a supplemental income … a bonus if you will. I would choose other monetization options as a principle model over Adsense.

Opportunity for leverage:

Okay. You leverage Adsense income by building up traffic. Once your traffic is high, you’ll earn decent money with little effort. The key is building up traffic and maintaining that traffic.

Opportunity for scaling:

Excellent. Once you create a site that is successful with Adsense, you can repeat it over and over (even outsourcing it which is the ultimate mode for scaling).

2. Website flipping

I’ve trifled with flipping websites and it’s not a model I like. However, I never created a system. In order for flipping websites to be a leveraged and highly profitable model, you must build up a list of buyers to whom you can quickly sell your sites.

Moreover, you must be adept at choosing in-demand niches and create consistent revenue and traffic quickly in order to get a decent sale price.

Without a list of buyers, you’ll spend an awful lot of time seeking out buyers and negotiating. This process takes more time than you would think. Seeking buyers and negotiating are two activities I don’t much like.

As I said, in order to make this model highly profitable, you need to leverage it with a list of buyers and if you can, outsource site creation. Essentially, you are creating a monetized website assembly line with established buyers.

Opportunity for leverage:

Decent, if you figure out how to attract traffic and earn income quickly. A site’s value is largely based on traffic and consistent income. If you can do this quickly, you’ll earn premium dollars on your sale.

Opportunity for scaling:

Excellent. Once you can outsource your system and have a list of hungry buyers, you can turn website flipping into a mega assembly line.

3. Product creation

I’ve created several products for sale. 1 is a consistent money earner while others are more sporadic. That said, I’ve focused much more on my affiliate promotions than my products.

I have 2 products in the works and product creation will form a more substantial part of my online business in the future.

The difficulty with product creation is establishing brand recognition and attracting targeted traffic (i.e. buyers). You can build traffic any number of ways including recruiting quality affiliates to promote your product. In fact, having your own product to sell has the added benefit of recruiting affiliates.

One reason I don’t push my existing products too much is dealing with customer service issues. I’m still solo and don’t have administrative staff (which I hope will be remedied within 12 months). Customer service is important and if you’re solo, you can spend a great deal of time assisting customers. This is why I believe product creation and sales is much better if you have assistance.

Opportunity for leverage:

Outstanding, if you can successfully attract buying traffic on auto-pilot. Auto-pilot traffic can be from many sources. Regardless the source, if you’re revenues exceed traffic generation costs, you can crank up the traffic methods as high as your market will bear.

Opportunity for scaling:

The best way to scale product creation is to simultaneously build a list of previous buyers. If you do this, and your previous buyers like your products, you can crank out products and sell them to your ready-made market of buyers.

4. Local affiliate marketing

I wrote extensively about local affiliate marketing here. Local affiliate marketing is my next big project for 2 clients.

Opportunity for leverage:

Excellent. Once you establish consistent leads/referrals on auto-pilot, the premium commissions you can earn can result in a cash windfall. Moreover, the high commissions and lack of affiliate competition, means that buying traffic is viable and likely profitable (after testing of course).

Opportunity for scaling:

Once you have a proven track record with one or a few clients, you can take the local affiliate marketing model to many industries in many locations. The opportunities are endless. With a team, you could exponentially take on more and more high-commission local affiliate marketing projects.

However, the key is a proven track record in order to sell it to new clients. Moreover, you must go after the right industries.

5. Selling banner ad space

I’ve done this to a limited degree. With the right software where an advertiser can buy directly off your website, it can be a decent earner. The potential earnings are not huge (unless you have a massively successful and high-traffic website).

Opportunity for leverage:

Okay. Regardless how much traffic you get, the low click through rates of banner ads render paying for banner ads on one or two sites not terribly profitable for advertisers. Hence, they won’t pay too much.

However, the income is passive income which is always good. I liken selling banner ads with Adsense. They both earn passive income on websites with traffic, but on their own they aren’t online income models I get too excited about.

6. Blogging to build an audience

If you can achieve this model, you’ll have created a wonderful online business. I’ve done it in a very small niche that is proving reasonably profitable.

However, to achieve this in a large market is difficult and requires a lot of work. In fact, you must be passionate about your topic in order to build a large audience in a large market.

Opportunity for leverage:

If you succeed, the leverage is awesome. You’ll have a loyal audience who will buy based on your recommendation (ensure you make excellent recommendations). Moreover, you’ll have an audience ready to buy your products.

Opportunity for scaling:

Not so good. Scaling is repeating the model. I’m not saying you can’t build up a loyal audience over and over in different markets, many bloggers do, but it’s a lot of work. Naturally if you succeed once, you’ll likely have cracked the code and can do it again.

One downside to blogging for an audience is you have to keep at it. It’s never a set-it and forget it option. Sure you can accept guest posts, but you’ll need to review and edit submissions. If you start publishing garbage, you’ll lose your audience, which is the death nail.

7. Offer services such as SEO, writing, website creation, virtual assistant services

The only benefit to this model is that you earn income fast. Offering services is trading time for dollars. It’s not leveraged and not scalable unless you build a team. If you build up a capable team, you’ve then managed to turn offering services into a decent way to make money online.

That said, you’ll have customer service issues with this model. It can be frustrating and if your aim with making money online is to get away from trading time for dollars, then don’t pursue this model unless you’re intent on building up a team to take care of the work.

8. List building

I have 4 decent lists and they are wonderful. I delayed a while building a list because I was impatient. However, once I started, I get more excited about new subscribers than I do about sales.

I have a lot of fun writing to my subscribers and sharing information. I also have fun dreaming up incentives for attracting subscribers.

List building was a hard nut for me to crack. The hardest part was figuring out the right incentive for them to subscribe. Initially, my conversion rates were low. However, I kept at it and hit upon a few winners that now result in decent conversion rates.

The next challenge with building a list is getting traffic to your opt in page. All of my lists are accompanied with a blog which attracts subscribers, but to really escalate subscription rates, you need to buy traffic. Unfortunately, Google Adwords won’t approve ads directing traffic to pages designed to capture personal information.

However, you can do article marketing, pay for ads in related lists, build more traffic to your blog, pay for traffic on 2nd tier PPC networks (this is hit or miss), engage in social media, guest blog post (this worked pretty well for).

Building a list requires patience and consistent action over a long period of time. Once you have a decently sized list, you can enter into joint ventures with other people in your niche to help build up each other’s list. The trick is building up an initial list large enough so that you have something to bring to the JV table. Once you do, you’ll find you can build your list even faster.

The opportunity to leverage your list, especially if you provide far more value than merely trying to get sales, is astonishing. Think about it, you can promote to a large group of people over and over. Moreover, you can drive traffic (i.e. your subscribers) to your blog as well.

The opportunity for scaling is also awesome. Once you know how to build a list, you can do it over and over in different niches. The sky is the limit.

9. E-commerce

I’ve done physical product e-commerce and didn’t like it one bit. That said, many successful online entrepreneurs do very well with e-commerce. I prefer digital product sales, which will form a larger part of my online business in the future.

The hard part is brand development and promoting your product and/or e-commerce website. E-commerce really is an umbrella term which can refer to digital product sales, physical product sales, software sales, membership websites … any website that sells something.

There is no question that many fortunes have been made with e-commerce and it’s truly a viable online business model.

The opportunity for leverage is excellent if you recruit affiliates and/or manage to get traffic and still profit.

The opportunity for scaling is also excellent, by either expanding a product line and/or creating new online stores. Like so many make money online methods, once you develop a system that leverages your effort, you can earn hyper-profits.

10. Affiliate review websites

Affiliate review websites are near and dear to my heart because it’s the online business model that earned me my first consistent income. It’s an extremely consistent model that can be decently leveraged and scaled.

Moreover, if you’re solo and don’t have a team, it’s great because you don’t have to deal with customer service. All you need to do is find products to promote, write great content, and get targeted traffic to your review website.

Integrate several models at the same time

It’s important to realize that you can certainly integrate several of the above top 10 ways to make money online.

Example #1: Almost every model above can include building a list of subscribers.

Example #2: You can use Adsense and sell banner ads on review websites.

Each method above can be used to create a successful online business. They are all proven techniques for making money online.

However, the key is choosing a few that work well together, can be leveraged and scaled, creating a plan, and then fully executing the plan. Don’t jump around from one method to another (I’ve done this, hence I’ve tried all the above methods. Had I stuck to 1 to 3 integrated methods from the start, I’d have achieved a decent online income much sooner.

Check out this product review template to learn how to write profitable product reviews. Or grab copy of this affiliate product review guide to learn more.

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