How can you make money online?

piggy-bank-over-stack-of-moneyDoes the idea of making money online sound intriguing? How would you like to stay at home surfing and watching TV while you have websites out there making money?

This sounds ideal, doesn’t it? Sound easy? Well, according to some people, it really is.

If only life were so easy. It would seem that all you have to do is put up a blog, drop in some content on a regular basis, put in some Google Adsense ads and boom! You’re a millionaire.

There’s a number of issues that come up here.

  • Get rich quick ideas
  • How much is content worth?
  • Working at home
  • Website advertising

I should preface this whole conversation by saying this: I am not opposed to making money online. Is that clear? Hope so. How you make money online is something I am more interested in.

How much is content worth?

I’ll start with this one because it’s near and dear to me. I’m a writer and I value what I write. I hope that my readers do too.

So how much would you expect to pay for a 250-word article? Do you want it professionally written and edited? Do you want it to be well-researched and stand up to scrutiny? How about making sure it’s all original and not plagiarized?

This isn’t something you’re going to pay a penny a word for. Are your site visitors worth more than a penny a word? Copy doesn’t cost $2.50 for a professionally written 250-word article.

If you’re serious about getting some professional writing done, contact me and I’ll tell you how much I charge. Not to worry. You won’t need a second mortgage!

These types of articles are a little different from a blog post that might be strictly opinion and take less effort to write. It surprises me how many companies want to cheap out and pay a penny a word for any kind of writing. The kind of writing you get for a penny a word is not going to be the kind you want to have in front of your customers.

Get rich quick ideas

If only I could just do no work and get rich. Isn’t that a nice dream? There aren’t many who’ve done it.

You’ll run into sites on the net where people think they can do that. They put up sites with content of little or no value, run loads of Google Adsense in the site and hope you’ll click on the ads because they’re more interesting than the content.

Frankly I think this borders on dishonesty. It’s a modern form of bait and switch. My philosophy is to give people solid content. They say content is king and that’s what people are looking for.

So, spend $2.50 on an article, buy a domain name, cheap hosting, put up a blog, sign up for Adsense and you’re in business. Sounds ideal, but the margins are thin and you’re not making much per site.

I’d be interested in trying this just to go through the process. I think it would be a challenge just from the search engine optimization perspective. Put in some decent content and all of a sudden you have a legit website. One person I know said that nobody will click on your ads then. Interesting.

I think this is in the same league as domaining, where you buy a domain name and have one of those fake search pages up. They make money when you click on the ads.

These two techniques are legitimate and legal, but hardly going to make you a millionaire, unless you have a lot of sites out there.

It’s a shame that some great domain names are wasted on these kinds of sites. I view them as the stagnant waters in the ditches that run along the information superhighway.

Working at home

I don’t mind working at home, but I really enjoy having an office to go to. I am one of those sick people. I like the group dynamic and being part of a team. I like going for lunch with coworkers. I like going out for a beer after work. That is the part that sucks about working at home.

Sure, it’s great to work in your pajamas, sipping coffee all day. You can take a shower whenever. Don’t have to shave. You can swear at the TV or chat with the Jehovah’s Witness that just rang the doorbell.

I’ll take the office any day. I like a more professional atmosphere.

Website advertising

I’m not going to knock website advertising, because I think it can be valuable. The problem I have is that so much advertising on websites just doesn’t apply to me. It would be nice if they tried or in any way attempted to target me!

This is possible on Facebook and also in Google pay-per-click ads. Adsense isn’t bad in some ways. It’s topical. More often, Adsense is irrelevant. The ads are often poorly written and targeted so you don’t even bother. We’re conditioned to ignore them.

I experimented a little with Adsense on a blog a while back. The Adsense ads that came up were about blogs! Even when I picked a topic that should have seen the ads change, they didn’t. Admittedly, I wasn’t a pro at the time. Perhaps it’s improved now. I do plan on exploring it again.

Another point of view, especially if you’re selling products or services, is that you shouldn’t have Adsense on your site because it just takes visitors away from you. Good point. They might even go to your competitors. How crazy is that? I know you can filter the ads to an extent to avoid this problem.

Banner ads!

I routinely ignore banner ads as well. If I see another ad for those annoying smileys I might just rip my eyes out. : ) They continue to advertise because people keep clicking on these damn ads! Will you people STOP! Please don’t ever click on them, not even out of curiosity. Don’t encourage them!

I remember once clicking on an ad for K&N air filters. I had no intention of buying it. I already had one for my vehicle. I clicked on it more out of shock that there was an ad for a product I was actually interested in. Do you know how rare that is?

Here’s a tip. If you’re running a website, figure out what your visitors’ demographics are. Not always easy, I know, but try. Then, put up ads that would interest that demographic.

I’ve used this analogy many times before, but think about one of your favourite magazines. Maybe it’s about sewing or maybe about diesel pickups. When you read those magazines, do you look at the ads? I’d be willing to bet that 99 per cent of you do!

But why? Well, if you bought that magazine, you’re interested in the topic. You have likely learned that ads in a magazine like that appeal to your interest and often have good information that is RELEVANT TO YOU.

I came to this realization one day. It seemed so obvious, but it’s not to many people. It’s just a contextual ad. It’s like the guy who advertises in the sports section of the newspaper because he knows his market reads that section. Funny how so many people online don’t get it.

Don’t take the easy way out

I am curious what other people think about these ideas. Do you think you can get rich quick? Or, is it better to take the long-haul approach and build with quality?

Oh, look, I would have made $12.74 (at a penny a word).

Comments:

  1. Greg Balanko-Dickson Says: You definitely can make money online, I have built my business almost exclusively since 1998 using my blog and online networking to meet people and develop relationships.My experience in operating and selling my businesses over the years is it is a marathon, not a sprint. With the major recent economic hiccups we need to do more and use longer time lines than before.Relevancy is the foundation of any successful business. Understanding customer needs is what allows us to create relevant content.
  2. Alain Saffel Says: It’s good to hear that there are people out there who are making money online successfully.It’s definitely possible. I think people just need to watch out for the get rich quick schemes. Too many people have the ‘quick score’ mentality and aren’t in for the long haul like you’re saying.
  3. Alain Saffel Says: Be careful about posts that talk about making money online. The spammers will sniff them out! :)

Marketing & communications: to cut or not to cut

recessionWhen a recession looms, every business faces the question of whether to cut back spending with marketing and communications often being the first target.

Should you cut marketing and communications spending with a possible recession on the way?

Tough question and it needs to be answered individually. I did get some food for thought this afternoon from the PR Web (news release company) webinar I heard today.

I have successfully used their service with one recent release gathering nearly 2,800 links.

It can be a very valuable way to build links and it doesn’t cost that much.

News releases: maximizing your marketing budget

One presenter suggested news releases are a great way to get more for less with your marketing dollars. Keeping your marketing and communications budget at the same level could be beneficial because your competitors are likely to cut their spending.

This would help to increase your visibility as your competitors are reducing theirs. The result? Hopefully that will mean increased business for you, even in a weak economy.

The weak economy can also be beneficial because traditional media outlets are often willing to strike deals to keep the ad dollars flowing. Keep that in mind when you’re talking to your ad reps.

Earned media: free advertising

I have used news releases and public relations to get what is known as “earned media.” It’s essentially getting a media organization to pick up your news release and run it as is, or write their own story with your release as the basis for the story.

If your release does get picked up, most reporters will not go with it as is, but you will likely be one of their sources.

Devoting more of your marketing budget towards communications tools such as news releases could help to substantially raise your company’s public profile. The second benefit is that it can really boost your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts by increasing the number of links pointing back to your site.

Cut the marketing budget?

Before you take any drastic action, make sure to assess how you and your competition are engaging your customers. A marketing plan is a good start. Make sure that if you do cut your budget it won’t have the unintended effect of driving business to your competitor. If you can afford it, keeping your marketing budget the same might effectively be increasing it, compared to your competition.

In my next article I’ll talk about ways to get maximum value from your news release: “How to get the media to pick up your news release.”