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The 5 Best Ways to Make Money Online

Ever since the internet became a ‘thing’ people have pursued ways to make money online. While there are a ton of ways to go about it, the test of time has shown us that some ways are better than others when it comes to effectiveness, efficiency and integrity.

What do we mean by integrity when it comes to making money online? Specifically, doing business in an honorable, legit way that serves the marketplace and brings real value to people. And that’s what we’re all about here at Horkey HandBook!

Recent events worldwide have impacted our economy and employment rates in a major way – millions are out of work, including nearly half the US workforce. More and more people are looking for ways to create a reliable, sustainable income that they are ultimately in control of.

It makes perfect sense that people would be turning to the internet in droves to understand how to earn an actual income working online! And while unfortunately there are a ton of scams and empty promises out there, people want – and deserve – to know the truth about the best ways to make money online.

In this post, we’ll cover the top five most reliable, legitimate ways to earn income on the internet. We’ll also share some resources that have helped thousands of people do just that.

Ready? Let’s do this!

Providing Services

Of course, we may be a bit biased here but providing services is one of the best ways to make money online, and also one of the quickest ways to get started.

Why? Because pretty much everyone has some kind of skill, either from their work background or life experiences (or both), that can be translated into a service that can be provided in exchange for pay.

There are literally a ton of ways to go about providing services online, whether you call yourself a freelancer, a virtual assistant or something specific to the service you’re providing, like a “professional proofreader” for example. The bottom line is that just about everyone has something they can offer the marketplace, and these days that’s happening online in a major way.

Freelancing has been on the rise in recent years, and even more so lately – in the US alone 57 million Americans are freelancing and are earning more per hour than 70% of the traditional workforce. More and more businesses are looking to contract out for services and save money on the high costs that can be associated with employees, and the days of paying someone to sit in an office all day are fading quickly.

And with such a diversity of business types and needs out there, there is literally something for everyone when it comes to offering services online!

You have this perfect storm of high demand in the marketplace and a capability that pretty much everyone has if they really sit down and take inventory of their skills.

Here’s an example of a services page from virtual assistant Mara Woosley’s website…

If getting started offering services online sounds like the place for you, take a look at our flagship VA/freelance training course, VA Foundations. It’s launched literally thousands of freelance careers and offers everything someone would need to get started earning an income online offering services.

Lastly, if being a good steward of the environment while you make money online is important to you (like it is to us!) here are some great eco-friendly business tips to help you get started. 

Selling Products

As we’ve learned from our friends over at Amazon, the internet has become the marketplace when it comes to finding and buying products. There is definitely still room for the every-day Joe or Jane to make money selling products online, even through Amazon!

Products can refer to any number of things, whether it’s physical products like candles or vitamins, or digital ones, like online courses and resources.

And, since the internet has become the go-to place for purchasing products there are a lot of ways to go about doing so. For example, social media has been making a shift toward encouraging consumers to buy right from their platforms, like the Instagram Shopping feature that enables customers to purchase straight from posts.

So in short, the internet is making it easier and easier to sell products online, and people are definitely buying!

While there are a few ways you could go about selling products, here’s a very simplified, general breakdown of how you’d go about this:

  • Figure out what to sell (we’d recommend doing some market research first)
  • Create a business and brand name
  • Figure out where to sell your product, whether it’s on your own website or a platform like Shopify, Etsy or Amazon
  • Market your store/business (don’t forget about social media, it’s the number one go-to place for businesses to market themselves!)

Again, this is a very simplified breakdown and there are a lot of ways to go about selling products on the internet. If this is your jam then definitely spend some time researching and educating yourself on the best product fit for you and the most efficient way to go about delivering it to customers online.

Here’s an example of how we offer digital products – courses and workbooks – on the Fully Booked VA website… 

Onsite Adverstising

What’s this? These next three methods for earning money online are applicable to having a website and/or blog. While having a blog might not be the fastest way to earn money online, if done right monetizing one can definitely be a lucrative way to go.

Let’s back up a minute…

When it comes to marketing anything online, whether it’s products or services, one of the primary ways we see this done is through content marketing.

Content marketing refers to creating and sharing online content (blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media content for example) designed to provide useful, interesting information that ultimately inspires an interest in the business sharing it. The catch is that this content isn’t directly promotional and doesn’t go for the “hard sell.”

And, as we just mentioned, one of the main ways we see content marketing happen is through blog posts and website content!

To circle back around, the point is that if you’re serious about making money online then having a website, including a blog, is definitely worth considering as part of a long-term, big picture plan. You can use it to support the business you’re building offering services, selling products or as either an additional or primary way to create income through monetization.

And these days, website builders have made it super easy for just about anyone to create their own website. For an excellent guide on the best website builders out there, including how to choose which one will be best for your needs, we recommend checking out this guide on the best website builders. 

Back to onsite advertising!

This method refers to running ads on your website. These can take different forms, from pop-up ads to banners to sidebar ads. There are a couple of ways you can go about this:

  • Sign up with Google AdSense – This is super simple! After you sign up, Google identifies the content of your site and starts displaying relevant advertisements. You get paid each time someone clicks on the ad. You can make anywhere from $.50 to $5 per click, and if/when your site has a lot of traffic you can make hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars each month.
  • Sell ad space on your site – You can sell ad space on your website directly to companies who are interested in sponsoring blogs. This approach gives you a little more control over what you advertise, as well as what you want to charge. You can charge varying amounts based on the space on your page (banner versus sidebar, for example), and if your site gets a lot of traffic you can make a lot of money (into the thousands) this way.

Once you’ve put in the effort to build a website that’s getting some traffic, running onsite ads can be an easy and lucrative way to make some income.

Here’s a great example of onsite advertising, with a sidebar ad and bottom banner, from Jessica Roop’s keto website forgetsugarfriday.com

Affiliate Marketing

The concept of affiliate marketing is pretty straightforward – you sell someone’s product and you make a commission!

And, technically you can do affiliate marketing without a website via email or social media. The main way we see people succeed with it, though, is by having a blog to promote products and services on.

The key to successful affiliate marketing is to support products you truly believe in – the difference will come through in how you sell those products. It’s way more effective to get behind something you know will be helpful and valuable to others!

There are some basics when it comes to affiliate marketing, such as these:

  1. Find a product you believe in – and trust.
  2. Sign up to become an affiliate of that product – not all products have affiliate programs but many do.
  3. Promote your products.
  4. Track your affiliate statistics so you can figure out what works and what doesn’t!

While it’s more of a long-game strategy, we’re big believers in the power of affiliate marketing when done right. Here at Horkey HandBook we have our own affiliate program, and we’re affiliates of several products and services.

If the idea of affiliate marketing sounds interesting, we’re fans of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner’s course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Michelle runs a six-figure blog and teaches beginner to advanced-level bloggers the ins and outs of affiliate marketing from the ground up.

Over the course of six modules and 30 lessons, Michelle teaches:

  • What affiliate marketing is and how it works
  • Why affiliate marketing is so powerful
  • The exact steps she took to earn over $300,000 from a single blog post
  • How to pick the right affiliate products to promote
  • How to increase conversions
  • How to build trust and not lose followers
  • Required disclosures that you need to know about
  • The one major tool you need for affiliate marketing
  • Different strategies to use to promote your affiliate products
  • How to use Pinterest to succeed at affiliate marketing

Here’s an example of affiliate advertising on the Recommendations page of Michelle’s website, makingsenseofcents.com. Notice the affiliate disclosure letting visitors know that the links on this page are affiliate links and that she makes a commission from them…

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are a close cousin to affiliate marketing, but in this case, this method is specific to having blog.

A sponsored post is a blog post that the blogger is being paid to have on their blog. The goal is to get the sponsoring business’s content in front of targeted readers and these can be written either by the blogger or by the business.

There is definitely a strategy to building sponsorship relationships that will pay well, but this is also an opportunity that’s available to both new and seasoned bloggers. This method is also a potentially very lucrative way to go, and an opportunity that’s in high demand.

Why? Because the word is out that leveraging the power of online influencers is where it’s at when it comes to marketing, and businesses are getting on board at an increasing rate. This is essentially the new-school version of having celebrities endorse products!

Here’s an example of a post on nelliebellie.com that was sponsored by Home Depot…

Another way to describe what’s happening with sponsored posts is influencer marketing. And, check it out:

  1. 94% of marketers using influencer marketing found it to be effective.
  2. 48% of companies in the U.S. plan on increasing their online influencer campaign budgets in the future.
  3. 71% of marketers think that ongoing ambassadorships (such as with sponsored partnerships/posts) are the most effective form of influencer marketing.

If sponsored posts are a direction you see yourself heading, then we’d recommend taking a look at another one of Michelle’s courses that she wrote with her sister (a 5-figure per month blogger!) Alexis, Making Sense of Sponsored Posts.

In this course Michelle teaches:

  • How exactly sponsored posts work.
  • Why sponsored partnerships can completely change your blog.
  • How to find sponsored partnerships.
  • How to pitch and contact companies the right way, including template emails that you can use.
  • How much you should be charging.
  • How to build trust and not lose followers.
  • Required disclosures that you need to know about.
  • And a ton more!

We’ve spent some time reviewing Michelle’s newest course and we’re huge fans! She and Alexis do an excellent job of covering everything you’d need to know as a brand new blogger stepping into this opportunity.

We’re big believers in actionable content. This course not only covers every aspect of sponsored posts, including what to “watch out for,” but how to actually pull all the pieces together and make some very decent money. Michelle earns up to $5,000 for one sponsored post!

Which Method Will You Choose?

We’ve covered five real-deal, legitimate ways to make money online that, with the right information and focus, literally anyone can succeed at. Offering services online is the quickest way to start earning an income, and it can open the door to exploring some of the other methods we covered.

Whichever route you take – spend some time researching your “best fit” method and figuring out what your ultimate goals are. When it comes to creating predictable, sustainable income online it’s important to pursue something you’ll want to show up for every day. And knowing where you want to end up will make it much more likely that you’ll get there!

Ready to start your journey making money online? Enroll in our cornerstone course for starting and building a business providing services online, VA Foundations.

Laura Nicholls


Laura manages the VA Leads Community, the blog and does a ton of other things for Horkey HandBook behind the curtain! She’s also an alum of both 30 Days or Less courses (VA and freelance writing!). She started off as a writer and branched out into building her VA business focusing on executive management and content creation. Laura is in love with her life in Northern California taking care of horses and being full-time single mom to her daughter.

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