Making money online is key to becoming location independent. You may or may not have some strategies in mind already, but it certainly never hurts to gather a few extra ideas, does it? So here are 9 ways how to make money online as location independent entrepreneur.
Note: The only requirement to make money online with these tips is a website. In case you don’t have one yet, here is how to create a website in 2 simple steps.
11 Words Of Wisdom Before You Make Money Online
Before you get all over the place hunting for fame and fortune, I’d quickly like to quote a very wise person here (not myself, for a change):
“Don’t aspire to make a living. Aspire to make a difference.”
Please, please take these 11 words to heart when thinking about how to make money online. The world doesn’t need yet another drop shipper sending parcels of useless stuff across the globe in order to make a margin.
Be one of the good guys. Please.
Note: Apart from freelancing, most website monetization strategies only work properly once you do generate a fair amount of traffic. To do so, you will need to offer interesting content first. And then market it. (Here are 10 completely free marketing strategies for startups and SMEs.) Please refrain from creating websites just to make money online. There’s enough nonsense on the web already.
The most popular option amongst budding location independent entrepreneurs is freelancing. Whether you take over clients from your last job or jet off into an entirely new field, freelancing is an excellent option to earn money online.
Whatever your skills are, chances are you can beat official market rates in your home country thanks to geoarbitrage. However, never solely compete on price. Since there are tens of thousands of freelancers out there that can still beat you on price, no matter where you live, make sure to never engage in price wars. If a client looks for the cheapest solution, look for a different client.
Be aware that due to all this competition it will take some time and serious effort to score your first jobs. However, once you got the first clients hooked, you can cooperate on long-term projects, gather references and slowly increase your rates.
To learn more about successful freelancing and why you need both a website and a (free) email marketing system for it, we recommend reading How to become a freelancer and crush the competition.
Kaiser‘s comment: Freelancing is certainly a great option for beginners to make money online. It will take some time to score the first jobs, but many digital nomads rely on their freelancing income long-term. While some nomads do charge three-digit rates per hour, average earnings are between 20-50 USD/hr. More than enough for a comfortable living in a low-cost country.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising Like Google AdSense
As soon as you have a website, it does sound like a logical next step to plaster it with Google or Bing Ads to earn money from your websites visitors. Once a website visitor clicks the ad you display, you get compensated – which is why this method is known as pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
While PPC does make sense for some, it doesn’t make sense for others. In case you create a niche website purely to generate money, you might as well experiment with PPC. (I hope you don’t. Remember what Denzel said?)
For your ‘main project’, the website you’re wholeheartedly dedicated to, I generally advise against using PPC for three main reasons:
PPC Annoys Website Visitors
Firstly, PPC usually annoys most website visitors. If you annoy your visitors, they won’t come back for more. They’ll go elsewhere.
PPC Won’t Make You Rich
Secondly, PPC only generates very few Cents. Once you have a fully-grown website that ranks in Google’s top spots, you can generate a few hundred dollars a month with it. Please be aware that that is a long way to go.
For a very first idea of how much (or how little) you might make with Google AdSense, try the Google AdSense Calculator.
PPC Pushes Your Website Visitors To Other Sites
Thirdly, PPC makes your website visitors leave your site and guides them to the competition. These days all ads are content relevant. So if you are advertising your copywriting skills, ads from professional copywriters and outsourcing websites will show up. Chances are you’ll lose your prospect to the competition – in exchange for mere Cents.
I’m not entirely against PPC, and have myself made some money with it in the past. Please just bear above mentioned arguments in mind when deciding on your monetization strategy.
Kaiser‘s comment: Despite generating completely passive income, you may want to examine closely whether PPC is suitable for you or not. If it is, great, if not, try some of the other options enlisted here.
Display Related Posts
A fairly easy way to make money with your website is to offer the space below your posts as ad space. Companies like Outbrain compensate you for every click from your website visitors.
Same as PPC, the advertised posts are (usually) content related. And yes, clicking the posts apparently leads visitors away from your website. And, as with PPC, earnings are not huge.
However, since these ads only appear at the very end of each post, you have plenty of time to grab your visitors’ attention and link to your other posts from within the post they are currently reading. Which hopefully results in them opening a couple of new tabs with other interesting articles of yours. Then they may as well click the Outbrain ad at the end of the article they originally read and pocket you a few Cents.
The setup is quite easy. You simply copy some code into your WordPress backend and let Outbrain do the rest.
Kaiser‘s comment: In case you want to monetize your website in a simple way, start by experimenting with Outbrain. If it doesn’t work, you can always delete the code snippet later.
Accept Sponsored Posts
Once you do see some traffic come in, you may get offers from other companies trying to advertise on your website. To advertise as unobtrusively as possible, they may offer to write a post for you (or ask you to write it), usually ‘reviewing’ their own products very positively, and pay you to post it.
This is called native advertising, and, if done correctly, can work extremely well. After all, if your website visitors love you for writing about a certain topic, and they find a well-written ‘review’ on a product related to that topic, everybody wins: Your audience discovers a cool new product, the advertising company finds new clients, and you generated new content and got paid for it.
However, if done wrong, you will lose your readers’ trust very quickly. Poorly written native advertising looks super scammy, and products unrelated to your website shouldn’t be on there anyway. So make sure you do your homework and are super selective before accepting any sponsored posts!
Kaiser‘s comment: While it can be attractive, you need to exercise some caution. Since most companies only pay for native advertising on highly trafficked websites, sponsored posts might not be for you for the near future anyway. But certainly an option to bear in mind down the road.
Affiliate marketing is the art of getting paid for advertising other people’s products. It is extremely famous amongst location independent entrepreneurs, since it is fairly easy to set up, and usually entirely risk-free. Since most affiliate programs are free to join, you can only make money, but not lose anything.
Despite sounding absolutely tempting, we highly recommend to not dive head first into affiliate marketing when you are just starting out. Few things are worse than a website clearly still under construction that is already plastered with affiliate links. You will lose website visitors and their trust a lot quicker than they could potentially click your links.
Once you are up and running, and do see some first traffic come through, affiliate marketing can be an excellent way to build up a passive income stream. To learn more about affiliate marketing, how to get started and why you shouldn’t rely on it too heavily, read The Top 5 Best Affiliate Programs For Beginners.
Kaiser‘s comment: While affiliate marketing is the very first monetization strategy most wannabe location independent entrepreneurs think of, we recommend holding your horses for a couple of months to generate content, build up trust and properly stress-test all products and programs you plan to promote. You can still get started once you are little more comfortable with the amazing world of website monetization.
Create And Sell Your Own Product
Clearly one of the best and most lucrative monetization strategies is to create and sell your own product. Apart from physical products you can make money online with digital products. Think e-books, online courses, software and tons of other ideas.
The beauty of digital products is that you only need to create them once, and can sell them as often as you like. Also, since you don’t have to worry about shipping, you can sell worldwide without any hassle. Contrary to affiliate marketing, you have full control over pricing and other conditions.
The downside is that it does take a long time to build up trust and then create a valuable product that people are actually willing to pay for. In a world where most things can be had online for free, assembling a loyal audience and then convincing people that your product is worth forking over some cash is an exercise usually mastered by more seasoned entrepreneurs only.
In case you decide to create a physical product, crowdfunding may lead you into the light. Should you need inspiration from a wonderful success story, read how Adrian the Canadian created Lifepack.
Kaiser‘s comment: While certainly an exercise for advanced location independent entrepreneurs, you should definitely bear creating and selling your own product in mind. It is how most location independent entrepreneurs finally hack passive income.
Paid Membership Sites
Once you offer amazing content to a thriving community, you may want to think about privatizing some of the content. Create a paid membership site and offer certain content only to paying members.
I never created paid membership sites myself. But I gathered a lot of positive feedback from location independent entrepreneurs who did. The community you create can deliver valuable ideas, and since membership fees are often paid monthly or yearly you generate a recurring passive income stream.
Kaiser‘s comment: Again, certainly rather for experienced location independent entrepreneurs with a large existing fan base as well as information and insights that are worth paying for. Then it’s a great way to build a community from which you can profit yourself. Despite the membership fees members come up with sensational ideas at times. Use them to create more terrific content!
Dropshipping / Amazon FBA
Dropshipping, in its simplest form, includes working with Amazon FBA. Alternatively, build an online store with Shopify, then buy products in cheap countries to sell them in expensive countries. Usually the drop shipper never sees nor touches the products she sells.
Thanks to the rise of Alibaba this monetization model has become quite popular over the past years. If handled correctly, it can generate quite a bit of money. Be aware that setting things up can take a while. Especially when properly researching a good product and taking legal aspects into account (which you definitely should).
Be aware that there is loads of competition out there. Not only are you up against thousands of other drop shippers, but you are also taking on Amazon and Alibaba themselves. In the end, the best marketing strategy wins.
As newcomer, you may want to start up with monetizing your own niche website first to gain that marketing knowledge. Then test your skills with this potentially lucrative business model.
Kaiser‘s comment: Get started with other monetization models first, build your own website and learn. Then come back to re-visit the option of dropshipping.
Accepting donations is for sure not the very first monetization strategy that location independent entrepreneurs adopt. However, in case you deliver outstanding content for free, you may as well ask people to support your hard work (and enviable lifestyle).
Be aware that this only works if you are really standing out from the crowd. Most people prefer not to donate. Your audience must be pretty huge in order to generate enough income from donations.
Kaiser‘s comment: Accepting donations can be a fun side gig for some, but very few rely on it solely.
Other Website Monetization Strategies
There are of course loads of other strategies out there on how to make money online with your website. However, plenty of them are scams or simply entirely unsuitable for budding location independent entrepreneurs, so I decided to only select the above few.
In case you have outstanding success with other website monetization models, please leave a comment below or inspire our cool Facebook community.