I don't claim to be an expert, but since several people have asked me about this recently, I figured others would like to know about what I do to make money on-line. I certainly am not getting rich off any of this, but every little bit helps and I hope to eventually earn enough from my blogging in particular so that I can cover the expenses of our property taxes and an internet connection, so, if we own our land and vehicles free and clear by then, we shouldn't have to have any other income coming in. I've only been blogging for a bit over 7 months now, so obviously, I'm still pretty far from this goal, but since I'm already making about what I was at my last very part time job once you subtract what I was paying in gas, I think I'm already doing pretty well.
Here are the various ways I've found to make money on-line:
1. Blogging: The two main ways I make money from blogging are from the ads you see on the side, put there by Google Adsense at my request, and through Amazon. I'm not going to get into the Adsense thing because I don't want to accidentally violate their terms of service and not get paid when I finally hit the magic amount that they pay out at. Amazon is pretty straightforward though: whenever I post a link to Amazon, whether it be in a blog post, on the sidebar where that little Amazon search box is, on my "book recommendations & more" page, or on my Facebook page, I'm posting an embedded code in there that lets Amazon know I'm the one that sent you there. Regardless of what you then buy on that shopping trip, even if it isn't something I recommended, I get a small percentage of that sale. Don't worry about your privacy though, since I have no way to know who bought stuff. It does tell me what people buy though, which is useful to see what referrals are effective and which you don't care about. I haven't made a ton of money off that either, but I've been paid out enough that I could buy my water bath canner, some seeds, and a workbook for my 1st grader with my only pay-out so far, and I'm expecting another small pay out next month.
I said that those were the two main ways because other minor ways are by Paypal donation (see button in the sidebar since it is encrypted in such a way that I can't figure out how to link it here), gifts, and items for product reviews. The gifts and product reviews aren't cash, but they save me enough money that I think it is worth including as income in this post, if not for the IRS. Since I've started this blog, I've gotten gifts of seeds, vegetables (not as a direct result, but from someone that I met through this blog, so I'm counting it), books, and Paperbackswap.com credits. I've also received a few items to do product reviews on, but I always make the person or company giving me something very aware that I won't do a dishonest review. If I don't love the product, I won't say I do. I had to give one product's representative the choice of me doing a bad review or no review because of this rule (they chose no review, so that product will remain forever nameless), but I won't compromise my principles on my blog! I've also received a small amount of money from ViewsHound.com for linking to one of their posts, but that is only a deal they offer bloggers with a Google pagerank of 3/10 or higher with a maximum of $10 a month per blog.
What makes my blog valuable to advertisers of any sort is that it gets traffic. If no one came, no one would see the ads and it wouldn't be worth paying me for. How do I generate traffic? Part of it is through my Facebook page, but most of it is through making my existence known by commenting on other blogs and other Facebook pages by people and companies with similar interest, as well as having content worth looking at on my page. Not only does this bring people back for more, but it make Google and other search engines think I'm cool, so a lot of my posts get high ranking on relevant searches so more people come here. I'm sure there is more I am doing and don't even think about because it is already second nature (or other things I could be doing that I am not), but pretty much everything I've ever known about blogging is in the book Blogging for Dummies, so if you are just trying to muddle your way through your blogging experience, you might be better off with that book at your side.
2. Taking surveys: There are a number of survey companies on-line, but the one that I've found to be most fair with paying is Opinion Outpost. They also pay for referring people to them, which is why their logo is in the sidebar as well.
3. Free stuff: Again, it isn't strictly cash, but it keeps me from spending money that I otherwise would be spending, so I'm going to include it, but both Paperbackswap.com and SwapaDVD.com give free credits for referring people, so that's why those logos are in the sidebar. With Paperbackswap, when you join and list 10 books available for trade (doesn't have to be all at once, just when you get around to it), you get 2 free credits and I get 1 free credit for referring you. With SwapaDVD.com, you get 1 credit when you list 10 DVDs available for trade.
4. Selling or publishing articles elsewhere: So far, I've only submitted articles to ViewsHound, which doesn't pay per se, but they do give cash prizes for the articles they deem the best of the day, which I've won three of, out of the 9 articles I've had published through there (well, 10 now, since I had another one published today, but I won't know if it won anything until tomorrow). All the articles I've submitted thus far are actually slightly edited blog posts, so I haven't even had to work very hard for that money! Plus, my ViewsHound articles are linked to my Adsense account, so I get paid on the ads there too! I am planning on starting to submit articles to actual magazines soon, and begin putting a book together this winter (maybe two--an actual book I submit to publishers in the hopes that not too many of them crush my soul with their rejection letters and an e-book, probably a cookbook) based on the journey you've been following me on my blog.
So those are the ways I've been making money while sitting on my butt in front of a computer screen at home. I hope it helps answer some of the questions that keep popping up. If not, I'll either continue to answer them individually or, if there are enough of them, maybe I'll do a sequel to this post at a later time.