Here Are 3 Proven Ways To Make Money Online And 3 Ideas To Avoid

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As with everything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things.

In his Medium article “The 7 Worst Ways I’ve Discovered to Make Money Online,” Tim Denning talks about the worst ways he’s witnessed people try to earn an income or start a side hustle.

Denning is a writer for CNBC & Business Insider, so he’s seen and written about his fair share of good and bad ideas.

“I read a lot of content about all the ways you can make money online. What is rarely spoken about is all the ways that don’t work. Thankfully, I’ve done the experimenting for you. I’ve spent seven years playing around with what works and what doesn’t.”

Here are Denning’s observations on the smart and silly ways to make money online. First, the smart moves to make…

How To Make Money Online

1. Build An Audience or Group

I previously wrote an article about a young writer quitting her job to go freelance full-time. In the piece, I discussed the importance of her audience size – a fact she oddly left out of her story – and how vital her 23K followers were to making money while being self-employed.

Denning suggests building an audience in the following ways, the first being to create a group.

“An online community you operate through Facebook Groups, WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, etc. is level two. Email feels lonely and doesn’t have social proof. Online communities are social.

Make 99% of what you do for your community free. Occasionally give the community options for products or services they can purchase from you related to the theme of the group.

Think online summits, coaching, courses, real-world meetups, etc.”

To do this, Denning suggests…

2. Collect Email Addresses

At one point, collecting email addresses was considered the “old way” of getting new customers or clients. Well, what’s old is new again.

“An email address enables a future conversation. Place a quiet, one-sentence call to action somewhere in your content. Give people a way to level up if they choose. If they don’t, then don’t overdo it and chase them down the street with a fishnet.”

Here’s a quick guide on the why – and how – to build an email list.

3. Don’t Sell, Teach

Denning’s final point on proven ways to build an audience and make money online is to “teach and not sell.”

“Selling is how most businesses operate,” he explains. “Teaching is how businesses that understand the power of content sell. There’s a subtle difference. Selling feels sleazy. Learning from a teacher you trust feels natural.

Now that we’ve covered the proven ways to build an audience and client base that will lead to potential income, here are some of the old ways of making money online that just don’t cut it anymore

Side Hustle Ideas To Avoid

1. Creating Content That Looks Like An Ad

No one wants to be sold to. If a person comes across your content on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, and the content feels like an ad. They’re going to scroll right past.

Denning explains:

“Creating content is now at the heart of every business or individual looking to make money online. You have to create video, audio, micro-content, writing, imagery, or illustrations to make money. You’re smart. You know that by now.

What’s misunderstood is that most people accidentally create content that looks like an ad.

When you scroll your LinkedIn feed (or any social media feed) quickly, you’ll pay less attention to the person’s name or when the content is posted, and more attention to what the content looks like at speed.

Deciphering ads versus organic, natural content has become a subconscious sport for the human mind. Your brain switches off when it sees a cliche stock image it’s seen hundreds of times, or a smiling face in a business suit with perfect filters applied, or a duuude leaning against the side of a Lambo.”

I like calling this the TikTok model of making content. TikTok content often uses the same songs, voiceovers, or sounds to create a new piece of content.

While the content is technically new, it’s really not much different than the millions of other videos using the same songs, sounds, and voiceovers.

Create content that’s original and unique to you, your business, and your voice. Don’t try to replicate the successes of other people.

2. Trying To Win The SEO Game

Winning the SEO game is impossible unless your website enjoys traffic numbers in the millions each month or your company and product are niche, and there are few competitors.

Trying to rank for SEO terms is time-consuming and rarely pays dividends in relation to the time spent finding keywords and writing in a way that will please the search engine.

Denning explains why the SEO game is a waste of time and effort by writing, “By creating SEO favorable content you start to sound like a robot. You start to sound like everybody else who is playing the same SEO game. SEO content reads like an ad, pretending to be helpful when it’s not.”

Write content that people will want to read and not content that hopefully someone searches and finds.

3. Banking On Affiliate Marketing

Here’s a cautionary tale about affiliate marketing from my early days in online content creation.

Bob was a colleague of mine at a small website that served as the online home for three local newspapers. Bob loved horror movies, Halloween, and everything scary. These were his passions.

Management asked Bob to create an online guide to Halloween shopping. Bob took this request a step further and built pages and pages of Halloween and horror content. The finished pages were awe-inspiring and in-depth.

Bob included affiliate links on every page, hyperlinking not just to costumes but to movies and memorabilia on Amazon.

In October of that year, the company made over $23,000 from affiliate links. Management was thrilled.

But then Bob was expected to do it again the next year and the next and the next. The company never saw that amount of money from affiliate links ever again.

Bob didn’t last much longer with the company for many reasons that weren’t his fault.

“Amazon affiliate marketing has been promoted as the holy grail for those who seek to earn money online,” explains Denning. “Then the pandemic struck, and Amazon quietly cut commissions. Unless you started in the affiliate marketing business five years ago, your chances of earning any money from this income source are low. You need a lot of traffic to promote your Amazon links to, and even then, the money is limited.”

Instead, Denning suggests using affiliate links to your own products.

“Creating products to sell online has never been easier. You can create information products. You can get anything your mind can come up with, manufactured through Alibaba and modern-day iterations of their concept.”

To read the rest of Tim Denning’s article – “The 7 Worst Ways I’ve Discovered to Make Money Online” – click here.

Chris Illuminati

Chris Illuminati is the author of five books and has written about personal finance, wealth, debt management, and entrepreneurship for numerous outlets including Wise Bread, Grow or Die, and Bankrate.