Career

5 Secrets That Help Internet-Savvy Entrepreneurs Keep Earning Money

By Monday, September 20, 2021

This article is sponsored by Thinkific.

Lately, it seems everyone and their neighbor is a small business owner. That’s not an exaggeration. According to a study referenced in The New York Times, people in the US started 4.4 million new businesses during the pandemic. Even my TikTok ForYouPage (FYP)  is flooded with self-proclaimed small business-owners eagerly listing all the reasons why you should ditch the desk and join their be-your-own-boss lifestyle.

And look, as someone who is technically an entrepreneur herself (though I much prefer the term “freelancer”!), I totally get it. Between having the freedom to set your own schedule, work from wherever you want, wear whatever you want, owning your own business seems like a dream come true. At the same time, for as many #myownboss #entrepreneurs there are willing to share general advice on “how to make it,” it seems there’s a lot of mystery over exactly how internet entrepreneurs actually make their living. It also doesn’t help that when you sometimes click on their TikTok videos that claim they’ll tell you exactly you how you can do the same, there’s a good chance you leave with nothing more than a list of empty buzzwords like “drive, ambition, and mindset” and 60 seconds of your time you can’t get back.

But while many entrepreneurs would argue their business is their one full-time job, the truth is they’re probably earning money from multiple income streams. In fact, most of the business owners and creators you see online — whether it’s on Youtube, Tiktok or Instagram — probably get income from at least five different sources, if not many more. And contrary to what many people may lead you to believe on their channels, earning money online through some of these potential sources requires more than just pure *manifestation* or *hustler mindset.* But that doesn’t mean it’s a total pipe dream, either. With a bit of strategic planning and an internet connection, anyone can start earning money on the internet as soon as this week.

And sure,  tapping into the internet economy may require some extra effort up-front. But in the end, creating additional revenue streams will certainly help you achieve your financial goals much faster, which will ultimately benefit you and your business in the long term.

Keep reading to find out what strategies digital entrepreneurs follow to earn money online, and how you can get started doing the same:

1. Selling digital-first products.

As a business owner, it’s much more beneficial in the long run to develop practices that allow you to generate money continuously, rather than sell an item that earns you a one-time profit. One of the easiest ways to do this is to sell digital products, like downloadable prints, templates, and worksheets. All you have to do is design whatever it is you want to sell, find a place that will host it, and let the money come to you.

Another approach people use to earn money this way is by uploading designs to certain websites (Zazzle, Etsy, RedBubble) that will sell customized physical merchandise featuring their work. With these sites, creators earn a small percentage of each sale made featuring a product with their design. And though the profit margin may be small, the fact that you don’t have to actually build any physical items makes it a pretty painless way to earn extra money.

And if you’re not a professional designer, don’t worry. Selling digital products isn’t just for artists or creative types. Pretty much anything that can be considered a resource to improve people’s lives can be monetized into a product. If you’re in the field of career coaching, for instance, some examples of products you can design online are downloadable resume and cover letter templates, as well as productivity worksheets. (I myself have purchased a few of these from several small businesses.) If you’re a teacher, you might consider uploading classroom worksheets. I even know a personal trainer, who sells downloadable packets with different workout routines listed on them.

Basically, if you can make it into a visual, you have something worthy of selling.
Remember, the best part of digital products is that they live entirely online, so you never have to worry about printing a shipping label or ever running out of stock. In fact, overall, it’s a pretty green way to earn money.

Pro-tip: While your product doesn’t necessarily have to be directly related to your business (I know an HR manager who earns money from selling tumblr layouts as a side gig), selling a design that features your brand’s name or logo is also a clever way to market yourself while also making money.

2. Generating passive income by starting an online course.

When you’re a small business owner or freelancer, you likely earn most of your money through individual projects or services you provide for someone else. This is called active income. You get paid only each time you do a certain action. Once the labor stops, the payment stops.  And because you only have so many hours in a day to commit to work, it can be incredibly difficult to earn additional revenue this way.

But what if there was a way to keep the money flowing without having to do the initial work again? There is: And it’s called passive income streams. You can basically think of it as money you earn that isn’t directly tied to a set time or task commitment.

One of the most profitable ways entrepreneurs are generating passive income today is by creating paid online courses. Course creators on the online course platform Thinkific, for instance, are projected to earn an estimated $550M in revenue in 2021 alone. Beyond the potential profits, another benefit to creating a revenue stream like this is that it allows for so much more growth and flexibility. Unlike traditional one-on-one tutoring, consulting, or coaching sessions, which require you to always be present (aka active income) for regular sessions, an online course only requires you to develop the initial recording, filming, or typing of your teaching material one time while granting you the opportunity to indefinitely earn money from different people. This means more freedom for you to focus your time and energy on your primary business, while still earning semi-regular income on the side.
And before you say, But wait, I’m not qualified to teach, I don’t have specific teaching credentials, I’m gonna stop you there. Because you actually don’t need a fancy certificate from any place in order to teach. All you need is knowledge, the ability to communicate it clearly with others, and a platform. And Thinkific’s all-in-one course platform makes it incredibly easy to design and sell your own courses. No web design or coding experience required!

It’s also worth pointing out you don’t have to develop courses that are based on hard skills like mathematics or coding (though if you have a knack for simplifying either of those subjects into digestible bits for people like me, I assure you there’s definitely a market for that, and I am definitely part of it!) If you’re a small business owner or freelancer, there’s a good chance you are highly knowledgeable in multiple fields and skills. Are you good at conflict resolution?  You can teach a course on that. Are you a pro at motivating people due to past experience from managing a retail sales team? You can make a course that helps people be better coaches. Remember, your hard-earned experience and expertise is valuable. Why not transform it into something that helps others and earns you money?

3. Hosting exclusive, virtual events.

One of the other great benefits of the internet (and Zoom specifically) is not just the fact that we can reach people thousands of miles away. It’s that we can fit 100 people in a room without having to rent out any space at all. This opens up so much potential for earning more money for things people would have been paying for anyway in-person, like special speaking events or lectures.

Whether you work in personal finance, wedding planning, or wellness, you’re likely connected to at least some other people in your field through your immediate and extended network. Why not bring them together for a special, one-time, exclusive, paid event where they can connect with other like-minded professionals, and potentially share knowledge with aspiring people they can mentor? You can easily do this on Zoom and sell the tickets through your own website.

Attendees get the benefit of connecting with other like-minded professionals and making new contacts, while you get the benefit of earning extra money and connections. Plus, If you’re already hosting courses online, virtual events can serve as a nice supplemental bonus material for people in your course community. In addition, they can function as a teaser for people who are curious about what you have to offer, but have not yet fully committed to purchasing your courses. Hosting an event also establishes you as a credible, knowledgeable source in your industry.

And while you certainly don’t have to charge for every event, demonstrating that you know your worth can signal to people that you understand what you have to offer is valuable.
You also don’t have to charge a ton of money, either. Think about it like this: You charge $7 per attendee and 80 people attend, that’s $560 dollars just for you to talk with people. And if 400 people attend? That’s $2800 in your pocket.


4. Utilizing brand partnerships. 

Do you have a blog? Social media profiles? Any kind of following? Great. You’re a potential candidate for partnerships.Once you’ve established an online presence for your brand, whether through a blog or social media profiles, you’ve opened up the door for potential partnerships with our businesses. For many entrepreneurs, this can be one of the most stable and lucrative ways for them to earn money.

You may already be familiar with this as #sponcon, a personal favorite of the influencers, which usually takes the form of curated Instagram posts that feature a visually-pleasing product placement that a brand pays for. USually, those occur when a brand offers an individual or a business a single sum (or free product) up-front to feature their product on their page or feed. Of course, earnings definitely vary from person-to-person, but, Insider reported last year that the average TikTok user was charging brands .01 to .02 cents per view for a sponsored post, or about $1.00 for every 100 views.

But there are actually many different ways entrepreneurs can earn revenue  through advertisements. For bloggers, there’s potential to earn money with pay-per-click ads, which is when a business hosts their ad on your site and pays you for every click the ad receives.

Lately, an increasingly popular way for people to earn money with online partnerships is through affiliate marketing. Basically, this is when an individual creator or entrepreneur (aka the affiliate) markets a product that isn’t their own to an audience for a commission. In order to earn said money, you usually have to place a link to the product somewhere in your content or website. You get paid when someone uses your specific link to make the purchase. While this can be a pretty easy way to get some extra money with minimal effort, know that your potential profit can vary greatly depending on the company, your following, and several other factors. Some people report earning as little as $10 in an entire month to as much as a few hundred dollars in a single day. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the easier ways you can earn some extra money, without having to create any new product yourself.

Just be wary that many of these affiliate marketing programs can look a lot like pyramid schemes. So be sure you really research a company before deciding to partner with them. 

5. Create exclusive content with a subscription model.

As a content creator and above all, consumer, one of the things I’ve noticed that sets the most successful online entrepreneurs apart is they understand their brand isn’t just for them. Everything they do is for the entire community they’ve built around their brand. They know who they’re selling to and why their product is valuable to them. But they also go beyond just “targeting” an audience of people in a generic or pandering manner. They interact with their followers on social media. They create social media groups or spaces for people to talk and ask questions. And while this may seem like a lot of extra work, it’s these steps that allow them to earn money through something that may be considered good as gold for any creator: premium content.

By premium content, I’m talking paid streaming events, access to special forums and blogs, and newsletters. In addition to courses, this is probably one of the best ways to earn a semi-regular stream of income because they often rely on a subscription model. People usually sign-up to have the money automatically deducted from their account, which guarantees you that money unless they opt out. The beauty of this is that it guarantees most of your income is coming from people who genuinely believe in what you do and want to support you enough to do it financially. No ad revenue is required, though you could always use a newsletter to plug your online course. It also doesn’t have to require a ton of effort on your part. One writer I know puts out a single newsletter every weekend and charges just $5 a month for their subscription, but earns several hundred extra dollars per month by doing so with their 120 or so paying subscribers. 

The bottom line is if you’re already creating free content, it may be worth your while to consider strategically making some of your content premium. Because let’s be real. You’ve likely invested years and money into earning your expertise. Why not try and earn some return on that investment?
While there’s no one magic button that guarantees you’ll become a viral star or money-making machine on the internet overnight, following some of the above tips can help you earn extra money without having to sacrifice too much more of your time. And take from this entrepreneur, I know that’s your most precious resource. 

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Image via Unsplash

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