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How Can I Make a Living Online?



5:43 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi, I'm new to webmasterworld.com. I'm 19 and I already understand way more about the internet and web pages than most people (not the people on this forum, but people in real life). I know almost everything about html and css, and I am starting to get good at PHP. I have a simple website with a sign in system. I've never copyrighted anything or trademarked anything, though I might know how if I had the money. You could say that I'm a webmaster newbie. What I want to know is where should I go from here? What do I need to learn? Should I learn how to set up an online shop? Or should I make my money on Google AdSense? How can I make money online? Any direction would be greatly appreciated!


5:56 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lammert is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Hi ethan89, welcome to WebmasterWorld!

There are many ways to make a living on the Internet. It is best you chose something which is within your own interests, because often it takes some years before a website really takes off, and in the period until that happens you have to put a lot of time and effort in it to make that happen.

If you know a lot about a certain subject, you could start a content site focused about that subject and monetize it with advertising like AdSense. If in real life you like trading and interaction with people, a webshop may be a better choice for you. And if you are good in algorithms and development, writing the next generation search engine might be the ultimate goal.

It all depends on your skills and interests. The main thing is that you chose a direction with which you feel comfortable to do a few years of work without much revenue.


6:16 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for the reply! I'm not good with people and I don't know much about that whole ultimate search engine thing. It seems like adsense and a topic that interests me is what I need to do. Is it necessary to copyright my website and trademark my domain name?


6:24 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lammert is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Copyright and trademark depends on the country where you are in and the size you expect your site to reach. Copyright is granted automatically by creating unique content, but in some countries like for example the US, registering copyright has the advantage that you can claim more money if someone infringes on your copyright. Trademarking and copyright is a specialized area though and the members in the Content, Writing and Copyright forum [webmasterworld.com] might have better advice on that issue.


6:30 am on Aug 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Interesting, I had no idea my website is automatically copyrighted. I don't want to take more money from people who copy my website (so far it's not exactly worth copying anyways). I will check out that copyright forum.


4:00 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator lifeinasia is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Having the technical skills is only one part of being able to make a living online. You need to have a solid understanding of business (marketing, client acquisition, accounting, taxes, law, etc.), because that's exactly what you want to develop- a business that provides you with enough money to live, not only for today, but for years to come. That means you not only need to have enough revenue to cover your monthly expenses, but you also need to earn money for savings against lean times as well as savings for retirement.

I'm 19

Ooh, a red flag. I'm not against youth (it was an affliction that I and everyone else here suffered from at one point :) ), but youth often means inexperience. How much work experience do you have in the real world? Part-time jobs in high school rarely give much exposure to the real corporate world and how businesses actually work. It's very difficult to learn how to work for yourself until you work for others. The enthusiasm and energy associated with youth can help makeup for inexperience, but only so far.

I'm not good with people

Ooh, another red flag. If all you're going to do is keep to yourself and develop your own content and never have any customers, employees, partner, investors, or advisers (very rare, unless you keep your business small), you may be okay. But realistically, you will interact with a lot of people in your business. You need to learn how to work with them, how to negotiate, and how to motivate them.

Forget everything you ever heard about getting rich with AdSense. It rarely happens, and it certainly doesn't happen overnight. Yes, it is possible to make a decent living with AdSense (and/or other advertising), but it takes a long time to get to that point. And you are always at the mercy of Google (or other search engines) for traffic. If you look through the AdSense forums, there are MANY "Google banned me!" threads.

My advice is that while you build up your online business, get a day job (or don't quit the one you have if you have one, especially in this economy!) and build up work experience. Not only does it give you cash to live on while you build up your site, but it also builds skills that will be critical in life. While doing your day job, don't just go through the motions- try to understand every single facet of the business, from dealing with customers, marketing and advertising, hiring/firing employees, and paying employee benefits and taxes.


6:05 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Find a niche or something that few know about. Be daring - you are young and that is where the daring comes from. You could for example jump ship. Move to an exotic location where the first language is not English and become an AUTHORITY on said location and blog or set up a website catering to tourists or retirees from your original country. These folks would get to trust you and depend on you for information, relocation services etc.


6:35 pm on Aug 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

How can you make a living online?

The key is to NOT try to make a living online. Get an actual job first...salary, benefits....and then work on a website in your spare time. It is incredibly difficult to start a website right now and make enough money to live on just that. If it were that easy, everyone would be doing it.

Sometimes you get it lucky and hit it big, sometimes you don't. But at the end of the day, it's much better knowing you don't have to hit it big to afford things. It always stays a hobby and stays fun.


6:44 pm on Sep 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hi ethan89,

I think it's great, what you are trying to do. You have the time and energy to make it. However, as LifeInAsia mentioned, don't let the "I made millions from Google" stuff sway you too much. It's still work and it takes time to pay off. I started an online forum for a niche market at the beginning of the year (in my spare time). So far I think adsense is paying me about $.07 per hour that I work on the site. The $.07 is not taking into account the hosting expenses.

Now I have learned tons of stuff by taking on this project and that is valuable. I've searched jobs in the US using some of this knowledge and they pay fairly well.

My advice is build, learn, repeat. You will eventually get there. And you found webmasterworld, that's a great start.

good luck!


10:06 pm on Sep 6, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member wheel is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

1) bring in traffic
2) monetize it

You want to have a plan, with those thing things looked at specifically. You need to market the site - do some research on how. Link building, SEO, there's a variety of ways to bring in traffic. Monetizing it - same thing, you have to sell something -advertising, a product, other people's products (affiliate marketing) and so on. Different ways to accomplish those two tasks and you'll have to try some different ways, but those are the jobs at hand.


1:34 am on Sep 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

As a case in point I have been on the trail to an income full time for 6 months, spent most of that time learning. Now I'm doing and while I feel I have learnt a lot still aways from any income. Its incredibly competitive, even niches of niches are covered. Seems like there are 10 sellers to every buyer. I used to have a factory and showroom. My competitors were in a 5 km radius. Now its the whole world! But stick at it, people do make it. I will. You will. If you want it enough.


1:41 am on Sep 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Welcome to WebmasterWorld wingman

But stick at it, people do make it. I will. You will. If you want it enough.

And good advice.


2:43 am on Sep 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Hi ethan89,

I'm not in the camp of the people who think you need an actual job first. I think you can learn it all online. It's a different path, but you're a different generation, and right now, I frankly think the economy's so bad that the "experience" jobs of yore just aren't there for many people. Not that you shouldn't get a conventional job if you want to or need to, but I don't think it's necessary in order to learn.

What do you need to learn to earn by AdSense...?

1) How to produce good content. That means how to create content that people find valuable via video, text, photography, graphic arts, or whatever. You don't have to always produce it for your website indefinitely, but doing it yourself is the cheapest route when you're still learning and can teach you what to look for if and when you hire others.

2) The rules. Laws you have to follow. FTC guidelines about testimonials if you're in the U.S. All the terms of service and program policies of the AdSense programs and related programs. So many folks don't know the rules - which are not always intuitive - make mistakes, and then lose access to some of these programs for life.

3) How to market. Who your target audience is. Old marketing principles and new marketing principles. And learn long tail theory - read Chris Anderson's The Long Tail. It's not exactly the online marketing bible, but it does present a starting point for looking at the Internet as an entirely different economic playground.

4) This one's kind of fuzzy and tree-hugging, but what the heck: About people from all over the world. If you're from the U.S., you may have a U.S.-centric outlook (see? I'm displaying mine by assuming you're an American). But of course the Internet is the playground of the planet, and there are different attitudes about things, and eventually we'll be talking to people without a language barrier, and even when the same language is spoken differences can be huge, and it's a good idea to get a jump on understanding it all so that you can conduct business worldwide.

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