Thursday, July 13, 2006

So You Want To Earn Online?

by R.D.Wylder

It's not all that difficult to make a few dollars each month from your online activities. Most sites pay in US cash and a quick $5 to $10 is just fine for those who live in countries where there is a high conversion rate. This can actually work out to a couple hundred in local currency for them. However, this amount really isn't worth the time or the effort for most people. That's why you need a plan. Here are some of the key money making tips that should be included in your strategy.

Open A Payment Account:

It doesn't make sense to join all these programs and they have nowhere to send your money, now does it? Payment differs by program but, by and large, there are a few common methods.

1. If you live in one of the supporting countries, it would be a very good idea to open a Paypal account. This is one of the most recommended payment methods and is accepted pretty much everywhere online. You are allowed to withdraw cash and it is very easy to use.

2. E-Gold is becoming increasingly popular with more and more online merchants accepting it. The one downfall of this program is that, while you can easily transfer funds online, you need to go through a third party to withdraw funds as cash. I would highly recommend E-Gold only if you plan on using your earnings online. Worldwide.

3. Stormpay is another good program, similar to Paypal except that it is worldwide. You will have to supply copies of your identification and you cannot sign up with any email address other than that provided by your ISP. This may put off some people who are a bit paranoid of having their personal information online. An added advantage though is the new StormClix program.

4. I have heard this next program referred to an E-Gold without the restrictions. Moneybookers has also been increasing in popularity and is even being accepted by domain registrars such as Registerfly. There are a number of ways to fund your account and they are worldwide. Unlike E-Gold, you can withdraw your cash directly.

5. Some affiliate programs will offer to pay by Cheque or Money Order. If you want access to your money ASAP then this may not be for you, but it's a good option for those who prefer to see concrete evidence of their earnings. However, the associated fees might make it more profitable to look into another payment method.

There are a number of new programs that have recently come out. I have never used any of these but I have heard good things so far in the 'Get Paid' forums about AlertPay. Another new program is GreenZap.

Get An Email Address:

Once you sign up for these programs, you are going to start getting a lot of emails. You can choose to read your emails at your Site Inbox but if you are sticking to only 'Paid to Read' programs, I would strongly suggest having your emails sent to your own mailbox so that you can have everything conveniently in one place. That being said, you don't want your personal email address being cluttered by endless messages. Get an address that you intend to use strictly for online earnings activities. A good choice is as they offer a huge mailbox and you can filter your incoming emails by program. However, they will send most of your emails into the bulk folder unless you add the addresses to your contacts list so you need to keep checking. Another good bet is with a 250MB mailbox. Do not use a Hotmail account. Unless you live in the USA and can access the 250MB mailbox, or you intend on checking your email a few times each day, you are going to have a lot of bounced messages.

Join Only As Many Quality Programs As You Can Handle:

You know, when I first started this, I made the most common mistake ever...I joined every program I could find. I was convinced that I could keep up and for a couple weeks I did. Then I started getting overwhelmed. There was just too much to do...too many emails to read....too many banners to click...too many sites to surf. The end result? I got completely frustrated, left all of the programs and made exactly $0. After a while I decided to try again, but I was careful this time...I drew up a plan and I did my research. I joined only a few 'Paid to Read' programs that were the most recommended online. Little by little, I was able to join a number of different types of programs (including surfing programs) and generate a small but steady income stream with just a moderate effort on my part. What's the moral of the story? Do only what you can handle. If you know you're not going to be able to be online everyday then don't join 'Paid to Click' sites because these only work if you can devote at least half an hour each day to clicking links. If you know you can't sell anything to save your life then don't join the high paying affiliate programs that everyone else is joining because you'll be trampled by the competition. If you try to do too much, you'll end up wasting your valuable time.

Construct A Spreadsheet:

So you've joined all these different programs. How are you planning to remember each and every one of them? The best way is to construct a spreadsheet. Include the name of the site, your user ID, your passwords (especially if you a different one for each site), what the program involves (reading email, clicking links, etc.), value of each action, payout levels, your referral link and the number of people in your downline. It's also a good idea to update your current earnings at the end of each month. This way you'll never lose track of your information.

Re-Invest Your Earnings:

If you've been following the steps so far, you'll have quite a little list of high quality programs going. Most, if not all, of these you would have joined as a free member...which is how it should be. However, once you've actually started earning money, you'll want to put at least some of it back into your memberships. Why? Paid memberships often come with benefits, from no minimum payout levels to higher earning opportunities. Simply put, you can earn a lot more as a paid member and it's usually quite cheap to join.

Build Your Own Site With Your Own Domain Name:

Remember when I told you to include all your referral links on your spreadsheet? Well, you're going to need them now. Don't let anyone fool you. Yes, you can make a decent amount from just participating in the programs you've joined, but the real money lies in building your downline. What does this mean? Your downline includes all the people who have joined using your referral link. You then earn a small percentage when they actively participate in the programs. You'll want as many people as possible joining under you and that's why I'm so particular about recommending only quality programs. You don't want to make a bad reputation for yourself. You only make money from your downline for as long as your referrals stay active. But how do you get the word out? You build your own website of course. You can do this a number of ways.

If you have a program such as Microsoft Frontpage, or it's free alternative NVU, installed on your computer you can construct your own pages from scratch with minimal difficulty or you can download free templates from the web and just add the content. If not, a number of hosts offer at least a basic editor that you can use online. One of the best that I've come across is offered by Yahoo Geocities. Now, you may choose to go with a free host and the decision is entirely up to you, but there a few disadvantages to this approach. Firstly, most reputable free hosting companies offer packages that include extensive advertising (banners or pop-ups) that may detract from your site. Secondly, some free hosts are not reliable and you stand to lose your site when they either fold or switch to paid packages with no prior notice. If you prefer using a free host, use a host that has been around a while and has a good reputation. I would recommend either Geocities or Tripod but you can do a simple search on Google to find one that may be more suited to your needs. Whatever you decide, a domain name is a must. You want a name that people can easily remember. If you have any experience with website design or you're a quick learner, I would highly recommend that you purchase a domain name from a registrar who offers free hosting such as GoDaddy, download NVU, and build your own pages. A major point to note, search engines don't like link farms (read more in the last section).

Get Some Products:

So you've joined your programs, gotten your referral links and built your website. Now what? Well, if you're satisfied with what you've gotten so far then you don't have to read any further. If you want to boost your earnings significantly then you're going to have to learn how to be a salesperson...and to be a salesperson, you've got to have something to sell. Now, you can try to come up with a product of your own. For example, I could have taken this information, made it into a e-book and then charged you for the privilege of reading it. However, it's much easier to just sell someone else's product and keep a share of the profits, i.e., become an affiliate. To this though, you have to know your own capabilities. While you may be tempted to go with bigger brand names or very high-paying affiliate schemes, you must face the fact that everyone else is going to think just like you. This is where the concept of niche marketing comes in. Determine your target audience and join selected programs that would be of interest to them. For instance, if you are targeting webmasters, you would want to affiliate yourself with sites that offer domain names, hosting, software, etc.

Marketing e-books is also a good starting point. There are a number of sites that offer free e-books which you can either give away as an incentive or resell and keep all the profits. However, many of these have a minimum price at which you can sell the e-book individually and this can be quite high. My best advice... put together a package. This will make it more attractive to potential buyers and you can be more competitive with your pricing.

You should always give your visitors as much information as possible about the programs/products you are referring them to. You will have a better chance of someone following one of your links this way rather than just having a pretty, but uninformative, banner or ad.

Promote Your Site:

Congratulations. You've made it to the final step in your journey into online earning. All you have to do now is to promote your site and you can do it without paying a cent in advertising if you so choose. There are a number of ways you can do this:

1. Search Engines: Most of the bigger Search Engines will allow you to add your site to their directories for free. There are a few things you must do first though. You should recall I said before that Search Engines don't like link farms. This is especially true with Google. A link farm is essentially a site that has no actual information and just a list of links. If you have a site like this, Google will very likely refuse to add you. If you've followed my advice and given your users enough information then you'll be safe. Now I want you to look up these terms online - Meta Tags, Keyword Density, and robot.txt. You need to know about these things and correct any mistakes in your site before you submit it to the Search Engines. Note that the time it takes for your site to be added to the directory depends on the Search Engine.

2. Traffic/Hit Exchanges: This is one of the most popular ways to get traffic to your site. Remember earlier when I told you to join a few 'Paid to Surf' sites even though you didn't have a website yet? Well, now you're going to upload your website URL to those sites and assign the credits you've earned. Don't bother to do this with Autosurf sites. No one actually looks at the ads on these. You'll want to use Manual Surf sites so that there is at least the possibility that a visitor may be curious about your site and visit it. A variant of this is the Banner Exchange where you place a banner on your site you earn credits each time your banner is viewed. This can bring in additional traffic but I wouldn't recommend it if your site already has a lot of banners.

3. Classified Ads: There are quite a few sites that allow you to post classified ads for free. Remember though that your link will go down as one of many and there may not actually be a lot of people visiting the ads site. Seriously, when was that last time you visited a free classified ads site online? You may bring in a few visitors but don't let this be your main method of advertising.

4. Ezines: There are so many ezines out there now that it's becoming a really good way to advertise. It is also very cost-effective. In some cases you may even find an ezine owner who is willing to post your ad for free in exchange for a service or ad space on your site.

5. Paid to Read Sites: Huh? That's heard me. You can use the same sites that you're a member of to advertise your referral links to other members. This is especially good if you're advertising other paid opportunities. Rates are often very cheap or, if you prefer, join a site or two that lets you redeem your earnings for ads as opposed to cash.

Well, that's it. I sincerely hope that you're successful in you online earning ventures. What's my final piece of advice? If you want to reel people in to your site, it's always a good idea to use bait. Offer some free stuff. It can be anything, as long as it's free....and it's good. Don't offer anything that you yourself wouldn't like to have.

R.D.Wylder is the founder of the "So You Want To..." series and is currently working as a freelance writer and web designer. She has been writing for many years and has produced numerous works of poetry and short stories.


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