$7,353.84 In Online Income!

Every month there are 673,000 searches for the term ‘make money online‘ and over a million for various combinations such as ‘earn money online‘ and ‘how to make money online‘.  Apparently there’s a lot of money to be made in this niche and there are tons of people who will sell you ebooks, CDs, DVDs and monthly subscriptions on how to make hundreds of thousands of dollars by pimping stuff online or through secret google-checks. The sad truth is that is difficult to make $100,000 a year but it is not impossible. With a little bit of effort I’ve been pulling in a little over $2,000 a month for almost a year. I wish I could devote more time to it, but with my MBA, job search and some part-time consulting (and now summer internship) I barely get any time to try new things. In fact, I barely get time to post on this blog either.

Here’s my breakdown for the 2nd quarter. I made $7,353.84 in online income I made between April 2009 through June 2009. For comparison, I made $6,760.85 in online income during the 1st quarter.

On average, I made just over $2,250 a month.  As usual, Ebay was the largest income producer.  Till date this year, I’ve made just over $5,000 from Ebay affiliate commissions and over $8,000 since I started last year. (click on the graph twice to see a larger image).


As you can see from the graph, the earnings (in yellow) have steadily increased each month (with a big surge before Christmas followed by a huge drop right after!). Read this post on How to make money from Ebay without selling anything if you want more information about starting your own niche sites.

One of my fellow blogtrepreneurs makes over $3,000 from his BANS sites so there is decent money to be made.  However, the few $100k/year guys I know make it from selling ebooks and other online products. From what I gather, that is the most likely way to make a real living from online marketing and sales. Towards that end, I’ve been working on a project to create and sell some online ebooks. Within the next several weeks, I divulge more information about it. Until then, all I can say is that the idea was motivated by this $7 ebook!

Creating Online Passive Income: Interview With HubPages CEO

At periodic intervals, I post my passive income revenue and other articles about creating passive income. One method I’ve heard about was creating articles on HubPages.com. If you have decent writing skills but no technical expertise it offers a way for you to make some online income.

I was able to ask the CEO of HubPages.com and YieldBuild.com, Paul Edmonson some questions about his entrepreneurial experience and passive income.

How did you begin in online marketing?

I started in online marketing back in 1999 when I first started working on the search engine optimization strategy for MongoMusic. Since then I’ve started numerous sites that range from lead generation to niche content, been an SEO consultant and am now the CEO of HubPages.com and YieldBuild.  Both technologies are geared toward helping publishers optimize their online ad revenues.

How many sites, blogs, hubpages do you maintain?

I have made a few hundred hubs personally, but there are over 367,000 Hubs published now and more getting added every day.

What are your different source of online revenue?

HubPages revenue is driven by the YieldBuild ad optimization service that come primarily from optimizing AdSense, and Microsoft PubCenter through our service.

What are the most difficult challenges you face?

I think the biggest challenge of online businesses is getting to scale.  It generally takes time and several iterations to get a product or service fit to the market.  Generally, you won’t know how good a business will be until the product is fit to the market.  I think this process is the most difficult for every web based business I’ve bee apart of.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start making money online?

It starts with quality.  You have to make a quality product or service.  This take time and lots of hard work.  And.  You have to continue to improve and iterate.  If you are starting out online, I’d suggest make something extraordinary well, and keep iterating until it gets fit to the market.

How much money do you make through online residual sources?

Personally my wife and I have Hubs and a few sites that make about $2K-$3K per month, but our YieldBuild business will gross over $3 Million this year and is growing quite quickly.

Would you like to plug your company?

Yes, people should check out HubPages.com if they are interested in starting with earning revenue online by creating and sharing content. Make high quality Hubs and overtime, you will start to generate revenue.  For people that have sites, they should take a look at YieldBuild.com and try our ad optimization services.

While he mentions that he makes $2-3k from his hubs, he didn’t tell you that he has nearly 250 hubs. This must have taken serious effort. Creating online income, passive income or any sort of income for that matter isn’t easy. Its takes time and effort. Many people give up before they even get started. If you expecting to see quick results, you will likely be disappointed.

What online revenue streams do you have? What has or hasn’t worked for you?

Online Income Update: 1st Quarter 2009

Several of my long time readers have asked me to post my online income. I didn’t realize that I haven’t posted the passive income and online revenue numbers since December. A few reader are just starting to make money online and are particularly curious!

So here’s a quarterly breakdown for online income only. I haven’t had time to calculate the dividend income.

Quarterly Online Income:$6,760.85

Dividend Income: No Clue

The largest segment was the income from Ebay which was about $1,875.  Over the course of entire 2008, I made a total of $3,332.55 from the Ebay sites, so this income has increased quite a bit.  The sites target people who want to buy online businesses, cheap real estate and timeshares, gold coins and other niches.

I also made an additional $3,800 from online marketing & SEO consulting!

Remember, this is quarterly revenue from January through March.

How To Make Money On Ebay Without Actually Selling Anything

As of July 20th 2009, I’ve received over $8,500 so far from Ebay. But the beauty is I didn’t actually sell anything. That’s right, Ebay sent me the money for referring buyers to their site. Since several of my fellow bloggers have asked me how to go about making money from ebay, I’ve put together this short how-to article that I hope will help you.

How Does the Ebay Affiliate Program (EPN) Work?

Back in April I built several niche sites to that specifically targeted to specific niches like gold coins, iphones and ipod batteries. Several weeks ago, I also added an “investment store” on this site that sells cheap timeshares, real estate and income-producing websites.

Ebay pays a commission based on the final sales price of the item. It usually varies between 5-10%. For items like cars and real estate, there is a flat fee which is over $100! I just received $175 from the sale of a $4,000 rental property in Ohio and another $135 from the sale of a used car. And it wasn’t any old used car, someone sold a rolls royce on ebay!

Additionally, if someone signs up as a new user, Ebay pays up to $35 (although its typically only $25). It also gives up to 75% (although 50% is more usual) of it commissions to affiliates who refer buyers. You can get more affiliate information here.

How Do You Create A Niche Site?

The toughest part of creating a niche site is identifying the niche. Ideally, you want a well-searched for niche that doesn’t have a lot of competition. For example, “discount designer doo-dahs” is a niche. But is it a good one? Good luck figuring that out on your own. However, there are a lot of tools to help you do this. Some people recommend Keyword Elite and I have it and use it. But there are several other tools, some of which require a one-time fee and others that charge a monthly subscription to use. If you already have one and are seeing good results with it, then it should be sufficient.

The niche sites aggregate the RSS feeds from Ebay for related products and display them. Luckily, I didn’t have to do the programming. In fact, creating the site is the easiest part of the whole process. I just bought the BANS (Build-A-Niche-Site) software that does everything for me. It did cost $97 but considering that I’ve made over $8,000 from ebay so far (as of July 2009), I’d say it was a pretty good investment.

Several people have told me that they were rejected or they had accounts and got banned. While its not widely understood why a lot of people have been rejected, its not too difficult to understand. If you submit thin-sites to the EPN there is a higher likelyhood of getting rejected. (A thin site is a site with no content, just affiliate links).  Always submit your flagship blog to EPN. If you’re using BANS on another store (as this blog does) make sure you’re selling related products. Note that this blogs’ store doesn’t anything that I don’t have at least 10 posts on. (Of course, I have 800 posts so finding a related product is pretty easy!). But if you’re blogging about cooking and trying to sell bicycle parts, it just doesn’t make sense. Effectively, you’ve conveyed to the EPN team your complete lack of experience in online marketing and understanding of how online traffic conversion works. Once you’ve been approved, then you can start multiple sites on different products. But make sure each site is targeted towards a specific product and make sure you understand the marketing part (which I’ve discussed below).

So make sure you have relevant content. How do you create relevant content? Either you write it, you pay someone to write it, or you use a tool to aggregate other people’s tweets or posts. Make sure you don’t just outright steal content – that will not only result in bad karma, you will also get flagged by the search engines for duplicate content!  One tool I’ve seen been used on sites that Google has not banned (de-indexed) is WPanswers.  It’s only $29.99 and comes with a 30 day no questions asked money back guarantee. I just bought it and I’ll let you know if I see any adverse effects from it.

Buying A Cheap Domain With Cheap Hosting

I also had to pay for domain names, but Godaddy had a 99 cent sale on domains so that wasn’t much of a cost. I also use 1 & 1 for domain name registration because they sometimes have specials. I usually go with whichever is cheaper, although 1&1 does offer free domain privacy for which Godaddy charges an extra $9.99 a year. However, Godaddy’s interface is significantly easier to use and their customer service is pretty stellar, so there’s some definite value in that, especially if you’re new to the online world. ( Also,  .org sites are usually much cheaper at 1&1 than Godaddy and may have better street cred than .info sites. )

I also use my own hosting. I like Dreamhost a lot and highly recommend it. It’s incredibly easy to install and update the sites. I’ve been using them for 4 years and they also have an affiliate program which pays out 100% of the first years hosting (sometimes 175%!) for new referrals. (Use code “PassiveIncome” for a decent discount). For $120/year you get 1 free domain registration and unlimited hosting. HostGator is another well-respected hosting company and many people with BANS sites use them too. Their affiliate program is also supposed to be excellent, but I wouldn’t know!

Marketing Your Niche Site

The most important part about making money online is the online marketing of your newly created sites. If you’re like most newbies and you build several sites thinking that you’ll automatically get traffic, you’ll be very disappointed. You need to understand how to create content that attracts search engine traffic (also called organic traffic). Again, Keyword Elite will help you with this. Its a pretty good tool and the videos on the landing page are worth a watch if you don’t know anything about harnessing the power of internet traffic. Another key factor that is often overlooked is building back-links to your site. I have personally gone to hundreds of blogs and left real, relevant comments on them with links back to my site. Some of them are nofollow links, but I don’t think it really matters. I believe all links matter, its just that nofollow and links from low-quality sites matter less than than links from a top quality site.  However, a cool way to get a lot of social media love is through a Social Bookmarking Automation Tool.  I highly, highly recommend this tool and it is in fact the one I use the most often. Most of my sites rank very well on various search engines for certain keywords and I get excellent organic traffic. As you can see from the Ebay affiliate sales figures, the conversion rates are pretty high.

Here’s another tool I highly recommend. I tells you what keywords you rank for and what your position is in the search engines. Its incredibly useful, especially when you see someone new bump you from your spot on Google. You can use this (along with some other tools) to see if its a fluke or they’re actually planning to take over your position!

If you’re still floundering, you need a guide with step by step instructions. The 9 Step Make Money Online Guide is an excellent resource written by the creators of BANS software. You should definitely read it if you’re new or if you have sites that aren’t generating much income.

Here are my earnings below:


As you can see from the image, the traffic (in blue) and the earnings (in yellow) have been increasing over the past year. As I’ve becoming more focused in my selection of keywords and as my search engine rankings have improved, the conversion of the traffic has gotten a lot better too.

While it took some initial effort to set up the stores and market them online, I haven’t done anything for at over 6 weeks. Making nearly $1,000/month from several sites that don’t require much effort is really cool. Finally some residual income that’s really passive! So don’t give up! It might take a few months to see any fruits of your labor but it will be well worth it!

I’ll post my monthly passive income update sometime this week.

Passive Income Update For August 2008

Finally got some time to add up all the passive income for the month of August. While June was a record breaking month with over $3,300 in passive income, July and August have been pretty lackluster in comparison. July’s income was $2,115.61 and August’s total was hardly any better with $2,134.57.

Maybe I can use the same excuse that government statistians use when talking about the economy and blame on seasonal variations! But the fact is that revenue dropped due to 2 main reasons. I pre-sold annual advertising in June that rightly should have been ammortized over the year (according to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles). Also, since I was busy with my move to Los Angeles, I didn’t really have time to look for advertisers or respond in a timely fashion to those that contacted me.

But the good news is that traffic to the site didn’t drop off, and apart from direct advertisers, revenue that was dependent on traffic remained almost constant. And of course, my dividend income was pretty stable despite the recent large drop in equity prices and the strengthening dollar which caused a 5-8% drop in the value of my foreign dividends.

Here’s the breakdown:

A reader emailed me a few days ago asking what’s the best way to start generating online income. I told him to start blogging about something he was passionate about. That way, he’d be able to keep up his motivation during the initial few months when he probably wouldn’t be making any money. Once he had written a few dozen articles or posts, he should start seeing some search engine traffic. If you’re in a highly competitive niche, you’ll need to make sure you have a lot of other sites linking back to you. Do a search for creating a back-link campaign to find out how to do this.

Once you see search engine traffic you should include ads in your site.  I include ads from Comission Junction, Adsense, Linkworth, Text-Link-Ads, ADSDAQ and Kontera. While individually they aren’t significant amounts, the income is consistent and together it all ads up.

Amazon affiliate income has dropped a lot since the beginning of this year. Not sure if this is seasonal since there are more sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I’ve finally gotten around to adding an affiliate link prominently on the site and I expect this to have a positive effect. How much of a positive effect remains to be seen.

The affiliate income from Ebay has been growing steadily. It’s up nearly 7-fold in the past 5 months. Last month I added a storefront on this website which focuses on business, cheap real estate, gold coins and other income producing ventures and this has already started producing referrals. Some of the other sites are .info sites that I bought for $0.99 from GoDaddy and they were created using BANS. For a little more info on how to generate passive income from sites, look at the 2nd half of this post (look for the section on Niche Sites).

RevResponse did well last month, partly due to a $50 bonus. They basically provide free publications and white papers on various topics ranging from finance and banking to search engine optimization and car detailing. Check out the Free Financial Magazines link. Bloggers might also want to check out the Sales & Marketing articles too. Mature programmers might remember a famous programming magazine called Dr. Dobb’s Journal. Well, it’s available for free too. And the best part is I get paid for providing my readers with free useful information! Yes, you can  money selling magazines! (well, technically you’re giving them away).

A lot of oil and gold stocks have been beaten down recently. My portfolio of Canroys wasn’t spared either, but I’m not going to panic and sell them right now. I’m getting a decent amount of dividends each month and I’m happy to keep on holding them for a while. We’ve seen some pretty bizzare events in the financial markets lately and I’m sure not going to panic after everyone else already has (the time to panic is before everyone else!).

Anyway, its time to wind up this post. I have the last 6 hours of Math camp tomorrow! It’s a lot more fun than I thought it would be!

How Passive Is Your Passive Income?

I’ve been lumping in my online income with my passive income, but it isn’t really passive. It may not be very strenuous and it gives me geographic flexibility and I don’t have to show up for work every day, but there is some effort involved. Unfortunately I’m not as clever as Courtney Tuttle, who says he has a site that makes $3,500/month with no ongoing maintance. (If you’d like to buy an existing site that generates income, check out the online businesses for sale on my business & investment store). I’ve just had some limited success with Domain Parking, buts that the extent of my truly passive online income.

Simply put, my online income isn’t really passive. It’s a lot more passive than the website and seo consulting work I do by a huge margin, but its not as passive as dividneds or royalty checks.

So what are the best ways to earn really Passive Income?

1. High Dividend Stocks
There are a lot of stocks that paying quarterly or yearly dividends. Over time, the power of compounding (with a little help from inflation) can substantially increase the value of your dividends. My mother bought the Indian subsidiary of Unilever (Ticker: UL) called Hindustan Lever about 20 years ago. She’s being reinvesting most of her dividends and today her annual dividends are larger than the value of the original stock purchase. American Capital Strategies (ticker: ACAS) has been growing its dividends approximately 10% every year. According to The Dividend Investor,

If we invested $100,000 in ACAS on December 31, 1997 we would have bought 6906 shares. Your first quarterly check would have been $1,726.50 in March 1998. If you kept reinvesting the dividends though instead of spending them, your quarterly dividend payment would have risen to $17,095 by December 2007. For a period of 10 years, the quarterly dividend has increased by 300 %. If you reinvested it though, your quarterly dividend income would have increased by 890%.

Yes, reinvesting the dividends in companies that have historically kept increasing their dividends is key. Even though you might get only 2.5% return today, eventually with the increase in stock price and rise in dividends, your annual return should be greater than 12%. This concept is very well explained in Prof. Jeremy Siegel’s excellent book, The Future for Investors, which I highly recommend.

2. Oil & Gas Royalties

While there is a lot of fraud and speculation in direct oil drilling programs, they can be very, very lucrative for investors. Charlie Munger invested about a $1,000 in such an oil drilling program in the 60s and he’s estimated that its paid out over $500,000 in royalty payments since then. Apparently it still pays out $2,000 a month. Of course, most people NEVER see these sort of returns, but for the average person, investing in Canadian Oil & Gas Royalty Funds (or Income Trusts) is the next best thing. I’ve invested quite a bit of money into both the direct oil wells and the Canadian Income Trusts (or Canroys) and the overall result has been pretty positive in both (which is in excess of 12%).

3. Royalties on Books and Patents

Royalties on Books and Intellectual Property Rights can be even more lucrative. However writing a best-selling book or creating a something thats worth patenting can extremely time consuming and expensive. For most authors and inventors, its a labor of love – something that they would pursue even if there was no monetary reward to it. But many ebook writers who sell get-rich-quick books about “making money online” are getting very wealthy. Most of these books are garbage and the only people getting rich are their authors and resellers. Not a very ethical way to make money.

4. Rental Income on Properties Bought at the Bottom of a Real Estate Cycle.

If you bought rental buy and hold property in California, Nevada, Arizona or Florida during 2005 and 2007, my heart goes out to you. A lot of smart people got suckered into buying at the top of the market and are paying for it. However, if you buy correctly, preferably at the bottom of a real estate cycle, real estate can provide excellent passive income and fantastic tax advantages as well. According to Charlie Munger at the 2008 Wesco Financial Annual Shareholder meeting, “most real estate investors don’t pay any income tax, except once every 20 years or so“. Bought correctly (that is based on value, not speculation), rental properties can provide a steady stream of cashflow that is somewhat inflation-indexed. I say somewhat, because in the short-term anything can happen, but over a long period of time, real estate is going to match the rate of inflation.

5. Investing In Timber

Similar to Canroys, there are companies that grow trees specifically for timber and pay pretty decent dividends. There are also direct tree-planting programs where you can invest a minimum of $5,000 and own a portion of a timber operation. The company does all the work for you and supposedly cuts you a check once a year after a specific time interval. The endowment funds of Harvard and Yale have apparently been investing in timber for several years now with great returns.

6. Domain Parking (or Embarking)

There are many people who buy and hold hundreds of domains (I know a guy who owns 750). They either park them with Sedo or another domain-parking service. These services stick relevant (and sometimes not-so-relevant) ads on your site. The idea is that if someone comes to the site through browser type-in traffic and clicks on an ad, you get paid a portion of this ad revenue. I had hosted several sites with Sedo and made a whopping 2 cents per month. I’ve recently been trying out a new service called Domain Embarking that is working pretty well for me.

Supplement Your Adsense Revenue!

I started using Kontera‘s pay-per-click (PPC) contextual advertising program in December. Last month I made $92.11 from it. The revenue is directly proportional to the traffic and also is also somewhat correlated to the type of content.

Finance-related content usually results in above average per-click amounts. However, content about Paris Hilton might pay 1/10th of the amount, but you typically get 10 times more traffic, so don’t fret if you niche is low paying. Just focus on creating good content. My experience has been that the per-click amount is lower than Adsense but its a good complimentary service that runs along-side Adsense, and it doesn’t violate Google’s TOS (terms of service).

Google used to prohibit publishers from using other contextual advertising programs in conjunction with Adsense, but they’ve recently eased this to allow programs that do not have the same look and feel.

My Kontera revenue is currently only 1/4th that of the Adsense revenue. However, since my Adsense revenues have been growing, Kontera doesn’t seem to be cannibalizing its revenue, so its all gravy!

Its very easy to implement and I’ve received excellent customer as well as technical support from them.

Even if you’ve never you considered monetizing your site, you should definitely try it out. For less than an hour’s work, an extra $1000 a year is definitely worth it!

January’s Online Income Grows 36.92%

Since I’m still in India, I’m not really sure what some of my income checks are for the month of January. But I do know my online income, so I might as well provide that.

Last month I made $568.55 in online income from various sources. January’s online income rose by 36.92% to $778.

Even though Prosper Referrals were down, I referred over 30 new members in January. It can take between 60-90 days to get the referral so I’m optimistic that this number will be higher next month.

Adsense revenue was up nearly 50% and is now the largest individual contributor to my alternative income (both online and offline). While I don’t know if the increase will continue, I hope I can atleast maintain this level.

Linkworth was also up 15% this month. Two new publishers joined the program through my referral link so february’s income should be atleast 25% higher. I’ll also get 5% of the income they generate for life! I strongly recommend their program for text link ads. Bloggers also can get paid to write posts, but I haven’t signed up for this.

Kontera has been growing nicely. As my blog gets more traffic, this number should increase proportionately. I’m also part of their affiliate program (they’re really picky about accepting people into it) so hopefully, that’ll generate some income too.

January’s sleeper success was Amazon’s affiliate program ( in terms of percentage growth, not overall dollar amount). I’ve made more than 50% what I made for the entire last year. Hopefully, as I learn more about affiliate marketing, I can boost this portion of my online income.

While I’m no John Chow, who made $30k in January, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far. For the month of February, I expect my online income to break the $1,000 barrier.