The Internet is a fascinating realm. Not only does this virtual world serve as a repository of information and a communication highway, it also opens up opportunities for enterprising individuals . In the ever-expanding Web, online economy becomes bigger and more sustainable.
You do not need to quit your job to join the huge population of netizens who use the Net to generate an income. With a bit of creative thinking, you can set up online properties and businesses that bring a regular flow of income with minimal effort.
We list a few ways of generating a passive income.
Blogging is one of the most popular ways of making money online for beginners. You can start blogging almost instantly using free-hosted blogging platforms such as Blogger.com. You can also create self-hosted blogs using platforms such as WordPress, TextPattern and Typepad.
How to ensure safe returns on regular incomes
Start by writing articles, posting videos and audio clips about things you enjoy. It can be movies, cycling, books, cooking, gadgets, technology, design, health, cars, pets or just about anything. Though being passionate about the subject is not critical, it gives you an edge as you would have a better understanding of it. It also makes it easier to generate content.
Key to success in blogging is your ability to communicate and network with your audience. If you have a huge friends list on social networking websites, such as Facebook.com or Twitter.com, you should be able to get a decent following for your blog to begin with.
When you start, you will have to invest a substantial amount of time. Ideally, have some articles ready before you start. Add at least one article daily for the first few months. Once you establish your blog, you can reduce the frequency of publishing articles.
If the idea of having to add content regularly does not excite you, you can create niche websites. Start a site on free blogging platforms or web hosting providers such as Sites.google.com and 000webhost.com.
Once you have plenty of articles and traffic on your site, you can stop adding content. When starting a site on any topic, you should use online tools such as Google Trends, Google Keywords Tool and Traffic Travis to analyse the number of searches for the topics that you want to write. You will also have to learn the basics of search engine optimisation so that your site appears higher up among search results and gets more visitors.
Though you can start blogs or websites without having to pay for infrastructure, investing in a domain name (Web address used to reach your website) and hosting will give you full control and ownership. You can also invest in content for your blogs if you do not have the time to write the articles yourself.
A blog or website can generate income by selling advertising space directly or through syndications such as Google AdSense and Chitika. You can also promote related products and services for an incentive. Depending on the amount of traffic and advertisers in the niche that you write about, you can easily generate a few thousand rupees a month once your site is established. A very successful blog or website can generate a substantial monthly income.
If you do not want the hassle of having to maintain a website or blog, you can contribute articles on revenue-sharing article sites such as HubPages.com. Here you will be paid a share of the advertising revenue generated through your content.
You can also create and upload videos on YouTube and earn through advertisements. Earlier, only popular video uploaders were allowed to run advertisements and earn a commission of the resulting profit. As the restriction on placing ads on videos is gone, everyone has the opportunity to monetise their videos.
Designers constantly scour through stock photos for newspapers, magazines, websites, presentations, ad creatives and so on. If you enjoy clicking pictures, you can sell stock photographs online using platforms such as iStockphoto.com, ShutterStock.com, GettyImages.com, CorbisImages.com, Dreamstime.com and Fotolia.com. You can also use these platforms to sell illustration and digital art.
Most stock image sites require prospective contributors to go through a review process. In order to be accepted as a contributor, you will have to meet the minimum quality standards for images sold on the sites. Even after being accepted as a contributor, your images might have to go through quality checks.
You are paid a percentage (10-75%) of the price of the image each time it is downloaded by someone. Some sites also have a minimum compensation for each download. The actual amount earned on each download can range between a few rupees to thousands.
Not all images will generate huge revenue, but the popular ones in your portfolio will be downloaded multiple times each month. Once you have a portfolio of hundreds of images, it can be a substantial residual income. You can continue adding images to your portfolio and are paid repeatedly for your one-time effort.
Go through stock photo websites to find out what types of images are popular. Click quality images with a well-defined subject and proper composition. When starting, be prepared to have several images rejected. If one website rejects an image, you can submit it to another. Generally, users search for images on stock photography sites by keywords. If you add proper descriptions and keywords to your images, you have a slightly better chance of selling your images. Start by honing your skills through photography websites and magazines.
Do you know how to create templates for website content management systems, such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal? Are you proficient in creating HTML websites? You can earn more than Rs 1 crore in a year from just one template, that's the amount earned by one of the most popular WordPress themes (or templates) on ThemeForest.net, a marketplace for web design templates.
An average theme can easily generate a few thousand dollars for its creator. When creating themes and templates for selling in marketplaces, you need to be aware of the latest design trends. The most popular themes are usually flexible and easy to customise.
Don't know how to create templates? You can learn the basics through online resources such as HTMLDog.com (for HTML and CSS used in websites), Codex.wordpress.org (for WordPress themes) and Docs.joomla.org (for Joomla templates). It might take a while to master, but the returns can be stupendous.
Those who don't want to do it themselves can hire a freelancer to create stunning themes for selling. You can also leverage the power of crowdsourcing to get the best results. Websites such as 99designs.com allow you to start a 'design contest' for your project and get submissions from multiple providers. When you select a work, the designer is paid an amount set by you earlier. Make sure to mention clearly in your project that you will own all the rights to the finished work.
If you are good at creating designs in applications such as PhotoShop, you can also sell raw website designs, brochures, visiting card designs, icons, logos, magazine layouts and book layouts.
These are just a few ways of generating recurring income online. You can also start online forums, sell webhosting as a reseller, start niche networking sites, create useful applications for various operating systems, and provide managed-solutions for websites and blogs, among other things. Locate the void and occupy the space with your service or product. Pennies can quickly add up to millions.
Are you good at telling stories? Do you have the desire to write a book? You can invest your time in writing novels, course books, tutorials and nonfiction books without having to worry about getting the book accepted by a publisher, thanks to the digital revolution. Now, you can create digital versions of your book, put them up for sale on Amazon.com and other digital e-book websites, and wait for the money to trickle in.
You can use any word processing application such as MS Word or Open Office to write your book and format it properly. You can also use Web-based text processor service Google Docs to create your book. You can then download the book in PDF and zipped HTML formats for publishing on e-book sites.
You can use Kindle Direct Publishing to publish your books on the Amazon Kindle Store for free. It makes your book available for purchase on Kindle e-book devices and Kindle apps. You can also make use of services such as Smashwords (smashwords.com) to distribute your e-books to multiple e-book marketplaces such as Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store.
If you want to sell your books in the physical format, services such as Amazon's CreateSpace.com and Lulu.com will help you publish and ship on demand. You can also use Lulu.com to publish e-books.
Don't have a book of your own? You can sell e-book versions of copyright-free classics and other books. Find a list of free books at Gutenberg.org. Pick the ones that you think will sell and add value by including illustrations, photographs and cover art. Avoid books that have several versions already available on e-book stores. Your e-book should provide better reading experience so that your prospective buyers have a compelling reason to pay for it.
You can also focus on niche markets by publishing online versions of popular literature and books in local languages that have a significant population of rich-both in the country or abroad. If you can take the lead in any language, you will have the advantage of being the sole e-book publisher.
With increasing popularity of smartphones and digital pads such as the iPad, the market for apps (short for applications) is also growing. Many developers have already cashed in on the opportunity, but there is still a huge potential to make money in this market. Creating apps for smartphones (such as iPhones, Android and Windows phones) offer a great opportunity if you can conceptualise an interesting or a useful app and have the required coding skills.
Think of a functionality that will be a resource for a variety of needs or one that can entertain the user. Once you have the right idea, you can start creating your app yourself or hire a freelance developer on websites such as Elance.com, ODesk.com, Freelancer.com and Cloudspokes.com.
Once you have your app ready, make it available on the official app marketplaces for Android smartphones, iPhones, iPads and Windows phones. You fix a price for your app or monetise it through advertising and other indirect methods. Apps are part of a price-sensitive market. You need to discover the optimum price for your app so that it generates maximum revenue. You can start with a small price for your app and raise it gradually to find the right price.
Putting up your apps on sale is just half the work done. You need to put in some extra effort to spread the word and create the buzz about your app. Popular bloggers, news websites and app-review websites can put your app before thousands of prospective buyers. You can reach them individually as well as by sending out interesting and newsworthy media releases.
A successful app can exceed your expectations and turn into a full-fledged business or a big stream of residual income.