The answer to that question is really up to you, depending on your business model, and your timeline. I started off not having to spend much money, something I remember well because I had just been laid off from my job and didn’t have a lot of money to spend. With GreenExamAcadamy.com and SmartPassiveIncome.com, I didn’t spend more than $1,000 a month for the first two years of those businesses. It wasn’t until those businesses started growing significantly that I started to spend more money, and then I had the revenue to support additional costs.
If you’ve got gift cards lying around that you never manage to use – maybe you’ve got $50 to Longhorn Steakhouse, but you’re a vegetarian – you can sell them at a discount through gift card exchange sites such as CardCash.com. Once the site receives and verifies the balance on the card (e-cards are obviously handy, but they’ll pay for you to mail in physical gift cards), you can get paid in as little as two days.
When I started my first online business back in 2008 (GreenExamAcademy.com, formerly IntheLEED.com), the idea was to help aspiring architects pass the LEED certification exam. I hardly spent any money at all. All I did was start a blog, which at the time cost $6.95 per month for webhosting, and I used Bluehost. (As most of you know, I’m a big fan of Bluehost. And, because I have an affiliate relationship with them, you can get your business website going for much less than where I began, starting at only $2.75 per month!) [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
Online sites like Etsy and ArtFire are platforms that make it extremely easy for crafters who can produce a steady supply of quality handmade items, like crocheted blankets or unique painted glassware. Startup costs are extremely low if you purchase your materials in bulk from a craft supplier, and if you can turn around orders quickly, you'll be making a profit in no time at all. It's even possible to turn your store into a full-time gig.
If you have the next Harry Potter manuscript sitting in your drawer and the publishing industry hasn’t been kind to you, try self-publishing. Using tools like Amazon’s direct publishing or working with dedicated consultants like I_Am, you not only get the satisfaction of pushing your work out there but also retain 100% of your royalties! Don’t think you can write a good novel? Then stick to what you know – self-help is a money-making genre!
Find focus groups in your area. Focus groups are comprised of people that can provide a company, organization, or individual with feedback on a product, design, idea, etc. Monitor local postings or search a site like FindFocusGroups.com to find some in your area that you are eligible to participate in. Some of these sites promote online-only tasks, such as serving as an “e-juror” for lawyers working on a case. The pay for these tasks can be relatively good, and can be disbursed quickly.
A lot of people with middle-class income would like to create a robust investment portfolio to secure a financially stable future but simply have no clue where to start. If you have professional experience as an investment analyst or do a lot of investment yourself, then offering investment advice for middle-class investors is a natural move for you.
Overall, the Internet itself is overflowing with one money making opportunity after another. While making money online for most people isn’t their primary source of income, it can net a very solid supplement stream of incoming dollars each month. There are some online entrepreneurs, however, that are managing to mine gold due to all the effort, persistence, and time they’ve invested in order to make that dream come true. Can one of these online money making options work for you?
YouTube is the third largest site in the world, so there’s no surprise that video is becoming one of the main communication mediums for businesses of all types and sizes. If you have video filming or editing knowledge, it won’t take you long to build your clientele. Everything from video production workshops and video editing services to soundtrack libraries and DIY tutorials can appeal to the business world. Producing video might be one of the most attractive online business ideas with lots of creativity and challenges.
Through this experience, one thing I learned is that development, and the selling of the product you develop, takes time and money. This is a lesson I took to heart when I built another software company, SPI Labs, with my partner Matt Gartland. SPI Labs is behind the Smart Podcast Player, which was a significant undertaking that started out as a custom solution for AskPat and eventually became a successful WordPress plugin used by thousands of fellow podcasters.
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