For many beginners, the idea of making money online can feel a little daunting or out of reach. With so many different avenues to pursue, so much to learn, and a seemingly endless pool of competition on the internet, it’s understandable if you feel a little overwhelmed by the whole thing.
I know I did when I was first starting.
But here’s the good news, right now, there are more opportunities to make money online than ever before. And with so many people scouring the internet for everything from products and reviews to information and entertainment, the odds of you turning a profit online are actually pretty good.
The only thing is, and let’s get this out of the way right now, you have to be willing to put in the work. And let me tell you, it can be hard work! Despite what anybody tells you, making money online requires effort, perseverance, patience, and an insatiable desire to learn and improve.
But before any of that, you need an idea; a starting point. And that’s exactly why we’re here.
For the rest of this guide, I’m going to cover 5 of the best ways for an absolute beginner to make money online.
Let’s get to it!
1. Start A Blog
Ok, let’s be honest, there’s something about starting a blog that’ll cause some of your friends to roll their eyes and take a couple digs at you. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way it is.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people ignorantly say, “you can’t make a living as a blogger…” as if they get to determine the outcome of everyone else’s life. But here’s the thing, and I’m sorry if this sounds a little harsh, those people don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. Just because they can’t make a living as a blogger doesn’t mean you can’t.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Starting a blog is one of the most proven ways to make money online, as long as you do it properly. And to do it properly, you need to follow one principle: serve the reader.
In other words, don’t just blog about the things you want to get off your chest. That might have worked 15 years ago, but these days, if you want to run a successful blog, you need to solve a problem for every person that comes to your site.
Whether you’re writing a review about a product you’ve tested, answering a question that relates to your niche, or teaching somebody how to do something, the more value you provide for your readers, the more successful your blog will be.
I know it doesn’t sound easy, but if I can do it, so can you.
How To Start A Blog In 7 Steps
Before we actually dive into the nuts and bolts of starting a blog, I’d like to throw something out there. No matter what kind of online side hustle you decide to start, I truly believe that blogging should be an integral part of your marketing strategy.
You see, if your goal is to build an online business, then building an audience is one of the most valuable things you can do. And that’s the entire purpose of a blog.
Think of it this way; if you start an ecommerce business (we’ll discuss this later) and you don’t get any traffic to your online store, it’s going to be hard to turn a profit. However, if you start blogging about topics relevant to your customer base, you could end up driving thousands of potential buyers to your store every day.
To put it simply, no matter what kind of online side hustle you decide to pursue, starting a blog is one of the best (and least expensive) ways to drive sales and grow your income.
Ok, but how do you go about it?
Well, let’s dive into the actual process of starting a blog.
Step 1: Pick A Profitable Niche And Monetization Strategy
The first step to building a profitable blog is picking a niche that sets you up for success. To do that, you need to pick a topic that interests a large number of people, which is why blogging about yourself probably won’t end up making you much money.
The goal here is to pick a big enough niche to build a significant audience but small enough that you won’t be competing against extremely authoritative websites for every article you write.
You need to find a happy medium between audience size and online competition. As your blog grows, you can certainly expand your niche, but starting small is one of the best ways to see big growth early in your journey.
For instance, rather than starting a blog about cooking, which is extremely broad, and one of the most competitive blogging niches on the internet, you could niche-down and start a blog solely focused on grilling. By honing in on a smaller niche, you will have a much better chance of building authority online and connecting with your readers, both of which are important aspects of making money online.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Ideal Monetization Strategy
If you want your blog to generate revenue, you’ll need to determine how, exactly, you plan to do that. I call this your “Ideal Monetization Strategy,” and the earlier you decide on this, the easier it will be to make a plan for your business.
The good news is, as a blogger, there are tons of ways to generate revenue. For instance, if your goal is to earn passive income, you could place ads on your website or focus your efforts on earning affiliate income. On the other hand, if you don’t mind a little more involvement, you could create and sell an online course, generate/sell leads, or even offer sponsored posts. Heck, you could even sell merchandise if that’s more up your alley.
As a blogger, it’s a good idea to incorporate multiple streams of revenue into the mix. However, I don’t recommend spreading yourself too thin at the beginning. In my experience, focusing your efforts on one or two monetization methods as a beginner can be incredibly helpful when deciding on the niche you are going to target and the type of content you are going to create.
Step 3: Purchase Your Domain Name
The next step in starting a blog is to pick a domain name (i.e., your website’s name).
And while this might seem like an easy thing, you need to make sure your domain isn’t already taken. The best way to do this is to head over to BlueHost.com and start searching for an available name.
Important: We recommend waiting to purchase your domain name until you are set up your hosting. Since Bluehost offers a free domain name for the first year with the purchase of a WordPress hosting plan, this will save you some money (this is a budgeting blog, after all).
If you’ve never done this before, don’t be surprised or discouraged if somebody already owns your desired domain name. Just keep brainstorming names that you like, and eventually, you’ll find one that’s available.
Oh, and do your best to keep it short. If possible, we recommend keeping your domain name to three words or less. That way, it’ll be easy to remember when a user types it into a search bar.
Step 4: Pick A Platform and Hosting Service For Your Blog
Once you find a domain name, the next step is to host your blog. Like buying land so that you have a place to build a house, hosting is just the process of buying server space so that your blog has a place to live and be served to users on the internet.
While there are many hosting options out there, we recommend setting up a WordPress website on Bluehost. I know that might sound a little confusing, but it’s really not as complicated as it sounds. In fact, Bluehost makes the whole process incredibly easy and takes almost all the technical headache out of setting up a WordPress blog.
Plus, as I mentioned in the previous step, Bluehost will give you a free domain for a year if you purchase hosting through them. Oh, and their customer service is fantastic, which is a must-have for all beginners.
At the time of writing this, their hosting plans start as low as $2.95 per month. (That’s some budget-friendly blogging if you ask me!)
Step 5: Pick A Theme For Your Blog
After setting up your hosting, the next step in creating your blog is to pick a good theme. And this can get a little overwhelming. With so many themes to choose from, you could spend days or even weeks deciding which theme you like best.
However, as hard as this might be, I recommend limiting the time you spend working on your blog’s design to 2 hours. Ultimately, the most important thing you can spend time working on is content, and it’s easy to let your blog design distract you at the beginning.
I know this might seem a little backward at first, but until you actually start getting a substantial amount of visitors to your blog (which will probably take a few months), the design of your blog doesn’t really matter. You can always update the design of your blog later or even find a completely new theme.
But if you want to make money as a blogger, the most important thing you can do is spend your time creating awesome content. Trust me, I spent way too much time working on the design of my blog when I first started, and all it did was extend the time it took me to start making money.
If you’re looking for a great theme, I recommend perusing the various options on cssigniter.com. Not only are their themes great looking, but they are basically turn-key. All you have to do is swap out their sample content for your own. Plus, they offer a few free options, which is great!
Step 6: Create Awesome Content
After spending an hour or two designing your blog, it’s time to shift gears and start creating content. In fact, if the whole process of picking a domain, setting up hosting, and designing your blog is a little overwhelming, you could even start with this step.
After all, a blog without any content isn’t really a blog. The more content you can create, the faster your blog will be able to grow. And the faster it grows, the more money you will be able to earn.
But where do you start? Well, here are a few content creation tips to help you get started:
1. Serve The Reader – Focus your efforts on answering questions, and creating how-to guides relevant to your niche. I don’t care how small or specific you think the question is. If you think a single one of the readers on your blog might ask a particular question, add it to your content list.
2. Write Long-form Content – As a new blogger, you have to go above and beyond the call of duty if you want to drive traffic to your website. That means writing content that puts even your biggest competitors to shame. Be thorough, and try to make each piece a minimum of 1,500-words. That might seem like a lot at first, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
3. Make Your Content Skimmable – When it comes to digital content, there’s nothing worse than a big, indigestible block of words. Therefore, as a blogger, it’s important to structure your content in a way that makes it easy for readers to skim through and find the information they need.
4. Write 3 Articles Per Week – If you want to start a blog from scratch and build a thriving online community, you need to post content often. And by often, I mean a minimum of 3 times per week. When I first started blogging, I posted once or twice a week. But it wasn’t until I started posting 3 times a week that the traffic started to pour in. Seriously, posting 3 times per week took this blog from 3,000 pageviews per month to over 100,000 pageviews per month in less than 10 months.
Step 7: Build An Email List
As a blogger, the most valuable asset you can build is an email list. When you have a big email list, you control your digital destiny. And the bigger your list gets, the more revenue you will be able to generate.
And of all the email list providers out there, the only one we recommend for bloggers is ConvertKit. Since their platform was built specifically for bloggers, they have solved quite a few problems you will otherwise run into with other providers. Plus, their entire interface is simple and intuitive, which is a breath of fresh air when you’re just starting out.
Interested in starting a blog? Check out these other posts:
- 5 Blogging Secrets Every Beginner Needs To Know
- How Much Does It Cost To Start (And Run) A Blog?
- How Do Blogs Make Money (10 Proven Ways)
- Blog On A Budget: 10 Low-Cost Essentials For New Bloggers
2. Become A Freelancer
If blogging isn’t really up your alley, then freelancing is another really awesome way to make money online.
From freelance writing to video editing, social media, graphic design, and so much more, there’s tons of money to be made as a freelancer. And unlike blogging, freelancing gives you the ability to make money as soon as, well, today!
Seriously, you just need to know where to start. In fact, if freelancing sounds like your cup of tea, then here are a few freelancing platforms that we recommend.
To put it simply, I am a huge fan of Fiverr. And if I decided to start freelancing as a way to make money online, this is where I’d start.
First of all, their platform is extremely user-friendly, making it easy for potential clients to find you. Plus, they have so many different categories that your options are seemingly limitless.
Secondly, they make each freelancer’s pricing incredibly transparent. So, when somebody discovers your services and decides to reach out or place an order, they already have a good understanding of how much they should expect to spend. This eliminates a lot of the headaches involved in freelancing and makes your life much easier.
If you’re interested in freelance web development, writing, engineering, or even customer service, then one of the best freelance platforms out there is UpWork.
Like Fiverr, but a little higher-end, UpWork allows you to offer services for various categories. However, I have found that their platform is a little less transparent for people looking to hire freelancers.
Rather than pricing out your total cost of services and breaking your pricing into packages, UpWork takes a more traditional “Hourly Wage” kind of model.
Therefore, when freelancing through UpWork, you should expect to spend a little more time selling people on your services.
If your goal is to become a freelance graphic designer, then 99 Designs is one of the first places I recommend. Having personally used 99Designs a few times — particularly for the logo of this website — I have been really impressed with the quality of work that comes from their platform.
If you’re a good designer and confident in your ability to sell your services, this might be a great place for you to start freelancing.
If you want to offer freelance writing services, one of the most important places for you to start looking is on the ProBlogger Job Board. Unlike the previous platforms I’ve mentioned, ProBlogger is a more traditional job board. However, their entire platform is geared towards blog content.
This is a great opportunity to find freelance, contract, and even full-time work as a writer. And in most cases, you can work remotely.
3. Create/Sell Online Courses
The third item on our list of ways to make money online as a beginner is selling online courses.
There are tons of people making really good money doing this. And if you have a skill that you think other people might want to learn, this is definitely an avenue you should consider pursuing.
And just so we’re clear, you can be successful teaching people just about any skill there is. Whether it’s web development, painting, welding, playing an instrument, cooking, writing, singing, playing a sport, playing a video game, parenting, being a better spouse, woodworking, or even blogging, teaching others what you know is a great way to make money online. And if I’m being honest, you can make an impressive income doing this.
Seriously, whether you’re looking for a way to make a few hundred dollars per month all the way up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars per year, creating and selling online courses is a great way to go.
But how, exactly, do you go about it? Well, here at Be The Budget, we recommend the following platforms:
It’s hard to believe, but I took my first course on Udemy almost 5 years ago. Since then, I have taken almost 20 courses on everything from web development to blogging and even video editing. And I’m not the only one.
Udemy has millions of users, which is a major benefit for course creators because they do a lot of marketing for you. However, they do take a 50% cut on sales generated through their marketing channels.
But, with the kind of sales potential you have access to on Udemy, it can be well worth it!
If you have any kind of social following, email list, or audience of any kind, then creating a course on Teachable is probably the best option for you.
Since Teachable is designed to be a platform for you to host and sell your own online course, you control all your marketing, pricing, and sales. All you have to do is pay a monthly fee and, if you’re on their most basic plan, pay a small transaction fee of 5% per sale.
Honestly, if you have the ability and know-how to market your course, this is the platform we recommend. Otherwise, if you don’t like the idea of handling all the marketing for your course, then Udemy is probably your best bet.
4. Become A Virtual Assistant
If the previous three options don’t really get you excited, then another great way to make money online as a beginner is to become a virtual assistant.
What is a virtual assistant?
Virtual assistants can help bloggers or business owners with anything from email marketing and social media to content editing and customer service. Truthfully, you just have to figure out what kind of services you’d like to offer and how much you think you can charge.
To give you a better idea of the income potential, in the blogging community, one of the most common services virtual assistants provide is Pinterest Management. And in most cases, they charge between $250 and $1,000 per client per month. And the more value they provide for bloggers, the more they charge.
If you get really good at the services you offer and bring plenty of value to your clients, you can make quite a bit of money.
Oh, and by the way, if you do decide to become a virtual assistant, Fiverr is a great place to start marketing your services to the world.
5. Start An Ecommerce Store
The last item on our list of ways for beginners to make money online is starting an ecommerce store (i.e., sell products online).
Why did I make this the last item on the list? Because it costs more than all of the other options.
Like a blog or teaching an online course, to start an online storefront, you need a website or platform where you can sell your products (we’ll cover that in just a second). However, in addition to those expenses, at minimum, you have to purchase inventory and pay for packaging. And, if you aren’t careful, the expenses can get a little out-of-hand.
However, if you’re careful to manage your money well, practice patience, and make smart decisions, the income potential for ecommerce stores is much higher than pretty much every other item on this list. In fact, it’s not out of the realm of possibility to build a business that generates 7- or even 8-figures per year.
But, once again, if that’s what you want to do, you have to start somewhere. And we recommend one of the following two options.
Starting an online store is no small task. You have to spend time purchasing/creating a product, packaging, shipping, and managing inventory, which can be difficult to handle. So, the last thing you should have to deal with is the technical headache that comes with setting up a website.
And while we normally recommend WordPress (for bloggers and non-ecommerce businesses) when it comes to building your own online store, we recommend Wix.
Between their dozens of website templates, intuitive interface, and strong customer support, in our opinion, Wix is the best place for beginners to start selling their products online. Sure, there are other options like Shopify and WooCommerce, but we think Wix does a better job of simplifying the process for beginners.
For those of you that are daunted by the idea of building a website, Etsy is another great option for beginners looking to sell products online. Since you don’t have to worry about building a website, you can spend more time focusing on running your business and managing your inventory.
Plenty of people make a phenomenal living by running an Etsy store. And if your heart is set on starting an online store, then Etsy might be the perfect place for you to start.
Other Posts You Might Like:
- 10 Tips To Make More Than Minimum Wage
- 10 Side Hustles With Low Startup Costs (Less Than $100)
- 11 Key Tips To Start A Thriving Side Gig
- 25 Proven Ways To Make Extra Money On The Side
- 5 Urgent Things To Do If You Have No Savings
How To Make Money Online For Beginners: Final Thoughts
You don’t have to be a genius to earn money online. Rather, you just need to be willing to put in the work, be a student of your craft, and persevere through the initial difficulty of running a business. But most of all, you need to START.
So, don’t wait another day!
Think about it like this, 12 months from now, you’re probably going to find yourself thinking one of two thoughts. You’ll either be thinking…
“Man, if I had only started a year ago, I’d be so much better off right now.”
“I’m so glad I started a year ago!”
So, which one will it be?
Links To Tools Mentioned In This Post:
- Bluehost (Our recommended WordPress hosting company for bloggers)
- CSS Igniter (Our recommended source for well-designed WordPress themes)
- ConvertKit (Our recommended email list builder for bloggers)
- Fiverr (Our #1 recommended platform for freelancers)
- UpWork (Another great platform for freelancers)
- ProBlogger Jobs (A fantastic resource for freelance blog writers looking for work)
- Udemy (Recommended for course creators without any kind of online audience)
- Teachable (Recommended platform for bloggers and influencers looking to sell an online course)
- Wix (Best platform for people wanting to start their own ecommerce store)
- Etsy (Great ecommerce platform for people that don’t want to manage their own website)
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