Diversify your income: All my ideas for making money online

You needed more income streams yesterday.

“Many small streams will form a big river.” — Swedish proverb

Most Americans have one stream of income (a job) and less than $1,000 in savings. If you’re a part of this majority, you’re one layoff away from a catastrophe.

I hate to be so dramatic, but it’s quite true.

Your eggs should never be in one basket. Just ask any millionaire.

Regardless of whether or not you want to become a millionaire, I beg you to have multiple income streams. The worst thing you could ever do to yourself is depend on any one source for your financial livelihood. There’s just too many unknowns — too many things out of your control.

Today, there’s no excuse for not diversifying your income. It’s just too easy (after some initial hard work) and fun to make money online.

In this post, I give away my favorite ideas for making money online. This is by no means a definitive list. In fact, it’s a highly curated list of income streams I have tested or have thought of creating myself.

Information Products

Education is the second largest industry in the U.S. following healthcare, with $1.6 trillion spent annually in the U.S. alone and $5.5 trillion globally, as of 2015.

Times are changing rapidly, and with it, people need and want to develop new skills to better themselves.

What do you know how to do that you could teach someone else to do?

Create a course.

According to a report by Degreed, nearly 85 percent of people said they learn things for work by searching online, at least once per week, and nearly 70 percent of them learn by reading blog articles weekly and asking for recommendations from peers and mentors.

A course can be a big upfront investment that has a big monthly (recurring) payoff. Since launching my course in April, I’ve made nearly $10,000. Aside from making updates to the course, my only investment was the initial time I spent making the course (about three to four weeks of work because I repurposed a lot of my previous client work to make the course). And of course, I had to purchase a domain name and website hosting — both of which were a minimal investment.

Course Tips and Tricks

  • Take other people’s courses to get inspiration for things like formatting and making sure your content is better than others.
  • Start with the content first. Open a G-Doc, and start outlining your course. Don’t worry about technology until you have your content down.
  • Launch your course before you finish. This will put a fire under your ass to get it done.
  • To make a course successful, you’ll need an audience and/or marketing chops to drive people to it.
  • Learn how to make a killer landing page that evokes emotion in people and drives them to buy. You can see my course landing page as an example.
  • Research course ideas on Udemy, Gumroad Discover and Product Hunt

Course Technology Options

Course Resources


Create an ebook.

An ebook can be educational, funny and/or super niche.

Ebook Distribution Options

Ebook Tips and Tricks

  • Get inspired. Search Gumroad Discover and Amazon Kindle Store to see what’s popular or where there’s a gap in the market.
  • Write about what you know. You can quickly learn too and become an expert on a topic. Research and conduct interviews with experts.
  • Have someone else (preferably multiple people) read it before you launch it.

Ebook Resources



Subscriptions

Subscription businesses are nice because it’s recurring revenue for minimal effort. Here’s three ideas for subscription businesses.

Note: These will be more of a long-term (but minimal) maintenance type of thing.

Create a Slack community.

If you create a course, a Slack community can be an easy upsell. Paul Jarvis offers a Slack community with his course. And so do I.

Even if you don’t have a course, you can still create a really good Slack community. Just check out these paid Slack communities.

Slack Tips and Tricks

  • Use SlackPass to create a paid community.
  • Get ideas for Slack communities by reviewing what’s already out there and popular.
  • Have a plan ahead of time. Figure out how to onboard users and have a plan for engagement because if users are paying they are going to expect value.
  • Consider making your Slack group exclusive, meaning only allowing in high-potential/value members.
  • Charge monthly or annually.
  • Consider not charging your early adopters to ensure the Slack group is providing value. This will prevent refunds, which are a pain.
  • Consider hosting Ask Me Anything (AMAs) with influencers in your niche.
  • Create a community policy about what this group is for, how members should behave, etc. What will get people kicked out? Who is your ideal member?

Slack Resources


Create a network.

Do you have a large, influential network? Make money off of it.

Here’s a few good examples of private, paid social networks.

Network Technology Options

Network Resources


Create or curate premium content.

If you like creating or curating good content that people value, why not charge for it? You can send weekly emails, like GoodUI, Workshop and Lets Make Apps do.

Or you can create or curate content for your own membership site that you update weekly or monthly. A good example of this would be One Month.

More examples

Premium Content Technology Options

Premium Content Resources



Assets

Utilize the assets you have lying around from previous client work or former jobs. Here’s a few types of assets that people love.

Repurpose templates.

If you do a specific process consistently, it’s likely you have a template or two up your sleeve. Valuable templates can be anything from resume templates (very popular) to blog post templates. It doesn’t have to be a web design template although those are popular too.

Templates Tips and Tricks

  • Search Gumroad for “templates” to get ideas.
  • Search Product Hunt for “template” to get ideas.
  • Do you have any strategies or templates lying around? Then clean it up and package it nicely so you can sell it.
  • Make multiple file types.
  • Launch it on Product Hunt to get traction and sales.
  • Try to get on AppSumo, Stack Social and Mighty Deals to get more sales and traction.
  • Distribute on Gumroad so you get added traction.
  • Create templates for popular technology providers, like HubSpot, LeadPages, Shopify and Mailchimp.

Template Ideas

Templates Selling Options


Create bundles.

An easy to make more money is by sweetening the template deal by creating a bundle of templates or premium content to accompany your templates.

Bundle Tips and Tricks

  • Launch it on Product Hunt to get traction and sales.
  • Try to get on AppSumo, Stack Social and Mighty Deals to get more sales and traction.
  • Distribute on Gumroad so you get added traction.
  • Search Gumroad for “bundles” to get ideas.
  • Search Product Hunt for “bundles” to get ideas.
  • Create a bundle for beginners in a new industry or setting that can be difficult to navigate at first. For example, what bundle would new freelancers need to get started? What information would pose helpful to them?
  • If you don’t want to make recurring revenue or you don’t have an audience to launch to, then consider selling your bundle to a company that would want it to give away as marquee content to its customers. For example, InVision created these UI bundles to give away to visitors for free.

Bundle Selling Options

Bundle examples


Sell your photos.

Photographers, photojournalism students or people who take good pictures are perfect candidates for selling photos.

Photos Tips and Tricks

  • If you’re in college, take a photojournalism class to learn the art of taking a good photo.
  • Rent a nice, DSLR camera from a friend or local university.
  • If you’re not in school, find a good course on photography.
  • Try to sell your Instagram-esque photos to companies. Tell them this is better than using stock photo sites that everyone and their competitors utilize.
  • Sell your smartphone photos.

Photo Selling Options

Photos Resources


Sell your notes.

Take notes for books you’re reading, courses (online or offline) you’re taking, long articles you’re reading and long videos you’re watching. Basically, you can take notes and sell them for anything that teaches people how to do something.

Note Selling Options


Buy and sell domain names.

This is relatively simple to do and can bring you loads of money if you buy the right domains.

Domain Name Tips and Tricks

  • Look for recently expired, high-traffic (pagerank) domains.
  • Buy exact match domain names, such as business names that don’t have websites.
  • Generate ideas by inputting popular keywords for new niches in Agile Domain Search.

Domain Selling Options

Domain Name Resources






Create a WordPress Plugin.

WordPress Plugin Tips and Tricks

WordPress Plugin Selling Options

WordPress Plugin Resources


Program scripts.

Search Fiverr to see what the most purchased scripts are or to find scripts that are missing.

Script Resources




Dropship.

Dropshipping is a supply chain management method in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers customer orders and shipment details to either the manufacturer, another retailer or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer.

Dropshipping Technology Options

Dropshipping Ideas

  • Make a website that looks better than all the crappy, online dog stores that currently populate the front page of Google.

Dropshipping Resources


Create an ecommerce store.

Scour Polyvore or Lyst — two popular shopping apps — to get ideas for products that are sold out and look easy to make. For instance, I saw on Lyst that this unicorn bracelet was sold out, and I decided to make my own unicorn bracelet, which I never got around to selling.

Ecommerce Technology Options

Easy Product Ideas


Create a job board.

Job boards are relatively easy to make, and if you drive traffic to your site, you can charge at least $249 per post, as sites like Inbound.org and Designer News do.

Job Board Technology Options

Job Board Tips and Tricks

  • Find a niche, like Dribbble did for designers or Inbound.org did for marketers, to focus on.
  • Syndicate your job posts to ZipRecruiter and/or Workable to get more eyeballs on them.

Create an agency.

Lots of highly qualified people are out of work right now. Find them jobs or freelance gigs and take a cut for your “finder’s fee.” This should be easy if you more work than you can handle currently.

Agency Technology Options




Create affiliate accounts.

You’ll either need a website, email list, blog — basically an audience — to be an affiliate advertiser.

Affiliate Ad Tips and Tricks

  • Think about the offerings you use religiously. Check if it has a referral/affiliate program, and make sure to sign-up for your own unique URL. Once you have that unique URL, share it like crazy.
  • You can share your links on a “resources” page on your site, like Smart Passive Income and Problogger.
  • You can include links, when relevant, in your blog posts and emails as well.
  • Make a super niche website then sprinkle affiliate ads throughout it.
  • Ask for an affiliate code if a company doesn’t have a program listed on its website.

Affiliate Ad Resources.


Write native ads.

Native advertising or sponsored posts are simply long-form advertorials that look like a typical blog post or email. It’s like nonchalant advertising because it doesn’t look like an ad. Native ads cost a lot more than regular ads because it’s so much longer.

Native Ad Resources




Freelancing

Join 55 million other Americans who are currently freelancing. Freelancing is great because it centers around deliverables, not hours worked, which means you can schedule it around your full-time job.

Make websites.

Learn how to build WordPress websites, and sell them. It’s cheap. It’s easy to do. And it can take less than 20 minutes to set up. Yet more than half of all small businesses still don’t have a website.

Website Resources


Provide support.

Make money on your own schedule.

On-Demand Support Resources


Write for blogs.

Make money from blogging for different publications. The larger your following and the better your writing, the more you’ll get paid.

Writing Resources


Go ahead; steal my ideas.

I hope one — or three, four… — of these tickled your fancy because I’m so serious when I say: Diversify your income streams. If you do, you won’t have to worry about one catastrophe wiping you out someday.

Oh, and if you do take any of my ideas, will you click the little green heart at the bottom of this post, por favor?!


My name’s Lauren Holliday, and I’m the founder of freelanship.com, a site that offers 31 pre-packaged marketing-related gigs. I also created a course called Full-Stack Marketer.