How To Make Money Online Without Spending a Dime (Except Your Time)

I was recently asked by an apparently penniless marketer, “how can you make money online without spending any?”

If you don’t want to spend ANY money, here’s a strategy for you:

  1. Create a free site
  2. Build a local community guide for your city
  3. Charge local businesses a monthly fee to be listed on your site

I did a full write-up of how this works on my niche research site, but I’ll elaborate a bit more below.

What’s The Big Idea?

The idea here is to create a local online resource for your town or city. You’ll spend time curating local events, reviewing the best restaurants, listing the most popular podiatrists, etc.

Market To Local Businesses

You can go broad and be a one-stop resource for everything going on in your town, or have a more focused theme. For example, you could be a restaurant review site for Duluth, Minnesota.

You could specialize in Duluth-area music events. You could be the site that ranks service providers in Duluth- doctors, roofers, limo services, etc.

The options are endless.

Yes, there are big players like Yelp and Eventbrite and Meetup, but you can outperform these mega-sites because of your localized knowledge and the passion you have for the ‘theme’ of your site (i.e. music, food, the outdoors, etc.).

For instance, I live in Brooklyn…

Living in NYC, there’s a lot to do. One way I figure out which events are worth going to is by relying on several NYC-themed event sites.

Some of my favorites include:

These sites curate NYC-area events in different ways. Guest of a Guest is for high-end events, Printup List covers underground stuff, The Skint is cheap events, Gary’s Guide is for tech stuff and Brooklyn Based is a one-stop resource for Brooklyn, as opposed to all of NYC.

Making Money

  1. Choose some traffic-generating strategies. Here are some good ideas.
  2. Once you have some traffic, contact local businesses and suggest that they pay you a recurring fee to be listed on your site.

You’ll Have To Hustle

Yes, you’ll have to hustle and grind it out to make this work. But this can be really fun. An ancillary benefit is that over time you’ll be recognized as a local celebrity, of sorts. If you specialize in music, you’ll be given free tickets for you and your audience.

It enables you to engage with your community in an authentic and interesting way- great if you’re an especially sociable person.

This could be a really fun opportunity. If it’s not for you, I have other online business ideas to help you make money online.