In recent months, we’ve explored writing, photography, art, running a B&B, teaching English as a foreign language and other options for supporting yourself anywhere in the world. Some – running a B&B and teaching – require you to be in a specific place. Others – writing and photography – allow you to move around and get paid almost anywhere.
Another location-independent avenue for creating income is by establishing an online business represented by a website or blog. The good news is, you no longer have to be a tech-savvy coder or programmer to set it up yourself!
As long as you have an internet connection, you’re in business.
This is an extremely broad topic, so I’ll just give you the rough outline here, and get into more specifics in future posts.
There are three basic ways to earn money through a website:
- Sell a service
- Sell a product
- Earn commissions and fees by selling someone else’s product or service
Sell a Service
If you want to develop a location-independent lifestyle, you probably don’t want to promote your services as a plumber, dog walker or anything else that ties you to one spot.
However, there are many services you can offer in the cloud. Anything internet-related falls into this category – programming, writing, video editing, creating Power Point presentations and recording voiceovers are just a few examples.
With the ease and inexpensive cost of communication services like Skype, webinars and podcasting, your choice of service offerings is greatly expanded.
Some examples of non-internet services might include:
- Consulting (as long as you don’t have to do it in person!)
- Putting together guided tours
Sell a Product
The first product-based business I think of for an expat is import/export. If you live in a country that’s known for its textiles, or pottery, or silver jewelry, buying and selling those items is a relatively easy business to start. You can set up a website to display your wares and take orders for them.
If you’re a photographer, you can market your fine-art prints through a website.
E-books and courses are also popular to sell online. You can create your own, or sell someone else’s.
Sell Someone Else’s Product or Service
If you don’t already have some retail experience or if you don’t want to deal with physical inventory, packing and shipping, you can set up a website and collect commissions for selling someone else’s stuff.
Most companies with any significant internet presence today offer affiliate programs, where you receive a commission when a visitor to your website clicks on a link to that company’s product.
For example, at the end of every book and movie review on this site, I include a link to buy that book or that DVD from Amazon. If you purchase the item from one of those links, I receive a few cents. It’s not much, but if hundreds of you do so, it adds up. (You can click here and scroll to the end of the review to see an example.)
Some people receive a nice income each month by creating websites that sell hundreds of products through affiliate links.
If you want to go this route, you should be aware that some companies insist their affiliates be US residents, so watch for this as you investigate becoming an affiliate.
Once you’ve developed a website with a reasonable amount of traffic, you can sell advertising. You can do this indirectly, by allowing Google to display its ads on your pages, for example, or by selling space directly to individual advertisers.
The Hybrid Approach
There’s no reason you can’t combine the different methods. On this site I use affiliate links, and I run a couple of ads in the right-hand sidebar. I also promote my own services as a writer and WordPress guru.
OK, I’m Interested. Where Do I Learn How?
There are plenty of resources available to help you learn everything from the mechanics of putting together a website or blog to how to monetize it. Here’s a partial list (note that some of these may be affiliate links — if you click through and purchase, I receive a small commission. You pay the same, but it helps me keep this site going):
- How to Write Your Own Money-Making Websites.
This program teaches you how to start from scratch, decide on a profitable niche, and build a site very quickly. Author Nick Usborne makes an extra $4,000/month or so from just one of his sites.
The name says it all. This is a membership site put together by some of the best content marketers in the business. As a member, you’ll have access to all of the seminars and instructional materials. Best of all, you’ll be able to join the discussions in the member forums where you can interact directly with the founders, your peers, and with a bunch of bloggers who know a lot more than you do and who will happily share their advice and expertise.
- ProBlogger: 31 Days to Build a Better Blog
Darren Rowse, author of ProBlogger.net, has designed a 31-day program for blog improvement that really works.
- Wealthy Web Writer: The Writer’s Roadmap to Making Money Online.
This is another membership site with enormous amounts of content. You can learn the basics of putting together a website, and every aspect of how to make money online by writing. I have earned some money from these folks by writing for them as well.
These folks publish multiple programs that can help you learn how to set up a site and how to make money from it as a writer, photographer or graphic artist.
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