I am making two assumptions here. First, that you’re a writer and second that you are at least vaguely or theoretically interested in making money as a writer online. So what do you do next?
It’s important first to understand business models.
So many writers are reluctant to think of writing as anything but a noble art. It’s really a business, or at least it can be. Remember this: artists starve and business people get rich. Think of your writing as a business. So think of your writing as a business if that’s how you want it to support you.
Online, writers have two main ways to make money, with plenty of variations in between.
The first way is to build a blog or website and try to monetize it. The easiest way to monetize a website is to think of your website as a magazine and sell advertising space.
It’s basically the magazine model taken into cyberspace. Your website targets a specific demographic. Advertisers want to be where the customers are. In the print world, you would have to find advertisers, sell space, and then get their art work (or help produce it for them) to get into print.
Online publishing is way easier. You can sign up with advertising programs through Google, Yahoo, or other services and just set aside some space on your website. The search engine finds the appropriate ads, plugs them in automatically, and pays you when somebody clicks on them. It’s as easy as it gets.
Now I would be disingenuous to say that you can easily become a millionaire overnight with this method. That’s just the principle and there are a lot of pitfalls. What I just described is the general business model.
Another way to make money online is to sell something yourself. You can sell physical product, but you can also sell digital products (ebooks) or membership to a website. In this case, you publish a book or sell a product; you market yourself, get customers, sell product, deliver product, and handle customer service all online.
Those are the two main models. They actually don’t mix well. Here’s why. If you go the magazine model, you have ads on your site. You only get paid when somebody clicks on the ad. You are essentially trying to get people to click OFF your site. If the purpose of your site is to sell a product yourself, you do not want visitors to your site to leave. While both of these models work and work quite well, don’t mix them. They don’t work together.
There are some pitfalls. First, you have to do some marketing. Your magazine site or sales site has to be something that interests people. You need customers!
If you choose advertising as your business model, you need to be sure there are advertisers in your niche. To be sure there are advertisers, you need to pick site topics that relate well to something that people buy online. For example, a website all about Fred Astaire is going to be hard pressed to find advertisers. That would be tough to market.
But you could do a site about air purifiers and clean air and allergies. There would likely be dozens of advertisers for related products and services and these are things that are frequently sold online.
If you want to sell an information product, such as an ebook, you need to be sure that there are people who want that information. There are lots of ways to research this, but it basically involves supply and demand. Does anyone care about your topic? Here’s a hint: if it’s about making money, dieting, self-improvement, investments, love and dating, home improvement or spirituality, answer is probably yes.
The second step in both models is to get traffic, that is, people coming to your site(s). This is a whole subject unto itself. There are several proven ways to accomplish this and a few more unproven ways, but all of them are going to cost you something. You can get traffic by investing time or money or both. Are they tricks to getting traffic? You bet. But there’s also a lot of plain old-fashioned work.
Beyond that, you need to know the mechanics of your online business (building and maintaining a site) and pricing.
It’s not easy, but it’s not all that hard, either. But now for the really good news.
If you decide to venture into this kind of business, you will be in complete control of your business. You have no censors, no editors, no review committee. You don’t have to change the wording to please somebody else. You can write as much as you want. You can allow your personality to shine through!
If you do this, you get to keep all of the money. Now if you set up business deals where you buy services or have a partner, obviously, you have to share with them. But you own the business and if it takes off, the profits are yours.