One of the main benefits of making money as a writer online is being able to build up a steady stream of “passive income”. A “passive income” is simply an easy income that you don’t have to actively pursue, like selling and affiliate marketing. Now to make more money writing you really need to stay pursuant to keep an income flowing in BUT to build up a stream of passive income as well should be a goal at the top of every writers list.
Check out 27 ways you probably haven’t thought of to start making money as a writer online:
Product Marketplaces1. Your own website. This is the “duh” answer I alluded to before, but don’t forget about it! People are going to buy directly from you long before any other site if they’re already a fan of your work. Set up a quick PayPal button and link it to a downloadable PDF of your book, and you’re good to go.
2. Other websites. This is an indirect approach, to be sure, but don’t discount it just yet. Start writing great, well-targeted guest posts that link back to your own sales page or your book’s external page, and reap the rewards for months or years to come.
3. Amazon.com. I’m talking about the “big kahuna” here–Amazon is huge, and if your books or products aren’t available here, you’re almost certainly losing some easy income each month.
4. Other Amazon sites. It’s easy to fall into the trap that our American-based Amazon.com is the only one out there. However, don’t forget about the others–Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, just to name a few. You’ll probably want to translate your book into those languages first, using a reputable human translator (NOT Google Translate!).
5. Smashwords. Smashwords has been gaining ground with the advent and acceptance of the eBook revolution, and many self-pubbed authors are having great success with it.
6. Book Baby. I’ve been a big fan of Derek Sivers (of CDBaby.com fame) since I started a music publishing company years ago, and this is the “book” side of it.
7. E-Junkie.com. E-Junkie has been around awhile, but it’s still a great place to share nonfiction products and offerings. Its claim to fame is that it handles affiliate programs for your product–meaning you upload it and set the price (and pay a small fee), and E-Junkie handles letting other sellers and Internet marketers sell your stuff for you (keeping a share of the sale price). It’s a fantastic way to promote your work, make some money you wouldn’t have made otherwise, and get some great affiliates who like your stuff!
8. Amazon’s KDP Select. This is a newer entry into the passive income world, but one that’s been talked about repeatedly over the past half-year. I won’t go into the details here, but if you’re up for some good (and long) reading, check out the KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program blog posts.
9. Twitter. I love using Twitter to hawk my stuff–but I make sure to do it sparingly. You can also include Amazon affiliate links to other products, but again–use these sparingly, and the bulk of your sharing should be of other peoples’ work.
10. Facebook. I have a Facebook author page set up, and I get a few “Likes” every other day or so that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I connect my blog to Facebook using IfThisThenThat, a service that “feeds” my Facebook updates.
11. Goodreads.com. I love Gooreads.com, and it’s really growing into “the” place to be for authors. Set up your profile, add a great picture, and link your books, and you’ve quickly and effortlessly set up a new passive income stream for your writing!
12. Amazon Affiliates. This is the big one, of course–you can use their affiliates program immediately on your own blog. There’s a piece of software called a “cookie” installed on someone’s browser whenever they click your affiliate links, and even if they don’t purchase the exact item you linked to, you might just receive a commission from a totally-unrelated item they purchase a few days later! Just set up a free account and create some links. They don’t pay a ton, but considering that everyone shops at Amazon, it’s hard not to make a few bucks a month on their platform. I use this program throughout my site. Bonus:link to your own books using their affiliate links!
13. Commission Junction. I love CJ.com for their ease-of-use and interface, and they have tons of products to promote. I only promote a few things that I actually use, of course, like Hostmonster.com hosting (awesome!), but you can find thousands of awesome stuff in their catalog you may actually have used before!
14. Other Affiliate Programs. I use and highly recommend a handful of great products. These products sometimes have affiliate programs available to me, meaning I get to share the profits from a sale generated through my network. Check out possible affiliate opportunities through the courses, books, and other online stuff you participate in.
15. AdSense. This is Google’s major ad platform–the front-facing side of AdWords (for publishers). It’s been hyped and discussed at great lengths as to its validity, but it’s an easy, free, and quick way to make a few pennies (or more) a month. After enough traffic and some good targeted clicks, it can really add up, too.
16. Chitika. I’ve been experimenting with Chitika, but I’ve read that their ads (similar to AdSense) are generating a few more percentage points for their users (read: generating a few more pennies a month) than AdSense’s.
17. Direct ad sales. A great way to sell ads through your own site is to directly accept payment and host the ads. Be sure you’re set up with a tracking plugin for your site, so you can give honest and actual numbers. Selling direct ad placements is a great way to make a buck without having to share with anyone else, like you would at an ad network.
18. BuySellAds. If you run a blog, this is the biggest and most popular ad-network around, and it’s one you’re probably familiar with. They’re most-known for those 125 x 125 pixel square ads on blogs, and they have an awesome marketplace for buying and selling ads within. However, if you don’t have a blog with readership of at least 5,000 or so pageviews per day, don’t bother–they’re pretty selective.
19. BeaconAds. I don’t know if BeaconAds is a “baby brother” to BuySellAds, but it seems like they’re using the same interface and design of their larger counterpart. Anyway, they’re a Christian-focused ad network that allows smaller blogs into their listings. If you fit the bill, it’s a great way to experience the awesomeness that is BuySellAds, without the asking price of thousands of pageviews per day you don’t have.
20. Advertising in the backs of your books. Don’t forget about the valuable real estate you’ve built in to your current backlist–there’s a reason the big publishers offer excerpts of the author’s next book.
21. Sponsored posts. If your blog starts gaining traction, you’ll probably get a few offers for “sponsored posts,” in which you either write or simply post a pre-written article with the sponsor’s link(s) embedded within. This doesn’t need to be spammy, but often is a difficult way to maintain quality content. I don’t currently allow sponsored posts on LiveHacked.com, since most of the offers, while lucrative, don’t hone in on what you guys want as content.
22. Sponsored links. Like sponsored posts, links are a little less invasive and more “invisible” on the page. That said, they’re not usually as lucrative, but can still land around $15-30 a month for a decent-sized blog. Usually you’ll find them within the actual content, not on the sidebars or footers of blogs. Check out LinkWorth.com for a great program that bids on in-content textual links.
23. Joint Ventures. You can set up a “joint venture” with another author in your genre by establishing a temporary partnership–they sell your book to their mailing list, while you sell theirs to your mailing list. That’s just one example; think of more that are more “passive” in nature to really reap the rewards (think long-term links, Twitter campaigns, etc.).
24. Content courses. If you’ve been blogging for a reasonable amount of time, you can probably already launch a pretty cool content course. You can do it for free, of course, or you can charge for it using a solid newsletter provider.
25. Video courses. Like content courses, video-based courses are in high-demand and can be easily created through the use of software like Screenflow 3.
26. Email marketing. This one is huge. Forget about building an email list at your peril. Seriously–email newsletter lists are statistically much more relational and achieve a much higher rate of return than almost any other form of marketing online. I use MailChimp for mine.
27. Bundles. If you’ve written more than two or three books on a similar subject, consider bundling–it’s a great way to offer interested customers or die-hard fans your work at a value price, and it adds one more product to your growing product line, without needing to do more work.
Now do you better understand what I meant by building a “passive income”?