We’re going to help you make some money online and thanks to the internet and your PC, all you need is a good idea. If you don’t even have one of those, you can transform your spare time into cash – legally.
This isn’t a guide to selling old vinyl on eBay or flogging knackered paperbacks on Amazon. We’ve done our homework, trawled the web and put together a list of new, exciting and innovative ways in which technology can help you make money.
We’ll explore topics such as human intelligence tasks – jobs that computers and software can’t do, but are essential to the functioning of an electronic business.
Computers have removed lots of boring and repetitive tasks from the workplace, but they’ve created a fair few, too, which gives us an opportunity to make money online quickly and reasonably easily.
For example there’s Amazon’s Mechanical Turk comes in. Small tasks that can’t be performed by software are farmed out to its subscribers, who turn the job around for a few cents at a time.
That name? It’s from an 18th century sideshow attraction. A chess-playing robot was toured around Europe, amazing audiences with its apparent skill. It was, however, controlled by a human hidden from view.
The micro-jobs that are tendered at Mechanical Turk (called HITs or human intelligence tasks) could be any quick, computer-related duty.
In a typical session, a user might do a bit of data entry or fill in a questionnaire. The more HITs you complete in the allotted time, the more you earn. With many HITs offered at just a few cents a task, it requires dedication to earn a crust – but there are advantages, too.
You can work from home doing as much or as little as you want, at any time of day you want. And tasks that require more thought and effort pay more.
If Mechanical Turk’s rewards seem too paltry, there are similar, more specialised services to choose from.
MicroWorkers offers higher rates, but the tasks are in the grey marketing category, with HITs requiring that you sign up for dating sites and blogs, or review items on Amazon.
Meanwhile CloudCrowd is an unusual-looking enterprise. You sign up through Facebook and much of the work on offer is proofreading and translation-based.
Human intelligence tasks pay up to $3, though many of the jobs on offer are less. Payment is through PayPal and support is offered through Get Satisfaction.
Finally, there’s Just Answer . The model here is a little different, but still nestles in the same broad category as other HIT sites. Here, you get to use your expertise to answer live queries from users.
Of course, you need some qualifications in the field you choose and your credentials are displayed to users. The system works on a bidding basis. As a provider, you scan the listings for live questions you can answer.
If you can help, you set a price. It’s up to the user whether they agree to pay that price or continue looking for a better deal. New providers take 25% of the fee, while more seasoned experts get a 50% cut.
The easiest way to start serving ads from your site, and earning money, is Google’s AdSense . A chunk of code is provided for you to paste into your site when you sign up.
People browsing your site see adverts that fit its content and keywords. The cash-per-click model means that every time a visitor clicks on a link, you get a share of the fee the advertiser paid.
Google doesn’t publicise the exact percentage of the pie that you’ll get, but some keywords offer a bigger slice than others.
Don’t already have a website? Check out our guide on how to build a website .
Some AdSense users have seen earnings over £1,000 ($1,300, AU$1,700) a month. It’s hard to track which keywords are the real winners, even though there are several blogs and websites that claim to list the highest paying AdSense keywords.
Is it worth shelling out for these lists? You can use Google’s own AdWords tool to suggest related keywords for free. It’ll help you optimise your content for more targeted ads.
Don’t click ads on your own page, and don’t think asking your friends to click on them will help you either. Google considers this click fraud, and employs sophisticated tracking mechanisms to protect its revenue. You’re more likely to get a swift, permanent ban than any extra income.
If you want to make money with AdSense, just make good, consistent content aimed at a small audience.
For more control over ads, try affiliate linking. You either take a percentage of all the sales you refer to the service provider, or you get simple cash for clicks.
Amazon Associates is a highly visible example. Sign up for access to tools that let you create banners, badges and text links to any item on the site – just make sure the products you choose are relevant to the content you already carry.
When someone clicks an Amazon affiliate link on your site, you’ll get nine per cent of the cash they spend. Easy money.
Technically, it’s easy for anyone to prepare a home video for publication online. You can upload video at HD resolutions on YouTube, for example – and the service takes care of the compression at various resolutions for you.
YouTube also accepts video in QuickTime, MPEG, Windows Media format or as an AVI file. Keep in mind that HD resolution is 1920 x 1080, so there’s no point going over that. Once you’ve clicked the ‘Upload’ button, it’s really straightforward.
The tough part isn’t making videos – it’s growing an audience. You’ll need that audience to make money. It’s easy to see which are YouTube’s most popular videos. Go to YouTube’s Charts webpage , where you can pick the most viewed videos.
There are several common threads. First, cuteness. Cute kids and cute animals. If it’s funny as well as cute, it’s YouTube gold. The number one video of all time is the infamous ‘Charlie bit my finger’.
One way to hedge your bets is to ride the slipstream. For a short time, Rebecca Black parodies and mashups were nearly as popular on YouTube as the original video. Catch the next viral smash at the beginning of its ascent, then make a video that rides its coat-tails and your efforts will benefit from the reflected glory.
It’s tricky to time correctly but pays dividends if you do. Instructional videos do well, too, but that subject really deserves a separate discussion because there’s an entire secondary market in tutorial videos.
Get the video views and those eyeballs on your work can be translated into cash. The YouTube Partner Program enables you to place advertising on your clips and earn money for every viewing.
Be aware, though, that it’s really tough to get in. What’s more, YouTube doesn’t reveal hard figures but it does publish testimonials.
There are alternatives to YouTube that let you earn revenue from adverts without having to build a following first. Try sites like blip.tv and vimeo.com .