Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

To Make Money Online Do These 3 Things First Making a living online is very easy after you've put in a lot of really hard work.

By R.L. Adams Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Hero Images | Getty Images

Everyone wants to make money online. It's the proverbial dream. But, is this dream an achievable reality for most people who are just starting out on the web? I can tell you firsthand that it is. As long as you play your so-called cards right. Ignore the naysayers and stay focused. It doesn't matter what you want to achieve, with persistent action and determination, you can get there.

So, making money on the internet isn't just a pipe dream. You can do it. But, there is a path forward. It's not the one of least resistance. But, it does offer a gateway to online wealth. Yes, it's achievable. But, it won't be easy. After over a decade of marketing on the internet, looking back, I can tell you that there are three particular things you need to be doing if you seriously want to make money on the internet.

Do these three things, and you'll get closer than ever before. If you ignore these three things, the pathway forward will be far more painful and far more arduous. Now, that doesn't mean that these three things will be easy. They're not. They require work. But, everyone can do them as long as you stick to it and you don't give up. That's what it's all about.

You can't expect to make any money if you just throw in that towel and call it quits right when the going gets tough. Even if you fail or you experience some setbacks, look at them as stepping stones, not road blocks. Everyone fails while trying to achieve their goals. Everyone. But, as long as you continually seek to improve, you'll make it there. It just might not happen as quickly as you had hoped.

Related: How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

How to Make Money Online

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways you can make money online. There truly are. Some are far more straightforward than others. But, they're all viable. Some require a bit of upfront investment, and others just require your sweat equity. It all depends on which avenue you choose.

But, here's some advice. Don't look for the path of least resistance. And if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Sorry to break it to you. All of these online gurus have a bit of a leg-up on you. They've been around the so-called block and they've collected and built a following as a result. When you have that, gaining traction on an offer is much easier.

But, don't let that get you discouraged. Keep you head up. Stay focused. Stay motivated. And charge forward. When you take a look at a lay of the land, first understand that there are two overall camps when it comes to making money on the web. You can either earn an active income or a passive income.

Related: 17 Passive Income Ideas for Automating Your Cash Flow

Active Income vs. Passive Income

The Holy Grail for online income doesn't reside in doing services on sites like Upwork or gigs on sites like Fiverr. Those are all active income activities. They require you to directly exchange your time for money once. Once. That's the operative word here. Passive income is different. Much different.

For me, passive income is the Holy Grail when it comes to making money online. It means exchanging your time once and getting paid repeatedly. It also means freedom. Freedom from the rat race. Freedom from the 9-to-5. Freedom from a boss or obligations. And the ability to live, work and travel at will.

I talk about the difference between active income and passive income so that you can get a lay of the land. If you're serious about making money, or getting rich by any measure, the first thing you need to do is stop directly exchanging your time for money. Now, that's hard if you have significant expenses. You need to eat and survive. You have to pay your student loans, car payments and mortgage or rent. Plus everything else.

However, the problem with living in an active income world is that you don't have the time to learn new things. You can't possibly absorb all the necessary skills to generate an income on the internet when you're so immersed in going to your 9-to-5 just to keep the lights on, so to speak.

So what's the path forward? Start small. Focus on passive income. If at all possible, your goal is to extricate yourself from the shackles of a 9-to-5. Now that I've made this distinction, we can cover the three things that you absolutely must do first if you're serious about generating some real money online.

Related: Need a Business Idea? Here are 55

1. Define your personal brand.

The absolute first and most important thing you need to understand before you can really generate any semblance of cash ion the internet is to define your personal brand. To some people, this is the most deathly feared thing that they could possibly do. It means putting yourself out there. Being subject to criticism and comments and that and then some is part and parcel of this process.

Now, can you make money online without building your personal brand? Sure. But, it'll sure be a lot harder. By building a personal brand, you're putting yourself out there. You're creating a place that you can call home on the internet. Whether that means you're starting a blog or a Facebook Page or an Instagram profile, you just have to get yourself out there.

To do this, decide on what platform you're going to stand on. Pick a market. The three markets you can choose from are:

  • Wealth
  • Health
  • Relationships

Once you have your market, decide on your sub-market. For example, if you're in the wealth market, your sub-market could be passive income. It could be flipping real estate contracts. And so on. Your sub-market is going to define your voice. What will you speak about? What will you preach? If it's health, your sub-market might be personal development or weight loss or something else.

Find your voice. That's what it takes. Before you can decide what you're going to use to make your money online, you have to find that voice. But, first, you need a market and sub-market. Stay in that sub-market. For example, many of the influencers you see online remain in their sub-market.

Related: 8 Reasons a Powerful Personal Brand Will Make You Successful

2. Find and nurture your audience.

The reason why most of the online gurus are able to step into an opportunity and almost immediately make money is because they've created and nurtured an audience. They've done this through email marketing. The money is most certainly in the list. You've heard it before. I'm saying it again.

You need to find a place where you can build that list. It can be through a variety of email marketing platforms. It doesn't matter which one you choose. Pick one and start. Tell your origin story. Make yourself vulnerable. Tell them where it all started for you.

Build your story inventory. The vehicle of a story is a powerful way to create a mass movement of people that are intrigued by what you have to say. It also helps for email open rates. It's not a simple matter. You have to get good at the story telling. Meaning, you have to nurture your audience.

Once you can overcome the initial resistance to this, you can ultimately make money in whatever opportunity you step into. Whether that means it's a passive income opportunity such as by writing ebooks or audiobooks, or it means engaging in active income activities like promoting your own course or affiliate offer or conducting a live webinar. There is real power in the list.

And when you communicate with that list, do it every day. Yes, every single day. You'll be easily forgotten online if you don't put yourself out there. While most people think that they'll upset their list by communicating every day, it's actually the exact opposite. Some people do it multiple times per day.

But, don't just email for the sake of emailing or to sell something. Tell a story. Get personal. Explain an epiphany you had or something you learned recently. Share your journey with them. And watch as some incredible things unfold. That's just the nature of how it works.

Related: 5 Ways to Build an Audience for Your Blog and 10 Ways to Make Money Once You Have

3. Add value with every exchange.

It's really easy to be short-sighted online. You think that people aren't really paying attention. But, they are. For that reason, you need to add value with every exchange. Yes, define your brand. Build your list. But, add value with every exchange and communication.

When you add value, and you don't just try to promote, people see you as more genuine. That's important. In effect, you're building a tribe. Don't think they aren't watching what you're doing. They're paying attention to what you're saying and how you're saying it. They're trying to determine whether or not you're just looking for a quick book.

Yes, you can make money online without doing this. But, it will be short-lived. And it won't be much. Instead, when people follow you and believe wholeheartedly in you, they'll buy whatever it is that you're selling. That will also help you become an authority in your industry or niche.

That's not to say that you can't promote what you're offering. You can. You should, in fact. But, make it an aside. A byline, if you will. A P.S. in an email. Concentrate more on adding value and the money will come. I liken it more to doing the most of amount of work for the least initial return.

You won't make millions out of the gate. But, you will start making money over time. That's the nature of the beast online. Focus on the long term, not the short term. Set yourself up for success by building a solid foundation.

R.L. Adams

Entrepreneur, software engineer, author, blogger and founder of WanderlustWorker.com

Robert Adams is a writer, blogger, serial entrepreneur, software engineer and best-selling author of dozens of technology, SEO, online marketing and self-development books, audiobooks and courses.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

More People Are Exploring Entrepreneurship Because of This Unexpected Reason

More new business applications were filed in 2023 than in any other year so far.

Business News

TikTok Reportedly Laid Off a 'Large Percentage' of Employees as the App's Fate in the U.S. Remains Unclear

Laid-off TikTok employees were notified Wednesday night through Thursday morning.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Four Seasons Orlando Responds to Viral TikTok: 'There's Something Here For All Ages'

The video has amassed over 45.4 million views on TikTok.

Personal Finance

This Investment Bundle Includes a Trading Course and Stock Screener Tool for $150

Approach the stock market with an increased understanding.