What are the best methods that can be used to make money online in 2021?

There are actually many methods to make money online in 2021 but their success depends on a number of factors. The most important factor is visibility, whichever method you use you have to find a way to stand out amongst all the other online noise. There are something like 5 billion individual web pages out there and you are competing for visibility with them all. This is assuming of course that you are planning to make money online via a website of some sort, but a website isn’t always a necessity to make money online, many people earn a substantial income primarily through social media.

But let’s kick off with a more general overview of ways to make money online. I will revisit individual methods in more detail in another article.

Making money online basically comes down to something being sold, a financial transaction takes place and you make money from this transaction. How this transaction takes place can vary but ultimately you are either selling something yourself or assisting someone else to sell something.

Let’s look first at ways to sell something yourself. Let’s say that for many years you have been collecting vintage t shirts and you want to turn this passion into a business. Well the first thing is that you are selling your passion, you are selling your collection that you have built up over the years. Selling those isn’t actually a business, it’s more just de cluttering really. It only becomes a business if you can source many more vintage t shirts to keep supplying to your customers. But lets go with selling vintage T shirts for now.

Ebay vs Etsy

The obvious two ways to sell them are through Ebay and Etsy, two established platforms that have a regular and massive audience trawling through looking for things they need, or want or a passionate about. Etsy is smaller than Ebay but tends to be more focussed on handmade artsy crafty products, but is expanding quite rapidly into other areas and your vintage t shirts would probably fit reasonably well with their audience. Ebay is massive and you can buy anything at all on there. With both of these platforms there are fees charged to sell your item. Ebay’s fees are higher but it is very easy to list even one item and get it in front of millions of potential buyers. Etsy is cheaper but your potential audience is smaller. So you are balancing ease of use against the cost of selling. But these are great entry points into making money online. The downside is that you aren’t really building a brand. Your business identity just gets lost in these crowded market places


Amazon is of course another global selling behemoth. But there are significant differences between Amazon and Ebay/Etsy. Amazon only sells new items, it isn’t somewhere to sell antique collectibles or your vintage t shirts. Amazon is much more business like. In fact you need to be a business to sell on Amazon. There fees are quite high and you have to meet lots of seller quality targets. Many people make a substantial living from Amazon, often using dropshipping suppliers or FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon), which is where you send your stock into Amazon and when it sells it is shipped directly from Amazon. Amazon requires a certain in depth understanding of their particular ways and probably isn’t going to be your first toe in the water at making a living online.

Your own website

Selling your t shirts through your own website is certainly a possibility. With this comes a range additional requirements, but selling your products through your own website gives you a great opportunity to build your brand and your brand identity.

The downsides of having your own website? – Well obviously you need a website, paying someone to build a website for you can be an expensive option, so you could build your own. This requires a particular knowledge. It isn’t difficult, you just need to follow a step by step guide and at the end of the process you have a functioning website stocked with all of your lovely t shirts. The problem here is visibility, you are back competing with those 5 billion other web pages. Well not quite all of them, but you are competing with any that the search engines decide have a relevancy to your vintage t shirts. If you Google vintage t shirts there are 252 million pages available. With 10 results on each of Google’s results pages that is 25 million results pages and most people only look at the first 2 or sometimes 3. So the remaining 24,999,997 pages rarely get a look in…..or do they? But more about that another time. But I’m sure you see the problem, you have to find a way to get your website up on to the first couple of pages. It is possible but it takes some work and some understanding. This is called Search Engine Optimisation or SEO. We will go into this in detail elsewhere.

So if you have an actual product to sell those are your options. Marketing and promoting those options is another topic altogether, but I cover all of that in other articles on here.

Affiliate Marketing

The other way to make money online is to promote someone else’s product. Your earnings are less because you are just paid a percentage commission for getting the sale, but the upside is that your time is spent promoting products without ever having to handle them. So you don’t buy any stock, you don’t need to store stock and you have no products to pack and send out.

This is generally known as affiliate marketing. You affiliate yourself with somebody else’s product and market it. It is actually a great way to make money online, you just have to work out how you are going to do the actual marketing. Finding products or services to promote is easy, actually promoting them and getting results is harder.

The first step in affiliate marketing is to decide on your niche. It generally doesn’t work to try to be a general affiliate marketer promoting everything from kettles to mountain bikes to car insurance. For example you could promote every single item that is for sale on Amazon through their affiliate marketing program, but all that happens then is that you are competing directly with Amazon. Instead you should become a specialist in one area that you over time become known for. Most people begin with something that they already have an interest in. For example if your are in to fitness and exercise you could build an online presence in that area. You could then promote gym equipment, gym wear, nutritional supplements and online fitness courses.

Building an Income from Social Media

Of course this article is just a general overview, I go into much more detail on each aspect of making money online elsewhere. Social Media itself is a whole plethora of methods and systems to make money.

You can use social media to back up your website and to drive customers to it, or you can use social media as the source of your income.

In brief you could use Facebook to promote your website or product but you need to factor in peoples expectations from different social media. People don’t like blatant advertisements on Facebook, unless the ads are where they would expect to find them, so A Buy/Sell facebook group is fine but on a Facebook group about new mums or genealogy you might be less welcome. Facebook has their own advertising program, you could use this to promote your products but once you start paying for advertising you need to get your head into ROI (Return On Investment) statistics. If you are paying Facebook to send visitors to your website, you need to know the real cost of that visitor. For example, if it cost you $20 to get 40 clicks through to your website and 2 of those clicks resulted in a sale, it has cost you $10 per sale. If you had $10 profit in your product then you have actually made nothing, and given yourself two orders to process for nothing.

Instagram can be quite good for marketing purposes as for some reason people are less offended by scrolling past something on Instagram that doesn’t interest them, than they are on Facebook. It is a much more subtle process, but you can’t put a direct link back to your website in an Instagram post you have to rely on people being interested enough to visit your profile to find the link to your website. Pintrest can be useful for marketing because you create a page of pins showing all of your products, each with a description and a link to whichever web page you want them to visit. With Pintrest people are looking for ideas, inspiration and products and have the opportunity to discover yours.

TikTok is one of the newer social media platforms that consists of short videos of up to 60 seconds long. It has a massive user base. Videos are posted by users. The majority of these are teenage girls dancing to the latest music or clips taken from comedy shows and tv programmes. The account holders get likes and followers in a similar way to most other social media platforms. There is nothing stopping you from making videos of your products and uploading them to TikTok. Viewers then either stumble across your video or see them all if they follow you. They can like your video and in most cases comment on it. The comments section is a double edged sword because amongst the complimentary comments you will also get some pretty cutting vicious ones too.

Social Influencers

This is a sub sector of social media. The point of having a social media account is to grow the number of people following you. There are some people who have grown huge armies of followers, growing daily as they continue to post their videos. The most successful are the younger good looking guys and girls who attract these huge numbers of followers. In this area 10,000 followers is nothing, 100,000 followers is starting to get there. There are accounts with millions of followers, in fact some accounts have passed the million followers point. These are the people making big money from TikTok. They can be paid directly by TikTok, very few people make big money using that method because if you had a million followers and you posted a video which every single one of them watched, you would be paid around $40 by TikTok, so thats a lot of videos to post to consider giving up the day job. However where they can make big money is as social influencers. Companies will pay them to promote their products. So letsc say they wear the latest pair of Jeans in one video which puts that pair of Jeans in front of 1 million pairs of eyes, eyes that adore you, follow you and want to look like you that could be worth the jeans company maybe paying you for the huge exposure their product gets. And the next day they wear another product from some other company and make the same again. The top TikTok Social influencers are making more than $1m a year doing just this.

So you could be the influencer building your followers and promoting other brands, or you could be paying the influencer to promote your product. It might not cost you $10k because if your target influencer ‘only’ had 100k followers it might only cost you $1k or if they only had 10k followers it might only cost you a couple of hundred dollars. So you could be an influencer or use the influencer to promote your brand. Bear in mind fashion and beauty products work better on social media than less glamourous products.

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