1. Money

Reader Mail: Making Money Online Without a Web Site and Without Selling Anything

By June 30, 2007

A reader wrote me this week with the following question:
Hi there,

I just read your article on setting up a web page to blog and make money as an Amazon.com affiliate.

I have to admit, I am lost...I would love to do something on the net to make extra money but, technically, I havent a clue...I saw you had about 10 steps, of which, I probably understood about 2...Should I take that HTML class first and other things will be more clear?

I would really appreciate your advice as my family needs the extra income. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


Sorry to hear you're having a hard time with it, but in all fairness, I did put "Difficulty: Hard" on the how-to guide. :-)

Here's the thing about making money online...

Simply put, there's no magic bullet. The ways you can make "big money", i.e., more than, say, about $10-$15 an hour, typically require at least two of the following three things:

  • Investment - Free tools are typically advertiser supported, which means you can't run as much advertising yourself and can't make as much money. Or they're open source software (like the WordPress blogging tool I described in the article you referred to), which require some degree of skill to use. You could build your own full-fledged e-commerce site, selling affiliate products, running advertising, blogging, and so on, for just the cost of very cheap hosting (less than $20 a year). But if you want to do that with no technical knowledge, no HTML knowledge, you're going to spend more like $20-$30 a month or more.
  • Skill - If you know what you're doing, there are a lot of free tools available. There's also a whole genre of ways to make money by doing free trial offers and then canceling them. While that doesn't take a great deal of skill, you have to be extremely organized in order to stay on top of them and do all the steps required to get the prize. People aren't really going to give you a free XBox 360 or iPhone just for answering one little survey. Come on -- think about it -- the economics just don't work.
  • Risk - There's no absolutely sure, easy way to make money online at more than about $10-$12 an hour. To make more than that, you run the risk of making less than that, or even of losing money if you're investing in tools (remember - I said you need two of these three).
Now, there are some ways that you can make money online and make $10-$12 an hour and be guaranteed to get paid. There are also ways that you can make, say, $8-$10 an hour while having fun, being social and/or networking in a way that will help you grow your other business(es).

Obviously, there's a lot more than I can cover here in a single blog post, but here are a few money-making ideas to explore that don't require any technical skill (none of them require you to even have a web site), any investment, and are guaranteed to make you money (even if not a lot). Also, please note, NONE of these links are affiliate links - I'm not making any money off these referrals. These are just a few that I know work and are legitimate:

  • Get paid to read e-mails / surf the web - Yes, you really can get paid to read ads. I did the math on paid e-mails and I figure that if all you do is just read the ads, it works out to about $9 an hour. Of course, at 10 seconds apiece and only one or two messages a day, it takes a while to get that hour in. But you hardly even notice the few seconds spent, and it does add up. Paid-to-surf programs are nice because the ads just appear while you do your normal browsing. Only problem is they eat up screen space -- not recommended unless you have a nice big monitor. I recommend MyPoints and InboxDollars, both of which have been around for a while and have a good track record. Our Freebies Guide also has a list of Get Paid to Surf / Read E-mails sites.
  • Get paid to take surveys - Be careful with these. Yes, you can make guaranteed money, but you really have to watch it. Some survey sites only give you points, and the points rate stinks when applied toward actual rewards, or the points may enter you into a drawing for a nice prize, but then everyone else gets nothing. The trick to making the most out of online surveys is doing the free or cheap trial offers at the end, but then canceling them. I recommend Global Test Market and Greenfield Online.
  • Write! - There are a ton of places you can make money from your writing. Some pay a flat fee while others pay based on the viewing activity it generates. You can write blog posts or full-length articles. I recommend Associated Content and Creative Weblogging.
  • Get paid to be social - Social networking is all the rage right now, and there are any number of ways you can get paid by helping people find jobs, sharing contact information, and even just for sharing photos and videos and normal social activity. I recommend Gather (read my Gather review) and Flixya. For more ideas, check out my article, Make Money Online (Without Spending a Dime) and Mashable's 19 Ways To Make Social Sites Pay.
  • Refer people - Flat out, this is the best way to make money online without a web site of your own. Unfortunately, I can't use referral codes here on About or I'd be making a ton of money from it. Believe me, on my other sites and in my social networking activities, I do this. Case in point... Gather is currently giving you a $20 Borders gift card when you successfully refer five people. I posted on a couple of networks I regularly participate in and had five people within a couple of hours. My total effort: 2 minutes. That's a pay rate of $600 an hour! Now obviously I can't get 30 of those to do every hour, but still... And it's not rent money, but if you're going to buy books and music anyway, that's $20 you can now spend on essentials. Or InboxRewards, which I referred to above, pays you $5 for every successful referral. How many people could you successfully invite in an hour if you put your mind to it? The only real drawbacks are that there's not very much of it available and it's not very sustainable -- once you've told all your friends, then what? You have to go meet new people and tell them. Of course, everyone else has the same idea, so... Anyway, it's good pay while you can get it.

I hope that helps. And any readers who'd like to share what has and hasn't worked for you (and that doesn't require any investment, any technical skill, any selling, and a website of your own), please do share it in the comments.

January 13, 2008 at 2:06 pm
(1) Sam Kenwick says:

Hello, I just wanted to write to you and let you know about how I am doing entrepreneur style. Well I am into ptr and surveys. The ptr was making me 15 dollars a day but has gone down to 7, I make maybe 3 dollars per day doing the surveys so I am making only a part time income. However I thought I would bring to your attention a website

If you click on the fast earners tab, and then the show me tabs next to the payment posts. You will see this man/woman/organization makes around 20,000 per year in the paid to search area of paid to read email. I just made a 140 dollar purchase at luckyvitamin.com Have progressive car insurance and bought various items from dollardays.com wholesale site and I found all this stuff on the paid to search emails. Its a very lucrative market and if you do it right you can make alot. I primarily wrote to you to ask you for your gather URL, that way I can make you 20 dollars.

Thanks and have a great day!

Sam Kenwick

July 27, 2008 at 4:21 am
(2) Online Business Opportunity Seekers says:

Online Business Opportunity Seekers very popular in this century. i have some article, all info about online business opportunity seekers, online opportunity, business opportunity, home business and more that i could be able to share with you if you have it:D

Online Business Opportunity Seekers

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