This is part of a series that we are introducing to help our audience learn how to make money online. This comes with actionable steps!
I love to travel. I have been to many countries. When you make money online, it seems as if you’re traveling for free.
I have been making money online for years, and I make money from diverse sources.
For example, my passion is in the arts, and I make money from that, including my travel photography and books.
However, I also make money from things I’m not passionate about to help me pay for the things I love.
For instance, I make money from e-commerce, which is not a “passion” for me, but it works.
So, who is this guide for? It is for anyone who wants to make money online.
This guide will start first answering some questions, which are answers to vital questions.
After that, there is an example of how you can make money online.
I will start with zero money and continue until you’re on your way to being rich.
What do I ask you?
This guide can genuinely change your life.
Can You Really Make Money Online?
For those of us who do make money online, it is one of the most asked questions.
Yes, you really can make money online. There a ton of ways to make money online, including the ones featured in this guide.
I’m going to give you a quick example. Years ago, I went to Rio de Janeiro to photograph a culture that I was always attracted to. In the process, I met a lot of people and came back with a lot of photographs.
Then, in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics, I published a book on Amazon. [This is a commission link because Amazon pays me a small percentage if you purchase something. Throughout this guide, I will tell you instances where I will be compensated. I don’t choose them so that they pay me; I choose them because they are useful. The fact that these companies pay me, and hopefully soon you too, is just a bonus! And we will talk more about commissions more later.]
Anyway, I published a physical book and an ebook. Meanwhile, I created a special website where people could download the ebook. Then I used an advertisement to target people going to Rio.
My little website made 2,500%+ more sales than Amazon.
Why do I tell you this?
Because I don’t want you to think it’s magic.
Making money online is not something as easy-breezy as the fake gurus make it sound like.
You have to share information or create products that people want, and people will purchase.
Note that I said “share,” because you don’t have to create something. You can just promote someone else’s product.
How Do People Actually Make Money Online?
It is essential to answer this question, especially for people who are new to this whole thing.
People make money online by offering something to another human over the Internet. Sure, you might use technology to make it happen, but someone, somewhere has to pay you.
I gave you an excellent example in the previous section by telling you how I created a product.
But, on the web, you can make money from products you did not create.
So, let’s unpack that.
One of the tools I use in my business is Groove. [Another commission link.]
I love using their products. My official website is done using their system.
Of course, I have no problem sharing it with people, especially since it is free to start.
But when I do, Groove owners pay me because they value that I share their business with my audience.
Of course, as you can see, I did not create Groove.
A commission is one big way you can make money online.
However, to do it justice, I need you to go on a journey with me.
This journey will “show” you, so to speak, in one of the ways to do it right.
How to Make Money Online for Free
Let’s assume you have no money or simply don’t want to invest money in an online business.
So, what would be the solution for someone like that?
There are several solutions!
Of course, each solution depends on your own situation, desire, and ability.
The fastest solution is to do something humans have done forever: become a “middleman” (or a “middlewoman”! Yyyaasss, ladies!!!).
Believe it or not, humans have taken that to the web, as well.
You might hear it being called “affiliate” or “commission”—the meaning is the same.
That is precisely what I was telling you previously when I mentioned that Groove or Amazon compensate me.
Both of these companies, as well as thousands of others, offer commissions.
When you refer someone, whether it is someone you know (friend or client) or someone you never met (a person on the web, for example), the companies recognize your contribution.
They understand that without you, they could not have gotten that sale.
Because you don’t have to create a product, it is by far the best way to start making money online for free.
So, let’s dive into that.
This is the most crucial part of the guide. Even if it takes you months, try to understand this part of the guide. Bookmark it and come back every single day until you understand every single step I plan out for you.
So, you actually don’t need to invest your own money to promote someone else’s products or services.
Then, how else do you do that?
There are tons of ways to do it, but let’s give you a good example in the following steps. To make it as uncomplicated as possible, I will turn the process into five simple steps.
Step 1: Start a Free Business
This is the most important step.
Even though you don’t have money or don’t want to invest right now, you must acknowledge one thing.
You must acknowledge you’re starting a business.
As a result, a business needs some necessary tools.
For example, a base from which it can operate.
Because you’re doing this virtually, let’s start by creating a Google account.
It is free.
Google accounts come with Gmail, YouTube, Blogger, etc.
Some of these products you will use later.
Therefore, think of a name that represents what you’re passionate about.
It can be straightforward.
For example, “AJ Paris Travel” is the name of the travel business started by photographer AJ Paris, me.
I’m passionate about travel, including how to make money online so I can travel!
Likewise, “AJ Paris Photos” is the name of the photography business started by me.
On the other hand, “Shiseido” is the name of the cosmetic company found by Arinobu Fukuhara.
Fukuhara was passionate about chemistry.
Shiseido predated Google and didn’t need a Google account. Instead, it had a headquarter and tons of employees.
AJ Paris, like you, was an individual who had dreams and wanted to start a business.
So, to this day, I use my Google account for a lot of stuff.
For example, the ads you might see on my websites, the free cloud space that offers me somewhere to keep my files, etc.
So, what is the name of your new business?
You should have that reflected in your new Google account.
Google will ask you what this account is for, and you will choose the option that says, “To manage my business.”
So, get a free Google account.
To do that, Click Here.
Step 1 Example
I use “ajparisphotos” at Google to get business emails through Google’s Gmail service.
Likewise, I use the same Google account to post videos on YouTube, which is owned by Google.
Similarly, I make income from my audience by using Adsense, another Google product.
I use Docs, another service of Google, to write up contracts with my clients.
Meanwhile, I use Google’s Drive to deliver those contracts to clients.
Google gives me all of that for free.
Because they want me to spend money using Google Ads, which is their advertisement platform.
And I use it because it is the best advertisement platform on the planet!
So, understand a Google account will help you grow your business!
In the meantime, I want you to decide creating a Google account that is based on something you’re passionate about.
Why do I say that?
Because when it gets hard, and you already know it will be hard work, it will be a lot easier if it is a business you’re passionate about!
And believe me, there is someone interested in whatever you’re passionate about.
So, believe in yourself and base your primary business on something you have a lot of passion for!
Step 1 Pro Tip: If you can’t figure out how to complete Step 1, watch this video. Do not move on to Step 2 without completing this.
Step 2: Get a Free Website
To do that, Click Here. [Another commission link.]
It is through Groove, the company I mentioned previously. Groove offers you free space to create a web page, a sales page, or even a sales funnel—all for free!
This is not a “free” webspace like some companies give you for free to advertise their own businesses.
No, don’t do that.
Instead, this is actually 100% there for you to use it, and it is actually free.
So, why do you really need a website?
Because to make commissions, a company will need to supply you with a unique code so that they know it was you who sent a customer.
However, they increasingly prefer that you do not send that customer directly to them.
Instead, they want you to have a “bridge” page, which is basically why you need a website.
A bridge page, also known as a landing page, allows you to take someone from a journey.
For example, let’s say you made a YouTube video, commented on a Facebook Group, or any other free way to find people interested in whatever you’re promoting.
When that person clicks on that link, you don’t want them to go straight to the company.
Instead, send them to a landing page.
This step will become more apparent down the line, but you have homework to do for now:
Go get that free website.
Step 2 Example
I currently use Groove to host my photography website.
However, I also use Groove to host other online businesses that I have.
Of course, I have their platinum plan, which allows me to create unlimited websites and host it with them.
However, if I had a free account, I would be able to host 3 websites.
It is still plenty enough for you to make money!
Once you make money, you can upgrade and be a pro like me.
So, in step 1, you decided on a passion and opened a Google account. In this step, try to think about what companies are related to your passion.
For example, if you’re passionate about traveling, perhaps you want to promote a travel program.
Airbnb is a prominent travel company, and they pay around $100 per each customer you refer to them!
So, you will use your new Groove website to create enticing ways to get people to sign up for programs you promote.
Let’s say you got 10 people to sign up, it means you’re making around $1,000 just from one company!
But, wait, it will grow as we go through the guide!
Step 2 Pro Tip: If you can’t figure out how to complete Step 2, watch this video. Do not move on to Step 3 without completing this.
Step 3: Sign Up with Companies
Companies need you and me to bring people to them. A customer can be worth thousands of dollars over time. This is known as “lifetime customer value.”
So, let’s get you signed up.
Remember that free website I offered in the previous step?
You can promote it to other businesses.
Well, the reason Groove gives you free space is that they have tons of products that are useful that they can sell to you!
They want you to make money so you can purchase their other products.
For example, they have a product that businesses can use to attract, retain, and grow their customer base.
However, when you recommend it to a business, you can get up to 50%.
Let’s say you’re a photographer like me, and you recommended Groove to a photography studio.
The studio will thank you because with Groove, they will grow their customer base.
However, Groove pays you 40% of whatever products they buy.
Then, let’s say the owner of that photography studio went out and recommended Groove to one of his clients, a blogger.
When the blogger signs up, the studio makes 40% of whatever the blogger purchases.
However, you can also make another 10% as the referrer of that studio!
You’re starting to see it, right?
That is the power of being a “middle man!”
So, really, you should join Groove and start promoting their products as soon as you can.
Go back to step 2 if you didn’t already do so and sign up with Groove.
Step 3 Example
I recommended Groove to several people, and two of them purchased immediately purchased the highest level.
Let’s put it this way, I made enough money that it almost paid for all of my services for a long time.
That is the beauty of the right programs: they are useful.
So, we used travel as the industry in the previous example.
Let’s continue with that industry.
Booking.com is a trendy hotel website (you could say they’re a competitor of the last company we mentioned, Airbnb).
If the customers you refer to them end up staying at places they found on their website, Booking.com will pay you 40% of their commission.
Let’s say in one year that you have had 1,000 people who stayed at 1,000 locations with Booking.com.
You could be making something like $25,000!
That is like $2,000-plus per month.
So far, you’re making $3,000, but let’s get that number to go up!
Step 3 Pro Tip: If you can’t figure out how to complete Step 3, watch this video. Do not move on to Step 4 without completing this.
Step 4: Promote Organically
Now that you have a website and signed up for products to promote, the next step is to get people to see what you’re promoting.
When you get someone to visit a website, in the digital marketing industry, it is called “traffic.”
Of course, one way to do that is to get “paid traffic.”
That is when you use an online advertisement to take their audiences to your website in exchange for a fee.
However, you’re not there yet… either because you don’t have the money or you’re not yet convinced there is money to be made.
So, the free way to get people to websites is called “organic traffic.”
Most people have a Facebook account, and you can use it to promote your new business.
You remember that website I had you sign up for? Their training will show you how!
Likewise, you now have a Google account, you could also use YouTube to promote your new business.
So, I had you start a Google account because it can help you in this particular step.
Google owns YouTube, and one of the ways to really promote organically is YouTube.
You see, YouTube is both social media and a search engine.
Whereas an Instagram post might disappear into the feed after a few days, a YouTube video can grow forever.
So, use it to promote your business organically!
Step 4 Example
Let’s say you decided to use YouTube as your source of organic traffic.
Hey, you already have a Google account, you might as well put it to use!
So, what can you promote with YouTube?
We are going to continue with our travel industry examples.
SkyScanner is an app that allows you to scan the travel industry so you can get cheap flights and hotels.
Well, if you can get someone to download it, they pay you $1.
So, let’s say you created 150 videos in one year or about 3 videos per week.
Let’s say you focused on different aspects of this app.
How many people do you think will download?
Yes, it means you can have tons of downloads!
So, let’s say each video brought you 100 downloads in the whole year.
That is about $15,000 a year or $1,250 per month.
So, now you’re making $4,250 per month!
But we still have more to go!
Step 4 Pro Tip: If you can’t figure out how to complete Step 4, watch this video. Do not move on to Step 5 without completing this.
Step 5: Blog for Success
So, blogging is a way to organically bring people to written content.
Let’s say, for example, you want to promote Groove.
Because they offer specific products such as an e-commerce system, you can create a blog that publishes content around that.
For instance, some articles could be about the feature of the product, while other articles tackle the benefits.
Before you know it, you have a long list of articles.
Over time, search engines like Google will send you traffic—free of charge.
So, a blog should have a very clear niche or target audience in mind.
The more you focus on their needs, the more the search engines learn who they are.
In other words, help the search engines help you!
Some people combine a website with a blog because every blog is a website, although not every website is a blog.
To learn more about blogging, Click Here. [Another commission link].
Step 5 Example
A blog will explode your profits.
You have unlimited traffic with search engines if you do it right.
Every day, Google gets billions of searches and needs to send them all to their destinations.
So, let’s continue with that travel industry example.
Amazon Associates is the commission section of Amazon, the big American company.
If you promote luxury brands, they will pay you 10%.
Therefore, let’s say you promoted Maxwell Scott’s briefcases, which cost about $1,000. You would get about $100.
So, let’s say you wrote 100 articles about this brand, reviewing its products.
Let’s say you got 1,000 sales over the year.
That is $100,000 or $8,333 per month.
Now, my friend, you’re making more than $10,000 per month!
After just 100 months, you made more than $1 million.
This is all with products you did not create, and with doing it for free.
Now, let’s say you invested half of that money into an advertisement plan.
In an advertisement, the average return is $3 for every $1 you put in.
So, now your 100 months are not just 1 million but 3-plus million!
Do you think that is too much?
If you think yes, then consider this: Mario Lavandeira, Vitaly Friedman, Timothy Sykes, and Gina Trapani are all bloggers who make more than $100,000 per month!
Google them if you don’t believe me.
So, go back to Step 1 and do this, if you didn’t!
Step 5 Pro Tip: If you can’t figure out how to complete Step 5, watch this video. Do not move on to the next section without completing this.
Grow Your Audience
Once you start making money, invest it back into your business.
There are billions of people on the Internet, and they can be found in several major companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.
Use paid advertisements to reach them.
For example, let’s say you’re passionate about France and want to create a business around that.
Well, guess what, there are literally millions of other people who love France!
So, with a Facebook advertisement, you could find someone who loves France and is also a travel junkie.
Groove has training on Facebook Ads.
Ads help you to automate your business.
With your website, you can set up your commission links and run the ads and let them do their thing.
Once in a while, you need to go back in and make changes.
Otherwise, Facebook Ads will consistently find you more people in your tribe.
One way I invested back into my business is to create AJ Paris Travel.
It is a travel partner for people who want to be tourists.
I’m investing a lot in that project because travel has brought me so much in my life.
It is my way of giving back.
So, remember you started with your passion?
Now give back!
Create something that celebrates that passion.
So, I was passionate about travel, photography, and storytelling.
The products I needed to create were photos, videos, and written material.
However, I had to do what I had been telling you in this whole article.
What is that?
How to make money online!
Once you make money, you can reinvest into your own business by creating products, as I said in the previous section.
In my case, I created coffee table books that take you on a journey to a destination.
In each of these books, you learn about a specific destination’s land, people, and culture.
That is, I created products!
So, what are the products around your business?
Start making them!
Once you start making your own products, you will have new options.
For instance, you could focus on your new products.
Or, you could continue promoting other’s products and still create more of yours!
Meanwhile, you’re not done yet…
Grow Your Business
You worked hard and made money.
Then, you reinvested into your business and grew.
After that, you created your own products.
Of course, wouldn’t it be great to sell more of your products on automation that doesn’t cost you more money?
So, how do you that?
By expanding your network.
To do that, consider these…
Become a Guest
One of the fastest ways to find a large number of your people is by being a guest on someone else’s network.
For example, let’s say that you’re a young person who is passionate about travel.
Keep in mind that travel includes flights, food, hotels, and cultures.
Getting interviewed on the networks that cover any of these industries is an excellent way to find new people.
You could also write a guest blog, step in for someone in a podcast episode, or appear with someone on a YouTube video.
Someone worked hard and accumulated a ton of people in their market, but they need lots of fresh content.
Why not supply it and, in the process, expand your own audience?
It is a win-win situation!
Another way to expand your audience is by appearing in life events.
Because you were a guest on someone else’s network, tons of creators will discover you.
Of course, they will invite you to share your knowledge with their own audiences.
The type of people who go to live events might be busy people in your chosen market.
For instance, they might be people who usually don’t have time to read blogs or watch YouTube videos.
However, sometimes these live events turn into online products such as YouTube videos!
So, it can work for both!
Get on the Media
By the time you’re a speaker at events, you are bound to attract journalists and other media members.
An interview with a journalist from the Associated Press once can end up in thousands of outlets worldwide.
What took you a couple of hours could get you thousands of new customers—all for free!
So, of course, getting on the media is a big goal for any business owner.
Expand Your Business
First, you did it organically with commissions, which required you to do the work.
However, you started making money, and then you reinvested into ads, which meant less work for you.
Then you created products and expanded your tribe.
Now, you are ready to take your business next level.
In my case, that meant hiring others to expand my interest.
For example, I’m passionate about travel, but I’m not an expert on China.
However, Li Xiu Ying, one of my writers, is!
Does that make sense?
However, for another business person, it could be going into another area altogether.
So, I brought a piece of China to me, but someone could take themselves to China.
In that case, that person might, for example, have their entire work translated in Chinese.
Once that is done, they might promote their work in China.
Map now the path you need to take to reach there, whatever “there” means for you.
That way, as you go through the ups and downs of your business (and there are many), you will keep your eyes on the ball!
Yes, millions of people worldwide are making money on the Internet.
Likewise, there are people making millions of dollars per year!
As a result, this guide was to show you how to make money online for free… by starting for free.
In order to really do that justice, I decided to focus on one of the ways to make money, which is a commission-based gig.
To do that, I had you do it organically first so that you didn’t have to spend any money on the business.
Once you started to make money, you ended up investing some back into your business in the form of advertisement.
Afterward, I showed you how to expand your business beyond yourself.
So, what is next after that?
Well, duplication, of course!
Turn that business into 10 more businesses!
If you were making a million, go make ten!
AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.