I'm an online bookseller, so the primary way I make money on the web is through selling my used books and the occasional DVD. This requires me to store inventory and actually package and ship a product. I love my job and fortunately have a large house, so storing books is not a problem; I know not everyone has access to this kind of storage. As I've looked for other ways to generate income, I've discovered a few ways that people make money online, legally, that don't require you to store or ship a product. Instead, you need to be able to provide what many internet surfers are looking for: quality information or content. If you like to write or are good at organizing information into interesting formats, these methods might work for you to help generate some extra income.
Make money on the web through article sites like Associated Content and Bukisa:
If you enjoy writing and can write short (400-800 words are ideal) informative articles, you can post them on article sites like Associated Content and Bukisa and make money through either upfront offers and/or page views. The money from these sites tend to come in slowly, often pennies at a time, but as you build up your article library you can find a steady stream of income coming in. At the time of this article's publication I'm averaging about $25 a month on page views from Associated Content. Others on this site, I know, are making up to $200 or more a month on page views alone, as well as a steady income on upfront payments for their articles.
The next two legal ways of making money on the web without inventory require you to have your own website and/or blog site or newsletter that you update regularly, to generate a steady stream of new web visitors.
Make money on the web through Google Adsense:
Most people are familiar with the Google ads you see at the tops and side of web pages. The owners of these websites are actually paid each time someone clicks on these ads, anything from a few pennies to a dime at a time. If you have a website, online newsletter, or blog site, one of the easiest ways to generate a little extra money is to join the free Google Adsense program and incorporate Google's ads into your web pages. You will discover that you have considerable freedom in how you want to design your Google ads: in towers on the side or across the top, generated based on your web page's content, or as a result of a Google search engine. One powerful option of Google Adsense is that you can set up the Google search engine so that it will only search your website/domain and generate appropriate Google ads above the results of the search. You can see an example of this at my website: here.
Make money on the web through affiliate programs:
Affiliate programs are extremely popular on the web and can be tailored to just about any kind of newsletter, website, or blog. You include a link to the "parent" website with a special code on your web pages and if your visitor actually buys a product through the "parent" website you receive a commission (usually between 5%-10%) of that sale, and possibly any sales from that customer for a limited amount of time. (This is where the concepts of "cookies" come in; this is how your visitors are tracked and you receive credit.) The key to including affiliate links is to think of what products or sites your visitor is likely to be interested in based on your content. If you are reviewing a specific book, for example, that is likely to still be in print, it make sense to include an affiliate link to Amazon where your visitor can easily purchase this book. If your site is focused on the bibliography of your favorite author and most of her books are out of print, it makes sense to include affiliate links to Abebooks, Alibris or Biblio where your web visitor can search for used copies for sale. Most affiliate programs offer the option of tailoring their links and ads to meet a variety of needs: link to a specific product, link to a specific ad or banner, or link to a search engine. If you are interested in adding affiliate links to your web pages from your favorite online company, check their home pages for a link at the bottom or top that says simply "Affiliate Program" to read the relevant FAQs.
Concluding remarks: How much money can I make with Google ads and affiliate links?
That's up to you. Seriously. I have a friend who has a homemaking website who makes hundreds of dollars a month from affiliate links and Google ads. But keeping her website updated with new and relevant content is a part time job. She's also been at it for several years now and through her persistence and by providing a quality information product now has a committed and loyal following through an e-mail newsletter. Like everything else, these money making techniques require work and effort to succeed. If you enjoy writing about your content subject and find ways to incorporate your affiliate links and Google ads creatively and logically into your newsletter, website, or blog, I would expect that the money will eventually follow. As you are first starting out, consider advertising your content through such social networking sites as Facebook and Twitter.