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Sunday, April 8, 2018

How I Keep the Lights On

A little more than ten years ago I was where a lot of teachers find themselves at one point or another. I loved teaching but I didn't love scraping to pay the bills. On one Wednesday afternoon in January, 2008 I had to borrow gas money from my department head to get me through to Thursday when direct deposit would hit. No two ways about it, that sucked! It was then that I decided that I should try to monetize this little blogging hobby I had started.

Perhaps you're in a situation like I was in 2008. Or, hopefully, you're in a little better situation but still wanting to earn a little extra money without having to take a job at Home Depot on the weekends. Here's an introduction to all the ways that I've earned money online while still doing what I love.

Advertising revenue
This is the obvious one when you visit my blog. I started doing this in 2008. I wish that I knew then how hard it is to make any significant money through ad revenue. I don't recommend banking this method unless you either have lots of traffic on your blog (100,000+ monthly visits) or you're ready to publish 4-6 blog posts on 5-7 days per week.

Amazon Affiliates
Amazon Affiliates is a program that lets you earn a small commission on the sales of products that you recommend online. Amazon isn't the only online business that offers an affiliate program, it's just the biggest. This hasn't worked all that well on Free Technology for Teachers, but it has generated some gas money. That said, I know bloggers for whom it has worked very well. Some people even create websites just for the purpose of recommending Amazon products.

Speaking & Consulting
This category accounts for almost half of my annual income today. It took a while to develop the presence and authority required to get speaking and consulting contracts. Like anything else, start small and build up from there. I did a bunch of speaking and consulting work for not much more than the cost of gasoline and a Subway sandwich (Spicy Italian on herb & cheese, please).

Live webinars, on-demand courses, and digital downloads
Almost six years ago I set-up PracticalEdTech.com for the purpose of offering live online courses that I hosted through GoToTraining/ GoToWebinar. Since then I have used various services to sell downloads of individual webinars as well as offer entire courses in on-demand, self-paced formats. I looked at using Teachers Pay Teachers to sell downloads, but they took too big of a cut for my liking. Rather than use TPT to sell my downloads I found some other solutions that allowed me to keep almost all of my sales revenue. I'll be sharing those solutions in Thursday's webinar, How to Ditch TPT and Sell Your Digital Products.

I must point out that none of the four methods created money overnight. It took a lot of trial and error to get things working well. There's still a lot of trial and error today. Fortunately, my errors today are generally smaller because of the errors I made during the previous ten years. If you're thinking about trying to earn some income through blogging or another online venture, I'd be happy to lend advice. I also have an online course that walks you through everything I've done and would do again to start another online business.