Is it really possible to make a living online?

Yes indeed. It is very possible. As a matter of fact, I am a living example and so are hundreds of thousands of people spread across the globe: bloggers, web designers/developers, graphic designers, server administrators, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts, web hosting resellers, domain name resellers, VoIP call credit retailers, e-currency exchangers etc. The list is virtually endless.

Apart from the regular jobs listed above, its also theoretically possible to make money online, by investing, and not doing much work apart from promoting the investment scheme (if you want to earn from referrals). You can trade stocks, bonds, join affiliate programs, and even earn interests from just saving into an online bank account.

I hope I can make enough moolah some day to go holidaying in the Caribbean on a cruise ship. Nothing is impossible. :-)
I hope I can make enough moolah some day to go holidaying in the Caribbean on a cruise ship. Nothing is impossible. 🙂

However, I am not about to ask you to leave your current job. Your decision to make a living online would be based on several factors: un-employment, under-employment, or even that you are fully employed but want an additional stream of income, so you could finance that dream of a holiday to Hawaii on a cruise ship, or indulge yourself with some luxury.

Why work online?

Working online is not an end in itself, but only a means to an end and that means you must be doing something really productive to be able to make money. Indeed, working online is not necessarily a magical wand that will command millions of US Dollars to your disposal. It takes hard-work, perseverance and smart thinking.

You should only decide to work online, if it is absolutely convenient for you to do so. You should factor your family, your social life, your current commitments, availability of a fast Internet connectivity, steady electric power supply etc.

What can I do to make a living online?

There are literally thousands of things you can do, to make a legitimate income over the Internet. However, I will divide them into three broad categories:

1. Offer expertise:

The kind of expertise you offer online should be related to something you are passionate about, have a reasonable amount of knowledge about, and have a solid experience practising.

For example, if you are a photography enthusiast, what about creating a website (or specifically, a blog) about camera reviews, news about the latest release of digital cameras, photo-taking tips and such. In short, you will be sharing useful information about something you enjoy doing, and more importantly, some making money.

2. Join affiliate programs

You can earn money by referring buyers to e-commerce websites. Depending on the policies of the e-merchant, you are paid a commission based on the amount of business leads you provide. You do not necessarily need your own website to join an affiliate program since you will be provided with a unique website URL with which you can promote the e-commerce website. Example? Web4Africa offers an affiliate programme to its customers whereby they can make some money on each web hosting referral.

3. Offer service / sell goods

You can create a website, where you market goods for sale, or offer your skills for hiring by others. Examples: you can set-up an online shop to sell shoes or you can set-up a website to offer website design if you have been trained for that.

Are there any downsides to working online?

Of course there are. Every job has its associated risks and hazards:

  • Sitting behind computer screens for long periods of time without regular exercise can result in health hazards like poor vision, exposure to Ultra-Violet rays, muscle pulls, back-ache etc
  • Affiliate programs can shut-down and a web hosting server can go offline due to technical hitches leaving you high-and-dry. There are 100,000 examples of dot-coms that have gone belly-up for several reasons.

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.


  1. […] I agree with you about not wanting to follow the bandwagon of getting-rich-quick on the Internet. It is indeed true that too many of such programmes are only exploiting ignorant people, and others who have some change to loose. I must quickly add that it is indeed possible to make a legitimate income online – enough to take care of all your wants, with more to spare. There are multiple factors that would determine how much you can earn online: your skill, knowledge, experience, persistence (0r lack of it), capital, fast Internet connectivity etc. Since I am not inclined towards long blog posts, I will break here. My next blog post would be for you. Though I originally wrote it on 7th April 2007 and published it on another blog of mine, I have re-edited and re-published it here: Is it really possible to make a living online? […]

  2. Making money online via the traditional way of running a blog or other types of website can require quite a load of patience. The test comes in the first six months when you do not earn anything and traffic never finds you. If you don’t quit during this period, then you will make it.

  3. This is a beautiful article that answers the question so many Nigerians have been asking in a concise manner.
    I love the way you addressed the mirage of people assuming that working online is a magical carpet to the land of wealth and prosperity. So many may not like the work HARD-WORK that you mentioned, but that is the truth. Nice job. Kudos

  4. Yes, am also a living example. What I do today is what i have always dream of since childhood and now, am so happy and make fortunes out of it. All online.
    The annoying part is many people accost me that they wanna learn what I do to attain such affluence, but they do not know that it’s neither easy nor a day job.
    To me, no business is better than the other, it’s just the amount of energy and zeal you put into it.

    Internet is a gold mine, if u can dig it, why not?

    • To me, no business is better than the other, it’s just the amount of energy and zeal you put into it.

      I share that sentiment 100%. It is true. That is why I cannot follow the crowd. I stick to what I am good that, and get better by the day. That way, my earning increases and when someone who doesn’t know me sees me, they think its what I do that made me relatively successfully but its not so much for what I do as it is with how I do it.

  5. I’ve been working online since January 2003 and it remains the best decision I’ve made in my life.

    I love the 3rd point you raised…

    3. Offer service / sell goods

    That is what I do. I put up websites to sell information products and it puts money into my bank account like clock work.

  6. This is a great piece and the contributions have been great. I am into a programme from Singapore, which has just been launched in Africa. What i see about most network marketing programmes is that it is the early birds (those who join at the inception) who enjoy most. This programme i am talking about is new in our market here.

  7. I’m glad to share comments with great enterpreneurs like David Ajao, Akin Alabi and the naijaecash genius.
    I started internet business in 2004. My friends were laughing at me that i have become a yahoo yahoo. Now the difference is clear. They come to me for internet business advice now.

    I think the bottom line is to be given to your passion over time and people will think you are patient for results.

    I thank God for the financial rewards so far. But am ready to deeepen my expertise, give more values to my clients and to extend my media coverage more because of the kind of financial target i have now.

    Internet business is actually rewarding in Nigeria now. I look forward to 2011 elections. My solutions will really change the political landscape of this dear nation. Am I bragging? Enough of my, me, myself… We will build Africa together.

    Thank you David!

  8. Making money online via the traditional way of running a blog or other types of website can require quite a load of patience. But still once you are done from your side with the besy efforts then you are sure to get a good output.

  9. Great posts, i like to explore the net.I have pals to which i email funny stories and videos, and African culture and many other things. But David, an a novice to opening a web address.How do i open it and do i start.Its been my childhood dream

  10. Interesting article David, I’m South African based and make my living through running various online projects. As you indicated, just like any other business, they is work to be done online, therefore you have to run your online activities like a business to gain financial freedom. Render a worthwhile service and people will be willing to pay if it’s solving a problem…

  11. Making money online is so easy that it should be considered illegal. its easy in the sense that if you understand the internet and its uses and understand the timeless principle of marketing and apply it to your online business then you will hit a gold mine, it demands persistence and perseverance and not neccesarily “hard work”. know how to identify a hungry niche, give then what they want,create a feeding frenzy, make a pwerful money back gurantee offer and most of all deliver value!!!! with a simple blog, i have earned oto $2000 a month with the variour monetizing strategies.

    David your are toooo much.i enjoy your blogsing. keep it up, you are educating Africans

  12. Very insightful post David.I agree 100% with you.Making money online is not an overnight business.It demands determination,patience and hard work.
    And even with all that,unless one employs the right strategies,targets the right niche and provides quality service/product all the sweaty efforts would amount to ‘cos 90’ results.

    Getting it right is paramount to success online.

  13. There is a range of answers given here going from very easy, if you know what you’re doing, to very hard and takes time and patience. I would think that most people reading these types of articles, post, are pretty much beginners or just starting out. If that is the case then yes, this would fall into the hard work and time category because there is plenty for them to learn.

    Most usually end up getting misguided and and falling for a scam because they were drawn toward a “Get Rich Quick” offer. If you want to make money online or work from home, as some call it, then it will take some hard work and learning on your part.

  14. ? A????? just new into ??? internet online business so ? don’t know now u can help me out.pls ? wil be expecting ur reply soon

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