smart spending

4 ways to make cash online

3. Marketing your hobbies

Crafters, photographers and artists also are tapping into the Web's potential as a marketplace for their goods.

Notley Hawkins, a fine art photographer from Columbia, Mo., started selling online by uploading his photographs onto Flickr, a popular digital photograph storage Web site.

Flickr subsequently partnered with Imagekind, a Web site that specializes in selling fine art prints. Since then, Hawkins has sold about 50 of his prints through Imagekind.

Hawkins has found that having a Web site and selling photos online helped to enhance his reputation offline. He says his online presence helped him gain credibility with area travel magazines, for which he does freelance work.

"It's helped my career in many ways," Hawkins says of Imagekind. "It's helped me make some money, which is very important."

Hawkins urges budding photographers to start gradually by posting their photos to a site like Flickr.

"Try to establish a reputation online by publishing online," he says.

In the crafting world, Web sites such as Etsy offer merchants of handmade goods a way to expand their customer base while conveniently selling their products. Sellers who use Etsy can use the service to take payments via PayPal or money orders.

Other craft-selling Web sites include FreeCraftFair.com and Handmade Catalog.

Adam Brown, spokesman for Etsy, says handmade jewelry and craft-making supplies are two of the site's most popular categories.

To make money online, Brown says sellers must pay particular attention to posting good photos of their products and writing eye-catching descriptions. These skills are important, since the Web page has to substitute for a tangible product.

Brown also recommends the age-old suggestion of good customer service.

"When people contact you, you should always respond quickly," he says.

He says other smart marketing moves -- such as throwing in freebie extras when a customer orders something -- can build customer loyalty.

"Adding a personal touch really helps," he says.

4. Contributing to a Web site

All over the Web, passionate fans are providing their expertise in music, movies and sports to niche Web sites. Many are earning sizable amounts of cash for doing things they love.

Brian Swaw of Chicago hires seven staff writers for his content fantasy football Web site, GameTimeDecisions.net.

Swaw's writers get paid roughly $100 per month, and in return, each writes one to two articles about football players and fantasy draft picks every week.

Want to pen about your passion for a Web site? Swaw recommends volunteering to start.

"That's how I did," he says. "There's a ton of sports Web sites out there that are looking for volunteers and it's a good way to get your name out there."

On the Internet, there are sites indulging just about every hobby, so opportunities abound.

EHow is an informational Web site where you can get paid writing "how-to" instructions on just about anything.

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If you're into video games, you might try GameZone and GameFAQs. For movie reviews, check out Badmovies.org and the All Movie Guide.

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