smart spending

4 ways to make cash online

If you have a green thumb or a sweet tooth, try gardening sites such as The Growing Edge, or cooking sites such as Cooking For Engineers that pay small wages to contributors.

Music geeks should try the All Music Guide, a popular music review site that pays its contributors. Music Emissions is an alternative music Web site that accepts reviews from all members and will promote you to their editorial team if they like your stuff.

Finally, most major cities have a slew of entertainment Web sites, some of which pay reviewers. CenterstageChicago.com, for instance, proffers clear and simple instructions on how to contribute to the site and get paid.

Check your city's entertainment Web sites, and don't be discouraged if there aren't instructions for reviewers -- try e-mailing the editor.

All that glitters …

Sellers, writers and others who are clever and persistent often make a profit through their online activities. However, not everybody makes money, and there are many potential obstacles to success.

Some ventures, such as craft sales and blogs, can take a long time to get started. You may find yourself investing a lot of time and effort -- and even some money -- before you begin to see a return.

Brown says it's all too easy for craft sellers to take dismal sales personally and start doubting the quality of their artistry.

"People tend to get discouraged very easily," he says.

Another downside of e-commerce is that Web sites often charge fees to sellers.

For example, while eBay and Amazon.com offer a window into a world marketplace, some say there's a steep price for prime access.

"When I first started selling on eBay, the fees were very low," McClain says. "As with anything else, when a corporation smells blood in the water, they put out more chum and the fees go up dramatically."

McClain says he also has noticed increased postage prices for mailing packages to customers.

In addition to rising rates, e-venders must also contend with the stiff competition that manifests itself in a massive online market.

"The inherent problem is (that) everybody that you're competing with is selling at the same place," says McClain. "When you're selling on the Internet, you're competing with every single person that has the same product line and interest in the world."

In addition, some people find it difficult to find an outlet for their interests that will also generate revenues.

Freelance music writer Philip Sherburne said he has a hard time getting paid to write about the music he likes.

"I'd say the biggest struggle is simply finding outlets that share my musical interests, since I've always specialized in electronic and experimental music," says Sherburne, an American expatriate now living in Spain.

Pop and indie rock are music genres with a broader online following than electronic and experimental music. However, those types of music don't interest Sherburne as much.

"I'm rapidly losing any kind of grounding in the worlds of pop or indie rock," Sherburne says.

Despite such challenges, determined sellers continue to find success. If you're interested in making money on the Internet, a little perseverance and luck will go a long way.

"If you go on our blog there's a 'quit your day job' series; we actually have people who have really awesome stuff and they ... quit their day job," Brown says. "Now, they support themselves by what they make."

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