Claims about making big money on the Internet should be greeted with skepticism. The virtual frontier is vast, and not everything out there is safe, secure or honest. But there are reliable, proven ways to make pretty good money online.

Remember that the Internet is just a tool. What you bring to the table is what really determines how much money you’ll make. If you’re dedicated, responsible, and willing to learn, you absolutely can get rich online. Here are three ways to do that.

1. Affiliate marketing

Do your social media profiles have lots followers? Are you known for being an expert in a certain area? If so, you might find success with affiliate marketing. It’s a pretty broad term, but basically it means you’re selling a product or service on behalf of someone else, and getting a commission on each sale.

One type of affiliate marketing that individuals tend to find success with is referral marketing. For instance, pretend you’re known online for your blog about headphones — everyone knows you’re the blog with all the latest headphone news. A partnership with a headphone company might be a good fit: whenever someone buys a certain brand of headphones through your site, you’ll get a piece of the sale.

Your success here depends on how well your influence in your area of expertise can translate into sales. The upside is that you’ll make money while working in and writing about an industry you enjoy.

2. Buying stocks online

The Internet has made it possible for you to have more control over your financial portfolio than ever before. You can now invest without using a broker. You can manage your money in real time all day long, if you like. You can even trade in foreign markets, including the foreign exchange market.

Obviously, if you don’t know much about the stock market to begin with, being able to access trades online isn’t going to make you instantly rich. But the advantage to Internet trading is that you can do it using small amounts of money, and learn as you go.

3. Online business

Every business should have some sort of online presence, but “online businesses” exist primarily online. Businesses that tend to find great success online are services that can be performed virtually or the sale of items that can be shipped.

When you run an online business, you save immensely on overhead. You can even work at home, and on your own schedule. It’s great for part-time work, too. Ship your homemade cakes across the world, or offer up your services as a freelance IT expert.

If you don’t know much about creating a website, don’t worry. There are plenty of qualified professionals out there to help you, but it’s also pretty easy to learn the basics on your own. The initial tech-related costs are fairly low, so it’s usually something worth looking into. You might just turn your hobby into a job.

No phony “Nigerian general” is going to just wire you a bunch of cash one day. But the Internet can make it easier to start a business, create a partnership, or invest in financial markets. Getting rich, and then staying rich into retirement, involves a series of both practical and philosophical strategies.

Putting these strategies into action online can yield big results. So whether it’s for side income or more, the Internet is a smart place to earn some money.

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