Making money online has been one of my goals for quite some time. Not just for the sake of making money. I think convincing someone to give your their hard-earned dollars is a rewarding and valuable experience. I don’t think that’s a good way to get rich. But a way to create a passive income? Perhaps!

I’d like to share with you a few things that helped me go from $0 online income to selling an ebook, SaaS subscriptions and my startup in less than a year.

To Make Money, Spend Money

What I’ve found is that it’s very hard for open-source hackers to switch from the everything-should-be-free world to the make-money world. While you can do both, you got to understand making money first.

How could you expect anyone to pay for your product if you don’t do it yourself.

Your first step is to start paying for stuff. No kidding. How could you expect anyone to pay for your products if you don’t do it yourself. Get your credit card and start paying for those software, specially the ones made by Indie devs. Actually, if you want to make a SaaS, pay for a few ones, if you want to write an ebook, buy a couple ones.

This will be hard at first. It’s a new mindset, specially if you’re a strong believer in open-source and are not used to pay for software. But it’s the best way to dive into this world and understand what it means and what’s required to sell through the tubes.

Build Trust

Now, after buying a few pieces of code you might have noticed how hard it is to get your credit card out of your wallet and enter the numbers in a text field in your browser, on each key stroke you’re asking yourself:

“What domain am I on? Is the page secure, OK https, I’m safe, but that just means the connection is secure. Who’s that company anyway? What’s the worst that could happen? Shit, maybe I’m getting screwed. What should I do? All right…”. Close your eyes and press buy.

It is extremely hard to make someone enter their credit card number in the browser. B2B might be a little different, because they are not spending their money. But a user like you and me will think twice or more before giving you anything, even a few pennies.

The way to ease this process is to build trust. Trust in the seller, trust in the product and trust in the buying process. How to build trust is a subject on its own, but it could be summarized in: be open, do what you say and be humble. Also, if you have some online reputation because of OSS or something else already, you got yourself a great trust boost.

Don’t Under-Sell Yourself

Lets not lie to ourselves, we’re in this to make money! So please don’t charge a few cents for the software you’ve put your heart into. Most of the time you should charge more than you think. There’s a few reasons for that:

It sends the message that this is a quality product (ding! ding! trust++).

It shows that you’re not just trying to make money, but that you’re actually serious about it (ding! ding! trust++).

It acts as a filter for customers you don’t want. You want to stay small, so less people means: less support emails, less everything, but still a decent amount of money.

Helps turn your customers into evangelists. Since they are paying a good amount of money for it, they’ll use it and find how great it is and talk about it.

Niche Markets is Where it’s At!

If you’re thinking of building yet another bug tracker, project management, todo, chat (!) software, it will be be hard! Very hard! If you want to take the easy path, find an unexploited niche. There’s a few ways to do this once you have an idea:

Do a Google search and look for the results, but mostly at the ads on the side. If there’s none, good chance you just found an unexploited niche.

Use Google Keyword Tool to find what’s the price of the keywords you want to use, if it drives a lot of traffic, how popular it is.

Build a beta signup page and collect emails to see if there’s interest.

Build a Kick Ass Product or Service

This is almost too obvious to mention. If you don’t believe you can make the best product ever created for the problem you’re solving, give up right now! If you’re not sure, have a look at what’s on the market and tell me you can’t do better.

I’m sure everyone reading this blog could kick the crap out of some niche products right now!