Everybody has heard the expression “The world’s your oyster”, right? Well, that may be true, but we prefer to think that the world wide web is your oyster. It’s hard to believe that  eighteen years ago, nobody had even heard of the internet. Now, our lives seem to depend on it, revolve around it. We re-establish friendships over it, get information from it, buy groceries and couches and clothing over it. We download music from it; speak to and see family members via it… and we can make money from it too.

There’s no doubt that the internet can be intimidating, especially when trying to wedge yourself a little money-making niche of your own. It seems as though no matter what your interests, hobbies, inspirations, bright ideas or passions, there’s a website discussing it or making money from it. But that’s not to say that there isn’t space for you. As with anything in life, you’ll succeed in this exciting, dynamic arena if you approach your part-time online business with the Three P’s: persistence, professionalism and passion.

Still battling to find the right angle? Here are 7 part-time online business ideas to give you inspiration:

1. Sell your photographs on iStockphoto
For anybody with a talent for photography, logo design or illustration, selling your creations online is the way to go. iStockphoto is one of the most successful and popular microstock and imagery sites. Always looking for new content, this groundbreaking company will pay you for your work, while offering tips and support.
You may do so well that this part-time online business replaces your day job. All you need to do is follow these 3 easy steps:

  • Sign up (this is free)
  • Apply as contributor for the type of content you’ll submit, read the manual, then take a quick quiz
  • Submit three original samples once you’ve passed the quiz

2. Start a photo book service
Photo books are big news. Very special, classy mementos of weddings, big birthdays, holidays and special family photos, photo books are printed on glossy paper and, with the look of upmarket magazines, these usually hardcover coffee table beauties are worth every cent. Put your design talents to work part-time and create gorgeous photo books for clients. All they need to do is supply you with the photographs and give you a general idea of the feel that they’re looking for. Once they’re happy with your quote, you can get cracking. Lulu offers a printing and delivery service in exchange for 20% commission, otherwise you can source your own printer.

3. Bargain hunt then sell for a profit
There are so many ways to do this – and, even though there are tons of people out there already doing it, there’s always space for one more savvy shopper with a good eye.  Spend your after-work hours surfing the many sites that specialise in selling second-hand items, such as Gumtree. Or do it the old-fashioned way and visit charity shops, pawn shops and local boot sales. Buy items that you think you can resell for a tidy profit, then either give the item a bit of TLC if needed, or if in good condition resell it. Ebay is just one auction site that is trusty, popular and well-run. Happy shopping!

4. Start an Etsy business
One of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce websites, Etsy, showcases handcrafted items from creative artists and crafters all over the world. Anyone with a talent for the handmade and beautiful can sell on Etsy, who charges only 20 US cents per item listed and a 3.5% commission. From hand-decorated handbags to door signs, necklaces, clothing, craft supplies and stationery, Etsy sells a massive range – and is always looking for exciting new stockists…why not you? An example is Yadanabeads, stockists of beads, stones, jewels, pendants and beading wires and clasps, who is one of Etsy’s top sellers, with sales of over 145636 to date.
So here’s your chance to turn your hobby into a fully-fledged part-time online business – all it takes is 5 minutes to set up your free account.

5. Buy and sell domains
This one, although a bit controversial, can be fun and easy if you’re the creative (and patient) type. Keep an eye on emerging trends, or simply think of topics that people may want to start a website about. Check availability on www.whois.co.za and www.whois.com. Then register the name, and hang onto it until an interested party buys it from you. It’s a bit like buying a collectible toy, not opening it and selling it 20 years later in pristine condition for a handsome profit – or buying a piece of undeveloped land for later resale. If you have an interest in the topic, develop these into very basic websites where you can utilize Google AdSense, and perhaps add a forum if you’d like to take it to the next level.

6. Start a directory
Directories abound on the internet. That’s fine. Yours will be better.

Before taking on huge generalised ventures such as a wedding directory, start small by developing a local directory for your suburb and surrounding area. List businesses, schools, shopping centres, specialty stores, local attractions, the works. Advertise special events, add restaurant reviews, local news, a forum and a classifieds section. Sell ad space to the listed retailers, and utilise Google AdWords and Google AdSense. Add fun, topical items and personal-interest stories, so that it’s a daily must-visit for everyone in your area. Then once you’ve learnt the ropes, dream bigger and build a bigger directory.

7. Write an eBook
If you’ve got a short-story, biography or novel just itching to burst out of your fountain pen, now is your chance to get it onto the shelves and into the hands of avid readers. Lulu.com makes this easy for you, especially for those who are writing online part-time. You get a commission on all books sold. Another idea is to offer your writing services to those who want to immortalize their life story and random ramblings in the form of a short autobiography. Offer reasonable prices to compile these living histories: you’ll have an endless list of clients before long, because everyone is someone of significance.