Make money with videos
Technically, it's easy for anyone to prepare a home video for publication online. You can upload video at HD resolutions on YouTube, for example - and the service takes care of the compression at various resolutions for you. YouTube accepts video in QuickTime, MPEG, Windows Media format or as an AVI file.
Keep in mind that HD resolution is 1920 x 1080, so there's no point in going over that. Once you've clicked the 'Upload' button, it's all straightforward.
The tough part isn't making videos - it's growing an audience for your work. You'll need that audience to make money. It's easy to see which are YouTube's most popular videos. Go to YouTube Charts to pick the most viewed videos of the week, the month and of all time.
There are several common threads. First, cuteness. Cute kids and cute animals. If it's funny as well as cute, that's YouTube gold. The number one YouTube video of all time is the infamous "Charlie bit my finger".
One way to hedge your bets is to ride the slipstream. For a short time, Rebecca Black parodies and mashups were nearly as popular on YouTube as the original video. Catch the next viral smash right at the beginning of its ascent, then make a video that rides its coat-tails and your efforts will benefit from the reflected glory. It's difficult to time correctly, but pays dividends if you get it right.
Instructional videos do well too, but that subject deserves a separate discussion because there's an entire secondary market in tutorial videos. Get the video views and those eyeballs on your work can be translated into cash.
The YouTube Partner Program enables you to place advertising on your clips and earn money for every viewing. Be aware though, it's quite tough to get in. What's more, YouTube doesn't reveal hard figures - but it does publish testimonials.
There are alternatives to YouTube that let you earn revenue from adverts without having to build a following first. Revver and Blip.TV are forerunners in this market.
Sell your photos
Digital photography enjoys a brilliant synergy with PCs and the web. Millions of us enjoy uploading our pictures to photo sites such as Flickr and Picasa, or sharing images with friends on Facebook and Twitter. That's not all you can do though - with a little extra work, you could be earning cash with your camera taking stock photographs and selling them online.
There are two distinct markets in stock photography. At the high end are images carefully produced by noted professionals. These include shots of news events, celebrities and difficult setups. Usage rights for these photos sell for hundreds of pounds.
Your entry point to the market is through microstock - where royalty-free images are licensed for commercial use at prices starting at just a few dollars a time, from which you take a percentage cut. Like many other online enterprises, this is a volume business, with pennies per sale rather than pounds. The key is to create popular images that lots of people will want to use.
Handily, several microstock sites publish detailed guidelines telling exactly what kinds of image they're after and what they don't want. iStockPhoto reveals that seasonal themes and corporate imagery are big sellers, while shots of fruit on white backgrounds are passé.
However, the main requirement is that your shots should be well composed, at a sufficiently high resolution, well lit and in focus. Basic photography skills will serve you well here.
Other potential markets include Shutterpoint. This is a community-oriented stock repository, with a 'stack 'em high, sell it low' ethos that works well if you can produce popular images that will sell in volume. Another particularly good bet is Shutterstock, a more formal and established presence that enables contributors to make up to $30 for each image sold - and images can be sold for use multiple times.
If you'd rather go straight for the higher end of the market, you can sell your photography direct to users from your own site. PhotoShelter offers a set of tools that enable you to do just that, taking care of digital photo storage and payment systems, while you have control over exactly what you sell. The catch is that you pay a fixed monthly fee for the service, starting at $9.99 a month.
Publish an ebook
Self-published ebooks are an ideal format for niche tomes full of highly targeted advice. Secrets of mind reading, dating advice for the socially awkward and make-up techniques of the stars are ideal topics.
Arcane expertise could net you a tidy profit too. Perhaps you rebuilt an old car from scratch, becoming familiar with every nut and bolt in the process, for example. There are probably a few hundred other people who'd love to tackle the same project with your guidance.
Self-publishing with eBooks is a great deal easier than it's ever been - especially with iTunes and Kindle publication now real options. You don't even have to create a special format for Kindle books. The Kindle Direct Publishing program accepts digital manuscripts in plain text, HTML or Microsoft Word DOC formats. That's the older Word format, by the way, not DOCX. You can use PDF too, but Amazon book publishers have reported problems with formatting.
There's a form to fill in, enabling you to categorise the book, add an ISBN and add Digital Rights Management. Authors have reported that making changes to the submission after the fact is a laborious process, so make sure every detail is correct and your text has been proof read. Next you set a price and keep 70 per cent of the mark-up from every copy sold.
Formatting books for Apple iBooks - the free book store app for the iPad - is slightly more involved. You'll need to output to the ePub protocol, supported in Apple's Pages application and Adobe InDesign. Alternatively, you can convert to ePub using the open source tool Calibre. From there, the submission system is quite similar to KDP.
One final service that is more than worth a mention is Smashwords. It makes the process of publishing to multiple formats and outlets easier - and it accepts digital manuscripts in DOC format. With one submission to Smashwords, you can have that all important ISBN number sorted out for you and publish your book to the Nook and Sony's eReader store as well as Smashwords' own site. It even publishes to iBooks.