Entrepreneurs are always seeking new ways of making money online. But sometimes it is more simple than you think. Take, for instance, making money from the media. For years newspapers and magazines have paid large amounts of cash for “exclusive” photographs. Yonks ago I made my own mini fortune from national newspapers when I (and a couple of colleagues) sold the story of the punk group The Stranglers abandoning a BBC recording of the programme “Rock Goes To College”. That made the front page of several tabloids – thanks!

Nowadays, the cash paid for good stories can be even higher. Take, for instance, the story about the missing canoeist from Hartlepool. This is a story that has captivated the nation. But just how did the Daily Mirror get those “exclusive” pictures of John Darwin and his wife?

Well, someone sold them to the Mirror for a reputed £10,000. So how did that person get those pictures in the first place? Quite simply it seems. Apparently, according to my mate “in the know”, the seller of the pictures simply used Google Image Search. He found the pictures, publicly available, online and sold them to the Mirror. Oops.

What does this show? Well, it reveals that the Internet includes all sorts of traces of us that sometimes people may not wish to be found. It also suggests that the Daily Mirror needs a lesson or two in how to use the Internet. But as ever, it shows that people will pay for something that you can find, even if they could find it themselves. For example, people pay for private investigators to find out what their partner is up to in their spare time; yet that’s easy to find out without paying someone. We even pay for services like 192.com to get people’s addresses, when they are publicly available in the local library.

The fact that information is already publicly available does not mean people will not pay for it. So what specific information sources can you tap into that other people will pay for? That’s the main way people are making money online these days.

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