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As has been discussed so many times on this site before, there are innumerable ways for you to make money online and to live the dot com lifestyle. One of these ways is to become a professional blogging, writing about an industry or interest that you are truly passionate about and monetizing your website accordingly.

In the context of blogging, easily one of the most popular platforms for a site of nearly any size is WordPress. It’s what powers John Chow dot Com, just as it is what powers Beyond the Rhetoric and MEGATechNews. It’s a free and versatile platform that comes with tons of community support and add-ons.

And while WordPress is certainly best known as a platform for blogging, it can be used to power a variety of other types of websites that can similarly help you generate some real income on the Internet. This is usually accomplished through special themes, plugins or some combination thereof.

As a Question and Answer Site

Many people turn to the Internet because they have a question that they would like answered. That’s why sites like Answers.com and Quora are so popular. By using the DW Question & Answer plugin, you can run the same kind of website with WordPress. One of the big advantages to running a site like this is that the content is largely user-generated.

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Visitors to your site pose questions and then other visitors provide their answers. The DW Q&A plugin comes with a series of other features to further bolster your site, like the ability to vote for the best answer, block spam with reCAPTCHA, and set sticky questions that you want to highlight. WP Beginner has a handy tutorial on how to setup and use this plugin.

As a Discussion Forum

Speaking of websites that are populated with user-generated content (moving you toward a source of passive income!), WordPress can also be used as a platform for online discussion forums. There are forums on the Internet for just about any topic under the sun, from cellphones to cars to pet ownership. You can carve out your own niche and be pretty successful at it too.

And when it comes to plugins to transform WordPress into a forum, there are few more popular than bbPress. It’s a very lean and clean add-on, easily allowing you to handle the usual administration of a forum site. Because it is so clean, though, you will need to invest in a great custom theme for your site.

As an Online Store (E-Commerce)

Whether you want to sell physical or digital goods, having a fully functional e-commerce site can really go a long way. You need features like being able to have product pages, a shopping cart and a complete checkout system that ties back into a backend for order processing and shipping.

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A good choice here is the Storefront WooCommerce theme from the people at Woo Themes. There are also several extensions here to further expand your online store, like the Storefront Designer to “fine tune your site design.”

For a free option, you might consider WP eCommerce, a plugin that provides “everything you need to sell anywhere.” It even provides sales monitoring, tax configuration and “white-glove customer support.”

As an Artist Portfolio

Are you a photographer, painter, interior designer or graphic artist? A great way to showcase your work in an elegant fashion and to attract more clients is with a stunning portfolio site. There are tons of themes that can serve this purpose and one of the most attractive is the appropriately named Portfolio WordPress Theme from GavickPro.

The theme, which is available as a free download, is image-focused and fast-loading with a responsive design that adapts to visitors on smartphones, tablets and full-size PCs. It’s classy and clean, putting your visual work front and center.

As Whatever You Want

Remember when I said that you need to forget about common sense if you really want to make a living on the Internet? Common sense would tell you that WordPress is only good for powering a blog, but as you can quite plainly see, this robust platform can be used to power just about any website you’d like. No matter how you choose to make money online, there’s a customized solution to get you there.