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The Scion xB Toaster, an example of the Scion cars available for purchase in the virtual world of "Second Life."
The Scion xB Toaster, an example of the Scion cars available for purchase in the virtual world of "Second Life."
Image courtesy Millions of Us

Facebook's fbFund is a revolutionary way for developers to find funding for their software, but the rest of us want a piece of the online money-making pie, too. It turns out, all you need is a lot time to sit around.

HowStuffWorks has already answered the question, "Can I Make My Living in Second Life?" Users can purchase land in the "Second Life" virtual world, set up businesses and find employment in other people's companies. Users can also create things like cars and furniture they can sell to other Second Lifers for use in the virtual world.

Since the "Second Life" currency, Linden dollars (L$), can actually be exchanged for real-world currency, people are making real money off the virtual world. As of the end of September 2007, around L$270 translated to one United States dollar [source: Second Life].

Right now, the money made in "Second Life" is peanuts, but that may soon change. The virtual world is emerging as a place where real-world business can take place. Users who are making cars for sale are finding competition from car companies like Nissan, Scion and Pontiac, which have opened up dealerships in "Second Life." As real-world competitors enter the virtual world, the stakes may raise and prices could increase.

Perhaps the most lucrative way to make money online is by collecting virtual goods that have real-world value. Like "Second Life," the popular online game "World of Warcraft" features items that people have proven they're willing to pay real currency for. Virtual farmers -- people who are paid to play games strictly to collect goods which can be sold for real cash -- have emerged, most notably from China. These farmers mostly collect small rewards for doing repetitive virtual tasks, but the rewards add up over time and can lead to big pay-offs. The pay-offs don't generally go to the farmers, however. These employees usually receive no more than subsistence-level wages.

Savvy entrepreneurs can make cash through virtual real estate speculation: For example, three shopping malls in the "Entropia Universe" virtual world were auctioned for US$180,000 in 2007 [source: CNN]

You can also make money with a little clicking. "Cash Cliques," a Facebook program, pays users to click ads found throughout cyberspace. The company pays five shares for each ad clicked and opened for twenty seconds. At 10,000 shares, users can cash them in for real money. Users also receive shares from clicks made by friends they've recruited into the "Cash Cliques" pyramid -- as users recruit others, their recruits, in turn, tap even more users to click, building an increasingly wider base for those at the top. ­

It should be said that not all of these examples are entirely legal. Sale of virtual goods from World of Warcraft violates the company's terms of use, and "Cash Cliques" may even constitute fraud. There are perfectly legal ways to make cash online, though.

The royalty-free stock photography site 123RF allows amateur photographers to upload their own pictures to the site. When your photo is downloaded, the company pays you 50 percent of the fee they charge. Contributors also get 36 cents for each subscription download. Like "Cash Cliques," 123RF also pays for referrals.

Of course, making money online hasn't hit a stride where payouts are commonly big ones. So when you need to come up with your rent money in a hurry, you can always use an older method of making money online: selling your stuff on eBay.

For more information on online money-making, including related HowStuffWorks articles, read the next page.