6 tips for working online. How to pay the rent from the comfort of your home, save money on the road, earn cash or fund your travels from your laptop!
‘Make money online’… it sounds like a dream doesn’t it? The idea of earning cash over the internet often seems too good to be true, and potentially dodgy especially when compared to traditional sources of income. But actually, this form of employment is totally legitimate and doesn’t have to be dodgy at all. Many people today fund their lives with online work, wether its freelance or work-for-hire. Why not you too?
Working online is, in reality, totally possible, totally time-saving, totally practical and it can be totally lucrative – from freelancing to online data entry jobs, virtual assistant to mystery shopper, famous you-tuber to online business owner.
The internet is a world of possibility, and making money with online work is as possible as getting a job in your local cafe. It all comes down to supply and demand.
So…how do you get started?
I think there are three components to this: knowing your options, knowing your skills, and being super determined. Your skills are up to you – you know what you’re good at, right? If not…you should think about that…
No matter what job you are applying for, online or offline, you must fit the cut: you probably won’t get that hairdressing position if you studied medicine. Likewise, don’t apply to be a freelance graphic designer online if your idea of a vector is a line in a photograph. You’re wasting your time! When you choose your opportunity consider how well your own CV applies to that opportunity.
As for determination…that’s on you too! Working online can be a slow, tiring process, and many people give up before they reach the point of bringing in a stable amount. It’s been a year since I started freelancing, and only now am I able to support myself entirely through the Elance sphere (you can check out my profile here).
You’ve got to want it, people! Quick fixes and ‘earn cash fast’ solutions are like clouds – fluffy, impossible to grasp, and a lot emptier than they seem. Even if your job is to travel, making money is never a holiday! Trust me, I know. I do it.
There are lots of options out there, but here are my top 5 favourites…and an extra, spontaneous 6th because I’m just so wild. You can’t hold me down.
1. Freelancer: you pick the hours, you pick the rate, and you pick the work.
Do you have a passion for writing, drawing, graphic design, admin work, marketing, software development, and many many more increasingly random things? The online freelance sphere is huge, multifaceted, and in my opinion the absolute best way to make money online. It makes up about 50% of my own income. Here are some sites which I myself use to earn money as I travel, and which offer a free base from which to begin your freelancing:
The key is to find a niche that fits your skills base and monopolise that niche. You could draw, edit writing, sing, make videos, offer translation and data entry services…you could even do people’s homework! Online work is both varied and widely available, its just a matter of looking.
When you create your profile consider exactly what you want to offer people, select one highly specific thing, and be the best at it. For example I can draw, write, compose music, sing, edit writing and tutor in a wide range of subjects, but on my Elance profile I only offer my services as an artist. That’s my niche, my focus.
If I listed all my skills people would be less likely to hire me because they come to my profile looking for someone who is great at ONE thing. Too many options and people get confused – pick one skill, and really go for it.
2. Online business owner: sell what you want, on your terms, for you.
The other 50% of my income is from working an online business. As an artist I take commissions regularly, and I sell sketches both online and through local markets.
If you have stuff you don’t want, a skill to share, an eye for fixing things up, or if you already have a business that you could move online…this one is for you! Here are my favourite online business platforms, but note that Elance and Fiverr are also great options as platforms for selling your wares and earning some extra cash.
- Etsy (the commercial hub for all creatives! From puppets to fine art, sell your trinkets here)
- Craigslist, Gumtree, Ebay, etc (sell legit anything, anything. But be legal.)
- Society 6 (a great place to sell art prints)
- Facebook (surprising? No! Make a Facebook page or a Facebook shop if you can afford it, and sell through that. Check out my own page, here)
Like tangible businesses that function in the ‘real world’, selling things online is not an instant process. If you want people to know about your shop, you’ve got to advertise. Use social media, tell all your friends, email your granny, make flyers, and generally go crazy. In our increasingly globalised world where emoticons may one day replace real emotions and what matters most is how many Facebook likes you have, working online is actually an essential part of any business.
Once you’ve spread the word, to get people to invest in your product you’ve got to make your shop pretty! Consider how you write that blurb, the pics you put up, the offers you give, etc. It’s all about sucking people in really.
And then, make sure your product is worth buying. Reviews are the deal breaker when I am looking to work with someone online – a bad review and I’m outta’ there! Remember that the whole process is like a bell-curve: with every customer and every good review, the likelihood of more customers increases! Earning money sits at the top of that bell-curve.
3. Virtual assistant: be the mastermind behind a business, from your bedroom.
Since people who work online don’t require office space, refreshments, salary and inclusive benefits or workplace insurance, so many companies now outsource their positions to those who prefer to work from home. They save money and you can spend the day in your Pjs. Win win right?
I myself don’t work as a virtual assistant simply because I don’t need to, but some of the most popular online positions from which you can actually earn a lot of money, include working with data entry, admin and email, working for call centres or on the phone for a company out of hours, and organising schedules. You can check out some of these sites if you’re a keen bean!
4. Advertiser: use your social media account to rake in the pounds.
Are you an Instagram warrior? Do you tweet a little obsessively? Are your over 1k followers equally obsessive over those tweets? Is the ‘selfie’ your way of life, are you permanently attached to your phone and did you spend more time on your last Facebook status than you did on your history essay? This could be the option for you.
Many companies look for people like you to use as super social networking advertisers. If lots of people like you, chances are they will also like the things you like. Which means that if you like Colgate’s new brand of toothpaste…you’re 1k followers will probably start brushing with Colgate too. Companies will pay you to promote them. You can earn cash from your selfies? Sweet! The first step is to cultivate that social media presence…
Once you’ve got those followers, here are some great options for finding out about who wants your fan base:
- become an Amazon Affiliate
- search for ‘social media’ on job seeker’s boards
- use sites such as Global Companions to join a network of online marketing professionals
- Agencies like grapestory, laundry service, and tinker street connect people with huge social media presences with brands. Sponsored Tweets also connects avid tweeters with companies that want your twitter voice.
5. Networker: earn commission by connecting people
Did you ever consider being a middle-man? I do this actually, and apart from anything else it’s really fun. Let me explain – your friend has a house and wants to rent out a room, and you know another friend who is looking for a room. You could introduce them for a small fee…
Ok so maybe among friends it’d be a bit rude to ask for commission, but the principle remains – connect people with stuff to sell with people who want to buy that stuff, and take a cut.
I’ve found that the best way to do this is through social media (again). On Facebook there are thousands of groups for people to network about a certain product – housing, clothes, services, tutoring, questions about certain topics e.g. travel, school work, etc the list goes on!
Do some Facebook research and find out what people want, who offers that, and put them in contact. You will need your own Facebook page or some way of showing people that you mean business before you try this – I will not give money to a random on Facebook, but I’m much more likely to invest in a person with their own website and some great reviews.
6. Miscellaneous but excellent extras
I didn’t intend to make 6 options because 5 sounds nicer, but during my research I found so many random ideas that I wanted to include some here. Think of these as extras, ways to earn money on the side without even thinking about it.
- sell your photos as stock photos or your own private gallery
- make an Instagram shop
- make an absolute poopload subletting apartments like this guy on AirBnB
- get paid to surf the internet! Some search engines will pay you to search with them, some video platforms will pay you to watch and some survey places really want your input. Easy!
Work from home jobs are numerous and varied, and the market is only going to increase. There are just so many options out there! Honestly, the question of ‘how to make money online’ has never had so many answers. It’s just a matter of knowing your options, and then knowing your skills and being determined enough to make it happen. Though the best jobs aren’t easy, earning money online is a great way to save time and create more flexibility in your life.
Go for it.