Making money online

For years I struggled to make real money online. Apart from making the odd website, staring at a screen doesn’t bring in cash. It’s a dream many people have, especially those who want to free themselves from their desk and become more “location independent”. Well I’m making money online now and I’ve learnt a lot along the way. I want to share with you what I know.

This article already sounds like link bait, right? Just like one of those posters that used to litter lamp-posts “earn cash at home” or the countless spam emails you probably receive every day. Well it’s true to a certain extent you won’t be able to earn money online if you are not comfortable with your computer or if you don’t possess any sales drive. Finding work online requires you to be able to sell yourself and sell yourself well. There’s no manager to hand work out to you, you have to go looking for it and you have to tell potential “employers” why you are best for the job, no matter how big or small it is.

Human Intelligence Tasks – HITs

Anyone who has managed to navigate to this blog is already overqualified for most of the work on Mechanical Turk, a website set up by Amazon in 2005 to human-automate tasks. It works by developers submitting small tasks to the website which need a human to decipher results.

An example: someone with a website would like to display summaries of wikipedia articles on their website. A computer can’t decide what sounds best, so the developer creates a HIT on MTurk. You apply, navigate to a list of wikipedia articles the developer specifies and then copy and paste a succinct summary of the article (maybe the first two or three lines).

Pay is very low, but these tasks are quick. You can easily do several an hour to rack up some change.

Qualified Jobs (Anyone with any skill, grad or non-grads)

Can you proofread, administrate, project manage, write blog articles, edit photoshop files, make PowerPoints, edit CSS or HTML, translate or speak another language? Can you web design, write reviews, check spreadsheets, answer support tickets or take good photos? Basically, can you do anything semi-skilled? You will almost certainly find something for you on oDesk.comvWorker.com or GetAFreelancer.com. The work is usually time limited, but there are also positions that last 6 months to a year.

An example: you know how to use some photo editing tools (like Photoshop, Gimp, etc) and a company is looking for some customer support. They want you to login up to 10 hours a week, answer as many support tickets as possible, and get paid for each email you answer. It’s nice when work in = pay out.

Pay ranges from very low (simple admin / web research) to high (development / web design / etc). I have employed lots of translators in the past from these platforms and it works very well.

Creative Minds

If you are creative, you can make things and sell them on etsy.com. You can take photos and sell them on iStockPhoto.com. If you can design websites, sell themes for good money on ThemeForest.com. Hey, even if you have a good voice-over voice, or are just particularly attractive while holding a sign that mentions a company’s name, check out fiverr.com. There are hundreds of alternatives to these sites, but these are some big names.

The post-Apple internet is crying out for creative people. If you can offer a few freebies to a developer or company, they’ll almost surely recommend you. If they don’t, you’ll have gained work for your professional portfolio. Win-win.

Online to Offline World

If you’re into manual labour, helping people with their shopping, building ikea furniture, cleaning pools, take a look at the likes of TaskRabbit.com orMyTaskAngel.co.uk. This is a growing market and I imagine you’ll see a lot more from the likes of TaskRabbit in the near future.

If you have a spare room or two then rent them out by the night on AirBnB.com. You’re protected by their guarantee and you can also check out guest reviews from other hosts if you’re afraid.

Live in a city? Rent out your parking space on ParkAtMyHouse.com. People in big cities are making real money from this ingenious idea.

Scared about your CV?

If you do decide to go at it alone to fund your travels or just to get out of full-time work for a year or so, you may be afraid what effect it will have on your Cv. Well I can’t tell you that for sure and it all depends on the person interviewing you for your next career job.

In my opinion, any one who has gone out looking for work (being “entrepreneurial”), sold themselves as the right person for the job (“sales & marketing”), budgeted their own expenses (“financial skills”) and managed their own clients, deserves to be praised for it. At the end of the day it will come down to how you sell yourself in the interview, but surely a potential employee who has worked for several different clients doing varied work and getting experience, is better than someone who “just” took two years off.

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