Outsourcing is the new and dominant wave of the business world. As businesses shed employees, they increasingly turn to independent contractors to supply what in-house staff used to do. One of the ways they do this is through virtual assistants. These are people who provide certain tasks online. Businesses can use virtual assistants as much or as little as they need to. If you can make yourself available to multiple businesses, you might have plenty of work without ever leaving your house.
If you’re looking for inspiration, my friend Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the website Making Sense of Sense has become the expert on all things affiliate marketing. Michelle earns more than $100,000 per month from her blog and the bulk of her income comes from affiliate sales. Michelle has had so much success with affiliate marketing that she even has her own course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.
Accommodate Multiple Forms of Payment. Many deal-seekers carry cash, but you want to accommodate every potential buyer. So in the days leading up to the event, consider purchasing a point-of-sale system that can accept credit cards. Square is a popular and relatively cost-effective option. It doesn’t cost anything upfront and bundles credit card processing fees into one relatively low fee: 2.6% plus $0.10 per transaction, for a net of $97.30 for every $100 charged. It’s a small price to pay to capture the ever-growing cashless consumer demographic. On the day before the sale, visit the bank and grab $100 in small bills and coin rolls to ensure you’ll have enough change for buyers who do prefer cash.
Equipment Costs and Space. At a minimum, you’ll need a work table, a sewing machine, a rack, and storage space for raw materials. You can find a cheap but sturdy table for less than $20, and maybe for free if you’re fortunate. Used sewing machines start at under $50, but that won’t cut it for a real at-home custom sewing business. You’ll need a heavy-duty piece of equipment, preferably new. Expect to pay $2,000 or more for this. Consider financing with a low-APR credit card if your creditworthiness allows.
The audiobook industry is booming, yet only 5% of books ever get made into audio format. If you’ve got a background in acting, or if people have said you’ve got a voice made for the radio, you can make extra money recording audio versions of independent and popular books. Sites like ACX connect authors with audiobook performers. So, whether you’re an author looking for more ways to sell your book, or an actor/voice actor looking to make some extra income, you can sell your services online.
The virtual assistant workforce is global, which means two things. First, if you’re in the U.S. or another high-cost country, you’ll likely be undercut by English- and Spanish-speaking professionals in cheaper markets. Second, you’ll need to either stick to clients in or near your time zone or be willing to work odd hours. A reasonable starting wage for North America-based VAs is $10 to $20 per hour, but competent VAs command much higher rates.
Flexible Schedules With Long Blocks of Uninterrupted Time. Simultaneous game tests typically occur at the client’s convenience. If your game’s developer is based overseas, that could mean testing in the middle of the night. For night owls, that’s not a big deal, but 9-to-5ers may struggle. Also, tests typically take several hours, so this isn’t something you can do for 20 minutes at a time and move on.
Car rental apps abound. Before you choose one, read the fine print and make sure it has adequate liability insurance that protects you in the event of a serious accident involving injuries and property damage. Getaround has a good reputation and a relatively long track record. According to its website, car owners in high-demand cities such as San Francisco can earn up to $10,000 per year. That’s a pretty impressive passive income stream. Another option to consider is Turo.
Etsy: While Etsy's popularity has declined recently, it's still a great resource for selling handmade items online. No need for complex ecommerce sites or merchant accounts or any sort of automation. The company takes a commission of every sale and charges a small listing fee per item. But many still use Etsy as their primary source of income. The best part is that you can also sell digital products such as poster designs.
Become a Query Machine. Once you’ve gained confidence on freelance copywriting platforms and built a modest portfolio, look for companies that actively advertise for writers – both traditional publications and companies with obvious content needs, such as PR firms. Do some research on crafting and personalizing query letters, which is an art form in itself. Then, start sending out queries to blogs, magazines, dailies, and other content-hungry organizations that fit your writing style and knowledge base. If you’re looking for byline work, each query should include a clear pitch for a single article or article series. For behind-the-scenes gigs, such as ghostwriting ad copy or press releases, condense and communicate your value proposition. Don’t sweat nonresponses. This is a numbers game, and more queries than not will be ignored.
No matter what method you choose to make money online, understand that you might be able to make some money fast, but for the sizable returns, you'll need significant sweat equity. However, a year from now, you'll be happy you started today. Remember, time is far more valuable than money. Focus on creating passive income streams that will free up your time so that you can quit the rat race and focus on the things that matter.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Most of the software and apps you use on a regular basis are made by massive companies or established development studios. Well, yes. But many successful apps, particularly those in the Apple and Google stores, are created and marketed by individuals and small businesses. In fact, independent developers made $20 billion in the App Store in 2016 alone.
More than half a billion products are sold on Amazon every month, making it an incredible opportunity to make money online. But, like everything else that involves making money online, you have to do quite a bit of work to earn it. One option on Amazon is to find products that are already made and buy and sell them at a discount. For example, you could research generic products such as clocks, keychains and mugs to attach to your brand.
EBay. EBay is one of the most popular websites in the world. That means it’s an excellent way to attract lots of eyeballs to your unwanted items, fast. Initially designed as an auction site for DIY sellers, it’s now primarily a venue for fixed-price – and often heavily discounted – sales by professional merchants. As long as you include high-quality photographs and thorough descriptions in your product listings, you can likely break through the noise. EBay’s fee schedule is complex, but as a general rule, expect to lose 10% of your final selling price to the site’s commission.
If you have “extra” money sitting around or want to get serious about building wealth for later in life, consider investing it in the stock market with Ally Bank (whose investing branch is included on our list of best investment apps). If you don’t have immediate debts and aren’t currently living paycheck to paycheck, investing can be a powerful tool for generating passive returns.
Create a Home Office Space. First things first: You need a professional setup that helps, not hinders, your prospecting activities and writing work. If you don’t already have one, set up a home office – anything from a spare bedroom to a corner of your living room – with a comfortable chair, spacious desk, ample lighting, and physical storage space for papers. Buy a reliable laptop with a reputable word processing suite, like Microsoft Word, and video chat capabilities via Skype or a cloud-based phone system. Strongly consider investing in a printer. Upgrade to the fastest consumer Internet package your Internet service provider offers. Purchase a lightweight cloud accounting program such as Quickbooks or sign up for a free version. You’ll need it once you have more than a few clients. Note that many business-related expenses qualify for tax deductions.
Amazon. Many people don’t realize that Amazon is a haven for third-party sellers cleaning out their attics and garages. If you plan to sell more than 40 items per month on Amazon, consider registering as a professional seller. You’ll need to pay a roughly $40 monthly subscription fee, a referral fee that usually ranges from 6% to 20%, and a per-item closing cost for media items. You won’t pay the per-item selling fee, however. Alternatively, you can register as an individual seller. The fee schedule is the same as for professionals, except you do have to pay the selling fee and don’t have to pay the subscription fee.
Often, what happens is that we run into unscrupulous Internet Marketers (IMs) who have less-than altruistic intentions of extracting money from you rather than helping you to make it. However, this isn't something new. People have been falling for networking marketing, pyramid schemes, and affiliate marketing scams since before the start of the net.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
Learn then selling guidelines. Each marketplace has guidelines that define what you can and cannot sell. State and federal laws also impact what items are prohibited. In general, you cannot sell alcohol, weapons, service contracts, animals or event tickets. Also, while not always prohibited, you may find restrictions on how you can sell items in some categories, such as art, gift cards and coupons. eBay, Craigslist and Amazon publish these guidelines on their websites.
How much will you make? I think my best month with Google AdSense was almost $5,000 over the last ten years. That amazing month blew my mind since it was actually near the beginning of my blogging journey. When you go from making zero to $5,000 in a month, that will rock your world. For me, it also got me even more excited because I knew there were other ways to monetize.
A site called User Testing will actually pay you a fee to evaluate websites. It typically pays you $10 for each video that you review – which typically takes about 20 minutes. If the work is there, and you are particularly good at it, you could earn up to $30 per hour. That’s a pretty solid pay rate for a work-at-home job. You wouldn’t have to work a whole lot of hours to generate a decent part-time monthly income.
Double check yourself, before you double wreck yourself. Make sure everything you send to a company, whether a résumé, an email or a portfolio, is good to go. Double check your grammar and wording, and for God’s sake use spell check! This is especially important when it comes to the company’s name. Don’t spell their name wrong and be sure to type it how they type it (e.g. Problogger, not Pro Blogger).