The freelance or gig economy is expected to grow. If you are concerned about making a living, you need to consider how to earn an income online.
In 9 years, more than 50% of the American workforce will be freelancers. And it’s not just an American phenomenon. It is a global one.
In her book, The Gig Economy, author Diane Mulcahy advised “Stop Looking For A Job!” She makes the point that we should forget Job Security and look for Income Security instead.
One way to get Income Security is to have a portfolio of work or projects. And to diversify by creating extra sources of income. Another tip she gives is to lower our expenses.
If you take all these into account, you have to seriously consider earning online income as one or more of your sources of livelihood. This is because of several advantages:
- Low startup cost – compared to a brick and mortar equivalent
- Global reach
- You can work on it from anywhere that has an Internet connection
- It can be running 24/7 without much intervention from you
- Easier to scale as your business grows
Looking at these advantages, one would be tempted to describe making money online as “easy” or “passive”.
But like any business startup, you may need to invest time and effort at the beginning with little to show for it. But at a certain point, when the business takes off , you begin to reap the rewards. So it will not be so “easy” or “passive” at the beginning. But if you do it properly, eventually your business will run and earn an income without much intervention from you.
And then you start another one! And subsequent online businesses should be easier for you. You would have mastered certain skills and knowledge. You would have built an audience or customer base.
Ideally, you should have a portfolio of online businesses. And if you have 5 businesses with each one generating $20,000 a year passively – you are better off than many people.
Some successful online entrepreneurs shared that, working on their business between 2 to 3 hours a day, it took 2-3 years before building a significant enough income to live on.
Next I am going to give you an overview of 5 ways to earn an online income. I will not go into detail for each one at this point. I will reserve that for subsequent posts.
I discussed this quite a bit in a previous post. I would like to add a few more pointers here.
I highlighted Google Adsense as an example. You earn income by giving Google advertising space on your website or your Youtube videos. And Google in turn gets paid by advertisers for putting their ads in your space (At this point I don’t think you can do it on your Facebook page).
This is an example of an Adsense ad you might see as you surf the internet.
The challenge here is draw visitors to your website or youtube video in order for them to view and to click on the ads. That is how you earn an income.
This means you have to create content that is compelling and useful to attract visitors. You could for example start a blog like what I have done. Make sure the topic of the blog is consistent with your brand or offering.
If you are creating an income from advertising, you will probably need a website. You can start one at zero cost. Click here to find out more about how to own and setup your website for FREE in 30 seconds.
2. Affiliate Marketing
When you refer a buyer to a seller, and earn a commission from the seller when a sale takes place, you are an affiliate marketer.
Unlike the advertising with Google Adsense, an affiliate marketer chooses the product or service and actively promotes it.
Amazon was the one who started this and theirs is probably the most well-known affiliate marketing program around. Their program is known as Amazon Associates.
I am an Amazon affiliate. If you click on some of the links to the books I recommend and buy those, I do get a small commission. But you should only recommend stuff relevant and useful to your target audience. That is how you provide value or you will quickly lose them. So I only choose books that are relevant to the topic of this blog.
Other affiliate programs are clickbank.com and cj.com. You can check these out and look at the products or services that you are comfortable with and relevant to your niche area.
So if “grilling seafood” is your niche for example, you can do a review of different BBQ grills or sauces. And if someone buys one of the items you reviewed, you get a commission.
And once again, that means you have to create good content to educate and help your audience who would eventually make a purchase based on your recommendation. This means you may need to have a website or Youtube videos.
Once again, if you choose to start your website, watch this video how you can own and set up your website in 30 seconds for FREE!
Or you could advertise the product with Facebook or Google ads. When someone clicks on the ad, they are directed to a sales page on the seller website where the product offer is made. And if the visitor buys it, you get the commission because your affiliate link is in the ad. You don’t need a website of your own. You don’t have to create Youtube videos.
The advantage of affiliate marketing is that you do not need to create your own products.
This is relevant if you are retailing physical products.
You set up an online storefront. Typically you might use a hosting service like Shopify or Alidropship for this. People come to your store and make a purchase. Unlike the previous 2 strategies, the sales transaction takes place on your website.
The order is sent to the supplier who then fulfills the order and delivers it to the customer. You select the supplier and products you want to sell. You need not worry about warehousing and order fulfillment.
Watch this video to see how dropshipping works.
You could also design your own products to sell. But you would need to find a manufacturer (say through Alibaba) to make it.
You also have to find a way to drive traffic to your storefront. You may have to pay for advertising with Google or Facebook.
Of course I am just giving you the basic idea. There are all kinds of variations as the industry evolves.
4. Create And Sell Your Own Digital Products
These could be…
- Online courses
- Templates for web design, logo design, Powerpoint layouts etc.
- Sell photos to Shutterstock
You could create your own digital products.
You could sell these on your own website or elsewhere. For example, you can sell online courses via Udemy and e-books via Kindle.
The advantage is that you keep most of the proceeds from the sale since you are the creator. The disadvantage is you have to create your own content.
Note also that you can collaborate with others or outsource the portions of work outside your expertise if you have sufficient budget.
For example, you could go to Fiverr.com can pay someone $20-30 to create a 90 second promotional video. You could also get someone to help write an ebook or design a professional looking website for you.
5. Sell Your Services Online
You can also explore Fiverr.com or Upwork.com to sell your services.
Look below for the kinds of work you can offer via Upwork.
Uber (cab service) and AirBnB (accommodation) also fall under this category.
If you already have the necessary skills for Upwork/Fiverr or an asset like a car of home, you can explore this category for generating income.
The disadvantage though is that you will be trading your time for money…it does not get passive. It’s also not scalable. Eventually, you will want to build your business based on the previous 4 strategies I discussed.
But if you need income urgently, you can start with this category first.
I have shared with you 5 possible sources of online income. I am sure there are other ways and over time, the number of possibilities will increase.
You can of course adopt multiple strategies but if you are starting out and still have your day job, maybe you should focus on just one first.
Of course if this is your full time job, then you can afford to do more.
Start with what you already have. And invest only what you can afford to lose.
For someone like myself, it makes sense to create an online course around material that I already know. Then I could sell it via Udemy or my own website. I would probably stay away from physical products.
But you decide on your strategy consistent with your brand or offering.
Regardless of which strategy you choose, at some point you will want to create your own website. You can build your own brand for the long term. Or even sell your website.
Depending on Udemy, Youtube and Facebook is risky because you do not have control like you have over your own website.
So you if want to (1) learn how to create your website, (2) get website hosting and (3) learn to start your online business – all for free – click here to find out more!
See you in the next post!