One bright note in the ongoing financial recession in the United States is the opportunity to earn money online. Since more companies are cutting back on full-time staff members to save money, they are turning more and more to outsourcing work that used to be done in house.
Before you decide that you are going to earn money working from home however, it is important that you understand that there is no method of “getting rich quick”. Work at home opportunities are numerous, provided that you know where to look and you can avoid getting scammed.
For most people, the best thing they can do is to take an honest inventory of their existing skills to determine if you have a skill set that is easily transferable to the online market. Some of the best skills include:
Ability to write – there are sites that pay upfront monies for writing online. While some sites (like HubPages) pay on a percentage of page views, others do pay for work on demand;
WordPress Experts – whether you can create plugins for WordPress or you are good at dealing with some of the back end work such as posting, adding images, tagging or other SEO related work, you may find someone willing to pay you for these skills;
E-Commerce experts – if you are a natural salesperson, you may find your niche in selling products through Affiliate programs. Google, Amazon and other reputable firms offer numerous opportunities to sell products.
Let’s take a few minutes to review some of the writing opportunities that are available to you for earning money online that tie into these categories.
Blogging your way to cash
If you have a knack for writing (and it is a knack) you can make money online in a number of ways. There are tons of writing sites that pay you for work either through upfront payments or through a revenue sharing option. There is also the option to create one (or more) blogs and promote products or services of well-known companies such as Staples, Office Depot, etc.
Before you get started
One of the biggest challenges in getting started as a freelance writer is having a portfolio. One of the best options to overcome this challenge is to get started on your own blog. There are some things to keep in mind when you are starting out:
Familiarize yourself with Google rules – Do not fall into the trap of stuffing keywords into your articles or blog posts. Google’s Panda and Penguin updates will result in your blog or article falling to the bottom of search engines.
Get a good spell checker – Don’t depend on your typing skills to keep you from making common mistakes. There are few things that will turn readers off quicker than text that is riddled with common spelling errors. A grammar check is also a good tool to have, especially if English is not your first language.
Don’t use other people’s work! – If you lack ideas there are plenty of ways to come up with them. Use Google’s Adwords to find popular keywords in a niche you are interested in writing about. Not everyone will have the same take that you will, and that’s not a bad thing. However, stealing other’s ideas is just bad business.
Commitment matters – Don’t expect to get rich posting a half-dozen articles and sitting back and waiting for the dollars to roll in. It’s not going to happen! Write, write some more and when you think you can’t write another word, write some more. The higher the quality and quantity of your work, the more likely you are to earn some decent revenue.
Remember, not all sites are revenue share only, sometimes you can find upfront payments on writing sites. We’ll cover that next.
Up Front Payments
There are sites that do still pay writers an upfront payment for work. Everyone has their own favorites but some of the more popular ones include Textbroker, Media Piston, Demand Studios and the popular micro-task site Crowd Cloud. Keep in mind, much of this depends on what it is you are looking for when you are writing. Every site has different rules, every site has different editing criteria and every one requires you to submit to some type of test. Before you sign up on any writing site, read the terms of service and read writing site reviews that will help you understand what you are getting yourself into.
Find your niche – Not everyone can write well about every topic. If you have an interest in cars for example, you might write great car articles but are terrible at creative writing. Don’t be afraid to pass by assignments that are not good for you.
Always review your work before submission – Typos and grammar errors (see above) can drive your credibility lower. Every item you submit should be top notch work and representative of the work that clients can expect from you in the future.
Never put all eggs in one basket – Even if you are writing for a combination of revenue share and upfront payment sites, use more than one (of each). You will only set yourself up for disappointment if you elect to write on only one site of each type. Remember, the more sources of earnings you have to depend on, the less likely that one taking a hit will be a crushing loss.
Writers can create their own blogs or websites and combine their writing skills to work on sites that provide writing opportunities that offer upfront payments. While no one option is likely to make you a millionaire, a well-planned program can keep a roof over your head and keep the bills paid.
Source: Purchased from istockphoto.com
It doesn’t grow on trees or fall from the sky
Do not let anyone convince you that you can make thousands of dollars a week online by sitting on your rear end doing nothing. It’s simply not going to happen.
Familiarize yourself with blog platforms: Word Press and Blogger are both great places for you to create a blog to earn money from Affiliate Programs. Do not use the free WP program as they do not allow you to advertise. However, sites like DotEasy allow you to set up your website for dimes a day, some plans allow you to host your site for as little as $7 a month and still set up WP for your primary site.
Find good affiliate programs – Commission Junction, Google Affiliates and Amazon Affiliates are some well known names for finding great products and services to promote on your blog. Use well-known and reputable advertisements and make sure you read the TOS. Remember, these sites do not pay you until you reach certain payout thresholds so don’t hold your breath waiting for a payment.
Sign up on bidding sites – There are several good freelance sites for those who have the patience and fortitude to spend time bidding on assignments. These sites are not the be-all and end-all of freelancing. There are plenty of problems including the possibility of getting stiffed by a client, constantly having to bid on assignments and of course super-cheap clients. Stick to your guns, write great cover letters and stay positive. They CAN work if you let them.
Learn, grow and change
Plenty of people get discouraged when they try to make money online. Oftentimes, this is because they have unrealistic expectations when they get started. It is important to remember that there are plenty of cheap clients who think that everyone should work for less than $5 an hour. For every one like this however, there are plenty who pay for good work.
Practice, know your strengths and weaknesses, stay away from people who want to “nickle and dime you to death” and you’ll do just fine. Avoiding cheap clients and scams is not always easy, but since you have made the decision to become a small business owner, it will be your responsibility to make sure that you keep your radar finely tuned.