Working online is awesome. I’ve already written a post about six reasons I think working online is badass, so check it out and get inspired!
If you’re reading this post, I can guess you’re interested in making some money online. I’m going to give you the low-down on some common ways to make money online and some tips for getting started in those areas.
Side Hustle or Full Time Hustle?
A side hustle is something that you do alongside your main income earning job. Many online entrepreneurs start off with a side hustle and then when it gets busy enough, they quit their jobs and make it their full time thing. This is a great option if you have the security of a full time job that pays well. A blogger I follow quite closely, Making Sense of Cents, did this and built up quite a considerable online income before eventually quitting her job.
Full time is something that you focus your energy onto and failure is not an option. That’s how I basically started out, because when I started working online I wasn’t making any money and was living off savings.
I wanted to distinguish between the two, because for some of you who already love their jobs you might only ever be interested in starting a side hustle that brings in a little extra money which allows you to spend or save more.
To Be a Freelancer or an Entrepreneur
This is a big question and many of you might not know that I’m not a freelancer and I haven’t been one for 2.5 years. I started out making a little money through advertising and supplementing it through a freelancing writing income. Eventually the money I made through my blog surpassed what I was earning from freelancing and I decided to focus my time on my business rather than working for an hourly wage.
These are really different sides of the coin. There are many pros and cons to each of them and you might feel more of a calling to one of them. The thing I prefer about freelancing as it’s much easier and much faster to start making money. You can apply for jobs, get hired, and get paid within a week.
How to Freelance Online
The first thing you need to be honest with yourself about is what skills do you have that are unique to you and someone might like to pay for? For me the obvious answer was writing, because I loved it and it felt easy. For you it might be something like programming, managing social media, working as a virtual assistant, admin and so on. There are really a lot of options, my suggestion would be to look through the jobs on UpWork and see if there are any you think you could do an excellent job of.
Once you’ve narrowed your ideas down, you can start looking for and applying for jobs. I focused on writing, with a focus on travel writing. The main resource for jobs online is now UpWork but you can also use Google to connect you with some places you can write for. Try doing some simple searches like “Paid freelance writing jobs” to try to find more contacts.
Take It Seriously
I’ve hired numerous writers to help me with projects and you’ll be surprised by how many people do a terrible job of applying for work online. Yes, it’s different to a traditional job application, but not really that much. You need to address the person by name, otherwise they’re not going to look any further than “TO” on your application. Answer all the prospective client’s questions. Write formally in full sentences. Provide examples. Mention why you would like to work for them and what kind of asset you’d be to their team.
One of the hardest things about being a freelancer is that you’re almost always going to have to keep hustling. Clients are flakey, especially online where do you don’t have that rapport you might have with an employer you know in person. I found that as long as I continued to apply for a few jobs I really wanted each week or every few weeks, I stayed afloat. Just when I’d finish up with an old client, a new client would check in to see my availability. You gotta keep hustling, which can be exhausting, but it’s just the freelancer life.
Lower Your Prices Then Raise Them
In the beginning, you might find it advantageous to lower your prices to make you more competitive. I worked for ridiculously low rates for articles in the beginning in order to build my profile, show my experience and get more feedback. Each time I finished with a new client, I’d raise my price a little, and I kept raising it until I was earning a salary I was both proud of and comfortable with. Yes, it might be hard working for peanuts in the beginning, but it is the fastest way to get some references and establish a profile.
The online world of freelancing is a dynamic and competitive place. When you get started you might feel overwhelmed, like it is already too saturated and that you certainly can’t get by competing with writers in India happy to write a million words for thirty cents. But the truth is, if you provide value and match yourself with good clients that appreciate quality, you’ll be able to earn a decent salary by working online.
Have you started working online? Do you have any questions before getting started? I’d love to hear them.