With the world economy in crisis, the long-term unemployed and under employed are turning to the Internet to make ends meet. Recognizing legitimate opportunities in a sea of clever scams and frauds is a daunting task.
Legitimate doesn’t mean easy, but hard work and persistence go a long way. You may already have the skills to get started on some of these 20 totally scam-free methods to earn money online.
1. Sell what you already own. Sites like eBay bring buyers and sellers together. From collectibles to clothing to automobile parts, eBay stores are easy to set up and use. With tutorials and templates for invoicing, shipping, and marketing, you don’t have to be a tech guru to set up a successful store. Detailed sales and financial reports allow you to see what works and what doesn’t, so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. After you get the hang of it, you can sell your services to other sellers who don’t have the time or inclination to do the work.
2. Sell in-demand products. You don’t need a warehouse or shipping facilities to create a virtual store. A clean, simple website highlighting a niche product or market can perform well with search engines. Drop shippers take the hassle of packing and shipping off your back so you can concentrate on the selling. Before diving in, do some research on drop shippers, popular products, and website design that works.
3. Sell your passion. Are you a crafter? Do you knit…sew…build…create? Sell your creations in your own virtual store. An elegant website with photos of your products tells potential customers you mean business. You can set up a shopping cart or simply take orders over the phone. After you cover your costs, the profit is all yours.
4. Become an affiliate marketer. If you have a website or a blog, you can make extra money through affiliate marketing. You generally receive a commission when a visitor to your site clicks on an advertiser’s widget, banner, or link. Other than promoting your own site, which you would likely be doing anyway, there is very little maintenance on your part.
5. Sell stock photos. Do you have a flair for photography? Photo sites like iStockPhoto pay you when customers download your photos. If you enjoy taking pictures anyway, and you submit quality work, it can be a good little source of revenue.
6. Be the problem-solving tech geek. Do you live and breathe all things tech? Can you fix a broken link…figure out why a WordPress blog has stopped functioning…fix novice errors in a content management system? What seems fairly easy to you may be a real head-scratcher for someone else who may be willing to pay for your rescue services.
7. Harness the power of social media. If you can set up your own Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+ account, you can do the same for someone else. Local business owners may have the know how but lack the time, or are completely clueless about social media. This is your chance to clue them in. Charge a flat rate to set up an account or a monthly fee to keep it active on a daily basis.
8. Create an advertising platform. If you don’t already have one, create a website or blog or both. Monetize them with Google AdSense and affiliate programs like Amazon. Sell banner ads, links, and sponsored blog posts. It takes a high number of pageviews and a lot of clicks to make money, but it can be a low-maintenance part of your revenue stream.
9. Become a freelance article writer. If you think about it, you’re probably an expert in something. Use that knowledge to create highly targeted articles that you can sell to online publications. Sites like HubPages and Squidoo allow you to set up pages for your topics and share in ad revenue. Other sites allow you to bid on projects. Free article directories don’t pay, but allow you to post articles with a link back to your site. If you’re really confident in your work, start pitching story ideas to online publications that pay.
10. Self-publish eBooks or print-on-demand books. Do you have a story to tell? Self publishing is easier than ever, and eBooks are a growing business. Beyond writing the book, you’ll also have to edit, format, create a cover, and market it, so it’s a huge endeavor. If you do it all yourself there is little cost, but if you believe in your work, it’s worth the time.
11. Be an editor. Do you like making sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed? Many a self-published author will pay you handsomely to edit a manuscript.
12. Format eBooks for publication. In addition to editors, some indie authors need help in formatting eBooks for publication. For those who lack html coding knowledge, it’s a skill worth paying for.
13. Become a virtual assistant or take on odd jobs. Busy people need help, and the online world is no different. Make a list of all your skills and you’ll soon get an idea of how valuable your services are. Do some research about the world of virtual assistants so you get a feel for how much to charge. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is simple and fun – you can choose from hundreds of quick tasks that earn small amounts of money. You won’t get rich, but it’s a great filler for spare time.
14. Be the “go to” person in your area of expertise. Whatever your background or area of interest, someone is in need of more information. Be that information broker. Create a dedicated website and blog. Dive into social media and write articles about your topic, using same image for brand identification and linking liberally to your other work. Join services like Help A Report Out (HARO), which put you in touch with writers looking for information and quotes.
15. Sell your designs. If you design logos or websites, you may also want to take advantage of the growing demand of eBook designs and covers for on-demand books.
16. Be a Domain Flipper. Just like house flippers do, you can flip domain names. With a little homework and some common sense, you can buy up high-quality domain names on sites like GoDaddy and resell them at a profit.
17. Transcribe audio files. It’s a bit tedious and requires loads of concentration, but if you can transcribe an audio file into a transcript, there are people who will pay you to do it. Try it out and make sure you’re up to the task before you begin advertising or bidding on jobs.
18. Be an audio editor. If you have a talent for flow and timing for music swells and fades, busy podcasters may be willing to pay for your services.
19. Be a video editor. It takes time and attention to detail in order to edit a video and show it off in its best light. Good video editors can make or break a production, and talented freelancers keep very busy.
20. Create videos. Videos are all the rage these days and are used to promote everything from books to websites. You can use videos to promote your own marketing ventures or do it for hire. Videos can also attract customers to your existing website or blog.
By combining several of these ideas, you can generate multiple small streams of income that are independent of each other. Keep in mind that the Internet is never stagnant. If you’re in it for the long haul, don’t hesitate to abandon time-sucking projects that no longer work. Stay on the alert for scams, and keep abreast of new trends.