January 4, 2012 at 8:00am
How to be self-employed on the internet: my money-makers
This is part two of a two-part answer to a question. Read part one (and the question!) here.
Ways to make money on the internets:
- First, I do have a gig. I get a regular paycheck with Offbeat Home and also earn commissions for advertorials for sponsors there.
- Affiliate programs. YES. I absolutely use affiliate programs. Mainly, I use Amazon — it’s the easiest, gives me great rates, and although Amazon’s had some iffy PR lately, I think overall Jeff Bezos runs an ethical company. When I can’t find a product I want to link to on Amazon, I search “product name affiliate program” and see what I get — and I’ve finally started keeping a spreadsheet so I can keep track of my Affiliate program memberships.
- Referral programs (also just helps discount things!) — My most successful program is E-Mealz, which worked because I was able to give it a ringing endorsement. Not that it makes me a ton of money, but as you can see, I have a multi-tiered income structure. :)
- Elance/others: In times of great need, I keep an eye on sites like Elance and Craigslist where people might be pitching writing or illustration gigs I can pick up for a few bucks. I’ve also participated in forums with job/service boards where I can sell services/illustrations/paintings/whatever.
- M Turk: Back to Amazon. M Turk is a service Amazon runs. Say Person A needs lots of information categorized, or photos labeled, or even paragraphs translated. They list “hits” on M Turk with instructions, and Person B (me!) can accept a hit and perform work. I’ve done everything from double-check the accuracy of Google Street View photos to write short slugs about products — and I get paid anywhere from 1 cent to $1.50 each to do it. It’s tedious, but if you have time on your hands (or a shitty job where you’re at a computer with nothing else to do for hours) it can help.
- ChaCha: Sort of like MTurk. ChaCha is a service where people can text questions from their cell phone and “guides” research the answer and reply to the asker. More tedious than MTurk. Pays less. But again — sometimes every little bit helps.
- Work-for-hire/writing elsewhere/illustrating commissions. I’ve also run an active illustration business for a few years, taking commissions on projects, written for other blogs and our local young professional weekly rag.
- Etsy. Not now, but in the past!
- Consulting. I don’t do consulting, but my husband does. You have to get good enough at something that you can concisely tell other people how to do it. You also have to be good at telling people how to do things.
I really don’t make much money, but I met my personal monthly income goal last year. Setting goals really helps, even if you start small, when you know your goal is “make 100 dollars through freelance every month in 2012”, you’ll find a way to get there.
There’s one more bit that’s important: It helps immensely to have a partner. Scott and I have had aligned goals since the get-go. Building this lifestyle has cause occasional friction and probably always will, but knowing we have the same goals is crazy helpful. We try to help each other as best we can — we’ve both worked jobs we HATED while the other was doing more “fun” work, and that might happen again, too! I hope not, though. I HOPE we’re to the point where we can keep moving forward on this strategy without taking shit jobs. Anyway: we married the right people. :)
Lastly: never ever ever ever ever ever go without insurance. If I hadn’t been buying it for myself during my accident in 09, I’d be up to my ears in debt. $50,000 or more. I would have kissed any sort of independent career goodbye forever.
This is a wall of text, I know. I just also know that a few years ago all I had was My Goal: WORK FOR MYSELF OR BUST! And I didn’t have any idea how to get here. I desperately wanted someone to tell me all that they knew so I could try to glean any clue I could from the path they’d taken. So I hope this helps. If you have any questions, ask or email! And good luck!