The idea of making passive income while you travel has never been more popular. The “laptop lifestyle” is a buzzword that's overused to entice you to buy coaching courses and video lessons on how to quit your job and work for yourself. But can you really make money with your laptop and nothing else? Isn't there a missing piece to this puzzle?
The online environment can seem amazing, especially as it offers much more flexibility than a conventional job. At the same time, you have the chance to make money doing something you actually enjoy. That all sounds like a win-win.
Making Money With Your Laptop And Nothing Else
Absolutely, 100% realistically, your laptop truly can be a great tool for making money. A laptop is just a portable computer, and lets you take your work with you wherever you go. You could work on the beach drinking a margarita (although I don’t advise it). The idea does sound too good to be true, but I have literally done this.
You do have to be extremely careful though, as there are a ton of scams out there too. In fact, most of the sites that promote ways to make money online are manipulative in some way or another. Figuring out the real opportunities from the scams is possible but it means that you have to look very carefully.
Running an online business from a laptop is a legit concept. But it's not “easy” to get started, and you have to put in a significant amount of work into setting up systems that allow you to maintain all your work while you travel. This is true regardless of the business approach that you take.
Not traveling? That's OK, there are more reasons to run your business through a laptop computer. You might not even want to travel and live the laptop lifestyle!
Actually, I started my own online business using a laptop simply because I was too poor to afford a full computer. I bought a used laptop from my friend at a discount. It also meant I could work from cafés.
So using a laptop to run your business may be a smart idea from a financial standpoint too.
Do I Need Anything Else?
Not really. A mouse will make your life easier, and a pair of headphones are great for blocking out noise or for listening while working in public places. Other than that, all your tools are located online in the cloud, including calendars, note-taking apps, and of course your website is in the cloud too.
It's possible to walk out of the house with one bag and have your entire business right there!
You can even rely almost entirely on free tools – at least at the beginning. Most people who earn an online upgrade to paid tools later on, but you can decide what you use based on your own needs.
My Own Experience With Using Laptop To Run My Business
From having the actual experience of running my business from my laptop for 3 years, I know that it's possible. I was able to start out earning $0 and work my way up to a six-figure income in less than two years without a desktop.
It even took me another year to buy my own desktop because I just felt like I didn't need one, and forgot that I had the money to buy one as a business expense (it's weird getting used to having money after being poor for so long!).
If you want to strip it down further, I've even written articles about running a business from a tablet and a smartphone. It's not the best idea. Minus the mouse and keyboard, it's really hard to type and navigate the web.
Those devices are better for entertainment purposes, although a tablet can mimic a laptop pretty well sometimes. In that case, a tablet would suffice, but might cost as much as a cheap laptop!
I've covered a lot about how to start an online business, and how to start a website in the past. You can follow my recommendations, or create your own path. But if you do want to look for passive income and the laptop lifestyle, be sure to watch out for advertising that claims it's easy and fast to achieve.
Red Flags To Watch Out For
Regardless of the specific site that you’re looking at, there are a number of indications that immediately suggest a scam. If nothing else, these red flags indicate that you need to take a serious look at the site and pay close attention to the claims that it makes. Even if the site isn’t an outright scam, there’s still a good chance that it’s trying to rip you off in some way.
1. Hyped Up Claims
One of the biggest red flags is when a side makes excessive claims about how much money you can make. For example, you might see claims like this one:
Sites often use large claims like this to draw people in and make them excited. Most visitors realize that the income will probably never reach this level – but the hyped-up claim can still be pretty compelling.
But, this really is a massive indication of a scam. Making money is a lot like weight loss, individual experiences will differ dramatically.
Because of this, there is no real way for a company to know how much people will make. Instead, these claims tend to be the best possible outcome or (more often than not) completely made up numbers.
A good simple rule is that if a claim seems too good to be true – then it probably is. There is no such thing as making a lot of money fast online. The field doesn’t work like that. Instead, legitimate methods of making an income take time and effort. Often you need to start small and grow a business over time.
Doing so is achievable and effective for many people. But, this practice is very different than the bold claims that scam companies make about your potential daily or monthly income.
2. Vague Information
Another serious issue is sites that are incredibly vague about what you’re supposed to be doing. I’ve lost track of the number of sites that claim to have an ‘amazing system’ but never actually tell you precisely what it is.
In some cases, you may find yourself watching a 10+ minute video, where the narrator spends a lot of time hyping up the concept but never quite tells you what’s involved. Often, the only way to actually learn how you’ll be making money is to actually sign up and pay whatever fee is involved.
That’s a major issue. I understand that people may have secrets to keep safe. But, if a site can’t even tell you how you are supposed to be making money then it’s time to go somewhere else.
The main reason that companies hide this information is because it would turn customers off. For example, in one case, I saw a hyped-up site that made bold claims and had a video that focused on how great the entire process was. Yet, when I actually got the product it was just fairly basic affiliate marketing training that you could find pretty much anywhere.
Another example is these claims below. They all come from a site called Net Income Source, along with a claim that you can ‘get your share of $2.8 billion a month’. Yet, once again, the underlying concept here is affiliate marketing.
Now, affiliate marketing itself is something that I’ll come back to later and it is a legitimate approach. But, any site that attempts to manipulate you like this isn’t likely to provide very good directions or information about how to be successful in the field. Instead, you’ll probably end up with basic information along with attempts to get you to spend even more money.
3. Questionable Testimonials and Proof
You’ll often find that companies use various types of proof and testimonials to convince you that their product is real. Yet, this is often just another manipulative practice.
Often you’ll find that testimonials are entirely fake, where the site owner has written them and used a stock photo for the image. This issue is even true for video testimonials. In those cases, the site owner may have used a service on Fiverr or somewhere similar to pay somebody to make the video.
Basically, testimonials mean absolutely nothing and they certainly shouldn’t be trusted. That’s even true if the images and stories seem real, as there is no shortage of ways to fake a testimonial.
At the same time, many sites will show images of checks or digital accounts as proof that their system works. In many cases, this also acts as another way to hype up the income potential of the program.
This type of proof is often convincing. But, in practice, it is possible to manipulate the numbers, even on video-based ‘proof’. In fact, there are even instructions online for exactly how to fake this information.
For that matter, many of these proof videos are basically just site owners showing you how much they have earned. Even if those videos were legitimate, they don’t actually prove anything.
All they could ever show is that the site owner knows how to make money. That doesn’t mean the system they are promoting will actually work.
Ways To Avoid Scams
The best way to avoid scams is simply to look out for the various red flags that I mentioned above and be careful about any decision that you make. In many cases, simply watching for issues will be enough, because many scams are obvious once you know what you’re looking for.
However, that’s not true in every single case. Instead, there are some products that look and sound legitimate, even though they actually aren’t. Additionally, there are many sites that aren’t scams but they’re not particularly good ways of earning money either.
One example of this is the MLM system, which is repeated across hundreds of different companies, like Amway and Avon. Under this model, you make money by selling products and by recruiting other people into the company.
On paper, the whole idea sounds wonderful and there is a chance to make a decent amount of money. However, most people don’t do very well and many lose money. A key problem is that the system relies heavily on recruitment and on direct sales, both of which are much harder than they initially seem to be.
Yet, there aren’t really any red flags about the model. This makes it easy to end up wasting time and money on a system that simply isn’t going to work. Thankfully, there are a few approaches you can take.
Make Sure You Understand The System
As I mentioned earlier, vagueness is often a key indicator of a scam. Because of this, you need to understand how a system is supposed to work before you get involved.
Take the MLM model as an example. Distributors often promote this type of company by just saying you have to recruit and sell products. They’ll probably also make both processes sound extremely easy.
However, when you actually look at it, an MLM is a lot more complicated. For example, companies tend to have many different ranks for members. Progressing through these tends to require hitting sales targets within your team and having a specific team structure. The system tends to be confusing and can make it difficult to optimize how much you earn.
If nothing else, you should know how you’re supposed to make money before you sign up for anything. If you don’t know this, then you risk finding out later that the system isn’t really what you expected at all.
Look At How The Company Makes Money
Another thing to seriously consider is how the company itself actually makes money. In every system, the people behind it are going to want to earn money. Otherwise, why would they do it?
In practice, you’re not going to find business owners that offer a product out of the kindness of their hearts. If somebody claims to, they’re lying. With this in mind, understanding how the company is making money is critical for figuring out whether the concept is legitimate or not.
For example, affiliate marketing and MLM are two very different models but in both cases, the company is paying individuals to market products. If the individual makes a sale, then they earn some money. Here, the company makes money from the sales, it’s as simple as that. They pay their affiliate or distributor some of that money, but the company itself still turns a profit.
In other cases, the company may simply be making its income from what it sells you, along with any upsells. This pattern is one to be very careful about. If the company is making money from what you buy, then they may manipulate people to make more sales.
Many companies do legitimately make money simply by selling products and services and there isn’t anything wrong with that. Nevertheless, you do truly need to understand where their income comes from.
Doing so will give you a better sense of what to expect. And if you can’t figure out where their money comes from, then that is a good indication that there is something fishy going on.
Look For Free Trials
Free trials are one of the best ways to look for legitimate ways to make money. A trial gives you the chance to figure things out for yourself and shows you exactly what you would be paying for. This is much better than putting up money and hoping that the system meets your expectations.
Additionally, companies that offer free trials tend to be better quality, on average. After all, they have to be reasonably confident about their products to even consider letting people have access for free.
Your best bet is to find companies where the trial doesn't cost anything at all. For example, you’ll find many companies that offer a $0.99 or $1.99 trial.
Typically those trials aren’t a good idea and they’re often used as a way to trick people. In particular, I’ve seen many companies offer a trial like that for 7 days and then rebill with the full price as soon as the time is up.
Needless to say, it’s easy to get caught out with trials like this, especially as it can sometimes take days for a company to actually process your cancellation request.
Ideally, you also want trails that don’t require your credit card information. With this type of trial, there is no risk that you’ll get rebilled. Plus, you don’t have to go through the effort of canceling. Instead, the company has to convince you to stay. This type of trail comes at no risk to you and it’s the perfect way to figure out a company.
The Model Of Affiliate Marketing
With all of these different areas to consider, the idea of making money with your laptop may simply seem too risky or confusing. But, that’s not really the case. Instead, you simply need a system that makes sense and a place to begin.
One such system is the idea of affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing isn’t the only legitimate system for making money online but it is a particularly powerful one.
The first good thing about affiliate marketing is that it is simple. Basically, you’re just promoting sales through an affiliate link. This link takes people to a site where they can buy the product – like Amazon, for example. If they buy through your link, then you earn a commission.
That’s it. There is no team building to worry about and no products to manage.
The system also works well because you’re providing value. For example, many affiliate marketers review products and highlight which are the best choices for a specific type of product. So, you might see an affiliate site that reviews various tools and options for beer making or recommends the best places to shop to get specific clothing.
The options are basically endless and you can promote any product that you can find an affiliate program for. There’s no shortage of different programs out there, especially as even some large companies like Amazon have comprehensive affiliate programs. So, you have the chance to make money from a website that’s based on pretty much anything that interests you.
At the same time, affiliate marketing itself doesn’t even cost and most affiliate programs are free to join. You can even be a part of multiple affiliate programs if you want to be and you can promote a wide range of different products.
The only real costs involved in affiliate marketing are getting a domain name and paying for hosting – and both of these can be cheap. For that matter, these are just the standard costs involved with running a website, regardless of whether you’re doing affiliate marketing or something different entirely.
The other great thing about affiliate marketing is that it makes sense. It’s a logical and reliable model, which you can grow over time. After all, you’re not manipulating anybody, and the sites you work with benefit from the process as well.
If you’re considering affiliate marketing yourself, then the one thing that I recommend is training. Strictly speaking, you don’t need the training to be successful as an affiliate marketer but it does help.
More than anything, having good training means that you won’t end up wasting time or making a lot of mistakes. It also means you have a great start in your business and don’t have to go back and change things later.
There are thousands of different side hustles you could do to earn some extra money on the side, and which one "clicks" for you depends on your personality and goals. However, there's one side hustle that makes an insane amount of money and works for anyone.
Starting an affiliate website is an incredible way to earn extra money because you can do it from your home on a laptop, and work on your business in the evenings and on weekends. The income potential is huge, and it's easy to scale