For most people, making money involves working for somebody. The cost involved in developing a business can seem immense and the risk is often high as well. Plus, if you haven't got a great idea for your own business, what are you supposed to do? Sell lemonade on the corner?
The goal to make money without working for somebody is not unrealistic. With the internet, anything is possible, and even someone that does not have a business education or any “grand idea” can start their own business online. In fact, this is an achievable idea for just about anybody, provided that you’re willing to put the time and effort into the process.
What’s more, you can manage this without a large financial investment or significant risk. How do I know? I've done it.
Working for someone else is truly miserable most of the time. At least that's the way I felt. I'll show you exactly what I do later in this post, and how you can repeat what I did to start working for yourself!
Online Versus Offline Businesses
The very nature of physical businesses means that you tend to have a hierarchy. So, unless you actually own the business outright, you will be working for somebody. In many cases, that person will also have their own boss and so on.
There are exceptions but it is extremely difficult to avoid having a boss in a physical business. Basically, the only way of doing this is to actually own the business.
Now, owning a physical business tends to be pretty challenging and expensive. For example, you will typically need to rent out a physical space and pay for whatever products that you’re selling. Beyond this, there are also fees to consider, along with the costs of utilities and many other costs that you might not initially consider.
Many of these costs remain significant even if you are just selling a service, rather than products. After all, you do still need a place to interact with clients and appearing professional is important as well.
With all of these costs, it can take years of owning a business before you break even, let alone make a profit. So then, it’s no wonder that so many people fail at physical businesses. Many restaurants don't recoup their initial investment costs for 2-3 years.
Instead, an alternative is to start an online business. This process is more relevant now than it ever has been before, simply because people are spending more money and time buying from websites. After all, why not? Websites are often a less expensive way to buy and this is a much more convenient way to shop.
An online business also has some major advantages over a physical one. The most obvious aspect is that you don’t have to worry about a physical space. This alone dramatically reduces the potential costs, as there are no rental fees to worry about or utilities.
Indeed, the required costs of an online business tend to be very low. This varies a little depending on the specific type of business you’re running but often you’ll just need to pay for a domain name, hosting and possibly some training.
At the same time, an online business tends to be much more flexible. This gives you the ability to change your approaches and even products over time. By doing so, you have the ability to keep up with trends and to make sure your business remains profitable, regardless of what the market does.
All of these areas mean that an online business is much easier to create and much less expensive to run than a physical one. In turn, this makes an online business one of the best ways to avoid having to work for someone else.
But, online business is a large field and there are many different approaches that you can take. This means that if you do want to make money online, then you first need to figure out how.
Making Money Through Freelancing
One of the most common entry points into online business is freelancing. This tends to be popular because it seems easy, especially as you don’t have to deal with products.
Basically, freelancing means that you are selling your services and the term applies to just about any type of service. Freelancing isn’t restricted to the online environment either. For example, you might see people freelancing their experience as a teacher by offering tutoring or their experience as an interior designer.
In theory, freelancing is a powerful technique because there are some people looking for most services. There are even services out there that help to match freelancers and potential customers. One of these is Upwork (which used to be called Elance), although there are others as well.
If you’re wanting to work for yourself, then signing up to this type of site is one option. As a member, you bid on different jobs that customers request. These can range from the simple to the complex, for just about every type of skill you can imagine.
There are also other options. For example, some freelancers promote their services through sites like Fiverr. In this case, the freelancer is the one doing the marketing and customers go to their listing, rather than the other way around. Once again, there is no shortage of types of services that can be offered.
One other approach is to try and promote your services from your own site. The key advantage of doing so is related to competition. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr do attract a large number of customers but they also have a lot of freelancers. So, you end up having to compete for work.
With your own site, you have more control. In particular, you can use SEO practices to draw customers to your site and over time you can develop a reputation.
While this method can work, it doesn’t tend to be a great starting point. Realistically, it can take a long time to become known enough to actually get work via your own site and early on people aren’t likely to trust you. As a result, many freelancers choose to start on sites like Upwork and Fiverr, until they have a customer base and a good reputation.
Being Successful In Freelancing
At face value, freelancing can work well and it does for some people. However, it is a tough industry to break into, especially if your skills aren’t that unique.
For example, many people focus on being a freelance writer. After all, most people can write well enough to sell their services in this way. But, this also means the competition is huge.
As a result, being successful as a freelance writer often comes down to luck or having an unusual set of skills. One way of doing this is to specialize. So, you could focus on writing for internet marketers, which could involve learning about SEO and keyword research. Alternatively, you could look at other types of writing, like academic services or professional letters.
If your skill set is specialized enough then freelancing can be a good option for making money. However, it can still take a considerable amount of time until you get to the point where you have good clients and are making decent money.
The Challenge Of Clients
With freelancing, you are working for yourself and you certainly don’t have a boss that you report directly to. However, you’re not truly independent either.
In particular, you’re working for clients. Each client is going to have their own set of ideas about what they want and how they expect you to perform.
Now, you do have the ability to set many of your own rules and you some of the sites that you can freelance through will protect you as well. Nevertheless, dealing with clients can still be incredibly frustrating, especially as some can be unreasonable.
Selling Products Online
Another way to make money on your own is to sell products online. This is something that you can do with products that you create or with products that you buy and then resell.
In either case, the process of selling products online can work as a way to make money but it is also complicated. For one thing, you’re typically dealing with physical products.
This means that you have to store those items and ship them out when needed. You also have to list them in some way, which might be through a site like Amazon or eBay, or through your own website instead.
As a result, the workload will also increase as you sell more items. For that matter, expanding your business and your potential for profit typically means that you have to increase the number of items you sell. As such, it can be challenging to grow your business without dramatically increasing your workload at the same time.
Using Amazon FBA
You can reduce the workload somewhat if you’re relying on Amazon FBA. This program is something that Amazon offers and allows people to take advantage of Amazon’s warehouses.
Through Amazon FBA, you ship products to Amazon at the same time that you list them. Then, your items are stored at Amazon. When somebody makes a purchase, Amazon deals with the shipping and also manages various other aspects, like customer service and returns.
Amazon FBA is popular and it does cut down much of the workload associated with selling products online. In theory, the system can even be used for selling on sites other than Amazon, although it is most streamlined if you stick to Amazon.
Because your workload is lower, this system can allow you to grow a business more effectively. Likewise, you get to spend more time on the aspects that actually generate profit.
Nevertheless, Amazon FBA has disadvantages too and you do need to be careful when using it.
For one thing, Amazon has the ability to close accounts with little warning and there is often nothing that you can do about it. There are many different reasons why they may do so, including a concern that you are manipulating their system in some ways. Some people have even found their accounts closed through no fault of their own.
Additionally, there are various fees associated with Amazon FBA. The most significant of these is having to pay for each item you store with Amazon. Now, the fee per item is low and the process is often more cost effective than other storage solutions.
However, some of these fees increase over time, especially if you have items stored with Amazon for more than a year. Furthermore, Amazon will charge you if you want your items back or even if you want them destroyed.
The end result is that you can easily end up spending much more than you make if you have a lot of stock with Amazon that simply doesn’t sell. To get around this, you need to play carefully and not take too many risks.
What I do: Working For Myself As An Affiliate Marketer
One other way to make money as your own boss is through affiliate marketing. This method offers the flexibility that comes with working online, without the risk and workload that you find with selling products or freelancing.
This is also one of the few methods for making money where your workload doesn’t dramatically increase as your income does. The reason for this is that you aren’t directly selling products. Instead, you are basically promoting them.
You achieve this through affiliate links.
By avoiding direct sales to visitors of your website, you get around having to deal with physical products. This means that there is no storage or shipping to worry about and you don’t need to buy the products first either. Instead, you can just focus on promotion.
Affiliate marketers also have much more flexibility. In particular, you can change your products as you go and you can be promoting many different products at a given time.
There are also thousands of different affiliate programs out there, which will often offer many different products. As a result, you can make an affiliate marketing site on almost any topic that you can imagine.
The final cool thing about affiliate marketing is that it is an entry-level technique. This means that you don’t need any specific skills to be successful and you don’t need to invest much either. Instead, anyone can learn the basics of affiliate marketing if they’re willing to put in the time.
Once your initial website is set up, 90% of your work is researching and creating content. Anyone with an interest in the topic they've chosen for their site can manage to read and write on a topic they enjoy. It could range anything from anime cartoons, to beer drinking, to organic gardening or baby food recipes!