By far, conventional jobs (or ‘real’ jobs) are the most accepted ways to make money. Indeed, most people expect that they will make their living in this manner, regardless of their background, skills or experience. And, there certainly is something to be said for the standard approach.
Yet, being able to make money without getting a real job is also a realistic goal. In many cases, doing so may even be more desirable.
This post takes a look at how you can make money this way and also whether the process is actually worth it. After all, real jobs do have their advantages too and making money a different way doesn’t always end up how you’d expect.
Making A Living Online
Nowadays, the most effective way to avoid a real job is to work online. The internet has opened up a wide range of different income opportunities, many of which can be powerful.
For example, some people use sites like eBay, Amazon or Etsy to sell products to customers around the world. Doing so might include creating products of your own and then selling them, or sourcing items and reselling them at a higher price.
For some, the approach has offered a significant way to make money. However, there is also risk involved. In particular, your overheads may be significant, especially if you are buying the products. Likewise, you cannot always be certain that the products you’re promoting will actually sell.
Another method is choosing to sell services online, such as through freelancing. Doing so can work, although you have to deal with clients and the competition can often be intense.
Both of these techniques tend to involve relying on other sites, such as ones that match freelancers with clients, or sites that allow you to sell products. But, if you want to make a living online, having your own site is often a more powerful option.
With this, you could choose to host advertising or even sell your own products. Indeed, established sites can be effective in both of these areas.
However, to be successful with a new site, the idea of affiliate marketing is a much more powerful technique. Here, you don’t have to worry about actually owning any products and you don’t need to interact directly with customers.
Instead, you are promoting products from other companies. In many cases, those items may be popular in their own right and may come from respected brands. At the same time, you’re often providing information that people are actually interested in, such as which are the best products for a specific purpose or which brands are worth considering.
In the end, the potential of this approach is huge.
You may start small, getting just a little bit of traffic and earning some commissions here and there from sales. But, over time, you can grow the site and your reputation. For some, myself included, this growth gets to the point where you are making all of your income online.
These various methods show that you truly can make money without getting a real job. In fact, I’ve only skimmed the surface of this topic and there are many more methods out there.
For example, there are various sites that let you earn little bits of money for microtasks, such as surveys or data entry. I would never recommend those sites, as the amount you earn is horrible for the time you put. But still, they technically are methods for making money.
My personal recommendation is that you start with affiliate marketing. By far, this is the easiest field to begin in, especially as there are no physical products to worry about. The growth potential is also considerable and you can even start to outsource some tasks as you grow your business.
But, before we talk about getting started in this field, I want to discuss the idea of working outside of a real job.
The Realities Of Working Online
Working online is a glamorous idea and you’ve probably seen images of people working on the beach (which is actually a really bad plan) or from a hammock. Not having to worry about bosses and deadlines can seem amazing – not to mention being able to avoid alarm clocks.
But, working online isn’t as simple as that.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love making money without a real job and I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle for anything. Nevertheless, there are a lot of challenges to this field that aren’t obvious beforehand.
As a result, this type of business does suit some people better than others. For the right type of person, it can be an amazing break from the challenges of a traditional working environment.
But, for others, working online can actually be harder than holding down a normal job. So, it’s worth thinking about the challenges early on.
The lack of a schedule is a major advantage and disadvantage of working from home. This does sound great at first, as it means that you can sleep in, go out when you choose and have late nights. But, you do still have to get work done, which is where the process gets tricky. Having a good work ethic can be a real struggle.
For example, running a successful online business can easily take a few hours a day. Some people even work 8 hours a day, while others have different schedules again.
However, many hours you do, you’ve got to fit them in the day.
This can be hard to do, especially early on, as it’s tempting to simply push work off. Indeed, you’ll often end up without anything that you need to do but with lots of tasks that you probably should do.
That pattern is true for most online business approaches but it’s particularly relevant for affiliate marketing. After all, you don’t have any solid deadlines and nobody is forcing you to get content out on a specific schedule.
The simplest way around this issue is to actually develop a schedule or, at least, decide on a number of hours to work each day. For example, you might aim to do 5 hours of work each weekday, regardless of what happens.
Some people find they have to set a rigid schedule, much like you would if you were working a normal job. For example, that could involve getting up at 7 and working from 8am to 4pm. This can work well, although getting up early when you know you don’t have to isn’t always easy.
The overall goal is to figure out an approach that works for you and people vary in their solutions.
You Have To Self-Motivate
With no set deadlines, you also have to do all of your motivating yourself. For some people, this might not be an issue. But, for others, it can be an incredibly difficult challenge.
After all, with your own business, you don’t normally face obvious penalties for not doing a task. This is especially true with affiliate marketing, as you often don’t see the results of your work for days or weeks.
For that matter, you won’t always know which tasks resulted in positive outcomes for your site. This is especially true when it comes to traffic.
In particular, you might do a bunch of tasks to increase traffic, like social media outreach, link building, guest posting on other sites and keyword optimization. Doing so may increase your traffic but you’ll probably never know precisely which tasks helped.
This can make self-motivation tough and you may even talk yourself out of some tasks altogether. You can get around this by making some tasks non-negotiable and managing your schedule well. Still, if you’re not good at motivating yourself, an online business may not be the best fit.
The workplace is typically a key place for social interactions, even though that isn’t really the point. In some cases, people make friends in the workplace and may attend social events, like barbecues and end of year parties.
But, even if you don’t get that close to the people you work with, the workplace is still a place where you see people and have casual conversations. You lose that social connection entirely if you work from home.
There are ways around this, of course. For example, you could work from a coffee shop on some occasions (although this can get noisy and frustrating). You could also use your flexibility in timing to attend more social events.
Nevertheless, you do have to intentionally seek out other people. It’s easy to let this slide and become isolated without fully realizing it.
Maintaining A Work-Home Balance Is Tough
One final challenge is having a work-home balance. As I mentioned previously, some people will struggle with motivation, finding it hard to get work done when they need to.
If you have young children at home, you may also struggle to get uninterrupted time to work. Likewise, family and friends often don’t respect the idea of working from home and may turn up unannounced or expect you to be free to go out.
However, many people have the opposite problem and end up working much more than they probably should. With a normal job, there’s a clearly defined line between being at work and being at home. Some people do bring their work home with them but, most of the time, that’s a conscious decision.
In contrast, it’s extremely easy to work too much when you have an online business. For that matter, some people find themselves feeling guilty whenever they aren’t working, even if they had already done upwards of 50 or 60 hours that week.
Balancing your work and home life is certainly achievable and people differ in how they do so. But, it is a challenge to be aware of.
After all, if you’re desperate for your business to succeed you may want to put a lot of hours into it. Doing so is fine but not if you’re wearing yourself out in the process. Realistically, if you want long-term business success, then your effort needs to be sustainable. Burning yourself out won’t help you achieve that goal.
Getting Started In An Online Business
Even with the challenges above, making money online can be a great idea for many people. As I mentioned earlier, there are many different types of business, but the most powerful one is affiliate marketing.
Here, you get the advantages of working online, without the risk that comes with many other techniques. For that matter, affiliate marketing has a fairly low startup cost.
At the most basic level, there are two initial expenses for an affiliate marketing business. These are:
- Domain name
The rest of the work is just research and writing content. I learned how to write content that ranks at a site called Wealthy Affiliate. They really were pivotal in teaching how to go start from a dude just traveling China hoping to make some extra money on the side, to a full time business owner that can set my own schedule, decide what I want to work on each day, and create websites about things I personally find interesting.