Alternatively, you might be freelancing. This is less common nowadays, but over decades ago it was quite common to sell printers or vacuums door to door. Go back even further, and you'll be reminded that some people sold encyclopedias at your doorstep!
Sales is a frustrating field and can feel like a losing battle. Plus, trying to make people buy something they don’t want is never a fun process. This problem is why many people look for ways to make money without selling anything. As you can see from the photo above, one of the most dreaded jobs in the world is telemarketing – selling stuff that nobody wants.
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Making Money Without Selling Anything
So would it be possible to make money without selling anything? Of course!
There are plenty of jobs that just require you sit behind your desk, doing simple tasks. Furthermore, many high-skilled jobs like web design, scientific research, or management do not require any sales experience at all.
Option 1: Working For Somebody Else
The simplest way to avoid selling things is to work for somebody else. This includes working within a conventional job and also working in other settings, such as being a contractor or being employed online.
Needless to say, working for someone else truly is a huge field. There are many different types of jobs and roles out there, far too many for me to even consider covering. But, I don’t really need to either. Instead, you will have run across many options in your day-to-day environment.
For example, you could work as a secretary, a teacher, a construction worker or a driver, and the list just goes on. However, I doubt you’re reading this post because you’re interested in a conventional job. Instead, you may be looking for some income on the side or perhaps you’re trying to get out of the ‘rat race’ entirely.
So, as I mentioned before, you can also work for people online.
One method for this is freelancing. However, there is a degree of sales involved here, as you have to promote your work and actually get people interested. Essentially this means that you are selling your skills. Doing so is achievable but many people aren’t successful.
A key challenge with freelancing is competition. There are so many people trying a similar approach and many of them are promoting the same skills.
Even if you have what it takes, it can take a long time to get a foothold in the field. Until you do, you may struggle to find work or be earning at a low rate. This means that you need to weigh up the pros and cons before you invest too much time in freelancing.
Alternatively, you might try joining a site that is actively hiring. In this case, you would be kind of like an employee but you wouldn’t have the same benefits. Additionally, the actual income is likely to be very low.
For example, there are multiple sites that you can join and do data entry. In most cases, these are legitimate and you can actually earn money.
But, the work itself ends up being incredibly tedious. Often it isn’t really data entry in the traditional sense anyway. Instead, you’re attempting to decipher and enter CAPTCHAs, over and over again.
Sure, it’s simple work but I guarantee you would be sick of it long before you’d even been working on it for an hour. The pay for doing so also tends to be absolutely horrible. For example, you might be earning just a few dollars per hour and less if you didn’t get all the CAPTCHAs right.
Other sites tend to operate in a similar manner (they're often called microtasking sites, Amazon Turk is one example). For that matter, there aren’t many sites out there that hire people and actually pay them well. That’s no real surprise, as if they were paying decently, they’d probably just hire regular employees instead.
Additionally, any site that does pay well is typically looking for specific skills and/or experience. If you have what they’re looking for, you may be able to make some money. However, most people probably don’t.
Making Money From Other Types Of Sites
There are also many other sites that offer the potential to make money online. Many of these do require either sales or recruitment but there are also some that don’t.
In particular, one common approach is a site where you are doing tasks to earn money. I’m not talking specifically about work like data entry here but instead about other methods. Typically, these are approaches that don’t sound like work and seem too good to be true (which means that they are).
This idea is commonly seen with survey sites, where you fill out surveys on a regular basis and earn some money for each one. There are many different sites like this online and new ones continue to be released. Surprisingly, they also remain popular, probably because most of the survey sites do pay out, to some degree.
But, like data entry work, you’re not earning much. You also end up wasting a lot of time as you will get screened out of some surveys and won’t be eligible for others.
With survey sites, members may make $20 every month or two but that’s normally about it. So, the idea is okay for a little spending money here and there. However, you can’t ever make significant income from them.
These sites (and some others) also let you earn money by other approaches, like playing games and watching videos. Both of those ideas sound great but again, the pay is relatively low. For that matter, when it comes to games you either have to be skilled or very lucky to make money.
Another different type of site is one that lets you make money listening to music. Sites like Slice the Pie, Unique Radio and Music Xray all make this claim, although they don’t operate or pay quite the same.
Still, the end result is similar to surveys. You can earn money but don’t expect it to be much. For example, Slice the Pie has you review songs and pays up to $0.20 per song, although the actual payout is considerably lower.
Once again, this means that the sites work okay as a little money on the side. But, there’s no way that you could rely on them as a good source of income.
A slightly different option is sites that pay you simply for doing what you would normally do anyway. For example, some sites offer income for browsing the internet, typically through a specific browser or app.
One example is Microsoft Rewards, which seems to be Microsoft’s way to get people using their Edge browser. With this program, you also earn points for spending money in the Windows Store or completing offers. But again, the income is on the low side.
Additionally, companies that give you money to browse are typically paying you for your data. As such, they gather some information from your browsing activity.
In theory, none of that information can be directly associated with you. But still, the pattern is concerning in terms of privacy and you don’t really know what the company will use your information for.
There are many other sites out there that work in a similar way. I’m not going to go into all of these here, mostly because there are simply too many of them.
But, when it comes down to it, any site that has you doing menial or basic tasks will always pay very little. After all, they wouldn’t be making a profit if they did anything else.
Turning To Affiliate Marketing
One final way of making money without selling anything is affiliate marketing.
Now, admittedly, affiliate marketing is on the borderline with this topic. Technically speaking, affiliate marketers don’t sell items, which means that you don’t have to buy any products yourself and you don’t need to maintain a shopping cart.
However, you are promoting items. Because of this, some of the processes do end up being similar to selling products. For example, you might write product reviews and recommend that people purchase a specific item. Alternatively, you may end up listing the best products of a given type.
But, this process doesn’t need to be difficult or stressful.
For one thing, you’re not working on a hard sell. In fact, many affiliate marketers write their content based on the phrases that people use to search online. This means that a post on the ‘best cameras under $100’ targets people who were looking for exactly that information.
As a result, your content may not feel like a sales pitch at all. Instead, you’re providing people with valuable information about a topic that they were already interested in.
At the same time, you’re providing them with a link where they can go buy the item. Again, this is useful information and it’s often exactly what the visitor is looking for.
Now, that link is how you make money. Basically, the link directs people to where they can make a purchase. It is also directly associated with you. So, if somebody makes a purchase after following the link, you get some money.
For that matter, you might even earn money if a person clicks on the link and buys a completely different product from the company. This often happens with Amazon, partly because Amazon is great at selling products.
The end result is that affiliate marketing can help your visitors just as much as it can help you. The soft sales approach also means that you can simply focus on providing quality content and useful information, if that’s the direction you want to go in.
Basically, you get to choose how much you focus on sales. So, if there is a strong connection between what people search and what you are promoting, hardly any sales pitch is needed.
However, if you’re trying to convince people to buy something else entirely or to get a product they’ve never heard of, you may need a more elaborate sales approach. But, the choice is up to you.
Affiliate marketing is a flexible field and you get to pick which type of product you focus on and the style of site you produce. This lets you define the audience that you’re targeting and precisely how you do so.