Thursday, 29 October 2015

Slow Inroads Into Online Money Making

The good thing about keeping a blog on this type of topic is that it keeps you "honest". That is, you can state one week that you focus for the coming week is X and realize that you have to justify the reason why you took the Y route.

We all have ideas and intentions but unless there's a bit of energy and action to back them, they simply remain as ideas and intentions. So I find myself writing this having not touched the information marketing product space at all. That's potentially one week of passive income I've thrown away. Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic but that's the principle.

To be fair, I did intend to work on the information marketing side but I was a bit under the weather for a few days so was sidelined. I also had a few distractions.

One of which was writing for Scripted - editing a previously offered piece, in addition to creating one fresh "How To" article. So that's a few extra dollars ($28), which is nice.

The other distraction was working on an Elance test I had received. I've been put on a three-person short list for a specific job. The job itself is a long-term freelance gig that involves compiling a weekly report. So in order to get the gig, I needed to work hard on my test report.

The trouble with all that is that the test also showed that I really hate reading instructions! Spell them out in person, put them in video form, give me pretty pictures. All fine. But physically having to read them and work through them simply shows up the learning style that works least for me.

And to add to that, having to reconcile numbers and words in a coherent format is also not my strong suit. Suffice to say, the task took a hell of a lot longer than it really should have.

Maybe if I get the gig I'll be able to sail through it all, now that I've worked through the basics. And the money being offered isn't crazy bad ($15/hour). But that's time taken away from me investing in my business, it's time doing something that I may intrinsically struggle with, and it's time doing something that I really don't find interesting.

Let's see how this plays out.


Thursday, 22 October 2015

Progress in Online Earnings

Another week goes by and still not an online millionaire...

Actually, this week has given me a few interesting insights into the world of online earnings. There's just so much information out there pitching variations on the same themes it's sometimes hard to work out what's relevant and what's not.

I'm yet to launch my information marketing product, and maybe there has been a bit of procrastination, but I think I've got a framework to work with now. My goal by the end of the year is to (hopefully) have two or three sites running that allow me to monetize information products, whether products I create myself or those of affiliates. It sounds like a good idea anyway!
Online income
Slow inroads into writing online

But I've also found myself with a few added online writing distractions this week. The thing about a lot of these marketplace sites like PeoplePerHour and Elance is that sometimes you put your profile online and leave it there, barely marketing yourself. You kind of hope to be found because either you don't know how to, don't want to or are too lazy to market yourself to your target audience.

It's not really the most reliable way of getting business unless you get lucky. Well, I got lucky. Initially I was offered a one-off content job on PeoplePerHour, playing on my finance background. I completed the task and left it at that. However, the company subsequently came back to offer a daily writing gig.

It's not crazy amounts of money, and I really should have been more disciplined in my negotiations, but once it starts it should provide me with more structure to my online income. It will give me a base level to guide my negotiations from now on. I looked far and wide online and couldn't gauge how much I should be paid. I guess it's all about what the market (or client) will take.

This new gig will also give me something else to leverage for additional clients. I need to build up my portfolio and this will help with that. The daily task shouldn't take me too long either and a few hundred dollars extra per month will be gratefully received.

It will also still give me the opportunity to continue to bid for jobs on the marketplace sites, as well as dipping into Fiverr, Zazzle and Postloop, with the latter very indirectly putting me on the path to a lot of my online earnings. A lot of this is very much down to trial and error. But as is becoming very apparent, at the same time, it's about getting yourself out there.

So I guess it's been a successful week for me online, at least in terms of future business. Maybe more by chance than design, but progress nonetheless. Now I just need to get a handle on the information marketing world and I'll be flying...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Online Income Odyssey Continues

Recent endeavors to build an income stream online have taken a detour (again). I’ve managed to do a couple of writing gigs via PeoplePerHour and Scripted in recent weeks. But my intention of trying to focus on high-value opportunities has stuttered this month but for a good reason.

One of my big principles behind earning money online (in fact, earning money in general) is to create passive income streams.

The dream of being able to work anywhere on my own terms and to be able to earn money while sleeping was first planted in my head when I read Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki’s seminal work on moving away from a “trading your time for money” mindset to one where assets work for you. It’s what led me to buy an investment property some time back (which thankfully is doing well) and has got me thinking a lot over the years about building online businesses.

As a result, much of my recent time has been invested in learning as much as I possibly can about information product marketing. We all have knowledge of some sort, we all have life experiences and we all have skills. It’s all about finding the right way in which to package this content and delivering the information to an audience willing to purchase what you have to offer.

Obviously, it’s easier said than done. Still, with a bit of hard work and a nice slice of luck hopefully I’ll make some inroads. I did get a lot of great insights from FredGleeck.com, which even offers a free course. On top of that I’ve been trying to sweat what I can for free out of a number of other sources: Pat Flynn's fabulous Smart Passive Income site; The Official Get Rich Guide to Information Marketing: Build a Million Dollar Business Within 12 Months (which I borrowed from the library); the Rise to the Top podcast; and so on.

I’ve certainly pivoted again from the path I originally set out on with these blogs, though I will still be looking into the more conventional online earning opportunities. But I really do feel that looking into the information product space is more representative of where I want to be in the future – a path that may allow me to take control of my destiny.

Hopefully I’ll be able to juggle both the long-term investment concept and nearer-term high-value opportunities. That’s the plan anyway.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Online Income Challenge: Slowly Does It...

So October has kicked in and so has my online challenge: shift from lower-end online income opportunities to higher-end ones and see what the world brings me.

Well, so far the world hasn't brought me a whole lot... The good thing about dwelling in the low-end world is that there's very often a lot to go around. Yes, those bits may be scraps rather than caviar, but they are bits nonetheless.
Principle tools for online income

And so I've got to really wean myself off the false economy of earning pennies here and there. Or rather, wean myself off of focusing only on this space at the expense of better opportunities. It's all too easy to take the path of least resistance.

The thing is, we'd all like to have prime quality steak served up to us on a platter but sometimes you just have to accept that there's only Burger King on offer. In small doses that's fine. It's a guilty pleasure.

The trouble comes when you start looking at a Whooper in the same light as you would a rib eye. That's why I'm doing this exercise. And to stretch this metaphor just a little further, hopefully some of the freelance work that I'm viewing as rib eye right now will feel like Whoppers to me further down the road and I'll be ready to move up another level...

So this last week I've been pitching proposals on PeoplePerHour, Elance and Freelancer. They're not Vogue or Harpers and Queens but they're a start. Some of the proposals relate to article writing, others relate to CV/resume reformatting.

While I think I have a reasonable chance of winning one or two of the writing bids (I'd like to think), a couple of the others are pretty fanciful. For example, I think I might have bitten off more than I can chew with the gig asking to write up someone's Finance PhD dissertation...Let's see, shall we?!

But until I pick up traction on any of these sites (i.e. get accepted for jobs and get decent ratings for people to want to work with me again) I'm just going to have to keep putting myself out there. It's a pretty competitive world so it may take time. Ultimately, though, I simply see it as an investment now for greater returns later (hopefully). And it's all about having the right perspective.

The joys of the freelance world... 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Setting Online Challenges

One of the big issues with working online is that a lot of the time you'll find yourself working by yourself, with no boss hovering over you with a carrot or a stick.

The problem with that, of course, is that there are plenty of times you have to be motivated/focused/disciplined and so on. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to do. It's not easy unless you have in place a system or process that makes you accountable, allows you to measure how well (or not) you're doing and challenges you to be more motivated/focused/disciplined and so on.

And so to my challenge for October. I've decided that the path of least resistance is all too easy for me and some of the microjobs I've been investing in, while reasonably enjoyable (e.g. Postloop), aren't moving the dial much in terms of challenging myself or incrementally changing my financial situation.

So my goal for the month is to pause on some of my easier, lower-value opportunities and invest that time in some of the tougher to monetize but more rewarding options. Although I'm not guaranteed to see the fruits of labor manifest in October, I've decided to set myself a financial target of $500 for the month.

Bearing in mind I have other ventures on the go and I've only ever got close to $100 in a week once before, it's going to be a stretch. But unless I push myself (and publicly) I'm going to default back to the false economy of some of the easier options.

As Tony Robbins likes to say: "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got."

So I'm excited to see what I can learn about the online space over the month. And what I can learn about myself. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Online Progress Report

So my journey into the online earnings space continues.

This week has been fairly mixed in terms of successes. Having signed up for the writing site Scripted a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have been accepted for a couple of writing streams there. I’ll review the site here in due course, but essentially if you have a ‘specialist’ skill or knowledge you can sign up for work streams aligned with those talents.

The interesting thing about earning money online is that there’s plenty of trial and error involved. You can plant the seeds weeks, months or maybe even years earlier and only now start to see the fruits of your labor. Such is life.

And that’s how it’s been with some of my Fiverr gigs. A couple of them that have been on the site for much of the year and have barely attracted any interest, and yet one gig (unsurprisingly connected with ways in which to make money) has attracted a disproportionate amount of interest. The lesson here is to find what works and what people are interested in, and invest the time in those areas.

I’ve also learned that you’ve got to be quick. That doesn’t mean putting together a haphazard, sub-standard offering, but you’ve got to appreciate that other people may work along different time horizons to yourself.


This reared its head this week when I bid for a job on PeoplePerHour. Essentially, it was for reviewing and re-writing a CV and the accompanying cover letters. Two days after putting my bid in I received a request from the buyer requesting a bit more information on me. 

Foolishly I decided to sleep on it and respond in the morning. It wasn’t as if I was rushed off my feet or anything, it was simply that I didn’t prioritize things correctly. I woke up this morning to find out that the job had been given to someone else even before I had responded. You snooze, you lose.

So for now I’m going to work on the various existing online opportunities I have, plus see what traction I can get from Scripted. And I’ll also apply a bit more urgency to situations as well…


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Making Money Online - My Journey

It only just occurred to me that I’ve been at this online earnings game for a little over a year now. So how has it gone? Not brilliantly…

To be honest, one of my biggest issues has been a lack of structure and focus. In addition to being distracted by offline job hunting and business endeavors, I also find myself jumping from one shiny new thing to the next:
  • “Earn $50 in a day” – great, I’ll try that.
  • “Affiliate marketing made easy” – cool, let me read up on that.
  • “How to make money blogging” – fantastic, I need to put some of these ideas in place.

And so it’s played out. A diffusion of time, energy and focus. To be honest, I still haven’t sussed what strategy works best for me. There are so many interesting, challenging, empowering and exciting ways to earn an income online I feel I’ve only scraped the surface.


I have a feeling it will be a long time before you’ll see me writing about working online from a beach in Bali. But on my journey, I guess there are a handful of things that I’ve already learned:

It is possible to make money online. This might seem obvious to a lot of people, but when I first decided to try I honestly didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know the process at all, whether it was going to be too difficult, whether I had the right skills and so on. I started reading books on the topic about two years ago but only got round to trying a year ago. In fact, my first goal was to find a way to earn $1 online. One single dollar.  Looking back I think, “Wow - only $1?”, but it was a whole new world for me, like it will be for some of you.

You’ll find scam artists out there. I haven’t come across many and the vast majority of opportunities have been genuine. But the few I have fallen upon have disappointed me. Disappointed me in terms of: “Why would you do that?” Too many people out there are looking to cut corners at the expense of other people. Not nice. My due diligence process now is simply to put the name of the site into Goggle followed by the word “scam”. That way you get to read other people’s experiences.

The more value you can offer, the more you can earn. This applies both online and offline. In the online space I noticed that many of the better-paid freelance writing opportunities, for example, were for those that had a specific skill or knowledge. If you are able to add value to someone’s life you’re likely to be able to earn more. “Value” itself can be subjective but very loosely those able to create wealth or improve someone’s health are likely to offer more than someone that writes on celebrity gossip.

If you know more than someone else, you have something to offer. As a continuation of the previous point, those that can be defined as “experts” can earn more. What is an expert? Well, in the context of online, to me it’s someone that knows more than the individual reading it, or at the very least has access to information to give the impression they know more. Maybe that sounds a bit crass. But how often have you Googled a topic, read a well-written article and taken it as a truth? Online you can be a genius.

Race to the bottom – you choose. There are a lot of marketplace sites that have sellers offering services for rock-bottom prices. That’s the charm and curse of the internet. Service providers are all over the world, some of whom live in low-cost countries. It’s great if you’re a buyer but can be a challenge if you live in, for example, the US where the cost of living is higher. So if you do see a freelance role or microjob you are capable of doing, it’s really up to you whether you’re willing to work for lower fees. Not everyone is willing to write a 500-word article for $2. Some people will be.

Believe you can make money. This isn’t meant to be a call for positive thinking (though I really do love that space). No, it’s more a very basic statement that links back to my first point. I didn’t have a clue how to make money online when I first started out. But there really are some very basic, simple ways to make money. If you have the ability to read this article (and hence read instructions provided on the relevant sites) you can certainly make money online.

I will continue to do reviews on those sites with which I have found success (or not). But I also want to record my journey here as well, noting down what I’ve learned, what I've messed up, the frustrations and the knock backs. 

I’m anything but perfect in this world. But I’m guessing that most of those that have got to the end of this article are in a similar space as well.


Let the games begin!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Picky Domains Review: For Creative Minds

Do you ever come up with catchy names for websites? Do you want to get aid for it?

That essentially is what Picky Domains is all about. It’s a site that gives you the opportunity to provide unique domain names for companies willing to pay you for it. If they choose it, they’ll pay you from $27.50 up to (from what I’ve seen) $68.75. Even if they simply “Like” it you can earn a few cents here and there. The higher your ranking, the more opportunities you have.

What do I like?

It lets you be creative. As long as you can find domain name that haven’t already been taken you can let your creative juices flow and keep on making name suggestions. This site is all about being creative. Companies need someone else to provide the ideas and that could be you.

Earn $30 for reviewing the site. I haven’t been able to sign up for this option, given that I don’t meet all the criteria (and as a result this review is probably more balanced than most). But if you do, it could be an easy $30 for you. 

What is more challenging?

No guarantees of being selected. You can suggest as many times as you want but if the company doesn’t like it all that effort is wasted. Let’s face it, all the best .com names are already taken so you may have to scramble around for names that might interest the client.

You can’t cash out until you make $20. Imagine that you’ve offered up hundreds of different ideas but none of them are taken up. Frustrating right? Yes. But if some of them are liked but none of them are actually converted into full on sales, you won’t be able to cash in until you reach $20. They pay $0.15 to $0.38 per each “Like”. So to cash out, that’s a lot of “Likes”.

Payout may take a while. In the Terms and Conditions it mentions that contributors get paid within 30-45 days after payment has been requested. But under “Payout changes” there is a mention from 2013 of all payouts to contributors being done within a 14 day period, so I’m not entirely sure. It’s a bit confusing and I can’t remember as it’s been a while since I had the opportunity to get a payout. They do pay through PayPal, which is a plus, but if it is 30-45 days that’s a bit of a long waiting period.


To me, this is a site you should treat as a bit of fun. You won’t be able to make a lot out of it (unless you are a complete creative wordsmith). I’ve only managed to sell one name so I realize the limitations with it. Still, if you have a few spare minutes here and there, you can simply do it while watching television.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

PeoplePerHour Review: Another Marketplace

I've recently tried my luck with PeoplePerHour, so while my interest is still hot I thought it would be worth putting down a few thoughts.

The interesting thing about all of these marketplace-type of sites for freelance talent is that they reflect the new world we live in. Companies and individuals simply want to outsource whatever they can, and rest assured there is someone out there willing and very able to provide the service. As a result, if you don't get lucky on this site, there are plenty of others out there to help you out.

Well, this site is another provider of this kind of service. You’ve seen it before: buyers looking for sellers, sellers looking for buyers, you get rated for the job you do, payment is done via PayPal.

So what do I like?

Targeting quality. One good thing about this site from the perspective of the buyer and the seller is that you have to be approved to join and I’m guessing the filter system is far more stringent than, say, Fiverr. That in turn means that (in theory) a buyer of a service will get better quality service providers, while service providers can charge a little more.

There are plenty of jobs. It’s maybe not exclusive to this site at all, but having fished around in categories that I’m not very familiar with it does look like there’s a wide availability of tasks to do across the board.   

Options of fixed prices or hourly rates. Depending on what type of tasks you want to undertake, you can sell your services on a fixed price basis or base it on an hourly rate. It’s great to have this flexibility. So far I’ve only looked into the fixed rates.

Affiliate program. You can earn $45 each time you invite a friend and they start their first project on the site. Along with that your friend will get a 5% discount voucher too. This has to be done via providing email details as opposed to using an affiliate link. 

What is more of a challenge?

It’s competitive. Getting rid of some of the lesser-quality service providers is a good thing in many ways. Unfortunately, that means you’re likely to be competing against some individuals with decent quality portfolios and lots of experience. That said, it’s probably not a bad thing or anything different to a lot of other marketplace sites.

Not everyone gets accepted. As mentioned before, PeoplePerHour does have a filter system which ensures that not everyone is accepted as a seller on it. In fact, once you have signed up you are also given a set period of time in which you can “qualify as a trusted member of our community”. To achieve that goal you need to make two sales receiving an average 4+ rating over the period. I’m currently on one 5-rating sale (which is why I thought I’d get this comment in now in case I don’t make my second sale…).

Anyway, I’m going to keep this review brief because: 1) I haven’t really worked hard on building any business on the site so far and haven't navigated around a great deal, even though I intend to; 2) If I don’t sort something out in coming weeks I’ll fail my probation period and I’ll be gone anyway…


Watch this space.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Clickworker Review: Click Your Way to a Few Dollars

There are plenty of sites online worth reviewing that offer “micro jobs” for people wanting to earn a quick few extra dollars here and there. These are essentially simple online tasks commissioned by various companies but hosted on specific sites. 

Many of these tasks require little or no form of expertise and can vary from anything from providing a “like” on Facebook pages, checking search engine results for a topic, or gauging the quality of a voice recording. There are dozens upon dozens of variations on this theme.


One site I’ve dabbled a fair bit with is Clickworker. It's based out of Europe but accepts people from direct geographies (though not all geographies). On the site there are plenty of really low-paying $0.01 per click type of gigs. I'm sure they are fine to do. But if you are willing to take a few tests you can qualify for some of the higher-paying options.

So what are the good bits and the challenges?

Good bits:

Not overly taxing. You don’t need to have particular qualifications to do most of the tasks. Simply read the instructions and make sure that you apply yourself. Sometimes you need good judgement, sometimes you need good hearing. If your quality falls, Clickworker might stop you doing the task. So you have to be consistent.

If there’s plenty of work you might make a bit of money. The best I made in any given day was $60. Ok, it’s not as if you can put your feet up and retire on this money but it’s something you can earn sitting in front of the television.

There’s a good affiliate program.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I want to be transparent when I direct people to an individual site where there’s an affiliate program in place. When you recommend Clickworker to a friend or acquaintance, for each newly registered clickworker who earns 10.00, you earn 5.00.  So if you do decide to join this site, I would be very appreciative if you do so via the link here: Join Clickworker

Challenges:

Some of the tasks are, well, dull. Because it’s not overly intellectually taxing it can be dull, dull, dull. I don’t want to pretend that it’s all rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes I have a low boredom threshold. Strangely enough the $60 task I mentioned was actually fairly interesting, qualifying some data on a number of websites. So it’s about picking on choosing those tasks.

Sometimes there aren’t tasks available. I would say that if I’m lucky there will be at least a couple of dollars for me to make two out of every three times I check. To be fair, I would be able to do task virtually every day if I tried to qualify myself for all the tasks available. But I don’t really want to be dragged into the really lower-end tasks.

Some of the tasks are, errr, obscure. So, a lot of the time you are asked to critique the essence of a website. It could be asking whether the site is aimed at adults or children. Or men or women. But be warned: for those of a sensitive nature, some of the sites can contain adult content. Clickworker does warn you about this in advance, but not all tasks are created equally  

How have I done?

I’ve made a bit of money out of it. The copy-paste below is from the last few months, though I've been earning through this site since the beginning of the year. 

Give it a go (Join Clickworker). It pays through PayPal every 30 days. It quotes a lot of stuff in dollars but it generally pays in euros. So there's currency conversion for you to consider. Unfortunately, they don't accept workers from all geographies.

My Report

Summary
Judge ID:
Judge alias:
Report date: from 2015-06-01 to 2015-08-08
Judging rate: 222.2 hits/hour
Total time: 19.58 hour
(Refreshed every 20 minutes)
Show/Hide Details

Incentive History
Top of Form
Start Date:       End Date:       
Current time: 2015-08-08 02:15:29 AM PDT      
Report generated: 2015-08-08 01:55:16 AM PDT      
Template:

Hitapp
Judgments done
Valid judgments
Judging hours
Judgments/hr
Potential earnings
Incentive Earnings
Raffle Tickets
Total
    Headline SBS
   
   

38
31
0.15
257.8
$1.24
$0.00
0
$1.24
   
   

26
22
0.20
132.3
$0.88
$0.00
0
$0.88
   
   

57
46
0.54
105.5
$1.84
$0.00
0
$1.84
   
   

5
5
0.07
69.2
$0.20
$0.00
0
$0.20
   
   

3604
3489
12.97
277.9
$139.56
$0.00
0
$139.56
   
   

37
37
0.89
41.7
$7.03
$0.00
0
$7.03
   
   

29
29
0.72
40.2
$5.51
$0.00
0
$5.51
   
   

2
0
0.05
40.7
$0.00
$0.00
0
$0.00
   
   

47
23
0.75
62.3
$3.45
$0.00
0
$3.45
   
   

1
1
0.05
20.0
$0.50
$0.00
0
$0.50
   
   

128
124
0.60
213.9
$8.68
$0.00
0
$8.68
   
   

1
1
0.01
78.7
$0.04
$0.00
0
$0.04
   
   

31
18
0.10
311.2
$0.90
$0.00
0
$0.90
   
   

345
340
2.49
138.7
$34.00
$0.00
0
$34.00