There are hundreds of articles online claiming to help you earn money online. Some even claim that you can become rich in under a year.
Most of the people who write about these make money by telling you how to make money. Ironic, isn’t it?
You need to know the truth.
There are only very limited ways to make money online. And most of them are not easy.
The first online money I made was in 2006 when I got my first transfer to my PayPal account for clicking on ads. I have come a long way since then. I have made tens of thousands of dollars from affiliate and consulting income.
In this post, I’ll cover the genuine ways you can earn money through the internet.
5 Ways You Should NOT Waste Time Trying to Make Money
First, I am going to first cover the ways which you should not attempt to make money.
#1: Online Typing/ Data Entry Jobs
It is difficult to find genuine websites that pay you for doing online data entry. Most are scam sites. Even the genuine ones do not have enough ongoing work for you to make a steady income from these sites
#2: Pay to click on ads/read emails
The time and effort you put into clicking on ads, for the money you earn, is not worth it. The minimum amount required to withdraw is too high that most people leave halfway.
#3: Micro Jobs
Most of the micro-jobs are not available for Indians. Even if available, the amount you make is very low compared to the effort you need to put in.
Fiverr is an exception to this. It’s genuine and some people do make enough money to cover their monthly expenses. But it most likely won’t be big enough to quit your full-time job.
#4: Share Trading
Many people recommend trading as a way to get rich. Let me tell you something. Trading is not a way to get rich.
First, it takes money to make money through trading. You need to put in a lot of effort. Be prepared to lose the entire money you put into trading.
If trading is your only source of income, you can run into problems. Especially if you are dealing with futures/margin trading.
#5: Paid Surveys
Several sites online claim to pay for filling out survey forms.
The theory is simple. Companies need to collect research data. They are willing to pay people to fill these survey forms. You get a cut of the advertising fees.
Most surveys are for the American citizens. If you are from India, the surveys available is limited. Payout per survey for Indians will be very low. Sometimes, you will be paid as low as Rs 5 per survey which takes up to 15 minutes to complete.
9 Genuine Ways to Earn Money Online
#1: Become a freelance service provider
What does a freelancer do?
A freelancer provides services to clients in exchange for money. There are various freelancing opportunities- from writing articles to developing complex mobile apps. You can make money in any area as long as someone is willing to pay for your services.
How do you get freelance work?
Freelance work that usually pays well comes from references or existing clients. If you do not have existing clients, register on the various freelancing sites online.
Some of the genuine sites for freelancing:
How much investment do you need to make money from freelancing?
Investment depends on the freelancing job you take up.
If you offer design services, you will need a good laptop. You’ll also need design software like Photoshop or Sketch. If you are developing mobile apps, you’ll need to be able to test your work on various mobile devices.
#2: Consult for small businesses
What does a consultant do?
You can be a consultant in any field. As long as people are willing to pay for your expertise, you can call yourself a consultant.
A consultant is similar to a freelancer. A lot of times, a consultant might not do the entire work by themselves. Consultants are experts in their field who can define new strategies or fine-tune existing ones.
If you are a tech consultant, you might do code reviews. You could also suggest what changes the team needs to do to make the product faster. If you are a marketing consultant, you might give the marketing team a blueprint to follow.
How do you get consulting work?
Getting consulting work is similar to how you get freelance work. The best way to get consulting work is to generate inbound leads.
If you are a marketing consultant, speak at marketing events and build a following. Once people know that you are an expert, they will reach out to you.
If you are a tech consultant, participate in tech workshops/hackathons to get your name out there.
Writing a blog is also a very good way to showcase your expertise and draw inbound interest.
What investment do you need to make?
A consultant needs to put in much more investment compared to a freelancer. You can use the initial investment to build your personal brand.
The first few workshops/talks need to be free. You’ll need to network with people and build an audience online through your blog. Do a few consulting gigs for free to get testimonials.
Don’t forget to buy a good laptop that can last long on a single charge. As a consultant, you need to travel a lot. Running out of charge should be the last thing you need to worry about. I recommend that you buy the MacBook Air 13 inch 128 GB.
#3: Affiliate marketing
There is a product which you recommend. People buy the product based on your recommendation. You get paid a small commission for the sale through your recommendation. That’s affiliate marketing.
From mobile phones to digital courses, just about everything has an affiliate program. You will need to sign up for the affiliate program of the product you want to promote. Once people sign up/buy using your link, you will be paid a commission.
To succeed at affiliate marketing, you need:
- Authority – You need to build a trustworthy online presence. People are not going to buy something just because you recommended it. Think about Sachin Tendulkar recommending a cricket bat. People would buy it without blinking an eye.
- Patience – It’s not going to happen overnight. Be ready to work long hours during the initial days to build your credibility.
- Audience – You need to be able to reach out to people. Make sure you have an online presence and an email list. When people come to your website, entice them with an offer to sign up for your email list.
#4: Drop Shipping
What if you have an online store like Flipkart or Amazon. People come to your website and buy something from it. They pay the money and order get confirmed.
So far, so good?
Now, you need to ship the product to the customer. Here is where drop shipping becomes very enticing.
In a drop shipping model, you do not need to own the inventory. Once the order is placed, the order will be passed on to the company producing the item and they will ship it for you.
Hold on. There is a catch.
First, you need to tie up with reliable merchants who will ship the product for you. Alibaba is a good place to source merchants.
Second, you need a system which will automatically pass on the orders to the merchant. Shopify is an e-commerce storefront built for drop shipping business.
Third, you need to take care of returns in case customers receive a defective/wrong product.
Drop shipping is similar to running an e-commerce business. The main difference here is that you do not own the inventory nor do you ship it.
#5: Blogging / Vlogging
While blogging is not a business model in itself, blogging can be a medium to earn money online. It can help you establish your online presence.
You can generate money through advertising, paid reviews, affiliate marketing etc. When I used to consult for small businesses, my primary source of leads was my blog.
Vlogging or Video Blogging is a form of blogging where you use video to communicate your message.
Youtube is the popular publishing platform for vlogging. Since there’s an existing audience, it is easier to get the word out and build a following.
Whether you do video blogging or text-based, it’s important to have your own website. You should first publish content on your own site. Once published, syndicate the content to networks like YouTube, LinkedIn, etc.
WordPress is my recommended solution for hosting your blog. I have used Siteground and their WordPress hosting solution is great value for money. If you are technically inclined, Linode is another great option. This blog, RupeeTip, is hosted on Linode.
#6: Self Publish book on Amazon
Self-publishing is a quick and easy way to publish your book and earn money through sales. While it scores on the ease-of-doing-business front, it misses out on the marketing muscle of traditional publishers.
- Promoting the book yourself: You can promote within your friends’ circle or do paid advertisements on Google/Facebook. If you have an existing audience, you can promote it to them.
- Proofreading and Copy Editing: You need to hire a professional editor to review your work. Most people cannot find all the mistakes in their own work. It’s best to take outside help for editing and proofreading.
- Looking professional: Since self-publishing is very easy, everyone is doing it. You need to be able to stand out. There are thousands of books that flood the market. Why should people buy your book? Apart from great content, your book presentation should also be professional. This means a professional looking book cover, book name, etc.
#7: Teach Online
There are dozens of sites that let you create a course online or become an online tutor. You can charge a reasonable fee. If you are good at teaching, you should consider this path.
Some of the sites to create courses/register as a tutor:
#8: Virtual Assistant
There is a huge demand for virtual assistants. From doing data entry to web research, people are willing to hire virtual assistants to do the job.
Due to the dollar conversion rates, it’s cheaper for people abroad to hire Indians. It helps that most Indians are incredibly smart too.
You can get virtual assistant jobs from the freelancing sites mentioned earlier.
#9: Transcription Jobs
Can you comprehend American or British accent? Can you translate it to written content? If yes, you may be able to take up transcription jobs from home.
From simple translation of audio/video to creating subtitles, there are a lot of options for transcription jobs. Some require domain knowledge – medical transcription for example.
Some sites that provide transcription jobs
Most freelance sites list transcription services. There are a few dedicated sites for transcription services as well.
There are many ways to earn money on the internet. Some difficult, some relatively easier. Pick an option and stick with it for a while. Success with an online business is never an overnight sensation. It takes a lot of time and effort.
Don’t fall for quick rich schemes. Remember the golden saying: If it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.