Online side hustles are tempting, especially if you could do with an extra couple hundred bucks a month and want to fill up a few extra hours. What’s more, there are plenty of ways you can (theoretically) make money online.
However, before moving on I would really like to get one thing straight:
There’s no such thing as ‘quick’ money.
The Internet is full of promises and most of them are bogus. Generating cash isn’t impossible but having a plan is still paramount. Even as a fulltime worker, you’ve got to think of yourself as a business. Naturally, that means having a business plan.
Sounds boring, doesn’t it?
Or maybe it’s a lot more effort than it’s worth…
Well, tough luck. That’s business.
Not to discourage you, of course. Having an online side hustle can mean exercising your abilities in a totally different area. If you’re particularly talented at something, it could mean making “easy” money (to an extent) just for doing something you love.
Anything is possible, but where to begin?
Online Side Hustles: Finding one that suits you
What are you good at? If you’re only so-so at coding/programming, even intermediate coding tasks/jobs won’t bring in much profit. Sure, you’ll learn and practice (not at all a bad thing – in fact, I’d encourage it if you want to perfect your skill) but you won’t see much financial return on your time investment.
On the flipside, if you’re a whizz at Photoshop there may be quite a few lucrative side gigs for you.
Can you throw together a couple of images to a high standard within a short space of time? That’s an online side hustle that can prove to be very profitable. Are you great at creating snappy headlines or writing killer blog posts within minutes?
What about explainer videos: can you shoot/edit one in less than hour – a well-made one, that is?
In short, the best online side hustles are those that can net you a reasonable sum of money in a short amount of time.
If you are stuck for ideas, maybe consider the following (online) roles:
Writing advertising copy for small companies and businesses who need it. Since people need copy that converts, this will always be in demand.
Social media management is great if you’re good at planning, strategizing and implementation. You may also have to engage with customers. You can do it for prolific bloggers, companies, start-ups…etc.
Creating simple websites can definitely be lucrative if you’re able for it and can do it in accordance with a customers’ needs.
Basic or advanced video & image editing work is always in demand. Creating/editing a video here and there can land you a few dollars in your account.
What about paid online surveys and other sources of side income?
Now I have to be blunt. The vast majority of these online side hustles are shit. The likes of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, Paid Online Surveys and “micro tasks” (whatever…) pay an absolute pittance. You are better off investing time setting up a more specialized and in-demand side hustle and doing some basic marketing (go on Upwork, Fiverr etc.). It won’t bring you money straight away, but then again “get cash quick” will always remain a pipe dream.
With online side hustles, you become a mini-freelancer. You’re setting up a small side business and you need to let people know about it. You should also consider your network. If you’re on social media, ask around and say that you’re offering your skills in a certain area. You may be surprised by the response.
So are they worth it? Absolutely: if you play your cards right and know when and where to hustle.
Even if it isn’t your main field, selling anything online involves at least some digital marketing knowledge. You don’t have to be a SEO expert or even the world’s best copywriter (you can hire people for that).
On the flipside, you may find online marketing interesting and want to break into the field. Additionally, you may want to learn as much as possible.
And that’s when many people find…
…that with the amount of information out there, learning even the basics of online marketing can seem overwhelming.
Most books and articles about digital marketing (especially for beginners) often seem to skip this rather important lesson.
But it’s true – there is a TONNE of info out there. It can seem intimidating for anyone starting out. So, whether you’re a beginner, want to promote your services or sell a product… Take these three points into account.
Endgame & Experience: What digital marketing beginners must consider
1. Remember – It’s all about the goal
Forget about becoming an online marketing wizard. It’s a tool: learn to use that tool effectively in a what that it helps you achieve your goal. If you’re setting up a blog for example, your goal is to get readers.
And in this case, there are two things you can do:
Write/create engaging, helpful content that speaks to your target audience.
Share it – that’s where you can look into relevant social media sites, and simple strategies to attain more readers.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about where to begin, sit down with a blank piece of paper. Think about what you want to achieve, then write it down. Now, think of at least two ways you could reach that goal.
If you can’t think of it, search for the information.
For example, if you’d like to expand your blog’s readership, you could search “ways to expand traffic to a blog”. Don’t completely ignore any other information the resources supply to you, but don’t get too bogged down in it. Stay focused!
Wisdom comes with age (aka., experience)
Of course, this advice isn’t just for digital marketing beginners. I’m talking to the more experienced marketers out there, too. Sometimes it is helpful to sit back, reflect on experience and realize that you already have the resources to tackle the current problem. You’ve just got to pull it out of your mental filing cabinet.
The more you promote, the more you research and think of different ways to expand your product’s reach, the better you’ll get. You WILL make mistakes along the way. Don’t fret if you’re not reaching your goals in the early stages.
Using blogs again as an example, don’t worry if your first ten posts only get a couple of views/likes. You can always recycle old blog posts – if the content is still relevant. You can still update them.
If your site isn’t optimized well, you can run an audit and fix the issues. With time, testing and seeing results… You’ll get better and develop a feel for what works and what doesn’t.
KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
Simplicity is the key to being focused. Even in digital marketing, where many things seem hopelessly complicated. If you’re settling down to write an engaging post – focus on that post’s topic! Don’t go off on tangents. Don’t suddenly panic and start adding more keywords, shoving them in places where they decrease the quality of the content.
(Tip: You can do that later, in peace and quiet. If you feel it will add something and increase traffic!).
By design, affiliate marketing is ridiculously simple. You’ve got a link to a product or service. Another person clicks on it, makes a purchase… Voila! Fancy monies.
Your task here is to promote that link as much as possible. To maximise profit. It’s done in countless ways, and that’s where it gets complicated – paid advertising campaigns on various networks (Taboola, Outbrain, Facebook) or through organic search, or through social media… The list goes on.
It’s just important not to lose sight. Digital marketing can be overwhelming to beginners due to the volume of what it encompasses, but in the end the goal is the same – expand reach, promote presence and sell. Focus on these goals, educate yourself and it will come to you.
In bygone days, the most common remote jobs were in tech and IT.
By and large, that often meant you had to be a developer in order to work remotely.
The reason? I’m willing to bet it’s because programming is damn hard to do. Many business owners lack the expertise. Unable to find suitable talent to fill certain positions, they had literally no choice but to hire experts from a distance. And good for those experts, too: they had a powerful skill that they could leverage.
As a result, remote working culture has become an incredibly powerful force within the tech and IT community. You can see this in the open source community: the majority of projects are carried out and executed remotely. Contributors come from all over the world. The likes of GitHub and various project management philosophies (such as Kanban) contribute to creating smoother, more efficient workflows.
For many of us who prefer to work remotely (i.e., not put up with petty office politics and other pointless bullshit) – things are a little harder. For the most part, jobseekers will stumble across plenty of job boards which unfortunately simply direct to the same few non-tech remote job postings. That is, unless you’re looking for a job specifically in tech.
If you’ve got experience in this field and love it – then great! Use that to your advantage. Having a set of highly in-demand skills will help you land a job you can do from anywhere. So, that’s one type of person sorted.
However, many of us still ask…
…is it possible to have a non-tech job that is also a remote role?
The simple answer is: of course.
However, there’s a big BUT:
Regardless of what job you’re going for, you still need relatively good computer literacy. Hell, every single office-based job requires it. Thankfully though, you don’t have to be a tech wizard.
That’s why I decided to whip up a list of some of the most common non-tech remote jobs out there. I’ve included a broad list of expected tasks and even salaries. Bear in mind, though: salaries are present in US dollars, because that appears to be the most common currency roles provide their information in.
PLEASE NOTE:Although finding a remote job these days is still a challenge (less so if you’re in the United States), it is getting easier. Statistics show that remote work is on the rise.
Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Administrative
You’ll be surprised to learn that a lot of administrative roles these days don’t necessarily require a “hands on” approach (at least in the physical sense). Administration is keeping things organized. These days, it often means keeping files in order and making sure that an organization ticks along smoothly.
Which is why the following jobs can easily be worked from anywhere…
“Project manager” is quite literally someone who manages projects. It’s pretty self-descriptive. However, many tend to sit in offices by themselves and communicate with others at a distance. You may be required to go to meetings or at least attend one via Skype. However, it is quite possible to land a project management role without having to spend too much time in the office.
Pay:Most project managers’ salaries are calculated on a yearly basis. You can expect USD$60,000/year.
Schedule Setup: It depends on the project, but for the most part you can expect 9-to-5. However, it also depends on the company you’re working for.
I don’t know much about accounting as a career. But I do know that the majority of roles can be performed pretty much anywhere. Traditionally, many companies want their accountants onsite. However, they often tend to sit in a room by themselves. Sometimes they travel to meet clients. In theory, it can be pretty easy to find an accounting job. You could even be self-employed with several clients, and only occasionally travelling for face-to-face meetings.
Pay: On average, accountants tend to earn around USD$45,000. As with project managers, it depends on the company and the country you or the company is based in.
Schedule Setup:As an accountant who mostly works alone, it is entirely possible to have a very flexible schedule. Many tend to follow a 9-to-5 routine.
Managerial roles vary, but plenty of office-based roles can and are worked remotely. Since many companies have distributed, worldwide teams – higher-ups can often demand flexible schedules and location independence. Travel for meetings and events may be necessary.
Regarding pay and schedule setup – it depends heavily on the specific company and the role.
Many offices have closed, many have downsized. But in spite of this, administrative assistants are still necessary. The only difference is that files are now stored on a cloud.
Virtual assistants provide administrative services and support. They may also have other duties. Typically though, a VA will…
Maintain calendars, set up meetings.
Carry out (virtual) administrative tasks.
Make travel arrangements.
Handle accounting and billing.
Deal with customers/clients.
Pay: Virtual assistants can earn around USD$15.00 per hour. USD$2,400 a month. Or, USD$28,800 a year.
Schedule Setup: This is highly dependent on your boss.
You may be given completely flexible hours, and simply have to perform administrative tasks by a set deadline. Or you may have to follow a strict 9-to-5 schedule. Some employers require their assistants to be available to talk for at least a few hours a day. Therefore, this job can depend on time zone.
Non-Tech Remote Jobs: Creative
“Creative” is a very broad description but it does help describe the following roles. Remote and flexible setups often suit the more “creative” roles. Coming up with new ideas doesn’t always happen in the strict time slot between 9 and 5. While it works for some people, this isn’t always the case for others. Many of these roles are also outsourced, so finding freelance positions is a lot easier.
This job title is pretty self-explanatory. You’re given raw, recorded material and it’s your job to edit it into something suitable according to specific guidelines. It can be anything – camera footage, sound effects, graphics, special effects. While there is a higher demand for video editing professionals in the world of online media, this job goes far beyond that.
Pay: Video editors can earn US$44,357 on average per year.
Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Like a lot of creative jobs, video editing can be done freelance affording you more flexibility.
This is arguably also a tech job (I mean for God’s sake, you are designing websites so why wouldn’t it be?) but it’s also a highly creative position. In addition, there’s little to no coding involved (having a basic understanding of HTML and CSS will help, but for the most part you’ll have a developer for that!). UX Design is an up-and-coming field with demand rising across the world. Simply put, it involves designing websites, software and other pieces of technology in accordance with the needs of users. You’re designing machines for humans.
Pay:UX designers can earn US$83,000 on average per year.
Schedule Setup: Once again, this is highly dependent on who you work for. Many professionals in the field will also freelance.
Before we talk about becoming a virtual assistant, let’s have a quick rundown of what a VA actually is:
Often abbreviated to VA, a virtual (office) assistant is a professional who provides technical, administrative, creative or social assistance to other in a remote work environment. Essentially, a remote administrative job.
That’s my definition, anyway. Many VAs work as freelancers, often for one, two or more clients. But more and more companies are willing to hire many of their admin staff virtually. Simply because it saves on space.
Becoming a VA has a lot of perks: it’s a pretty flexible job, and it can be done from anywhere (which is the whole point). Additionally, many virtual assistants work as freelancers. Unlike copywriting however, you’ll usually have a chunk of hours each day where you work for a specific client. Which means that the gigs you land are usually long-term and have a certain amount of stability. Handy!
What you should know before becoming a virtual assistant
The job description “virtual assistant” actually encompasses a wide range of different skills. No two VAs have the exact same skillset: in fact, some may specialize in particular types of assistant (technical, administrative, emotional support… well okay, the last one was a joke but may be true in some cases. Watch out!).
Becoming a virtual assistant shouldn’t be viewed as a single, step-by-step process. Instead, you should consider yourself a sort of a “jack of all trades”. At the very essence of the job, you’re providing assistance to an individual. Basically, you have a set of skills and offer to use those skills to make another person’s job easier.
For example, a virtual assistant could…
Work as a content manager, uploading content to websites and various other platforms.
Set social media strategies.
Write content (if they’re good enough…)
Deal with technical issues on a website.
Do online research.
Book flights and holidays, schedule meetings, answer emails (very much in the realm of a “traditional” assistant).
And much, much more…
The tasks of a VA really depend on the needs of your client/company. Which is why when applying for a job or pimping yourself out, you should be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. And then focus on your strengths.
Equipping Yourself to Become a VA: The core skills needed
What I just gave was an overview of what VAs do. But there are “core” skills and traits that you need to have if you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant. Many of these skills can be learned. You of course need to have some clerical office skills (at the base of it, a VA is simply an office clerk that doesn’t sit in the office). You should also be computer literate – you don’t have to be a tech wizard (very few in the “online” industry actually are), but you should know your way around a computer.
Being able to learn and adapt are also highly important. Technology changes rapidly, as do many online industries. You’ve got to be able to move with the times and learn new software fast. One client may require you to work with Excel, the other with some bizarre open source program. You as a VA must be able to adapt – quickly – to appease all your clients.
If you’re an experienced professional, you probably already have a significant number of skills that’ll help you work as a VA.
The best advice I could give you is to do your research. See what the most in-demand skills are for VAs and assess whether or not your skillset is good enough. If not – well, get learning!
The term “affiliate marketing” came about when people started selling things online. These days, you’ll hear it everywhere. It’s the most common model of selling things on the Internet. In spite of this, many people are still confused as to how it works. Which is understandable because there are a lot of factors and components, often depending on industry and product.
The simple explanation of affiliate marketing however is…
Promoting a product or service and receiving commission through it.
Even if you’re not planning on starting your own business, anyone working in the digital marketing realm should at least have a basic understand of affiliate marketing and what it is.
The Basics of Affiliate Marketing
When I was freelancing, I had a vague idea of what affiliate marketing was. When I started working for a company, I learned a good bit more. We promoted online dating sites – through affiliate marketing.
Essentially, the process ran like this:
You got a product you wanted to sell. For example, say you wanted to promote Match.com.
You then receive a special, tailored link to that product (called a “tracking link”).
You promote that link and persuade others to click on it and buy the service (in this case, a subscription to the dating site).
You then receive a commission.
That’s essentially all affiliate marketing is – at it’s most basic level.
Now of course, it’s much more complicated than that. But if you’ve never heard of it and want a basic understanding, that’s pretty much the crux of it.
Wait… There’s more!?
Of course! In the olden days, it was quite easy to just send the tracking link to someone who might be interested in your product. Since the internet has gotten a lot more sophisticated, we have to be a lot cleverer in how we promote our links. Some people put them on website and then do content marketing to drive traffic. Others use Adwords, others used paid advertising.
Promoting tracking links through organic search (SEO), for example, is playing the long game. You’re not going to make money straight away. In fact, you’ve got to build up your site. Build up your authority on Google. That takes time.
On the other hand, you could make money doing paid advertising campaigns. That’s a lot faster and is sometimes known as digital media buying… which of course requires a lot of skill and a good eye for numbers.
Don’t forget about affiliate networks!
Anyone can start off in affiliate marketing. The easiest way to do this is sign up to an affiliate network like Commission Junction and then peruse their products, seeing which one you would like to promote. It’s also possible to get affiliate links and deals straight from the source. However, that’s often where negotiations come into play.
We Work Remotely is a pretty well-curated list of remote and telecommute jobs. They were definitely on my list when looking for a remote position – and will be if I have to again.
They claim to be the largest online community for work at home job seekers (150,000 monthly, or so the site says).
And of course, you can get jobs of all kinds. Full-time freelance, subcontractor, full time and part-time positions.
First impression – We Work Remotely is quite professional
WeWorkRemotely.com is part of a new wave of telecommute job boards. They’re also linked to a few others like Unicorn Hunt (for start ups) and Fresh Gigs (for anyone interested in marketing). There’s also Future Jobs (AI, data science and machine learning). So, not a bad resource for any potential remote worker.
I definitely kept them on my watchlist and you should too. Especially if you’re into online marketing or software engineering (and let’s face it, currently the majority of remote jobs are in software).
What are the most common industries found on this platform?
Anything new and cutting edge. We’ve already mentioned software engineering (web dev positions are available here as well). I also saw a significant number of design jobs that were regularly posted. These included careers like product designer, marketing designer and jobs in the UI/UX field.
There’s also a boatload of customer support jobs. If you like customer service (or don’t mind it…) and want to work from home, then you’ve got a bunch to choose from. I was also happy to see the sales and marketing section, which was also quite large. These included telecommute jobs in the area of content marketing, project management and even public relations. Not bad.
When it came specifically to copywriting jobs… There were a few, but it was slim pickings. Unfortunately.
So are they worth it?
For me, anyway, they were. If you’re a techie, designer or a marketer then you should keep your eye on We Work Remotely. But like all remote job boards, it’s really important to expand your search and cast your net as wide as possible!
Working Nomads only offers remote and telecommute jobs – with a focus on digital nomads. Of course it’s not restricted to digital nomads only – remote job seekers will find a wealth of different advertisements here as well.
Like most remote-only job boards and sites, those applying through Working Nomads will face a lot of competition.
This platform is pretty simple. A lot of the jobs posted can also be found on other job sites. However, very occasionally you may find something here that’s no posted anywhere else.
What kind of jobs can I find on Working Nomads?
Like all remote job boards, you’ll definitely find plenty of open positions in the software/IT/tech industry. They’ve even got separate categories for Systems Administration, Design and Development.
Beyond that, you’ll find other categories like…
Consulting: Tech-related consulting at that. Which shouldn’t be a surprise.
Writing: Another broad field hard to pin down. Writing positions vary from journalism to content marketing and technical writing.
Finance jobs are sometimes posted here (tax advisors, bookkeepers, underwriters etc.)
Human resources although there weren’t quite a lot of them.
General administration such as case managers, online scheduling, broker assistant etc.
Heathcare jobs like medical coding and scheduling.
…and even a few legal jobs.
There’s also a few education jobs for online tutors and online teachers.
Sadly, like most of these platforms, the remote jobs available on Working Nomads lean heavily towards tech or maybe online marketing/general digital media. If you’re not looking for a job in these areas, then don’t rely solely on this board!
Overall, is it worth it or should I pass?
No matter what kind of remote job you’re looking for, I would highly recommend at least signing up for their job alerts. When looking for a new job, it’s important to pull out all the stops and keep your eyes open. You may have a very slim chance of getting something here – but you never know.