Are Online Side Hustles Worth It?

Who doesn’t LOVE the idea of extra money?

Even if you’re not a greedy capitalist pig *AHEM* very materialistic, you probably could do with a bit of extra cash. It’s nice to have a little bit more tucked away for a rainy day or simply to enjoy a wild weekend in some far-flung city.

woman doing a line
Or enjoy… other things.

It’s no wonder, then, why so many people are looking for online side gigs. Big emphasis on the ONLINE. You literally don’t have to anywhere. Just come home, open your laptop and start working. Maybe two, three four hours a night, two days a week.

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Sadly, life isn’t really like that. The “perfect” online side gig doesn’t really exist. Okay, I’m actually sure it does. However, the majority of people aren’t going to find one after an hour of searching.

Which brings me to my next point:

There’s no such thing as ‘quick’ money.

Go and look up the term “online side gigs”. I dare you. Have a look through them, see what they ask of you and see what they pay.

You’ll find that the Internet is awash with promises – the majority of them bogus. Funnily enough, you’ll also find plenty of ebooks (that you must pay for) explaining how to make an income online (HINT: This is just another person’s side gig making THEM money online!).

I’m not saying that the information you come across is wrong. Actually, most of those bloggers and ebook writers share some very valuable information.

However… Generating cash on the side takes a little thing we call work. Just as much work as you put into your full-time job. Actually, probably more.

Why? Well, simply put…

Even if you just want to make a decent side-income, you need a business mindset.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

Or perhaps it sounds look too much effort…

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.

The “doing” in this case is the easy part. Like anything else in business, it’s the acquisition of clients that stumps most people.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Digital Marketing for Beginners: How to (Not) Get Overwhelmed

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.

HELPFUL TIP!

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!).

In terms of keeping things simple, I’ll use affiliate marketing as an example.

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.

Not Into Tech or IT? You Can Still Have a Remote Job

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.

fish microwave
Let us not forget the most unforgivable of office sins…

Of course, I’m mainly talking from my experience. Other jobseekers I’ve spoken to have told me the same. There seem to be countless software engineering and web development roles that are willing to hire from everywhere. To an extent, there are many design jobs available as well. Often, they require the designers to have a good knowledge of Markup (HTML, CSS) and other frontend languages, like JavaScript.

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.

Sure, any job that can be done remotely requires a certain level of computer literacy. This still doesn’t mean you should have to jam tonnes of PHP and JavaScript into your brain just to be able to work from your kitchen table. Hell, even if you can program it doesn’t necessarily mean you may want to do it for a career.

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 Managers

“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.

Accounting

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

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.

Virtual Assistant

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 correspondence.
  • Handle accounting and billing.
  • Send emails.
  • 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.

Video Editor

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.

UX Designer

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.

Becoming a Virtual Assistant: Here’s What You Should Know

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.

Conclusion

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!

We Work Remotely – A Jobseeker’s Review

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 – A Jobseeker’s Review

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.

Remember, though:

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.

Freelance Job Boards: Why They Should NEVER Be Your Only Option

When I started freelancing, I knew early on that I had to branch out.

I began as a “freelance writer”, my first two “clients” being content mills. Work wasn’t always stable, but I managed to get by. During the slow times when I wasn’t fervently writing to clock up a survivable hourly wage, I would research more about freelancing. More specifically, online freelancing.

A little later down the line, I also began “in person” freelancing as a TEFL teacher. While better paid than content mills, TEFL also wasn’t the most stable job. Of course, now being a seasoned content mill writer my original thoughts of “Great, I can sit at home all day, sip wine and write for cash!” were now long gone. However, as much as I enjoyed TEFL I didn’t really see a future in it.

peanuts
That is unless I didn’t mind earning peanuts for the rest of my life.

So, I sipped a lot of wine. I wrote for (not so much) cash. And I did more research into freelance job boards.

Upwork, oDesk, eLance, Guru… whatever. There were almost too many. After a lot of fumbling around, I managed to find my feet and actually snag a few decent-paying clients. I even forged one or two long-term (business) relationships. Content mills remained my “slow time” fallback (when work was available). In general, I made an alright living for someone in a cheap city with few expenses.

Between working with freelancer platforms, my own clients, content mills and teaching English, it dawned on me just how much work freelancing really is. It was a good education, to say the least. The searching, the bidding, working on projects just to get an interview… I spent hours of work without even a guarantee of getting a job.

In many ways, it sucked.

Finding work as a self-employed person is just as tiring and as much work as finding a full-time job – actually, probably even more since you always have to be hustling alongside your own projects.

When it comes to freelancer sites, really try to remember:

They should never, ever be your only option.

Get out on social media and the real world and network – forge relationships, maybe do a bit of pro bono work here and there to build up your portfolio. At the same time, do pick at least two or three platforms you feel will work and put some time and effort into crafting a profile.

Why? Well, because…

At the very least, a freelance job site offers you free advertising.

This all comes down to personal branding and a bit of advertising. After all, the more your face and profile pops up on the internet in the right places, the more likely it is that the right people will see it. The same can be said for publishing a portfolio on these sites.

Freelance Job Boards: The “keys” to increasing your chances of success

I cannot give you a 100% guaranteed formula that will definitely land you a list of clients so large you almost can’t keep up with the work. If I could, I’d probably be selling ebooks and courses on it (it’s what all the cool kids are down now, apparently).

However, I can give you the methods I used in order to land clients. Sometimes they worked like a charm, sometimes results took longer to materialize. Either way, they are reflective of the business world. You have to get the right target audience, sell the right product and market yourself the right way. Additionally, there are slow times and times when you have nothing but work to do.

When it comes to freelance job boards, however, these points are non-negotiable. They’re important, even if you just want a basic smattering of visibility.

Define what you ARE and what you’re SELLING

DO NOT write “Online Freelancer” as your job title, followed by “various freelance services – online!”. Anything in the area of too vague and too general is either going a) get you a bunch of jobs no where near your field of expertise or more likely b) get you absolutely no response whatsoever.

Define what you ARE. Are you a copywriter? Are you a digital strategist with a focus on writing good copy? Are you a JavaScript engineer, with a focus on front end development? Write this down, make a bullet-point list. Let your clients know what your expertise is, what you are selling and exactly what kind of pain they have that you can solve.

Your profile(s) are important

No matter how many freelance job boards you sign up to, craft them with a whole lot of love. While the actual structure of your profile can vary from one platform to the other, in general you should…

  • …have a clean, professional profile photo. This doesn’t have to be a photo of your face although I would highly advise it for individual freelancers. You are the friendly face of the business you’re running. Alternatively, you may want to consider a logo.
  • A comprehensive tagline that defines what you ARE. Harking back to the previous paragraph, are you a digital strategist? A web developer? What’s your focus, what’s your specialty? Try to think of a creative but clear way to send the message, too.
  • Fill out your bio/profile description. It’s amazing how many freelancers neglect to do this. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) detail every aspect of your job history but you should provide a comprehensive view of your professional background, your services, skills and the type of “pain” you can solve for your prospective clients. If possible, try including testimonials.

What I would advise is briefly forgetting about freelance platforms and simply crafting and online resume with at least the above points. Additionally, include a portfolio of your work and then create a website and publish it there.

You can then take this “core” professional profile and adapt it to whatever platform you’re using.

Beyond Freelancer Sites: Be your own “command central”

Ultimately, you should view each freelance platform you sign up to as one of many “channels” through which you can spread your message. People may either reach out to you on these platforms, or you may have to do a bit of job bidding to at least get your face out there (and who knows, you may end up scoring a client/gig or two).

Ultimately, this will ensure that you have a strong presence on these platforms and additionally can spread your personal brand.

However, you should maintain your “central” profile. Publish a blog posts every now and then (once a month at least). Share this post on social media (Instagram is great for photographers, LinkedIn is good for most professionals).

Join a few online communities, get involved in discussions and publish your opinion in different (relevant places). Get to know people and build relationships online – really make a name for yourself.

Ultimately, freelance job boards are really little more than a gimmick. It is possible to get a lot of clients through them, but they shouldn’t be central to your strategy (at least when you’re starting out).