How Pros Make Money Online

Income Diary

5 Ways to Make Money Online, Even If You’re Just Starting Out

By:     Topics: Make Money Online

When you start out working for yourself, you need financing. You have bills like anyone else, plus the costs associated with running a business.

Even if your business only requires a computer and an internet connection, you’ll need to know how to get the ball rolling and start generating income.

Here are five tips on where to start making money, plus a word of warning from someone who has experienced the battle of starting a business with an empty wallet. The best place to start is everyone’s least favorite, but ultimately the most effective opportunity:

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1. Freelance job boards

Any Google search related to “starting a business” or “freelancing” and “financing” will turn up a plethora of freelance job boards.

Get started signing up for them, and be sure you complete your profile on each one.

Before you start building profiles, you should have a few things ready to go:

-Your business name and online/offline contact information
-A brief description of your business and the services offered
-Either a portfolio or a convincingly-worded description of your skills acquired elsewhere

You should know exactly what you’re offering and be able to convey it concisely. There are plenty of transferable skills learned through school, hobbies, and work that can be applied to satisfying a client’s needs – you just need to make them aware that you’re competent, regardless of whether or not you have a portfolio.

Apply everywhere, and apply for gigs or projects where you can be even remotely helpful.

Until you have a job, this is your job. Be religious about looking for updated project listings and following up on bids you’ve placed.

Remember: pricing doesn’t matter as much as the ability to say you have a client. Don’t lose that chance by getting hung up on the idea that your time is “worth” a certain amount of money.

So, know what you need, and aim for that, only go for more if your pricing can remain competitive.

Odd jobs/ Part time work

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? You’re trying to start your own business, not work for someone else.

But how badly do you want money? How badly does your business need financing?

If money isn’t coming to you easily, you scrape it together.

Look at it this way: if you were told you had six months to live and needed $10,000 for a life-saving operation, what jobs would you take and how many hours would you dedicate to getting that money?

That same urgency can be applied to your business, if you take your goals seriously.

$7 an hour is more than the zero you’re making sitting at home, reading business blogs. Get out and do something, then roll that tiny paycheck into ads, or buying leads, or creating your product.

Spend carefully, take on bit projects or odd jobs, save your change and have a clearly defined goal so that when you’ve done enough, you know it.

Family and Friends

For some businesspeople, this is the first line of defense, but I only recommend asking people you know for money as a next-to-last resort.

Put the time in elsewhere so that they can see your passion, dedication, and level of responsibility.

Talk about your work with your family and friends, share more if they seem interested. In order for someone close to you to feel comfortable investing in you, they’ll need to have a clear understanding of what kind of business person you are.

If they can tell you’re willing to do whatever it takes to become a success, they’re far more likely to help out than if they think you’re a financial gamble.

Creative Networking

I got my break in the business by chatting about work at a Superbowl Party a few years ago. All it takes is one client, one chance, one paycheck to give you an opportunity to get your business underway.

Be knowledgable, be confident, and be curious about other peoples’ lives and work.

Get out into the world, both the real world and the virtual world, and experiment with talking to strangers. The more connections you make, the more likely you are that someone will either a.) want your services for their business or b.) have you in mind for a recommendation when a colleague needs the services you offer.

Know the difference between friendship and a business relationship, and work to cultivate both via social engagements, webinars, meetups, tweetups, and other local business networking events.

VC’s, banks, etc.

I don’t have a lot of experience with these yet, because I was able to grow my business organically via odd jobs and creative networking.

I have researched the options and learned that it’s important for anyone relying on a VC to do their research. Not all loans, and not all financial institutions are created equal.

Just like getting started on freelancer boards, you’ll need to know how to convey your skills and abilities confidently. If you have a portfolio, make sure the information is organized, thorough, and demonstrates your capacity as a businessperson.

Again, you’ll need a presentation of sorts available. It’s better to have some basic financial projections and a business plan on file at all times, whether they’re needed in early phases or not. It would be terrible to get a shot at a short-notice meeting and not have the required documents handy.

Get a clear understanding of what their investment means for you in the long term. If they own a portion of your business, or your profits, determine how long that ownership lasts and whether you’ll be able to work with that down the line.

Word of Warning: Have a Plan

Money may be tight for awhile even after your business finds clients. Have a plan in mind (or written down) for where that money will go once it comes in. You should know the answers to these questions:

-Which financial obligations are the top priorities for your business?
-What specifically does your company need in order to have opportunity for growth?
-What are the minimum and maximum amount of income you will dedicate toward growing your business? (Percentages are easier to guarantee than actual dollar amounts.)

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, so please add any other thoughts on how you can make money right away to the comments below.

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  • Kelvin @ Entrepreneurs Discuss

    Hi Tommy, Really nice post here… I have tried getting jobs from but I have not gotten for over a year now. I love the creative and networking part. I do it a lot. Thanks for sharing this anyway.

    • Tommy

      Freelancer can be a tough bag, that’s for sure. The thing I always did was made sure I sent a PM to the person who was posting the job just to see if I could get a little more insight into what they were looking for.

      Often times, on freelancer, the poster doesn’t know exactly what it is they are looking for, so it can be really helpful to at least learn what the challenges they are having so you can help them break through in a real and honest way.

      • Kelvin @ Entrepreneurs Discuss

        Thanks Tommy, will try it the way you have explained and I hope to get result this time around

  • Jamie Northrup

    Your last point Tommy is the best, too many people come online and expect to make money, but don’t know how, they do one thing one day and then something totally different the next.

    Make a plan to reach your goal and follow it.

    • Tommy

      Having a plan I think is the most critical step.

      Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve got my hand in a bunch of projects all the time, but I’m in a perpetual state of multitasking as well.

      Having a plan, even just a rough sketch of how each project pans out is critical, if for no other reason than everything would take up too much time otherwise.

  • scott jones

    Tommy, To your knowledge is it best to run your affiliate sites thru a squeeze page??

    • Tommy

      Generally speaking that’s one of the best ideas, because then you can capture emails for follow up as well.

      I’m not entirely sure how you’re set up, but perhaps we could talk a little further about this soon?

      • scott jones

        Tommy thanks for the advice. I am set up where all the traffic is directed towards a landing page. I think I stand a good chance of losing a lead without directing them to a squeeze page first. Is it important to cloak your affiliate links???? In this world most people can be trusted but you just don’t know!

  • Cheptiony Mutai

    This is very informative. I love the idea that one has to have a plan on where the money is going. I lost lots of money in my first year of business because of lacking a plan. It was not until I read the book ‘The richest man in babylon’ where I learnt that ‘it was very critical to pay myself first before I pay anybody else. That was when I began to see my purse fattening. This thus got me motivated to move on.

    I have got most of my clients from making friends with new people I meet.

    • Tommy

      Yes a lack of plan can make your business a real siv for money. I’ll have to check out the book, and it’s wonderful to hear that you get most of your clients through word of mouth.

      What’s your business if you don’t mind my asking?

  • Abigail

    Great post. For me the best way was to get a job with steady income. Selling items on eBay or amazon are another option. You lose equity from your business with a loan. :(

  • Vikram

    Quite Usefull …

  • Sune Swanepoel

    I would suggest that a person first work for someone else, and save up enough money that you would be able to live on, for at least 3 months. That way, you could easily start making your own income online, without worrying too much about not having enough money at the end of the month to pay your bills. But, that money would only last 3 months – so you would still have enough sense of urgency to quickly get your act together and make your own online income!

    • Tommy

      That is a great suggestion.

      I unfortunately did not have the benefit of getting to work for somebody else when I started out because I had just gotten fired from a job over a pair of pants.

      But that is by far the most responsible suggestion, and something that anyone who is making an informed decision to leave the offline income earning world behind should be sure to do.

      • Sune Swanepoel

        Just before I started my blog, I was actually retrenched from my full-time job. Luckily, I found another job within 1 week – it’s this that made me realize that I need to be able to rely on myself for my own income, which is why I started my blog. I’m hoping to start earning enough soon from this, to quit my job and start blogging full-time instead.

        I was, however, very lucky to find another job so quickly. In most instances, like your own, it’s just not that easy. Even if somebody really loves the job their in, I would recommend that they start making their own income as well – you never know what could happen!

  • The Spirit Of Life

    Have a Plan! Even if your plan is only in the “dream” state now, write it down and build on it. Couples spend more time planning a wedding than “wannabe” business owners spend on planning their business. “The journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step and that step had better be in the right direction.”

    Network with those “smarter” than you – then – listen! Donald Trump attributes his success to his ability early on to “listen” to people more successful and smarter than he was. I read this in his first book, “The Art Of The Deal”; I’ve followed that advice and have witnessed success.

    Plan, Network (Listen – don’t sell yet), Don’t Borrow Money You Can’t Pay Back until your plan produces consistent “black” ink.

    • scott jones

      That is so True!! Have a Plan and then implement a System. “You must Learn before you Earn” There is no magic software out there that will create instant overnight riches so stop looking. This is a business not a lottery.

  • Kader

    I think Freelancing is great way. At least you to be a specialist…

  • Randy

    It definitely helps to have a plan just be sure to have some flexibility to change the plan as needed as your business environment and competition changes around you.

  • Sam

    What is even more crucial is knowing how the business will make good use of the financing. Getting a hot load of money only to splash it into holes where it wont come back can be a devastating way to start off. As Tommy said- Have a plan and a plan B as well.

  • Dean Saliba

    Joining freelance writing sites is a good idea, I’d also suggest joining forums like Digital Point where you can find plenty of people looking to hire writers on the cheap.

  • racso07

    I like the tips here, I’ve been looking for different ways to provide residual income for my household. I do realize now that internet marketing is one of the easier routes to take, check out my blog regarding a new websites I recently stumbled upon. The business model is simple and your own facebook can be an easy way to increase your potential for earnings.

  • Gareth Morgan

    Another great post. Listen up guys, having a plan seems like a simple idea but it’s crucial and really does work. My first few months online was a huge mess because I wasn’t organised and didn’t plan ahead.