Guest post by freelance author Melanie Citron.
Considering joining the ranks of women who’ve decided to take back their lives and start working for themselves? If you have the goal, but are unsure how to reach it, here are some tips to help you leverage your biggest asset—yourself—and start earning money through your own home-based business, not someday, but now.
- Start your own website. This might not seem the most logical place to start, but it’s actually a great learning experience and foundation. You don’t need technical skills, since excellent free website builders will guide you step-by-step in establishing your home base on the Internet. What you do with it is limited only by your imagination. Do you have a hobby, talent or avocation? Use your site to showcase your cooking or gardening expertise with recipes and how-to articles, your decorating ideas with a portfolio of photos, your creativity through stories or poems, or your travel adventures through a blog.There’s information all over the web on how to get your site discovered by the search engines, attract more visitors, and develop affiliate and advertising links to generate automatic income from your visitors. And the experience you gain in the process will yield dividends as you discover other opportunities in the e-commerce community. Read on for some examples!
- Sell your arts and crafts online. Many women have talents for making jewelry, one-of-a-kind knitwear, embroidery, fine accessories, greeting cards featuring their own artwork or photography…the list is endless. If you have a craft, online stores can help you sell your work to buyers worldwide. There’s eBay, of course, and also sites that specialize in handcrafted and vintage items, like Etsy ($88 million in sales in 2008 alone) and Silkfair. Membership is often free, with a 3 to 3.5% commission on your sales.
- Your photos are worth money. Your website provides a great venue to display and possibly sell your photographs. But there is also a thriving online market for “stock” images. Businesses (including other websites) need to illustrations but don’t want to hire full-time photographers or pay steep prices for rights. Many rely on photo brokers like BigStockPhoto, Fotolia and ShutterStock, where you can upload your photos and receive a fee or a percentage whenever someone uses your photos.
- Words for sale. Similarly, many businesses are hiring freelance writers on a per-job basis. And the online world needs a lot of words…someone writes the words on every website you see, and if you have any gift for writing, that someone could easily be you.
Online freelance exchanges connect writers with clients who need them. Elance, GetaFreelancer and ODesk are three of the largest. More than 25,000 jobs were offered on Elance in the last 30 days.
You don’t need professional experience to get started. If you’ve been writing articles or blog posts for your own or other websites, you can use that work to demonstrate your ability and win bids. You can write about things you know, and you’ll learn about an incredible range of new stuff as you do the easy research for other projects.
- Open a bookstore. Another way to develop and monetize your website is to offer eBooks related to your interests. If you don’t have the time or inclination to write your own, you can buy the rights to resell existing eBooks through online book brokers. Just search on “eBook rights” and you’ll find them. Once you’ve paid for the rights, all resale profits are yours. If you haven’t done so already, find a website builder, such as WordPress, and build yourself a virtual bookstore.
- Practical office skills are valuable too. Increasing numbers of small businesses and entrepreneurs have discovered the advantages of having virtual office assistants, and this has become another thriving freelance niche. If you know how to make appointments, keep a calendar, book a flight, make phone calls, handle correspondence, etc., you’re a candidate for this kind of job—part-time or full-time if you prefer. Elance, ODesk and other online sites can connect you with clients, as can recruiting sites like Alpine Access, Virtual Office Temps and Team Double Click.
- Advice on offer. Offer your training, expertise, and experience to those who need it. More and more people are turning to the Internet to ask their questions about how to make, do, or fix just about everything. Websites like JustAnswer or LivePerson hire experts to answer all kinds of questions online.
You can extend these services locally by advertising through word of mouth to friends and neighbors, and flyers and posters on community bulletin boards (physical and virtual). Include your URL in your ads and leverage your website to market your services.
- Teach the children. Virtual teachers are also in demand. If you have a degree, you don’t need classroom experience to provide online tutoring. Bilingual, math and science instructors are particularly in demand at sites like tutor.com and TransWebTutors.
- Get paid to shop. Have you seen ads for “mystery shoppers” and dismissed this as a likely scam? It’s actually a legitimate business. In a world of chain stores and franchises, business owners can’t be on site in all their stores to ensure that everything runs properly. They rely on local shoppers to visit their establishments and report on their experiences. Shoppers View, Service Excellence Group and Service Intelligence can connect you with the opportunities in your community.
- Get paid to clean your house. You know you have closets and cupboards of household goods, clothes, kids toys, tools, etc., that you should have cleared out long ago. A lot of that is sellable through eBay, Craigslist, Hoobly and efleaa. Once your own house is in order, you can turn your love of flea-market, garage-sale, bargain-hunting into turnaround profits online as well.
Why wait? Don’t hesitate! There’s fun as well as profit to be had as you explore a whole new world of personal and financial opportunities.
About the author: Melanie Citron is a freelance author who wants the web to be open to everyone. She regularly researches and writes about great free or low cost resources to help all have a great presence on the web. See more of her writing at BuildMySiteforFree.com.