Earning a living 100% from an online job is not only possible but lucrative. Even if you are entering the scene with zero knowledge and experience, using the suggestions below as a guide can make a world of difference.
Step 1: Identify a skill you can market
It could be writing, photography, graphic design, translation, coding, marketing or any other skill.
Step 2: Join a few freelancing platforms
Try Upwork, Freelancer or Fiverr (Bantu.my is the Malaysian equivalent) and trade-specific job boards.
If you’re unsure of exactly what services you can market, go ahead and browse around in these platforms for ideas.
To use these platforms to earn money online, make sure you have your tools in order, especially to receive payment.
Step 3: Keep applying for as many jobs as you can
Take however long you need to do the following:
- polish-up your profile/resume
- tweak your services
- submit samples of your work to potential clients
- apply for every job vacancy you come across
- take on low-paying jobs in the interim if you absolutely have to
Step 4: Decide on your specialisation
If you want to make actual money online, you must have a specialisation that potential clients need. There are a lot of freelancers online, so you must have something that sets you apart from the rest.
Take being a personal finance writer, for instance. If you write about topics not many others can, you will find interested clients.
Here’s a basic email template that has a significantly higher rate of being accepted than a general I-can-do-anything-that-pays sort of application.
Referring to the subject line, I would like to offer my writing services to [company name]. I have written extensively about bitcoin, personal finance and fintech. Please see some of my samples below:
- About Personal Finance: 5 New & Unusual Ways to Earn Extra Money
- About Fintech: FinTech: How Technology is Redefining the Financial Sector
- About Bitcoin and Islam – Is Bitcoin Halal? What Scholars Say And Where It Stands in Islamic Banking and Finance
- More about Bitcoin and Islam – Bitcoin and Islam: What do the experts say? – BitX
- About Bitcoin Scams – The Complete Guide to Bitcoin Scams
- About Lisk – 8 Things You Should Know About The Lisk Ecosystem and Currency
- About Dash – From Darkcoin to Dash – The Story of the First DAO
My rates are flexible and available upon your kind reply. More samples can be provided upon request. You can also check out testimonials of my previous work from my clients in this [link].
Thank you and best regards,
Step 5: Invest in professionalism
Being professional is also about appearing professional, especially online. Say you have two applicants for the same role.
Applicant A sends you a PM stating her/his interest in the work.
Applicant B sends you his/her name card (with business registration number), a professional website, samples of previous work, testimonials of previous clients, and a quotation for the work. Additionally, Applicant B is also a member in a related professional trade organisation.
Who would you pick, assuming their rates are similar? Exactly!
Step 6: Start networking and showing people what you do
It doesn’t have to be about “physical” attendance – an online presence works just as well.
Join groups related to your trade and subject of expertise. Some freelancers are recruited via Telegram, WhatsApp and Facebook simply by maintaining an active presence and showing people what they do.
An important point here is “Show, don’t tell”. Many people are used to advertisements and the kind of language often used, so they automatically tune that out. So advertisements that say “Contact me for x work” don’t generally work.
Instead, share the work you’ve done with the group. Being a useful contributor can significantly increase your likability and job offers. Give information freely, help others, and celebrate other people’s successes.
Step 7: Create a website
For instance, if you are marketing your writing services, it makes sense to create a blog. It also allows you to explore other ways to earn money online.
- Influencer marketing/Sponsored posts: Direct negotiation, Catjira, Blogr.my
- Affiliate marketing: For example, Involve Asia, referral programmes from products you use
- Blog advertisement – Direct negotiation
- Adsense and Infolinks
You don’t have to have a website, but the benefits of having one are pretty good. Not only can you get more income sources this way, you also attract potential clients and leverage on your readership.
Provide samples of your writing here (as well as a dedicated “For Hire” page). Additionally, learn skills that you can offer as part of your writing services like Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
Step 8: Stop using freelancing platforms completely
Start working directly with clients for two reasons: 1) Direct clients pay more; and 2) Freelancing platforms charge fees on your earnings, that eats into your income.
If you’re good at what you do, you’ll also benefit from word-of-mouth referrals, so work is constant, provided you maintain the quality.
Freelancers all over the world use this tactic. They use freelancing platforms to get started, then use their experience and contacts to work on their own.
Step 9: Become obsessed with optimisation, self-improvement and productivity
Once you’ve got a few regular and semi-regular clients, focus on getting more high-paying clients to replace the lower-paying ones. This is one form of optimisation – more value in exchange for your time.
A great optimisation strategy: Ask yourself what you spend a lot of time on and how you would do that in less time?
For example: Blog marketing. Get yourself an IFTTT account – it helps automate your social media postings.
Another example: If you’re hopeless in one area, say graphic design, get an expert. Always remember to be better today than you were yesterday.
This article first appeared in ringgitohringgit.com
Suraya is a corporate writer-for-hire and the blogger behind personal finance website Ringgit Oh Ringgit. She is more of a minimalist, less of a consumerist, a konon DIY enthusiast, a let’s-support-small-businesses-over-big-corporations kinda girl. Prior to her current role, she worked in various capacities within the non-profit industry.