Sunday, August 2, 2015

Introduction to Making Money Online

   In today's economy, the job market is congested with those seeking employment; there are simply more people in need of work then there are jobs available. This difficult situation will most likely get worse, with more and more former employers turning to contracted workers and automation to cut down on their own costs--however, in the strive for ever-lower overhead, companies have turned to a new frontier: contracted work over the internet, and this represents a new opportunity for those looking to make money online. Attempting to freelance on the world wide web can be as daunting, if not more so, than trying to find a job out in the real world, and it may seem as though there aren't any real ways to make money, but there are, buried under all the scams and unfair practices, legitimate opportunities out there in the final frontier that is the internet. It truly is the Wild-West out there: You’re on your own.

   The first thing a prospective freelancer needs to understand is that there are no comprehensive guides, or fast-tracks to success. Most likely, the first thing a prospective freelancer will encounter are websites and guides which promise that you will be making thousands of dollars daily. It should be obvious these are a scam. These websites intend to sell you expensive packets of useless information, or worse: steal your information. Other scams that should be avoided are those which require someone else to deposit money into your account, then have you move that money via check (this is money laundering, a federal crime), or those that have you receiving packages and affixing address labels to them (mail fraud). Criminal litigation may come down upon you if you fall for these scams. As a general rule of thumb: anyone who promises large sums of money for a small amount of work--or any website that makes any kind of claim about how much you will make on average--should be avoided. The fact of the matter is that, while there are many helpful articles, which can give a person a start, there really are no definitive paths to success. Much of the research and work must be done on one's own--this means plying one's skills and talents. The prospective freelancer must play to his or her strengths. Writers should at least attempt blogging, and there are also many writing-related sites out there (such as Odesk or iWriter). These websites usually have customers request articles to be written, and it is at the discretion of the customer as to whether or not you will be paid for your work. Rewards for freelancing sites such as those mentioned are often very small at first and, as always, your mileage may vary. A fair warning: Many such websites have strict quality guidelines, and your accounts will be revoked if you fall below of certain percentage of work accepted. This can lead to difficulty and frustration when you realize that the requester has the ability to reject your work unfairly, and (in theory) he should not be able to use your work--however, there are obvious workarounds that would allow him to circumvent any attempts by the website that would keep him from using rejected work (such as programs that can pull text from a PDF document).

   At the end of the day, the worker is not protected, and it will be up to you to protect yourself by researching and avoiding requesters known for bad practices, as well as those who just seem dubious. Being a freelancer means being on your own. That same can be said for other crowdsourcing websites such as Clickworker or Amazon Mechanical Turk. Like Odesk and iWriter, these websites offer their customers an on-demand workforce for whatever price they are willing to pay. Unlike Odesk and iWriter, such sites are focused more on what are called "micro-tasks": small jobs that can be completed in minutes (sometimes even in seconds) and are submitted in bulk. The thought is that the intelligence of the crowd is superior to that of a few workers, and the aggregate results produced by the crowd are what is valued here. These jobs usually involve some manner of data collection, and are often very repetitive. There is a large incentive for requesters to underpay, but with a little research and ingenuity, a decent profit can be made. It should be noted that websites that require a resume and application that must be accepted before you can work for them (such as Lionbridge) are known for treating their contracted workers far more reasonably than other platforms. If you think your skills and resume are up to snuff, then look into one of those. When attempting to make money online, research is imperative: Join a forum community dedicated to these kinds of work, or to a specific website where that work is offered. There are many forums dedicated to getting the most out of Amazon Turk, iWriter and Odesk, and the community can teach you how to avoid unfair or underpaying requesters, and how to get the most of the crowdsource industry.

   If your skills are more honed towards editing or graphic design, sites like Freelancer and Fiverr offer work in those categories. The payouts are usually low, but these sites are great places to start building up a base of customers who may even contract you on their own for better-paying gigs. If you're an entertainer, get a camera, a mic, and try youtube (singers and entertainers may find some work on Fiverr as well). With all freelancing websites, your permission to use the platform is at the discretion of the entity which owns that platform, and permission may be terminated at any time, and for any reason. Anyone looking to become a part of the crowdsourcing industry should understand this important fact: You are the not a worker for the company. You are not even a customer. You are the product. You are what the company is selling to the consumer: a cheap, on demand workforce. If the product under-performs, the company is within its rights to terminate it. That's just how it all works. Take care to protect yourself from those who might take advantage of you. Constant vigilance is needed more than anything if you are to be successful here. The good news is that you won't be working on these sites forever. The best advice that can be given on these sites is to treat them as launching pads for your career. As stated, they can be an excellent way of building a reputation and customer base, and may lead to better work down the line that won't leave you dependent on a third party (the micro-task-oriented sites, not so much, but Fiverr and Freelancer definitely have this advantage). Even if you don't find a customer base through sites like Amazon Turk, use them to build your skills and understanding. As with any career, it's all about pointing yourself in a direction and acquiring as many skills as you can. The internet is still very much the wild-west when it comes to employment. Scams are plentiful and easy to fall for, wages tend to skew low and the worker has little to no protection or safety net. Being your own boss means doing your own research and taking your own precautions. Still, there are opportunities for those with the stomach for this kind of work. As with anything, good things come to those who stick with it, and great things come to those who are vigilant. Hopefully, this article has been helpful in setting you on the path to profitable work on the world wide web.

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