Since the very first day I told someone I make a full time income online, this has been the number one question.
“How do you do make money online from here?”
I totally get why they ask. Most of the advice people share about earning online is geared towards US citizens. It’s also usually split between super low-paying one-off jobs like those on freelance sites (which I started out on) and super high-level stuff like starting a business or building an app.
But there are better opportunities out there for Caribbean natives, that can allow you to work from home (or anywhere with an Internet connection really), on a flexible schedule and with enough income to live a modest lifestyle.
A Few Disclaimers
1. This requires actual work. If you don’t want to work and you just want a get rich quick scheme, this is not the place for you.
2. I can’t disclose every single detail like exactly who I work for or how much they pay me. That’s confidential. What I can say is that the combination of these bring in more than my highest paying job in the corporate world did and it’s sustainable. (I was a Social Media Specialist at Vistaprint here in Montego Bay, not some fancy Manager or anything, so be guided accordingly.)
3. I don’t own a business but instead I freelance. You can totally go the business route if you’d like (and I’ll discuss it further in future blogs), it’s just not suitable for me.
4. I really only work about 20-30 hours a week because I’m lazy. I could do more and make a bit more money, but as it is now, I’m a cheap minimalist and don’t pay rent, so I end up saving a good chunk of my income anyway.
5. Majority of the skills I use for work can be learned online and developed as you go along, but you ABSOLUTELY MUST be able to speak and write English well or you won’t get very far.
Alright, let’s dig in!
Job #1: Social Media Services
This has been my bread and butter since day one. With my degree in marketing and my love for social media from a business perspective, I was able to jump in and help businesses get traction online.
Since I started back in 2011, the game has evolved quite a bit. We understand way more about how these platforms work, there are a lot more options to choose from and we now know how to measure the results (what the sophisticated folks call ROI).
Over the years, I’ve worked with different clients in different capacities. Most recently, I’ve found solace in other income-generating activities and decided to transition out of social media marketing, so I only work with two small-business clients that have been with me for a while. We get each other and have a good flow going and I’m happy so what the hell.
How Much/Often It Pays: Minimum you should earn is about US$250/JMD$30,000 per month per small-business client. With a track record and proof that you know what you’re doing, I’ve seen some companies charge as much as US$2,000 for the whole shebang. (Never had such nerve myself, but hey, if they pay.)
How I’ve Gotten Clients: Getting the word out through social media (mostly Twitter). Writing about social media on my previous blog, socialmediachica.com. General networking at business events like Kingston Beta when I lived in Kingston. Cold emails to businesses I really wanted to work with sharing some ideas about what I’d like to do for them. (Yes that actually works, one day I’ll share more details.)
How To Get The Skills: If you don’t know anything about using social media for businesses, for God’s sake puhleeeze do not take people’s money and run their online reputations into the ground. Even if you think you know but you haven’t had any formal training in this, at least get Inbound Certified by Hubspot first. It’s free and it will teach you the basics.
Job #2: Content Writing
If I’m to be totally honest with you, writing has always been a passion of mine, but writing for profit is something I fully stumbled into.
I initially started writing for myself on this blog. Nothin’ fancy. Then I saw a fellow tweep (yep, still hate that word) saying that he needed paid writers for his tech blog. Reached out, he accepted. I did that for a while.
Some time later, that guy was working for someone else who needed a business/tech writer. He called me. The guy accepted. And now I’ve been doing that for a while.
Only thing is, this new client of mine, he’s in India. Yep! Fully across the world. He runs an agency that creates content for some of the biggest tech startups in India. (Fun Fact: India has the second largest tech startup community, nicknamed Silicon Wadi.) = He assigns work to me through Trello, pays me through PayPal and we meet occasionally (i.e. rarely) via Skype.
How Much/Often It Pays: Generally freelance writing through what are called content mills (sites that request cheap short articles) pays maybe $5-15 per article. Not great. On the other end of the spectrum, paid writers for top websites can get up to $1000 per article.
If we’re being reasonable though, once you find a steady, consistent low-key gig like mine, expect anywhere between $25-$100 based on length, your competence and the level of research required.
These gigs pay per article so you can get paid as often as once per week up to monthly, depends on your arrangement.
How I’ve Gotten Clients: Explained above. You can try seeking out jobs through freelance sites like peopleperhour.com and upwork.com. Many of these start off as one-off gigs and turn into more if the client likes your work.
Also, never underestimate the power of building a social media network and keeping your eyes peeled for people hiring writers, and also cold contacting blogs and sharing your work (maybe even offering a piece for free to show your skills).
How To Get The Skills: If you’ve been told you write well, that’s a solid start. Keep at it. Write about things you’re passionate about on your blog. It gives you an always public portfolio to work with. Try to get featured on prominent blogs to get your name out there.
If you need to build your writing skills, I recommend checking out Copyblogger’s library of eBooks on content writing or, if you’re really ambitious and willing to invest, this course from The Middle Finger Project for $39 is well worth it.
Job #3: Rev Captioning
This is the most recent addition to my work portfolio, thanks to the brilliant Rushel of Sojournie.
Rev is a transcription and captioning company that operates mostly online. They hire independent contractors (people like me) to do the work for their customers. When customers send them audio files and videos to transcribe (type out the words being said) or caption (type out the words being said and sync them to the video, like you see if you turn on Closed Captioning on your TV), they upload it to their site, and you can do any job you want.
You have to apply to work with Rev and they give you a couple tests to see if you’re capable. The best part is, once you get accepted, you can work as little or as often as you wish and never risk losing your account.
They do check your work frequently to make sure you’re keeping up with the standards, and grade you accordingly. If your grades fall short for too long, you get the boot.
Note: I do captioning only, which pays more. I’ve tried applying to the transcription area but never get through.
How Much/Often It Pays: Jobs pay anywhere between $.58 – $1.08 per audio minute for captioning. Depending on the job and your typing speed, you can expect to earn somewhere between $6 – $12 per minute, sometimes even more.
Rev pays you every week – so whatever work you do between Sunday and Saturday, you get paid for the following Monday via PayPal, which is pretty sweet.
How I’ve Gotten Clients: You don’t have to get clients. All you have to do is log in, pick the job you wanna do and get to work. Some days there are little to choose form but most recently, there’s rarely a day without at least 50 jobs to choose from.
How To Get The Skills: I had zero captioning knowledge before starting with Rev. They have a captioning guide that you get during the application process which teaches you everything you need to know. Follow its every word and you’ll be just fine.
Bonus: Affiliate Marketing on Website
Well, this isn’t really a job but it is a source of income so I thought I’d include it any way.
On this website, I earn some extra dollars by writing about tools and products that pay me a small cut if I bring them new customers.
Here’s how it works. My website is mostly about working online and personal growth. Sometimes the tools and products I use that are related to these areas offer an incentive to share them with others. They give me a special link to promote, and when I do so, and someone clicks my link and buys or uses their tools, I get a small percentage.
A few examples:
- Payoneer – I wrote an article about Payoneer. If anyone clicks the link and signs up, once they add $100 to their card, I get $25 and they get $25.
- A Small Orange – This is the web hosting company I use. They pay me a cut off every new hosting customer I send their way. (See their ad in my I Support bar on the right.)
- The Middle Finger Project – An awesome website which offers courses in online entrepreneurship, branding and copywriting. I promote those courses and when someone registers, I get a cut. (Also in my I Support bar.)
There’s no limit to the amount of affiliate programs you can be a part of. You can also become an Amazon affiliate and when you recommend products from Amazon (with your special link), you get a percentage of all the purchases someone makes on Amazon within a specified time (think it’s 24 hrs, not sure).
The most effective way to get into affiliate marketing is to start a blog about a specific topic (narrow enough to be unique, but not too narrow where you’re limited on products to choose from), look for affiliate products that align with this topic and recommend them through blog posts and content.
You don’t need a blog though. If you have a large social media following, that might work too. The opportunities are endless.
So there you have, that’s how I make my money. Ugh, now I feel naked and bare to the whole world. But I hope it’s worth it!
If you learned something from this and it inspires you to go out and try making money online on your own, please let me know what you plan to do and how it’s coming along.
If you already work online and want to share your “how I do it” story, I’d LOVE to hear! Always looking for new opportunities to share and explore. We’re a community and there’s enough to go around for everyone.
If you have specific questions about working online, send them to me via the contact form below and I’ll try to address them as best as I can. (Don’t get mad if I don’t answer right away. I’m a busy girl. I’ve got a whole season of Orange is the New Black to catch up on!)