The ability to make a living online is easier than it has ever been. No. I’m not talking about taking surveys kind of money – but actual, cold hard cash, mostly paid through providers like Stripe and PayPal.
I’ve been doing it since the beginning of 2019 – enough to cover my rent and general cost of living, with some leftover to put aside.
So it is possible?
The quick answer is yes – it is possible to make a living online.
The long answer is that there are some things you need to know before jumping in.
You will need to treat it like a job
While the unlimited potential for wealth from the Internet is real, it doesn’t mean you’ll get to swim in it as soon as you jump in. The hustle is like any hustle – you need to treat it as an actual job to get traction.
The first few weeks, if not months, will seem as if nothing much is happening. But if you’ve chosen blogging or content creation as your hustle, then there will be an initial phase of making without an audience.
The difference between a day job and making a living online is that you’ll unlikely get paid right away. This is because you’re planting seeds everywhere and seeing which one will flourish. You get paid based on the quality and quantity of your output.
However, the major perk is that while your wages remain the same at a normal 9-5 kind of job, your efforts have the ability compound when it comes to online endeavors.
At some point, the output of your work will start working for you.
You will have freedom – but at a cost
When you start working for yourself and hustle online, you’ll notice a sudden abundance of freedom. As your own boss, you are free to do as you like, spend your time as you chose, get to work when you want and do whatever your heart desires.
Except there’s a catch – you have to figure out how actually make money online.
The difference between your old job and your current gig is that you used to get paid, with a set of known tasks. As your own boss, you have to figure out all the different things needed to make your online hustle tick – and that can take time.
Without an output that generates revenue, your financial runway can become very short, very quickly.
However, turning a profit is not an impossible task. You just need to figure out your value proposition and work on presenting it.
Things you need to consider before jumping in
Perhaps your sick of the 9-5. Maybe you’re just completely over the commute. Or perhaps you’ve been unemployed for so long that you’re almost the end of your emergency fund.
Whatever your situation, here are some questions you need to consider before making the ultimate decision to make a living online.
What’s your temperament?
Moving your career online can be risky. There is a high level of uncertainty with no actual guarantees. You will need to have a good dose of optimism and patience for things to work.
You also need to have a positive relationship with risk – especially if you have nothing to fall back on financially. Keeping calm but with a burning desire to succeed will help your mental health in the long run.
Before you start, you need to ask yourself, are you willing to accept the potential of failure? Are you the kind of person that will get back up when things don’t go as planned? or your income is as you initially projected it to be?
Because when it comes to content creation, you will be faced with a series of multiple little failures – an article you worked hard on didn’t do as well or a video you edited didn’t get the traction you expected.
In these moments, you’ll need to be able to pick yourself up and do it all over again – because that’s how channels and blogs are built. There isn’t just one article or video – it’s a collection of work that a user binges through when they’ve somehow stumbled onto your content.
What’s your strategy?
Do you have a strategy? What do you stand for? Have you got a vision for yourself? Not that Tesla as your end game kind of goal – but what kind of content you want to create, how you’re going to create it and what’s the frequency of your releases?
A lot of people jump straight into schemes that promise to make them money only to end up losing more money than necessary.
If you’re going down the eCommerce route, how much capital do you have to sustain your venture? How cost-effective is your idea? What about quality?
If you’re going down the content creation route, what’s the commercial potential of your content? Are you planning to sell courses or merch?
The point of these questions is: what’s your strategy?
Do you need a website?
Not every venture needs a website. If you get into the business of flipping things, eBay is a fantastic platform. Or perhaps you want to start your own online store. The most obvious go-to is Shopify but there are also other options like WooCommerce through WordPress.
To run a WordPress site, you’re going to need your own hosting. Setting everything up is not all that hard and can work well in your favor for SEO because you have full control over what and how your site behaves.
This website currently runs on SiteGround – a hosting provider that I’ve been with since 2013. They’ve got an excellent customer support team and their plans don’t just hide behind a promise of unlimited everything.
Some hosting providers put unlimited bandwidth and storage – but with small prints and caveats that aren’t discovered until you’ve already paid for it. Things can get akward real quick when your blog or website crashes because you thought you had uncapped hosting – but it was only for show and marketing purposes.
SiteGround however, makes it clear, right from the get-go what kind of traffic to expect for glitch-free performance. You don’t have to worry about spikes in traffic either since SiteGround won’t suddenly just stop running your website because you’ve gone over. Rather, they’ll just contact you to upgrade your tier instead if you consistently go over the plan.
What do you know about digital marketing?
The act of hustling is half the work. You may find yourself spending a good portion of your time creating content, taking photographs or shoot scenes for your YouTube channel.
But what do you know about digital marketing?
There’s more to it than just posting your content on a few social channels. Do you know how to get people to organically discover you?
You could be tweeting all day but there’s no point if no one has the opportunity to see your tweets.
Creating organic traffic is Internet gold. You don’t have to pay for traffic – traffic just comes to you. But doing this requires the strategic placement of social outputs – from posts and comments to the usage of hashtags.
Digital marketing is mostly trial and error, mostly moving around in the dark until you find your audience. That’s how you grow and get new people to your blog, website, or YouTube channel.
Making a living online is possible – but it will take persistence and passion toward what you’re doing. It’s one of those things where you need to enjoy the process and look beyond money as the main motivator for doing it.
Money is a by-product of your creations and how well you adapt yourself to your audience. Building an audience can also be a grind – but that grind can feel almost frictionless if you’re driven by something other than gaining a monetary return.
Hustling online is the same as hustling offline – you’ll still need to find the communities to find your audience and potential customers. When it comes to making a living online, you’ll still need to figure out the moving parts needed to commercialize your work and make that cash.