Is an Online Business or Job a Good Alternative for the Unemployed?

With Congress failing to pass the next extension for unemployment benefits, many families are wondering how they’re going to get by financially. While I suspect the extension will pass soon, it’s a scary time for families relying on that money to get by.

Is an online business a good way to bring some money in fast when you don’t have anything else?

That depends on how you go about it. For some it’s going to be a great idea, for others a terrible one.

Do a Lot of Reading… But Not Too Much

If you want to succeed with an online business, you’ll need to know a bit about what you’re doing. It’s not rocket science, but earning a living online takes a lot of work, and much of it will be unfamiliar.

There are a lot of great resources online that will help you learn what you need to know to run an online business. There are paid resources too, but if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it.

Don’t spend an excessive amount of time reading and learning before taking action either. I’ve been working online for more than eight years now and I’m still learning. Just learn enough to get a good start, and continue to learn as you go. Too much information will make it harder to get started.

Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have

This is something I always tell people who want to start an online business. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. A business of any sort is a risk. If you can’t afford the risk, find another way to make things work.

Fortunately, you can start an online business for free, so long as you have internet access. Don’t expect fast results, but it’s certainly something you can work on while looking for a job.

Start a free blog at Blogger. Write interesting posts about a topic you love and know well. Don’t go too broad in your topic. You cannot appeal to everyone. You’re better off appealing to those who share your interest in your niche.

Learn free marketing methods such as writing articles for distribution with your link in the resource box, press releases to free press release sites, and the legitimate uses of blog commenting and forum participation.

Sign up for AdSense and/or affiliate programs associated with your niche. Insert ads as appropriate, but don’t pound your readers with nothing but ads.

You can do a lot for free. The results won’t be as fast as if you pay, but it may be worth the try.

Offer Your Services

Offering your services is another way to earn money online, but depending on what you do, you may need to pay for a domain name and hosting to look professional.

Virtual assistants can work at home. So can website designers, graphic artists, programmers, social media experts, and more.

Whatever your skill is, price it and start looking for clients. Don’t limit yourself to the internet. There may be businesses right in your community that need help with the online side of their business.

You can take payments through PayPal rather than go through the trouble of taking credit cards yourself.

Sell Your Own Products

Selling products online may not be all that easy, but it’s possible.

If you’re into crafts, sell your work on eBay or Etsy. There’s competition of course, but these are places that people go looking for things to buy.

You can also create an ebook or video to sell. Provide solid information on a topic people want to know about, and people will pay for it. Just think about the wide range of books in bookstores.

You can even sell photographs you’ve taken as stock photos. There are a number of sites that allow you to do this.

These options won’t usually earn significant money right away, but if you can’t find a job, finding other ways to earn money isn’t a bad idea, right? Especially if you’ve been searching for months or more than a year and nothing has come through yet.

Consider Non-Business Options

You don’t have to start what most people think of as a business to earn money online. There are many websites, such as Demand Studios, that pay people to write for them. If writing is one of your skills, it’s a way to bring in some money. Not much, not the best pay, but it’s something.

For better pay but a harder time getting articles accepted, write for magazines and other printed publications. Go to your local library and borrow the most recent copy of Writer’s Market to get an idea as to which publications you should be considering and who to contact.

Work at home jobs are another possibility, but just as with any other kind of work, these jobs are hard to come by. Lots of people want to work at home, and when you find a legitimate opportunity, odds are good that others have too.

Beware of Scams

Don’t think that just because you aren’t spending money you can’t get scammed. You can have your identity stolen if you share personal information such as your Social Security Number. You can participate in a criminal action by cashing fraudulent or stolen checks and forwarding the money.

Really think about what you’re going to do and make sure the opportunity is legitimate before spending money, sharing your personal information or doing just about any kind of work at home. The number of scams out there is scary, and smart people can be taken in.

Beware of Time Wasters

There are some things you can do from home that aren’t exactly scams, but will use up more of your time than they’re probably worth. These include pay to click emails, most surveys and completing offers. In fact, completing offers often costs money, as it’s easy to forget to cancel the free trials you must join to get paid or earn whatever gadget you’re after.

There are legitimate versions of these, but the amount of time you will spend earning that money will result in a pay rate usually well below minimum wage.

You Decide

Whether or not working online is a good choice for you depends on you. If you aren’t going to take consistent action, it’s probably not a good choice. If you’re willing to work, knowing that it may be some time before you see any money or even website visitors come in, it might work out for you.

Take some time and read up on the options that are interesting to you. There are a lot of opportunities out there for those who are willing to go for it.

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