We’ve all heard of the fictitious single mum from the sticks who invented a miraculous teeth-whitening kit that’s gone on to earn her billions. And those few successful entrepreneurs who have skyrocketed into a world of door-to-door cab journeys, endless rows of boxfresh trainers, designer macchiatos delivered to the house and wallets bulging under the strain of £50 notes. But what about the people who actually exist and aren’t the next entrepreneur? Can they make money simply from sitting in front of their computers all day?
At this time of year, it’s easy to feel like you might not have a lot of money in your pockets. And with January being one of those all-round depressing months where the idea of plodding the streets with CVs in the hope of retail jobs is just a bit too far-fetched, we’ve put together a lovely list of ways you can bring in money from the comfort of a computer (with a working internet connection).
1. Be your own eBay
Quite a few people have become unhappy with eBay since it was discovered that they don’t pay all their UK corporation tax. Other people have more longstanding rifts with the website. Either because it looks a bit like homework or because they’ve received one low user-rating too many and have been blacklisted from the site after panic-bidding on ugly handbags and fake Ralph Lauren polo shirts and refusing to pay for their wares. Ahem. But with something as simple as a Paypal account and a Wordpress-based website, or even BigCartel.com you can create your own shop and sidestep eBay’s issues. Also, Facebook has its very own Marketplace. If you’re happy enough to upload photos of your dog in a jumper or your opinions on Romeo Beckham’s teeth to the website, it’s reasonable that you should use it to make a bit of money out of whatever craft you’ve got – from postcards to jewellery to woolly hats you’ve attached a fun bobble to.
If you’re looking for further tips on this, our very own Hipster Tipster has done us a little how-to of selling things both on and offline.
2. A freelancer website/agency
There are loads of websites out there which promise to make you money for nothing. But on Freelancer.co.uk or PeoplePerHour.com you can offer up your services to companies who will pay you for one-off projects. A bit like a people eBay (but a bit less like homework) you have an account where companies can see how well you’ve done on previous projects, rate you on the ones they’ve commissioned you for and find out how much you expect to be paid. You can also upload your CV so that potential employers can come across it. Freelance writer Robbie Wojchiechowski uses PeoplePerHour, and says it’s “mainly based at coders/web designers/graphics people, but you always get a bit of copywriting work come up on it.” The only downside, Robbie says, is that it is quite competitive: “It feels like it faces freelancers against each other where, really, we should all be helping each other.” But we figure this is just a blip in what is otherwise a good resource.
3. Remote tutoring
If you’ve bagged yourself enough qualifications to show that you’re literate, not too creepy and capable of explaining what you know and how you know it, you could easily qualify to become an online tutor. Using Skype for both the interview and then any subsequent tutoring sessions you’re booked in for, you probably do have to get out of your pyjamas to do the work, but you’re not obliged to leave the house to go to work. Gigs might be sporadic or ongoing, increasing around the time of coursework hand-in dates and exam periods for SATs, GCSEs and A-Levels. On the plus side, you can name your own price, and because it’s good for the students to have a steady tutor presence, it’s likely that tutors are taken on for longer stints of time and that – unless you do anything really bad – once taken on, you’ll be taken on for a good wodge of time/pay.
Guilia Aliverti, 24, is totally up on her making-money-online game. Working part time doing e-commerce for Baroque Jewellery, she got the gig after proving her talents through selling her own jewellery. She spends the rest of her (working) time tutoring online. Here’s what she had to say about it all:
How did the side-project selling jewellery come about?
I wanted to make money to go away and I didn’t want to waitress anymore, so when I went home to Hong Kong, I knew I could go to China to get wholesale stuff made. So I brought stuff from China back to England and sold it through Facebook marketplace, Asos and Etsy.
How much did the websites charge for the listings? Was it worth it?
Each of the websites didn’t charge too much, and because they have good reputations and so much traffic it was worth the initial cost of listing things. In a good month I’d make £700 for about 2 hours’ work a day.
Why didn’t you use eBay?
Ebay is saturated with stuff and I didn’t want my products eclipsed by rubbish! Also it’s really complicated, and there’s lots of pros out there who understand it better than I do.
How did you get your current job for Baroque Jewellery?
I walked past a shop when I moved to Brighton and I looked inside and they had really cool jewellery and there was a role going, so I applied and got the position.
And what do you do there?
I do PR, marketing, e-commerce, social media for the company. It’s all internet-based stuff, connecting the workshop to online custom. And at the moment I’m helping them set up their website.
Was it important that you’d have previous experience of selling jewellery online?
I really think it was. So many people wanted the job but I stood out. Having your own business and trying stuff out for yourself is a good way of showing your dedication to a field and the company’s more willing to invest in you and take a risk with you. I’m more in touch with the jewellery business because I’ve approached it and learned through my own experience. And it’s fun because you learn while you’re doing it.
And tell us about your other online job?
Before I moved to Brighton, I worked for a tutor website TheTutorCrowd.com. As Education Manager, I was hooking up teachers with students. I left when I moved to Brighton and the commute was too far. Then I realised I could teach for the site - I have an A in English Lit and I have some teacher training. I’ve got a computer, I’ve got a webcam. So I’ve got a couple of regular clients and occasionally I’ll help with personal statements, CVs and essays. I’ve been able to fit it around my schedule and it’s good money! I can pick and choose, too. Which is great, because when I was unemployed and interning I didn’t have that much choice, but now I’m in control.