Out of the blue, a friend hit me up earlier this week.
C: “Hello bro, what’s good. I have loads of questions mehn.”
Me: “Hey man, I’m good… what up?”
C: “I don’t know where to start.”
Me: “You want to start an online business, or what?”
C: “Yes bro, but I don’t know where to begin.“
And then it hit me.
It’s easy to see different opportunities and come up with a couple ideas for online businesses when you’ve been strolling round this space for a while.
But when you’re just starting out, it could be one hell of a “mindscrew” (Yes, I totally just invented that word).
The problem is not a dearth of information.
The problem is there’s way too much information that it confuses the newbie and doesn’t leave him much smarter than when he started.
I know, because I’ve been there.
And that’s why I’m writing this post.
I’ve been wandering the Internet for about 6 years trying to figure out how to earn money online. And I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If I had to go back in time with what I now know, I would do things differently.
But enough crying over spilled milk, let’s begin.
Dear Newbie, This Is How You Figure Out How To Earn Money Online
There are many beautiful stories of overnight internet millionaires. Before we go on, let’s kill that jive.
There is no such thing as an overnight internet millionaires. Well, legally, there isn’t. If you’re looking for something more “Yahoo Yahoo”, you can leave because you won’t find it here.
While it’s not possible to make a million naira or dollars overnight online, it is possible to earn money online and maybe even make a million.
But just like everything worthwhile in life, it takes time, hard work and consistency.
If you can handle that, then read on.
#1. Identify what value you can provide
Value is exchanged for money. It’s a basic rule in business.
So your first step is to figure out what value you can provide to the market.
Begin by analyzing your skill set.
Ask yourself these questions below and list up to at least 5 answers for each question.
Don’t worry if some of the answers seem a bit “out there”. Just do it any way:
- What can I do?
- What skills do I have?
- What talents do I have?
- What have I learnt to do?
- Which of the above do I enjoy doing?
- How can I do that online?
If you can’t answer all these questions by yourself, get a trusted friend to help you fill in some of the gaps.
And if you can’t think up enough answers to each question, don’t sweat it.
When I started out, I only answered the first question with 2 answers:
“I can touch type.”
“I can write”
And that was it.
The purpose of these questions is to get you thinking about what value you can offer i.e. what you can earn money for.
#2. Identify a need that matches the value you can offer
This involves doing your research and figuring out if people want what you have to offer.
You could do something as simple as doing Google searches, talking to people and basically just putting yourself out there.
Basically you need to identify where the vacancies in the market are, and see if your value can connect with that. If it does, then you have a niche you can tap into.
And if it doesn’t, then you look deeper and figure out how you can provide value. And if you feel you can’t, then you…
#3. Figure out what you need to learn and learn it… and even if you don’t need it, learn it anyway.
When you’re just starting out, a big part of your activities will involve learning.
Learning, learning and a whole lot of… Learning!
Because in the beginning you need information but information won’t come to you. You need to go get it.
I started off trying to get data entry jobs online. Needless to say, that didn’t work out well.
So I got into article and blog writing and I decided I wanted to be a copywriter. I read copywriting books, copywriting blogs and everything I could get my hands on related to copywriting.
Then I realized I needed online marketing skills, so I started learning online marketing, reading and reading and reading. I even took a course in Inbound marketing.
I’m not focused on online marketing right now, but every single thing I’ve learnt from the beginning has come into play in one way or the other.
You need to figure out what you need to learn, and then you go learn it and do it.
Are You An Employee or An Entrepreneur?
Most people believe that because you earn money online, you are automatically an entrepreneur.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just like with office-and-chair business, you could either be an online employee, or online entrepreneur.
Let me explain.
Online employees mainly refers to freelancing and other online jobs.
Being a freelancer means you get jobs which you do, and get paid for, without having to tie yourself down to any particular company.
There are all manner of freelancers, from writers, to bloggers, to content managers, to SEO experts, to voice over actors, etcetera shmetcetera.
You could take a lot of freelance jobs at the same time and the more you work, the more you earn. And in most cases, you can earn money online while you’re in pajamas at home.
But, on the flip side, you have to deal with competing for jobs, dry periods when you can’t seem to land a job, and if you decide not to work a certain month, you’re not going to earn any money.
So in a way, you still are an employee. And if that’s what you want to do, there is nothing wrong with that.
I had my own freelance experience which I wrote about briefly here.
Here, it takes a bit more imagination than just finding what you can do to earn and getting paid to do it.
You have to come up with a business idea that provides a certain value to your target customers.
This could be through different means such as being a resource, providing a software service or a product that people need.
This includes bloggers, Software As A Service (SaaS) companies, social media platforms, e-commerce businesses, etcetera shmetcetera.
At the very least to do this, you’ll need to have a website and actually build your business from the website.
You’ll also have to push yourself by yourself. You’ll have to do most of the work or delegate certain activities to freelancers or permanent employees.
Basically you call all the shots and the failure or success of the business is 100% dependent on you.
So after figuring out #1- #3 above, then you need to figure out if you want to be an online employee or entrepreneur and then go from there.
I want to leave you with a few nuggets I’ve picked up on my journey:
#1. Start with whatever you have in your hand, right where you are.
When it comes to online business, the cost to get in is not astronomical.
You could start with just mobile data and a mobile phone or laptop. So all the excuses about not having money, etcetera shmetcetera, are bullshit.
Do what you can with what you have right where you are.
#2. “The best way to figure out what you want to do is to do something you know you don’t want to do”- Casey Neistat
You may start with writing blog posts, or ghostwriting, but you don’t like writing.
Stick with it, and your mind will begin to quickly work on figuring out what you’d rather be doing.
If you can’t figure out what value you have to offer, just pick something and start doing.
The important thing is to start. Start with whatever you can and stick with it till you find out what you’d rather be doing.
#3. Learn everything
Just because you don’t plan to enter a particular niche doesn’t mean you should close yourself off to that niche completely.
Learn. Learn and learn everything you can.
This opens your eyes to other opportunities you won’t have seen otherwise.
#4. Change is necessary. Don’t be afraid to pivot.
Sure you may start out as a blogger, but if you see an opportunity to provide consulting services, take it.
If you’re a writer, and you have such a unique style of writing, get into blogging.
If you’re a blogger, and you’re not camera shy, try your hand at vlogging.
If something catches your interest, try it out. Don’t hold yourself back.
When I first started this blog, I was in a different state of mind. I wanted it to be my “writer’s site”. Then I realized I wanted to help online entrepreneurs, so I pivoted and changed direction.
Don’t be afraid to change direction. Embrace change wholeheartedly.
If I was just starting out in online business, this is advice I would have wanted to hear. I hope this helps you figure out how you want to earn money online.
Any questions? Let’s talk about them in the comments section.
Keeping it 500,
Author: Tomi Joshua
Tomi is a case.
A bit brash, at first blush. But ultimately, he means well. There are very few things he won’t say or do in the presence of tolerant company (especially when it could make for a good story later).
Tomi is a Doctor, writer, certified inbound marketer (Shout Out to HubSpot), Digital Hustler, and online business addict.
He is most likely to be found dancing to the beat of his own drum, even in accapella.