There are many ways to make money online. But the two that stand out as the most lucrative are freelancing and starting an online business. In this article, we will outline both of them so that you can decide which one is for you.
Risk and Money Making Potential of Freelancing and Online Business
Both freelancing and starting an online business are ways to make lots of money with minimal risk.
Let’s put that into concrete numbers.
To become a freelancer, you would most likely need training. To get started, you may spend P5,000 for a single or multiple training courses. A lot of experienced freelancers also opt to enhance their knowledge by continuously taking new pieces of training. They do this to stay up to date with new advancements and increase their earning potential. I, for example, budget around P100,000 for training courses every year.
Brand new freelancers usually start earning P20,000-30,000 per month, more experienced freelancers earn around P50,000 per month, and the cream of the crop can earn over P100,000 per month.
Online business is a little different. According to Forbes, 90% of all online businesses fail within the first four months. Speaking from my experience and those of friends, this is true. In my first online business venture, I spent around P150,000 and had revenues of around P100,000 in a span of three months. That business failed.
But for the 10% that does succeed, most of them earn P50,000 per month within six months, P100,000 within a year, and the cream of the crop can earn over P500,000 per month.
Being a freelancer involves you mastering one specific skill set and offering that as a service to different businesses. Starting a business (on your own) involves mastering groups of different skillsets in order to run your business properly.
Your choices when it comes to Freelancing
- Development (app, programs, web). The development path involves programming. If you’re not already a programmer, this may take a lot of study and practice for you to get in to. Those that are mathematically and technically inclined may find themselves fit for this career path. If you want to test out whether development is the right path for you, I suggest heading over to codeacademy.com and taking their free hands-on course. This course will give you a glimpse of what programming is like and you’ll be able to find out if it’s the right path for you. Developers usually start at around P40,000 per month.
- Design (graphic, web, illustration). Design can be broken down into different areas – mainly graphic, web, and illustration. Design is ideal for those that are artistically inclined. Some design skills are more technical and less artistic than others (specifically front-end web design), but all design skills require someone with a good eye for it. If want to become a designer, my suggestion is to obtain a copy of Adobe Photoshop or GIMP (free software) and start watching YouTube videos on using said software. Designers usually start at around P30,000 per month.
- Admin (virtual assistant, writing, customer service). Admin is the easiest freelance career path to get in to. It’s also the most boring. Admins usually check and manage email, schedules, social media, and website content. Because it’s the easiest career path of the four, it’s what most people start with when they want to freelance and what a vast majority of Filipino freelancers are doing. My suggestion to get an overview of admin work is to take my free course HERE. Admin people usually start at around P20,000 per month.
- Online Marketing (SEO, Ads, social media). Online Marketing is one of the more in-demand freelance jobs out there. Every business needs someone who can do marketing for their company. Most online marketers have to understand how the different marketing channels work – Google search, Google Ads, Facebook pages, Facebook Ads, YouTube Ads, email, analytics, etc. A good place to start with online marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Moz (a leader in SEO), has a beginners guide here.
Once you have an area you want to focus on, you can find clients on freelance websites, such as upwork.com and freelancer.com. You’d also post your profile on those sites – listing down what services you offer and allowing clients to find and hire you for work they need to be done.
Related: 15 Proven Websites for Starting a Freelance Job
Your choices when it comes to Online Business
- Affiliate Marketing. Affiliate marketing is the easiest way to start an online business. Most commonly, this is when you have a blog wherein you have mentions of various products. While mentioning the products on your blog, you either get paid by the company for doing so, or have a link going back to their website and get a percentage of sales every time someone makes a purchase from your link. What a lot of online businesses do is start with affiliate marketing and move on to other ways of monetizing.
- Selling your own products. There are two types of products in an online business. Digital products and physical products. Digital products can be apps, e-books, or online courses. These usually require you to have your website, but there are services out there that help distribute physical products – such as gumroad.com. Physical products can be anything you can touch. Physical products have more marketplaces available, such as eBay, Etsy, or Olx.ph. However, if you can build an audience and sell products on your website, it would become a lot more lucrative because your margins would be higher.
- Selling your own services. This is what happens when freelancers no longer want to go through freelance websites. They set-up their website and start offering their services as either an individual or an agency. While you’d have to handle your marketing working outside freelance websites, you’d also be able to portray a higher level of expertise and credibility – allowing you to charge higher rates.
- Selling others’ products. This is different from affiliate marketing in the sense that you not only mention other companies’ products on your site but directly sell those products. Most of the time, you’d be branding the products as your own. You’d also do your marketing and sales. This means offering after-sales support for these products as well. This can be very lucrative if you find a product that’s not currently being sold online and create the infrastructure to do so.
Related: How to Start an Online Business in the Philippines
So should I freelance or start an online business?
Ultimately, it’s up to you which path you want to take. You can think of it the way you think of investments. Freelancing is medium risk, medium reward; while business is high risk; high reward. And working corporate can be considered low risk, low reward.
What a lot of people do is start earning money through freelancing while trying to launch an online business on the side. So that while the online business still costs more money than it makes and if the business fails, they still have a steady stream of income. It’s what I did, and what I suggest you do.