oDesk Review: Good and Bad

oDesk ReviewThis is my oDesk review. oDesk is a site where you can get a ton of freelancing jobs. It is one of the largest freelancing marketplace on the internet. The total value of contracts at oDesk was $16 million for the month of April 2011, so you can imagine that it is a really huge business. Huge doesn’t always mean good, so here in my oDesk review I’ll discuss both the good and bad aspects of oDesk. If you are an employer, also read my oDesk Review from employer’s perspective.

I have been a freelance writer at oDesk since March 2009, at which time it wasn’t half as big as it is now. I have seen it grow rapidly and have seen the number of jobs being posted steadily increase in almost all areas. Since I am a freelance writer, I follow the jobs in the writing section very closely and have some insights that I wish to share with you on oDesk review with respect to these jobs.

The first thing I would like to mention here before going into the detailed oDesk review is that the site takes a 10% fees for what you are paid. For example, if you are paid $50 for a task, oDesk will get $5. This is similar to the industry standard. oDesk doesn’t have any membership fees and is completely free to join. There are no paid memberships either, which is very good, in my opinion.

Also to those wondering, oDesk is not a scam. If oDesk was scam, it wouldn’t be the place of choice for millions of members. oDesk is just a platform to bring employees and employers together. Some people who talk of the oDesk scam were duped by some employer there – this happens sometimes. However, if you are careful, e.g. by asking for an upfront payment or working with high-feedback employers, you can avoid these oDesk scammers.

After reading this oDesk review, if you decide to join the site, do read my 7 oDesk Tips which will help you land your first job with ease. You may also be interested in how I make money from my blog. These are tough economic times and employers have ridiculous requirements for hiring. Freelancing is one way out of this mess and oDesk is definitely an option to consider.

Looking for work at oDesk?

oDesk Review: Quality and Quantity of Jobs Posted

Good: There are plenty of jobs at oDesk for almost all the categories that you can think of. Personally, I know about writing jobs – they have more than doubled in the last year itself and perhaps will keep increasing. Since there are so many jobs to choose from, you can find the jobs where your skills are in demand and apply for those with your expertise. For example, some writers are better at creative writing while some are good at writing sales copies. Since there are many jobs, you can always find some that are tailored to suit your skills.

Bad: Even though there are many jobs at oDesk, their quality isn’t the best. For example, there are only a few jobs with reputable businesses. In writing, there are almost no jobs posted from magazines or even local newspapers or other famous businesses. I am not sure how bad this is – it is similar in most similar sites like Elance or Guru, but Elance tends to get a few of the better quality jobs just because it is older than oDesk. Hopefully, things will change in the future.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for small to medium jobs with small businesses, oDesk is great! If you are looking to be hired as the next NY Times columnist, you will be disappointed. Take this into consideration when you present your oDesk review to others.

oDesk Review: Getting Paid

Good: In terms of getting paid, oDesk perhaps has the best system in place. There are two kinds of jobs – hourly and fixed price. If you are working on an hourly job, you can post the hours you work at oDesk. You will need to install their special software which allows it to track your activity: keywords and mouse clicks. If the activity is above a certain threshold and the random screenshots taken by this software show that you are working and not browsing the internet unrelated to the job, you are guaranteed to get paid. This is a very good safeguard in place which new freelancers especially like (those who are skeptical about the whole system!) Since freelancers are guaranteed to get paid, it is certainly a positive aspect of oDesk review that no other site can beat.

Bad: The software is too intrusive. Plus, working is not the same as typing and mouse-clicks. For example, the software cannot know that I am thinking when I am not typing. Many clients do understand this but you can never be sure. Another thing that I don’t like is it gives the feel of big-brother watching you at all times. That is not how any work is done – you cannot oversee every aspect. I do like to browse the internet and check my mail while I am working too.

If you do end up choosing the fixed price assignments instead of the hourly ones to avoid this trouble, there is no guarantee you’ll get paid. This happens much less with serious clients but there are a few who post small jobs and will not pay you. In those cases, it is better to demand an upfront payment. oDesk doesn’t have an escrow system, which is really bad.

Bottom Line: Look what suits you – if you are fine with your employer monitoring every minute of your work, you are guaranteed to get paid for every hour of work. If not, just look for fixed price assignments and work with clients who have a good feedback so you are not scammed.

oDesk Review: Feedback System

Good: The feedback system is wonderful at oDesk and is much more revealing about both employees and employers than at similar sites like Elance or Guru. After the assignment is done, oDesk will ask both the parties involved to give a feedback on a scale of 5 for different parameters like quality of work, communication, deadlines, etc. In addition, both parties should leave a comment that appears on the profile page. This is a very good resource for both employees and employers to work with long-term oDesk members only so that there is little or no chance of getting scammed.

Bad: There is nothing very bad about the feedback system that oDesk uses. However, there are times when an employer can give an unjust feedback and it will affect your overall score and profile. A bad feedback, even if given unjustly, is hard to get rid of. Worst case, you can refund the whole amount of the project to the employer and your feedback will not count.

Another aspect of oDesk feedback is that you can make any comment that you get private (but the score will remain). This sometimes makes it hard to really know why the particular employer or employee was not recommended.

Bottom Line: oDesk feedback is excellent but be careful of unjustly given low feedback.

oDesk Review: oDesk Tests

Good: oDesk tests are actually wonderful. They allow workers to give online tests and these scores are displayed on the homepage. This helps employers weed out people who lie in their profile (e.g. people saying they have perfect English skills when they don’t know the basics of grammar). Apart from the actual score, the percentile is also shown which makes a lot of sense. If you are first place, top 10% or top 20%, it shows again with your test scores and is a nice achievement to have. oDesk tests are also extremely useful for people totally new to oDesk who don’t have any prior feedback, to show they are good. If you want to do well on your oDesk tests, read my oDesk test tips post for more details.

Bad: oDesk tests don’t seem to figure in the overall scheme of things, while determining the best employers of the month or calculating an overall score. I would like to see the test scores given more importance. Also, few employers seem to care much about these scores in their job requirements, which is a pity.

Bottom Line: oDesk tests are great to improve your overall profile and show that you know what you are doing.

oDesk Review: Support Provided

Good: No good site is complete without good support. oDesk has a very good help and support system. There is live chat available most of the times and even otherwise you can always send a ticket. Apart from these, there is an active forum where you can get advice, voice your complaints and give feedback and suggestions.

Bad: Compared to the number of people using oDesk, the forum is not that active. I think oDesk should do more to provide a more vibrant community.

Bottom Line: oDesk has a very good support system, from their staff to your peers. oDesk review for support has overall been good.

oDesk Review: Data and Statistics

Good: My oDesk review is going to be incomplete without this point. Data and statistics are very important to know how the site is doing and where the business is coming from. The oConomy, for example, provides a good idea of the value of all the jobs at oDesk. You can get many other estimates as well.

Bad: Some of the statistics are highly outdated. If you look at trends, you can find the data is from March 2008. That’s an eternity in a fast growing business! Who cares about statistics four years old? Worse, it is highly misleading to prospective employers and also freelancers. You can see the average wages are almost always above $15/hour for a writer even in the developing countries. I am sure it is far from the truth now, but oDesk refuses to publish the statistics or make them up to date. I am sure they have the data, so if they have nothing to hide, I don’t see any reason why they don’t want to publish the latest figures.

Bottom Line: Some statistics are good, but others are not updated in ages, and can be very misleading. Make sure the statistics that you see on oDesk make sense in terms of when it was last updated. Figures from half a decade are completely meaningless when the industry and the website are growing at the rate that it did.

So I hope you liked my oDesk review. If you have any thoughts on this subject, don’t forget to share it in the comments. I would also love to know your experience in using oDesk.

You should also read my post on oDesk Cover Letter Tips and 5 Freelancing Ideas to know more about freelancing and working with oDesk so you can have a successful freelancing career. Also, to know more about how oDesk compares with competitors, read my posts on oDesk vs Elance and PeoplePerHour Review.

 

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Blogging Ideas: Untapped Niches

Blogging ideas Blogging nichesThis is part of my series on blogging ideas. There are all kinds of bloggers out there – those who write for fun, those who write for fame, those who write to share a story, those who want an outlet for their ideas, those who want to make money, and a thousand other reasons. If you are just blogging for fun, you can write about anything that you like. However, if you are interested in professional blogging, you need to plan ahead.

If you are blogging professionally to make money, one easy way to start blogging is by finding an area in which you are an expert. This way you can share your knowledge and people will come. However, what if you just want to gain experience in blogging? How do you select a niche in that case?

Well, one way is to look for untapped niches. This is exactly what I did with my first (still running) blog when I started writing about entertainment auctions. It is also something that you can do too – find a virgin niche with not too many blogs or websites and you can dominate that area.

For me, this paid rich dividends and also provided me with invaluable learning experience. I make money in many ways from my blog but more importantly it gave me the confidence that I can make it too. In addition, my blog provided me with a perfect practical and hands-on learning that I couldn’t have learned otherwise. With absolutely no background in any internet marketing, I can now make a good amount of money from my blog.

So here is an idea that you can use as well – look for untapped niches. This is not too easy to find, so you need to keep your eyes open to find a new bubbling idea on the internet that might catch on pretty soon. A simple analysis of potential future feasibility is also a good idea. In my case, there were entertainment auctions coming up like crazy after I started my blog and since I already established myself as an authority in this field, I had no trouble getting advertisers through banners and blog posts.

Sometimes this can be risky because you don’t know how the idea will pan out eventually, but sometimes you just need to take the leap. If it succeeds, with minimal effort, you will have a wonderful resource at your disposal that can bring you some steady income every single month even if you don’t become a millionaire. In addition, it is a great practical learning experience.

Photo credit: eguidetravel

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Top 5 Blogging Myths

Blogging mythsBlogging myths are all over the internet coming from people who have little or no idea about what blogging constitutes. This is sad because wanna-be bloggers get discouraged after reading this so-called advice. This simple fact is, blogging can cover a vast umbrella of things you do online, so it is not limited to one particular kind of writing alone. People seldom understand this fact. They think the kind of blogging they are involved in is the only kind of blogging, which explains a whole lot of myths about blogging floating on the internet.

In this post, I wish to expose some of the myths and hopefully help a few people to take up blogging and ignore the dismissive voices around. Here are the top 5 blogging myths that you are likely to see, and reasons why they are nothing more than myths.

1. I need to be an expert before I can blog

This is a common myth propounded especially by people who make money using blogs. They think you need to be an expert in a field before you start blogging. While this is true in many cases of professional blogging (blogging for money) it is not the core essence of blogging. If you think about the origins of blogging, you will see it started off as a personal diary that people want to share with others. There is nothing like being an expert – you just shared your story, that’s all.

Blogging can be of various different forms, and professional blogging might need you to be an expert in a field, but really, that is not necessary at all. Even if you plan to blog for money, there is no hard and fast rule that you should know the subject inside out. You can document your progress on the way and then build on to become an expert.

I know many internet marketers who do that – they try something out, fail, and write about it. Others love to hear these stories because they are more likely to relate to this than an expert telling them exactly what needs to be done. There is a personal touch in these blogs and they are in no way inferior.

2. A website is always better than a blog

This is a common blogging myth that is propagated by the “tech guys” who think blogging is an inferior form of a website and meant for those who do not know how to create and maintain a website. Dead wrong. While a website has its own functionality, a blog is not a substitute for a website. A website and blog are completely different in their functionality.

A blog is still something of a diary, in that the entries are entered in a reverse-chronology. Blogs are usually updated much more frequently than websites which tend to be static after a point of time. Blogs are much more personal in that the writer can really “speak” to the readers through a blog. He can share a joke, digress to an unrelated point or just be corny. It is all in the style and rapport the blogger builds with the readers. On the other hand, a website will always find this very hard to do, unless in very special cases.

3. It is a must to have great English skills to be a blogger

While it certainly won’t hurt, having good English skills is not a prerequisite for blogging. If you have something to share with the world and it has some value, people will come. They will not mind an occasional grammatical error. In any case, you should make an effort to better your language skills or hire a proofreader but you don’t need to give up blogging if you are interested and passionate about a topic.

The most common example that I can give you is tech blogs. A lot of non-native English speakers run excellent tech blogs that help non-technical people understand various concepts, help with coding and maintaining their website and a ton of other stuff. What people are looking for here is quality content in terms of it being helpful, not in terms of good writing skills.

4. Blogspot blogs are worthless and non-serious

This is a common blogging myth that people somehow have in their mind. They think having your own hosting and WordPress is somehow the first step towards blogging. It is not. People visit blogs for content and value they provide. It doesn’t matter if the blog is hosted free with Blogger.

There are several reasons why people might want to stick with Blogger. For starters, it is completely free, so it is definitely a very good resource for those without  commercial ambitions. Then, it is very easy to run and operate and extremely convenient for someone who doesn’t know a lot of technical details about running a website and has no interest in learning either. Don’t let the technical stuff interfere with your desire to blog – Blogger is just fine, make a start.

5. I must write daily to be a successful blogger

It is nice for a blog to be updated regularly with fresh content, but you don’t have to write every single day. You can update it as frequently as you like, but remain consistent. Another great way for a blog to get fresh content is with the help of guest blogging. You can have other bloggers blog on your blog, so that your readers get quality content.

These are a few blogging myths that I have encountered. If you have other things to share, by all means do so. I would be happy to hear your own experience.

Photo credit: Filipe

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5 Ways I Make Money Online from my Blog

Make Money OnlineThere are many ways I make money online. This blog is a humble attempt to document these and tell you that it isn’t rocket science. If I can do it, so can you. After all, that’s the whole motto of my blog in the first place!

Anyway, here are the ways in which I made money in the past, and so can you. I am discussing these methods with respect to my other blog, which is on the topic of penny auctions. My Penny Auctions Blog is a blogspot blog which I started less than an year ago and I already make some good money off it. Here are the ways in which I have monetized it –

1. Google Adsense

This is the simplest method of monetization that I know of. It is simple because you don’t really need to do anything. To get an Adsense account, you just apply for it with Google with a blog or website and you should be approved very soon. Once you are approved, it is easy to earn money with Google Adsense. All you need to do is insert their codes in the blog and you are all set. The advertisements will show automatically.

The reason it is simple is because it is very straightforward. Google will crawl the blog and look for all the relevant keywords. Then it will show the relevant advertisements on the blog. Because Google has the largest database of all advertisers, you can get the best deals. When ads are relevant, people are more likely to click on them. Google Adsense is a pay per click system, so you get paid every time someone clicks on your ads. Remember never to violate their TOS, e.g. by trying to fool Google by clicking your own ads from a different computer, asking friends to click ads for you, etc.

Adsense is good, but it is not the most lucrative. For my blog, Adsense brings in some steady income but it is not the main source of revenue from my blog. There are several other ways to make money from blogs.

2. Direct Advertising: Banner Ads

Direct advertisements through banners is a very good way to make money for bloggers once they get enough traffic to their blog. The more the number of visitors, the more the advertisers will be willing to pay for the banners they place on your blog. How much money you charge depends on many factors. At my blog, the average rate of a 250×250 banner is $50/month, which is not too bad. Blogs that get better traffic will command higher rates.

The main disadvantage of direct advertising is that you have to do the searching. I write to many advertisers in the field of penny auctions and only a few are interested in advertising on my blog. Thus I need to send out multiple emails pitching my blog and if they like it, they will get back. Most of the times I don’t get any replies.

If a blog is more popular, you can always include a link which says ‘Advertise Here’ and you should get advertisers who contact you. I cannot do it for my blog, since it isn’t so big – at least for now! 🙂

I will write a detailed post on how you should find advertisers for banners and how to email them about your blog. For now, you should know that it is hard work but it is definitely lucrative.

3. Featured Blog Posts

Featured Blog Posts are an excellent way to earn money as a blogger. For advertisers, they get to publish on a famous blog in the niche with plenty of visitors. In addition, advertisers can get a good dofollow backlink from an authority blog in this area.

So how do featured blog posts work? Well, if a new penny auction comes up with a promotion or news or some other exciting feature that it thinks will attract bidders, it publishes this on my blog as a featured blog post. In return, I get paid for it. The average cost of a featured blog post on my blog is about $25/post but it varies – for regular advertisers, I like to combine banner + featured posts into a single package.

The process of finding advertisers for featured blog posts is similar to the process of finding advertisers for banner ads. You write to individual websites and ask them if they want to buy featured blog posts. You explain how awesome your blog is and what benefit they will derive from it.

4. Selling Backlinks

This is not directly from the blog but through article directories. I have articles published in top article directories like EzineArticles on penny auctions. I offer advertisers a backlink from these sites. Since the articles are already published, I can sell the backlinks as soon as I finalize a deal. Here again, the charge is about $20-25 per backlink. Advertisers know you write quality articles only through your blog and you should contact them as such. Show them the value of high PR backlinks, especially for the new websites.

5. Affiliate Marketing

This is my favorite because it brings in the most revenue. I promote websites on my blog which have affiliate programs. It is important to make sure that the affiliate products/websites that you promote are good quality because as a blogger, reputation is very important and priceless. So I select the best sites in the niche and promote them on my blog. Whenever they get members from my blog, they pay me a percentage of sales.

So here it is, the 5 ways through which I earn money from my blog. What are your favorites? How do you monetize your blog? Don’t forget to share your story!

 

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7 oDesk Tips for Freelancers

oDesk TipsThese oDesk tips will help freelancers get the oDesk jobs that they want. oDesk is a marketplace that brings freelancers and employers together. This is a way to bring workers and employers together so they can negotiate and work on a project. oDesk is just a medium for the interaction of the two parties and provides some safeguard mechanisms to facilitate the process smoothly but ultimately it is between the contractor (freelancer) and business owner (employer) to decide the terms of their work arrangement.

oDesk is a great way to start a freelancing career for anyone. It is completely free to join (there are no premium memberships, like at other freelancing sites like Elance or Guru) and has a flat rate of 10% fee for all payments made at oDesk, which is actually not too bad, at least for beginners. It is a really great way for someone to make money online by using his skills.

However, it is not easy to get the dream assignments at oDesk unless you follow these oDesk tips. This is because you will be competing against several candidates from across the globe. Some of them will have superior skill and experience while others might have a cost advantage compared to your bid. Therefore it is important to know and understand the best oDesk tips which will help you land your coveted job. There are regular tips on cover letters that you follow, but this post is written exclusively for oDesk cover letters.

oDesk Tip-1: Complete Your Profile

This is a very important part of your oDesk work experience which is often neglected by beginners. oDesk profiles are fairly comprehensive. You need to enter a lot of information regarding your previous experience, your skill sets, work portfolio, work samples, etc. It is very important that you take the time and effort to fill these out in a detailed manner. Potential employers do look at your complete profile, so it is important to appear professional.

Also remember never to bluff your way into a job – always be truthful about your skills. For example, oDesk asks you to assess your English skills. If you enter a 5, you better be good because it is not hard for an employer to make it out if you are anything less.

Another important aspect of the oDesk profile is including a portrait of yourself. This shows employers that you are genuine and serious about the work and are here on oDesk for the long term to make it as a freelancer.

A final tip is to make sure that your oDesk profile shows 100% complete by the time you are done. This way you can keep track of the essential elements like portfolio, resume, portrait, etc.

oDesk Tip-2: Make a Compelling Tagline

oDesk gives you an option to sell yourself in one line using a tagline. Use this wisely. When an employer looks at your profile, the first thing he sees is this tagline beside your name. It should be compelling and should showcase your strengths in that particular area. Don’t make it very generic, like “Excellent writer for hire”. Instead, make it very specific to your needs, like “Published author with 10 years of creative writing experience” or “Experienced copywriter with a Masters in English” or something that is right for you.

oDesk Tip-3: Take oDesk Skills Tests

Many employers want the best people and taking the oDesk skills tests not only shows that you are good but also shows that you are serious. Personally, I have taken and passed 14 tests related to writing, 9 of which show a Top 10% badge against the score. This is a good thing to have in your profile page.

Taking the oDesk skills tests is especially important for beginners who do not have a lot of work history and feedback. By passing these tests with flying colors, you are showing that even though you haven’t worked long at oDesk, you are serious about making a commitment to your freelancing career.

oDesk Tip-4: Never Bid Below What You are Worth

This is a common mistake made by people who are desperate to get their first job. They try to lower their rate to much below what they are worth. There are many job postings at oDesk aimed at people like these but this is not the right approach towards any freelancing career. Sure, as you gain in feedback and reputation within the community, you can demand higher prices but that doesn’t mean you under-sell yourself to write articles at $1/hour.

In the long run, you are always better off working on projects that are worth your time and effort and those are the employers you really want to be working with in the long term. You may have to prepare an additional 10-20 job applications but don’t sell yourself short. Follow all the other oDesk tips here and even without the feedback and experience, you can demand good wages.

oDesk Tip-5: Read the Complete Job Description

Different jobs have different requirements and it is very important to read the full job description before you decide to apply for it. Of late, many employers ask the freelancers to include a certain word or phrase in their cover letter, just to make sure they have read the full posting. I personally don’t like this a lot but many employers stand by this tactic to weed out the applicants. If you fail to mention that word or phrase, they will not even read your entire cover letter and you are simply rejected.

Also, reading the complete job description helps you prepare the right cover letter which is very important and discussed next.

oDesk Tip 6: Write Customized Cover Letters

As with traditional jobs, a cover letter can make or break the application. It is very important that you read and understand the full job description and know what skills are required. If you think you are suitable for the job, apply with a customized cover letter. The employer should see that you have read the full posting. Mention a point or two that he has written in the job opening description. Show your previous experience as relevant to what the job demands.

It is very common, especially for people new to oDesk, to simply make a general cover letter and post it for every job posting. This is a completely unprofessional and wrong way of approaching a freelancing job or career. Customized cover letters show you are genuinely interested in the job. And make no mistake, it is very easy to spot a general cover letter which is written for every post in the category and not specifically for the job at hand.

oDesk Tip-7: Maintain a Good, Long Term Relationship

This is a tip for the long term, which is very important. Today, I hardly look for new assignments at oDesk because I work with my previous clients with whom I have worked for long. Really long. It should be the same in your case as well. Once an assignment is completed, if you go over and beyond what was initially expected, not only will you get a great feedback but you will also get the future assignments.

Starting out on a freelancing career can be challenging but if you follow these oDesk tips and be serious about committing to freelancing, you can live off it and make a great career. You will find a lot of success stories at oDesk where contractors have successfully quit their day job and now work full time, freelancing at oDesk.

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Internet Marketing Foundation: Trading Eyeballs for Money

Internet MarketingWhen you want to enter into internet marketing, people have many different kinds of ideas. Some view it as a get rich scheme which it isn’t. Some think it is way too technical which is again false. Internet marketing isn’t hard to understand if you look at its natural evolution. To truly understand internet marketing, you should first look at any marketing effort in general. What does any marketing aim to do? Simple, it aims to get the attention of people.

Thus the foundation of internet marketing is still the same: getting as many eyeballs as possible.

A Case in Point – Television Ads

Let us look at a sample case of television ads to really understand internet marketing better. Why are companies willing to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for advertising spots during the SuperBowl of Soccer Finals? It is because they get so many eyeballs – i.e. they get millions of viewers. The particular sporting event is able to give the advertisers millions of viewers which is worth tons of money.

So How is it Different on the Internet?

On the internet, the only difference is that instead of just sending in eyeballs, you usually trade visitors for money. This might sound crass but that’s the truth. What does any advertisement aim to do, on the internet? It aims to get clicks. Publishers are paid when visitors click on the ads or convert. This means as a publisher, you have a visitor to your site whom you are now sending to another site. You are still giving the advertiser the eyeballs but this time you lose a visitor. No wonder then that the cost of a visitor click is higher in this case than a simple television ad.

Taking this step further is the concept of CPA or affiliate marketing. In affiliate marketing, you trade visitors for a possibility of conversion. Thus, as a publisher you are taking a higher risk – certainly, not everyone who visits the advertiser is going to buy. Therefore, at the end of the day, you might just end up with nothing. Therefore, in CPA (cost per action) the publishers are paid even more. Again, this is to be expected because the publisher doesn’t get paid till the conversion takes place.

Bottom Line

So that is it. Internet marketing is a natural progression of offline marketing only more suitable for the internet audience. When done right, internet marketing can be very sustainable and everyone emerges a winner. The publisher gets money, the advertiser gets sales and the visitors get value. This is the central theme of any marketing, including internet marketing.

Photo Credit: ScrewTape

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5 Worst Ways to Make Money Online

Worst Ways to Make Money Online

Beware of Online Scams

What are the worst ways to make money online? Actually there are plenty. It is not hard to make money online when you know what you are doing. However, the main problem is, many people who are new to this area are not sure how to go about it. Millions of people dream of making a living online but few accomplish it. Part of the reason is that they get caught up in these myriad different ways that promise to help them make money online but are little more than scams. As a beginner, it is very important to know the right approach and method that will make money for you. Do not make the mistakes of taking up one of these worst ways to make money online –

1. Paid to Click (PTC)

This is perhaps the worst way to make money online ever designed. The reason it is popular is because it requires absolutely no skill, no commitment, no investment, no risk taking and no real effort to learn. It is then not surprising that the returns are so low. The way PTC or paid to click works is that you need to click on an advertiser link and be on the page for 20-30 seconds, after which you will get anywhere from $0.001 to $0.01 per visit.

If this were a job, you would perhaps need to work 100 hours a day to feed your family. The amount of money that you can make is surprisingly small. The payouts are deliberately made to be high so that many people can drop out. Actually it isn’t that high – say $10 is the norm but then to reach $10 you need 1000 clicks, which is about 1000 minutes of your time, including the loading of the pages and everything else. That is about 16 hours of work for $10!

As you can see, all you need to do is just click on sites and visit advertisers. There is nothing else that you need to do. You don’t require any skill and there is nothing to work smart. They do have some incentives for referrals but that is a low and hard process in itself. Worse, many of them don’t even have Paypal payments but will instead pay you through AlertPay or Liberty Reserve which make it extremely hard to transfer even the $10 to your bank account.

What is surprising is that PTC is one of the worst ways to make money online, yet people flock to it very often, especially the beginners who know no better. I wish I could gather them all and teach them a thing or two about real ways to make money online!

2. Paid to Surf

Paid to surf is another pathetic way to try to make money online. There can be manual surfing or auto-surfing where you need to install a software. The reasons are similar to the ones given above – the amount of money you can potentially make is very less. Paid to surf pays less than paid to click, so you can imagine that you might need to spend an eternity doing nothing to get paid with these programs. It is not really a way to make money.

In rare cases, you might want to use paid to surf programs to drive traffic to your site (of course you must beware never to use programs like Google Adsense in these sites, otherwise you will be banned) for whatever reason. This traffic will almost never convert but you might want higher traffic stats for whatever reason. Even then, it is one of the worst ways to make money online.

3. Pyramid or Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Schemes

These are nothing but scams. Pyramid schemes continue to flourish, especially on the internet in spite of their notoriety . I would say these are worse than the above two because at least in Paid to click and Paid to Surf, you don’t need to make any initial investment. In MLM marketing or Pyramid schemes, you are required to buy a worthless product and then promote it to your friends so they buy it and so on, and the people who join under bring you a commission.

There are very few genuine multi-level marketing programs but most on the internet are total scams. The products are inherently worthless and you are required to keep selling these worthless products to others. The point of pyramid schemes is that they are by design unsustainable and many people in the pyramid stand to lose a lot of money. The only people who really make money are people running it.

4. Online Data Entry Jobs

Don’t get me wrong, there are many genuine data entry jobs online, which is to be expected. However, most of the advertisements that you see require you to “buy” an initial package for say $49.95 only. This is ridiculous. If you really want genuine data entry jobs, try Elance or oDesk. These online data entry jobs will again need you to sell these packages to friends, which is kind of like a pyramid scheme again. Since these offer no real jobs and need you to pay upfront, these are one of the worst ways to make money online because it is totally misleading.

5. High Yield Investment Programs (HYIP)

These are classic Ponzi schemes. You would be surprised by the number of people who think they can get something out of nothing. All HYIPs are scams, without exception. If only people would think with a clear head before “investing” their money in these programs.

Anyway, the typical sales pitch for HYIPs is that they need to money to invest in some very technical and complicated investments or Forex trading. Then, they claim to give you extraordinary rates of interest. Many years ago, it was akin to “double your money in a month” but now it is more “believable” about 10-15% a month. Still, this is just a ponzi scheme and there are no investments that guarantee this return. After a saturation point is reached, the site will wrap up with all the money.

Bonus. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing microtasking platform where digital workers spend their time doing digital tasks … for a few pennies. Tasks typically take 10-15 minutes at least, and you’ll get paid about 10-15 cents on those on an average. You’d be lucky to make $1/hour, and $2/hour is probably the maximum anyone can make. As to why so many people actually work there, that has even baffled the experts who are actively researching this. Don’t become one of their subjects!

So these are some of the worst ways to make money online. If you are aware of other common newbie traps, do comment and let me know and I’ll include those in further posts.

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