Making money online is a relatively new thing. People were doing business around the world for hundreds and hundreds of years, but the idea that you can sit in your bedroom with a laptop and run a company is new.
It may seem obvious to you now but a lot of people, even my age, aren’t sure how to start and if they could do it. The beautiful thing is that anyone can. There are no restrictions, no limitation and you will only be judged by the value you bring to the table.
It’s not easy, and things are changing very fast. However, anyone can start now, right this second.
There are many ways of making money online, but today I want to focus on freelancing, selling your skills online. It, of course, applies to lots of professions but I will be using audio production as my example.
Your Online Presence
I know many people want to go against the trend, that’s good, not all directions are positive. However, if you’re going to start doing work online it will be much harder if you don’t have Facebook, Twitter or other social (and not just social) media profiles. You need to be visible.
There are hundreds of thousands of people hustling online, how can you stay a few steps ahead of everyone?
Start creating your online presence today. Don’t think about making money just yet, but start creating content and joining conversations online. It’s challenging to give personalised advice on the topic; it all depends on your strengths and likes.
For example, the big trend right now is video, Instagram rules and blogging is a thing of the past. Think about what you would like to post and create profiles around that, maybe it’s a podcast, not a vlog?
Skills and Gear
Next step is writing down your skills and available equipment. Try to niche yourself down; generalists don’t charge near what experts make. For example, with my abilities and system, I could do a lot of things in music and sound production space but my niche at this moment is podcasting and audio storytelling.
The skill needs to be transferable online, if you are a photographer, it will be hard to take photos online, but you could offer product photography services.
Go to top accounts on eBay or Amazon, join some Facebook discussion groups and offer your services. Online selling is all about the perception, and the sellers know about this. Set up a small studio at home, get people to send you the products and charge for photos.
With audio, you could be offering music production, mixing, mastering, editing, scoring, design and other services that I don’t even know.
Also if your skill isn’t transferable, think what can you add to your portfolio, what else can you learn. I was working as a dialogue editor on blockbusting movies; it’s safe to say to they wouldn’t allow me to edit their content in my bedroom. However, podcasting and audiobooks are more comfortable, not as much pressure. I just had to learn the new medium and adjust my skills.
The gear also matters, with an old computer you won’t be able to do much, especially in audio. Think about where you can upgrade and what can you do with what you have. For some time I was working solely on trial and demo versions until I could afford a full license on top of the shelf software.
Platforms for freelancers
There are many places online where you can find work. Not all of them are great, and most are so-called ‘race to the bottom’ on price. However, it’s a good enough start to learn how the whole online world works.
Apart from that, write to people on LinkedIn, studios and production houses. Be upfront and say that you are looking for freelance work, they may write back to you, when they are under a deadline.
It is the hard part as it can take weeks before you start moving, however, don’t be discouraged and keep the ball rolling. One client leads to another and another and another, and you never know who will you meet online.
That’s how I started on Casefile.
Areas to consider for audio professionals
Look at podcasts and audiobooks. Right now it’s the best time to get in the game as a lot of people are either starting their podcasts or doing audiobook narrations. Of course, not all of them will pay well but if you are starting out, contact smaller profiles. It will give you time to learn, hone your skills and make some side cash.
Let’s say you want to charge £50 per podcast (I know it’s not a lot, but you have to start somewhere) and do ten shows per week. That’s £500 per week, £2000 per month working from home. Then when you are good enough, leave the smaller pods for someone else and move up the ladder.
If you know how to produce music, offer that. Again podcasts are a great area to explore as most podcasters don’t know much about sound production and they will need your help. Writing intros, theme music or even bespoke score for storytelling shows could be a great way to make extra money and practice your skills.
Audio restoration is another niche area to keep an eye on. A lot of content creators dismiss the art of recording sound and leave it until the end. Then they often realise that their recording is not as good as it should be and it doesn’t only apply to podcasters. Youtube creators, narrators, online teachers – find people who are making money online, and if you think that you could help them, offer your services.
Audio restoration requires specialised software and skills but if I can learn it, then anyone can.
Online courses are booming right now. There are plenty of platforms such as Coursera or Udemy, and of course, people selling their course on Teachable. The video is one thing, but again, most creators dismiss the importance of audio. Search for courses and creators who achieved some success and offer them your help. By making their work sound better, hopefully, they can find more students and develop their practice, and usually, with online courses, there is a lot of material to go through.
Acquire extra skills
The secret to being successful online is to have multiple streams of income or to be top of the world expert in one thing. So unless you are bullish on one thing only, start thinking what extra skills you can acquire that make sense for you and your business.
When I started online work a few years ago, I didn’t know what to do, but I needed cash right away. Audio work is niche and harder to find than video production, as everyone is jumping on the medium. I started offering video editing and production services, first video for free as a ‘test’.
I have no professional backing, and I’ve never done paid video editing work before. I started learning Premiere, and After Effects and for the first few months when I worked on my online presence, 80% of my income was from video editing. It may sound weird given the fact that I’m an audio professional, but it’s true.
Also, but knowing both sound and audio, I could offer more value than other people, and suddenly I had twice as many options as others.
Many creators who needed video editing asked me to clean up the sound too, so I had plenty to do. It was crucial to develop that skill and have that income, because the first year or so when we were working and creating Casefile we had no money.
Think what else you want to do, how can you do it online and start hustling!
Learn, read, train, practice and apply!
A beginning is often hard, but we can’t stop progress, even if you are not keen on the state of technology, social media and the online world right now – get used to it and embrace it.
The future will be digital so start making the transition right now, and you never know who you will meet out there. Every now and again, one of the ‘another jobs’ can turn into a long-term relationship, and an awesome project like Casefile did for me.
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