Becky Blanton wrote introductory letters to women who answered a dating ad. Kerri Hopkins analyzes names. Dimitri LaBarge shoots videos with titles like “How to Start a Glee Club” and “How to Play Bingo.” Stefanie Strobel will sells personalized messages drawn on the beach.
The one thing they have in common: All four found and/or deliver these gigs online.
Selling yourself on the Internet is the topic of my most recent Living With Less column on MSN Money. “Need cash? Make extra money online” is a peek at some, uh, unusual jobs as well as the usual writing and editing freelance gigs. (Edited to add: Those old MSN Money articles are no longer available online. Sorry about that.)
“Freelance” is often construed to mean “writing,” but it ain’t necessarily so. For example, Web design is a very hot skill right now. But you probably have something to offer even if you’re not familiar with Strunk & White or HTML. Somebody will pay you to translate a document from Danish to English, knit a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, act as a virtual assistant or roll around in public screaming his name.
That last one was actually a service offered, on Fiverr. The point is that you likely have a skill – including the ability to embarrass yourself cheerfully – that someone will pay to obtain.
But can you live on it?
The freelance life has its drawbacks. Ask me how I know this. But it may be just the ticket for:
- Those whose options are limited by personal circumstances (family, health, location)
- Those living in areas already overstocked with their particular skill set
- Those with a specialized product in a small or economically depressed region
- Those who want to appeal to the widest potential marketplace (especially true for crafters)
Can you support yourself through online gigs? Maybe. Becky Blanton does; so did a young designer I interviewed who’s made $170,000 in two years working from his Los Angeles apartment.
What’s more likely, though, is that the income will get you through a rough patch, bring in some extra cash or augment your family’s income if you choose to be an at-home parent.
One woman I interviewed works full-time and saves what she earns selling custom handbags on Etsy to augment retirement funds. Her husband’s company no longer matches the 401(k) and her job provides has no retirement planning at all.
Anyone else out there freelancing part- or full-time, in any profession? If so, please offer any suggestions you have for those who might be considering it.