If you have a knack for organization, you can make money online as a virtual assistant helping people to keep their days in order. A virtual assistant will do everyinthing from bookkeeping to research, database entry, booking travel, and managing email. It can also be an awesome way to rub shoulders with some very important people, build up your professional network, and of course grow another stream of income. You can find great gigs on UpWork, Fiverr, Indeed, and Remote.co.
Better yet, you can even upload your own book to one of the world’s largest book sellers: Amazon. With Amazon self-publishing, you set the price, retain the rights to your book, and get access to Amazon’s massive audience. For every sale, you keep 70% with Amazon taking the remainder as a fee. If you want to get started, check out Leslie Samuel's great guide to selling eBooks online or follow Tara Gentile on CreativeLive as she shows you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Who knows, you might just write one of the best business books of this year!
Rent out a room in your home to travelers. If you live in a city or a popular vacation spot, there are probably lots of people passing through looking for a place to stay for a night or a couple of weeks. Even if you don’t live somewhere with a lot of traffic, you can still use a rental website to find people who are willing to pay to stay in your home.
If you’ve got expertise in a certain area, package up your knowledge into an online course and sell it. This has become a very popular business model for online entrepreneurs over the past several years. The two big websites that are used to sell online courses are Udemy and Teachable. Check out this awesome article by Regina on How to Create an Online Course that Sells.
Now let's finally apply these lessons to comparing different industries or industrial belts within the United States. I mentioned that when I was growing up, Route 128 outside of Boston led the world in productivity for an industrial belt, but Route 128 has now fallen behind Silicon Valley. Since my book "Guns, Germs, and Steel" was published, I've spent a lot of time talking with people from Silicon Valley and some from Route 128, and they tell me that the corporate ethos in these two industrial belts is quite different. Silicon Valley consists of lots of companies that are fiercely competitive with each other, but nevertheless there's a lot of collaboration, and despite the competition there is a free flow of ideas and a free flow of people and a free flow of information between these companies that compete with each other. In contrast, I'm told that the business of Route 128 are much more secretive, and insulated from each other like Japanese milk-producing companies.
Even though risk-taking is a generally rewarding strategy in your 20s and 30s, it's also a good idea to diversify your efforts. Don't build up just one skill set, or one set of professional connections. Don't rely on one type of investment, and don't gamble all your savings on one venture. Instead, try to set up multiple income streams, generate several backup plans for your goals and businesses, and hedge your bets by looking for new opportunities everywhere. This will protect you from catastrophic losses, and increase your chances of striking it big in one of your ventures.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
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