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Making Money Online: A Guide For The Absolute Beginner

Updated on September 24, 2011


Back in November 2008, I realized for the first time that a medical condition from which I suffer was not going to get better. I couldn’t do office work and still can’t. So, being a geek, I decided to look for opportunities to earn a little extra cash online. Very quickly, I found that making money online is one of the most infuriating, aggravating and downright disappointing things I have ever had the misfortune to try.

Like most people, I’m battered by a flood of spam email every day, claiming that it’s possible to earn thousands every week for doing two hours’ work. Being a cynic, I never believed that - I mean, if it was so easy, there’d be millions of people doing it, not just a few, right? - but I figured there must be some way of earning. It took me a while and a lot of bad experiences, bad advice and bad choices, but eventually I managed to hone down the list of potential revenue-earners, find some good places to earn and people from whom to learn.

Since 2008, I’ve been working online part-time, around other responsibilities. My earnings from online work have sky-rocketed, relatively speaking: at the start, I was lucky to make £20 in a month, whereas it would be easy to earn ten or twenty times that amount now.

Earnings are always relative to hours worked (unless you’re looking at passive income opportunities, which this guide does not): if I worked full-time with my current setup, I’d probably bring in anything from £1,500 to £2,500 a month, without even counting high-price jobs.

The first version of this guide was an attempt to pass on some of the basic knowledge I’ve picked up along the way. The 2011 edition has the same purpose, with some notable additions to the types of job available, updates to resources and more experience behind the commentary.

If I can help newcomers by cutting down the time it takes them to understand the options, to avoid a few bad choices and to get them pointed to some possible solutions, I’ll be happy.

Oh, yes, one other thing - there’s a lesson I learned right at the start, which is so important that I will mention it here:

The first rule of earning online: Never pay for anything up-front unless you’re 100% sure of what you’ll get.

Do not believe the promises. Keep your money. There’s a very good chance that almost exactly the same information or service is available elsewhere and that they will pay you rather than charge you. If you really, really need something particular that an up-front payment may provide, make darned sure you’ll get what you want before coughing up the cash!


What’s in the guide

Look anywhere on the Internet and the chances are you’ll come across someone asking how to make money online or offering the opportunity to earn money working from home with your computer. There are thousands of web sites dedicated to earning online, with more and more appearing every day. Surely with all these people offering ways to make thousands of dollars every week there must be some truth to the myth of online earning?

This guide is intended to act as a primer for newly-arrived hopefuls: for those people who are just starting to look into making money online and need some help with the terminology, the pitfalls, the possibilities and the people.

It includes:

  • several basic ways to earn money online
  • a look at the options in each category of earning
  • resources for people interested in specific methods of earning

It does not include:

  • specific earning strategies
  • a definitive step-by-step guide to earning millions
  • a complete guide, since the online earning market changes all the time
  • opportunities that require investment (other than time and effort)
  • non-English language opportunities
  • opportunities specific to certain countries

What this guide is, most of all, is a way to jump-start your online career: maybe it’ll save you a day or two of research, maybe a week; maybe it will improve your chances of landing a profitable online job; maybe all it will do is give you the vocabulary.

In any case, it’ll hopefully save you asking some of the most basic questions and looking like a total noob!


Where to get the guide

Originally, the guide was a four-part HubPages series. However, it was pretty unwieldy so I figured I'd convert it to a PDF and offer it free from my blog instead.

You can get the latest version of the guide from ScrawlBug - just hit the Free Stuff page and grab your copy.

Current version is updated for 2011 with 12 extra pages of content. Still free!


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    • rharper profile image

      Robert 8 years ago from West Texas

      Interesting... On the surface Orble looks different than hubland as far as being able to sell your place if it remains with Orble.

    • SpikeTheLobster profile image

      SpikeTheLobster 8 years ago from South Coast, UK

      Len: Finding a free blog host who'll let you build a blog purely for selling won't be easy. You might be able to find a basic web space provider and do all the blog stuff yourself. I your content will be reviews/classifieds and stuff, I think Orble allows it - you'd have to check their TOS. If they do, they'll give you half the AdSense revenue as well.

    • profile image

      len 8 years ago

      hi, I was already in my 3 months still searching for legit sites, tnx I stumbled upon your site, tnx I haven't signed from other sites asking for membership fee,I'm about to print all those info and have it as my daily blueprint. i'm planning to put up my own blog /website with my own product content to sell online. what's the best online hosting would you recommend, would you recommend a free hosting for the beginner?

    • wanone profile image

      wanone 8 years ago

      Thank for information^^

    • SpikeTheLobster profile image

      SpikeTheLobster 8 years ago from South Coast, UK

      Thanks Ritzy. I've only been seriously looking for a couple of months, though I started checking stuff out about a year ago. That first attempt was so awful, I never even got past PTCs... oh dear!

    • profile image

      ritzy 8 years ago

      Well done. I have been attempting to earn a living on line for a year now, and have learned so much that my head is bursting. Creating a page where you can pass this knowledge on to other newcomers is a great way to download what you know and kick start others on that path. I wish you had been around when I started, although, we probably started around the same time no?

    • Netters profile image

      Netters 8 years ago from Land of Enchantment - NM

      Wow, what a great hub. I learned a lot, thank you.