There is seemingly no end to the ways people can now make money online. Once the exclusive domain of digital nomads and part-time online marketers, the world of internet entrepreneurship is now open to anyone with a good idea and the ability to execute on it.
For some, making money online is as simple as setting up a blog or website around a niche market – typically in the fashion or lifestyle sector – and then promoting beauty or fashion products, or affiliate marketing of digital goods (like courses, ebooks, or software).
But for others, such as myself, the journey to online success has been a little more circuitous.
Here, I’ll walk you through my playbook, from the very beginning, outlining the steps I followed to launch my first online business. This will include getting started with Amazon Mechanical Turk, to name but one of the most popular ways to make money online.
Step one: Set up your Mechanical Turk account
In order to participate in the Amazon Mechanical Turk program, you’ll first need to have an Amazon account. If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a free Amazon account here.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be taken to your Amazon dashboard, where you can enter the name of your business and select the state or territory where you want to sell your goods (or services).
You can also opt to set up a Paypal account and use that to make accepting payments for your goods easy (if you don’t want to use Amazon).
Step two: Start taking on turkers
Once you’ve set up your Amazon Mechanical Turk account, you can start taking on turkers (individuals who want to do some task for you).
To get started, navigate to the Amazon Mechanical Turk homepage and click on the green button to the right of the search bar. There, you’ll find a list of available tasks. For my first project, I selected the Get Clothes Tailored option, which is what you’ll see below. (If you’d like, you can also choose to take on Task Requests – these are specific tasks that you’ll be given and will be marked as completed once done.)
The next step is to read the available instructions for the project and then click on the blue button to the right of the project title. This will take you to the task’s details where you’ll see a list of requirements. For this particular task, I’ll need someone to alter some clothes that I already have – and since I have an Amazon Prime membership, they’ll be able to get the job done for less than $5.
It’s quite possible that in your first few hours on Mechanical Turk you’ll take on no tasks at all, as employers are trying to keep a lid on their hourly costs (and newbies are more than welcome to this boat). But eventually, you’ll start getting some work done and will be able to take on more complex projects.
Step three: Learn to use Mechanical Turk
When you take on a task via Mechanical Turk, you’ll first be asked to verify that you can complete it. This is simply to protect the employer from getting scammed, as they’ve already paid for the task (from their perspective, at least).
Once you’ve completed the task verification, you’ll be taken to a simple interface, where you can choose the quality of your work (it’s typically between one and four stars) and then click on the blue button to the right of the review to submit your assessment of the product.
If the product’s owner is happy with your work, they’ll happily pay you for your time (and since you’ve been verified as a trustworthy human, they’ll have no reason not to).
Step four: Use that money to grow your business
You have two ways (at least) to make money from a task on Mechanical Turk. The first is to get a percentage of the product’s price—something like 10% – 20% is very common. Once you reach $25, you’ll be able to request a money back from the product owner. (This is called a refund and is one of the perks of being a verified worker for the company.)
The second way is to get a percentage of the order’s price once it reaches a certain threshold. So, if I were to sell my branded clothes for $600, I could get paid a percentage of that – around $60 – as long as someone buys something from my Amazon store (and I set the minimum order value to $100).
You’ll find that while the first option is a popular way to make money in sports betting, the second is much more common and, in my opinion, more lucrative. (And for those who like a bit of an adventure, you can always use Mechanical Turk to get some extra cash for a holiday or trip.)
Step five: Build a community
Once you have a handful of verified tasks under your belt, you can focus on growing your business via word of mouth. (This is also called referral marketing and is one of the most effective forms of marketing there is. Studies have shown that people who consume online content usually share that content with their friends, family, and social groups, leading to a snowball effect.)
The more tasks you have, the more people you’ll be able to promote your business to. And since taking on a few small tasks doesn’t require a lot of investment, you can afford to try this strategy – even if you’re just getting started.
If you’d like, you can also integrate your Amazon account with your Google account, so when someone clicks on a product’s link in a Google search, they’ll be brought to your product’s page on Amazon.
Step six: Monetise your hobbies
The world of internet entrepreneurship is incredibly welcoming to those who excel at marketing. Why? Because whenever you have a skill – be it digital marketing, copywriting, or product development – you have the unique ability to create something valuable that others want. (In other words, you have a proven commodity.)
So if you’re looking for ways to make money online, consider doing one of the following: