Who can resist the dinging sound of a new email? You, that’s who, especially if you want to stay on task. And forget about signing in to Facebook “just for a minute.” It’s easy to get distracted when you telecommute—unlikely distractions that just don’t exist at work abound at home. At the office, for example, you might visit the company kitchen once in the morning and once in the afternoon for a cup of joe (because that’s what’s appropriate), but at home, you’re hitting the fridge every hour on the hour. Or more.
Through this experience, one thing I learned is that development, and the selling of the product you develop, takes time and money. This is a lesson I took to heart when I built another software company, SPI Labs, with my partner Matt Gartland. SPI Labs is behind the Smart Podcast Player, which was a significant undertaking that started out as a custom solution for AskPat and eventually became a successful WordPress plugin used by thousands of fellow podcasters.
What It Is: Students in countries including Japan, Korea, France and Germany are looking for English speakers to practice with. Sessions focus on things like making professional small talk or running a meeting (trainers are provided with specifics on how to teach each topic, and are also trained themselves for two days before starting the job). Lessons take place either over the phone or on a live Internet video service like Skype—sometimes at night, because you're working with students in different time zones. You need to commit to a minimum of 20 hours a week at consistent times, and can work as many as 35 hours.
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Mobile applications are more popular than ever, and people are willing to pay good money for ways to manage their lives from their smartphones. If you have a great idea and happen to know coding, you can run with it and create your app yourself. If you just have an idea and don't know the ins and outs of how to turn it into a reality, there are plenty of software developers looking to collaborate with people on app creation.
Startup costs: Freelance writing is another of those service-based businesses with very low start-up costs. There are tons of places online where you can find clients for free. At worst you can sign up for an Upwork account for $10 per month, just don't plan on staying there forever. The most lucrative writing projects are rarely found on platforms like Upwork.
Crypto currency trading is the next big thing in finance. The value of crypto has shot up in recent months with Bitcoin reaching over $18k for just one Bitcoin! You too can get a piece of the action by purchasing crypto currency from one of the bitcoin / crypto exchanges and waiting for the value to increase. I would recommend you do your research before you dive in, and don’t forget to only invest what you can afford to lose.
If you have an idea worth pursuing, crowdfunding can be a helpful way to find the money you need to get your idea off and running. For example, you can run a Kickstarter campaign. On SPI 223, I covered this with John Lee Dumas who launched a super successful campaign. Besides John, I know a lot of companies who have started on Kickstarter. I’ve been a backer of dozens of different projects, and a lot of those projects were just ideas when the campaign started. There are ways to get paid for your ideas up front. Using Kickstarter, you can validate those ideas and start to build community at the same time, which is a great way to get a boost at the beginning stages of your online business, especially if what you’re creating takes some money to get started.