You probably know by now there are many different ways to create a life-changing income online; you can make money internet marketing, try your hand at freelancing, open an online store selling physical products, podcasting, blogging – the list goes on.
With so many choices, it’s easy to get confused, frustrated and overwhelmed with all the conflicting information and options available to you.
That’s why in today’s post I want to zero in on just two methods of making money online that have been successful for me.
In this post I’ll explain:
– Which one of the two you should choose to get started.
– Why (depending on your current situation) you should choose one over the other.
– The pros and cons of each method.
– What to look out for if you want to avoid wasted effort and failure.
– What “delayed gratification” is and why you need to get comfortable with it.
We’ll be looking at Freelancing and Internet Marketing (specifically affiliate marketing), so let’s make a start.
Make money internet marketing or freelancing – what’s the difference?
Okay, just so we’re all on the same page, let’s start with a quick definition of both ways of making income online:
INTERNET MARKETING (ONLINE MARKETING) – means using advertising and marketing activities that exploit the internet and email to make sales using sales leads generated from websites, social media, SEO, email outreach etc. In our case, we’ll be looking at selling other people’s products and services for a commission – AFFILIATE MARKETING
FREELANCING – a freelancer is a self-employed person (just as an internet marketer usually is) who isn’t committed long-term to a single employer. Freelancers usually sell a skill and get work via agencies, websites (like Upwork) or professional associations.
So, now we have two basic definitions that explain how to make money internet marketing and freelancing, which one should you choose to get started on your own journey?
Great question and my answer is – it all depends on where you’re at right now.
The #1 thing to get right to give yourself a chance of online success
How much money do you have?
I don’t want to get personal, but here’s the thing. Whichever route you choose to take, you’ll need to support yourself somehow until your online income takes over from your offline income.
Not only that, you’ll have a couple of expenses to deal with right out the gate such as a website, perhaps a sales funnel, maybe an advertising budget, some training, and even an autoresponder for your email marketing.
There are ways of keeping these costs to a minimum and my number one recommendation is to go for a cost-effective “all-in-one” digital platform. My personal tool of choice is Builderall and if you’re asking yourself Builderall’s about, I’ve written another article that explains just that. Essentially, Builderall is “A Complete Solution for Online Companies and Entrepreneurs”.
I’ve talked about comfort zones and risk before – some people have more of an appetite for risk than others.
But the basic truth is you need to support you and your family until your online income can replace your job, that’s step 1 on the road to success. Once you have a solid, predictable income built it then makes sense to sack your boss, go all in and scale-up your earnings.
Please DO NOT make the mistake of believing the hype and thinking you’ll become rich overnight. You won’t.
When you build your first online business you need to understand you’re in it for the long haul and it will take time and effort to be successful. While you’re putting in the time and effort, you’ll need a source of income and in most cases this will be your daytime job.
How I did it personally
I originally got my start in affiliate marketing in 2011. But then I got drawn into a solo ads business. Just to explain, a solo ads business is where you build substantial email lists of prospective buyers (many thousands) then email other peoples’ offers to them for a charge. Solo ads was quite lucrative for me and I built the business to several thousand dollars a month, but there was a problem.
As I built my lists, the quality of my subscribers had begun to drop. I wasn’t delivering the great results I was known for and that bothered me. In the end, I scaled the business down (I was bored with it in any case) and turned to writing books for publication on Amazon Kindle.
I made some money with Kindle but, quite frankly, the returns I was getting didn’t justify the effort I was putting in – not close.
I then worked out you could actually make serious income on Kindle, I’m talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, but here’s the catch. To make that money you literally had to invest thousands of dollars and, at the time, that was money I just didn’t have.
That’s when I turned to freelancing. My money was running out and I knew I had to make my freelancing career a success. It’s amazing how, when you have a couple of kids and a wife to support, your mind gets focused – I literally had no choice but to make a go of it. And I did.
As my Freelancing business grew and I was making a sustainable full-time income, I decided to go back into affiliate marketing in addition to freelancing.
In a word – passive income.
Right now, I charge $125 an hour and make several thousand dollars a month as a freelancer but if I don’t work, I don’t earn. Affiliate marketing opens up the opportunity to make money while you sleep, and who wouldn’t want that?
So, should you choose to make money internet marketing or freelancing?
Based on my personal experience, it’s easier to make a decent income more quickly by freelancing than trying to make money internet marketing.
If you have a skill such as writing, programming, building websites (very competitive), SEO, social media etc. you have the opportunity to sell those skills on sites such as Upwork, People per Hour, Freelancer and more. I suggest you avoid Fiverr because it’s really difficult to make a living $5 at a time (although they have higher priced gigs now).
You can also get clients through email marketing; some of my most lucrative clients have come from cold emailing.
However, if you can sustain yourself for an absolute minimum of 6 months, you might well choose to make money internet marketing and shoot straight for passive income.
As I said, I did freelancing first and built a substantial business before I returned to affiliate marketing. You can see my business HERE.
Next, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons whether you choose to make money internet marketing or by freelancing.
The Pros and cons of Freelancing
Freelancing can be a great career that delivers a solid and sustainable income once you’re established. But, as with any kind of business, there are pros and cons.
Here’s an honest appraisal of what’s good and what’s challenging about working for yourself as a freelancer. It’s up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons when compared to working a job, 9-5 for a boss.
My opinion? No contest!
- Getting started is relatively easy and you’ll likely see a quicker return than affiliate marketing.
- You probably already have an existing skill you can exploit to make money.
- You make your own job security and are immune to being fired by the company.
- You choose how much you’re paid (per hour), often more than paid employment.
- You control your own schedule, fit it around your own lifestyle and control your work/ life balance.
- You choose the type of work you do and the projects you work on.
- No costly and time-consuming commute to work.
- Work from anywhere, even when you’re traveling.
- No fixed hours – work when you’re at your most creative and efficient, day or night.
- You can get clients in several ways such as freelancing sites (Upwork, People per Hour, Freelancer) and also by cold emailing which can be VERY effective.
- Once you build a solid client base, you can expect repeat work every month like clockwork.
- When you have enough A1 clients (let’s say 5) should one drop out you can top up the pool woth a replacement.
- You can save money from your freelancing career to support you in your affiliate marketing efforts.
- Tax-deductible business expenses.
- If you don’t work, you don’t get paid!
- There can be income uncertainty, particularly when just starting out.
- You may have to chase clients for money (tip: always get a deposit, I get 50% upfront, no exceptions).
- Your earning potential has a ceiling – there’s only one you (unless you subcontract).
- If you lose a regular client, you need to replace them to maintain your income levels.
- Distractions – you need to be disciplined, there’s no boss telling you what to do and when.
The Pros and Cons of Affiliate Marketing
Of course, if you choose to make money internet marketing via the affiliate route, it’s not without its fair share of positives and negatives.
Here are some examples of each for you to consider:
- When you make money internet marketing (via the affiliate route) you can build a “passive income”.
- The potential market for affiliate marketers is massive and growing all the time, therefore the potential to make a substantial income as an affiliate is almost unlimited.
- The barrier to entry for an affiliate is low, it doesn’t cost much to get started.
- You don’t have to be an expert or have any particular skill set to get started. With affiliate marketing, you can learn on the job.
- You don’t have to leave your job right away, you can start your affiliate business as a side hustle and go all in when the time is right.
- There’s no product creation on your part, you’re simply selling someone else’s product for a commission.
- There’s no need to deal directly with customers, complaints, returns or refunds – the vendor takes care of all that.
- The harder you work, the more you make with literally no ceiling on what you can earn.
- Once your business grows sufficiently, you can employ a VA (Virtual Assistant) to start taking over much of the mundane work.
- You can even become seriously rich, many affiliate marketers who got it right have done just that.
- Tax-deductible business expenses.
- It usually takes longer to make money internet marketing than freelancing.
- You have no control over the products you sell, so choose carefully if you want to protect your reputation.
- If you don’t build an email list, most times a customer will only buy via your link once, then they’ll deal with the vendor directly. That’s why you need to 1) Capture email addresses 2) look for products with recurring affiliate commissions.
- The lifestyle of working for yourself as an affiliate marketer is fantastic once you become established, but you do need a certain amount of self-discipline to get the work done (just as you do when you’re a freelancer).
- Dishonest vendors could close their programs without paying commissions and without informing you – always look for quality programs.
Avoid the internet marketing snake oil salesmen
There are plenty of “online opportunities” pushed your way all the time in the internet marketing space.
They promise instant riches and thousands of dollars a day very quickly and with little effort on your part. You’ll find they often exploit the latest “trick” or “loophole” and are touted as the path to instant riches with next to zero effort.
Please, please don’t be taken in by this snake oil.
I’ve paid thousands of dollars for hundreds of these types of courses and the reality is the “easy” route to overnight riches usually translates into months of hard work.
Often these schemes are a complete waste of time because they’re old, re-hashed stuff that never worked in the first place.
They’re a distraction that will waste your time and money leaving you disillusioned and, if you get sucked in too many times, you may even give up trying to make money internet marketing.
And that would be a pity, because you can replace your job and even take your earnings to a whole new level with affiliate marketing.
You just need to put in the work, which brings us to…
Get your head around “Delayed Gratification”
If there’s one thing that will give you the maximum chance of success with your online business, it’s getting comfortable with the concept of delayed gratification.
Let me explain.
As I’m writing this post today, I’m making an investment in the future of my business.
I don’t expect it will make me money today, tomorrow, next week or even next month.
But, what I do know is that the work I’m doing right now is steadily building the authority of my business by providing valuable information, for free, that will help you if you’re interested in freelancing, affiliate marketing or any other online business.
The point is, it forms part of a bigger strategy that will be profitable in the long term and, because it’s built on a solid foundation, will be profitable for a long time to come.
I hope I’ve given you food for thought
Hopefully, this breakdown of whether you should make money internet marketing or through freelancing helps you decide what’s right for you.
One of the big takeaways is to make sure you can support yourself and family before taking the plunge and going full-time.
That just makes good sense, otherwise you might well be setting yourself up for failure and have to return to employment with your tail between your legs – not nice.
Finally, whichever route you decide to take, treat it like a serious business (which it is).
Take unrelenting action, work hard and you WILL see success.