Most of us have considered the idea that there is money to be made online – but how? The internet is full of offers that range from obviously too-good-to-be-true to helpful and useful complements to your daily salary. How do you tell the difference!? There are a few common themes throughout work-from-home scams, and I’m going to highlight some of the ones that we see most often.
If you’re interested in supplementing your salary the way that I do, click below for my review about Wealthy Affiliate – a great community of people making money online via a wide variety of interests and talents.
Indentifying Fraudulent Offers:
Alright, let’s get started. Fraudulent offers are a dime a hundred – and for good reason. People really need and want to make a few extra bucks. Most people know that there has to be a way to make money online – but they don’t really understand how. This is where the scammer takes advantage, by promising enough to get buy-in, but then disappearing without providing a product, skill, or follow-through. Let me be really, really clear:
Money only comes from an investment of either time and energy, or other money.
You can invest online in the stock market, real estate, or lending sources using extra money you have lying around. You can invest your time and effort into affiliate marketing and promoting the things you love, like I do, but anyone who tells you that you can earn a living without investing one of these two things is trying to scam you.
Anyone promising you income for neither of these things is scamming you. It DEFINITELY is possible to make a livable wage online that supplements and supports your salary, but it also takes time and effort.
Common Scam Flags:
Here are several ways that you can identify if the internet method you’re researching is less than scrupulous.
1. Unclear or Missing Contact Information: Where is the company based? Are there valid phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses that you can Google to see if they are who they say they are? You wouldn’t accept an in-person job without talking to someone, and working online is no different. Make sure that the email they provide works, and that a point person exists – a hiring manager, human resource person, or team lead available that you can speak to. If you absolutely can’t find a real person to answer your questions – stay away.
2. Promises of High Earnings for Little or No Work: We covered this above – money only comes from investment. Either investment of your time and energy, or investment of other money. If you are getting paid a couple cents per survey completion – that’s not a scam. BUT! If someone offers several hundred – I’d be catching myself wondering why.
3. Emotional or Urgent Pressure to Sign Up/Apply: Searching for extra income is emotional work – because it places us in a vulnerable position. We are looking for something that we need, that other people say they have. The burden of responsibility for finding out the truth is on us.
We are not often able to sift through piles of emotional manipulation, and scammers know that. They offer phrases such as ‘only fifteen minutes left to accept this offer’, or ‘this position will be closed in 25 minutes’. Pressuring you to offer personal information via a ‘hiring’ form is one way that people take advantage of your emotional investment into finding more ways to supplement income.
Real online jobs are going to be there in twenty minutes, or the next day. Take a breath, and don’t let flashing lights and pop-up windows coerce you into a scam.
4. Unclear or Vague Job Descriptions: Another huge red flag is a job description without details. A legitimate online working environment lays out a clear understanding of what they’re looking for. Whether it’s affiliate marketing, transcription, or advertising, the website should provide clear expectations of the kind of quality they are searching for.
Some scammers will even ask you to complete a project up front to show your skill, without providing details until it’s completed. This is often used as a tool to either get your personal information (where you live, mailing address) or to get you to share money (postage for the project, tools for the project, etc).
Your time is valuable! Look carefully before you share your information, time, or money with anyone else.
5. Upfront Costs: In almost every legitimate work from home opportunity – you should never have to pay a fee to an employer. If the opportunity you’re looking at requires upfront expenses – watch out!
If you are asked to wire money, then HUGE sirens should go off in your head. NEVER wire money to an unverified source.
An exception to upfront cost is multilevel marketing companies (MLM) that ask you to purchase inventory up front, then sell it to friends, family and acquaintances. Not all MLMs are scams, but they can cost you far more than you make.
It’s better to invest your time in an opportunity that doesn’t require significant investment from the start.
Real Options for Making Money Online
Well, now that I have officially dampened your optimism for finding a way to make money online, lets look at some real opportunities. I have to admit – I’m a little biased towards my favorite, but I’ve already offered you a peek at that, and will explain it a bit below, amidst several other known-to-be-real options.
1. Peer-to-Peer Lending: This is a rapidly growing area of online investment. Peer to peer lending is the support of loans as a group of investors. Individuals can take a loan out from this group, rather than a bank. The companies who do peer to peer (p2p for short) diversify the investors’ money, reducing any risk. You earn interest, and don’t have to do a thing! Check out some great options below:
- Streetshares.com – investments in veteran-owned startups and businesses
- Lendkey.com – lendkey attempts to match investors to local borrowers
- Upstart.com – bases their lending on more than credit score, including education, years of credit, and experience
2. Transcription: Even if you’ve never done transcription, there are great ways to get started online. Rev.com is one of the more well-known transcription sites, and will pay you for each job completed. They have a vigorous training, and high expectations, as well as great support and continuing education. Be prepared to work, but you can work from anywhere. Other options include Speechpad.com, and GoTranscript.com.
3. Graphic Design/Web Designer: If you’re talented in the graphic design area, or think you could be – check out upwork.com. There are freelance jobs available for you to peruse and match to your talent. Fiverr is another option, although you may have difficulty finding enough jobs to support a totally web-based lifestyle.
4. Affiliate Marketing: This is by far and away my favorite, and part of my lifestyle right now. Affiliate marketing essentially is showing people what you love, why you love it, and helping them find the best place to buy it via content creation. Blog about what you love, show people where to buy it, and you get a commission, at no extra cost to the individual. I work with Wealthy Affiliate, one of the longest-running platforms with a great community and amazing support.
The free education program teaches you how to get started with a free website, how to develop content that drives traffic, and how to get started with affiliate programs – all for free!
What’s the Reality of Working Online?
There’s a limited amount of time in your life that you can exchange for money. Working online and creating passive streams of income increase that time-to-money ratio, and help you build a nest egg for the future.
It’s definitely possible to quit a job and work entirely online or off of your passive income, but it will NEVER be free, instant, or easy peasy. You will have to invest either time and energy or money – but if you’re willing to do that, there are so many ways to help you get outside of your daily grind. If you have questions about any of my recommendations, or suggestions for other people,please leave them in the comments below.