What could you do with an extra $1200 a month?
How would it feel to pay all your bills and still have plenty of money left at the end of each month?
The truth is, there’s a practical and realistic way you can make extra money online. All you need is common sense, (really) basic skills, and a little bit of determination.
I made an extra $1200 dollars a month for 7 consecutive months by freelancing online with minimum skills, all while working a full-time job and helping my wife take care of our newborn baby. That money helped us pay bills, pay for Christmas, and even ended up turning into a full-time business.
I wasn’t especially talented or skilled in…well…anything. I just put myself out there as a freelancer and learned as I went, and people paid me for it!
Here’s exactly how I did it and what you need to know to start making extra money freelancing online right now.
First things first, figure out which freelance service you want to offer.
Start by picking a freelance site to work on (I recommend Upwork.com. I used Elance, which is now Upwork) and look at their job categories.
Think about which categories you have even the slightest skills in. You don’t have to be great, you just need to have basic skills. If you look hard enough, there’s something you can do as a freelancer.
I chose web design because I had a vague understanding of html and css (from a few videos on teamtreehouse.com), and I knew how to setup a WordPress website. But that was enough.
If I had it to do over, I would pick writing. Writers are in high demand now, and standards are low for most freelance writing gigs. If you can construct sentences that make sense, you can be a freelance writer.
Your profile is your bread and butter on freelance sites. Here’s what you need to know to make it stand out:
You need a great profile picture. An unprofessional profile picture can kill your chances of getting hired. You need a high-quality picture of you smiling, looking directly at the camera, and dressed professionally.
Fill out every section of your profile. I know how tempting it is to skip over it and say you’ll come back to it later, but you can’t afford to skimp on your profile information.
Add something to your portfolio. If you’re like I was, you probably don’t have any previous work to show off, so just make something that shows your abilities and use it as a portfolio piece (I used screenshots from a test website I built using a stock WordPress theme).
Take tests. Most freelance sites will let you take skills tests to show how much you know about certain subjects. These tests help demonstrate that you actually know a little about the work you’re offering. Don’t worry, they’re not usually hard tests.
It’s tough to land jobs without reviews, but you can’t get reviews if you never land jobs.
That’s why you HAVE to give your services away for cheap at first in exchange for honest reviews. Let clients know you’re new to the site and you’re willing to do work for next-to-nothing in exchange for an honest review.
You have to charge something before most freelance sites will allow a client to review you (in order to prevent fake reviews, which will get your account suspended).
Make your bid low enough to be unrefusable to the client yet high enough to where it doesn’t look like a scam (which it’s not; it’s honest work in exchange for an honest review).
Start by asking your previous clients for referrals. This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth asking every happy client.
Aside from referrals, getting jobs is all about mastering your proposal and consistently bidding on jobs.
Write proposals that grab attention
First of all, always write a unique proposal for every single job. Never, EVER, copy and past a cookie-cutter proposal.
Use your first few lines to grab their attention. There will likely be a ton of proposals, so you’ll only have a few brief opening lines to catch clients’ attention. Show them you actually read their job description and that you know exactly how to help them solve their problem.
In nearly every proposal I wrote, I asked a question. Ask an intriguing question that maybe they forgot to include in their job description, or a quirky question that elicits a response. You may want to make your question the opening line of your proposal.
The #1 goal of your proposal is to get the client to send you a direct message. Once you have an open line of communication, it’s much easier to sell them on you.
Here’s a really helpful article I used when I first got started that shows how to craft a great freelance proposal.
This is where a little determination comes in. In order to get hired for a bunch of jobs, you’re going to have to bid on a bunch of jobs. There’s no way around it.
Some freelance sites let you subscribe to a job search so you get emails whenever a new job is posted. If you can’t do that, try using ifttt.com to set up an rss to email recipe in order to get notified when new jobs are posted.
No matter what, don’t get discouraged. You’re going to get rejected a LOT, but it’s just part of it. If you have to do a few more jobs for cheap to build your reputation, then do it. I promise you it will pay off in the long run when you’re making hundreds (or thousands) of extra dollars a month on the side!
Also published on Medium.