How do I work online, making money, while I’m on the road?
I’ve told you a little bit about my routine while I’m traveling, which involves a lot of time working online. I’ll be upfront with you guys: it’s a lot of work. I invest a lot of time for not much monetary return.
That being said, the freedom to get away from an office, do the type of work I want, pick projects that will build my portfolio, and to be traveling through our magical world…getting paid in those experiences makes it worth it for me.
Also, it feels good to stay at a hotel knowing I earned enough that day to pay for the room 😉
Cut to the chase: how am I making money online, and how much? Here we go!
Working online, technique 1: Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
DISCLAIMER: While people all of the world can do this, it seems like most of the work is geared towards those located in the US.
MTurk for short, Amazon has a portion of their site where hundreds of thousands of HITs are listed, ripe for the picking. HIT stands for Human Intelligence Tasks – jobs that need a real live person. Because they need a human, it’s great for making money online!
Types of HITs vary which is great for keeping the work interesting. Here are a few examples:
- Audio Transcription
- Voice work (recording words or phrases)
- Surveys (mostly by universities)
- Looking at images and choosing which one is better quality
- Reviewing apps and games
- Headline creation
- Writing samples for article summaries
Each HIT varies in pay. I’ve done hits that only pay $.01 but take less than 1 second, all the way to surveys that pay $6.00 but take over an hour to complete. Typically, I recommend only doing HITs that pay $.10/minute of work.
What’s the process like?
Once you get set up (we’ll go over that in a minute), you’ll be able to start working on HITs. You’ll pick a HIT you want to work on, accept it, and then begin the work. Upon completing the work, you’ll submit the hit and it will be sent back to the original lister for review. In my experience, HITs are approved within 24 hours, if not less.
How do I make it worth my time?
Again, I only recommend doing HITs that pay at least $.10/minute.
Another ProTip: I also recommend that you set a goal for each of your sessions. Otherwise, it’s reallllly easy to get sucked into a stoned cartoon-background-noise-haze until 2 in the morning.
My goals are usually either: “Make as much money as I need to offset a certain cost” (right now that’s about $4/day for accommodation) OR “Do X number of hits”.
There are tons of resources to help you make the most money for your time. Hopefully, this blog post is one of them! 😉
Here are a few resources that I use:
HITs worth Turking for: This is a thread on Reddit. Other people will post links to HITs on Mturk that pay well for the time invested. Often times they are quick surveys that pay a high dollar amount per minute. Click the ‘hide dead’ tab at the top so that you don’t have to scroll for days through HITs that are no longer available.
TaperMonkey + Accompanying Scripts: TaperMonkey is a browser add-on for Chrome (if you’re a Firefox fan, use GreaseMonkey). It allows you to download and install scripts that will run in the background.
I like to use:
- Turkopticon – good for quickly accepting HITs
- TurkMaster – A customizeable search console. e.g “Surveys that pay at least $.75”
- mmmTurkeyBacon Today’s Projected Earnings – allows me to keep track of how much I’ve made that day, great for keeping in track with my daily goal
- Pending Earnings – HITs take some time to get approved. While it’s usually pretty quick, this is great for seeing how much you have coming assuming all HITs get approved.
How much do you make and how do you get paid?
It depends on my goal, I usually aim for $4-$5/day. I spent a day in the zone while living in San Francisco, earning $15+/day. I’m letting it all pile up right now as my special money to get a dress made in Hoi An, Vietnam – I’ll have about $100 when I get there. That should be plenty for a dress.
Mturk pays with either an Amazon Gift Card or direct deposit into a bank account of your choice. You can withdraw your money after you’ve made a minimum of $10.
Okay this sounds pretty awesome, how do I get started?
First, you’ll need to register on the Mechanical Turk site. Amazon will ask you for your basic information – name, address, direct deposit details etc. You’ll also need to verify that you’re a legit tax payer either with your SSN or taxID. NOTE: You will be taxed on this money, since it’s classified as an income. I think you have to make like $600 or something to claim it, but just be aware that this isn’t under the table money – The Man is watching.
I recommend allowing 48 hours for your account to be processed and approved. Once it is, you’ll get an email inviting you to get started! Find a hit you like, you and accept it to get started! Go go go!
Working online, technique 2: Upwork.com
Upwork.com is a site for freelancers like myself and people who want to hire them. Like Mturk, the work varies in scope.
Examples of jobs on Upwork:
- voiceover work (commercials, training videos)
- data entry (copy and paste, find email addresses or URLs)
- customer service (respond to client inquiries for a company)
- virtual assistant jobs (plan trips, book plane tickets etc)
- writing gigs (copyediting, 400 word blog posts etc)
- app and game reviews (download X app and write a review about its performance)
- so much more
On Upwork, someone who is looking to hire a freelancer will list the job that they need done. As the freelancer, you can look through the available jobs and make bids on ones you’d like to work on.
For example, let’s say someone needs 100 headlines written for an article. You could say that you’d do the job for $10 and have it done in two weeks, while I say that I’d do it for $7 and have it done in one week. The low bid and fast turn around time increases my chances of getting the job. Luckily, because the cost of living is so cheap while I’m traveling, I can bid low and have a better chance of being picked for jobs.
Once your bid is accepted, the contract will begin. Personally, I like to do gigs – single serving work. If you’d like something a little more ongoing, there are plenty of jobs that hiring for the long run! Whatever the work is, once you complete it you’ll submit it through Upwork, it will be reviewed and approved, and then you get paid!
What do you like about Upwork?
Most importantly, the employer has to give the money to Upwork before the contract begins and it hangs out in escrow. This means the money is there in holding, so you don’t have to worry about nagging the employer for it.
I also like the variety of work I can do for Upwork. For example, I wrote an article about a sexy cosplayer. This was not only fun, but great for my resume and portfolio too! Another fun article I did was writing a post about drug testing policies in the USA and how it was birthed from Nixon’s War on Drugs. That one was both fun and educational for me!
How do I get started?
Registering on Upwork is very easy. Once you create your account, you’ll want to fill out your profile. This includes areas of work you’re interested in, payment information, along with a bio if you’d like to write about yourself (I encourage this, it will increase your chances of getting hired).
You can also take qualification tests that will make your profile look better. For example, basic grammar and writing skills, an audio transcription test etc. Taking qualification tests can increase your chances of getting gigs in that concentration.
Working online, technique 3: Textbroker
Textbroker is number 4 because I’m still rather new to it. The jist of the site is that you’ll be able to choose topics for articles you’d like to write that can be used in an educational capacity.
How do I get started?
First, you’ll need to register as an author. After entering all your personal information, you’ll be prompted to write a brief article about a topic of their choosing. I was asked to write a sample article about sightseeing at a location of my choosing. As a Chicagoan, I had the advantage here since I’ve had so much exposure to Chicago tourism.
After you submit your sample, you’ll wait a few days for it to be assessed and given a score – 1 start through 5 stars. Once you have your score, you can start taking jobs that are within your score range. Don’t worry, if your score is a bit lower than you’d like, every article you submit will contribute to adjusting your score!
Here’s what the job boards look like:
Based on your score, you can choose articles that are on par or below your submission rating.
You’ll choose your category, then your subtopic, write your article and submit it. Once it’s been accepted and approved, your payment gets processed through direct deposit. Payment varies, but is typically a couple bucks an article.
Working online, technique 4: Blogging
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – I want to be a professional blogger! Ideally, I could make money writing on my blog which would then allow me to lead a free life. Working when you want to and being your own boss sounds pretty great, right?
Now, I don’t make a ton of money from my blog. Laughable amounts really. I think I’ve made like $4 – but that’s still money! It lets me use the mantra and the intention “my blog is making money”. That $4 makes me feel inspired to continue!
How do you make money from your blog?
Affiliate Sales: Out of my $4, most of it was made from affiliate sales through Amazon’s Affiliate program. I created an account for tax purposes, which then allows me to generate URLs for products that then link to my account.
My most popular affiliate sale item are the Thigh Saving, F-U-Chafing Bandelettes. They are $15 a pair from Amazon. I generated a button with my special little link and put it in the article. When someone clicks on the button and buys them through Amazon, they pay the same price but I get a cut of that.
Advertising for Google: The second way to make some income via a blog is through Google Adsense. Essentially, I allow Google to post ads on my blog posts, and if someone clicks on one, I get a few cents. Right now actually you should see an ad on the right hand side of your screen, and if you were to click on it, I would make a bit. Since I don’t want my site to be all ad-crazy, this doesn’t really make me bank, but didn’t your Momma teach you that every penny counts?
Products and Services: I haven’t done this yet but plan to. This could be an eBook, a course about something related to your blog topic, or a physical product that you would sell. I hope to put together an eBook first, and then maybe offer a class.
When my blog totally launches off, I’m buying a school bus and turning it into a rolling apartment 😀
Working online, technique 5: Ask your employer if you can work remotely.
*GASP* I know this is scary and that you just rolled your eyes, but seriously this might be an option.
Before I left my job in Chicago, I worked from home three days a week and was exploring the option of moving to California. If I’d continued with the move, I would have worked entirely telecommute. If you have a job where you work mostly on the computer, I encourage you to ask your boss to work from home once or twice to try it out. Then maybe one a day week, then two…you get the idea.
If you have enough trust and rapport with your manager, they might be open to letting you work remotely. I had worked at my company for three years before the work from home began on a regular basis.
Working from home could let you travel considerably more than you’re doing now. Even if you don’t go to another country due to the time zone differences (I couldn’t take client calls at 2 am Thailand time), you could at least move throughout your country a bit more. You could also move north or south in your own timezone where a cost of living might be cheaper – aka Mexico.
If you work at a retail job, or some other position where you’re chained to a physical location, there are hundreds of jobs out there that are entirely remote from the get go. You can use online search tools to find these jobs and make a fun, travel-friendly career change!
Here’s a job search engine specifically devoted to remote jobs: We Work Remotely.
Working Online, last ditch effort: Got skills?
If you have any special skills (which YOU DO), here’s a few more options for you:
Etsy: If your crafty, sell your stuff on Etsy! People love stuff that’s handmade. Dreamcatchers, fake dreadlocks, crocheted items, etc. If you’re traveling and use resources from where you’re traveling, that’s even better! There’s lots of banana leaves in Thailand – make something with them!
Rev – Freelance Transcribing: If you’re a quick typer from playing way too many MMO games – not that I know anything about that – you might be interested in doing transcription work. Essentially, you will listen to an audio sample and then transcribe it into text form. This could be used for class lectures, subtitles for movies and many other things! Pro: the work is diverse!
Fiverr: Pick something that you can do quickly and are willing to do for $5! Record a video singing a song of the user’s choosing in a weird voice only you can do, internet research, or anything you can think of!
I knew a girl who would handwrite and mail hate mail letters to people on behalf of her Fiverr customers. They could pay extra for rushed delivery, use of curse words / vulgarity, spit on the page, or to make them extra mean.
Yep, your imagination is literally the limit here. I told you that you have skills, be creative!
Read the Reddit.com/r/BeerMoney Thread: Reddit’s beer money thread is aimed at exactly that – making extra money for beer. That means it’s not much, but if you’re out where the cost of living is cheap, a 6-pack in the states could pay for two nights accommodation!
Godspeed on your money making journey!
This post underwent almost 150 revisions before being published – I hope you’ve found it helpful without being intimidating!
If you have any questions, or get stuck, leave me a comment and let me help you out! My whole mission with this blog is to empower my reader to live the life they want – travel or not.