Suggestions for online jobs given ~600 hours to prepare before starting
February 2, 2013 11:27 AM   Subscribe

In six months, I will enter a new living situation in which I will need to make an income of at minimum US$1000/month solely from online work. Before then, I will have generally two, sometimes three hours every weekday and six to eight hours every weekend day to devote to doing whatever preparation might be necessary to be able to do this. In six months, I will have unlimited time to devote to working, but I would hope to work not more than 50 hours a week. I would like suggestions as to what sort of work would fit the bill given a starting point of no skills/connections, and what sort of approach I should take during the preparatory period. Specifically wondering about web design/development, but interested in all suggestions/possibilities.

My computer is a 2009 MacBook Pro, I have a fast but not lightning-speed Internet connection, and I have US$300 available to invest in software/books/etc.

I haven't previously worked online and I don't think I currently have any skills that would be monetizable online. I do have experience teaching English classes and tutoring English, for which there is an online market, but pay is generally quite low and working hours are scattered, making that an undesirable option for me. I also have foreign language skills but not professional-level.

I've been wondering if web design/web programming would be a viable option. I have several ideas for websites I'd like to build that relate to interests of mine; they have very limited potential to make money, but I would really like them to exist, so I'm hoping to be told this option is feasible as I could then justify spending the time necessary to develop the skills to build them. However, I have (literally) no idea whether it would be realistic to expect that I could build up web design/development skills in six months a few hours a day from nothing to the point that I could make US$1000/month off them. Based on past experiences, assume existent but dormant interest, and an average level of aptitude for an interested person.

Also very interested in hearing about any other suggestions that could meet my needs. Thanks!
posted by John Raskolnikov Gilson to Work & Money (7 answers total) 67 users marked this as a favorite
I think your best best is to set yourself up as a freelancer on a site like Guru. Look over the types of jobs posted on there and figure out what you're good at and go from there. You can use the next six months to start taking jobs and building your reputation. My fiance has made a decent amount of money on Guru doing marketing and writing, FWIW.
posted by radioamy at 11:41 AM on February 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

$1000/month with only 50 hours/week seems pretty doable with some early legwork.
As far as I know, can pay $15/article for some pretty benign articles that could be done from home.

Also check out to see if there's some service you can provide along those lines (a lot of graphic art jobs).

While overhyped and fantastical, I think there's a ton of useful advice in Tim Ferris' "The Four Hour Workweek", such as contracting foreign coders and designers for cheap to run a web design company that one could manage from home.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 11:43 AM on February 2, 2013

Check your MeMail.
posted by Sternmeyer at 12:18 PM on February 2, 2013

Another suggestion is -- basically temp assistant work you do from home. They don't list how much pay is on the site, but a little digging suggests it's arounf $12.50 - $15/ hour.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 4:01 PM on February 2, 2013 [3 favorites]

All I do is online work and this is a partial list of what I wish I had in place when I started.

Don’t get spooked about the length of this list. Much of it can be had for free if you do a little research. I will note with a ($) where it will probably cost money.

This is not a complete list by any means.

Mostly Technical Issues below.
Get a back-up drive ($$)
Get Backup software ($)
Get a System Recovery Disk (possibly $. Probably you can DIY)
Get a second back-up drive (redundancy is a very good thing) ($$)
Get a generally accepted software for business use i.e. MS Office. ($$$) (some things you just can’t get around)
Get Mac Open Office
Get out of date commercial software for less as you need it. Not every job requires the highest end software to accomplish the task.
Get a every piece of free software you might need that will work with Mac at GNU (
Get a Win partition happening on your Mac if you do not have one.
Get a decent scanner. Epson sells some good ones for well less than $100 ($$)
Get a formalized method of naming and filing files on your drive
Get a formalized method of passwording and either a password management software or be disciplined in managing PWs
Get an super-duper, el-cheap-a-roony computer, not for that time if your Mac crashes, but when your Mac will inevitably and absolutely will crash hard like the Hindenburg. ($$ - oh the humanity)
Get a couple of cloud storage services for exchanging files (not long term storage)
Get a cheap web server that you can upload and test with (if you are doing web work as you noted) ($)
Get a nice picture of yourself you feel comfortable posting online
Get a nice name you can refer to yourself by.
Get a domain in either your name or your comany name or both. Dot coms are best ($$)
Get a nice logo in a variety of sizes for your various online accounts
Get an online resume together
Get a print resume together
Get a PDF print driver (probably on your Mac already)
Get an internet telephone setup
Get an internet telephone headset ($)
Get additional free email accounts with business like names
Get additional free email accounts with stupid names for throwaway situations (like trial version software)
Get a second monitor even if it is just some dinky 15” (possibly $)
Get an online payment method worked out (PayPal and/or a debit card that allows ACH) (possibly $)
Get your current browser updated (related: lots of online work sites require Flash)
Get other browsers as some sites work well with certain ones.
Get your internet connection solid – run a speed test and keep the results. People sometimes ask for it. ($)
Get your internet connection upgraded and check on your bandwidth allowance per month. ($)
Get your signature scanned so you can paste it in signature fields.
Get used to watching for sales at the local supermarket.

And that is just off the top of my head. There is certainly more.

A simple issue to get the ball rolling in your online work life – take jobs right off the bat that may be loss leaders but will pay something. Nothing will validate you more to new clients than the ability to show that somebody before them paid you to do something. You will hear a lot of people tell you otherwise, but 99% of the time that is coming from people with established track records. Just like you are not going to waltz into XYZ Corporation and sit in the CEO Big Chair on the first day, so too will that apply to your online work life. Ya gotta start somewhere and that is almost always at or near the bottom. The trick is to establish yourself and get your reputation working while systematically raising billing standard up to a reasonable level in a reasonable amount of time.

Yes there are always those great huge jobs that you will get and it will be peachy for a while. But there will most likely be times when you wished you could get enough happening to pay the cable bill and electric and buy some ramen so you can stay online to find more jobs. You can always raise your fees later, but what you did in the B&M world only counts for so much online. A couple of stupid online jobs completed and compensated for will jumpstart things far more than a slew of fancy names on a least in the short term.

Oh, and yeah….learn how to like writing bids. You will be doing a lot of that.

Thats enough for now.
posted by lampshade at 5:47 PM on February 2, 2013 [14 favorites]

Backup to back It's $5 a month for everything.
posted by Freen at 6:42 PM on February 2, 2013

Get your signature scanned so you can paste it in signature fields.

If you're running Lion or Mountain Lion, you can easily scan your signature using your MacBook's camera.

Also I'd recommend getting some accountancy help too.. Step #1 in building a business (at least here in Belgium) is to make sure you've got your books ready for the coming year. This is particularly difficult if you're new to keeping books yourself - but having a sit down with an accountant and/or bookkeeper might add another $ or two to the list of lampshades (amazing!) list, but it could be worth it.
posted by channey at 3:56 AM on February 5, 2013

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