1. Offer your professional expertise in an online marketplace.These days, you can do more than just sell your old books via Amazon and your old Coach handbags via eBay—now you can sell your professional capabilities in a marketplace. No longer are you limited to looking for a permanent or contract job on Web 1.0 style job sites like Monster orCareerBuilder. The new breed of freelancing and project-oriented sites let companies needing help describe their projects. Then freelancers and small businesses offer bids or ideas or proposals from which those buyers can choose.
Elance covers everything from programming and writing to consulting and design, whileRentACoder focuses on software, natch. If you’re a graphic designer, check out options like Design Outpost or LogoWorks–you don’t have to find the customers, they’ll come to you. Wannabe industry analysts might sign up for TechDirt’s Insight Community, a marketplace for ideas about technology marketing.
2. Sell photos on stock photography sites. If people regularly oooo and aaaaah over your Flickr pics, maybe you’re destined for photographic greatness or maybe just for a few extra dollars. It’s easier than ever to get your photos out in front of the public, which of course means a tremendous amount of competition, but also means it might be an convenient way for you to build up a secondary income stream. Where can you upload and market your photos? Try Fotolia, Dreamstime, Shutterstock, and Big Stock Photo.
3. Blog for pay. Despite the explosion of blogs, it’s hard to find good writers who can turn around a solidly-written post on an interesting topic quickly. GigaOM is always looking for bloggers with great content ideas and solid writing skills. How do you get noticed? Comment and link to blogging network sites. Write blog posts that are polished and not overly personal (although showing some personality is a plus).
4. Or start your own blog network. If you like the business side of things–selling advertising, hiring and managing employees, attracting investors–and have the stomach to go up against the likes of Weblogs, Inc., GigaOmniMedia, b5media, maybe you should make an entire business out of blogs. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll get a lot of time to write yourself though.
5. Provide service and support for open source software. Just because the software is free doesn’t mean you can’t make money on it–just ask Red Hat, a well-known distributor of Linux that sports a market cap of more than four billion dollars. As a solo web worker, you might not want to jump in and compete with big companies offering Linux support, but how about offering support for web content management systems likeWordPress or Drupal? After getting comfortable with your own installation, you can pretty easily jump into helping other people set them up and configure them.
6. Online life coaching. Who has time to go meet a personal coach at an office? And don’t the new generation of web workers need to be met by their coaches in the same way that they work: via email, IM, and VoIP? You could, of course, go through some life coaching certification program, but on the web, reputation is more important than credentials. I bet Tony Robbins isn’t certified as a life coach–and no one can argue with his success. For an example of someone building up their profile and business online as a coach, check out Pamela Slim of Ganas Consulting and the Escape from Cubicle Nationblog.
7. Virtually assist other web workers. Freelancers and small businesses desperately need help running their businesses, but they’re not about to hire a secretary to come sit in the family room and answer phone calls. As a virtual assistant, you might do anything from making travel reservations to handling expense reimbursements to paying bills to arranging for a dog sitter. And you do it all from your own home office, interacting with your clients online and by phone. You can make $20 and up an hour doing this sort of work, depending on your expertise.
8. Build services atop Amazon Web Services. Elastic computing on AWS is so cool… and so incredibly primitive right now. Did you know that you can’t even count on your virtual hard drive on EC2 to store your data permanently? That’s why people are making money right now by offering services on top of AWS. Make it easier for people to use Amazon’s scalability web infrastructure like Enomaly has with elasticlive, a scalable web hosting platform built on AWS.
9. Write reviews for pay or perks. If you blog for any length of time on a particular topic–parenting, mobile phones, or PCs, for example–you will likely be approached to do book or product reviews. You can get free stuff this way, but are you selling your soul? Is there any such thing as a free laptop? These are decisions you’ll have to make for yourself, because no one agrees upon what ethical rules apply to bloggers. Even less do people agree on services like PayPerPost that pay you to write reviews on your blog. Check out disclosure rules closely and see whether such a gig would meet your own personal standards or not.
10. Become a virtual gold farmer. A half million Chinese now earn income by acquiring and selling World of Warcraft gold to gamers in other countries. If you’re not a young person living in China, this probably isn’t a viable option for you. But what’s intriguing about it is the opportunity to make real money working in a virtual economy. People aremaking real-world money in Second Life too.