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How to Make Money Online With No Skill or Experience

You’re asking the wrong question. Instead, find how to create value.

Yep, that’s a terrible clickbait title because it’s dangerously misleading. And that’s precisely why I’ve used it — to highlight a profound, global problem that technology has given us. It’s made too many of us believe in the impossible.

The internet has built many wonderful opportunities to earn money that didn’t exist just a generation ago. It’s made freelancing and remote working a real possibility for almost anyone, anywhere.

But there’s a rediculous misconception that one can earn money online regardless of their skills or experience? Wipe away your starry eyes, because it’s not a magic money tree.

Here are real titles from popular blogs posts and youtube videos:

Wait, what?

The quick answer to every single one of them: you can’t, unless you’re talking about earning less than minimum wage doing $5 gigs or taking mindless surveys. Slogging through Upwork, Fiverr, or TaskRabbit is not a career, nor is it even a good side-hustle.

The web has made learning new skills easier, and it’s connected us a larger pool of potential customers to sell them to, but it hasn’t changed the equation. Making good money still requires providing good value. There’s no shortcut.

Reframe the question

If you’re asking the question “how to make money online” you’re bound to fail because you’re looking at a business upside down. Here’s why…

Making money from a service business is a simple formula:

  1. Develop a valuable skill.
  2. Learn how to apply that skill to customer’s needs in a professional manner.
  3. Learn how to sell that skill to new customers.
  4. Trade your service for money.

Notice how that part about making money comes last. You don’t have any ability to earn it until you’ve satisfied points 1–3. If you chase the goal before building a bridge to it, you’re running a treadmill to nowhere.

So reframe that question: “How can I build and sell a valuable service?” Do that, and the money will follow. Skip it, and you’ll be stuck with the $5 low-skill scraps forever.

My youngest son just started school, which means my wife — who’s been a full-time mom for 8 years — finally has the time to think about a serious hobby or job. She’s always loved reading and is often surprised at how many editing errors she notices in the Kindle novels she devours. So here’s a niche she wants to chase: proofreading for smaller authors who publish independently and don’t have access to big-budget editors.

There’s no doubt of a demand for it, evident by the number of errors she spots without even looking for them. And there’s no doubt she has some skill for it. But that doesn’t mean she can start making serious money from that service yet, because she’ll never get hired until she can demonstrate expertise and experience. So she’s decided to take an online course in editing and proofreading to gain a recognized certification in the field. Sometimes it takes qualifications to prove your skill. Remember selling your service is just as important as developing it. You need to be able to convince others of its value.

How to create value

Building your professional value starts by investing in activities that build skills and experience first, even if they’re not the most immediately profitable. Increasing your value makes your long-term earning potential skyrocket, so you can’t be impatient.

Really want to make money online?

Stop looking for the easiest ways to make it. Easy is cheap. Instead, find something difficult to do, and learn to do it well. It’s really that simple.

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Benek Lisefski

Hi, I'm Benek Lisefski. Since 2001 I've run my own independent design business. Join me as I unfold 20 years of freelance business knowledge: honest advice and practical tips to help you take your indie career from good to great.

MediumTop writer in Design, Business, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship.