How To Do What You Love & Make Money Online in 2021

Colleen Thornton

A friend of mine called me up the other day and asked, how can I make money online? If you’re well versed in the space of digital, location-independent work, then you understand that this question has loads of possible answers, and each one is worth exploring.

With the turn events early last year, many people struggled to take their businesses online. As ecommerce website specialists, we had a lot of inquiries from people desperate to get something up and running… post haste. It didn’t matter that some services weren’t naturally conducive to online sales, everyone had to muscle through that challenge and give it a shot.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. If we consider COVID-19 the dark cloud, then the silver lining might be that it has not only forced but inspired many people to make a career change. To dig into a line of work that provides greater flexibility, more creativity, and the ability to work from home or anywhere in the world (provided that joyous day will arrive one day soon!). That’s a big step, but not as daunting as it may feel. It’s about creating a better work-life balance, and often all the motivation one needs to slap on the elbow grease and get started.

We’ll say it right up front––any online business venture will require a great deal of effort at the start. There’s simply no way around that unless you hire someone to do it for you. But as time goes on and your business grows, you should notice a reduction in the amount of time exchanged for money. And this goes for any business. As you become better at what you do, you work more efficiently and/or you can charge more. Of course, there’s a little luck involved, but hard work and luck function in tandem.

There are a few things to consider: Do you want to actively engage with work every day? That is, trade hours for Euros or dollars? Or are you interested in building an enterprise that provides passive income? (To learn more about passive income, check out Pat Flynn––the master of passive income).

Obviously, passive income sounds like the ideal situation! Everyone would welcome more money for less work. But there are many people who enjoy their work and just want to find a way to take it online and share it with others. This article is for anyone who wants to find a way to do meaningful work online and earn an income.

Start Where You Are.

First of all, pause for a moment to recognise the time you’re taking right now, just by reading this, to improve your life. You’re asking the right questions, exploring all the options, talking to the right people––that’s all part of the starting game. You’re researching different opportunities for doing business online too. In fact, it all may feel a bit scattered, which is natural. A little chaos goes a long way to feeding an eventual order. It’s kind of like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. At first glance, you’re faced with a messy jumble of pieces. But with time and attention, they begin to fit together.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before you go further into the research:

What are your interests?

What are you good at?

What are you not good at? 

What are you not good at that you want to get better at?

What do you need more of in your life?

Do they sound similar to what your high school career counsellor asked? We need to visit these questions regularly, throughout our lives, because circumstances change, we change, and these questions support the common human goal of fulfilment. 

Once you’ve asked those key questions, ask your spouse or a close friend to answer them on your behalf. It’s impossible to have an objective view of self, and the people close to us often see our strengths more clearly than we do.

Of course, you can skip this self-reflective step, but we strongly encourage you to fully engage with it. It’s an essential step in identifying or creating the meaning behind a potential online business. And meaning (as distinct from money) is what will keep you motivated to stay committed to your goal. 

Start Dropshipping

Dropshipping for ecommerce is an online business owner’s dream. You choose a product, find a supplier, create a website with a storefront, and start selling. Only a small financial investment is required, unlike most other business models, so it’s low risk. In just a few weeks, you can be selling hundreds of products through numerous suppliers (that sounds ambitious but it is possible!). Learn more about how dropshipping works.

Create An Online Course

This is one of the easiest ways to begin generating passive income. If you have an area of expertise that lends itself to digital sharing then you can create online content to share with others via a platform. Every time someone purchases your course that’s cash in your wallet. We’ve worked with clients who created courses years ago and are still raking in the profits. Keep in mind the stale-date of certain information. It’s crucial to keep your course up to date in content and style. Check out these platform options for creating an online course.

Become A Freelancer

This is one for people who have a certain skill or talent set they can sell to business owners and contractors. Computer programmers, copywriters, graphic designers, accountants, consultants, and tutors are just a few examples. With freelancing you can choose projects you like and set your own schedule. It’s also a bridge to a yet-to-know-interest. You can build your design or writing portfolio, for instance, and learn about a wide range of industries. Over time, you can define a niche. Fiverr and Upwork are a couple of freelance marketplaces worth mentioning. 

Publish A Book

Publishing your own book isn’t as hard as it used to be. The hard part is creating the content for the book. Or is it? Let’s flip back to the previous freelancer section––you can hire someone to write your book, design the cover, and market it for you. In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all other than open your wallet, potentially quite wide. 

Or maybe you want to write your own book, an exciting and nerve-wracking labour of love. But love doesn’t make us good at plot or character development, or even grammar. Grab a course on Udemy or similar marketplace and learn some basic how to structure a book guidelines. You can self-publish on Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon), Apple Books, Barnes & Noble Press, Smashwords, and more. Publishing a book is an excellent way to repurpose video and course content too. Diversifying your offering is a smart business move at any time. 

Start Your Own Brand

Want to sell survival gear or top-of-the-line yoga wear or chicory root powder? Start your own line and throw it up on a Shopify ecommerce site. That makes it sound easy, right? Whilst it can be a tough game, developing your own brand has high rewards for many people who just found that right thing and did it really well. There’s definite personal investment required, so I’ll guide you back to earlier in this article: starting where you are.  

Make 2021 A Meaningful Year

Whatever route you decide to take, making money online isn’t just a work arrangement, it’s a lifestyle changer for many people. More freedom and flexibility primarily, but also a greater sense of autonomy. If you have the financial resources and time to invest in a bit of uncertainty, 2021 could be that turn-around year. The greater risk may be, perhaps, not trying.

You’ll need a website in any case and Shopify is one of the most popular choices for ecommerce start-up because it’s so user friendly. That said, it’s sophisticated enough to offer some cool extras that require a bit more time investment. We’ve been Shopify partners for years, helping hundreds of clients get their online business up and running on Shopify. 

We’d love to hear your business idea––maybe we can help! Contact us for a free strategy session.

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Colleen Thornton

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