I have heard the streets in the internet are paved with gold.
Anonymous recollections of 2000’s internet worker.
I go searching for these streets in the web and although there are plenty of signposts and many people rushing in the same direction. I am also skeptical of some of what I hear. As I wander through the streets of the web the signs seem to point to three overarching forms of online money making:
(1) The web as an extended marketplace
This category of work is actually, less a new innovation from the internet, but more a harnessing of the web as a global marketplace for things which you already had in your life. So I include within this category the selling of ‘things’, be it via ebay or your own website. Or this could also mean offering your skills via platforms designed to advertise and push you out to a wider audience. I include in this producing content destined for the internet such as photographs, written content or design.
So platforms such as:
- Some ‘thing’ to sell: eBay, Etsy
- Skills to offer in design: 99Designs, Crowdspring
- Skills to offer in coding: oDesk
- Skills to offer in writing: Elance, Freelancer, iWriter
- Skills to offer in photography: iStockphoto
(2) Micro-labour on the web
Micro-labour or micro-tasking is work that doses not rely on you already being in possession of a certain skill or product.
The work required is internet based mini tasks, to be carried out in substantial quantities and typically pay per a task at very small rates. Crowdsourced micro-labour on the web, is a new mass labour market compiling the clicks of many people that only exist online. So this would include things like taking an online survey, watching an advert, writing feedback, tagging images or testing an app, for example.
One of the most well known current platforms for this kind of work is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. The platform and micro-labour as a concept itself continues to raise debate and controversy over potential exploitation of a new digital underclass. Whilst others have found with some tips and tricks, they are able to match an hourly minimum wage or earn some extra cash on the side, I still wonder if its worth it. Here is one blogger’s personal experience over at The Simple Dollar.
(3) The Me Brand
Finally, my quest for digital gold leads me back to the blogging road, although this is less about the blog, youtube or any other content platform, as the specific individual walking it.
The world of the web has made it possible for a new age of web personalities. Although their area of of expertise or interest might be as a writer, photographer or other traditional skill, there has also been explosion of completely niche areas of expertise.
Here it is the personality and influence of the individual that creates the possibility of many different ways to monetise you, as the brand. I found the wide ranging choices aptly captured in diagram below, and there are also lots of practical details and healthy dose of reality to be found over at Problogger.net
“I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, found out three things: First, the streets weren’t paved with gold; second, they weren’t paved at all: and third, I was expected to pave them.”
Anonymous recollections of 1900′s immigrant
I have chased down some of the ‘get rich’ dreams of the 2000s internet worker. As with the American immigrants of the 1900s, the web’s inhabitants have discovered that there are no easy walks down glistening streets of gold, here on the web either.
As with most things in life, reward comes at the end of a long road of working hard.