How To Make Money Online As An Absolute Beginner With Zero Money Or Experience

Written by Zoe King ✏️

Last updated May 22, 2024

You’re an absolute beginner, eager to plunge into the exciting world of online business.

But this question keeps buzzing in your mind: How do I start making money online as an absolute beginner with no experience or money?

Believe me, I was once a wide-eyed beginner like you, clueless about the concept of making money online.

In this guide, I’ll show you the exact steps I took when I started, which helped me to make thousands of dollars as a beginner.

Whether you’re a cash-strapped student, a tireless stay-at-home parent, or someone who just wants to rake in some extra money, consider this guide your ticket to getting started as an absolute beginner.

 

Selecting an Online Business Model That’s Right for You

 

If you’re new to the concept of making money online, you’ll soon discover that the online business world is teeming with a wide array of business ideas and lucrative opportunities.

To help you make a smarter and faster decision, I managed to streamline these ideas into five universal categories.

As a beginner, this is the ideal starting point — understanding the universal categories of online businesses.

  • Product-based business (retailing physical products online)
  • Skill-based business (offering freelance services)
  • Software-based business (selling software or web-based solutions)
  • Content-based business (providing information, content, or expert help)
  • Digital asset-based business (trading or investing in digital assets in the new economy)

 

7 Lucrative Online Business Models to Start Right Now

 

Which of these offers the easiest entry points for absolute beginners with no experience, no online presence, and no money?

Here are my two recommendations:

 

1. Start by offering freelance services

 

When I started my online business back in 2013, I opted to offer freelance writing services to businesses.

Why? Because it presented the most accessible entry point for me.

If you’re starting out with no prior experience or connections and with with little to no money, I highly recommend beginning by offering freelance services.

Freelancing requires only your skills and time, which you already have now. Coupled with the right marketing, you can start making money ASAP.

 

Lucrative Freelance Services for Beginners

 

Here are some freelance services you can offer:

  • Writing and Content Creation: Offer your writing skills for blog posts, articles, website content, social media posts, ebooks, product descriptions, and more
  • Graphic Design: Provide services like logo design, branding, social media graphics, infographics, brochures, business cards, and other visual content.
  • Web Development: Build websites and web applications for clients using languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and frameworks like WordPress, Shopify, or Joomla.
  • Social Media Management: Help businesses manage their social media presence by creating content, scheduling posts, engaging with followers, and analyzing results.
  • Virtual Assistance: Offer administrative support remotely, including email management, scheduling appointments, data entry, research, and customer service.
  • Translation and Transcription: Provide translation services for documents, websites, or videos. Offer transcription services for audio or video recordings.
  • Online Marketing and SEO: Help businesses improve their online presence through search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, keyword research, and digital advertising.
  • Video Editing: Edit and enhance videos for individuals or businesses, including trimming, adding effects, transitions, subtitles, and audio adjustments.
  • Photography and Photo Editing: Offer photography services for events, portraits, products, or real estate. Provide photo editing services using software like Photoshop or Lightroom.
  • Voice-over and Audio Services: Record voice-overs for videos, audiobooks, podcasts, or phone systems. Offer audio editing, mixing, or sound effects.
  • Virtual Tutoring: Provide one-on-one tutoring in subjects like math, science, languages, music, or test preparation through online platforms.
  • Proofreading and Editing: Help individuals or businesses improve the quality of their written content by proofreading, editing grammar, syntax, and ensuring clarity.
  • Illustration and Digital Art: Create illustrations, digital paintings, or graphics for books, websites, marketing materials, or merchandise.
  • App Development: Develop mobile applications for iOS or Android devices using programming languages like Swift, Kotlin, or React Native.
  • Web Design: Create visually appealing and user-friendly websites for individuals, businesses, or organizations. Use your design skills to create wireframes, select color schemes, choose fonts, and create responsive layouts that work well on different devices. Utilize tools like Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, Figma, or Canva to design website mockups and collaborate with clients to bring their visions to life.

Enter some keywords below to get an idea of what freelancers are offering on Fiverr.

 

 

Expert Tips for a Successful Freelance Service Business

 

Here are some techniques that can help you start and grow a profitable freelance online business:

 

Decide on Your Specialty

 

The list above is comprehensive but not exhaustive. There are so many different skill-based services to offer.

Identify your strengths and passions and focus on offering services within that area. Specializing can help you stand out and attract clients who are looking for your specific expertise.

For instance, I picked writing because I loved writing and had a natural flair for it. In fact, as far back as 2007, I was already writing songs and poems (close to 100 songs between 2007 and 2009).

 

Register and Sell on Fiverr (beginner step)

 

Fiverr is a popular gig-based platform for freelancers to offer their services. Freelancers create “gigs,” which are predefined services they offer at a specific price.

A close alternative to Fiverr is Upwork, although it operates a bid-based system, making it very competitive.

Both Fiverr and Upwork can be great starting points to test your idea, gain experience, and practically learn the ropes as you work with clients.

To succeed on Fiverr, ensure that your gigs are well-optimized with the right descriptions, keywords, and pricing and that you deliver high-quality work to earn positive reviews.

SIDENOTE: As a beginner (level 1 seller), you have the opportunity to create up to seven gigs on Fiverr. For optimal results, I recommend creating one main gig and complementing it with six related gigs.

 

Build Your Service Website (advanced step)

 

While freelance platforms can provide a good starting point to earn money, they can also be limiting and unpredictable.

My advice is to build a holistic brand outside of freelancing platforms. It starts with building your own service website.

This allows you to showcase your services, demonstrate your expertise, and provide more detailed information to potential clients.

This is one of the things I did, which helped me to attract high-paying freelance clients and generate thousands of dollars consistently every month. I created a writer’s website in which I included elements such as my rates, a “hire me” page, samples of my work, and clear contact information.

To build a website, you’ll need a domain name (this is your website’s address, e.g. www.example.com) and web hosting (this is where you store your website’s files and data).

For an unparalleled web hosting experience, Cloudways takes the lead as the most reliable choice, providing cutting-edge, performance-oriented cloud hosting solutions. When building your website, consider using them together with Divi or GeneratePress to make your website stand out.

 

SIDENOTE: If you want to explore alternative options, Kinsta and Scala Hosting also stand out as excellent choices, offering robust solutions for your hosting needs.

Having your website at Cloudways also enables you to create a complimentary professional or business email address (e.g., name@example.com) using their Rackspace add-on. This is crucial for maintaining a professional image when communicating with potential clients, as opposed to using a name@gmail.com address.

 

An early iteration of my service website of old. And yes, that’s what my picture looked like back in 2013 😂

 

Build a Strong Portfolio

 

Collect a diverse range of samples or case studies that demonstrate your skills and expertise. This can be hosted on your service website.

The goal is to highlight your best work in a way that showcases your abilities to potential clients. This will help build trust and credibility.

As an absolute beginner, if you’re encountering difficulties landing paid opportunities without samples, you’re not alone. Many potential clients who wish to hire you will require evidence of your past work.

The solution? Consider taking the “pro bono” route.

Before I landed any clients, I committed to offer my services pro bono to some not-for-profit organizations. Additionally, I actively pursued guest blogging opportunities on popular blogs, which eventually allowed me to establish a robust portfolio.

Considering your niche, brainstorm ways in which you can offer two to three small jobs for free, leveraging them to create a compelling portfolio.

 

Market Your Service to the Right Audience

 

If you’re using Fiverr, this means actively promoting your gigs. You can share the gig URLs on social media platforms, link back from other websites, and so on.

However, your own website gives you more marketing freedom and flexibility.

For instance, I successfully drove significant traffic to my writer’s website by implementing effective SEO strategies and executing targeted inbound marketing campaigns. As a result, clients began reaching out to me organically, and I found myself receiving inquiries on a weekly basis. However, due to limited availability, I had to decline certain offers.

It’s also a lot more professional to link your own website in Letters of Introduction (LOIs), which is an effective lead-generation strategy for proactively putting your services in front of prospective clients.

Another of my favorite freelance marketing strategies is using LinkedIn to network and connect with businesses that may need your services. I have personally secured numerous deals on LinkedIn without actively pursuing them.

The secret lies in optimizing your LinkedIn profile to make a strong impression.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that as a beginner freelance service provider, landing clients can be challenging initially. It requires a significant amount of proactive marketing to secure your first few clients. In the end, this holds true for every other business model as well.

 

Expand to Related Services and Gradually Increase Rates

 

As you gain experience and expertise, consider expanding your service offerings to related areas.

This allows you to serve clients with a broader range of needs. Along with expanding your services, gradually increase your rates to reflect your growing skill set and value.

Although I started out as a writer, I expanded my skills and expertise to encompass other areas of digital marketing, including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), copywriting, and other closely related fields.

My first writing job paid $50 per article. However, by offering valuable ‘extras’ to my clients, I was eventually able to significantly increase my rates from $50 per article to over $1,000 per article.

As my reputation grew, I found myself working with a broader clientele, including larger and more established businesses.

From being a paid content hire, I doubled as a paid SEO. And then I started managing blogs and content teams for businesses — yes, I started hiring writers 🙂

 

Use a Dedicated Payment Processor

 

Selling on your service website means you’d have to manage your invoicing and billing.

Set up a reliable and secure payment processor to handle transactions with your clients. Freelancers commonly use online payment platforms like PayPal, Payoneer, and 2Checkout (Verifone), or even wire transfer, to receive payments from clients around the world.

 

Collect Testimonials

 

Request feedback and testimonials from satisfied clients. Positive testimonials can serve as social proof and enhance your credibility.

Display them on your website, portfolio, or social media platforms to build trust with potential clients.

 

2. Create content on the side

 

Service-based (or skill-based) businesses are active income streams, which means four things:

  • You’re basically selling your time for money
  • Your earning capacity will be capped
  • Scalability will be almost impossible
  • You’ll need to continually do the work to keep earning

This is why I strongly recommend against exclusively relying on the skill-based model throughout your entire online entrepreneurial career. You’ll be better off by adding passive and residual income streams to the mix, particularly through the content-based business model.

This diversification will enhance your financial prospects and provide long-term sustainability.

So here’s what to do:

In addition to running a freelancing business, start creating content.

While a skill-based service business allows you to generate active income [almost] immediately, it has its limitations in terms of scalability and the toll it takes on your time and energy.

By simultaneously building a content-based business on the side, you not only work towards reducing your workload, but you also open up the possibility of eventually replacing your time-demanding skill-based freelance business with a more passive income stream being that a content-based business can run on autopilot.

To illustrate, when I started my freelance writing business, I simultaneously launched a blog dedicated to freelance writing and developed my first information product—an eBook for freelance writers.

Today, I’m not actively freelancing anymore. My blogs and other content-based businesses generate stable passive income even while I’m sleeping.

 

Content-based Businesses and Their Monetization Strategies

 

Here’s a look at some content-based businesses and their monetization strategies:

TYPEMONETIZATION METHODS
Online coursesOne-off payments or split payments
BloggingAffiliate marketing, Pay-per-click ads, sponsored posts, ad space, premium content, paid speaking, paid conferences, paid webinars
VloggingBrand sponsorship, YouTube Partner Program, affiliate promotions, Google AdSense
PodcastsAffiliate promotions, brand sponsorship, paid speaking, premium content, paid conferences
eBooksOne-off purchases
Membership sites
Recurring subscriptions
Webinars and live workshops
Sponsorship, product announcement, affiliate marketing
Social content (e.g TikTok, Instagram, etc.)Social ads, brand promotion, affiliate promotions, brand sponsorship

It’s up to you to choose which type of content to create.

 

Conclusion

 

Let’s face it: the idea of making money online as an absolute beginner can be intimidating.

With no prior experience and no money, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about your prospect.

But here’s the good news:

Making money online is not reserved for only the business-savvy or well-connected individuals.

I was once a beginner just like you, but then, I went on to make my first $100k and more.

Use the invaluable insights I’ve shared in this guide to chart your own course.

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About the Author

Zoé King is a successful digital entrepreneur and creator who founded SHiFTCADEMY.COM as a way to help awesome people like you find legitimate and future-proof income ideas so you can make money and shift your life forward!

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