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Over the last few years e-commerce has gained a ton of publicity and there has been an explosion of guides out there using a growing amount of buzzwords vaguely associated with the industry in order to sound like an authority on the topic. The truth is that e-commerce isn’t just something that the Gates’ and the Zuckerbergs’ can take advantage of. Sure, massive companies have the most to gain by carefully tailoring their online presence, but e-commerce has also opened up a whole world of side gigs for people that are just looking to make an extra buck while keeping some flexibility in their life.
Freelancing – The Ultimate in Flexibility
One of the most underreported aspects of the explosion in online business is the rise of the freelance artist. If you are great at a singular part of a process and hate doing the rest of it freelancing allows you to cash in on the skills you do have as opposed to being held up by the ones you don’t. Often freelancing gets associated only with writing, and while writing has obviously been a big part of the movement, it is not representative of the whole opportunity. People who design graphics (especially catchy new infographics), or do live illustration, edit, produce, make music, or almost anything else you can think of can make money online now if they find the right way to present their talents.
Our Side Gig
While we’ll never be able to compete with the guys who do website design in Toronto or get to the top of Google for a very lucrative search term like “website design Vancouver” we have managed to produce a nice little side income for ourselves making basic websites for local businesses. The reason this has worked particularly well for us is that we live in a rural area where there is little competition for our particular niche. In larger cities there would undeniably be businesses that specialize in web site construction and maintenance. These types of places would likely offer much better value than we can since they have so many advantages in terms of resources, manpower, and economies of scale. What they can’t offer however, is a human touch. Many businesses (especially those ran by people over forty) are not comfortable dealing exclusively with someone they can’t meet and discuss things with face-to-face. This is where we come in. By identifying what we can offer that others can't, we can then leverage this into a decent profit margin for ourselves.
Related: Websites versus Dividends
Since e-commerce is fast making up more and more of businesses’ bottom lines, even smaller companies based out of rural areas want the ability to offer their products and services to a much wider audience. Sometimes their needs are beyond what we can offer (for example this SEO stuff just makes my head hurt sometimes), but often all they are looking for is a simple, user-friendly site that they can list on their business cards or direct potential clients to. We often propose to clients that our goals be that they are happy with the presentation of their product or service, and that they believe the website lends itself to creating a general flow of traffic towards selling what they have to offer.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that online business is only going to get more lucrative and essential going forward. If you can make yourself a part of that process you can develop a career or an attractive little side gig. While becoming an expert on everything is a tough mountain to climb, becoming an authority of one cog in the overall machine is a much more digestible chunk to rip off.
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