Tuesday, March 29, 2011

7 Ways to Make Money When You're Too Sick to Work

There's a lot more detail involved in the suggestions below than I have time to get into, so realize this is just a bare bones list of ideas. If you are interested in any of them and you are struggling with chronic illness, I am happy to talk with you off blog and give you what advice I can.

You can email me at pissedoffpatient AT gmail Dotcom.

Nothing is simple or easy about making money, but, thankfully, we do live in a time where the internet offers an ability to make an income no matter what your health status is.

The key factors that influence money making ability with illness are:

-How frequently the illness interferes with your ability to work.
-How hands-on the business model is, i.e. when your health issues flare, they take the business down too, which is bad.
-The availability of funds to outsource tasks when you can't do them whether it's due to illness or a lack of expertise.
-The business environment, it can change or be easy or hard. Hard + illness is almost impossible, at least in my experience. Managing change is also difficult. Easy never lasts.
-How well you protect your intellectual property. Theft is a big issue, especially online.
-How well you market your business.
-Skills you need to learn to run the business.

1. Sign up for the Amazon Affiliate (AA) program. Start small and just email your friends and family the link asking them to use it to shop. Send a reminder during the holidays.

Go big by setting up independent blogs to sell specific products using the AA program (Tip: Sell expensive products, commission on books is too low). Slap that Amazon ad up on every website you run.

Pitfall: Some states have passed laws to collect sales tax in the state where the commission is issued on top of sales tax already paid, resulting in a double taxation situation. Amazon, to date, has not prevailed in court on this issue and has had to close their affiliate program in those states. There are workarounds, but they are in a gray area legally. Keep an eye on what is going on at your state capitol on this issue.

2.Write and sell ebooks on Amazon and other sites. Go small with short articles. Go big with books.

Pitfalls: The writing needs to be stellar to make a book work, especially in fiction. Non fiction is more forgiving; if you write for poop, but the information is good, almost all will be forgiven by readers. Be sure to have someone edit your work, either a professional you pay or a friend whose sense of grammar you trust.

Upside, no double taxation issue as far as I know.

3.Sell used books via Half.com or Amazon.com. Go small by culling books from your collection to dip your toe in. (I had a book worth $200, although no one has yet bought it!) Go big by buying and building an inventory. Look for non fiction and popular books.

Selling books requires the ability to meet shipping deadlines to preserve customer satisfaction rating. You must never ever ever ever ever ship a book late or your online reputation will not recover and will scare off customers. This is where having a healthy spouse to run to the post office would come in handy.

You also need to be able to get out to find inventory and this can be rough as book selling is a competitive, cut throat business. Although I have an uncle who makes several multiples of six figures a year doing this full time (and getting up at 4 am or sleeping in his car to be first at a sale).

The good thing is, if you can't do a full fledged business, as long as you keep acquiring inventory when you can and listing it when you can, you will make some money. Just not six figures.

It's also good to market your inventory beyond just listing it for sale. I've done some minimal marketing of my books with good response.

4.Learn a craft or take a craft you already know and open an Etsy store. You retain a lot of control over when you work and what you charge. You will need a marketing plan though beyond just listing products on Etsy to help customers find you.

5.Create a product and go into business. Look for something with low start-up costs, that capitalizes on skill sets you already have. Also, look for process automation so you aren't necessarily running production, shipping, billing and marketing when ill. This kind of hands off product business is possible, believe it or not. It takes some thinking and planning, but it can be done. This is the phase I am in, actually and I'm not taking my advice as I'm venturing into an area where I zero experience. Should be interesting.

6.Write for revenue sharing sites. The bad thing about this income stream is that it takes forever to get income going and Google likes to change the business model a lot, which can destroy your earnings either permanently or temporarily. The internet also seems to be moving away from this model, but I don't see how they'll be able to eliminate it (it's a cash cow) and expect it to be around in some form or another for a long time.

If you can crank out a lot of decent content fast enough to be one step ahead of Google, you can create a passive income stream that will continue to earn when you are too ill to work. This has been my financial salvation for over a year.

Suite101 and Hubpages are the places I would start first. Recognize that Google did a major content smack down recently and earnings are pretty awful right now, but the websites and their writers are retooling and things should improve.

Benchmark: You won't have any idea what the potential is for you personally with ad revenue until you've got at least 100 different articles up and fully understand SEO (you'll know when you know it). Until you reach that point, you will make pennies which is normal. Lots of people quit and give up, not recognizing that this business model is all about volume combined with SEO.

It is not a get rich quick deal and lots of people, the majority, fail miserably.

7.Write for companies like Demand Studios for upfront pay. Demand Studios is tricky to work with (google Demand Studios Sucks to see what I mean), the learning curve is so big there, I would suggest you start at Suite101 as a training ground. Editor quality and professionalism is uneven and management doesn't seem to care. The power gradient of their business practices is against the writer.

However, if you are scrupulous about producing great work and are reliably professional, you can be tapped for projects that pay as much as $80-$100 as opposed to the more common $15 or $20.

These are also all deadline projects which can be a problem when trying to work with illness. The nice thing is, so far, there's no penalty for missed deadlines (except maybe for the special assignments for which you were hand-picked by management), the article just goes back into the writer pool.

Seed.com is another place to scope out, but there you write the article without knowing whether or not they'll take it, which is a pain. Seed.com is like a giant mosh pit of writer groupies, all throwing their pages up on the stage screaming 'pick me, pick me' and the editors sift through and decide which one of hundreds they like. The odds don't favor individual writers. But it is a professional writing credit that can go on a resume and you might be exactly what they are looking for.

Whatever you do stay away from private clients. They are whiny and demanding and have a penchant for impossible deadlines, not compatible to working with chronic illness.

1 comment:

  1. I just had to laugh at the comment about private clients being whiny and demanding with a penchant for impossible deadlines.

    I used to do a lot of marcomm freelance work, and yep, all my clients had a penchant for impossible deadlines. It was crazy -- freelancing was supposed to mean I could set my own schedule, but it didn't. I had to work on their schedules, and as a freelancer, you can't ever say no to a commission because you want your name to be at the top of their list for go-to people. So I'd have nothing to work on, and then suddenly I'd have three assignments that the clients all wanted yesterday. And since a lot of my work involved interviewing my clients' customers, I was on their crazy schedules too, sometimes getting up at 4 a.m. so I could interview someone on the East Coast before their workday started.

    And no one except my husband understood why, when I had a baby, I couldn't keep up my freelance business and just do it "while the baby naps."

    Ok, I'm rambling. Sorry. You just triggered some memories that amused me. :-) I was lucky though that I really only ever had one whiny, demanding client, who I fired fairly quickly. But I could only do that because my income supplemented my husbands. If I'd had to support my family, or even just myself, I'd have had to grit my teeth and take the jerk's abuse.


Thanks for your comment. I read all comments and do my best to respond to questions, usually in a new post.

If you have adrenal issues and want to connect with other patients the following message boards are wonderful resources: