15 Ways You can Earn Money – but with a twist

I remember reading about people who have already done what I wanted to do. Reading about it gave me the confidence that “if they can do it, then I can do it too!”

There are a lot of ‘make money’ lists out there. This one is different and hopefully more useful because I have actually done each of the listed businesses.

Some of them are online money making ideas, others are offline businesses that you can start. And please be warned, this is a long post (I have tried to be brief and helpful which is not an easy feat for me).

One can easily make a full-time income doing any of these projects. Some of the ones listed here still contribute to my bottom line one way or the other, by God’s Grace (I am not rich by any definition, but I do enjoy what I do – creative self-employment, if you may ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

The idea behind these business ideas is not to get rich quick, in fact, it is not even to get rich the way we understand rich to be. The idea is to creatively start projects, explore different opportunities and see which one might stick.

So, in no specific order, here are the 15 projects you can start to make money…

1. Sell Website Design

I have earned money by selling website design to local (Pakistan-based) companies.
This is first thing I did, while still at college. I would just walk into stores and such, and ask if they want a website. Many a times, this approach did not work (I now know why it didn’t work), but sometimes, it did. I made my first website in the year 2000 I think. Never looked back, as they say.

How you can start selling website design (in Pakistan and anywhere else for that matter) will be easier for you if:

  • you dress up like a bloody CEO – no one wants to give money to this kid in a t-shirt and flip flops. You’ll be a kid even if you are 40 when you go to client meeting wearing a t-shirt and flip flops
  • if you think you can finish the project in say 7 days, then tell the prospect that you will finish the project in 21 days. Yes, don’t double it to 14, triple it to 21. Then deliver it in less time and you’ll get yourself a very pleased customer. Also you get to say “I/we overdeliver in our services”!
  • Make sure everyone knows that you are now making websites; your first few customers will definitely come from within your close network of friends, so ensure they all know.

2. Make Money on Elance

Have earned money by selling web applications on Elance.

Earn Money with Elance from Pakistan

Screenshot of my old account

I got a total of 2 projects, totaling a whopping 600 US$ – that was a decent bit of money for a student in Lahore. Both projects were web applications (back in the day, we’d call them databases or software, surprise, surprise!).

And it seemed to take forever for me to actually start bidding on projects, as I would only stalk other contractors/providers, see their earnings stack up, telling myself one day, I will earn as much. Turns out I didn’t want the sheer level of commitment and time it takes to open an office, manage a team, and run a business. This was my first experience with knowing the difference between running a business and owning one; I know now that I don’t want to run businesses, I would rather own a business that somewhat doesn’t need me to run (to know more about this owning and running thingy, check this post).

How you can make money with Elance:

  • You can sell a lot of different services on Elance. Sign up for an account there (click here) and see what services can youย provide.
  • Read the Elance guidelines before you start bidding; they will help.
  • Focus on writing a winning proposal. This means you have to learn selling.

Too many creatives – writers, designers, coders etc – think selling is beneath them; it’s sleazy or something. Well, ever heard of a best-writing author? Thought so. The best-selling authors are making all the money with their creative expression.

(If you are in Pakistan, definitely check out Salma Jafri’s website. She explains in detail on how to earn money with Elance.)

3. Sell Web Hosting

Have earned money by selling hosting.

I still do. Hosting is a very tricky business to scale (with like a gazillion dollars per click or something if you dare think of advertising it online!), but I don’t want to scale a business up just because the business demands it. The business serves me, not the other way around. There are creative ways to sell hosting and you can choose a number of them.

I sell hosting on a yearly basis – with no option to sign up on a month by month basis. For that I suggest people use Hostgator (aff link – I am reseller for Hostgator and am happy with their product and customer support, that’s why I recommend them).

I try to filter out customers by charging them 147 US$ per year, but I do give them Google Apps (with support), WordPress installed and customized, along with some other goodies. I do not advertise it, and if you want to start your blog (or your business website), then click here to get in touch with me.

4. Sell Milk

I have earned money by selling milk.

Yes, milk.

Kemaak was โ€“ as are most things with me โ€“ an experiment. An experiment in marketing (I called it a brand vacuum when I started it in 2004 or so). I remember surveying an exact 100 houses (the ol’ fashioned survey, with paper & everything), asking them if they’d buy milk from Kemaak. The business/enterprise, as small as it is, has sustained itself since, Alhumdulillah.

5. Selling Birthday Cakes

Birthday Cakes in Lahore

Birthday Cakes in Lahore

I have earned money by selling birthday cakes.

Not just any cakes, but only birthday cakes. This was a good enough unique selling proposition to begin with. Can you think of a unique type of cakes to sell? You’ll immediately stand out. And then you use the exceptionally underrated power of the pamphlet to get the word out, and build from there.

Although I have used online, social media and the like to generate sales, the majority of sales come through good ol’ offline networking, follow ups and delivering unique products!

6. I have earned money selling crops.

Agriculture in Pakistan - Momekh

Planting Maize by hand

Yes, crops. By God’s Grace, I still own this enterprise. I don’t have any land of my own, I lease it out. Agriculture is not as profitable as it used to be.ย I have met some great people, have seen Pakistan from the inside out so-to-speak and enjoy the break from city life every now and then.

7. I have earned money by constructing telecom towers

This was when I opened my own construction company. I had dreams of eventually building plazas and hotels. NatGeo with its MegaStructure this and MegaBuilding that had me convinced that architecture and civil works is theย lifestyle business for me.

At that time, I still hadn’t figured out the difference between a profession and a business (I think I have now). I successfully completed the first tower, made a decent amount of cash (now I hear the industry is not as profitable) and then waited for the next order. Without kickbacks, no one was willing to give a small player like myself any orders. I still remember a telecom procurement manager on the phone casually telling me to start work on constructing 80 towers โ€“ yes, eighty โ€“ and he then told me that I’d have to give him 10 percent of the total profit (he even knew how much I’d be making after taking out expenses etc). A business that is dishonest is not a business, it is a fraud. There are no grey areas in pretty much all cases, I’m afraid.

8. Earn Money by Printing Brochures

Proper use of Pamphlets/Brochures is possibly one of most underrated method of generating new business.

I have earned money by printing brochures.

I don’t wish this upon anyone! Printing is a cut-throat business as far as I could tell. Having spent days on end in the Lahore’s famed Royal Park getting the brochure just right, I know pretty much all there is to know about the process of printing (and it helped me design marketing material too). But the margins are too slim and without kickbacks it seemed, no big corporation was willing to give me large enough orders to justify the large amount of time it took.

There is a lot of money in Printing if you can get a big corporate like Nestle on your client list – if you have a contact or if you can get in without being dishonest about it, then this is something you could easily live off of! But please, if you are OK with being dishonest about it, then you really are reading the wrong guy!

9. Earn Money by starting an Ad Magazine

I have earned money by distributing my own Ad Magazine.

What is an Ad Magazine? Literally, a magazine of ads, nothing else. No content (the ads are the content). You charge companies, small businesses in your area etc, for the ad, and then distribute the Ad Magazine in a designated area. The magazine typically needs to be glossy and well-designed for people to actually pick it up and thumb through it.

Me and my friend started this, and by God’s Grace, the magazine was profitable in the first month. We distributed the magazine to more than 10,000 households in DHA, on a motorbike, in Ramzan while fasting… Aah, those were the days! ๐Ÿ™‚

My partner was unable to uphold his end of the deal and we amicably dropped the project, but it is still a good idea and if you want to do it, make sure you

  • have sold enough ads in the first issue to at least cover 60% of your costs – and make no mistake, this selling stuff is not as easy as it looks,
  • Know the printing process like its the back of your right hand! If you don’t know it, get someone who does. The printers will take you for a ride, count on it!
  • Make sure you distribute the magazine on a Sunday so people actually do see it; some will call up your advertisers, and they will keep advertising with you. It is a high-risk business no doubt, but something I really enjoyed (I like inks, design, fonts, paper and people ๐Ÿ™‚ )

10. Earn Money with Adsense

If you don’t know what is Adsense: You start a blog, and display ads on your blog (or website). You get paid when people click on those ads. Adsense is a ad-serving system owned by Google that shares the revenue with you; they display ads based on the content of your blog, and you get a share in the earnings. Check out Google Adsense website for more info.

This is definitely not something I’d plan my livelihood around, but it is a good supplement to the bottom line. You need two things to start earning from Adsense, (a) a website with traffic, and (b) a website with traffic. ๐Ÿ™‚

So yeah, you need insane amounts of traffic to earn a comfortable living.

But if you are in Pakistan, then is 1000 US Dollar per month from Adsense feasible? That’s almost 86,000 rupees and I’d say that’s a very decent income, right? Well, Pat Flynn, the only person writing about making money online that I read regularly, makes more than a 1,000 dollars from his niche site, and most of that money is from Adsense. Check out his Niche site information hub (click here) if you are interested. Again, remember, this is not a get rich quick kind’a thing; you’d need to work quite hard to achieve this in fact, but I’d say its worth it. No? Tell me how it goes ๐Ÿ™‚

11. Earn Money using Clickbank (Affiliate Marketing)

Earning Money with Clickbank in Pakistan

Earning Money with Clickbank

Clickbank is a marketplace where people sell digital products (like ebooks and email courses etc). You can sign up there as an affiliate and every time someone buys a product through your link, you get a commission.

I earned enough via Clickbank alone to make a round-trip to Thailand, business class baby! ๐Ÿ˜€ … I have even written a book on how you can earn you first 1000 US Dollars online through Affiliate Marketing. If you just want a small primer, check out this post and if you really want to start earning your first 1,000 dollars online, thenย click here to download that book for free.

12. Earn Money by Training People

I have earned money by training a class of about 30 call center agents on Spoken English and Selling.

I was directly involved in setting up a call center here in Lahore, and ended up training the employees on spoken English, selling and basic presentation techniques (against popular belief, you are presenting even if it’s from behind a phone!).

A lot of people are earning money by training corporate executives, by delivering workshops on a wide, wide variety of subjects. The money can be quite good and if you like to get in front of people, then this is definitely a fulfilling field to get into.

13. Earn Money by Writing for Print

I have earned money by writing articles for Print Publications.

I first got published in SPIDER magazine (largest circulating IT magazine in Pakistan). My article got a cover story. Then I went on to write quite a few articles for Spider, then some for a few Current Affairs publications, topping it off with a writing/blogging gig for TheHuffPo (before it was sold off – a lot of people now consider The Huffington Post a well-disguised content farm used for SEO purposes, believe it or not).

You obviously have to write to earn from writing, and unfortunately, a lot of bad writers are making good money, whereas a lot of good writers don’t even know they are good enough…

14. Earn Money by Preparing Powerpoint Presentations

I have earned money by preparing presentations for corporations

I remember overcharging like crazy because I just did not want to do it; I don’t exactly like making powerpoint slides. But the government agency who’d hired me was in a fix and they were willing to pay me quite a good amount of money to design about 35 slides. I wanted to tell them that 35 slides is a death trap for the listeners (ask anyone who has to sit through more than 20 and you’d know what I mean). After I was done, they even wanted me to get in touch with them later for future business. I didn’t. Whew!

There is a need for people who can design decent-looking presentations, and this is very much a niche that not many people are filling.

15. Earn Money by Giving Presentations

I have earned money by delivering presentations for corporations.

This was much more fun than just designing presentations. If you are good at presentations, then pretty much all the ad agencies will want you on their team. The client presentation is a very critical step for an ad agency, and if you can deliver, then you will keep getting more work.

***

I didn’t add the recently started dairy farming project, nor a few other projects that I am currently working on, related to online earnings.

If you want to know more, have any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comment section, or contact me via the online contact form.

If you have not subscribed yet, then do subscribe to my blog for weekly updates on creative self-employment.

On a side note: I know that I was able to find time for these projects (many of them were carried out concurrently) because I do not have a normal job. A 9 to 5 sucks most of your productive time and you are left making plans, and not taking action (a lot of people actually feel guilty for not taking action, but in reality, it is their time-consuming job that is to blame).ย 

 

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21 Comments

  1. realy good tips friend keep it up

  2. Moiz Lakdawala

    I am your fan Momekh bhai!

  3. Mansoor Bhatti

    Nice ideas Brother.
    letting u know that i am one of the buyer of Kemaak milk.

  4. I heard about Google AdSense that they ban your account before giving the payments to publisher! Is this right ?

  5. Anthony

    Truly beneficial thank you, I reckon your followers might probably want far more writing of this nature keep up the great effort.

  6. Surati

    Mr. Momekh,
    I like your entrepreneurial-ship….
    But, But, But, sir can you solve my PROBLEM???
    I am a 17 year old guy. Me and My friend are in too much trouble. We need money as much fast as we can. We decided to do wrong activities and earn money, but later on changed our decision. We are now taking over different event management agencies and trying to earn some money, but this will make us to earn a little amount of money only…..by doing much much much work only we will be able to get a little bit of money. Sir, we are from India, and sir please suggest us some good ways to earn money. We are ready to work as much as you say sir, but please help us. Sir, right now we are not able to invest anywhere. If possible then please send me your reply to [email address edited out]@gmail.com as early as possible….

    other people can also help us…..

    • Surati, I like your spirit as well.

      You have done a lot of thing right here! You have accepted where you were wrong, and you have rightly decided to seek help (by asking questions here for example).

      The best way to earn money, you ask? Well, if a one-liner answer is what you are looking for, then I would say that ‘do what you are interested in’ as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone and isn’t illegal.

      In different parts of this blog, I have tried to explain that ‘earning money’ itself is not a good enough target.

      You say you want to earn lots of money… ask yourself, “Why?”

      Make a list of those things, see what you come up with. Then go over your list and keep asking yourself, are these things worth the effort?

      You will find that some things you can live without, and some things you really do require and need.

      The idea is to keep thinking about your desire to earn more money and replace that with a desire to do things. I know from experience that earning money just for the sake of earning money is a losing proposition.

      In terms of actually starting work to earn money, there are just too many ways to earn money. You ‘event management company’ itself can generate good cash flows. But I want to tell you this right now, There are no shortcuts.

      A lot of people on the Internet promise that if you buy this product or that product, you will earn money in your sleep, and be a millionaire overnight and other half-baked stories and lies like that.

      No one I know (and I know a few) earned money ‘overnight’. People work for it. Period. And work takes time.

      But it is NEVER too late.

      I wish you all the best Surati.

  7. This is great effort man. “No job is too small”. I really commend your ideas and what you have been trying to do and achieve. I am sure you have accomplished a lot in your life as well. I would like to see Pakistani youth to be intuitive and entrepreneurs like you. You are doing great. Keep it up!!

    Also, please visit http://thefreezingpoint-arq.blogspot.com/ to read some of the things that I am passionate about.

  8. Yeah well..that’s how it usually goes with freelance contribution here ๐Ÿ˜›
    Can you gimme an id I may send a write-up to? I have spent quite some time trying to figure it out at the Huffpost site but am unable to find one :s

  9. Awesome post! And a much-needed one too. I do have a few questions though. Whereas I am already working on many of the online work ideas you mentioned, can you please tell me how can I contribute to HuffPost? I am currently writing at a number of forums, including Global Voices etc. And writing for Huffington Post is more for my life-long ambition of writing socio-political analysis’ rather than just earning money (I don’t mind that, though :P) So if you could help me with this, that’ll be very kind of you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks for the appreciation, Salman.

      Back in the day, when I wrote for HuffPo (I wrote a grand total of ONE post ๐Ÿ˜› and then didn’t submit another)…it was considered a left-wingish authoritative blog. But it was losing it’s edge, and especially after that AOL deal, it is not ‘that’ big a deal. I think.

      I got to write for it because HuffPo was including bloggers at the time, and this I guy I knew, knew this guy…:) and he, God bless his soul, recommended me to the HuffPo staffer.

      I guess the best thing to do is to just write to them, with a sample, and ask (nicely) that they take a look at what you have to say. Good luck (and let me know how it goes ๐Ÿ™‚ )…

  10. Holy mackerel! This became a dinner conversation starter, Momekh! =P I am fascinated by your entrepreneurial spirit! =) I would never have guessed that you sold birthday cakes before of all things! =) And the crops idea is a good one as I’m living in an agricultural sector of Peru right now.

    Loved this post! =)

    • hahaha… glad that I could be part of your dinner! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Samantha. The world is full of surprises and I find that starting an enterprise, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to meet interesting people.

      Hope you are doing great. And do update me about your ‘agricultural adventures in Peru’ if you do plan to test the waters one way or the other. ๐Ÿ™‚ I would try to help in any way I can, God willing.

  11. Wow. You need to check with the Guinness World Records people whether theyโ€™ve heard from anyone who has juggled with so many businesses and lived to tell the tale. ๐Ÿ™‚

    What you can do now is write no less than sixteen posts based on this single post!

    But about what?

    The first post will focus on which of the fifteen โ€˜adventuresโ€™ you had consider as business and which ones as a profession. And why did you let go of some while retaining the others.

    The next fifteen articles will deal with each of the individual adventures you had. In order to help people out in deciding whether they want to go for a particular โ€˜cash machineโ€™, you will have to answer the following questions for each:

    1. How much investment is needed?
    2. How much time you need to put into it? Can it be tweaked to run on auto-pilot?
    3. What skills set is crucial to running this cash machine?
    4. What is the average profit margin?
    5. What are the pitfalls to avoid?
    6. How many people you need on your team?
    7. Will you have to give baththa for operating a business in a particular area (very pertinent in Karachi)?

    And a host of other questions only you will know are crucial to be answered for running a particular business.

    Yes, youโ€™ve already answered some of these questions sporadically, for instance the necessity of greasing palms in the telecom tower construction.

    However, a structured post for each business would go a long way in helping out the people for whom you built this blog.

    Wish you all the best in your endeavors.

    • Writing detailed ‘how to’ guides for each of these, you think that’d be good reading? Maybe I’d write up a few ‘introductory notes’ of sorts? ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, I don’t know much, but reading about one’s direct experiences is always helpful to some extent at least… thanks for the advice, Saqib. I will definitely take it into further consideration, as they say ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. i liked your approach to problem solving

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