There’s been a prominent shift in the way that Gen Y perceives work and the idea of a “career.” No longer are most students graduating and trying to lock down a 30 year job at a major corporation. The security (or enjoyment) just isn’t there anymore. Over the last five years thousands of 20 somethings have seen their parents lose their careers, and have been told that they may not get their dream job right out of school.
Throw in the fact that this is already a generation of entitlement, and you find yourself with a disgruntled demographic that’s become very jaded by the idea of traditional employment.
That said, technology has made it easier than ever to work outside the office. It’s also made the lure of becoming a “solopreneur” a pretty enticing path for those that aren’t ready to settle down in the suburbs.
I personally have a search engine optimization and consulting business that I’ve run from the beaches of Thailand to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Technology is a powerful thing, and has enabled me to live a lifestyle that wasn’t possible just 15 or 20 years ago.
If this idea sounds appealing to you there are a variety of industries you can explore which will make the idea of work from anywhere an attainable reality. Here are the seven businesses I’d consider starting if I wanted to work from a tropical island (or anywhere else on Earth).
1) Freelance SEO Writing
Search engine optimization firms all over the world are looking for good writers for the purposes of article marketing. This is a technique where you write a lot of articles on the keyword you want to rank for, and in exchange you get a link back to your website from within the article. To oversimplify, more links = better rankings. This is a great job for people who like to write, and more importantly those who can do itquickly. The articles don’t need to be extremely in depth, and are usually between 300-500 words. Skilled SEO writers can do 4-5 an hour and make $10-15 per article. These jobs are easy to come by and allow you to work as much or as little as you want.
2) Web Design
Design skills are always in demand and while anyone can design something, not anyone can design something good. If you’re willing to put in some hours learning the Adobe Suite and exploring your creative side, there’s huge opportunity for designing everything from simple websites and ebooks, to getting full brand integration work. If you want to become a fully competent designer, the best tool on earth is Lynda. For $25/month you can learn the ins and outs of all the programs necessary to become a web designer. Considering you can charge double that an hour, it's a worthwhile investment.
Designers who can code as well certainly have it easier, and can also charge more, but coding skills aren’t necessary. Just be sure to form some solid relationships with people who can code your designs (there are plenty out there), so that you can focus on honing your new skills.
3) Affiliate Marketing
Some of the wealthiest people I know have made their money through affiliate marketing. This is the way most people make “passive income” on the internet. Passive income is money made that takes little to no effort to maintain, however the time spent up front to get there is considerable. The principles of affiliate marketing are very simple:
- You put a link on your website to a product.
- Someone clicks on the link and buys the product.
- You get a commission on the sale.
Just about any information product online has an affiliate program (such as Unconventional Guides for instance), and Amazon might be the most popular main stream example. While the concept of affiliate marketing is simple, driving enough traffic and creating compelling sales pages is anything but. However if you master the formula, the sky’s the limit in terms of income potential.
This takes a little bit more of an advanced writer than SEO writing does because the content needs to be much more precise. Copywriting is any writing that is intended to sell something. Sales pages, advertisements, and catalogues are all examples of where copywriting can be used. That said, due to the complexities of the writing, copywriters can also make a lot of money.
I know people who run copywriting businesses from various exotic locations all over the world, and are making five figure incomes each month. If you want to start a business in this industry, you need to be able to prove that you can sell. You have to be a persuasive writer, and the more examples of your work you can give to prospective clients the better.
5) Search Engine Optimization
Also different from SEO writing, this is all of the work that goes into ensuring your clients websites have the best shot possible of ranking highly on Google. You’ll need to learn the ins and outs of keyword research, competitive analysis, onsite optimization and link building. I personally spent 7 months living in Thailand building my SEO business, and within a few months of starting I was able to charge $50-60/hour.
6) Professional Blogger
Think you have what it takes to be a professional blogger? This is probably one of the more difficult ways to actually achieve this lifestyle, but if you can create a unique value proposition and engage and grow your audience, this has been a viable option for a lot of people. You can do this by reaching out and meeting as many people as possible who currently living the life you want. The more relationships you build, the larger your network becomes, and the greater potential you have for building an audience.
Once you’ve established yourself as an expert in your field, a premium product can bring in thousands of dollars upon launch. That said, consumers are growing increasingly skeptical because these days anyone can be an expert. You need to establish credibility by practicing what you preach, and providing real life examples for the concepts you promote. You don’t necessarily need any traditional credentials to become an expert, but you should make it clear beyond doubt that you are actually successful in doing the things you talk about.
That said, if you can gain a loyal following of people who trust you, you should have no trouble making plenty of money for your mojito-fueled beach lifestyle.
This article is reprinted with permission by The Young Entrepreneur's Council (Y.E.C.), which provides its members with access to tools, mentoring, community and educational resources that support each stage of their business’s development and growth. Y.E.C. promotes entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and underemployment.