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3 Places To Sell Your Skills Online

A little extra income is always welcome, and it might be no further away than the ends of your fingers. Most of us are using the Internet already to find information, but you can also leverage the power of the Internet to get some extra income.

This is not an article about online surveys, filling out “special offers,” or joining any sort of marketing club. Instead, I want to share with you three great places where you can sell your skills and homemade products online. These are legitimate marketplaces where thousands of people are earning real money every month. It’s not always a full-time income, but even an extra $50 or $100 every month can come in handy!

Elance

What is it: Elance is an online marketplace where people who need things done can connect with freelancers selling their services in a bid-request environment. The company is based out of Mountain View, California, and was founded in 1999.

Who it is good for: The site is organized around eight virtual work categories: IT & Programming, Design & Multimedia, Writing & Translation, Sales & Marketing, Admin Support, Engineering & Manufacturing, Finance & Management, and Legal. The largest categories are IT & Programming (about 6,000 active jobs weekly) followed by writing (1,600+ active jobs weekly). If you have good virtual communication skills and can do jobs in one of the major categories, Elance is for you no matter where you are living in the world.

What kind of money: Jobs on Elance start at a minimum of $50 per gig, with no upper limit. A gig might be a single task or a series of jobs. You negotiate the amount of work for the price directly with the buyer through bidding. Many of the part-time workers on Elance make $50 to $200 monthly, while full-time or specialized workers can make several thousand.

Fine print/drawbacks: The bidding system is not for everyone, and some users get frustrated when they don’t have instant success. The company also charges an 8.25 percent fee on funds collected.

Advantages: Elance can be a great place to make new client connections for freelancers, and there are no fixed hours, so it can be combined with a regular job. It is not location specific, and the site handles payments through its own proprietary system that also takes care of tax tracking and dispute management. Funds earned can be deposited directly into your bank account.

Etsy

What is it: Etsy is an e-commerce website that allows independent crafters and artisans to set up virtual stores for selling their work. It was founded in 2005, and the name means “Oh, yes!” in Italian. One analyst described it as a cross between Amazon, eBay, and a grandma’s basement put up online.

Who it is good for: Creative types and active crafters. The three categories permitted on Etsy are handmade items, vintage items (older than twenty years), and supplies for crafting.

What kind of money: Income depends on what you’re selling and how much of it you sell. Small crafters may only sell one or two items per month for pocket money, while busy bees may move a few thousand in merchandise a month.

Fine print/drawbacks: Etsy charges users a fee to post their items online, much like eBay. There are no guarantees that the goods will sell, and you are responsible for packaging and shipping.

Advantages: Etsy has become an online magnet for people who like to make crafts and buy crafts or vintage items. The community is vibrant, and there is a lot of traffic to help crafters get seen.

Foodzie

What is it: Foodzie is an online site dedicated to helping small growers and food makers sell their wares directly to customers all over the country. The company offers the infrastructure for virtual shops in exchange for a commission on sales. It is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2008.

Who it is good for: If you grow food or make your own specialty food items (sauces, baked items, cheeses, etc) as a business and have a surplus you would like to sell, then Foodzie is probably for you.

What kind of money: It depends on what you are selling and how popular your items are with the food snobs who regularly visit the site. Most of the sellers also have offline or personally dedicated websites instead of using Foodzie as their sole sales platform, making this a supplemental rather than full-time income.

Fine print/drawbacks: The site requires you to be licensed in your state, so this isn’t for you if you’re just trying to sell a few jars of extra canned goods (try Esty if that’s the case). The site also charges a fifty-cent transaction fee plus 20 percent of the sales price, making it necessary to have good profit margins or high-end goods to sell.

Advantages: Foodzie is a major hit with gourmet food lovers and people who want hand-made or organic food products. You can connect with a large and passionate group of hungry customers in ways other advertising or sales platforms don’t allow.

Which will you try in 2012? Please let me know what works for you or what doesn’t. If you know and can recommend other sites, don’t hesitate to share their profiles (facts, not links) in the comments so that we all can make a little more off-the-grid income in the years ahead!

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