How to make money online through social networking, blogging, e-tutoring, designing & video content development   10 comments

You never had it so good. Access to a client list that runs into hundreds of millions, a reach that spreads across the world, hardly any infrastructure cost, and no need to impress anyone with a wall full of framed qualifications. Welcome to the virtual bazaar, a marketplace that encompasses the world while shrinking it to a small screen.The biggest shopping mall, where everything is on sale, from technical advice to tattered childhood comics. A region where every boundary is blurred; no one cares about your age, no one is interested in your race or religion, and no one needs to know whether you live in the boondocks or a plush penthouse. The anonymity that the virtual world provides has been the biggest boost to equality for small entrepreneurs and job hunters across the globe.It’s a treasure trove full of opportunities for anyone with guts and gumption. If no publisher is interested in your writing, pen a blog or publish an e-book. If you can’t afford to rent a shop, sell online. You will need less space than the local kirana store and reach a wider customer base than the brick-and-mortar mall near your house.The World Wide Web has a solution for everything, and for everything, a customer. All you need to do in order to step into this vast land of fortune is to get a computer and a broadband connection. If you don’t know where to start, do so by joining a popular network.Let the numbers convince you: a staggering 150 million users on Facebook and 200 million on Twitter. Each and everyone is a potential customer for anything that you have to sell: your skills, your thoughts or even your junk.We take you through a list of professions that you can venture into and introduce you to people who have leveraged the Net to earn a comfortable income. By no means is this a comprehensive list. In fact, it is not even an indicative one since the virtual world is continuously evolving and new opportunities are cropping up every day. After all, some of the biggest platforms that people use currently didn’t even exist a decade ago-Facebook was launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006.

Write way to earn
JOBS: Blogging, micro-blogging, Tweeting, freelance writing, editing, e-authoring and translating
SKILLS: Comprehensive writing skill and expertise in any field
INCOME: Rs 500 for a 300-word article to Rs 1 lakh a month for full-time blogging
Your thoughts are worth more than a penny now. Your scribbles and musings can earn you big bucks, if you know how to market them well. If you are unsure of your talent, start by writing a blog. It’s easy to begin-just join a blogging site, such as Blogspot or WordPress, and start writing. There is no training institute for this and only through trial and error will you discover what appeals to readers.However, bloggers are flooding the virtual world and if you want to stand out and get noticed by readers and advertisers, you will need to provide information or advice that no one else can, or provide it in a way that is better than others.You can join a writers’ community, where people freely dispense tips on improving writing or increasing readership (see How to increase blog traffic). Girish Khare, a part-time blogger, discovered the benefits of this when a member of his community put him in touch with a journalist, who then published some of his blogs in the newspaper that she worked. Khare started blogging in 2006 after he suffered five heart attacks in a year and decided to opt out of the corporate rat race. He took a sabbatical and spent months travelling to exotic locations, from underground rock churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia, to the tropical rainforest of Borneo.

“Food and travelling are my two passions, so I began writing about them in my blog. After I had penned my experiences in Borneo, I received an invitation from the government of Malaysia, which asked me to visit the country along with some journalists and highlighting it as a luxury destination,” says 55-yearold Khare. The same year he joined a friend’s travel & tour company in Mumbai.In 2007, Khare’s casual writing became serious business when he did some work for Cox & Kings and his blogs were bought by travel and food magazines and portals. “You need to offer novelty in your blogs.I have written about the cuisine of the Bedouins of Africa as well as how to cook food in banana leaves,” says Khare. Currently, he writes eight blogs a week and earns Rs 50,000 a month from his articles.Once you find your literary footing, it may be better to have your own Website and domain name. This gives you a specific identity, and if you submit your blog’s URL to search engines, it will become more noticeable on the Net. Each search engine has Webmaster tools that can guide you through this process. The charges for a domain name usually range from Rs 300-1,000 a year. The main source of income for most bloggers is Google AdSense, which places contextual ads on Websites.

As new mediums open up, you need to adapt and leverage these. Hrish Thota did so when he evolved from blogging to Tweeting. Thota has been blogging for almost a decade and joined Twitter when it was launched in 2006. He is now a professional Tweeter, who has 4,500 followers and earns about Rs 1 lakh a month. The 31-year-old, who is a former employee of consulting firm Capgemini, began his Twitter career by writing about events and computer hardware in Bangalore.Within a year, as his network of followers grew, companies began to approach him to Tweet about their products. “They were paying me to do this job, so I needed to apprise my community of followers about this. It’s essential to maintain your integrity in this field,” says Thota, who has done brand campaigns for Tata Nano, Lehar Kurkure and Royal Challenge.Recently, he was involved with a campaign for Ford Figo for around a month-and-a-half, where he had to do a road show from Chandigarh to Chennai, Tweeting and photoblogging about the events in real time. “I usually spend about 2-3 hours every day on Twitter, but if I’m involved with a brand campaign, this can go up to six hours,” he says. On an average, he earns Rs 30,000-40,000 a month per brand.


As important as your writing skill is your ability to network, a point that both Khare and Thota emphasise. “Before you begin to post your views, you need to create a community. You should go to various meets and events to develop contacts,” says Thota.Though writing seems easy at first glance, if you want to earn money from it, you will have to work hard. Professional bloggers put in about 2-5 hours every day and constantly strive to write on topics that provide updated information. You need to be regular and prompt in answering your readers’ queries.If you have honed your skills and are confident about what you write, you could even publish a book a la Anupam Mukerji, who became famous for his blog, the Fake IPL Player, written cheekily about the IPL’s second season. In March last year, he published a book, The Gamechanger. However, if no publisher seems interested in the physical realm, don’t despair. You can write a virtual bestseller.Ebooks are in high demand across the world and many people are writing exclusively for this segment. In June this year, crime novelist John Locke became the first independent author to sell more than 1 million e-books through Kindle’s ( Amazon) direct publishing programme, under which you do not need an agent or a publisher. Each e-book was sold for $0.99 (Rs 48), of which Locke pocketed 35 cents (Rs 17).

Global classroom
JOBS: E-tutoring
SKILLS: Domain knowledge and good communication skills
INCOME: Rs 15,000-50,000 a month (for 8-hour sessions) depending on the subject and region (India or international)
When Shyamila Rana’s husband got a job in Dehradun in 2007, the 42-year-old school teacher began applying for a post in various schools in the city. Unfortunately, not many were willing to hire her, citing age as a factor. Rana was unwilling to waste her experience and time, so she began looking for other opportunities. She soon found hundreds of overseas students, who were eager to learn science from her. “One of my husband’s colleagues told him about e-tutoring and I sent an application, along with my resume, to one of the Websites,” says Rana, who now teaches science for four hours to students based in the US.For Rana, the job is interesting as she shares her knowledge with students, who are keen to learn and are not forced to study by their parents. For this, she is earning better than she would in a traditional school.E-tutoring is a process in which a teacher educates a student or a group of students on a particular subject through online technology. This can involve the use of Webbased programs and includes data, voice and video communication. The tutor can send questions, receive completed papers, provide results and recommendations, clarify concepts, assist on assignments, etc. To begin in this field, you can sign up with some established names such as Alok Bansal, chief executive officer of Gurgaon-based Alethia Education Services: “To start a career as an online tutor, you should know the content well and be conversant with technology.Though you don’t need advanced degrees to teach school children, it’s preferable if you have teaching experience.” Another aspect you need to consider is the working hours, especially if you are teaching international students. The difference in time zones may make it difficult to work for long.Atul Kulshreshtha recognised the lacuna in this field in 2007 when he decided to venture into online teaching. The Noida-based chartered accountant is a serial Web entrepreneur, who started two advisory services portals in 2000. A few years later, he launched a BPO company, Cleave Global E-Services, which he sold last year. As he was comfortable with the Net and had the technical expertise, Kulshreshtha invested almost Rs 10 crore in setting up infrastructure, buying equipment and hiring teachers, before he finally launched in 2008.However, the going was tough initially. “Parents were sceptical at first, so we decided to charge lower fees of Rs 30-50 per hour, whereas they were paying Rs 300-500 for an offline session,” says Kulshreshtha. Today, has a support base of around 150 teachers and has 7 lakh students enrolled in various programmes. It has nine offices in different parts of the country and had a turnover of Rs 60 crore last year.

Creative angle

JOBS: Photography, singing or playing music, video content development, designing, voice-over options, editing and film-making

SKILLS: Expertise in any of the arts as well as good marketing, advertising and networking skills

INCOME: You may have to start for free, but sky is the limit once you establish yourself

Graphic designers, animators and Website developers have been using the Net to market their skills for years. However, the virtual world seemed to be limited to the artists who were technically empowered. What changed the status quo and provided the greatest impetus to the creativity of amateur artists was the launch of YouTube. Suddenly, you didn’t need to have any expertise to be famous. Even a three-minute video clip shot with a pocket camcorder could get a million viewers, enough for serious professionals to wake up and take note of this medium.If you couldn’t make it to a reality show or a music company’s illustrious office, you could compose your own songs and play it on YouTube. Gather enough eyeballs and the music industry would be beating a path to your home. Whether it was a favourite recipe, learning salsa or repairing a hard disk drive, you could make and market original content, and more importantly, earn money from it.Hitendra Merchant joined this bandwagon in 2008 only as a means to get viewers for his online portal,, which he had launched a year previously. However, within 5-6 months, he began receiving a sizeable income through the YouTube Partner Programme (YPP). The YPP lets you host YouTube channels and pays you from the ads that it puts up there. Realising the potential of this medium, he started various channels (similar to a Facebook page) on YouTube.Merchant’s 11-year experience across various media and entertainment companies, including Times Music, Nimbus, Idream Production and Saregama India, helped him with both ventures. “I started to create spoofs of various developments in the country. I launched the portal only after I found a venture capitalist to back me,” says the 39-year-old Merchant.He hired scriptwriters, animators and voice-over artists to produce the spoofs. “I wasn’t receiving enough traffic, so I decided to put up a video on YouTube, along with a banner for, in the hope that people would like the video and visit the site,” he adds. “I added more channels such as those on Bollywood and Hollywood by approaching stringers and paparazzi to provide me with exclusive content,” says Merchant, who now has 30 channels on YouTube and 25 fulltime employees.Exclusivity is essential as you won’t get paid for copied or plagiarised content. The YPP pays about 55% of the revenue earned from the channel to the content developer and the balance to YouTube. Merchant’s channels receive 25 lakh viewers a day and has a turnover of Rs 45 lakh a month.An area that amateur photographers are leveraging is microstock photography, where you can sell your photographs and get paid according to the number of times they are downloaded. Some of the popular sites are iStockphoto, Fotolia and Shutterstock.For instance, you can contribute photos for free on Shutterstock and can earn $0.25-28 (Rs 12-1,361) per image download. To attract potential customers, you must add keywords, titles and descriptions to your photos, which can be time consuming if you upload the pictures on various sites. The bigger your portfolio, the more you will earn. However, you will need to upload hundreds of photos for making a substantial income

Run a virtual office
JOBS: Data entry, medical transcription, virtual assistance, online research and hosting online forums
SKILLS: Freshers can start with basic data entry and virtual assistant jobs, but you will need more experience as well as knowledge of the subject for the more skilled jobs
INCOME: Rs 1,500-1 lakh a month, depending on the working hours and experience
Everyone is tapping the virtual world to get a good bargain and you can market your skills well if you offer value for money. “A lot of companies cannot afford to hire full-time workers and prefer to outsource these,” says 60-year-old Ganesh Krishnan, who prepares regulatory dossiers for drugs.Krishnan had been working in the pharmaceutical industry for almost 30 years, when a company asked him to prepare a dossier for a drug that it wanted to export to various countries. Each country has a different format to describe the process of drug manufacturing, quality checks and side-effects.Krishnan’s expertise in the field made it easier for him to work on the dossier, but he required a helping hand. So his wife Mohana Ganesh quit her job as secretary of the vice-president of the Chase Manhattan Bank in Mumbai and joined him in 1999.The couple’s work was appreciated by the company and word-of-mouth publicity helped them get more clients. Currently, they have 10 dedicated clients and earn Rs 1 lakh a month.Though some back-end office work requires technical expertise, a lot of online jobs can be done by freshers. These include data entry, virtual assistance and online research.For instance, some headhunters will pay a commission to have someone go through job portals and look for candidates suitable for a post. However, such job offers are also the most scamridden, so you need to be wary before picking up one (see How to identify a bogus online money making offer).

Virtual bazaarJOBS: Online enterprise

SKILLS: Guts, gumption and marketing savvy

INCOME: Whatever you want

Shakil Thasariya began collecting autographs as a 13-year-old schoolboy, when the former President APJ Abdul Kalam gave him one in 2003. A year later, he discovered that his passion could be profitable when he sold 10 autographs to an antique dealer for Rs 4,000. However, finding buyers in his hometown, Rajkot, Gujarat, wasn’t easy.The perfect avenue: eBay. The portal opened up access to a wider and more keen clientele. He made quite a few successful sales and also got in touch with a lot of autograph dealers in the US and Europe. “This business of selling autographs is based on trust, especially if you are doing so online. To have a credible long-term reputation, I offer my clients a 100% money-back guarantee if they discover that my autographs are fake,” says Thasariya, who earns about Rs 7,000 a month by selling 7-8 autographs.


















The online medium is a perfect platform for small entrepreneurs or start-ups, who cannot afford to rent office space or shop. However, maintaining a Website also requires work and money. A free and easily manageable platform is social networking sites, most notably Facebook. Say Nikita Fernandes and Vinisha Dugar: “We were already members of Facebook and had a wide circle of friends, so when we decided to launch our own business, Fishing Hook, using the site was a logical choice. Besides, managing a dedicated Website would become too difficult to handle.”The two Mumbai-based friends launched their business in July last year. The 23-year-olds outsource fashion accessories from China and Hong Kong, put up their photographs on Facebook and then sell these in India. Within three months, they had lamost 500 fans on their page and were generating orders worth about Rs 10,000, of which Rs 3,000 was their profit margin.

Initially, they would deliver the products themselves and collect cash from customers. However, as their clientele grew in other cities, they began to courier the products and charge Rs 100 as shipping charges. The payment mode also changed to online bank transfers.In September this year, they joined hands with an e-commerce portal,, where they have put their products on display. Today, their Facebook page has nearly 2,100 fans and their client base has expanded to Delhi, Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata.Like Thasariya, Fernandes and Dugar, there are hundreds of online sellers who are leveraging the World Wide Web to create wealth. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.





You can find a buyer for virtually everything in the online bazaar, be it your own creation or junk you want to get rid of. Here are a few steps to help you hone your selling skills.Provide all information: Give a detailed description of the product you want to sell and include photographs that have been taken from various angles. Also, provide information about yourself or your company. A contact number, address or e-mail ID help the buyer get in touch with you as well as confirm authentication, which builds confidence in the buyer.Fix the price: If you’re selling an original product, you can fix the price you want, though you need to be realistic. Value for money is the second aspect that online buyers are looking for, convenience being the first. To determine the right selling price for a used item, you should research on auction sites to find the cost of similar products before fixing a minimum price.Check details: Before you auction/sell the product, determine how you will handle shipping. Who will pay for it-you or the buyer? When will you ship it-after receiving the payment or while it is still in process? You will need to commit a delivery date and stick to it. Do you need to insure the product? Who will pay for this?Payment procedure: You need to figure out the best method for receiving money. Are you comfortable using an online gateway, such as Paypal, or will you prefer a cheque or online transfer? On the site, you should state a return policy and how you will handle complaints if they arise within a fixed time period.


Online shopping is convenient and you can get good discounts, but you need to be careful that you aren’t taken for a ride.Authenticate seller: Get the name and contact details of the seller and speak to him or mail him before buying the product. Beware if the seller is unwilling to disclose this information, especially if it is an individual as it may be difficult to track a person after a deal goes sour. Read the feedback for the seller. For instance, eBay has ratings for repeat sellers. If it is a shopping Website, start small till you are confident about the service. Don’t be taken in by a seller who promises to dispose of a product at a much lower rate through a ‘private’ site or sale.Check the merchandise: Be careful while buying collectibles or antiques as it is difficult to determine the correct value for these products without examining them personally. Check that the electronic item you are buying is the correct model, not just a generic name, so it should be Sony NWZ A-845 Walkman, not just Sony MP3 player. The year of manufacturing will help you know whether it is a current or discontinued model. Check the price of the gadget through a price comparison site or physical store. If it is too low, the product may not be genuine.Determine the shipping and warranty: Get a fixed delivery time through mail (it’s best to have things in written rather than a verbal commitment) and make sure that the product is insured during transit. Insist on a warranty and find out the return procedure if the product is faulty. Check whether you will need to pay extra for shipping.How to pay: It’s best if you can opt for a credit card payment. This is because if the seller reneges on the deal or doesn’t deliver on time, you can stop the payment, which isn’t possible through most other modes of payment. If you’re wary of online payment, stick to a one-time cash card/virtual credit card, which is not linked to your account and will be invalid after it has been used.Complaints section: Enquire who will be responsible if there is a grievance. If you come across a fraud, inform the auction/shopping site, which will take action against the seller.
Social networking sites, especially Facebook, are being extensively used by people to market their goods online. If you are starting small, this saves you the hassle of designing or maintaining a Website. Here are the ways you can leverage this medium.Visual appeal: Use images of the products you want to sell. It will be good if you can put up your own photo as people like to connect with the seller. If possible, post videos of the product with a running commentary. This is a more interactive medium and lets the customer check the item from every angle.Identify a site, make it interactive: Determine which social networking site you want to use as it may be difficult to handle multiple sites. Respond promptly to readers’ queries, preferably within a couple of hours. Try to designate people to work in shifts to make the interaction seamless. After all, it’s the main reason buyers prefer a social networking site.Engage clients: Host offline or online events. Involving customers from time to time will encourage them to buy more and regularly as they will feel like a part of the process.Find a niche: Remember that there is a large number of online sellers, so either make a unique product or provide additional service.Feedback: If a buyer is happy with your product, get him to provide a feedback on your page. This instils confidence in other buyers.Privacy settings: After all, you don’t want a customer harassing you, or worse, making a nuisance of himself with other customers who are linked to your page.Not too personal: Put up a little information about yourself, but don’t get too personal. Keep your private and professional lives separate or customers may not take you seriously.

Update/upgrade: Continuously update the information and photographs. Either stick to one profile picture, such as a logo, or keep changing it. The updated profile picture will ensure that your company is regularly featured on your clients’ page. Ask questions to get inputs from customers from time to time.

HOW TO IDENTIFY A BOGUS ONLINE MONEY-MAKING OFFER The Net’s cloak of anonymity hides conmen, who are out to make a quick buck at the expense of gullible job seekers. Here’s how to spot them.Six months ago, Guwahati-based Santosh Singh applied for an online data entry job. The company asked him to make an initial deposit of Rs 2,000 to register with it and for the training manual. Singh transferred the money to a bank account number given by the company, after which he received an identity number and a link through an e-mail by the company.However, Singh was in for a shock when the link refused to open and no work came his way. “I tried to contact the company repeatedly, but no one responded. Once I managed to get through and when I asked the person for a refund, he asked me to contact he bank and kept the phone down. Of course, the bank couldn’t do anything,” says the 24-year-old Singh, who is now employed with a private school as a teacher.
The fraudulent amount doesn’t seem big for such cases, but when you multiply it with the number of people conned, it’s translates into a massive scam. Most online jobs that seem too good or easy are often disguised con jobs. “There is no free lunch in the professional world. So don’t expect to get an easy job, wherein you can make money without working hard or adding value,” says K Ganesh, founder, How can you identify whether the online job offer is genuine? Here are a few things you need to keep in mind.
DUE DILIGENCE Before you accept an offer, it’s important to exercise due diligence regarding the company. Check reviews about it on various blogs, social Websites and complaint forums. If there are negative inputs, ignore the offer. “A background check about the company is important to ensure that the offer is legitimate. If the compensation seems too high, it can be a potential scam,” says Pavan Duggal, a Delhi-based lawyer. If you are keen about the job, but aren’t sure about its genuineness, start small. Take up limited work initially, and if you are paid regularly and on time for a year, you could consider scaling up with it.
ADVANCE PAYMENT This is the most popular trick used by scamsters. You will be given a few cheques in the first few months of starting work. After this, the company will ask you to deposit a substantial amount of money with it on some pretext, the most common being that it had accidentally sent you a high-value cheque and could you return the amount. When you deposit the cheque, it bounces, but by this time, you have already made the payment to the company. “There is no reason for a company to ask you to pay it. If it asks you for money, abandon ship,” says Pervin Malhotra, a Delhi-based career counsellor.
If the offer is genuine, the company will ask you for a sample of your work before hiring you. There should be a criteria for selection that should match the job description. If not, there is something fishy. “We have a rigorous evaluation, including a written test and an online interview that covers subject knowledge and teaching skills, before we select a candidate. An online company will have the same hiring process as a brick-and-mortar institution. If such evaluation and processes are missing, it definitely indicates a scam,” says Ganesh. It is a good sign if an online interaction is followed up with personal contact during the selection procedure.
A good way to judge the genuineness of an online job offer is to check the office address and contact numbers provided on the company Website. If there is no such information available, send an e-mail to the company. In case there is a phone number, call and speak to someone. The best thing to do would be to check the physical location of the company.
Don’t take the offer at face value. Ask about the clients and other employees who are doing similar work. Check with these firms and people about the quality of the company’s work. If you have been given a bogus client list, which includes highprofile companies, it will alarm them too. This is how banks and top-notch companies become aware of their names being misused and periodically send out mails stating that they have no such job offers.If you fall prey to a fraudster despite all these precautions, lodge an FIR against the company. Though these are fly-bynight operators, who keep skipping cities, a database of cyber crime is being built. Under the IT Act 2000 , a company offering fake online offers can be fined or the persons running the scam can be imprisoned for up to three years.However, there isn’t any good news on this front. Till now, there have been only three reported cases of conviction since it is difficult to trace the originators of a fraud. “It’s better to be circumspect and cautious in order to avoid landing in such trouble,” says Duggal.

Posted December 29, 2011 by avinash2060 in Current Affairs, Marketing

10 responses to “How to make money online through social networking, blogging, e-tutoring, designing & video content development

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