Working Online is Not as Easy as You Think — Here’s What to Watch For

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Google “work online” and you’ll find a whole host of articles touting all the best ways to make money from the comfort on your couch. They make it sound incredibly easy and doable.

“Work remotely from any location!” “It’s easy to make money online!”

Sounds great, right? All I have to do is fill out surveys or enter data into a field and I can watch tv? Sign me up!

Create an online course about something I know how to do? Perfect

Blog about my life? Let’s do it!

Sure, those are all great options for creating online businesses and working from home in your cozy pajamas while the cat curls up next to you. But do you know what it actually takes to create an online business?

Here’s what they’re not telling you:

Your Hourly Earnings are Less than You Think

MTurk (Amazon Mechanical Turk), online surveys, and other “earn money online” gigs sound amazing. Anyone can sign up, they’re simple tasks, and you can do it from literally anywhere while doing anything else.

You mean I can do surveys and earn money all while watching TV?”

“I can earn money for copying data into a field?”

Sure, you can. And if you have nothing else, then at least it’s something. But have you calculated exactly how much you’re earning per hour by doing those tasks.

I can guarantee you it’s pennies (I’ve been there, done that).

It’s Hard Work

If you want to build a true online business, it’s going to take blood, sweat, and tears.

Well, maybe not blood and sweat, but definitely the tears.

I’ve been building an online business for nearly two years. I started a blog, then a podcast, and then really figured out my business model.

I built a website, created content, developed a marketing plan, drafted an online course, put together service packages, wrote sales copy, and spent countless hours optimizing my social media.

I reached out to potential clients to mostly hear “Yeah, sounds great! I’ll get back to you.”


I wrote blog content and recorded podcast content, inserted ads and affiliate links, and I was lucky to get clicks, never mind actual affiliate income.

I found a business coach, took online courses to develop my skills and learned how to build out digital products, and participated in Facebook groups to network, get my name out there, and find job opportunities.

But you know what made the biggest difference in building this business? Cutting out social hours, turning the TV off, staying put in my apartment grinding at content creation, reaching out, and strategizing.

Online businesses are like any other business — they take work and sacrifice.

Legal and Tax Ramifications

*Disclaimer, I am not a lawyer nor an accountant. This is not legal advice, just tips from someone who’s been there.

Sure, anyone can build a website and start offering online services. Squarespace, Wix, and other drag and drop platforms make it easy to launch a website in just hours. Heck, that was how I started my blog.

But there’s more to online business than just that.

You need to legalize your business and consider the tax implications.

Do you want the feds to come after you? Do you want to get fined for not having the proper privacy policies in place after the EU passed GDPR and California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act?


If you want to build a business and work online from the comfort of your home, you have to actually build a business. File the proper registrations with your city and state, pay fees and taxes, and hire a lawyer and a tax accountant.

Maybe you’ll even need to bring on an assistant or two to help with daily tasks, so now you’ll need to consider payroll and employment laws.

Oh, and copyrights and trademarks. Don’t forget that you can’t just take a photo from Google or use the same business name as someone else in a similar field in your state.

The legal and tax side of online businesses is pretty serious, so make sure you consult a lawyer and accountant before diving headfirst into it.

I’m Not Trying to Discourage You

I just think the promises made of working online and building online businesses are misleading.

It’s discouraging for many people when they realize what it actually involves, or after they build their business and then get sued or fined.

It’s discouraging when you think you’ll make great money taking online surveys, filling out fields, or doing basic data entry for pennies.

But here’s the thing: it is possible to make an incredible income online.

You just have to be willing to put in the time, energy, money, and work.

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Solopreneur | Writer | I write about entrepreneurship, digital nomad life, books, and more | Get on the list:

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