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How To Make Extra Money From Home As A Freelancer With Just A Computer

NOTE: The steps below are still applicable even though oDesk is now Upwork

This post is an update to a prior post shared here: How to Make Money Online for Free. Ever since it ranked on Google, people have contacted me asking for more details.

So I’m going to share a bit more here on how can you make real money online without having to squander a single penny out of your wallet. Before that, a short Disclaimer…

“I can’t promise you any earnings or income (or) that you will achieve the same results.”

With that said, here’s a screenshot taken from one of my freelance accounts on August 12th 2013. If you’ve been following me, you know that I’m not a full-time freelancer and I don’t focus all my time doing freelancing work. The reason I show this is merely to prove that I know what I’m talking when it comes to making a little extra money online.

how to make extra money from home

Cashing Out Over $1,000 USD Working Freelance From Home

I hear you asked: “How did you do that?

Well, I’ll reveal to you shortly. But please bear in mind that I’m not an Internet Guru nor an Internet Marketing Star. I’m just an ordinary guy wanting to earn a living from home.

I bet many of you must have stumbled upon tons of ways to earn online, the key question is have you really made the kind of income that you’re expecting? It is true that there are plenty of ways to make money online; but if you’re doing something that isn’t generating you income, your first step is to stop doing it. If it’s making you money, then do more of it.

Here’s what I often get…

how can i make money online

I Often Received Similar Emails. Do You Have Similar Questions?

From what I’ve gathered so far, most people are just interested in exploring the quickest, most effective, without spending a dime (free) method to make lots of money from home.

By the way, I’m not referring to direct selling, home based business, MLM, or network marketing. If you are planning to work on that, then this post is definitely NOT for you.

I’m talking about doing freelance online, taking up projects with legitimate contracts.

Basically, you earn money through selling your services, offering your skills and talent; helping people to get their job done, solve their desperate problems or challenges.

Are you interested to learn how to make extra money from home? I guess you’d say yes.

OK, let’s get into the nitty-gritty…

7 secrets to making extra money online as freelancer

#1 Identify A Profitable Niche That You’re Really Good At: If you want to make good money as a freelancer, you need to be in a niche that has plenty of working opportunities. Start by doing your research on niches/skills that people are prepared to PAY money for.

Make sure you’re well-versed in the niche you choose or… you’ve got interest in at least.

Example: My niche is in Web Development: WordPress. As of Aug 2013, 18.9% out of ALL existing websites are using WordPress. I know this is an extremely profitable niche.

You can refer to the diagram here to check whether your niche is in high demand or not.

#2 Tie Yourself To ONE Reputable Freelance Platform: If you’re just starting out with freelancing, I’d highly recommend you stick to ONE established freelancing network.

I’m talking about sites that have a proper system and written agreements in place – from applying a project to working on it, and getting paid once it’s successfully completed.

Example: I’ve a pleasant experience working with Upwork and Elance platforms. For your info, more than $1 Billion USD has been spent on oDesk as of August 05 2013.

#3 Complete Your Profile With A Presentable Picture:  I can’t stress how significant this step is. Your photo is the first thing a client will look at when you apply for work. Then they look at your profile, followed by work history, clients’ feedback, and portfolio.

Make sure you fill out every single detail of your profile, upload a REAL picture of you, list down the things (skills) in point form you can contribute, and include work samples.

Example: My profile has only 67 words. I list down the things I can do in point form and link to this blog if people want to know more about me. I also include my work samples.

#4 Build Your Reputation Doing Work You Can Deliver: There’re literally thousands of online jobs posted in real time on a daily basis. You only want to work on projects that you’re confident can deliver. Confirm the work description before accepting any offer.

There is abundance of projects. You just need to focus on those that you’re familiar with.

Here is what will happen when you only work on projects you know. You get things up and running with no hassle. When you able to deliver what you’ve promised in super quick time, not only you’ll receive excellent feedback but you’ll also get paid immediately!

Example: I only apply to WordPress, membership site, and sales funnel related projects.

#5 Responsiveness Plus Impressiveness To Application: This is more towards to people who are just starting out. Ever heard of “the early bird catches the worm?” This is what it means here – You need to apply to a project incredibly fast. To be specific, your application must be submitted in first 10-15 mins from the moment that project is posted.

Not only you need responsiveness in your application, you need impressiveness in your proposal (cover letter) as well. Your proposal must be unique, straight to the point on WHY you apply? WHAT similar work have you done? WHEN you can accomplish it?

Some clients will ask to include some wordings or answer a question in the first line of your proposal to test you out and also filter out spam applicants. Make sure you do it.

Example: My proposal usually consists of ~100 words. Here’s a proposal I used…

I’ve Never Written A Resume Before But This Works For Me.

**Check if client wants you to put anything here**


Greetings from KM Lee (Malaysia).

I came across your project and I’m interested in helping you (what client wants).

I’ve been a (your experience here). Had helped numerous clients to (reinforce what client wants to achieve again) on a regular basis. Here are a few samples:

[Link to your work samples here]

Please check out my portfolio for reviews. {If you’re new, tell your client that}

If you were to reply, [questions, est. time you’ll take, show your interest to help].

Let me know if I can be of any help and I look forward to working with you!

Kind Regards,

#6 Bidding & Positioning Strategies That Make You Money: We’re now living in an increasingly competitive and globalized world. You need to aware there’re probably hundreds if not thousands of people out there that can do what you do. Why select you?

Here’s my tip to those who are just getting started – those who want to learn how to make extra money from home as freelancer, please bid HALF of the client’s budget.

The reason is because most clients are also looking for freelancers (contractors) that willing to work on their projects a little below their budget. After qualifying candidates, most often the project will be awarded to the LOWEST Bidder. Keep this in mind.

The only time you can bid high is NOT when you apply to a project, but it’s when you receive an invitation offer from clients. This is where the REAL money is because you’ve proven you’re skilled and you’ve positioned yourself as a leading expert in your niche.

Once you start receiving offers, you can negotiate and select which clients to work with.

Clearly, this depends on several key factors like: work history, awesome reviews, good relationship with clients, recommendations, and being profile optimized in search results.

Proof: New Offer I Received From An Existing Client On Sept 9, 2013

Example: When I just got started, my hourly rate was just $3 USD per hour. I worked hard on building my portfolio, constantly getting projects completed successfully on time, and received 5-star feedback from clients… I’ve gradually increased my hourly rate from $3 => $11 => $16 USD and my rate is currently $33 USD per hour (as of Sept 10, 2013).

#7 Sharpen Your Skills & Be A Phenom In Your Niche: As the classic saying goes… “If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” You need to constantly keep yourself up-to-date with newest info related to your niche.

Set up Google Alerts and start monitoring the latest happenings. Look at what clients are advertising on the freelance platforms. Look at their advertised budget and then use it as reference point on acquiring new skills. Participate in 1-2 active forums that are relevant.

And so this basically concludes my sharing on what I know about making money on the Internet as a freelancer. To whoever who are reading until here (I know is lengthy), I hope you will find the 7 secrets here helpful. Please let me know your thoughts at below.

by KM Lee

KM Lee has been a self-employed geek since 2008. Currently he's working full-time from home online. You can also connect with him:

48 comments… add one
  1. I’d like to join

    1. You can join any freelancing platform for free.

      1. Hi I am interested in joining any freelancing platform

      2. I’m interested in joining freelancing platform.

      3. I do not have a website yet, but I’d love to work from home.

  2. You know, you just shared a detailed method how to make money from the comfort of our home, and the sad part is; very few people implement what they read. most of them will get scared when they read the line “$3 per hour”.
    Thank you for sharing this, and thanks for the graph.

    1. hi Frank,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Talking about this, I know there are people who try their hand for years but
      struggle to even make their first $100 online.

      1. Please help me make money online. Thank you so much

  3. Nice website you have here.

    You definitely have to utilize your skills if you’re going to make money from freelancing.

    I have alot of success through ebay, craigslist, home business, and affiliate ventures.

    Keep up the great work, cant wait to see what you post next!

    1. hi Craig,

      Thanks for stopping by. Glad to know that you’re experiencing success in few things.

      I started to earn some small money in affiliate marketing. Probably that’s what I’m going to share in my next post.

  4. Great post.

  5. I’ve tried many online surveys but they didn’t work for me. I love to write but have never put my skills in writing before. I’m more keen in trying a product, share it among my friends. How can I put into use my skills to generate income from the Internet? Thanks.

    1. hi Khay,

      If you’re promoting a product, then make sure there’s a demand for the product. From my experience, friends don’t usually interested in what you do. It’d be better if you can focus on those who are already wanting to buy online.

      Just my 2 cents here.

  6. How can I check whether survey website are real or not

    1. Hi Deepankar,

      If it’s real, I’m sure there’re already many people earn from it. Just do a research on what people are saying about them (Check the comments on fb if possible).

      Hope this helps.

  7. Thanks for suggestions KM. Can you suggest some good options to earn money instantly online?

    1. Hi Nitesh,

      Thanks for your message.

      Not sure what you meant by “instantly”, but if you were to look for a way to earn money online asap — completing a task (project) for people is your best bet.

  8. Hi KM. I really enjoyed reading all your valuable information. I appreciate your honesty. I’ve been wanting to make money online for the last few years now just didn’t know how to go about it. My plan is to do this long term to be able to replace my income herring out of the construction industry because of my age and making money on a more relaxed level. Thanks for any advice you can pass my way.

    1. Hi LBW,

      Thanks for reading my blog and your comment.

      Do you have any idea what you want to do online? There’s so much info you can find out there which will certainly overload you and get you more confused.

      Perhaps look for someone who is already successful in that area you’re interested in and start following them. (Note: You only need 1-2 people that able to guide you)

      If you want a long-term “relaxed” income, just make sure that the things you’re working on will bring you income that has a recurring nature (passive income).

      1. That’s just it I don’t have a clue where to start. What ideas???? What do you do??? What makes money??? How is it made??? How do you make it online??? How are you getting paid??? How is it set up??? If it makes money I’m interested and really don’t care what it is. I just would like to get my foot in the door or a kick start from someone somewhere. I’m from the old school where you do what you have to do to make a living. I guess in my mind I’m thinking after I can get started some how then I can change directions or add new directions to make money. I’m willing to put 6, 8, 10 hours a day if that’s what it’ll take to get something off and rolling. That I understand. I’ve started a couple of businesses over the years and they required 14, 16 hours a day to get them off the ground. That was in construction. That’s why now I need to get away from all that hard labor stuff and get something rolling on the internet. That’s why I’m picking your brain for help about this. Another way I can put it so you can understand what I’m trying to say about being clueless as to making money online, here goes. When I looked at an algerbra equation I would always look for a single answer in the end. There wasn’t. You always ended up with an X = something. That’s why I never could get algerbra until finally someone explained it to me another way and it clicked. So that’s where I’m at, not understanding how you make money online. If you can help and explain in more detail and/or direction. I’d greatly appreciate it so much. Thank you so much.

        1. Hello LBW,

          Thanks for writing back again.

          There’s a LOT of ways to make money online. If you’re referring to this particular post, I believe I’ve outlined everything (Step 1 – Step 7) above.

          In a nutshell, you’re offering (selling) your services on the internet. You get paid once you deliver your service. As for the ‘X’, it depends on what skills you’re good at and what you can do for people.

          E.g. In Step 1, I mentioned I’m in the “Web Development” niche and there’s a huge demand for that (See diagram here). Basically I helped people to get their work done, and they pay me in return.

          As for how all this works, in Step 2, I mentioned leveraging on “Freelancing Platforms” like oDesk & Elance. Both platforms were set up in a way where ‘Clients’ can post their work, ‘Freelancers’ can apply to the work they’re interested in, ‘Payment’ will be released once it’s completed successfully.

          I hope my explanation makes sense to you.

  9. I’ve read your “How to make money online for free” post & this one as well. I can say that you have given more information than any others I have read online. I’m satisfied by your honesty. These ARE ways to make “EXTRA” cash from home. Some people think that making money online is easy, (I was one of those guys) and it can be with experience & dedication. Starting out, it’s not going to be easy. If it were everyone would be doing it.

    Now I’m new to this as well and plan on starting immediately. Just wanted to thank you for providing efficient information on making money online and hope you will be around for future questions, as I’m sure there will be plenty. Thanks again, KM!

    1. Hi Bryan,

      Thanks for your kind words. I’ll share more on this topic in the coming days.

      I wish you success in your journey to making money online.

  10. Hi KM, I am from Malaysia. Thank you for your generous tips on how to make money online. I have always wanted to try it out but then do not know how. Most of it need to pay upfront registration fee and i am afraid it is not real. Now I want to start it with the i-writer and see if I can write to earn some money online. Once again Thank you for your good advice and explanation. I hope I can do it so that I can quit my boring job.
    I wish you successful in your new project.

    1. Hi Vennie,

      Thanks for reading my blog. Glad to know you’re from Malaysia.

      Do you enjoy writing? The reason I asked is it takes time to make money online, especially when you’re just starting out. You’re going to write the topic that people want, not what you want.

      My advice would be start doing this on a part-time basis. You still need the income from your full-time job to pay your bills. Once you build your clientele and have consistent income (or projects) coming in, you can consider to quit that time.

      Good luck to you!

  11. Hello KM,

    I have been working on odesk for a long time. It’s been happening since last few days that I am not getting interview calls from clients even after writing the best covers and response. Please tell me the possible reasons.


    1. Hello Moeez,

      Frankly, I’m not sure what is it so. I haven’t applied for projects on oDesk for a long time. Sometimes it’s not about crafting the best cover letters. Clients will look at the projects you have done, feedback from past clients, and the price you bid.

      Keep in mind that there are plenty of freelancers out there who can also do what you do. So what makes you stand out from the rest? If you’ve already worked with some clients in the past, perhaps go back to them and ask is there any work needs to be done. You get a higher chance to work with clients that know you compared to those who don’t.

      Good luck!

      1. Thank you for your support Lee. I’ll keep in touch with you in future also if I further need any help regarding work and to get benefited from your wonderful experiences.

        Stay blessed

  12. Hello Mr. Lee,

    I would like to thank you for your dedication to helping those wanting to work from home.

    I’ve learned so much from your posts. I recently took your advice and began writing review. You have given me confidence. You’ve also allowed me to be able to express myself and use my talents wisely. Thanks Mr. Lee. You’ll never realize how much your help is appreciated.

    Best regards,

    1. Hello Deborah,

      Thanks for taking the time to share this with me. I’m very impressed with your dedication.

      Let me know how it works out for you. One thing for sure is you wouldn’t want to do this (writing reviews) for long term. If you’ve the passion in writing, there are still some great places for you to write and submit your content. But let’s start with one step at a time.

  13. Hi Lee,

    I am new in this thing but really want to say thanks to your post regarding earning money as a freelancer is very very much helpful to me. Because I was wondering one blog to another for learning or understanding about the content. I’ll definitely follow your method.

    I want to go in writing but it is a vast section. Can u please advise me that what could be the first step in this niche. One last thing that, the site which is my own. Thanks

    1. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. I’m not a freelance writer, but from what I’ve seen (also from hiring experience), normally new writers will start out by writing a couple of articles for a low price and exchange with 5-star feedback from clients.

      Once they build up their reputation, they slowly increase their rate. Hope that helps.

  14. Hi! Do you mind to tell me how does it really work? For your information, I’m a full time housewife and mum and I want to earn more income to support my family,

    Thank you.

    Best Regards,

    1. Not quite sure what you mean. Basically, if you want to earn income online as a freelancer, then you need to sell ‘something’ (e.g. your skills, products, or services). People will only pay you if you can deliver value or benefits to them.

      As for the freelance platforms I mentioned in the post, they are just ‘a place’ for clients to look for talented freelancers to help them, whereas freelancers are looking to offer their services to the right clients. You can visit oDesk, elance, or fiverr to learn more.

      Hope this makes sense to you.

  15. Great post KM Lee. The easiest and fastest way to make money online is to do what you know – as long as there’s a market for it. Clearly you’ve done that.

    I’ve outsourced more work in the last four months than I’ve in the past 3 years combined!

    Clearly there’s a great market for people either not having the skills or the time (I fall in both) to get certain tasks done and that’s where you can jump in and make money.

    Keep the great posts coming!

    1. Hello Corrisa,

      Thanks for sharing your insights. Wishing you all the best in your business!

  16. hi Lee, may I know is there any other sites that allows us to write and earn money?

    1. There are 3 that I know of – iWriter, fiverr, and Upwork. Hope that helps.

  17. I discovered something new about making money online here. Thanks for the insight.

  18. I work Mon-Fri, 8.30am to 6:00pm. Is there any job I can do online to earn extra income around RM1k-2k per month through online? If it’s possible, can you give suggestion?

    1. It’s very possible. Keep in mind that any online jobs are not different than any offline jobs (they’re still jobs). You still need to put in the hours to earn that income.

  19. Thanks for the post Mr. Lee, I’ve learned lot from it. Now I’ll try to apply it. keep it up.


  20. Hi, good writeup and I’m impress with your achievement. I’ve recently registered as an online freelancer but the company wants to verify my ID, is that safe to send a copy of my ID? What should I do to avoid any risk that me incur if I send them my ID?

    1. I think this is a mutual trust. If you’re new and have no credibility – verifying your ID… uploading your real picture… is a MUST. After all, clients only hire freelancers that are real. You still have to prove to clients that you can help them to get the job done.

  21. Hi KM, thank you so much for your sharing. I’m a stay at home mommy and I’ve been looking for risk free ways to earn income online i started with internet marketing but am still yet to earn my first commission. Will try writing if it works for me.

    Thanks again for your honesty very much appreciated.


    1. Internet marketing definitely works if you’re working on the right things. If something doesn’t work for you in the long run, give up on that and work on something else.

      All the best!

  22. I used Upwork a lot to get extra work and love it. I like being in control of how often I work and what work I do. As a web designer and blogger, I feel I have a lot of flexibility!

    Another free way to earn money that I’ve been doing since 2010 is Clixsense. It doesn’t get you rich but I click the ads while I’m doing things like watching television. I’ve told quite a few people about over the years and I earn money from when they click. NOW it’s built up a LOT and I make a few hundred dollars from other peoples efforts too… all for free. Clixsense pays on 10 levels so the earnings can really add up!

    Upwork is definitely my pick for freelancing websites. I’ve tried thumbtack but there are a lot of spammers there and it’s just linking you to potential clients, not actual jobs. I tried but it seems like too much competition (at least in my niche). Upwork has been wonderful for me! I get repeat business there and I like how they handle payments so there is no risk.

    Thank you for the great post KM Lee! I can’t wait to read more of what people say here!

    1. Thanks Christina for sharing your insights.


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