I am a firm believer in the value of alternative income streams. For a baby boomer, we need that other income to boost our savings, cushion us against job cut backs, and to supplement our retirement income. For lots of us, the “three-legged stool” of retirement income – investments, Social Security, and pensions – is wobbling on one leg.
How about selling something that many baby boomers have plenty of: expertise. I’m not referring here to a traditional consulting gig which to me is really just another form of “go to the office” employment only less predictable. Instead, I’m talking about selling expertise online, from your home “office.” I have come across two online resources that baby boomers can use to sell their expertise and a third online source of “work for hire” income.
Providing Online Expert Advice at LivePerson
Simply put, LivePerson is an online marketplace for “experts” to sell their knowledge and advice directly to customers in an online chat environment. To participate, an “expert” must apply and submit some baseline credentials in a particular knowledge area. Once accepted, the expert selects a cost-per-minute billing rate and is listed as a LivePerson provider. LivePerson receives a commission of 30%-35% of fees collected.
LivePerson offers a wide variety of expertise on its site, including financial advisers, fashion experts, and even mental and spiritual health counselors. I think this site would be ideal for a baby boomer having significant training or experience in a marketable field to exploit that expertise online.
Writing for Online Income at Associated Content
Associated Content is a repository of online written content provided by thousands of writers. The business model is simple. First, you write something containing content which you believe people might search for on web. You submit your article to the Associated Content editors. If it meets their criteria, they publish it and run ads on the pages where your article appears. Video and audio content are also accepted.
The article can be on any topic but you need to select one that is search engine friendly (a frequently searched topic). Your article must itself be search engine friendly. (That is an entire subject in its own right.) If it does not meet these criteria, the Associated Content editors will probably reject it, as they do for about 25% of the submissions. If you need topic ideas, Associated Content has lists of those as well, which they call “Calls for Content.”
If your article is accepted, Associated Content will pay you anywhere from $5-$30 for the submission plus $1.50 for every 1000 times that your article page is viewed by an Internet user. (Now you know why your article must be search engine friendly.) A prolific writer who effectively targets high traffic key words can make some serious money over time. You can actually strategize topics to write about by checking search statistics at Google Adwords, Google Trends, or Google Insight.
Piece Work Online Income at Mechanical Turk
This source of alternative income is more about completing small web tasks than it is selling your expertise. Mechanical Turk was developed by Amazon.com initially to enlist the help of online users in managing its product information. It has since expanded well beyond that. Now lots of businesses come to the site and ask users to do things like visit other sites, search for addresses online, etc. and paying anywhere from a few cents to a few dollars per task. Not a great source of revenue but if you have a lot of time on your hands you can definitely make some bucks.
Final Thoughts on Baby Boomers and Online Income
The Internet is an efficient and effective vehicle for allowing baby boomers to transfer their knowledge to younger generations. I really like the concept and intend to investigate these options for generating alternative income for us. I’m not much interested in the piece work strategy but I do have expertise (non-legal) to sell and an interest in writing. How about you?
Image Credit: Chris Heuer