Online Business or Online Job?

This is a bit of a poser for those of you who make money online doing whatever you do to achieve an online income.

Do you consider what you do as a business or a job?

Most of you will answer that with a resounding:

“Its a business, of course! I work for myself, don’t I?”

But would you be right? I was thinking about this last night after responding to one of Monika’s blog posts at The Writers Manifesto and I’m not so sure it is as cut and dried as a lot of people suppose.

There are glaring differences between the two that are obvious when you take time to really look at what you are doing online. The first thing you should consider is this. Do you work only for yourself, do you work for someone else, or do you do a combination of the two?

Let’s look at the differences between the main two categories here. Are you the boss or is someone else the boss? Let’s take each side and lay them bare as to exactly what they are.

Think of a business in terms of how you are paid, or how you make money.

Do you make money from the income you generate from selling products, be they your own or commissions from affiliate products, or from revenue generated from advertising space on your websites or blogs? Do you make money from the sale of websites or blogs that you have created? Do you make money from the sale of articles you have written yourself? Essentially do you make money from the sale of something that is generated by you or your websites or blogs?

If the answer is “Yes,” then you are in business.

Now think of a job in terms of how you are paid.

Do you make money by being paid by someone else to produce something within a time frame and for a set amount of money that has been pre-defined during your negotiations? Do you write articles or ad copy or blog posts or write the content for whole websites or even create and design websites for someone else who will pay you for your work? Do you fill in surveys, read emails, write paid reviews or essentially doing anything or performing any task online that someone else pays you for?

If the answer is “Yes,” to any of that, then you are doing a job.

What is the difference?

Well, if you make money by generating that income from the sale of goods or products that’s a business. If you are being paid by another person for any other reason for a service you provide online, then its a job pure and simple.

When you run a business, you work your own hours to suit the nature of what you are selling. You do your own promotion and marketing and you then reap the rewards of your work depending on how much you put in and how well you do it. You make money from your customers, of whom there are many. When you write a book and put it up for sale, you’ve created your product and now you will promote it and many people will buy that product. You don’t have to re-write it for each new customer – that would be silly. You can offer additional bonuses with your book, for instance you can offer free updates of the books for each customer for a certain length of time. But when you do this, you’re not working for those customers, you’re working for yourself because those updates are made to the one copy of which you will mail out to many customers. After a certain amount of time has elapsed, your book will have been updated enough times for you to market it as a new product, so all your updates will essentially have been for your benefit.

However, when you do a job, you work the hours that you have to in order to fulfil the criteria of your boss and get paid what that boss has agreed with you initially. If that work entails writing articles or ad copy, you will write each entity once and hand it over to your boss who will take ownership of it. You won’t be able to re-sell it to anyone else because it will no longer be yours, unless you have managed to negotiate something to the contrary with your boss. However, this is unlikely to happen, because your boss is paying you to produce content for them. They won’t be too happy to find their content turning up on someone else’s site.

Like it or not, when you are in this situation you are still working for someone else – a boss – because they are the ones who pay you. By working a job online, your income still has a ceiling which is defined by the amount of hours you are able to put in and the amount of dollars per hour you are able to negotiate for your pay.

You will never get rich working for someone else.

Ever hear that statement? Well better believe it because it’s true.

You’ll only get rich working for yourself. How rich you’ll get depends on many factors, but can basically be worn down to a few essentials. Like how dedicated you are to your business, how motivated you are to succeed, how well you have educated yourself for running a successful business.. oh yes, and how good a product you can produce – although that’s only part of it – more importantly is how good an advertising and promotion campaign you are able to create in order to sell that product.

Lastly we have the hybrids. The ones who are running their own business selling products, affiliate products and advertising space etc as well as working for someone else by creating content specifically for them or even writing paid reviews.

I fall into this category at present, which is why I mentioned it.

I sell my own ebooks and other niche products that I have created myself. I also sell articles that I write via Constant Content. You might pipe up and say, “Hey, that’s a job isn’t it?” – well no it’s not because I don’t write to any set time frame or set wage. I sell each article for an individual price that I define at the outset and I’ll put up as many articles to sell as I have time to write. The buyers are actually customers who buy the rights to each individual item, in a similar fashion to an artist selling one of their paintings – there can be only one! Constant Content are not my boss, because although they pay me, they are only a broker who pass on the payment from the customer and take out their commission. They are acting as an affiliate in that respect, by promoting my product for me.

So what about paid reviews? Didn’t I just say they were a job?

Yes, I did although that is more of a grey area. While the review sites act as broker to sell my review to the customer and take their commission before paying me like with Constant Content, they also have more stringent rules that I must follow. Of these, the most poignant ones are that once I accept a review, I have a limited time frame in which to complete it, which makes it more like a job. Granted, it’s up to me to decide how many reviews I want to take but there is no negotiating the price – I accept the review and the price that goes with it. Those two points make it more of a job than a true sale, but not entirely, which is why I called it a grey area.

Well, I expect there are those of you who will find some objections to my reasoning here, but there really is no denying the facts.

If you’re working away for several hours a day producing content, writing ads, designing websites, reading emails or whatever for someone who pays you for your work and for those hours you are putting in to produce that work, then you are doing a job and you have a boss – pure and simple.

If you’re selling something to customers, then you have a business and you are your own boss. Even more pure and simple!

So which are you?

Terry Didcott
The Honest Way

6 thoughts on “Online Business or Online Job?”

  1. What… no time for a long post today? Lol

    Great post Terry, you have been burning the midnight oil I see. I haven’t used CC – just curious what kind of $ can your articles fetch? What is the min/max size of the articles you write and how quickly do they sell?

    Thanks Terry

  2. As for me, you are right and not right.
    It’s bad to be a last part of the building and the middleman too. Those who could jump over laugh about us (eh…)
    But to have a business is always dependance from other person. And from many other things too. Many times it meens to leave own personality: you have to serve others.

    :))) The best business is (as for me) to do what you want so much time you want and when somebody has something against you, simply look at him and say: F… you! I go swimming!

  3. Hi Liudmila,

    The business/work argument is only relevant for those who are adamantly against working for someone else – a boss!

    I can’t work for anyone who thinks they have the power to tell me what to do and when to do it, how long to do it for and how much they’ll grudgingly pay me for doing it!

    That should be written down as a famous quote – maybe one day when I’m famous… hahahahaha!

    Terry 🙂

  4. Great post Terry and I completely agree with your points. This is actually something I have planned to write about myself but haven’t gotten to it yet.

    I am a huge advocate of starting your own online business and not just working for someone else online.

    I have had to explain the different hundreds of times over the years but sometimes people just don’t get it or don’t want to believe it.

    Doing a work at home job can be good for bringing in an income right now if needed, but it’s not nearly as good in the long run.

    A business is long term and will continue to grow and bring in more and more money. You are essentially paying yourself.

    I can see why someone would want or need to simply work online. But if they are doing that they should also be building their own online business at the same time. Hybrid!

  5. Exactly the same as I see it Trent.

    I know of someone who has taken on such a demanding online job that she literally hasn’t got time to work on the business that she really wants to get started. In fact we haven’t seen her in any of the forums for quite a while now – Oosha!

    I know she works offline too and plans to leave that job in January to focus on her online work, so hopefully she will then have tome to get her business running too.

    Here’s to her success when it comes and good luck to her and everyone else who is brave enough to have a go for themselves!


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