We live in strangely contrasting times, where recession is prominent and yet the expansion of online resources has created an empowering environment for those who wish to become entrepreneurs. For example, unemployment stood at 9.1% in the U.S. at the beginning of September, while our cousins in the U.K. recorded their highest unemployment figures in more than 17 years. Despite this, there remains a world of opportunity for those who have the foresight to create their own destinies. With this in mind, how can you capitalize and create new or additional revenue for your household?

TUTORIAL: Starting A Small Business

Freelance to Make the Most From Your Skills
Freelancing is on the rise across the globe, and it is a combination of social issues and technological innovations which have led to this state of affairs. Just as outsourcing non-strategic tasks to freelancers has helped to save U.S. businesses earn money during periods of recession, so too have remote technology and online collaboration resources emerged to create the ideal platform for those with a tangible skill to market. Whether you have a knack for web design, IT support or a flair for the written word, there has never been a better time to market and sell this skill to businesses.

The statistics back this up. U.S. freelancers were able to work a total average of 39 hours a week in 2010. This shows the true level of demand for freelance service providers, and that freelancing provides a more than viable outlet for those who are out of work and wish to earn a living, and for others who simply want to make additional money. A further 22% of freelancers even claimed that they earned more through working remotely on tasks that were outsourced, so there are significant money making opportunities for anyone who has a marketable skill.

Become a Virtual Assistant
Even if you do not have a specific skill that you consider to be marketable, you can still capitalize on your workplace experience or organizational attributes to create a revenue stream. Virtual assistants (which are not to be confused with automated online assistants) are self-employed individuals who offer professional services and administrative services to businesses, but they do this remotely from a home-based office. As long as you are organized, boast some administrative experience and have a fully functioning internet connection, then you can offer this type of service for a negotiated fee. (For more on working from home, read Creating A Home Business Work Space.)

Once again, companies employ the services of virtual assistants for several purposes, most pointedly because it saves them from being responsible for any affiliated taxes and also means that they can expand their volume of staff without committing to additional office space. The role of a virtual assistant is becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst females and mothers who are looking to work from home while raising their children. Interestingly, more than 43% of VAs in the U.S. work during the weekend, which suggests that it would be ideal for an individual looking to create an additional and part-time revenue stream.

Pursue Your Creativity
There was a time where creatively minded individuals were hamstrung in their attempts to turn their passion into a business, simply because it was too difficult to source investment and the expert guidance required to make this happen. The online revolution has changed this, as it is now easier than ever to bring a product to market or deliver a home based service. While e-commerce has helped to make retail an online market place and created the opportunity to sell from home, social media has served to narrow the gap between organizations and consumers to create a truly global consumer base.

Most significant is the concept of crowdsourcing tasks, which has emerged to help creative people fund and develop their businesses. In today's market, anyone with a flair for design or the ability to create a viable product can tap into this resource to gain the assistance that they need, whether it is with regards to marketing, packaging or the logistics of shipping. It's now possible for a creator of a product to focus solely on this or her strength and engage the help of others to turn that talent into a part- or full-time venture. Remember, 44% of established corporate U.S. organizations utilized crowdsourcing to improve business. Imagine the impact it can have on smaller firms or evolving entrepreneurs. (For a related reading, check out 6 Ways Social Media Helps Home-Based Businesses.)

The Bottom Line
The truth remains that regardless of the strained economic climate, there is a whole world of opportunity lurking beyond the pages of the World Wide Web. Whether you boast a marketable skill or otherwise, working remotely or delivering services online can help make you significant money, whether you are out of work or simply looking to create an additional revenue stream to improve your household income. Evaluate your skills and mindset, and take advantage of the significant advances in online technology to help ease your financial burden.

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