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6 Ways to Avoid Scams When Selling Your Stuff Online

These days, selling items you no longer want or things you’ve made has become easier and more lucrative than ever before. We no longer have to hold yard sales every week, or pay for classified ads in newspapers.

With eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Craigslist, and so many other outlets available, you have the world at your fingertips. But of course, the more open you are to sellers, the more accessible you are to scammers.

Know what to watch out for, and you can sell your stuff with minimal stress. (See also: How to Protect Elderly Loved Ones From Financial Scams)

1. Don’t Accept Big Bills

If you’re selling on Craigslist, you have to be very careful with cash transactions. Something scammers love to do is present a fake $50 or $100 bill, and take home an item along with a bunch of change. The seller is left holding a worthless note and down a valuable possession. One way to keep this kind of damage to a minimum is to only take $20 bills and below.

However, $20 bills can be fake as well, so you have to keep your wits about you. There are many ways to detect fake notes, and if the bill has blurry text and lines, no watermark, you likely have a fake. If you’re in no mood to become a detective, pick up a fake note detector kit.

It costs less than $10 and will pay for itself the first time you detect a phony bill.

2. Always Meet Your Buyer in a Public Place

It may be inconvenient for you to meet in a police station parking lot or at a local coffee shop, but your first priority here has to be your personal safety. You have no idea who you’re meeting and what they have in mind, even if they sound wonderful via email or over the phone.

Some “buyers” lure you in to steal your item, and whatever else you have on you. Some want to cause you physical harm, or worse, and have no intention of purchasing anything. If you ask to meet in a public place and they refuse, that’s a massive red flag.

If they want you to bring the item to an address of their choosing, you also need to steer clear of that transaction.

If you can, bring a friend (or friends) and tell other people where you’re going and all the details about the person you’re meeting. Most of the time, it’s just a regular person looking for a deal. But you really don’t want to let your guard down and trust the wrong person.

3. Have Evidence of the Item’s Condition

Many people abuse the goodwill of online sellers to save money. One of the nastiest ways you can be taken advantage of is when someone buys a mint condition item from you, then asks for a return and a refund because “it doesn’t work.”

For example, let’s say someone buys a high-end computer mouse from you, then they say it doesn’t work and want a refund. You know it worked fine when you sold it. If it’s something that costs more than just a few bucks, have evidence of the item working in the listing itself.

Take accurate photos and videos, and record serial numbers. It takes just a few minutes to get this all down, and you only have to store it until the transaction is closed and everyone is happy.

4. Avoid Buyers With Brand New Accounts

This is not to say that all buyers with new accounts are scammers. This is simply a precaution you should take to avoid getting stung. Scammers tend to get banned by eBay after a few incidents that form a pattern of fraudulent behavior.

These people will just keep opening new accounts, doing a few returns for broken items, or “item not as described” before being banned again and continuing the cycle. Luckily, you don’t have to weed these buyers out on your own. eBay has settings that let you block certain buyers.

5. Be Wary of Requests For Partial Refunds

So, you sold your item and everything seems fine. Then you get an email from the buyer, saying that the item isn’t in the condition they were expecting, or it’s missing some parts — which you know were included. But they want to keep the item.

They’d just like you to refund their money to make things right. If you’re asked to do a partial refund, try and get evidence of the problem. If it’s damaged, ask to see the damage. If it doesn’t work as described, ask for a video. If they refuse, you know something’s afoot.

If they do send pictures, you have a few choices. You can say you want the item to be returned, and will fully refund their purchase upon receipt. If they don’t want to do that, they’re probably trying to get a quick buck from you.

Of course, sometimes these partial refund requests are genuine, perhaps due to an inaccurate listing from a new seller, or another mistake. In that case, a partial refund is something you can issue if you feel comfortable.

6. Never Ship to a Different Address Than The One on File

When you set up an account on an online selling site, you should enter a shipping and billing address. This is standard practice. If you sell an item, and receive a note asking that you ship to a different address, you should decline.

On rare occasions, the person hasn’t updated their shipping address from a move, or it’s a gift for someone else. Too bad. Don’t do it.

When you’re asked to ship to a different address, it could be that the account in question has been hacked, or you will be asked for a refund because the item was not delivered to the address on file. It’s just not worth it.

Source: Wise Bread

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5 Full-Time Jobs You Can Do to Make Money Online or From Home

Here are five legit, full-time jobs that can be done remotely — without sacrificing benefits like health insurance or paid time off.

We might not be multi-platinum hip-hop recording artists, but some of us can relate to Drake when he said, “I only love my bed and my mama, I’m sorry.”

As much fun as it can be to build camaraderie with coworkers in an office, it’s tough to turn down a job where you can make money from home without ever getting out of your pajamas.

There are a lot of articles about how you can make money from home. The problem is that most of those pieces are either one-offs (such as selling your stuff on eBay) or short-term solutions (such as freelancing).

Your ambition to have a job that provides you benefits and regular income while never leaving your home can be realized. As the world increasingly relies more on the internet, it’s easier than ever to make money from home — or from anywhere in the world.

Find out how to make money online without sacrificing vital perks, including benefits and job security. Here are five jobs to get you started on making money — full-time and online — from home.

1. Writer

If you were an English major, you may have heard some version about how the degree is useless or makes it hard to get a job. However, as the entire world shifts to online, new avenues are opening for writers to work from home or a coffee shop every day.

Writing roles can come in any industry. Businesses need writers to create sales and marketing copy as they create and update online stores. They need writers who can provide clean, clear instructions for a digital manual (which falls under “technical writing”) or just good, valuable content.

Full-time writing jobs in advertising, marketing, branded content (B2B and B2C) and sales are definitely available because businesses are always changing and updating theirs on their websites and other media where branding and messaging takes place.

Or, if you’d prefer more something more editorial and less salesy, you can find that, too. Media companies (including Entrepreneur) offer digital writing and editing positions for the digital publication, which essentially can be accomplished from anywhere in the world — as long as you have an internet connection.

In fact, we have some writers at Entrepreneur who work from Paris or their home offices instead of the office in New York City.

How to make money online as a writer

Bestselling novelist Neil Gaiman once said that there were three attributes of a good writer: The writer’s work is always on time; the writer’s work is always good, and the writer is always pleasant. Gaiman said that a successful writer needed any two out of these three qualities.

However, the copious amount of emails that editors and companies receive on a daily basis means it’s easier than ever to tell someone no — or not reply at all. To be a writer means you have to get used to rejection but also that you have to go the extra mile.

Don’t settle for having two out of these three qualities, as Gaiman suggested. If you want to make yourself irresistible to businesses, do your best to be pleasant, competent and on-deadline.

You’ll also need to have some technical know-how if you want to be marketable as an online writer. You don’t need to be Bill Gates, but you should at least know how to add a link and crop a picture. You can practice some of these skills by playing around with a free WordPress site, experimenting with features and publishing a few stories.

That way, you can gain experience and create a small portfolio of articles you can share with other businesses when you want to start applying to writing jobs. According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary for a writer in the U.S. is about $48,000.

2. Video Editor

You’ve probably heard the overused term “pivot to video” at some point, which is both a joke about and an acceptance of the fact that many publishers are pushing their resources into video.

Video advertisements are more expensive to buy than banner ads because they lead to higher click-through rates, which means a business can potentially make a lot more money through video than through other forms of content.

So, if you can create great videos that make people want to watch and that drive ad revenue or subscriptions back to a website, you can become a very valuable asset.

How to make money online as a video editor

Again, video is much more expensive to produce than written content, so while it’s always good to be versatile, it’s especially important as a video editor or producer. Try to become an expert in every aspect of video production, from lighting to sound to editing footage. Know the difference between what works on a Facebook Live and what works on YouTube.

If you can do everything, then you can become a one-man film crew who allows a company to cut costs while still enjoying video advertisement revenue. That makes you powerful asset, because it allows the company to reduce risks and can help keep you employed full-time.

So, if you’re already a pro at setting up a shot, make sure you also have mastered the software you need. If you’re a wiz on the computer, try doing some Facebook Lives, interviews and other sorts of videos to make sure you’re prepared for anything.

If you want to do the job from home, which pays about $45,000 on average according to Payscale.com, make sure you have the necessary computer equipment and video editing software (like Adobe Premiere) to do so.

3. Computer Programmer

If you are going to be working on a computer all day, it makes sense that you should be able to do so remotely. That’s part of why computer science workers tended to work from home more often than any other employees in any other field, according to a Quartz study.

If you are working for a global company, like Google, the business probably has already established an infrastructure for interoffice communication, which makes it easy for remote workers.

Plus, staying at home means the office — which might go to extreme lengths to lure talented tech workers — can save on free lunches, snacks and perks. It’s a win-win for both employers and workers.

How to make money online as a computer programmer

Big companies are generally (or at least should be) flexible if you want to work from home a few days a week. But if you want to do it full-time, smaller companies can be a better bet, because your working remotely can help them save on office space.

You can probably find lots of startups or small businesses looking for tech help who have the resources to pay your salary, but not to relocate you or pay for additional office space.

As far as the work itself, there’s a good chance you’ll need a virtual private network (VPN) to safely connect to your company’s system, as well as some measure of organizational skills (tip: you can use organizational tools, like Trello) to make sure you’re on top of current projects.

The payoff for full-time computer programmers is lucrative, and the average annual salary is over $60,000 according to Payscale.com.

4. Virtual Assistant

With so many businesses utilizing remote workers, it makes sense that they have a remote assistant for the company. Virtual assistants can organize someone’s personal life, be it with appointments or booking travel, and also manage communications between employees or between an employee and his or her clients.

The bottom line is that a good virtual assistant can keep everyone on task, make the workday better and shorter and has strong enough communication and technology skills to perform this role remotely.

There are three primary reasons why a business might want to hire a virtual assistant, according to Entrepreneur contributor Bryan Miles:

  1. Improving communication, which leads to business growth. We all know what it’s like to have an avalanche of messages waiting in our inbox or voicemail, which makes it hard to stay up to date on everything necessary. As a virtual assistant, your job could be to make sure every important email gets a good reply in good time, which can help a business build trust among its customers and employees.
  2. Inspiring big-picture thinking. By taking over items on a to-do list, you can free business leaders up enough to try new things. By organizing someone’s time, you can help them delegate the projects that don’t need their immediate attention and help them focus on what matters most to move the needle.
  3. Making life easier for everyone. When you optimize everyone’s work, you also allow them to spend less time working — while still getting more done.

While the pay for a virtual assistant is not competitive with the pay scale of a programmer, if you live in an area of the country with a low cost of living, you can leverage the remote aspect of this job by working for a company that is based in New York City, San Francisco or another high-wage paying city.

How to make money online as a virtual assistant

Some businesses are wary of the concept of a virtual assistant. Giving a stranger access to private communications or sensitive information makes having a virtual assistant more dangerous than hiring other types of telecommuters.

If you want to make it as a virtual assistant, make earning their trust the number one priority. Focus on organization, responsiveness and clear communications above everything else (practicing discretion is good, too), so your employer knows that you are someone who can be counted on.

It would also be a good idea to make yourself familiar with Microsoft Office. You probably know how to use Word well enough, but many assistant jobs will require you to work with spreadsheets, so it’s probably best if you’re at least comfortable with Excel, too.

5. Social Media Manager

Social media isn’t just a fun thing you do with your friends. It’s a competitive marketing space where thousands of brands and businesses are competing for, often times, the same audience. If you can help a business get a leg up in that environment, you can carve out a valuable position within a company.

However, one of the most important aspects of a good social media manager is someone who understands the tone and voice of the business he or she represents. For example, a social media manager at Wendy’s should use a different tone from at McDonald’s, even though they’re both fast-food burger restaurants.

When you work remotely, it’s easy to find yourself disconnected from the company you work for. But being a social media manager is all about staying in tune with the business — knowing what’s coming up, why it needs to be promoted and why the audience should be excited about it, along with knowing which tags to use and hitting the right tone.

Similar to a virtual assistant, you’ll need to have very strong organizational and communication skills if you want to become a social media manager. It helps to be a strong user on Facebook or Twitter, but it might be even more important to know how to use social media insight tools, including HootSuite or SocialFlow, Facebook Analytics and more.

Just like with a virtual assistant, you want to be able to communicate what your efforts are targeting and what your campaigns have accomplished so your employer can recognize your value.

How to make money online as a social media manager

Entrepreneur’s social media manager, Andrea Hardalo, usually comes into the office, but she also works remotely if she needs to. She offered three tips you can use to improve your social media management:

  1. Know how much content to post. This advice goes both ways. On the one hand, you don’t want to shove unwanted content in someone’s face and turn them away from your platform. But if you don’t post enough, you could be missing out on potential opportunities. So find a good schedule that works for your business — and for each platform you use — and stick to it.
  2. Be genuine. We’ve all spent enough time online by now to figure out when people are saying something they believe, or whether they’re trying to force something unwanted on us. That’s why it’s so important to have a sense of your company and your audience — you know what they care about, and you can use that to guide how you post moving forward.
  3. Interact. The great part about social media is that it allows everyone to interact. Use that to your advantage! Customers and audience members love to feel seen and heard, so make sure they feel that way by replying to some of their comments, asking for feedback and engaging them however you can.

By doing those three things, you can create a strong social media brand that converts into page views, ad revenue or sales without sacrificing anything. You don’t need any additional software to become a social media manager, which pays $48,620 on average, according to Payscale.com.

Making money online or from home is the future

If you have dreams of making bank from the comfort of your bed, you’re in luck. It’s easier than ever to work online or from home in a way that actually benefits both you and your employer, so you don’t have to settle for renting out your place on Airbnb or selling your stuff on Amazon.

You can use pursue these different career paths and carve out a place within your chosen industry with nothing more than a laptop, a Wifi connection and the skills you already have.

Regardless of your chosen path, though, you will still need to work on staying connected to the current events at your company and to the rest of your team. Like the poet John Donne once said, “No man is an island.”

But you can work from one and still enjoy the benefits of health insurance and paid time off.

Source: Entrepreneur

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7 Legitimate Paid Survey Sites to Make Extra Money Each Month

Readers often ask about legitimate online survey sites. Well, the truth is, we’re just not that into them.

We get bored clicking off answers, and oftentimes the payout isn’t commensurate with the amount of time we spend on these sites and the amount of personal information we’re sharing.

But you’re right. There’s a certain appeal to filling out surveys with the TV flashing in the background or with your favorite podcast hosts chatting into the air next to you. Plus, you don’t have to leave the couch as you answer questions about yourself.

It’s not too difficult.

If you want to take the dive, here are the survey companies we recommend: Sign up for these legitimate sites all at once. Chances are, you’ll qualify for at least one or two surveys on each site a month.

1. Swagbucks

Swagbucks is definitely a reader favorite, probably because of the wide variety of ways to earn cash beyond taking surveys, such as watching videos and playing games.

It’s also famous for handing out free rewards points (they’re called SBs) at random just for being a member.

Plus, you get $5 just for signing up and taking your first survey.

You’ll get SBs for each survey you qualify for and complete that you can redeem for cash via PayPal or gift cards to a number of popular retailers, including Amazon.

2. InboxDollars

InboxDollars offers several short, daily surveys you can take. If you take all of them each day, you could earn an extra $730 a year — not too bad.

3. VIP Voice

VIP Voice surveys are relatively quick to complete and reward you with points you can redeem for cash or gift cards.

Sign up for this at the beginning of the month and plan to login a few times each week. You’ll have no trouble earning an extra $30 this month with almost no work.

4. MyPoints

This platform lets you earn gift cards for taking polls, answering surveys and other things you do online — a great way to cash in on long lines or an endless commute. You’ll earn a $5 bonus when you complete your first five surveys.

5. Opinion Outpost

Opinion Outpost offers surveys from all kinds of businesses and organizations. Most of them take around 10 minutes to complete and will earn you points you can redeem for free gift cards to places like Amazon and iTunes. You could also get paid for testing products, if surveys aren’t your thing.

What sets it apart from other survey sites is it gives away $40,000 every year. It has a quarterly prize draw for a $10,000 cash prize — and for every survey you complete, you’ll get one entry into the sweepstakes!

6. Survey Junkie

Survey Junkie’s clean look and “cashout wheel” keep you motivated to take as many surveys as you want. They’re relatively quick to complete and reward you with points. Once you earn 1,000 points — or $10 — you can cash out for gift cards or cash paid via PayPal.

7. PrizeRebel

Since it started, PrizeRebel has given out more than $15 million in cash and rewards. It processes rewards within 24 hours (or instantly if you’re a “gold” level user), so you get paid fast.

You won’t get rich using PrizeRebel, but it’s a legit site — we’ve tried it ourselves. You earn points by taking surveys. You can cash in as soon as you earn 500 points, which gets you $5.

You’ll redeem points for cash or gift cards from more than 500 brands, including Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Walmart — plus stuff you won’t find everywhere, like Buffalo Wild Wings, Uber and Nike.

One reader was immediately offered dozens of surveys after signing up. Each paid out up to $4 and took between 10 and 35 minutes to complete.

Source: The Penny Hoarder