Looking for ways to make money online in Pakistan? Here are a few!

Hello! If you are reading this I think there is a good chance you just saw me on Kay2 TV talking about online work, freelancing and entrepreneurship.

It is fascinating how the work culture has changed over the years (thanks to social media) and therefore the trends have mostly changed which is why work is no longer about a ‘place’ rather an activity that you perform throughout the day to keep yourself active. Much thanks to the internet now you can make money through various legal ways online and the best part about making money online is that you can do it from anywhere as long as you have internet.

But lets get down to debunking the myths first. Online work and freelancing is not about easy or free money so if you want to start this just because you think you will spend a few hours online and become Pakistan’s first internet millionaire, you are in the wrong boat. There are people in Pakistan who make $10 to even $100,000 a month through online work and freelancing but you can’t even imagine sheer amount of effort they put in to achieve this and most of the ones I know in this field work as much as 16-18 hours a day. That sound crazy but that’s the truth about online work that it’s no easy money.

And so let’s get down to how you can really make money online? Well! Ideally there are like more than 200 proven ways to make money from the Internet but I will touch base with only a few of them, the one’s that I and many others in Pakistan have tried personally.

Freelancing with Elance

This one’s my favourite and works for those who have a skill to offer e.g. IT services, graphic design, web development, admin work, writing etc. There are more than 1 million freelancers working from Pakistan and I definitely recommend everyone to use Elance.com as it is the most clean, user-friendly and high paying platform for freelancing among its competitors. Here’s why I recommend Elance.

  • Clean UI and a very clutter-free online work management portal
  • Works for high-value individual freelancers and companies.
  • Offers payment protection through Escrow.

How freelancing websites usually work is that you need to register, make a profile and offer a skill. Then you bid for projects that are relevant to your portfolio, write catch proposals and get selected to do a job. Most freelancers that I know from Pakistan started this casually and ended up getting fixed long-term clients and now they have quit their jobs and are doing freelancing full time.

If you wan to start freelancing, get online and register a profile on Elance.com

AdSense

This way of making money online has been around for quite some time and works well for publishers (whether those who own a website or a blog).

All you need to do is have a website or blog with significant amount of traffic on it and then you apply to Google AdSense and get your website approved. Once approved, you place the ads on the website and AdSense will automatically start displaying contextually relevant ads for your viewers and visitors and based on clicks or sales from the users on those ads you will make money.

This method is working quite well for publishers in Pakistan and the most amazing thing about this is that is not just restricted to English content only. Even websites with Urdu content seem to be generating quite a good amount of revenue through AdSense and Urdupoint.com is one such example which is one the top three websites in terms of traffic in Pakistan.

Affiliate Marketing

Thought you could make a business out of selling lawn in summer? Well it seems like its the trend these days but its not that simple. On the other hand what local publishers, website owners and bloggers have now started doing is that they market a particular brand to their audience and generate sales. This way, they get a ‘cut’ or commission out of those sales.

Here’s an example. Google Trends shows you that womens’ searches go high for ‘lawn’ related stuff during the summer. That’s an opportunity for you to create a website that could help women with their choice of lawn (perhaps an infographic or comparison chart) and then you can help market a particular lawn brand and generate sales for them. In the end you will get a commission out of all the sales that you generated through the website.

Sell Content

My friend Momekh gets a special mention for this. He calls himself a professional “add-venturer” and he is one of the few people from Pakistan who make money online by selling knowledge and content. Here’s a quote from his online store:

More than 95% of the content on this blog is for free. These products are those 5% which are not. They are here because I believe they can help you. Please do read the details on the sales pages to make sure you know what you’re buying. All products come with a 30 day money back guarantee (I don’t want to sell to you if you don’t get any advantage). Thank you and I wish you nothing but the best. God bless!

Sell websites

There are a bunch of other amazing people in Pakistan who are making thousands and millions of $ through online products.

A few examples are Farrukh Zafar from Gagism and Haris from ThemeFusion, both of whom have been able to generate revenue in millions by selling their software online (websites, products, software etc). There are sites like Flippa.com that give you the opportunity to sell directly and get connected to thousands of interested buyers from around the world who want to purchase and acquire such websites for business purposes.

Or perhaps the easiest of all, you could perhaps launch your own online store to sell your fashion label or setup an online bakery. The possibilities are endless!

Sell Gigs.

‘Gig?’. Yes, gig! Fiverr.com gives you the opportunity to sell anything for $5 and when I say anything, it literally means ‘anything’.

There’s this guy from Lahore who has made a business out of selling promotional banners in front of historic buildings. Crazy right? But that’s exactly what Fiverr is for. All you have do is come up with an amazing gig that you can do and sell it as a service and you would be surprised to know how many out there are just ready to buy such stuff from you.

And that’s pretty much it for now.

The whole point of this post is to introduce you to a few of the amazing ways of making money online and motivating you with examples of local individuals who have produced unbelievable results while living in Pakistan. You can do it too! :)

Good luck.

When in doubt, Tweet it out!

In June 2012 I took my first trip to Europe (Scotland, precisely) and I felt very excited as I disembarked from my Etihad Airways plane to catch the connecting flight from Birmingham to Edinburgh. The only problem was that I had only 5 mins at hand to clear through the immigration, walk across a few miles to reach the right gate and catch my plane.

It seemed impossible so I did exactly what a digital native would do, I tweeted it out. And booyah! The official Brimingham Airport saw this and sent an officer to the rescue who then approached me and prioritised my case and away I went.

Tweet to BHX

Coincidentally two years later, exactly on the same date, I ran into quite a similar situation where I was stuck in a limbo and had to decide whether to take or delay the flight from Dubai to Islamabad. Apparently the entire city of Islamabad was in a lockdown (or at least that’s what I heard) as Qadri’s party members had taken over the roads leading to and from the airport. Even my own friends and members of the family advised me to reconsider my options because of what they were seeing through media.

The only option I had was to tweet my concern to @AirportPakistan who provided me with the most accurate on-ground activity details and helped me clear my doubts.

Tweet from AirportPakistan

The Twitter account came into limelight recently when a terrorism incident at the Karachi Airport nearly left 23 people dead. What’s most interesting about this Twitter account is that it is NOT officially managed by the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority and is run solely by an independent volunteer and aviation enthusiast named Jawad Nazir who is best described as a “community worker, aviator, speaker, mentor, policy maker, philanthropist and researcher” according to his profile on Twitter.

I reached out to Jawad to ask him why he does all of this and what’s his motivation behind running the @AirportPakistan account on Twitter and this is what he had to say.

Jawad Nazir

My motivation was strictly based on how to improve the image of Pakistan mainly on social media being it one of the highly influential spectrum’s of media that can influence today’s generations perception both on negative & positive aspects. I am looking forward to contribute my efforts to showcase the real hospitable, decent, relaxing & welcoming Pakistani attitude. We are totally not what we have become today. We have a great history of being all what I am trying to represent.

I am continuing it on personal grounds for now, take out time every day every moment to answer queries within my approach. Hoping if someone from CAA can get in touch and we can work this out as a formal opportunity.

It was because of this account that I decided to pursue the flight and landed at Islamabad airport safely with my family. While thousands use social media to just listen, only a hundred create information (which is mostly just noise) and out of those only a few actually make their mark by providing unbiased yet helpful information, just like @AirportPakistan. Now think of it beyond just airports where every body of the state is so active and aware that whenever and wherever there is a general crisis, they just tweet it out!

If the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority ever decides to come on social media, I don’t think they will have trouble finding the best person to do this job. Good luck Jawad!

Meet the Pakistani who is reinventing the Internet. Well kind of!

On Wednesday, Facebook announced “Wedge”. For layman, think of it as a crucial hardware device that transports Internet information between machines (like a networking switch).

What you don’t know is that Wedge is part of the Open Compute Project (OCP) which is being led by Najam Ahmad, the director of Technical Operations at Facebook. Najam, who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from NED University of Engineering and Technology and later on went to do his Master of Science in Telecommunication Protocols and Computer Science from The George Washington University and prior to Facebook, Najam was the General Manager of Global Networking Services at Microsoft where he looked after the operations, overall architecture, design & implementation of Microsoft’s global online network.

This basically means that Facebook (and other companies who support the OCP) will be able to use and contribute to the open hardware design of these switches and this is bad news for vendors like HP, Dell and Cisco who basically have the monopoly over the $150 billion data center hardware market.

Najam’s role in this whole project, though limited, gives us hope and motivation as there are still hundreds and thousands of engineers here in Pakistan who dream of going to the Silicon Valley and making an impact that can change the world and now they have someone to look up to.

The Story I Fell in Love with at the First Ever Crowdfunding Event in Dubai

There is something about people and their stories that compels you to discover more and then listen to as many of them as possible and no matter where you go and who you meet, this desire to interact and discover new ideas never gets satiated.

In search of such people and to listen to their stories, I landed at the first ever Crowdfunding event here at the Impact Hub in Dubai where I was surrounded by these amazing humans who had the desire to change something.

There was one (and only one) story that I fell in love with. It’s the story of Dumyé – a hand crafted doll company by Sahar Wahbeh. Sahar is working with an NGO in India to create handmade dolls that you can style, personalise and look more ‘human’ and for every doll you purchase, Dumyé gifts a doll to one of the world’s 17.9 million orphaned children.

That, to me, is a story with a purpose and impact and I was pleased to find out that Dumyé won the second place. And the lesson to learn here is that if you want your ideas to stick to someone’s head, do purposeful work and create a compelling story.

Feel free to take a lot at some of the other finalists. The folks at Wepul claimed winning place with a cash prize of 10,300 Dhs.

What Pakistan can learn from the Brazuca!

“Sialkot has balls in Brazil”, that’s what I read as I was going through my Facebook feed a few weeks ago and that’s about time when I found out that it had something to do with Barazuka – the official ball for the WorldCup 2014.

It happens that Barazuka, the official football for the WorldCup, is made in the city of Sialkot, Pakistan and it is kind of a big deal because it is the most advanced football ever made. The Brazuka has only 6 panels which are held together by glue as compared to the 32 hexagon-shaped panels in normal soccer balls which makes it supposedly the most aerodynamic football every made in history. The industry in Sialkot is so big that factories here now produce up to 60 million footballs every year (that’s 7 out of 10 footballs all around the world).

That’s good news for the country but most importantly that’s good news for the entrepreneurs and businessmen who have lost hope amidst the hard times and difficult conditions. But wait, there’s something to learn here.

Beat the odds: Terrorism, lack of electricity, shortage of resources? You name it, we have it all here in Pakistan and the successful entrepreneurs that we have seen have always been strategic about beating the odds and so should you.

Think different: Its a cliché but it works. As an entrepreneur you need to think differently about Pakistan. While some look at Pakistan as a country with 200 million helpless people, others look at those ‘helpless people’ as a workforce or as customers.

Be realistic: If you are thinking about implementing the “there is an app for that!” model in the local market, you might be doing it wrong. The local market is still not ready for app-ready solutions given the low penetration and with 3G just arriving and still no availability of one-click payment gateway. There it might be some time before app-based solutions become a norm in the market and therefore as an entrepreneur you need to think about solutions that work on a national scale.

The Brazuka has proven that Pakistan is capable of producing high-quality products and such stories and examples can only help us achieve more as long as we don’t just piggyback on the success of one company as a nation and keep striving for more.

Ideas worth spreading at 3500m

I have good memories with the north (Gilgit-Baltistant). Mostly because I have actually had the opportunity to live in Skardu (2,200m) for almost 4 years while I was admitted to a boarding school (“why Skardu of all the places”, you ask? let’s leave that for another time).

I have been trying to find an excuse to visit the north again, especially Fairy Meadows, the lush-green plateau in Gilgit. Luckily I found that opportunity while discussing an idea with a friend.

The idea was simple: we wanted to do a TEDx event. But this one would be quite different. It would be organized in open-air space (rather than in a air-conditioned auditorium or corridor) and the speakers and the audience would set out with us on a 5-day adventure tour starting from Islamabad to the base camp of Nanga Parbat (the ninth highest peak in the world). Yes, it did seem crazy at first but I am happy that I managed to pull it off.

TEDxFairyMeadows was the first ever independently organized TED event hosted in the beautiful open-space of Gilgit-Baltistan at Fairy Meadows. Themed ‘Adventure-us’, the idea behind TEDxFairyMeadows was to take ideas to a new whole new height in Pakistan and introduce the world to the beauty of the north as well as use the TEDx platform to share inspirational and motivational ideas and stories. The event was organized in partnership with Discover Pakistan, an adventure club, based out of Islamabad and featured more than 90+ attendees who travelled via Jeep all the way from Riakot bridge and then hiked all the way up to 3500m to reach the lush green plateau of Fairy Meadows.

The event took place on Jun 17, 2013 and the venue was chosen onsite with Nanga Parbat (the ninth highest peak in the world) as the background. A total of 4 speakers shared their talks, two locals and two foreigners. The event was followed by an extempore idea-sharing sessions where adventure seekers, climbers, hikers, trekkers and explorers from the attendees shared their stories of adventure and inspiration.

This TEDx event was all about thrill, adventure and possibilities and what really makes me feel good about this is that it happened despite all weather upsets and lack of technical infrastructure that you would expect to have in a usual TEDx event. In fact there was a point where I had to call off the whole event because of the rain but then suddenly, not sure if it was adrenaline or what, something inside me asked me to stand up and I picked up the camera and asked all speakers to get to the ground with their raincoats. All I had to do was hook up a standee on one side with Nanga Parbat in the background and there and then an ideas-worth-spreading platform was born. What started off with an audience of just 10 people started getting the attention of the onlookers and they joined us to listen to the great ideas and stories that were being shared on one of the highest human-accessible plateaus of the world.

But TEDxFairyMeadows was very different and unique. It made me discover a whole new side of TEDx as a platform to share ideas and stories and it made me realize how this platform can be used to make the ordinary stories and ideas, special. Especially in a culture such as we have in Pakistan where open sharing and open dialogue is a taboo, this platform can be used to create connections that can do wonders. One of things I noticed at TEDxFairyMeadows was that the people who were shy and hesitant in introducing themselves to other participants or weren’t simply interested in talking to each other were suddenly very open in sharing their likes/dislikes, in socializing, in sharing their ideas and in accepting and listening to others’ stories without rolling their eyes (which kind of is a hard feat to achieve when you are dealing with groups in a high-context culture). That’s what TEDx does to you.

It is very hard to digest that just 3 days after the TEDxFairyMeadows event, a group of foreigners were killed in cold blood by the Taliban around the same area and it just breaks my heart to see how far we need to go to counter terrorism with good ideas. But the journey has begun and we are not stopping here!

In the coming years I am hoping to see this community grow beyond the walls of auditoriums and corridors and perhaps who knows, TEDxSwat, TEDxHazara, TEDxFata, TEDxSkardu etc might just be around the corner.

Feel free to follow TEDxFairyMeadows on Facebook to catch up with the amazing photos and videos from the event.