Fully Booked VA Blog

Is Working Online a Scam?

People only make money online selling online courses to other people, right?

While that may be a common belief, it’s not at all true. There are TONS of people legitimately making a living online (me included). And not everyone sells online courses either (or makes all of their income that way either, I don’t!).

So why do so many people think that working online is a scam?

Probably because online scams do exist. And the buyer beware stories spread like wildfire these days. With the help of that little ol’ tool called the internet that is.


But I don’t think working online should get a bad rap. I think it’s more of a lack of understanding and a fear of the unknown than anything. And since I have no trouble sharing my opinion, I’m going to unpack the case for legitimately working online today.

Because it can be done. It IS being done. And it’s probably only going to get more popular.

Where the Economy’s Headed

According to this Forbes article, freelancers currently make up about 35% of the workforce in the US.

35%. That’s no small number.

Now do all freelancers work online? Nope. Of course not.

There are lots of freelancers that work in person. Think of your freelance hair stylists, freelance photographers, etc.

But with the invention of online tools and apps like Skype, GoToMeeting, etc. tons of companies are able to take their businesses online… even those in my former profession of financial services.

Because you don’t have to sit next to someone to conduct business with them anymore.

Personally, I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon. I think the sky is the limit with the growth of the freelance economy and online business.

Types of Online Businesses

There are a ton of different types of online businesses too.

The most commonly recognized are probably:

  • Web design/development
  • eCommerce (selling stuff online)
  • Business coaching
  • Affiliate marketing (which ties heavily into blogging)
  • Freelance writing
  • Virtual assistance work
  • Technical support
  • Social media management
  • Editing/proofreading
  • And the list goes on!

Side note: If you want to break into freelance writing or VA work, click the applicable link above to enroll in my FREE, 5-lesson courses on the subjects!

So there’s almost something for everyone (and tons of subsets to what a VA does BTW!). And who wouldn’t want to have a virtual or online business when you can kill your commute, lift the cap from your earning potential and set your own schedule?

What’s More Secure?

If you would have asked my risk-adverse mama that question six months ago re: her almost 30 year career at one company or what I do, for example, she would have chosen her job.

And then she unexpectedly got laid off.

The week before she turned 60. And at least two years ahead of her retirement schedule.

The thing is, is that it’s rare to have a 20, 30 or 40 year career these days. At one company or in one profession.

As a freelancer, you can mitigate that risk by having more than one client. As an online business owner, you can mitigate it by having more than one income stream.

My vote is that being a freelancer or a self-employed online business owner is the more secure choice. Share what you think in the comments!

We’re Really Not That Different…

We’re really no different than our offline counterparts, except we:

  • Work virtually
  • Are self-employed
  • And have the perks that come with it (time freedom, flexibility, etc.)

Or as my friend Daryn puts it:

An online business is no different than an offline business. It still requires a shit-ton of work.”

And remember lots of offline businesses are starting to take their businesses online. Which is probably smart. Because if they don’t, they might age-out!

Click Here to Get Gina’s 8 Tips to Start Your Freelance Career 

So Why Do People Sell Online Courses?

The short answer is that everyone’s time is their most precious commodity and even though many of us put out lots of valuable, how-to content online for free, we still end up getting asked the same questions. Over and over and over and over…

You see where I’m going with this?

Help isn’t always free. Sometimes you have to pay to take a shortcut.

I’ve said before that ponying up my first $50 to take an online course was one of the hardest spending decisions of my life (at that time). Why?

Probably because I wasn’t sure it would work out. And we were on a tight budget. So if it didn’t… I’d be embarrassed to tell my husband that I just wasted $50 on a “get rich quick” scheme.

Those of you who have taken online courses before can probably relate.

What’s cool though is that you can literally get an online education these days. It may not be accredited, but it is cheap (have you seen the cost of college these days?!?), it’s usually actionable, relevant and can get you up and running much more quickly than a bachelor’s degree or trade school certification.

Am I ragging on traditional education? Nope. I’m a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. (Did you know I graduated at age 19 with my bachelor’s? True story!)

So back to my long answer on why people create online courses…

It’s because they typically have done something others want to emulate. And those others want them to teach them. Because they look up to them. And trust them.

And while many of us would love to put out all of our content for free and just help people for a living, helping people doesn’t pay the bills. And why shouldn’t we (course creators) get paid for our time?

Everyone else does, right?

Do Crappy Courses Exist?


But so do crappy accountants. And lawyers. And financial advisors. And real estate agents. And doctors. And police officers. And politicians.

There’s a bad example in EVERY profession. (That’s where all of the lawyer jokes come from.) 😉

So don’t buy from someone you don’t trust. Or make sure they have a money-back guarantee if you’re unsure.

And for the love of peanut butter, don’t buy stuff you don’t intend to use. It only wastes everyone’s time and makes everyone a little crabby!

The Point of This Little Diatribe?

Working online is legitimate.

You can work online offering services. Or products. Or both.

Most people that will tell you that it’s a scam haven’t ever tried it. They’ve just heard of someone getting screwed over. Or are too scared to actually try it for themselves.

If you’re interested in giving it a go – in taking control of your career future, setting your own schedule, riding out the income lows and highs that come with entrepreneurship – then do it.

Start small with a side hustle (which is really just starting a business on the side of a full-time job or responsibility).

Don’t quit your job tomorrow with no safety net. That’s just stupid.

And you don’t want to be stupid, do you? Of course not!

Now, go build yourself a legitimate online business. I dare you!



Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey


Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook and loves helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

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