5 Ways NOT to Earn Money From Home in Singapore

Ryan Ong

Ryan Ong

Last updated 06 July, 2017


Many so-called "earn money from home" opportunities in Singapore are not what they seem. Find out which ones to avoid.

The internet is full of “earn money from home” offers in Singapore. If they all worked, office buildings would have been bankrupt 10 years ago, nobody would own a tie, and the MRT would finally have some breathing room.

As none of that’s happening, it’s safe to surmise that most “work from home” methods are about as effective as a 10-cent air freshener in a public toilet. Here are the top ones to avoid:

Zero-Effort Blogshops

A blogshop is working from home, right? But blogshops require a lot of time and effort, and they are actually full-time jobs. If you think it’s easy to source for products, take the pictures, make cute videos, write the articles, etc. then you’re in for a traumatic experience.

So along comes zero effort ecommerce firms, who will handle it all for you. All you need to do is pay them a one-time fee of a few hundred dollars, and they’ll set up your site. They’ll process orders. They’ll warehouse the goods. They’ll do all the marketing.

That sounds good, but ask yourself this:

If they know how to do all that, why wouldn’t they run the site and take all the profits, instead of selling it to you for a few hundred dollars? That’s like Tim Cook offering to run a whole electronics company for you, for a “one-time fee” of S$500.

Most of the time, you’ll be sold a pre-packaged site. It comes with pre-made “content”, which is often gibberish articles made up of strung-together keywords. You may also get a cheap video made with free tools, and images that are free stock photos. They’ve outsourced this in places like India, and then sold it to you at an insanely inflated price.

And if someone buys something from your site (an event about as probable as finding the Loch Ness monster in Bedok Reservoir), then forget about the transaction working. There’s almost certainly no back-end support, and your “expert consultants” will be unreachable.

Binary Options Trading

Binary options trading is an unregulated industry, where you make money by betting on price movements. You make money by correctly guessing whether the price of an asset (be it a stock or foreign currency) will hit a certain amount.

Binary options are an all-or-nothing game: you’re either right and you get the money, or you’re wrong and generally lose money.

Now you can make money on binary options, but only in the same way you can theoretically make money on the lottery. There’s no way to reliably predict short term price movements, over periods like a day. No doubt plenty of people believe they can, but we all have that one broke uncle or aunt who believes their system will one day win them the 4D.

Perhaps the biggest issues here are (1) there’s no actual evidence or objective study to show how many people make or lose money, and (2) there is no legal protection. If the trading site suddenly closes and runs off with your money, it’s gone.

After all, you’ve never even seen the faces of the people behind the site. Even if you do catch them, Liam Neeson, what are you going to do? Sue a citizen from Ghana who registered the business in the Cayman Islands? Which country’s legal system even applies?


Note that this is not the same as drop-shipping, which is an actual way to make money.

Re-shipping is when you provide a postal code for items to be delivered to, and then repackage them and send them off, often to another country. You get a small fee for each one you send.

This seems like a brainless and easy way to make money, but you think about why anyone would do this.

Many sites that offer this service are running something called the parcel mule scam. They buy items with stolen credit cards that are then sent to your doorstep. You then mail said item abroad, to someone you can’t identify. This is called a drop.

Remember that if the authorities trace the credit card, the item was first shipped to you. You’ll become the most immediate suspect in identity theft, and that can result in a ridiculous amount of legal hassle. It’s even worse if the authorities decide you’re a knowing accomplice; then all your side-income could go into your lawyer’s pocket.

Commissions-Based Telemarketing

First off, with the Personal Data Protection Act 2012, there aren’t many people you can legally call to push products. And second, the average conversion rate (people who actually buy) is somewhere around one to two in one hundred.

And going by our enquiries, that’s a generous estimate. Some of the people we’ve approached cite a 0.3% conversion rate, especially for exotic products like palm oil funding.

Anyway, let’s assume a commission of S$120 per sale. Let’s also assume each person gets a seven to 10-minute sales pitch; that’s the average amount of time needed to open a conversation, build rapport, process the paperwork, and so forth. We’ll also use the (generous) conversion rate of one per cent.

That’s around 17 hours of work, to get S$120, or about S$7.05 per hour. This amount of pay for a highly unstable job, with no room for promotion, and no skills development.

This may be fine as an interim job for when you’re desperate. But if you think this is easy side-income? Forget it, you don’t have the hours.

Free or Cheap Algorithmic Trading

Algorithms are used to trade stocks, foreign currencies, and commodities all the time. That’s not new.

The things is, the algorithms used by financial institutions are expensive. They’re proprietary to the company that coded them, and the price to subscribe (i.e. use the algorithm to run your portfolio) can run into six-digit figures.

So how can this be available to you for S$10 a month, or even S$0 a month?

It’s simple: the algorithm gives the seller a cut on a winning trade, but doesn't penalise them on a losing trade. In short, the algorithm trades with your money, and whenever you win, you pay a percentage of the winnings. Whenever you lose, it’s your money that’s gone.

Here’s an analogy:

How about you give us money to go to a jackpot machine, and every time we win we pocket some of the winnings. But every time we lose, it’s your money and your problem. Sound like a good deal to you?

That’s exactly the problem with free algorithms. Many of them simply churn (make lots and lots of trades, some of them nonsensical) in the hopes of winning a few. The owner of the algorithm then makes money off those random wins, while losing nothing on the losses.

If 100,000 people worldwide are suckered into doing this, the people selling their “free” algorithms reap a healthy profit (while running victims into poverty).

And while some people will insist their algorithms are genuine and do work, how would you know? You can’t look inside it, because its proprietary. And if you have the expertise to back test the algorithm and evaluate its performance, you’d already be earning money from home as an actual professional trader.

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Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.


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