“I’m sorry, you just aren’t qualified.”
These phrases are all too often heard by autistic adults following an interview, assuming they get an interview in the first place.
According to the Office of Disability Employment, in November of 2014 only 19.7 percent of disabled adults were employed. That is a sobering statistic for many young adults who are working hard to finish college.
Often individuals with disabilities don’t even get a call for a first interview. Autism, ADHD, mental disabilities, physical disabilities, medical disabilities, speech disabilities and learning disabilities can all prevent adults from finding employment. Not all of these are visible, but as far as employment options are concerned, they are all devastating.
Some adults, who have been unable to find traditional employment, are turning to another option that has only surfaced in the last 10 to 15 years – the Internet.
Online business has created an opportunity for anyone to build a business around their passion if they are willing to work and learn.
In 2014, according to the US Department of Commerce, e-retail sales were approximately 78.1 billion dollars. That is a very big number and many adults are taking advantage by creating their own online business.
Adults with disabilities have used writing to share a story, help others and provide an income. Here are a few examples:
- Twirling Naked In the Streets and No One Noticed, by Jeanne-Davide Rivera
- Look Me In the Eye, by John Elder Robison
- Pretending to Be Normal: Living with Asperger Syndrome, by Lianne Holliday Willey
- Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Kim
These authors take advantage of the popularity of Amazon as well as other book outlets to market their books and earn an income.
Others who have a story to tell use a self-publishing company such as Smashwords to publish their books. These can then be marketed through social media to create an income stream that will last for years.
Dancers, musicians, painters and photographers are some of the other artists that use the internet to sell their art.
- Art Enables promotes and advertises art shows in the D.C Area.
- Dreams Fulfilled with Music uses their website to promote musical concerts and events in the San Antonio, Texas area.
- Polly’s Place, through Autism Trust in the UK, sells hand crafted items created by artisans with disabilities
- The Art of Autism provides exposure for a wide variety of autistic artists from around the country.
The internet is not just for artists. Many others use it to build a business around their passion, thus providing an income they would not otherwise have. Here are some examples:
- Paper Clouds Apparel
- Renewing the Renaissance
- Special Kneads and Treats, Inc;
- Anthony’s Beehive
- Tim’s Place
- Puzzles Bakery and Cafe
The internet has opened up a new venue for everyone. Individuals who are passionate about any subject can work hard and make an income as entrepreneurs.
The internet has become the new frontier for anyone who wants to be their own boss. Many people with disabilities can build an audience simply by sharing their passion and teaching others about that subject.
Unfortunately the online marketing industry has developed a reputation for having a lot of people who sell programs, processes and ideas that simply don’t work to build a business. People who want to earn a living on line end up spending money instead of making it.
Individuals interested in building an online business from scratch should investigate any product they are looking at before purchasing. Make sure there is a return policy, even if you never use it.
There are some well-known people in the industry who have proven they are not selling snake oil. People like:
- Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income (http://www.smartpassiveincome.com/)
- Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing (http://www.firepolemarketing.com/danny-iny/)
- Greg Ciotti of Sparring Mind (http://www.sparringmind.com/)
- Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic (http://boostblogtraffic.com/)
This is just a small sampling of people who have proven they can be trusted and that they know what they are doing. A more complete list is available at Robbie Richards.com (http://www.robbierichards.com/list/online-marketing-experts-to-watch/)
The internet empowers individuals to build their dreams in a way that works best for them. There is not one single method of creating a business that works for everyone. It is important to understand your strengths, your passions and how to ask for help.
An online business takes time and effort to create, but it can provide an income that is not available in any other way.