Twenty years ago, the internet was essentially the wild west. Between catfishing, viruses and spammy emails, it’s no wonder people were hesitant with their online financial transactions. Most of us weren’t considering how to earn money online, but rather how to enjoy the internet safely.
Over the last two decades, however, we’ve witnessed how the web has transformed. Because of the great strides made in online safety, we can now bank, buy, loan, and pay all through an online connection. People can go months without even stepping into a physical bank location.
While one should always proceed with caution online, we are largely much safer now than we were just two decades ago.
How you can earn money online:
Luckily, with the improvements in online safety also came the option of earning money online. Passive income is now a safe option for many, and it requires very little maintenance from those earning it.
And while not all internet income is passive, many online opportunities are. Websites, shops, and ebooks are just a few ways in which this income is possible.
That’s why we’re going to discuss how to earn money online — as well as the various ways in which you can become an online money-maker.
1. Complete online surveys
Online surveys are a cost-efficient way for companies to do market research. While you probably won’t get rich by taking surveys, you can still earn a few dollars for an hour or so of your time.
So, if you find you’re spending too much at Starbucks, consider completing a survey or two when you sit down to watch TV. Use that money for your coffee fund or rainy day spending. Don’t know which sites to use? Try Amazon Mturk or any of the companies on this list of survey sources.
2. Sell items on Craigslist
Most of us have a few things we’d like to junk. Instead of tossing, however, you might consider selling your items on Craigslist (or eBay or Amazon) as a way to earn money online.
If you’re not sure what items to sell, there are a few items that typically do well. These items include yard equipment, electronics, and other practical, high-priced appliances.
If you still feel uneasy about selling gently-used items to strangers, remember that the internet has pages and pages of helpful information. There are a number of write-ups on selling items on eBay or making money on Craigslist, so do plenty of research and keep an eye out for scammers. You may just be richer for it.
3. Contribute to microstock sites
Microstock sites are the sites we turn to when we need free and affordable photos, videos, and other creative files. Companies like Shutterstock, Vecteezy, and Pond5 are all examples of well-known microstock services.
While many of us are familiar with these services, you may be surprised to know many microstock sites pay everyday people (contributors) for their files. Many contributors are paid based on how often their files are downloaded.
Luckily, learning how to earn money as a microstock contributor requires little more than time and research. Many sites can tell you how to sell stock photography or how to make money selling stock illustrations and video.
4. Write ebooks
For “non-writers,” publishing an ebook may seem downright intimidating. For “writers,” self-publishing might seem like professional suicide. On which end of the spectrum do you fall?
Firstly, forget the labels. Non-writer, writer — it doesn’t matter. The fact is, anyone can write an ebook. If you have difficulty with diction or grammar, consult a friend who can edit your work. Just be sure to pay them. (If you’re hard on cash, you may be able to pay with a home-cooked meal or a few hours of your time.)
If you’re a writer and don't wish to self-publish, consider using a pseudonym. Even if you’re working on your masterpiece, you can still self-publish a useful ebook that helps others. What’s more, you can make thousands of dollars on an ebook, just by knowing a lot about a subject and teaching others.
5. Feature ads on your site
Featuring ads on your site, especially with the intention of making money, can be tricky. After all, most of us have seen sites that are nothing but flashy ads — it’s ugly, and we lose trust in the site. What’s more, if your site doesn't have many visitors, ads won’t earn you much cash.
However, a few well-placed, relevant ads can do great on a site with a lot of traffic. And while getting traffic takes work, putting ads on your site is actually quite simple. There are a number of ways to go about it, but two of the easiest ad methods are Google Adsense and registering with a blog-specific ad program. These are simple ways to get targeted ads that are relevant to your audience.
6. Use affiliate posts and content
You’ve probably heard about “affiliate marketing.” Like so many professional phrases, it sounds worldly and mysterious, but it's simply an opportune way to make money on your blog or site.
While you can find endless information on beginning affiliate marketing, we’ll go over the basics here. Let’s say you have a decent following of people on your health and wellness blog. You really enjoy using essential oils, and your users are always asking which kind you use and what your favorite recipes are.
This situation is perfect for affiliate marketing, because you can advertise a relevant product to your interested users. At this point, you might contact the essential oil company and register with their affiliate program. You could then write an affiliate post with a special link—one the company uses to track sales and interest. Then, you get paid.
7. Become a freelancer
If you're familiar with the gig economy, you know people often freelance for income. Instead of solely earning money from a 9-5, they earn additional or the majority of their income from freelance gigs, like writing for blogs, graphic design work, or videography.
But you don’t have to work in an artistic field to freelance. Any hobby or side hustle has the potential to become a freelance career. If, for instance, you give great professional advice, you might become a career consultant. If you’re skilled at programming, you might consider building websites for local businesses.
There are certainly pros and cons to freelancing, but on average, freelancers actually make more than your average nine-to-fiver. Plus, freelancers often have the freedom to work remotely with an atypical schedule. This is great for parents, frequent travelers, and those with other personal obligations.
8. Create an online class
Chances are you’ve taken a class online. If you have, you know there is a wide breadth of digital classes being offered. No matter where your interests lie, you can easily get an online education.
You also probably know most classes aren’t free. Classes can be as low as $10 or as high as the thousands. Regardless of price, however, many classes are taught by normal, everyday people.
While it's unlikely you'll sell a $10,000 course on sewing basics, it is likely you have skills with money-making potential. Maybe you’re a brilliant public speaker, knowledgeable gardener, or an SEO wizard. If you can organize a class around your skills, you can make money. Best of all, there are a number of host platforms you can use.
9. Teach English online
Teaching English online is a career that's gaining traction fast. There are many apps and sites to help you teach from home, or you can teach independently. As with all online opportunities, however, it’s good to make sure the company you choose is trustworthy, especially since the market is fairly new.
Teaching English online can be a great opportunity, especially for language majors and graduate students in saturated markets. If you can relate, teaching English online may be an option for you.
Still, it’s good to weigh the pros and cons. If public speaking makes you nervous, or you’re not strong at English, you may want to hone these skill-sets before applying. Additionally, it’s often helpful to have teaching experience, certification, or college classes under your belt.
10. Make an Etsy shop
Etsy is a platform for creators, artists, and other DIYers. What began as a little platform for crafters now dominates the DIY industry.
You can search Etsy for vintage finds, homemade clothing, and more. Amazingly, some Etsy shops have earned hundreds of thousands a year just by selling handmade goods.
If you don’t want to spend resources on building (or paying someone to build) an ecommerce site, Etsy is a cost-effective option. The platform simplifies listings and customer service for the convenience of the sellers.
11. Offer tutoring services
Tutoring online is a lot like teaching classes online, but without all the “fluff.” For one thing, you don’t need a hosting platform to become a tutor. You can simply begin marketing yourself as a tutor and develop a clientele organically. However, if you do want to use resources to find tutoring positions, there are several sites that can help, including Tutor Extra, College Pirates, and Connections Academy
Even if you don’t feel “qualified” to tutor others, it’s important to remember some people need help with the basics. If you’re skilled at grammar, math, or another language, tutoring can be a positive way for you to earn income while helping others.
12. Become a translator
If you’re multilingual, you may feel tutoring someone in another language doesn’t fully take advantage of your skill-sets. If you’re looking to use your language skills to their full potential, you may consider becoming a translator.
Sites small and large are localizing, meaning they’re seeking to translate content for international audiences. Translation can look different depending on the job. While some companies are looking for full-time, in-house translators, others are looking for remote contractors.
It’s important to know that working as a contractor may not be the multi-million dollar career you’re looking for, but it can be a way to earn additional income and propel you into a related career path. If you have more questions about translating as a career, TranslateMedia has put together a guidefor becoming a translator that's useful for beginners, intermediate, and advanced translators looking to learn.
13. Write for publications
Virtually anyone can write for the web if they know where to start submitting their freelance writing. Still, writing online doesn’t necessarily equal income.
Publications (and payments for publications) vary. Before submitting to paying blogs, however, it’s important to consider what you personally feel comfortable writing. Are you knowledgeable about a specific niche, such as thrifty living or digital photography? Do you lean more toward journalism, or do you feel more like an essayist? Maybe fiction or poetry is more your speed. Whatever your specialty, find a niche and expand your portfolio.
The best way to begin your writing journey, if you haven’t already, is by starting a blog. You can do this on a number of free platforms. Once you have done that, consider marketing yourself as a freelance writer on social media. This will help other professionals find you. The more you write, submit, and commit, the easier (and more lucrative) it will become.
Starting a newsletter can incorporate many of the tools listed above to earn you money. There are many ways to make income from a curated email list, and we’ll explain why it’s a smart tool that can help you earn money online.
If you’re toying with the idea of beginning a newsletter, consider this: email lists ensure your business is at the forefront of users' minds. Even better, you can jam-pack a newsletter with nearly all the money-making tips we’ve discussed so far: links to your ebooks, registration for your classes, plus ads and affiliate links.
Even if you don’t have ebooks or classes yet, don’t give up on building your email list. The fact is, you can build a newsletter from scratch by starting with an email concept, then working toward other options. The Hustle, for instance, began as a small newsletter offering bite-sized, tech news. In less than a year, however, the organization gained over 100k subscribers, and now includes ads and affiliate sponsors.
15. Let people commision your work
Commission-based work is a simple way to turn your hobby into a career. Additionally, people can easily commission your work via social media (so no website maintenance is required!). Like any business, though, it’s important to keep your audience in mind.
For example, your Facebook friends may enjoy seeing personal updates, but they may not be interested in seeing promotions. If you plan to post product updates and live promotional videos, make a separate account on your social media platforms of choice, then give people the option to follow or like the account. This way, those interested in your business can easily follow your updates.
Woodworking, knitting, and jewelry making are just a few hobbies people use to earn additional income. By providing simple contact info for commissions, regularly featuring beautiful photos of your products, and working to increase a sense of trust, you can begin building your hobby-based side hustle.
16. Grow a YouTube channel
Growing a YouTube channel can be challenging, especially if you're planning to make money from ads. As we discussed earlier, you’ll need a lot of consistent traffic in order to make decent money from ad revenue. Still, advertising on your YouTube isn’t the only way to earn cash.
In the same way you can write affiliate posts, you can also include affiliate links via YouTube. You may also consider finding sponsorship for your YouTube videos.
In order to get people interested, however, you’ll need to consider what niche you can explore — something people will want to watch rather than read about. If you’re a pro at repair but not huge on blogging, for example, a YouTube channel may be just the platform for you. And remember, you can always link to your own website or e-classes for additional money-making opportunities.
Most of us have wondered how we can earn money online. Luckily, there are numerous ways the internet can help us bring in additional income. Best of all, virtually anyone can become an online money-maker through any combination of side hustles. So, now that you know your options, what will you choose to do?
If you have some spare time in addition to your full-time job, you can make some extra cash with a million different money-making opportunities and ways to earn even a passive income. Making money online is easier than you might have thought, but the trick to making money online is knowing what those money-making opportunities are and going after them. Now go start earning.
Kaitlin Westbrook is a content writer for Vecteezy. She covers business, creative content, professional writing, and more. When she’s not writing, she enjoys movies, baking, and her Pomeranian. You can connect with her on Twitter.