Do you have a friend or know someone that always seems to have cash in their pocket, but you’re pretty sure doesn’t work a 9 to 5 job?
When you talk to them, they always seem to be doing things that you’d like to do, but never get time to do.
Sipping a mochaccino at a coffee shop at 10 AM in the morning on a Tuesday.
Chilling at a movie theatre midday on a Thursday.
If you don’t know an individual like that, be thankful. They are annoying.
Wouldn’t it be great to be just as annoying as them?
Make your own hours. Set your own agenda. Make your own money.
If droning on for someone else’s bottom line has never quite been your thing, then what follows here may very well be your key to both professional and financial freedom.
How exactly does that annoying friend afford to do all those fun things at times when the rest of us are grinding away for someone else’s fortune?
There’s a very good chance they’re making their money online.
How can you make money online? Read on.
NOTE: These are not get rich quick schemes. If that’s what you want, go somewhere else. You know that guy posting pictures of expensive mansions, lambos and sunbathing in Bali? Scams. All of them. Don’t waste your time and hard-earned money paying for anything those people try to sell you. Stick with this guide and learn how to realistically earn a solid living online.
The Whole World Is A Marketplace
Over the past several years the internet has exploded with money-making opportunities that reach far and wide.
- Graphic design
- Delivery services
- And so much more…
The list is extensive, and we’ll go through all the ways to make money in just a minute.
But first, what exactly is driving this digital growth?
The world is more plugged in than it has ever been. Think of all the ways you access and utilize goods and services online. Ring up an Uber from your smartphone. Order your vitamins off Amazon at lunch from your tablet. Research dog sitters at 3 AM in the morning from your laptop.
I didn’t even mention what people are doing from their watches.
The point is, the web is wherever anyone needs it to be. So too are the companies and products that need to reach them. The demand for more will continue to power this money making machine.
When you consider that Earth’s population is 7.4 billion and growing, that’s a lot of customers.
As of the end of 2017, there were 2.2 billion monthly active Facebook users on earth.
Yeah. That’s a quarter of the planet’s population.
Why then are you riding desk jockey when there’s a whole other horse race happening outside those cubicle walls?
Online Entrepreneur: Who? Me? Yes, you!
Now that I have your attention, let’s get into the who side of this.
Who are the chosen ones that can generate income online to fill up their coffers however they need? The honest answer?
- A stay at home parent who wants something to do at nap time? Yes!
- A full-time student needing part-time work? Yes!
- A retiree hoping to add a little to savings? Yes!
- A teacher wanting some summertime cash? Yes!
- What about you, the one holding steady at those long eight hour days, but looking for more? Yes, especially you!
In fact, that last example is the one most primed to make the transition. Why? Because the world is evolving and so too are the jobs.
A few decades ago manufacturing was king, but automation replaced what was once a generational career path for many. Careers take the shape of the world around them. Today technology holds the world’s attention and along with it, the internet.
As more and more consumption and commerce occur online, so will the demand for employable people to meet the need.
According to Salary.com, information technology is number two and online content creation is number five on their list of 7 Careers for the Future.
Labor market researcher EMSI sees a similar trend, listing app developer as their number one best job for the future.
So what do you think? Ready to jump in and see where the future is going to take you?
Let’s check back in on your friend and lay out some realities of what is actually going on in their professional life.
Maybe they did take in the latest blockbuster when everyone else was stuck in an office, but they also spent the previous night cranking out a blog post that resulted in some affiliate marketing income.
Or perhaps they spent the previous Sunday afternoon punching out a couple thousand word informational article on alternative energy for an investment group. They even might have spent the previous month mapping out a new app, including connecting with developers to build it and marketers to sell it.
Make no mistake, while some of these money making endeavors are easier than others, they all will need some sweat equity on your part. It will also require discipline and follow-through. No one is there to tell you what to do and how to do it. You hunt down the work and jobs.
Or create a niche for yourself where others see the value in you.
Your steady paycheck will become income that ebbs and flows based on the opportunities you seek out or create and the output that you deliver.
And therein lies the reward.
When you make the jump to online entrepreneur, you are now your own boss. And much like your friend, all that hard work you put into your career is now done on your time, and not someone else’s.
Now that you’re ready to jump into a career online, you’ll need to figure out what you want to do.
The possibilities are almost endless.
From small potatoes like gift cards to opportunities that can net you over six figures a year, we’ve broken everything down by category.
Category #1: Selling Products Online
Let’s start with the most obvious way to get your online endeavor up and running: eCommerce sales.
You know, putting products up online for sale, then selling them.
There are two primary types of sales you can get into online: the piggy-back side and the do-it-yourself side.
There are pros and cons to both, but let’s start with the do-it-yourself method.
1. Selling Products Yourself (DIY)
It’s easier than ever to start an ecommerce business.
Just a few years ago, you had to be able to build a website and shopping cart from the ground up or invest thousands of dollars to pay someone to build an online store for you.
Now if you have something to sell, you can have it online and ready to go with just a few clicks of a button.
If you’re starting an ecommerce business, it’s hard to go wrong with one of these.
Shopify is a standalone service, while WooCommerce is a plugin for the immensely popular WordPress.org.
If you’re not sure which option to choose, read our Shopify vs. WooCommerce comparison, and pick the one that suits your needs best.
Broadly speaking, using a platform like Shopify is usually the easiest way to start for website beginners.
The reason is that Shopify uses beginner-friendly apps like Oberlo, that let you easily add hundreds of products to your Shopify store and never worry about packaging or shipping. It’s simple to set up, but the proof is in the pudding:
- The Huffington Post: This Guy Made $12K In One Month While Working Full-Time
- Entrepreneur.com: 3 Ways to Grow a Multi-Million Dollar Drop Shipping Business
- The Next Web: How Facebook helped this guy’s e-commerce store go from zero to $100K+ in 3 months
Regardless of which DIY platform you choose, both are great options to make your eCommerce set up a breeze.
If setting up an online store the DIY way isn’t your style, let’s cover the piggy-back side of eCommerce. This is where you use an existing sales platform to sell your own products.
2. Selling On Amazon
This is the big one on the block. Amazon is such a behemoth, and there are several ways to make money through them, a few more of which we will cover a bit later on. For now, let’s talk about what they’re really good at: Order fulfillment.
Through programs like Fulfillment By Amazon, you can sell your products on Amazon and have them handle all the order fulfillment.
The nice thing about Amazon is that getting your store up and running is a breeze and you’ll get to leverage their search and shopping cart functions and have them handle your order fulfillment. Like we said, they’re really good at that.
The drawback, as is the case with using any third party, is you do have to pay fees to access their infrastructure. Although it’s hard to argue when that infrastructure belongs to one of the world’s largest retailers.
3. Selling On Etsy
Originally focused on vintage and handmade products, Etsy is like a giant online craft store, that also deals in clothing and jewelry.
Much like Amazon, you set up your virtual storefront and off you go.
4. Selling On eBay
Similar to Amazon, albeit, considerably smaller, getting yourself set-up on eBay is fairly easy. The interesting thing about eBay is that if what you are selling carries with it a particularly high demand, the bidding function can drive up your original asking price.
Category #2: Monetizing Your Blog
Okay, so maybe sales isn’t that appealing to you and you’re looking for some different avenues than the traditional sales route.
Enter websites and blogs.
Yes, these are also traditional from an internet standpoint, but their sophistication has grown considerably over the years, including the ability to monetize them.
Blogs are no longer random musings from random people. In fact, The Huffington Post, The Drudge Report, Engadget, and Mashable all started life as small-scale blogs.
While some of those may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the point is they all were able to find a niche and use it for greater gain.
Even if you’re not aiming to be the next big gossip site or top source for all things tech, it’s important to find an interest or niche that you can build around. Once you begin to develop an audience your blog value rises.
Then you can really cash in.
How can you monetize a blog? Here are some common ways.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product or service to your blog audience and get a commission every time someone purchases it through your link.
Akin to living in an apartment and getting a referral bonus when you recommend a friend or relative to live in the community, it’s the next step in the monetization process on your blog.
A great way to start is with a product you may already use or have an interest in and reach out to form a partnership or see if they have an established program to sign up with.
There are a number of affiliate programs that are easy to get into and don’t require much tech savvy to set up. Consider signing up for:
I’ve covered affiliate marketing in much more detail in this post on the best ways to monetize a website or blog.
6. Google AdSense
Google Adsense (and other ad networks) are Cost-Per-Click advertising. You run a script from Google AdSense that displays ads to your site and get paid a small fee every time someone clicks the ad. If you have a high volume of traffic, this can result in some significant income.
This is one of easiest ways to start cashing in on your site. The cost is set by the advertiser and all you need to do is place the ads on your site. As your web traffic builds, so too will the clicks, and in turn your bank account.
7. Selling Ads Directly To Companies
Want a higher ROI than CPC advertising offers? Then sell the space on your site directly to companies.
Banner space can net you a lot more than the slow roll of CPC’s or affiliates, though there is more involved on your end. You have to find interested companies, reach out to them, and convince them to advertise on your site.
Negotiate a rate, hammer out the agreement and viola, ad space sold! It may not be as easy as that, but if you’re working off with WordPress, BuySellAds is a great website and plugin to help you with the processes involved.
8. Write Product Reviews
This is an offshoot of a sponsored post, but a little less direct. Instead of straightforward product promotion, you test a product that may be of interest to your audience and then create a review about it on your site.
You may have to pound the pavement a bit to connect with interested companies, but a couple of websites can speed up the process of finding a willing party. PayPerPost and SponsoredReview will match you with products and companies that suit you and the followers of your blog.
9. Sponsored Posts
If you want to keep your blogging fiefdom free of intrusive ads and links that your audience is going to ignore anyway, you should check out doing some sponsored posts.
Have a company pay you to write about a product of theirs and promote it to your loyal audience. To get started, it helps to have a sales pitch ready to sell your site and its demographics and traffic to targeted advertisers.
Obviously, the bigger an audience you can sell, the more attractive your site is and the more lucrative a deal you can negotiate.
Be mindful that there are laws surrounding sponsorship’s of this nature in the U.S. so make sure you understand the in’s and out’s.
I’ve covered this topic in more detail in this post on the best ways to monetize a website or blog.
10. Paid Content
So you want to keep it all ad-free and all in-house, but still want that blog of yours to generate revenue? Then you need some paid content.
This can come in a few different forms and will certainly take your blog to a higher, more content-rich level. But beware, it can require a huge commitment on your part to develop and create ongoing content that your readers are willing to pay to access.
That said, it will net you a nice chunk of change if you can generate downloads, audio or video media, or in-depth articles that people are willing to pay for.
Aside from the paid content, you can also build members-only forums where your readers can pay to interact with you or each other.
Yes, you will have to moderate or pay someone to do it for you, but this is an excellent way to ensure a steady income while at the same time adding tremendous value to your blog.
Category #3: Monetizing Your Website
Now that we’ve gone through how to monetize your blog, let’s go over how to monetize your website.
For websites, I am referring to the non-blog side of your online presence. Make no mistake, you will leverage your audience and niche, but the dynamic will be a little different. Nevertheless, the ability to create income is no less solid.
11. Job Boards
Along the same lines, why not create a job board and accept paid submissions? This is a particularly great idea if you have a large audience that’s honed in on a certain subject.
For example, a travel blog may be a good place for a job board for certain positions in the hospitality industry.
Or instead of a job board, you could also create a calendar where people or businesses pay to post their events. What they are ultimately doing is buying access to your audience.
Again, WordPress can help with the build, using the paid listings addon in WooCommerce or one of several calendar plugins.
Kinda old school, and not really seen on a large scale, directories really pop at the local and specialty levels.
For example, a directory of the best brew houses in Portland. Tour guide reviews in Santa Fe. Where to buy the best Cardinal hats in St. Louis. Things like that.
Pulling this info into one place is super helpful, and if you’re working from WordPress there are several plugins that aide in tying your directory together with submission and payment functions.
13. Flip Websites
Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like, but you’re not doing a renovation on a 3×2 ranch house in Reno. Think of all the people out there that want or need their own website. Now think about how many actually know how to build it.
If you have a penchant for building websites and are able to generate traffic to them, selling them to start-ups or online entrepreneurs can pull in some solid income.
You’ll need to research what’s in demand or needed in a particular niche, and develop an attractive pricing structure. Once you’re there, take the new site to Flippa, which can help facilitate the sale.
If you’ve setup your website with Shopify, use Shopify’s exchange to connect with Shopify store buyers and sellers.
Category #4: Sell Digital Products and Services
Many consider this a good first step in creating and selling online. Similar to selling physical products through third parties, there’s very little to do in terms of set-up.
Depending on how quickly you can make connections and find clients, this also will net you faster results than the blog and website route.
However, many of these endeavors require a creative streak and some pre-existing knowledge on certain industries, but if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got both.
The great thing here is that with a few of these are areas, you can actually build a solid career and make decent long-term money.
14. Freelance Your Website Skills
If you’re a web developer or designer, create WordPress themes and plugins to sell.
If you’d prefer to build websites instead of themes, add a “Services” page to your own website and start taking on freelance web projects. You can go to sites like Fiverr, 99Designs and Freelancer.com and start bidding on projects. As you grow your following and reputation, you’ll build a referral network of happy clients who can help to refer you future business.
15. Freelance Writing
This is a wonderful avenue for writers, especially good ones. If you’ve already got a blog, even better, because you already have a little built-in capital.
Another wonderful avenue for the creative mind is writing and selling ebooks. Now, this isn’t just for those who want to be a digital Rowling or King; non-fiction is a hot seller too. Even more, if it falls into a technical topic that a lot of people are looking to consume and learn, you can make some serious money.
17. Graphic Design and Photography
I’ll group graphic design and photography together, as they sometimes go hand in hand. But if you have an eye for the visual arts, there are a ton of companies who are willing to pay for your services.
If graphic design is specifically your thing, then also check out 99Designs, as they deal exclusively in that area of work.
18. Online Courses
Do you have a bit of knowledge you want to share with the world? Of course you do, Professor. This is really great way to earn money if you have sought after expertise that’s in demand.
Website building, photography, finance – pretty much any specialized knowledge can be turned into a course.
A consultant offers their experience and advice to companies, typically on how to boost their performance in a given area.
For example, let’s say you have 10 years of experience as a professional interior designer. You could start offering your services as a consultant to help real estate firms decorate and stage their properties on a per project basis.
Make a simple website that explains all about your capabilities and experience. After that, run advertising or call on your network to explain your new venture.
Your expertise becomes valued, because you’ve already proved yourself through your real world experience and results.
The good news about being a consultant is that you can charge as much as you feel is appropriate.
20. YouTube Videos
Once an outpost for the attention starved and odder elements of the world, YouTube has grown up quite a bit over the past several years.
If you’re good in front of a camera, you can create useful and entertaining visuals on your own channel for a mass audience. A video blog (vlog), if you will.
The larger your following, the more valuable your channel becomes and the more easily you can monetize with ads on your videos.
Just like a regular blog, finding your niche and sticking with it to build that following is key.
Category #5: Making Money With Apps
I noted earlier that apps are a pretty big deal. Smartphone apps. Tablet apps. TV apps. There are literally, apps everywhere.
Apps have become very lucrative in today’s tech savvy-world. Visit the Android or Apple app stores and you find thousands of apps for all kinds of things.
Business. Education. Entertainment. Games. News. Reference. Travel. Utilities.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg.
When it comes to generating income via apps, there are several ways to go about it:
21. Create an App
That’s right, you, an app developer. Well, you may not be the one to actually build it, but if you’ve got just the right idea at just the right time, then the rest can take care of itself.
Once you hammer out the details, you can hire a programmer, often at very cheap rate, to help build the idea you have. A key to this though is ensuring the app is compatible with both Apple and Android devices for maximum sales.
22. Get Work from an App
Typically centered around urban areas, each of these services, plus a few smaller ones, continue to expand. Their growth offers you the flexibility to work as little or as much as you want, all from the comfort of your own car.
Besides finding work from an app, you can also get paid by an app.
Often offering cash, prizes or gift cards, this method rewards you based on the needs of certain organizations. SavvyConnect, for example, collects data to help companies understand smart device usage and doles out $5 per smart device, per month for as long as the app is active. By no means lucrative, $120 yearly for having this on your phone and tablet is still $120 yearly.
Category #6: Niche Goods and Services
Blogs and apps may get all the press, but as we’ve pointed out, the world is a pretty big place with a lot of needs to fulfill.
Ranging from the obvious to the absolutely, “No way that’s real,” there’s an alphabet soup of possibilities waiting for someone like you take up the offer.
They certainly won’t make you wealthy like Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, but these sites offer opportunities for those who may have a particular skill or talent to make money.
Got a particular set of skills? No, not like Liam Neeson. More in the helping others out side of things. You can sell that knowledge on Fiverr starting at, you guessed it, five bucks.
Fiverr uses the term “gigs” to describe their listings, which can vary wildly. Notice we did use the word wildly.
Writing, programming and graphic design services are obvious, with a lot of useful services and products offered.
I will make the Feds call your mom, is less obvious. Usefulness is up to you. (Seriously, that is a real gig currently posted on Fiverr.)
24. Mechanical Turk
Amazon again? Yep, and this time they’re looking for some folks to perform human-intelligence tasks. Mechanical Turk calls them HITs.
In a nutshell, people hire others to complete the smallest of tasks for virtually nothing. By nothing, we mean pennies. If you have some free time and string together a lot of HITs, it can add up.
The site does work both ways. Perhaps you’re in the midst integrating a new plugin to your amazingly popular blog and need some miniscule help of your own. Then you can offer up the tasks to your own mechanical turk.
25. Be a Virtual Assistant
By this point, I think you already know that you can freelance if you know web design or write content. But what can you do if you don’t have the gift of gab and can’t write a line of code to save your life?
Well, you can become a virtual assistant.
Freelance administrative services are in high demand from companies worldwide. Some popular services:
- Scheduling appointments for a dental office
- Formatting and proofreading blog posts
- Providing customer service email and phone support
- Managing an editorial calendar
- Managing a company’s social media pages
- Completing and organizing a simple spreadsheet
Sites like Upwork, People Per Hour, CloudPeeps and VA Networking have these types of freelance jobs. Simply search the categories you’re interested in and reply to job posts.
26. Teachers Pay Teachers
Are you a teacher? If so, then those old lessons you have may be worth a little something.
Teachers Pay Teachers is a website connecting those in education where you share or sell your past resources, including lesson plans.
This one is pretty cool for those who love a good courtroom drama or have a fascination with our legal system.
eJury lets you be part of a mock trial by reviewing aspects of a case and rendering a judgment before an attorney tries the real case in a real courthouse.
For the marketers, copywriters, developers and accounting professionals out there, visit Upwork.
Create a profile and bid for relevant jobs. Over time, you’ll be credibility on the platform and gain a steady stream of additional income.
Like pets? Like more than one at a time? Care.com connects you with others who have a furry four-legged friend and needs someone to pet set.
Similar to Fiverr and Upwork, Freelancer.com is another platform overflowing with opportunities to earn more money online.
Build your profile and start connecting with small businesses around the globe.
There are few more noble endeavors than helping someone to learn. Offer your services over at Tutor.com where there are opportunities to earn up to $13 per hour.
Category #7: Rent Out, Junk Out, Sell Out, Oh My!
So not everything on the web has to be about your career and steady income.
Need extra dough for your vacation savings? Or a few dollars more for that big screen TV? Maybe it’s time to let go of that Michael McDonald CD you’ve had for far too long. It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.
Regardless of the need, this section is for you.
The internet is bursting at the seams with ways to earn a little extra cash. And if it’s not cash, it’s gift cards. And if it’s not gift…well you get the idea.
So let’s wiggle on down that rabbit hole shall we, and see what other ways the web can fatten up your wallet.
33. Rent Out Your Home
Or a room, if you’ve got one to spare. List your place on Airbnb and play host to a world traveler or someone who’s in town for the big game.
As hotel prices increase this continues to be a great alternative for people looking for something a bit more personal than a stodgy motel. Listing at peak times, say summer in Florida or Winter in Colorado or during big events, like the aforementioned big game, can really maximize your return.
Be mindful, different cities have different requirements for home renting and hosting so make sure you understand the do’s and don’ts.
34. Rent Out Your Car
This is only the next logical step, right? Through services like GetAround and Turo you can rent your vehicle out on a per hour basis. It can be particularly lucrative if you’re going to be out of town for a few days with little need for your car.
If you have an RV, try RVshare. Rates vary based on age, condition, and amenities, but if yours sits in your driveway more than it’s on the road then free the little warrior. And make some money doing it.
36. Rent Out a Whole Bunch of Other Stuff
Got some sports gear collecting dust in your garage? Or maybe a bike that’s covered in an even thicker coat of grime? Clean ’em up and jump on Spinlister and have them collect something a bit more useful.
In that same vein, were you once an aspiring guitar player with the long forgotten guitar to prove it?
Sparkplug helps connect you with fellow shredders who may need short-term use of your Les Paul or amp. The site is great for all instruments and allows you to rent out rehearsal space if you’ve got the room to spare.
Earlier we hit upon opening an online store for longterm sales. But what if you’re not trying to be the next Sam Walton? What if you just want to unload a few things that have been hiding in the back of your closet?
Think of the internet as a virtual, worldwide flea market.
37. Sell Tech Dinosaurs
You can keep the Jurassic Park DVD. Okay, fine you can also hold on to the Michael McDonald CD, but get rid of everything else at Decluttr.
Sell DVDs, CDs, old Video Games and even electronics like game consoles, iPods or cell phones.The app works like a charm, with no fees attached and the ability to get quotes before you sell.
38. Sell Your Clothes or Your Baby’s Clothes
After their done using them of course. But seriously if you never want to see some of your trendsetting styles again (we’re looking at you jorts), the app letgo is the perfect place to list and sell what you (or your little one) no longer wear.
Side note to the letgo app, you can sell a host of other things too. So the bright blue swing or neon pink bouncer can get listed too and lend joy to another family with a little one at play.
So now is the part where were do a little rapid fire with all the ways you can not only make money, but save money too.
And yes, there will be gift cards.
39. Trash for Cash
The Small Business Knowledge Center wants your junk mail. Both snail and email. Weird right? They’ll even give you a Visa gift card for it.
40. Rebates are Fun
Shop at a store, snap a pic of your receipt, accept rebates. In your acceptance speech, thank Ibotta for making it possible.
41. Fix Google
42. Refunds are More Fun
Cash back on stuff you’ve already bought. Well, that seems awesome. Paribus thinks so too. They comb your email for past receipts and verify if companies you purchased from owe anything to you.
Would you like to play a game? That’s a dated reference. If you enjoy testing your knowledge on all things random, the QuizXT app should be your next download. Answer trivia, earn points, cash out.
44. Points = Gift Cards Part I
Shop online at Target, Wal-Mart or Amazon? Thought so. Sign up for the MyPoints service and when you hit up any of these places online you can earn points which in turn earns gift cards.
45. Survey Says
Take surveys, earn cash. Try out InboxDollars, take the surveys and earn cash. Take them all for the year and you could earn over $700. Other sites include Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, OneOpinion and Pinecone Research.
46. Points = Gift Cards Part II
Drop is a rewards service that tracks your credit and debit card purchases. When you make an eligible purchases, you get points to exchange for gift cards to popular places like Amazon and Starbucks.
Did we all survive?
Quite the list isn’t it?
Well, it should be very apparent to you now that whatever your aim – full-on career, supplemental income, gift cards and swag – the internet is the land of opportunity.
With so many choices and directions to take, the question probably becomes what next?
Well, it wouldn’t hurt to figure out what your goals are.
Do you want to be like your friend we spoke about in the beginning? A steady income that’s generated on your time and not someone else’s.
Or do you want to find some options for a little extra cash here and there? Some of those opportunities you can jump on today.
Regardless of where you start and where you end up, the key is to explore and have some fun doing it.
We simply listed the top places to start. There are literally tons of sites to visit and search and surf and browse and skim and scan. Hopefully, you get the point.
This is all about you improving your financial situation and getting the most out what the internet has to provide.