More and more people are looking for ways to earn money online. Some are turning to side hustles to make a little extra money, while others are creating internet businesses that become their full-time job.
Let's take a look at seven ways to make money online that can take up a little or a lot of your time. Think of these options as supplemental sources of income, most of which have the potential to be a whole lot more.
Affiliate marketing can be a low-cost and relatively easy way to make money online. You don't need to have any of your own products or services to sell; affiliate marketing gives you a chance to earn commissions from large companies.
You promote the products or services of a company on your website/blog or social media account, providing links to the company's offerings. These affiliate tracking links ensure you get the credit for having delivered a paying customer to the company's website, and you get a percentage of the sale as your reward.
The main work involved in affiliate marketing is giving people a reason to visit your website/blog—or Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account—and building up a large group of visitors and followers. To do that, you should provide content that is likely to attract people who are interested in purchasing the thing you're trying to get people to buy. For example, you might write and make videos about consumer electronics products—how to use them and/or which ones are the best—in a way that's optimized for search engines.
Start Your Own E-Commerce Website
A related way to make money online—but that perhaps requires a bit more work on your part—is with an e-commerce website. You would sell products from your website, either your own that you create or commercially available ones.
If you choose the latter route, the most common and hassle-free way to fulfill orders is via drop shipping. You get the customers and take their orders, but a third-party company warehouses and ships the products for you.
It's better to focus on one product category that you can create your own niche in and devote your website to.
If you make your own products, you might want to start out selling them on both an established platform, like Etsy, and your own site. After you build up a base of customers, you could ultimately cut out that middleman.
You can further monetize your e-commerce website by hosting ads, such as with Google AdSense.
Regardless of your current occupation, publishing nonfiction e-books is a good way to help establish yourself as authority in your field while making passive income. Once you've written and published the book, you don't have to actively do anything to take in revenue from it.
Alternatively, if you've written a novel that needs to be read—especially in a popular genre like romance, science fiction, fantasy, or mystery—publishing it as an e-book has the potential to get thousands of eyes on it.
You can sell e-books on platforms like Amazon.com. If you are able to make a name for yourself as an author, you can begin selling e-books directly from your own website and increase your profits.
If you've been blogging for a long time about a certain topic, you should be able to edit and package your existing posts into a book without too much additional work.
Consumers of self-published e-books expect a quality experience that's on par with the offerings of a traditional publisher. If you don't have all the skills to ensure a polished final product, you might consider hiring a copy editor to fine-tune your writing and a designer to create an enticing cover. And if you're having trouble transforming your ideas into paragraphs and chapters of prose, you could hire a developmental editor to help you with that beginning part of the process.
Take Online Surveys
Taking online surveys is an easy way to earn a little extra cash or prizes such as gift cards. Market research firms (MRFs) are behind many online survey sites, including American Consumer Opinion, which is owned by Decision Analyst. You can also sign up to take surveys using aggregators like IdeaShifters or Swagbucks, which partner with many different corporations and MRFs.
You shouldn't expect to make more than a dollar or so per survey. And you will most likely have to provide a good deal of information about yourself before you can take the first one.
When looking for survey-taking opportunities, stick with companies that have a proven track record of paying for survey responses and that are not scams designed to get your personal info. You should also keep in mind that you may not be eligible to take certain surveys because you don't match the demographics the company is looking for. You may be too old or too young, for example.
If you have a specific skill-based service you can carry out remotely, such as IT services, copyediting, or graphic design, you can offer it as an online freelancer. If you are able to find and accept enough gigs, you could become a full-time freelancer in your field. Or you could take on occasional assignments to supplement the income from your main job.
You can find gigs using freelance-specific websites such as Freelancer and Upwork, as well as big job sites like Indeed. You should also consider joining an organization specifically for freelancers in your area of specialty. Such groups often let you post online information about yourself and the specific skills you can provide, and they may send out email alerts or have a jobs board with contact information for those seeking freelance help.
A freelancers organization can also provide a social outlet, connecting you with people who do the same work you do and are interested in the same things as you.
A site like Meetup may be a good place to begin finding others who share your interests and skill sets.
Life coaching is another promising online career option, particularly if you have solid communication skills and a desire to help others succeed in their personal or professional life. Many people need a nudge to get them past a mental roadblock that's standing in the way of personal happiness or career confidence. As an online coach, you can offer advice to help them change their mindset and improve their lives.
Life coaches should not attempt to take the place of trained mental health professionals. Coaches deal with matters like personal growth and achieving goals, not overcoming mental illness.
One of the hardest things about becoming a life coach is finding a client base. When you're just starting out, you might try advertising online and offering to speak to community groups.
Having a professional certification can make you a more credible choice when someone is seeking a coach. And offering the testimonials of previous clients on your website also makes you a more attractive candidate.
Offer Online Courses
Like e-books, online courses generate passive income after you've created them and made them available online. If you have a knack for teaching and a set of skills you would like to share with others, consider creating online courses as a way of making additional money.
The primary website where you could post your courses—and get paid for them—is Udemy. But as with the other online businesses, if you are able to establish a reputation, you might have success offering your courses through your own site.
In addition to knowledge in a particular subject area, you will need to have an engaging presence in your videos. If you can't retain potential students' attention, they won't come back for more classes.
The Bottom Line
There's a lot of competition online for many of these money-making opportunities—especially with more and more people unable or unwilling to work in a traditional setting. According to Stanford University economist Nicholas Bloom, 42% of U.S. employees were working from home full-time as of June 2020.
To make a go of most of these possibilities, you will have to stand out from the crowd and convince prospective clients and customers that you're the right person to buy from or hire. Becoming successful at any online occupation requires exceptional online marketing skills. If you can learn how to successfully sell yourself and gain followers and search engine hits, your business's success should follow.