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Want to Make Money Online? Here Are 25 Easy Ways to Earn Money Online

Make money online

The past year encouraged all of us to embrace the great indoors. No surprise, then, that interest in making money online from the safety of our homes is now on the rise.

What once felt like a distant daydream is now a reality for millions of people. Those of us who worked remotely from our home offices for the last few years have a lot less explaining to do at family events—the path to earning a meaningful amount of money online has become much clearer.

The magic of the web is that it’s a sales channel, marketing network, and community hub all in one—plus so much more. There are many creative ways to make money online beyond surveys and selling used goods on Craigslist. 

That said, some businesses and side hustles are better suited to the laptop lifestyle than others. In this guide, we’ll break down the strengths and shortcomings of a few of the top money-making options.

How to make money online: 25 proven ways

To make choosing the best ways to make money online easier, we’ll look at several key factors:

  • Business type: whether the idea is product based, service based or driven by an audience.
  • Effort: how much time, skill, or experience you’ll need to put into the idea. 
  • Leverage: how well positioned you are to turn the idea into a money-making one that increases in value without needing your direct attention. A high-leverage idea isn’t a 1:1 trade of time for money. 
  • Startup costs: the upfront budget you’ll need to launch the idea.
  • Profit potential: how much profit you can expect to make from your idea per year.

Here are the top picks:

1. Dropshipping

Business type: Product based

Effort: Medium

Leverage: High

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

Last year, many worldwide trends experienced a decades’ worth of acceleration. One such trend was the rise of ecommerce. There are a number of ways to run an ecommerce business, some of which allow for minimal need to carry and hold lots of inventory.

Enter dropshipping. Dropshipping is a business model where you don’t keep the products you sell in stock. Instead, when a customer buys something from your store, a third party fulfills and ships the order for you. Because startup costs are low, it’s an increasingly popular way to make money online for beginners and pros alike. 

Dropshippers have a habit of chasing the latest trends. And while there’s nothing wrong with catching a trending product wave, know that there also are many product categories that are steady and offer similar opportunities to do well. At Shopify, we regularly see these categories on our list of top performers:

  • Women’s clothing and accessories. Far and away the most popular category of products on Oberlo. There are a variety of interesting niches within this category, too, including dresses, accessories, intimates, hoodies, socks and hoseries, and rompers. Since these products have a large market, are purchased relatively frequently, and are successfully sold through great marketing, they’re consistently a top performer for dropshipping.
  • Jewelry. If you want to turn jewelry into a profitable small business, dropshipping is a good model to try. You can sell in a variety of categories, including fine jewelry, fashion or costume, and collectibles. Or sell jewelry made from different materials, like gems, wood, textile, or metals. 
  • Home and garden. Home and garden is one of those dropshipping niches that seem to always be trendy. People are always looking to add personal touches to their space to make it feel warm and cozy, which can make this an exciting (and profitable) niche to sell in. 
  • Beauty. The beauty and personal care market is projected to be worth $511.4 billion by the end of 2021. Beauty is a thriving industry fueled by younger generations entering the market and is strengthened by social media and ecommerce. You also have options in the beauty niche: you can sell cosmetics, skin care, personal care, hair care, fragrances, and more.
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OK, sounds good. But there is a huge hurdle to overcome with dropshipping: you’re selling an existing product. The ease of starting a dropshipping business also means you’ll be up to your knees in competition—so it relies heavily on customer support. That means you’re giving up a really important piece of leverage and need to recognize that, in order to succeed, you’re going to have to outdo the competition with a well-chosen niche and creative marketing.

🎯 Idea in action

make money online with dropshipping

Subtle Asian Treats is a top dropshipping store that sells cute plushies and cases for AirPods and iPhones. It was founded by Tze Hing Chan, a young Malaysian entrepreneur, to take advantage of the bubble tea craze happening in Asia. 

Tze explains in an interview with Oberlo, “I knew that the bubble tea trend was up and coming, especially in Asian communities, so I looked around for bubble tea stuff on AliExpress. I found phone cases, and that was my very first product.”

Tze spent months exploring and selling different dropshipping products; some earned him extra cash, while others flopped. It wasn’t until he found the bubble tea plushie that his dream store became a reality. Once he saw them, he immediately imported them to his Shopify store, ran Facebook ads, and watched customers start rolling in.

Learn more by reading Luck and Learning From Failures Led This Entrepreneur to Make $100K From Bubble Tea Plush Toys on the Oberlo blog.

2. Print on demand

Business type: Product based

Effort: Medium

Leverage: Medium

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

Print on demand allows sellers to customize white label products with their own designs and sell them only after a customer buys, eliminating the need to hold inventory (which is what makes it a subset of dropshipping). When a customer places an order, a print-on-demand company will add your design to the product, fulfill the order, and ship it to the customer.

The most significant advantage print on demand offers over dropshipping is that you have control over the aesthetic of your products—a key differentiator for product categories where the design is the distinguisher, like t-shirts or fan merch.

When it comes to making money online, you can also use print-on-demand services to:

  • Monetize an audience you’ve already built, whether it’s on YouTube, social media, or a personal blog
  • Offer diverse products by selling t-shirts, books, shoes, bags, mugs, phone cases, laptop skins, wall art, and more 

Overall, print on demand lets you create customized products quickly. You don’t have to worry about shipping or fulfillment—it’s taken care of by your suppliers. And since you have no inventory to worry about, it’s a low risk, low investment way to make money online. 

🎯 Idea in action

make money online with print on demand

Passionfruit sells inclusive clothing and accessories for the LGBTQQIA community. The brand is built around the power of togetherness and building a bright future for queer youth, creating products that allow them to show their pride all year around, rather than only at special events. 

Passionfruit’s products are all carefully designed with pencil and paper, then digitized, placed on products through a print-on-demand company, and sold in its store. You can find t-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, hats, stickers, tote bags, and more, all specially designed and curated for Passionfruit’s audience, with a mission to make a positive impact on the world.

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Free Webinar:

How to quickly start a profitable print-on-demand store

In our free 40-minute video workshop, we’ll get you from product idea to setting up an online store to getting your first print-on-demand sale.

3. Custom products

Business type: Product based

Effort: High

Leverage: Medium

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

While the options above come bundled with the convenience of not holding on to expensive inventory, they do come with some limitations—mainly that you don’t have full control over the product you’re selling.

And when you think of most direct-to-consumer brands, this is what comes to mind: original products that make meaningful improvements or add interesting details to well-known items. Personally, I’ve purchased many messenger bags, but I’d never seen anything like the one made by Vermilyea Pelle until it reached my doorstep.

Making products by hand is popular amongst jewelry brands, fashion brands, and home decor brands. It gives you full control over the product development and quality of your items. The only drawbacks are: (1) it can be time consuming, and (2) it’s difficult to scale. The costs associated with making products by hand are the cost of materials, storing your finished products, and labor. 

That said, a custom product doesn’t have to be completely handmade. There are many ways to find a manufacturer or supplier to help bring your product to life. For example, you could:

  • Use domestic or overseas manufacturers. If you have a unique product that you don’t want to make by hand, you could find a manufacturer to make your products. The Alibaba dropshipping route is a common way to do this. You can use the marketplace to find potential manufacturers, communicate your vision to them, and get your products made. This will require some upfront investment because of minimum order quantities and storage, but it’s a good way to maintain control of your products while keeping cost per unit low. 
  • Resell wholesale items. Buying and reselling wholesale items is a straightforward, low-risk way to make money online. You buy products you want directly from manufacturers—usually brands that are already credible on the market—at a discounted rate, then sell them in your online store at a higher price. 

It’s important to understand these methods to make the right choices when creating and selling custom products. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks, which you can read about in From Dropshipping to DTC, Here Are the Most Popular Types of Ecommerce Business Models

🎯 Idea in action

Cedar and Sail website

Cedar & Sail is a maker of fine handmade homewares from Alabama. Josh Pigford, founder of the brand, created Cedar & Sail as an outlet—something creative to do outside of his everyday work as a software-as-a-service company founder. The designs are minimal and use geometric shapes to create a sense of order and cleanliness wherever you place them in your home. Every product is individually hand mixed, poured, and painted, making it unique for the customer.

What started as creating little concrete planters has turned into a collection of homeware goods. Today, Cedar & Sail sells not only planters, but also coasters, candles, and limited edition collections. It sells online and in markets (when available) using Shopify’s POS app to accept payments without hassle, in any market where Josh decides to sell.

Learn more about selling your own craft products by reading The Business of DIY: 16 Things to Make and Sell Online.

4. Sell on Etsy

Business type: Product based

Effort: High

Leverage: Medium

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰

Every online marketplace, from Etsy to Amazon, offers a shared set of advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that you get access to their network of shoppers—people regularly browse these sites when they need to buy something, so setting up shop lets you meet them there.

That said, since these channels can work in harmony with your own website, sometimes they’re a great place to begin. New online makers can use Etsy to grow brand awareness at first: it has an active community of 45.7 million buyers. We’ve seen many businesses successfully switch to Shopify after generating their first few sales on Etsy, for example.

The benefits of creating your own Shopify store include:

  • You can manage the look and feel of your store. Your Etsy shop sticks to one design model with less room for creativity.
  • You can grow your product line. Etsy sellers are limited to selling handmade, vintage, or artisan products. Say you want to offer a complementary manufactured product that could create a better customer experience and boost average order value. You may not be able to on Etsy. Having a Shopify store helps serve your customers better and add new products, no matter if they are dropshipped, manufactured, or wholesale. 
  • Easier inventory management. Ecommerce platforms like Shopify provide full inventory management and analytics so you can keep your records in order and make smarter decisions for your business. 

If you have an Etsy shop and don’t want to leave just yet, you can always run both stores simultaneously. Once you set up your Shopify store, use a free Shopify app like Etsy Integration: Sync and Sell. You can easily sync inventories, manage orders, and make money online using both Shopify and Etsy. 

🎯 Idea in action

etsy online store example

Old World Kitchen is a family-owned business that sells traditionally handcrafted kitchen goods. The business existed solely on Etsy for 10 years and saw a ton of growth over that time. 

Loran Polder, Old World Kitchen’s Business Manager, explains in an interview with Shopify how Etsy helped the family learn the basics of ecommerce and connect with other makers. It was a good way to get the business off the farm and into the online world.

In the early days, Loran had no plans to grow Old World Kitchen. Each item was unique and labor intensive, and the family didn’t want to hire or outsource any part of it. Because of this, Etsy was the right platform for them. 

As their brand became stronger and more defined, its prices began to reflect those of a luxury brand. The limitations of existing solely on a third-party marketplace began to hinder its growth. The family desired to sell more luxurious products and align their online store with their brand. They needed a platform that could scale with their growing business, which is why they chose to build their own online store with Shopify. 

While the brand no longer uses Etsy, Loran credits the marketplace with making the family business possible. 

Free Worksheet: Brand Storytelling

Use this handy exercise as a guide to help you craft a compelling brand story and build a loyal audience through the power of storytelling.

5. Sell on Amazon

Business type: Product based

Effort: Medium

Leverage: Medium

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰

Amazon has become a marketplace that welcomes new ecommerce entrepreneurs. It takes a few minutes to sign up for an account and a few more minutes to get a product listing live. 

The platform has a massive audience, it’s a global marketplace, and it’s a go-to destination for product discovery and research. Listing optimization can help your products get found and unlock new opportunities. And Amazon’s in-app promotions can increase your brand's visibility for highly targeted audiences. 

Yet some ecommerce entrepreneurs question the long-term sustainability of selling on Amazon. While the marketplace is great for helping shoppers surface desired products, it’s challenging for sellers to get their business noticed. Amazon attracts many resellers of the same products you may offer. Tack on fees and trying to differentiate your brand and you may end up working harder to generate sales but not grow your bottom line revenue. 

While selling on Amazon is a good way to make money from home, there are some caveats to consider:

  • Amazon sets the rules for its marketplace. We know Amazon is a leader in collecting and using customer data to create better shopping experiences, but that information doesn’t get shared with you. If you compete head to head with a product owned by Amazon, it’ll be hard to make sales. Amazon Retail tends to get the Buy Box advantage.
  • Amazon prefers sellers to use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). FBA is Amazon’s fulfillment program offered to sellers. Once you put a product in its fulfillment centers and a customer orders it, Amazon will fulfill the order. You must use FBA to be eligible for Amazon Prime and Amazon Super Saver Shipping, two ways to help retailers improve conversion rates and earn extra money. 
  • Amazon owns the customer relationship. Sellers cannot add Amazon customers to a CRM or re-market to them after the sale. 

That said, Amazon is a great additional sales channel for your Shopify business. Similar to Etsy, you can use Amazon to get your products in front of a built-in audience, get discovered, and use your ecommerce website as the main sales channel. You can even integrate Shopify with Amazon to manage listings and sync inventory faster and easier.

🎯 Idea in action

homesick candles

Homesick Candles went from not being on Amazon two years ago to becoming the number one scented candle company and the number two candle brand in the world. Amazon proved to be a good springboard for selling its products online.

Despite its success, Homesick Candles used Shopify to build an online store as its homebase. This gave the budding ecommerce business a place to showcase its brand, connect with its customers, and maintain control over its sales and promotions. 

6. Digital products

Business type: Product based

Effort: High

Leverage: High

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

Digital products carry some of the best margins of any product you can sell. The upfront costs of development can be high, but the variable costs of selling digital products is comparatively low. Once media or software is made, it isn’t very expensive to deliver to customers.

At its core, a digital product is an intangible asset you can sell repeatedly without restocking inventory. They often come in downloadable files such as a PDF, plug-in, or interactive document. These products have become such a good source of passive income that many top professional influencers, bloggers, or public icons release digital products such as guides, ebooks, templates, research findings, plans, and tutorials. 

Some key benefits of selling digital products are:

  • They’re scalable. There’s no limit to how many products you can sell. No inventory. No manufacturers. No shipping or logistics. Just market the products. When a customer purchases a digital product, it’s delivered instantly, without your help.
  • Low overhead costs, high profit margins. Since there’s no recurring cost of goods or shipping charges, you keep a majority of the profit from each sale. 
  • E-learning is becoming more popular. The e-learning industry is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025. Digital products are a smart way to take advantage of this trend and expand your business.

Digital products can be a great supplement to your main income. Many creators make them to add another revenue stream to their businesses, whether it be consulting, education, or memberships. You could build a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn or build an email subscriber list to promote your products to and make sales. 

Since the barrier is so low when selling digital products, it doesn’t require much upfront investment or risk. The best care scenario is you sell 10,000 templates. The worst case is that few people buy and you lose only a few hours of your time. 

🎯 Idea in action

sell digital products example

SEO for the Rest of Us is a search engine optimization (SEO) education business run by Brendan Hufford. Its purpose is to help creative entrepreneurs—those who don’t have a huge brand or following—use SEO to get their products and services out into the world. 

Brendan’s business is made up of multiple branches: a 100-day free SEO challenge, a podcast, an active blog, a YouTube channel, service packages, a membership community, and digital products. If you’re looking for SEO education, you’ll come across his brand somewhere in your search. 

“Digital products and monetizing your expertise is a great way to make money online,” Brendan says. “It’s a fantastic stair-step model to build an audience that values knowledge and what they are working on.” 

Brendan also shared the framework he uses to make new digital products:

  1. Teach something live (like a workshop) for free a few times. You’ll get more comfortable, get testimonials, and work out the kinks.
  2. Charge money for teaching live workshops.
  3. Sell the recordings to the live sessions.
  4. Continue iterating and record a final, evergreen version you sell repeatedly. 

If you take a look through the Course tab on Brendan’s website, you’ll find an endless list of different products for sale: from beginner SEO bundles to masterclasses, expert interviews, challenges, roadmaps, idea generators, and more. Some products sell for as low as $5, while others can range as high as $1,500 to $7,000 for an auditing course. 

Brendan is one of many incredible examples of entrepreneurs selling digital products online. The best part? He wasn’t always an SEO expert. As of 2014, he was an assistant principal at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy and in six years has built an education empire that makes real money online with passion and determination.

7. Media

Business type: Product based

Effort: High

Leverage: High

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

Media is a very wide-ranging term, but the best description available if you’re a creator in the market to sell music, videos, digital art, paid newsletters, magazines, or podcasts.

Media seems closely related to digital products, but the difference with media is that it tends to be geared toward creative ventures—for example, a writer starting a paid newsletter subscription or an artist learning how to sell art online.

The best part about selling media is that, a lot of the time, it’s a way for people to express themselves online. Artists and creators who didn’t have access to networks, galleries, or PR in the past can now build a brand, grow a following, and make money online doing something they love. 

Harry Hambley, the cartoonist behind the successful brand Ketnipz, encourages creators to follow their dreams as an artist. In an interview with the BBC, he describes turning down university to draw cartoons online. “You should always do whatever you feel inspired by,” he says. 

When it comes to creating media for the public, Harry explains how “doing something complicated doesn’t guarantee success. It’s more about having a solid idea and then being able to communicate it easily.” 

In a world where negativity is widespread online, the Ketnipz brand is a positive light. It reflects Henry’s goals to give off a good vibe and be “something that’s quite comforting.”

🎯 Idea in action

artist making money online example

Fred Jourdain is a versatile artist: he’s an illustrator, cartoonist, designer, and entrepreneur. His site is a prime example of making money online through different types of media. The artist sells not only original art, but also shares stories, interviews, projects, and more with potential customers. 

Visitors can browse around and get inside the mind of the artist, creating a connection. They can learn Fred’s methods or discover past artworks and events. And if they want to purchase a print or original piece, they can easily do so through the shopping cart functionality right in his store. 

8. Blogging

Business type: Audience monetization

Effort: High

Leverage: Medium

Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

You’ve probably read a business blog at some point in your life. Businesses use blogging to share knowledge and insights, build an audience, and get more leads and sales. Blogging has endless benefits, such as building thought leadership in an industry and improving search engine visibility for a brand.

Blogging to make money online has grown beyond big businesses and side hustles. Anyone can now build an audience by putting out great content and make a lot of money from their blog. Bloggers also tend to take a personal approach that resonates with an intended audience versus getting information from a company blog. 

People start blogs for many different reasons, some being:

  • Sharing their thoughts, passions, or life experiences
  • Educating readers on a topic they know about 
  • Selling products or services
  • Building a personal brand

The key to running a successful blog is choosing a niche. There’s really no shortage of them on the web. You could be the expert on topics in a specific location (for example, restaurants in Toronto) or for a specific segment in certain categories (like vegan keto recipes and lifestyle). Focusing on a niche helps you speak to an audience and create high quality content for them, which in turn can result in leads and sales for your blogging business.

But how do you make money from blogging? Well, once you learn how to start a blog, you can monetize it a few different ways: 

  • Selling physical products that your readers would enjoy, like pillows or t-shirts
    • Offering digital products such as designs, digital art, courses, templates, or photography that you can make once and sell repeatedly
    • Becoming an influencer and doing paid promotions for brands
    • Selling subscriptions or memberships to exclusive content on platforms such as Patreon

    While blogging is a low investment business idea, it can take time to pay off. Chances are, you won’t find yourself on page one of Google’s search results overnight. But with the right niche and determination, you’ll be well on your way to making money online through your blog. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    house that lars built

    The House That Lars Built is a blog about all things interiors, decor, style, and holiday. It was started by Brittany Watson Jepsen, a “professional creative messer,” who teaches people how to make life artful. Whether through tutorials or guides, her goal is to show people that life is better when you have a project to work on—whether it be crafts, designing, illustrating, or writing.

    Brittany’s blog is a reflection of her passions and interests. It’s also a money-making machine, offering guest posting opportunities, selling custom products, partaking in Amazon’s affiliate program, and running Google Ads. Brittany’s blog operation has grown so big, she actively hires interns and part-time crafters to help with in-house projects.

    9. Affiliate marketing

    Business type: Audience monetization

    Effort: Medium

    Leverage: High

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

    There seems to be a trend with online-only business models still being relatively misunderstood. Well, add affiliate marketing to that pile. There’s no snake oil to be found here.

    So, how does monetization work through this model? Essentially, publishers or individuals can apply for affiliate programs, wherever they’re available, in order to be added as an official affiliate. Once you’re accepted, you’ll receive a way to share an affiliate link to the product or service you’re interested in promoting. Don’t forget to add a disclaimer!

    When someone buys the product after clicking your link, you’ll receive credit for the referral, along with a commission. The commission amount depends on the affiliate program and the product being sold—commodity items on Amazon.com won’t pay out much, but referring a high-ticket account may pay out hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

    Because affiliate marketing works best when you help a visitor understand why a certain product may be the right one for them, you’ll typically see it deployed on content-focused websites. Search engine optimization also plays an important role here and you’ll see everyone from homegrown sites to massive, globally known publications competing for terms like “best gaming laptops 2021.”

    Niche-to-win applies here, too. Since you don’t have a masthead of 50 writers, you won’t outcompete with professional publications like Wirecutter as a general review site. You may, however, be able to write, rank, and differentiate yourself by covering all things terrariums or high-intensity interval training. Point being, it’s typically easier to land (pick a distinct niche) and expand (grow into new areas) than it is to compete with a general interest site, especially when you’re getting started.

    The best affiliate content helps the reader both solve a problem or make a decision and showcases the right products as part of that solution.

    🎯 Idea in action

    wirecutter

    The best example of affiliate marketing is Wirecutter, owned by The New York Times. The content is extremely well done and reader-centric, with meticulous testing and fully transparent reviews of the pros and cons of various products. Wirecutter, in other words, passes the first litmus test of a successful affiliate site: whether or not the content truly helps a visitor make a purchasing decision, even if the affiliate links weren’t included.

    10. Online courses and workshops

    Business type: Product based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: High

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

    Creating a truly great online course is tough. You need to know the ins and outs of a specific subject and then have the skill (and dedication) to codify that knowledge and either write or record your best advice for customers. And, of course, you need to successfully market the course once it’s made—often the most difficult part of all.

    There’s a reason online courses have a pretty broad appeal, though. Once a course is created, it accrues all of the benefits of any digital product: the costs to deliver the product to more customers is essentially zero, with the exception of hosting. Compare that to the need to maintain inventory that all physical product businesses face and you’ll find yourself dealing with fewer product-related headaches as you scale.

    The appetite for digital courses and continuing education is there, too. That’s why sites like Udemy and Skillshare are thriving. Your biggest hurdle is actually the web itself, where there are thousands of wonderful resources available for free. And content on every topic is getting better by the day.

    But the seemingly unlimited options available on the web is precisely why paid courses are valuable: they filter out the fluff and just share the good stuff. Many creators have found success turning their mostly free videos or blog posts into a paid course. The reason people pay isn’t just for the information, but for the way it’s organized and presented. Part of the value is the time saved not having to filter through dozens of YouTube videos and random websites and to instead get one cohesive course from an engaging instructor.

    Remember, though, that while there are a countless number of topics to create content about, there are far fewer topics that people are willing to pay for. Usually, the bestselling courses teach people a valuable skill that helps them make progress at their job or get deeper enjoyment out of a beloved hobby. That explains why courses on Microsoft Excel can become bestsellers.

    Once again, it’s often best to go to a market where people are willing to spend. Professionals probably spend the most money on courses, so if there’s a way for you to take the things you know from work and package them in a course, you already have your biggest selling point: help your buyers get a raise or promotion. Help them be better at the skill creating their main source of income.

    🎯 Idea in action

    content planner

    Before the pandemic happened, The Content Planner used to sell only physical planning products through its Shopify store. Katherine Gaskin, founder of The Content Planner, was also offering in-person workshops for her customers and online community. They were two of her biggest offerings before March 2020. 

    After lockdowns ensued and in-person workshops diminished, Katherine shifted to virtual workshops for her clients. She now retains up to 90% of profits due to lower overhead costs on things like travel and renting workshop space. The only fees she has now are subscription fees for Zoom, sales pages, and other PayPal or transaction fees. 

    In a recent interview with Shopify, she mentions how shifting online has resulted in her biggest sales month to date. She continues to provide on-demand courses and lessons for purchase and plans to launch similar offerings for her business. 

    11. Freelance services

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

    An increasingly popular home business idea is offering freelance services to clients online. Freelance writing, graphic design, data entry, digital marketing—almost every role an online business would hire for is viable as a freelance service. I myself have worked with writers, illustrators, and designers for years at Shopify, most of whom make their full-time living freelancing, not just doing it in their spare time.

    Almost all of these services are best positioned toward business clients, for reasons similar to why business software is an attractive product: business clients are willing to spend. What most freelancers are quick to learn is that they have more leverage over the price they can charge when they position their work as outcomes instead of deliverables. Put another way, businesses hire freelance writers to create content that drives traffic and leads, not for wordsmithing. Sell clients on the outcome and prove it, where possible, through customer evidence like case studies and testimonials.

    The other lesson freelancers pick up, sometimes through scar tissue, is the need to niche down when they’re getting started. Why would a company specifically hire you over the thousands of people offering very similar services? You aren’t making a manager's job any easier by offering catch-all services, either. So be wary of the false appeal of solving for every customer. That’d be like a mechanic trying to expand her customer base by calling her shop “General Fix-It Emporium.”

    A better approach is to focus on a recognizable pain point layered on top of an industry or niche. Even then, pitches like “Marketing Content for Tech Companies” are a little crowded—you might see even better results if you sell a more precise outcome or to a subset of a certain industry, like improving the sales pipeline for enterprise software companies.

    The last thing to consider for these businesses is that they are a direct trade of time for money. You can make good money with a small selection of high-paying clients, but the moment you stop working, the cash flow dries up. You may be able to turn a freelance business into more of an agency, where hired help handles some client work. For many business owners, the personal enjoyment they get from doing the work is a reason in itself to continue freelancing. But it’s worth noting that you’re not building much of a standalone asset, so you may eventually want to expand into another business model.

    🎯 Idea in action

    elise dopson example

    Elise Dopson is a freelance writer for B2B SaaS companies. She’s been a freelance writer for three years and has been hired by huge SaaS companies like Hotjar, Databox, Hubspot, and Content Marketing Institute. But she wasn’t always the in-demand writer she is today. 

    Elise started a beauty blog in 2012, which made a small fortune in its time. She then landed a job at a local marketing agency, where she learned more about blog writing and SEO. This led her to quit her job, start her freelance writing business in 2017, and break the six-figure ceiling by the age of 21. 

    “Ever since I was a kid, I loved to write,” Elise explains, “but it wasn’t until working at a marketing agency that I saw you could make real money online doing it. Offering freelance writing services has allowed me to travel freely—before COVID!—work from the comfort of my home, and be my own boss. If you have a passion for writing or designing or organizing stuff, turn it into a freelance service. You won’t be disappointed with the results.”

    Today, Elise continues to write for enterprise brands and teaches other writers how to grow profitable freelance businesses in her membership community, Peak Freelance

    Check out her story by reading How Elise Dopson Built a Six-Figure Writing Business by 21.

    12. Start a YouTube channel

    Business type: Audience monetization

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

    Ever thought of becoming a YouTube star? Micro-celebrities like 10-year old Ryan Kaji are making over $29 million per year on YouTube selling toys. Another top earner on YouTube is David Dobrik, who makes around $15.5 million entertaining his audience with comical videos. 

    Create a YouTube channel around one niche. This will help you build a loyal audience that tunes in to your channel repeatedly, giving you more opportunities to make money online. You could offer tutorials, review products, keep up with celebrity news—whatever you think will keep your audience interested. 

    The key to a successful YouTube channel is to entertain or educate with your content. Once you’ve reached 1,000 subscribers, you can make money running YouTube ads on your channel. You can also offer paid product placement to big brands, sell products, or become an affiliate to make money on YouTube.

    🎯 Idea in action

    justine leconte youtube channel

    Justine Leconte runs a successful YouTube channel with over 886,000 subscribers. As a fashion designer, her channel is dedicated to helping people dress their best on a budget. 

    Her YouTube channel is full of tutorials and tips for finding your style, keeping up with fashion trends, building a wardrobe, and so much more. Her videos have millions of views, which lets her run YouTube ads to monetize her channel. 

    13. Become an influencer

    Business type: Audience monetization

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰💰

    Influencers are becoming a popular marketing channel for brands big and small, with 68% of US marketers at companies with over 100 employees working with them in 2021. If others can become influencers, so can you.

    To become an influencer, you’ll need an engaged following. Influencers today don’t need to have millions of followers. There are opportunities to become a nano-influencer or micro-influencer, which are accounts with up to 10,000 and 50,000 followers, respectively. 

    The two biggest platforms for this are YouTube and Instagram. Some of the most popular influencers found fame through these platforms. Check out our article on how to grow your Instagram following to build a big audience.

    🎯 Idea in action

    Once you have a following, you can make money a few different ways as an influencer:

    • Charge for sponsored posts
    • Speak at conferences 
    • Sell products in your online store
    • Become an affiliate 
    • Sell ads 
    • Become a brand ambassador 
    • Write a book 

    Take @marketingharry, for example. The marketing influencer creates content to help his audience succeed on Instagram. With over 184,000 followers, he’s a good influencer account for companies who want to connect with his growing audience. He works with brands like ManyChat to promote their products and can earn money through sponsorships or affiliate commissions. 

    influencer marketing example

    14. Write ebooks

    Business type: Product based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Medium

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰

    Got a story inside you just waiting to be released? It’s time for you to write that ebook. With Amazon Direct Publishing, it’s never been easier to publish an ebook. You just need to write the book, format it, create a cover, then publish and promote it online. 

    Not the best writer? That’s OK. Hire a ghostwriter to work on the book with you. They’ll help you get your words onto the digital page. Then you can work with a designer to create the cover, and a freelancer to format the ebook, if you need help. Use a keyword research tool to find trending topics people search for. You can use this information to inspire the narrative of your book if you get stuck. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    You’ll likely be up against established authors like James Patterson and Amy Tan when selling ebooks online. But that doesn’t stop newer writers from making $450,000 a year selling books on Amazon. 

    To sell your ebook, market it a few different ways. Run a giveaway and give it away for free for a few days. The more traffic that comes to your page, the higher you can rank in search results. This can lead to more reviews, which can also boost your books visibility and earn more sales. 

    Engage in communities on social media around the topic you plan to write about. For example, if you want to write a recipe book, you could get involved with food and culinary communities on Facebook and in real life. Once your book is published, you’ll have a strong community of folks who may buy it from you. 

    15. Look for side gigs

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: Medium

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰

    Side gigs are a great way to earn money online while keeping a full-time job. If you want to make a few extra hundred dollars per month, looking for side gigs is a good way. It’s not for the long run, but you can earn cash online with near zero startup costs. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    Similar to freelancing, you can use platforms like Fiverr to create gigs. If you have administrative skills, you can sell side gigs on Fiverr for a low price. Top Fiverr users typically have multiple gigs available, which helps you get found on the platform easier. 

    Treat every client well and you’ll develop a strong profile that stands out. You can leverage a good reputation to build a business later on, if you want to. 

    Another option is searching on a platform like FlexJobs to find side gigs. Under its jobs section, you can find contract work or telecommute jobs. You can apply to these positions from anywhere—all you need is an internet connection. 

    flexjobs

    FlexJobs offers many different gigs: Writing, business, design, accounting, etc. If you find a side gig that matches your talents, you can apply and start making money online. The trick here is to apply to multiple gigs at once. You won’t land every opportunity, but the more you apply to, the better your chances are. 

    16. Do translation work

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: Medium

    Leverage: High

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    Speak multiple languages and want to make money online? Test your skills at translation work. The top five language pairs for business are: 

    • English —> Spanish
    • English —> Chinese 
    • English —> French
    • English —> German
    • English —> Russian 

    If you’re fluent or have working knowledge of these pairs, translation work may be a great gig for you to try. You’ll need to prove that you can translate between the two languages. Create samples before you start applying for jobs. Make samples around the types of text you want to translate. For example, if you want to translate blogs, fill your portfolio with relevant articles from top media publishers around the web. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    There are many places to apply for translation work online:

    17. Sell stuff online

    Business type: Product based

    Effort: Medium

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰

    One of the best money-making ideas for quick cash if selling stuff online. For example, you can sell clothes, furniture, and handbags from your own home. Or you can buy and resell higher value items like laptops, TVs, or phones. You can buy these products online through sites like AliExpress or from local garage sale and thrift stores. 

    Try to sell your products on multiple platforms and marketplaces instead of just one. The more places your products live, the more likely people will be to find them. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    There are hundreds of online selling sites, all with different niches and commission fees. A few examples include:

    • eBay
    • Facebook Marketplace
    • VarageSale
    • MercadoLibre
    • Your own online store

    18. Livestream on Twitch

    Business type: Audience monetization

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Medium

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    Livestreaming is becoming more and more popular each year, with viewership increasing 49% in 2021 from the year prior. 

    Many platforms now offer native livestreaming, including YouTube and Instagram. Yet the most popular one is Twitch, which has evolved from gaming to other types of content, such as arts and crafts, and adventures. If you can go live regularly, you’ll build a strong audience on Twitch..

    🎯 Idea in action

    To make money online from streaming, you’ll need a consistent channel. Are you going to be funny or educational? Are you streaming your biking trips or World of Warcraft? Set expectations for viewers so they know exactly what they’ll see when tuning into your livestream. Engage with viewers in Twitch’s live chat. This will help you build a niche following.

    You can monetize your Twitch channel a few different ways:

    • Selling products
    • Brand sponsorships
    • Fan donations
    • Subscriptions 
    • Twitch ads

    You can choose one or all of these monetization channels. If you want to maximize your financial gains, go for all five. 

    19. Take online surveys

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰

    A tried and true way to earn money online is through completing online surveys. The payouts won’t turn you into an overnight millionaire, but you could earn some extra cash. Some survey sites like Swagbucks will give you points, which you can redeem for cashback or rewards. You can also earn points for playing games, browsing the web, or watching videos.

    🎯 Idea in action

    The best sites to take online surveys include:

    20. Sell photos online

    Business type: Product based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: High

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    The web is a beautiful place for photographers. The ability to make money online, like Instagrammers and YouTubers, is all about channeling your creativity and monetizing your talents. Whether you’re shooting on the newest iPhone or the latest Canon DSLR, you can sell photos online as a photographer.

    The key is focusing on three things:

    1. Finding a niche (travel, food, portraits, etc.)
    2. Building an audience online
    3. Creating multiple streams of income 

    🎯 Idea in action

    The first step in making money online as a photographer is integrating ecommerce into your portfolio. You can sell prints of your most popular photos and sell them through your online store, so you don’t pay fees or commissions to any outside platforms. 

    But that’s only one stream of income. You can also partner with a service like Printful to put your photos on products such as clothes, phone cases, pillows, and more. You won’t have to pay anything to Printful until your product sells. 

    You can also sell your photos to online stock photo sites like Alamy or 500px. If you’re brand new, you can also submit certain photos for free to sites like Burst, where millions of people find stock photos for their projects. This helps build awareness for your brand and photos, which can lead to future sales.

    21. Become a social media consultant 

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Medium

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    One trend for making money online is becoming a social media consultant. Creators who have success on platforms like TikTok and Instagram are now offering their skills for sale. 

    As a social media consultant, brands will contact you to brainstorm creative ideas, develop a content strategy, produce videos, and more. It’s a smart money-making opportunity for digital nomads because you can run the business from a smartphone. 

    Your goal will be to grow a brand’s awareness and audience. You’ll need to know how to create viral videos and manage a community.

    🎯 Idea in action

    Social media consultant Lucas O’Keefe’s journey started with a viral TikTok video that turned into a full-on coaching business helping others build an audience on social media. 

    Lucas Okeefe

    With over 180,000 followers and multiple ambassador partnerships, Lucas can prove to potential clients that he can get them results. If you want to become a social media consultant, you’ll need to be credible. Start by building your social following using the same tactics you’ll present to clients. Then use your own profile as a shining example to secure work with clients.

    22. Start a podcast

    Business type: Audience monetization

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    Podcasts continue to get more popular each year. Recent research shows that podcast listener numbers are up in 2021 by 10.1% compared to the previous year, with 117.8 million people tuning in monthly for an episode.

    If you know the value of content for your brand, then you already know the value of podcasting. It allows you to reach new audiences you may not find through long-form content because they prefer audio. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    You don’t need to be a technical person and it doesn’t take much money to start. And best of all, you don’t need to be a popular blogger or influencer to become a successful podcaster. 

    You’ll need the following things at minimum to start your podcast: 

    1. A concept (topic, name, format, and length for each episode)
    2. Artwork and description of your podcast
    3. Audio files of your episodes
    4. A place to host your files, like Podbean
    5. Distribution through an RSS feed so episodes can be sent to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc. 

    As you build your following, there are different ways to monetize your podcast:

    • Sponsorship deals
    • Affiliate partnerships
    • Premium content offerings
    • Donations
    • Advertising networks
    • Selling merchandise
    • Hosting live events 

    23. Become a transcriber

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Medium

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    Looking for a career where you can make $25 an hour working online? A transcriptionist may be the role for you. Transcribers are in demand for companies who need interviews, podcasts, and other audio transcribed. You can lock-in a part-time role with a company or work on a freelance basis with multiple companies on specific projects. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    To succeed as a transcriber, you’ll want to strengthen your typing and grammar skills. Your work needs to be error free and done on time. Practice transcribing short audio files so you’re ready to apply to gigs with transcription companies. Create a transcription-focused website and CV, especially if you are brand new. 

    It may seem challenging at first. Dedicate time to practicing transcription before you go out applying for jobs. Once you build your skills and know what companies need, you can land more jobs and earn more money. 

    24. Review apps, websites, and software

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰

    Got an eye for good user experience? UserTesting will pay you $10 to give other companies feedback on their apps and websites. It’s a quick way to make money online. All you have to do is answer some questions as you browse the website or app through a video. Each video is around 20 minutes long, so if you complete three in an hour, you can make $30. 

    The one challenge is competitiveness. You’ll receive an email when a project goes live, but you have to act fast or someone else will take it. 

    🎯 Idea in action

    Top user review sites you can sign up for include:

    25. Become an audiobook narrator

    Business type: Service based

    Effort: High

    Leverage: Low

    Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸💸

    Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰

    Love audiobooks and reading aloud? Or maybe you have the voice of Samuel L. Jackson and want to share it with the world. Either way, a good idea is becoming an audiobook narrator. It’s a fun gig because you’re not just reading words from a book, but bringing a story to life for listeners. 

    Audiobook narrators often work as freelancers. Organization, professionalism, and meeting deadlines are key skills for this line of work. Audiobook narrators often have skills like:

    • Background in acting
    • Ability to make different voices, accents, and dialects
    • Persistence 

    🎯 Idea in action

    Becoming an audiobook narrator may not make money overnight, but it’s a dream job for those passionate about it. To start, you could volunteer to read as a public service. This will help you build your narrating skills and build a portfolio, plus, do some good for someone—a win-win.

    Networking is key to narration. Consider joining the Audio Publishers Association to meet other narrators and potential work contacts. Create a website and set up your social media profiles to showcase your talents. Post samples of your narration and make them easily accessible on your website. When recruiters or companies come looking for you, they want to know you’re the right voice before reaching out. 

    Lastly, try applying for jobs through audiobook-specific marketplaces like:

    How will you make money online in 2022?

    As we head into 2022, the opportunities to earn money online without paying anything are only becoming more abundant—you could pick up freelance jobs, start a dropshipping store, create your own products, or promote other people’s products on a blog. It just takes a little know-how and hard work to make it happen. 

    Start working on your new business today to build something meaningful and exciting. It’ll make sure time and effort are put to good use and will pay dividends over time as you build your online presence, find new customers, and make sales. 


    Make Money Online FAQ

    How can I make $100 a day on the web?

    1. Start a dropshipping store.
      1. Run a print-on-demand store.
      2. Sell custom products online.
      3. Sell handmade crafts on Etsy.
      4. Sell products on Amazon.
      5. Create digital products.
      6. Start an affiliate marketing business.
      7. Build online courses. 
      8. Sell freelance services.

          How can I make money right now?

          1. Start a Shopify ecommerce store and sell dropshipping products online
          2. Sell virtual assistant or freelance services on websites like Fiverr or Upwork 
          3. Sell used stuff on Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace
          4. Do micro-tasks on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program
          5. Tutor kids online in English
          6. Rent your unused space on Airbnb
          7. Drive for Uber or Lyft
          8. Create information products
          9. Become a Tasker on TaskRabbit
          10. Trade in items on Gazelle or Amazon for gift cards

            How do I make an extra $1,000 a month?

            1. Sell your photos online.
            2. Teach online classes.
            3. Sell services online. 
            4. Productize an industry skill set.
            5. Test websites on UserTesting.
            6. Buy and sell domain names.
            7. Online tutoring.

              How can I make money online in 2022?

              1. Start your own clothing line.
                1. Launch a dropshipping store.
                2. Flip your thrift store finds.
                3. Publish a book on Amazon Kindle.
                4. Start a blog.
                5. Become an influencer.
                6. Launch a podcast.
                7. Build apps and websites.
                8. Create handmade goods.
                9. Curate subscription boxes.
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