This article is a list of 14 legit ways to make money online.
This article is not a list of ways to make money online by taking surveys, changing your default web browser or watching TV. Those online money making options are mostly scams.
It is highly possible for almost anyone with enough time and work ethic to make money online. All around the U.S. and around the world, people make money online in almost any career and industry you could think of, as both entrepreneurs and freelancers, as sellers and resellers, through websites, affiliate programs and sponsorships or even just by making YouTube videos. People even make money online working in regular everyday jobs.
It’s possible to make money online at many different levels, including making millions, running a business, earning a full time or part time living or even just making beer money. While it’s exponentially harder to make millions than it is to make a living, the basic principles are easy to grasp.
How to Make Money Online: Many, Many Methods
Below we detail lots of methods to make money online, including:
- Building your own moneymaking website
- Affiliate programs
- Online ads
- YouTube videos
- Selling products and services
- Working for a company
- Selling ideas
The list is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you a good start. Anyone should be able to find at least one or two ways below to make money online to match their skill set. Any one method could bring in anything from beer money all the way up to earning a living and beyond.
Before working online became a reality, freelancers either had to live in a specific area or travel to those areas to get a job. These days with online tools like websites, email, social marketing, instant messaging and video conferencing, a freelancer can connect with a lot more people a lot faster and easier, without ever leaving the home office.
Not every line of work lends itself to freelancing, but people can and do make money online as freelancers in lots of different professions, including:
- Mobile Development
- Graphic Design
- Web Design
Starting Out: Use a Freelancer Website
Most freelancers struggle to make money online at first. There are several websites that connect different kinds of freelancers with clients. The pay is low because the freelancer doesn’t have a reputation yet. Still, people who want to start out making some money online can do so very quickly by using one of the websites listed below.
- BloggingPro Job Board
- MediaBistro Freelance Job Listings
- LinkedIn Freelance Job Board
- Enroll.com (specifically for academic tutors)
To find a freelance website that fits your skill set, do a google search.
Beyond the Mass Freelancer Websites
Successful freelancers use networking to build a client list. Online networking combines strong social skills with a portfolio website, social media, recurring work and referrals. Build at least a very thorough LinkedIn bio or a small website with a portfolio. Then use social media to spread that website. To learn this skill, get a solid book on social media marketing like The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki.
Once you land a client, work very hard to make them happy. Recurring work means earning more money in less time. Referrals are gold because most clients will take the word of a friend or colleague over a billion dollars worth of advertising.
Build Your Own Blog or Online Magazine
The next three ways to make money online are all based on making a website that draws in readers.
Video below from Google shows one way it can be done.
Also see: 5 Ways to Make Money With Your Car
Websites based on reader views and clicks make money in lots of different ways. Be warned that there’s a ton of competition and in general there’s a very slow ramp up. It may take one to three years to get enough page views to earn a living, if it ever happens at all.
Here are three ways to make money online with blogging or content:
2. Online Ad Programs
Online advertising powers almost all the websites you visit on a daily basis, large and small. Ads are the most common way to make money online. Almost anyone can start off with Google AdSense or Bing Ads.
The value of ad clicks will vary wildly depending on subject of the ads and the subject of your website. So for example a site that has a lot of car articles will make a lot more money per click than a site about stuffed animals.
Ads online are heavily performance based. You need to attract tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of readers per month to make a full time living on with online ads.
3. Affiliate Programs
Affiliate marketing is a great way to make money online when someone buys a product you recommend.
Also see: Make Money Now: Rent Out Your Garage
Affiliate marketing works when you recommend a product, either on your blog, in an email or on social media. Someone clicks the link and buys the product either immediately or within a set period of time. You get a percentage of the sale, often 5-10%.
Affiliate Programs Make Money Online Even With Small Audiences
The beauty of affiliate programs is, the barrier to entry is very, very low. Nobody can go up to a huge Fortune 500 company and say I have a new app or website and hey, Verizon, can you give me a couple hundred dollars a month to go advertise? It’s not even worth it for them to take your call. However, just about anyone with a quality website can sign up for services that will automatically add affiliate links.
You don’t even have to run a huge website. If you’re “that guy” in your circle of friends who knows everything about cell phones or tires, you can even email affiliate links to friends and family. If everyone’s always asking you about cars, tires and brakes, you can sign up for the TireRack.com’s affiliate program and make money on that. You can even use Facebook to make affiliate dollars. Long story short, affiliate marketing is a very direct way and a good way to make money online even if you have a smaller audience.
The video below gives a good intro to affiliate marketing.
A Few Affiliate Aggregators
Affiliate aggregators are ways to bring together affiliate programs from lots of different companies. The aggregators below might pull together affiliate programs from companies that sell shoes, cameras, cars and so on.
- Commission Junction
- Digital River
- Rakuten Linkshare
- Blue Moon Digital
Another way to make money online with your own website is with sponsorships. Not every website will pull in enough visitors to make money with affiliate programs or Google ads. Sponsorships work by pulling together a relatively small group of people with similar interests and then selling space on the site to companies that cater to those interests.
For example, if you have a website dedicated to everything about paddleboards, you might not get enough affiliate or ad revenue to make a living. But a paddleboard company or a collection of paddleboard companies might pay a small amount each to sponsor the site.
5. Make Money Online From YouTube Videos
The next three ways to make money online involve posting YouTube videos. Here’s a basic intro:
Also see: How Much Money Does Daisy Ridley Make?
YouTube video producers get paid based on how many times viewers watch their ads. There are often commercials before, during and after YouTube videos. YouTube will share the majority of the revenue from those ads with people who have signed up for their monetization process. In general, newcomers make about $4 per 1,000 views from ad revenue. In case you’re wondering, that means you’d need about 13 million views per year to earn $50,000.
The hardest way to make money from YouTube videos is by posting videos that entertain people. People in this category are comedians and pundits who give commentary on the daily news or other events. You have to be extremely funny or entertaining to make that work and the reality is that most people just can’t do it.
One example is PewDiePie. This 25 year old has built a net worth of over $40 million dollars just from playing video games and cracking jokes. He has almost 11 billion YouTube views to date. Want to give him another .0007 cents? Just click the video below and watch his ad.
Also see: PewDiePie Net Worth
How to Videos
There are several girls and women who make six figures a year showing others how to do their makeup and hair. There are other people who make six figures showing people how to do home repair.
For example, makeup guru Michelle Phan has almost 8 million subscribers and over a billion views.
There is also a woman who does nothing but unbox Disney collectibles in YouTube videos and has almost 5 million subscribers and 7 billion views.
If this woman makes $1 per 1,000 views and she gets a billion views, she’s made $7 million dollars. It’s actually estimated that she makes $4.9 million dollars per year. To put that into perspective, Taylor Swift has 1.3 million subscribers and 101 million views. The woman who unboxes Disney toys on YouTube makes 70 times more money online than Taylor Swift.
Another way people make money online with YouTube videos is with learning videos. Different from how to videos that teach a single task, educational videos teach entire subjects like music or math. An example of that is the Khan Academy. Salman Khan is a very smart MIT graduate whose cousin was having trouble with high school math. He made some videos to help her with his skills. When other people asked to see the videos, he posted them on YouTube. His videos about how to do math became so popular that he was able to monetize it. Today his revenue is $15.8 million per year. Bill Gates even used the videos to teach math to his own children.
Also see: How Much Do the Top Ten Youtubers Make?
The next three ways to make money online deal with selling products.
It might seem like you can buy everything online already but there are little niches of products that aren’t served as well as they could be by the larger companies. That leaves some holes and opportunities for people to make a full time living selling a very narrow range of products.
The Beauty of Selling Online is the Ease of Entry
People who make money online as sellers don’t have to build a marketplace. They don’t have to build Amazon, eBay or Etsy because those sites already exist. It was actually Amazon’s plan that instead of lots and lots of other online sales websites popping up to compete with Amazon, lots and lots of other businesses and people would “sit on top of” Amazon. That goal has come true. In fact, if you can buy something wholesale and sell it cheaper than Amazon you can compete with them on their own website.
6. Buy Wholesale, Sell Retail
Most people can’t expect to buy a lot of TV sets at wholesale prices and sell them online because TVs are generic items you can buy anywhere. But there are people who make money buying specific, hard to find items wholesale that require some level of expertise and then sell them for retail prices. For example some specialty tools, specialty cameras and specialty watches can be bought and sold for profit online. There isn’t a watch retailer in every town in America, so people can make money online by selling watches.
Teal House Collection is a great example. The company was started by a millennial who lost her job working a jewelry store. She built her own online jewelry store with Shopify. She got customers by networking with bloggers with big readerships. The bloggers share pictures of products they like on Instagram and she gets business.
7. Sell Niche Items Online
Selling online might seem daunting, but it could be as simple as finding things people are discarding and giving them a home. Take vintage computers as an example. That’s not something people necessarily would think, everyone is going to want to buy. But there are probably enough people in America who’d want to buy whatever their first computer was for the sake of nostalgia. So I could probably go out and buy used old computers that nobody wants and then clean them up and sell them as collectibles. In fact, a quick search turns up a vintage Nintendo seller online.
Not sure how to set up your own online store? Check out GoDaddy Online Stores for a fast solution that’s as easy as setting up a Facebook page.
Existing Stores Where You Can Sell Things Online
- Amazon. Amazon has a slick, smooth, easy to use selling website that has over 270 million customer accounts. There are several ways to sell on Amazon, including selling wholesale products, making and selling your own products, selling used items and even buying retail items that aren’t currently sold on Amazon and selling those things there for a premium. For our instructions on how to sell things on Amazon, click here.
- eBay. eBay isn’t just a place to sell used phones and sporting goods. As with Amazon, people make money selling on eBay in a number of ways, including buying wholesale goods and selling them for retail prices, buying and selling used goods, making their own products to sell and having products made for them.
- Etsy. The top Etsy sellers have made hundreds of thousands of sales. For example, “The Velvet Acorn” is an Etsy store that sells patterns for people who want to knit cute winter hats for their children. The store has made over 140,000 sales. Since the patterns sell for about $5 each, the store has sold over $700,000 in merchandise. People also sell baby bonnets, pottery, furniture, artwork and just about anything else handmade on the site.
8. Invent a Product to Sell Online
People can and do make money online by selling their own products from a small online store. As an example, a company called Scottevest makes and sells vests and other clothing with extra pockets for professionals like photographers, laboratory employees and business people. Scottevest has no physical stores but sells nearly 100% of their products online. The company was founded by inventor Scott E. Jordan. So far, Jordan has sold over $15 million of his clothing. He doesn’t personally produce anything but came up with the idea and hired others to create it.
Another really good example is bullet bouquets. The company sells flowerpots with bouquets of flowers made from fired hollow point bullets. The founder saw the idea online and realized he could turn it into a business. Within three hours he had a website. In one month he had enough income from his online store to replace his income as a full time engineer.
Make Money Online by Selling Services
The next two ways to make money online involve selling services.
There are some services you can perform for people at a distance. Obviously services like landscaping or housekeeping don’t fall into this category because to do those jobs you need to be physically present. However, some services can be performed for customers from nearly any location on the planet. Below, I’ve listed a couple of examples of ways people make money online by selling services at a distance.
9. Put Photos Online for People
There are companies that make money online by scanning in photos and putting them online in digital form. These companies also often create digital versions of slides and home videos. Photo scanning services are just one example of a service that can be done at a distance.
10. Make Documentaries About People’s Parents
There are people who make money online by making “documentaries” of people’s aging parents. Children of aging parents often want to create some sort of record of their parents’ lives before it is too late. To fill this need, people with video production skills can have people mail them boxes of old photos and then scan them into a computer. They can also interview the parents over the phone, even going as far as to mail an inexpensive video camera for the parents or their children to set up to record the interview. They can then write and record narration to go with the photos and the video and stitch the documentary together.
11. Sell a Local Service
If you’re a gardener, you can’t sell gardening services on a website. However, there are tools geared toward bringing customers together with local service providers.
A friend of mine who has a local moving business used an online service called Yodle to get customers. Now he’s slammed with work. On their website, Yodle displays success stories by architects, accountants, animal control specialists, lawyers, accountants, cleaning services, dentists and basically any other service profession you can think of. Another online service that works like Yodle is called Thumbtack.
12. Work Online for a Company
The beauty of working online for an existing company is that a lot of people can do it without leaving the company they already work for. It won’t happen for everyone but for some, switching from working in a cubicle to working online could be as simple as asking their boss.
I’ve had friends who have made the switch in an instant. Typically it’s a situation where they’re very good at their job and their company doesn’t want to or can’t afford to lose them. For example a computer analyst friend had worked at a company in Silicon Valley for five years. He had a talk with his boss about his wife’s pregnancy and that they wanted to move out to the country. Instead of spending weeks, months or in many cases years to get up and running making money online, my friend just had a one hour meeting with his boss.
While not every boss will agree to letting an employee work online full time, some may agree to at least one or two days a week of online work from home.
Also see: How to File Your Taxes Free Online
Finding a Job to Make Money Online
Not all the jobs listed on the sites below will let you work online. Most are just regular jobs. Search “work online” and “work from home” in these sites though, and you’ll find some online work options. Did we say it would be easy? It won’t. Finding work online can be just as hard as finding any other kind of job.
Companies That Let You Make Money Online
- Adobe Systems
- General Electric – GE
- Nationwide Insurance
- Automatic (WordPress)
- CVS Caremark
- Thomson Reuters
- Teach For America
- UnitedHealth Group
- American Heart Association
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- American Express
Some Careers that Let You Work Online
- Medical transcriptionist
- Virtual assistant
- Web developer
- Graphic Designer
- Call center representative
- Tech support specialist
- Travel agent
13. Sell Ideas to Make Money Online
Another way to make money online is by selling ideas. An idea that makes just one life easier might not be worth a lot of money. But with the internet, someone with one small idea can make thousands of lives easier. Selling those ideas can add up a lot of money fast, and there are websites set up for just those kinds of sales.
As an example, teacher Deanna Jump became a millionaire by selling dozens of small teaching ideas to other teachers on a site called TeachersPayTeachers.
14. Make Beer Money Online
This article’s focus is on making real, legit money online. However, it wouldn’t be complete without the beer money category. While nobody is going to get rich or even earn a living using any of the methods below, people can definitely use them to scare up extra cash for the weekend.
Fiverr connects workers with people who need things done. People can make money on Fiverr by offering almost any kind of service, including writing press releases, recording voiceovers, designing business cards and fixing WordPress errors.
Fiverr jobs start at just $5 each but can go as high as $500.
Website Testing Sites
There are several websites that let people make money online by trying out and reviewing websites. One example is UserTesting.com.
Signing up as a tester is free, and testers get paid $10 each time they complete a 20 minute recorded test, then answer four written questions. Testers need a computer, microphone and PayPal account. While it may seem like someone could make $30 an hour on this site, it’s doubtful that would translate to reality. It’s likely a tester would run out of testing jobs long before completing a year’s worth of work on these sites. Since it is possible to make some money doing website testing, here’s a list of sites that do it:
- UserTesting.com: Make $10 for a 20 minute recorded survey, plus answer four written questions. Testers will likely run out of tests before making a living.
- UxLine.com: Spanish language website testing.
Sell Your Stuff
We described in detail above the many ways that people can make money online by selling products on Amazon, Craigslist and eBay. On a much smaller scale, someone who just needs to scare up $50 can probably do it by rummaging through their attic and finding a few used items and placing ads for them online.