How to Make Money Online

Happy Friday morning! I hope everyone had a great week. Today’s topic is how to make money online, which is theoretically possible. The people that make the most money online are breaking the law to make it, which I can’t recommend. My mom reads these newsletters, so I won’t be telling you what those bad people are doing to make all that money online, but they do it. In all seriousness, it isn’t actually that hard to make money online now. It’s pretty easy to earn beer or coffee money on the internet if you know where to look, and I’m about to give you the inside scoop.

“Side hustles” are really popular right now. For those of you who don’t know what a side hustle is, it’s something people do in their spare time to make extra money. From driving for Uber or working a second job to starting a blog or YouTube channel, it seems like everyone these days is making money outside of their primary job.

Not all side hustles are created equal; some are worth your time and some aren’t. Side hustles come in two different forms: online and real life. Usually side hustles that get you out of the house tend to pay a little better, while online gigs are more accessible. This article will be all about how to make money online (for those of you who don’t want to leave the house), and side hustles that require you to put shoes on will be covered in a future article.

Can you make money online?

Who hasn’t seen the ads? “Work from home and make [a huge amount of money] every month!” As a teenager, I probably clicked on every one of these ads. I wanted nothing more than to stay at home all day and let the easy money from the internet roll in and pay the bills. The more ads I clicked, the more my frustration grew, and my dream of living off the internet was quickly dead. 

You probably won’t be able to get rich from working online, but you can make some money. I like to put online jobs into two categories: side hustles anybody can do, and side hustles that require a special talent or ability.

How anyone can make money online

There are some tasks online that almost anyone with a pulse can do to earn money. As you might expect, they don’t pay much. But if you’re really bored and looking for something to pass the time and make a few extra bucks, they might be worth the effort. Without further ado, here is my incomplete, non-conclusive list of different ways anyone can make money online:

  • Amazon MTurk lets you complete different tasks for money. These tasks are called HITs, or human intelligence tasks. The tasks range from surveys to studies to transcribing data. It’ll take a little while to get familiar with the system, but once you do you can earn a decent bit of cash. Some tasks have paid me upwards of $10 an hour, but you should probably expect to earn $5-$6 an hour or less consistently.

  • Online surveys can be an interesting way to make money. They are hardly ever worth the time it takes to fill out a survey, but there are a handful of different survey websites that are semi-reputable. Prolific, Pinecone Research, and Google Opinion Rewards are the only ones I can recommend. You won’t get rich, but if you have some downtime it might be worth it to fill out a survey. I even got a free box of tissues to test for filling out a survey one time (tissues were soft, but too thin).

  • Selling your stuff gets rid of clutter and puts a little more cash in your pocket. The most popular websites to sell on are eBay and Craigslist, but there are many different niche apps and websites for selling specific items, like electronics or women’s clothing. You can even have the mail person pick up your stuff, so you don’t have to leave the house. 

Those are the only reliable ways to make money online that require no skill that I know of. Fortunately, if you have some skills or abilities, there are many more options available to you.

Online side hustles that require a talent or ability

If you’ve got a unique skill or ability, you may be able to monetize it and make money online. Many businesses turn to the internet to find skilled freelancers for both ongoing and one-time jobs. Content creators are also going online more and more often. (I mean, what are they going to do instead, get a job at a newspaper?) 

I’ve monetized my writing in a few of the ways listed below and I’ve got to say, there’s nothing better than getting paid for something you enjoy doing. A few items on my list below are specific to writers and content creators, but most of you with unique skills should be able to find the side hustle for you.

  • Upwork connects you with businesses and entrepreneurs in search of freelancers. The environment can be competitive for good-paying jobs and it can be hard to get your first gig. Once you’re established on the Upwork platform and have some ongoing relationships, things get easier. I haven’t spent a ton of time on Upwork, but a few general rules: 1.) Never apply to gigs that require a ton of work just to apply. I’ll send my resume and the standard writing sample I send to everyone, and if they want more than that I stop pursuing the job. 2.) Define the relationship upfront. How much will you be paid, and will it be hourly or per job? Is this an ongoing relationship or a one time job?

  • Medium is a platform writers can post their content on and potentially earn money. Medium is great for writers looking to build an audience and reach more readers. They do pay through their partner program, so popular stories and articles have the chance to earn decent money. 

  • Blogging can be very lucrative for some people. The top bloggers earn millions of dollars per year, but most bloggers earn less than $3.50 per day. To be a successful blogger, you need to create quality content, publish on a regular schedule, and steadily grow your audience. It takes a lot of work to get your blog off the ground, and success isn’t guaranteed, even if you are an amazing writer. 

  • YouTube might be the most popular gathering place for content creators. There are about 3 million YouTube channels with over 1,000 subscribers, and over 23 million channels total. The most popular YouTubers monetize their content and make millions of dollars per year from YouTube and sponsorships. Not everyone has what it takes to be a successful YouTuber, and creating quality content that keeps people coming back and building an audience takes time.

  • Teaching online is more like an actual job than a side hustle. Hours can be flexible, and you don’t have to work when you don’t want to. There are usually education requirements you have to meet to be a teacher online, but the pay is pretty good. Some popular sites, like VIPkid, can pay the equivalent of about $20 an hour. If you have the educational background and are looking from a flexible, work-from-home job, teaching online is a great option.

  • Etsy lets you put your creativity to use and sell handmade items (or other stuff) online. Etsy is a great place for creatives like photographers and designers to sell their work. If people really like your work, Etsy could turn into a full-time business.

There are probably many other ways for you to use your skills and abilities to make money online that I’m not familiar with. Selling your skilled labor online can be very lucrative, but it can take years to build up a reliable income stream from the internet. Make sure you go in with low expectations and don’t expect to make much money starting out.

Know what your time is worth

Whatever type of tasks or labor you’re performing online, make sure you aren’t selling yourself short. It’s probably not worth your time to fill out mindless surveys for hours on end for a couple extra bucks. Making any money online may not be for you; it can be a lot of work, and the return might not be great. Your time is the most valuable resource you have, so don’t give it away for pennies on the dollar.

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