11 Simple Ways to Make Make Money Online (Best Side Jobs)

best ways to make money online

In today’s world, you can do just about anything without leaving your home. Like ordering food, video chatting with friends, or watching endless hours of Netflix. But what about working from home? Are there easy ways to make money online? If so, how do you find them?

I’ve been working remotely myself for the past few years. This includes freelancing, digital marketing, and blogging. I never go to an office because my whole job is virtual. I’m not going to lie — it’s pretty nice wearing my pajamas all day and using my couch as my workstation. The opportunity is there for you too. You just have to review the options below to determine what works best with your skillset.

Below are the top 11 ways of how to make money online (legitimately). Are there more than 11 ways? Of course. But these are the best side jobs that offer the most potential.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that some of these links are affiliate links. So if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll get a small commission at no cost to you. That helps to support me and keep this website running. Know that I only recommend products and software that I personally stand behind.

1. Create a Blog and Use Affiliate Marketing

start a blog to make money online

Are you a writer? Do you like making “content?” If so, then try starting a blog and use affiliate marketing to bring in some passive income. Anyone can be successful at blogging, as long as you’re consistent and have a plan. 

So how do you start a blog?

Think about what you know (or are willing to learn about). Does it fit into a niche that others might be interested in? That’s the first and most important question, because you need to have an audience. After all, if you don’t have people coming to your blog, you can’t make money from it.

So try to find a niche that has a reasonably sized audience, but isn’t too broad. For example, a lot of people might be interested in “travel,” but there are literally a bazillion other travel blogs to compete with. But if you go for a tighter, more specific niche like “solo travel,” “travelling with kids” or “travelling with a super low budget,” you’ve got yourself a more usable niche. You’ll have more potential to get people to your website.

After you’ve got your topic, then it’s time to build out that blog. So sign up for web hosting, design your blog’s look, and get cracking.

After you’ve launched your blog, you can make money in various ways:

  • Sign up with AdSense to have ads placed on your site — then earn a little money every time someone clicks on one.
  • Get into the affiliate marketing game with a few third party companies. Then when someone clicks on one of your affiliate links (via hyperlinks, a display ad or whatever), you can earn a commision. There are a bunch of top affiliate programs out there, with Amazon being the easiest to sign up for.
  • Promote your own ecommerce ventures (like ebooks or other products) straight from the blog.

Whatever your blog is about, keep the content coming. Keep adding fresh content that can be found by the search engines and drive traffic to your site.

2. Start a Podcast

start a podcast as a side business

Do you love to talk? Do you know other people who love to talk? Then you may be a good fit for podcasting. It’s another way to make extra income.

A podcast is really similar to a blog. You want to have a focused topic (or series of topics). You want to make sure there’s an audience who could discover it. And you want to create fresh content all the time to keep your audience engaged.

Think of all the topics that you (and other people you’d be podcasting with) could potentially talk about. Then do some research. Review other podcasts, Google Trends, and iTunes to survey the landscape and see how your podcast could fit in. Once you’ve got your niche all figured out, decide on the format (i.e. podcast length) and other show details. 

Then on to the nuts and bolts. Get yourself a good mic that can plug directly into your computer (they’re not too expensive), a quiet place to record, and a podcast hosting service to upload everything to. I always recommend Buzzsprout or Podbean (for additional options, you can read my full podcast hosting comparisons). Now you’re all set.

When you’re actually recording, make an effort to be interesting and hook the audience. If you’re not sure if your podcast is engaging, ask a trusted tell-it-like-it-is friend (we all have one of those) to give a listen and tell you what she thinks.

It’s also helpful to be consistent. So instead of dropping new episodes whenever they’re ready, post them at a consistent day and time. This will train your followers to know when to expect new episodes. So if you consistently post new eps at, say, 8am every Tuesday and Friday, your followers will be ready to download and listen.

How do you make money from a podcast? Think advertising, donations, and affiliate marketing. Better yet, see if you can incorporate all three.

3. Build an Ecommerce Site

build an ecommerce site and sell products

Online shopping has grown year after year, which is why it has so much income potential. There’s already a huge audience, you just have to figure out what you want to sell (i.e. clothes, exercise equipment, school supplies, etc.). And with the way ecommerce works, you don’t even have to worry about storing the items you’re selling. That’s where dropshipping comes into play.

What is dropshipping?

Dropshipping means that you sell a product, it ships, you collect money for it, and you never actually see the product. Basically, you set up a website that sells a product (for example, fitness trackers). When a customer clicks to buy it, it’s the supplier that ships it out — not you. You’re just the middleman, the person who makes the transaction happen. Your role is to get a person to your website and make the product seem compelling enough that they’ll want to buy it. 

There are a lot of dropshipping companies that sell a wide variety of products. These include Shopify, Sprocket, Wholesale2b and Oberlo, just to name a few. So hook up with one (or more than one), find some products that you’d like to sell, then add them to your site.

Of course, you may prefer to ship products yourself. If you only expect to sell a very small amount of products, you might be able to personally manage it all. But if you’re thinking bigger, then you’ll probably want an ecommerce platform to help manage it all. These platforms can be surprisingly affordable, and are useful if you’re already doing well and want to scale. Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce are the top three platforms I would recommend starting with.

4. Freelance from Home

Freelancing is one of the most common ways to make money online, and it’s also one of the most appealing. Who doesn’t want to work their own hours? If you’re feeling productive one day, you can try to book a bunch of work. If you’re feeling lazy, skip it entirely and take the day off.

What kind of work can you do on a freelance basis? Well, anything really, as long as you find someone willing to pay you. Think about your skills, then sell your services on sites like freelancer.com, fivver or upwork.

Here are some of the more common at-home freelance jobs:

  • Digital marketing (SEM, SEO, etc.)
  • Social media manager
  • Graphic designer
  • Accountant
  • Tutor
  • Virtual assistant
  • Web developer
  • Writer/editor

For some of these, you could find yourself working on a regular basis. For others, it could be more of a one-off. No matter what type of work it is, you’ll still have to do some legwork to be successful. This includes setting up a compelling profile on freelance job sites, adding a high-quality headshot, prepping examples of your work, and having a reasonable hourly rate. 

5. Make an Online Course

make an online course

Are you noticing a theme with a lot of these methods to earn passive income? It’s knowing what skills you bring to the table, then figuring out how to sell them as a product or service. For example, if you’re really good at Photoshop, why not make an online Photoshop class? If you’ve mastered Microsoft Excel, make an online course to show others how to do it. It’s a simple side job to do from home.

Setting up your online course isn’t as complex as it may seem. Let’s say you’re an expert on painting with watercolors. Here’s what you could do:

  • Decide what your course entails. (Does it use videos? Text? Live Zoom sessions? Interactive elements? Some combination of all of these?)
  • Provide online materials and examples for your students to reference.
  • Choose how you will communicate with your students and give them feedback (if that’s something you want to do).
  • Make a series of lessons that teach your painting techniques, building new skills off the ones you taught in earlier lessons.
  • Market yourself with an attractive, compelling website (and figure out how to drive traffic to it).
  • Figure out the nuts and bolts of the whole thing (cost of the course, how people can “drop out” of a class, FAQs, etc.).

The beauty of an online course is that once you’ve set it up, a big chunk of your work is done. Then you can focus on marketing it to your audience to encourage them to sign up. You can even offer students a discount on any additional courses you create, to incentivize them to continue with your online classes. 

6. Become an Influencer

become a social influencer as a side business

If you’ve ever been to Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably seen celebrities getting paid a ton of cash to promote a product. While we would all love to be able to earn $50k per post, it takes a lot of followers to make that happen. Being a micro-influencer is a much more realistic (and still profitable) option — especially at the beginning. 

While an influencer may have 100,000 or even a million followers, a micro-influencer probably has less than 10k. But they’re still in demand for paid sponsorships because their followers are really into whatever they post about. Hiring micro-influencers could also make more financial sense for big companies, allowing them to spread sponsorships across 100 micro-influencers rather than one big celebrity influencer.

Being a micro-influencer won’t make you a millionaire overnight. In fact, 97% of micro-influencers charge less than $500 for a promotion post. But hey, $500 is more than $0. 

When you first start on the influencer path, find your focus. In other words, nail down your niche. If you just post a bunch of random stuff (your dog one day, a political diatribe the next day), it’ll be a lot harder to build an audience. Pick one niche and lean hard into it.

If your first thought is gaming or beauty, just know that your niche is the same as many, many, others. So there will be a ton of competition. But if you can find a unique angle, you can set yourself apart.

Next tip: post new content regularly. Whether it’s on Instagram or YouTube, you’re not going  to gain any traction if you’re not putting up pictures or videos on a regular basis. Give your audience a lot to look at. Give them a reason to follow or like you. And again, be consistent with the type of content you post.

What else can you do to gain traction? Share your opinions, since others who feel the same way could flock to you. Grow your audience by networking with other influencers. Find opportunities to make guest appearances on each others’ platforms. If you work together, you can both expose yourselves to each other’s audiences. 

It may be tough trying to connect with influencers who are already established, so start out gradually. Reply to their posts with insightful comments. Ask thoughtful questions and maybe you’ll get an occasional response. Then see if you can build some rapport and go from there.

You can also network in person. There are a ton of industry events (some small, some gigantic) with opportunities to do this very thing. So get out there to VidCon, the Mom 2.0 Summit, FinCon, etc. to get started.

Once you’re established (or on your way), hit up an influencer marketing platform. These are services that connect the dots between brands and content creators. There are a TON of these, many with specializations. A few of the big players include Activate, AspireIQ and FameBit. So take a look and see if you can find a connection. If you can make it work, this is definitely a lucrative way on how to make money online.

7. Write an eBook

write and sell an ebook on the Internet

If you’re a good writer (or if writing interests you), you can try self-publishing a book. Write about things you know, your personal expertise, or a story. Whatever you want to try, there might just be a market for it. Self-publishing means you can experiment with different things (topics, lengths, etc.), so see what works best. It just comes down to how you package your product.

These days, there’s easy access to all the tools you need to put your book together. Hire a third party copy editor to edit your work. Find an ultra cheap artist on Fiverr to design an eye-catching book cover. Then publish via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in under an hour. All of these resources are just a click away, so why not take advantage?

If you publish for Kindle, that doesn’t mean Amazon is the only place where your ebook will live. You can sell it right on your own website too. Doing that allows you to set your own prices and keep every penny of profit that you earn.

There are other ways to generate some income from your ebook. Use affiliate links. Offer sample chapters as a single (cheap) purchase, rather than just selling the book as a whole. Or try a subscription model if you have a lot of content that you’re ready to self-publish. If you present options to your consumers, they can make a purchase on their own terms.

8. Get Crafty on Etsy

start an online business on etsy

Ahhh, Etsy. The digital marketplace to buy so many handcrafted items. You used to only find homemade things at swap meets and flea markets. And while those do still exist, it’s so much easier to browse through a massive website to find what you’re looking for. Want to see the scope of Etsy’s offerings? Just go to Etsy.com and search for “bracelets.”

So if you’re the kind of person who likes to make stuff, why not sell it on Etsy? It’s an easy way to reach way more people than you ever could on the flea market circuit. 

Here’s how to get started with Etsy:

  • Visit Etsy.com and click Sell on Etsy at the bottom of the home page.
  • Choose your shop’s country, language and currency.
  • Choose your shop’s name.
  • Go through a few more simple steps to finalize the shop set-up process.
  • It’s optional, but you can make your shop stand out (and look professional) by adding a snazzy logo, welcome announcement, and “About” section.
  • Decide on your shop’s policies for shipping, exchanges, returns, etc.

Then add some products to your site and you’re ready to sell.

For each product, upload a clear photo (or better yet, multiple photos) so potential buyers will know exactly what they’re looking at. Add a descriptive title that includes keywords people would likely search for. So if you’re selling vintage baby blankets, make sure to include that phrase in your title.

The title also displays in the search results along with the photo. So make sure to put the keywords that people search for up front. And make sure your title is compelling.

  • Compelling title for a blanket: Vintage Baby Blankets | Assorted Styles and Colors
  • Non-compelling title for a blanket: Blankets that are great and comfy. You can get one for your baby.

Even though your products will live on a third-party website, it’s still up to you to market them, — even on Etsy itself. The most important thing is to make sure your product listings are optimized for Etsy searches. This means that each item should have a relevant title, up to 13 relevant tags (use all 13 of them!) and at least one clear photograph.

But don’t stop there. Connect your Etsy store to your social media pages so you can promote your items on Instagram, Pinterest, or wherever. Run sales and offer coupons (free shipping is always a hit). Join an Etsy team, so you can work with other folks who sell similar products. A team can be a great resource to gain knowledge and figure out what will work best for you.

So if you’ve got a room overstuffed with cool things that you’ve made — and you really need to get rid of some of it — then maybe opening an Etsy shop is the way to go. Might as well use your hobby as a way to earn a living online.

9. Rent Your Home on Airbnb

Do you have an extra bedroom that you never use? Do you like meeting new people from around the world? If you said yes to both of these questions, then maybe you could make extra money from home by being an Airbnb host.

Services like Airbnb (and similar companies like VRBO) have exploded the last few years because they offer a different travel experience than a hotel. Staying in a person’s house or apartment can be more comfortable and welcoming for many travellers. And a “local” who can tell them about the cool stuff in the neighborhood can make their stay extra special. 

Being a host and renting out part of your home isn’t something to be taken lightly. So make sure you’re okay with the idea of an unknown traveler staying in your home (and using your bathroom).

The beauty of Airbnb is that you rent out your space on your terms. Here’s what I mean:

  • You control the schedule. You can rent your space out a lot or very rarely. Rent it out only for short trips, long trips, or whatever you want. Just remember to keep your own obligations in mind. If you have family coming to visit or you’ll be out of town, don’t make those days available to guests. 
  • You set the prices. Experiment with different rates to see what works best. You can also offer discounts, prices that change based on the time of year, etc.
  • You make the rules. It’s your home after all. Just make sure to spell out the house rules in advance, before a guest locks in the booking.

Of course, none of this matters if you can’t get someone to book a stay. So make sure your Airbnb listing looks appealing. Post a lot of attractive, high quality pictures. Write a lot of detailed information about the space and the neighborhood itself. State whether you’ll be around or if the guest will have full run of the place. And when a potential guest contacts you with questions or concerns, get back to them quickly. It’s all part of being a good Airbnb host — and being able to make some extra money online.

10. Offer Transcription Services

Transcribing from videos and audio is another real way to make money from home. Think of those times when you see a transcription available for a video or audio file on a website. Well, somebody has to type up all of those transcriptions. So if you’ve got a steady internet connection, good listening skills and the ability to focus, transcribing could be a nice side job online.

There are a bunch of transcription websites out there like GoTranscript, Rev, TranscribeMe, SpeakWrite and Scribie, just to name a few. These sites generally manage the whole transcription process. They receive video and audio files from law firms, medical providers, podcasters and a slew of other sources. Then they farm the files out to transcribers, who listen carefully and type up what they hear.

I’m not going to lie. Transcribing isn’t for everybody. A lot of people wouldn’t want to listen to the same audio over and over to decipher and type up what was said. For many, it can get boring fast. But if you’re okay with the process, you can definitely earn some income here.

How much money you can make varies from company to company. And it’s complicated by the fact that there are different pay structures. For example, some companies pay by the audio hour (meaning an hour of actual audio you’re transcribing — not the hour of work that you put in) while some pay by audio minute. Keep in mind that it can take four real working hours to transcribe one audio hour of audio.

A pay rate of $15 to $25 per audio hour is pretty typical. But how much you earn really depends on how fast you work. Newbies usually start out slow, then pick up speed as they get more comfortable. If you get uber-serious about transcribing, you could invest in a foot pedal, which lets you rewind and playback audio quickly with your feet. This frees up your hands to type, type and type.

Check out some of the transcription websites (like the ones I mentioned above) and see what their requirements are. Some offer training, which is handy if you’ve never done this before. Often they’ll need you to take a test to prove you’re up for the job. It’s definitely worth practicing beforehand, using a free site like GoTranscript Practice or Listen and Write. Once you’re approved, you’re in the mix to start transcribing.

11. Buy and Sell Domain Names

Sell Domain Names

While flipping domain names isn’t the most exciting, trendy way to make a side income, it is pretty easy. You’re pretty much just buying domains with profit potential, then selling them off later.

Research what keywords are trending in Google Trends. Then check their search volume in Google’s Keyword Planner or SEMrush’s Keyword Research Tool. Look for keywords with a reasonable number of searches and a reasonably low amount of competition. That could help you choose what domain names you want to buy. After all, you can’t predict what domain names other people may want, but you can make an educated guess.

Next, check your preferred domain names at a site like Name.com, GoDaddy, or Register.com. Is the domain name you like available at a cost-effective price? Think carefully about the cost. After all, you’re taking a risk and hoping someone will want to buy it from you. If it doesn’t sell, you’ll be out whatever you paid for it.

After you’ve picked up the domain name of your dreams, it’s time to try and flip it. List it at popular sites like Afternic, Flippa, Sedo.com, or even eBay. And be patient. Just because you want to sell it right away, doesn’t mean somebody will want to buy it right away. You may have to play the long game here. That’s why you want to buy domain names based on thoughtful research, not just because they sound cool.

Final thoughts on how to make money online

With people spending more and more time on the Internet, now is the perfect time to try to capitalize on that audience. Whether it’s starting a blog, creating an online course, or doing remote freelance work, find a path that suits you. Then give it your best shot.

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