Legitimate Ways to Make Money Online

Creating an online side hustle is an effective way to earn some extra money. You might be saving up for a major financial goal or you might be trying to build a business that lets you quit your day job. In fact, this growing trend of working beyond the regular 9 to 5 job has expanded to 43% of Americans who are already in the workforce

It’s not too late to join in and take advantage of making money online. There are plenty of opportunities for you to make money at home from the comfort of your laptop. Choose one (or more) of these legitimate ways to start earning more by working online. Start with some easy wins for fast cash, then move onto earning opportunities that pay off over the long haul.

Quick Ways to Make Money Online

Jump in the money-making game with some of these easy, fast ways to supplement your income. Some of these earn you more than others, but all are legitimate ways to make more than you did yesterday.

Take Surveys

Plenty of market research companies pay people to give their opinions on a wide range of topics through short surveys. You won’t earn a million dollars anytime soon, but you can start accumulating a few extra dollars here and there while hardly taking any time out of your day.

Do a little research to make sure you work with a reputable survey company. Legitimate companies include Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, Pinecone Research, OneOpinion, and Opinion Outpost. 

Watch Movies and Videos

Similar to taking surveys, you can also watch short video ads with Swagbucks to earn cash. Called Swag TV, you can pick which videos you want to watch and earn up to 500 Swagbucks points a day. That’s more than enough to qualify for a $5 Amazon gift card. If you do this daily, you could potentially earn over $200 to spend on Amazon each month. 

Other companies offering cash in exchange for video views include MyPoints, FusionCash, and Perk.TV. Check each company to see how you redeem points (whether through cash or gift cards) and at what amount threshold you can redeem them.

Use Cash Back Apps for Online Shopping

There are plenty of rewards sites that give you money simply for making purchases at other websites through their affiliate link. In short, you make money on purchases you would have made anyway. 

Many of these companies also offer signup bonuses, giving you an extra $10 or $15 before you even get started. When you’re ready to make a purchase, say at Amazon or Kohls.com, you can see what cash back offer is available. Spending $100 at Kohls with a 6% cash back deal, for example, could land you $6 in your account. Imagine how all of that extra cash could add up over the course of a year. Check out popular sites offering cash back rewards include Rakuten, iBotta, and Dosh.

Automate Your Subscription Services

There are a few apps out there that help you put more money in your pocket with an easy automated process of reducing your expenses. Apps like Truebill and Trim help you do this in a couple of different ways. First, they’ll renegotiate expenses like your cable and internet. They’ll also facilitate refunds from these service providers anytime there’s an outage.

These apps also analyze your ongoing subscriptions and cancel them on your behalf (with your approval first). The idea is to uncover hidden money-sucks in your budget that you may not even realize you’re spending. When a saving opportunity is executed, the app company charges you a percentage of those savings.

Get Paid to Search

Similar to survey companies, you can earn money by searching the Internet with a specific search engine rather than the usual Google or Bing. InboxDollars is a great example of getting paid to search for things you were already looking for online. 

Work Out (and Get Paid)

If you’re an exercise enthusiast (or want extra motivation to shed some pounds), sign up for an app that gamifies the weight loss process. WellCoin and FitCoin are two options through which you can earn rewards when you work out that can later be redeemed for gift cards or workout gear. 

Other apps like PACT and DietBet let you place money in a pool before setting workout challenges. The winners then get to split the money. Just be careful that you don’t actually lose money with these betting-style apps!

Get Refunds on Previous Purchases

You probably don’t take the time to review old purchases and find potential refunds you may qualify for. But there are some apps that do exactly that for you. Paribus and Earny both scan your online purchases and your credit card price protection benefits. When a refund is available, the app negotiates the refund process then deducts a percentage of the savings before sending you the money. 

Serve as an Online Juror

Becoming an online juror may not be consistent, but it can be an interesting way to earn anywhere between $10 and $60 per gig. Some companies pay online jurors to help gauge the effectiveness of a lawyer’s case before the trial. Others create mock trials that require more of a time commitment, but typically also pay better.

Reputable companies in this area include eJury, JuryTalk, and OnlineVerdict. To be eligible, you need to be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old, and not a convicted felon.

Sell Items Online

Selling things online takes more of an effort than the money-making strategies we’ve talked about so far, but there’s also the potential to earn more. Start by looking within your own house to see what you want to get rid of. Then take some photos and list them on a site like eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

With eBay, you’ll need to account for shipping costs and with Facebook, you’ll need to actually meet the buyer. As you start to make money, consider reinvesting a portion of your profits to start buying new items to sell. Do some research on similar items that have already sold so you can pick things with a large profit margin (and avoid selling them at a loss). From vinyl records to Disney gear, you can easily take some inexpensive yard sale finds and flip them online for quick money.

Sell Crafts, Vintage Goods, or Downloadables on Etsy

Etsy is a diverse marketplace for any number of goods and you don’t have to be a skilled artisan to jump on the bandwagon. In addition to hand-crafted wares, you can also sell things like printable planners, craft supplies, and vintage finds.

Sell Used Books

Selling books online might not come with the highest margins, but it can be a fun side hustle, especially if you’re a book hoarder. For textbooks, BookScouter is an excellent resource for finding the best buyer for your stock. For regular books, there are a number of options available in person and online. The Amazon trade-in program, for example, makes shipping easy and pays in gift cards. 

Teach English to Foreign Students

As long as you have a college degree, you can also make money online by teaching English to foreign students via videoconferencing. Earn up to $30 an hour and set your own schedule based on your availability. Part of the application process usually includes a mock classroom to showcase your teaching skills before getting hired.

Since many companies focus on students in Asian countries like China, you’ll most likely teach at night or in the early morning. This makes it an excellent option if you work daytime hours or have children on your own and want to earn extra money outside of your other responsibilities. VIPKID, EF, and Teach Away are a few of the most popular options to consider.

Tutor Online

If you need different hours or have expertise in a specific subject area, you can also make money by tutoring online. In most cases, you’ll still need a four-year degree and some companies may also require that you have a teaching certificate. 

Once you meet the basic qualification requirements, find a company that specializes in your expertise, from K-12 subjects to standardized test prep. You could earn between $30 and $40 an hour as a math or English tutor, or up to $85 an hour for more specialized subjects. It’s a great way to make money whether you’re a recent college graduate, a stay at home parent, or a current teacher looking for supplemental income.

Become an Airbnb Host

Even if you don’t own a rental property, you can earn money through Airbnb. There are a couple of ways you can become a legitimate host. The most straightforward option is to rent out a spare bedroom in your home. Airbnb helps to verify guests’ identities so you can worry less about potential creepers, plus you can opt to only allow guests with positive reviews from other hosts.

If you don’t have a spare room to rent out, consider becoming an Airbnb experience host. You can now offer “experiences” on Airbnb, which lets travellers book unique excursions or tours with locals like you. Current experiences listed on Airbnb include anything from having tea with a sheep farmer (charging $43/person) to taking a Polaroid photography class while walking through New York City (charging $125/person). Get creative with your skill set and make an online Airbnb experience listing.

Turn Your Car into a Rental

Just as you can rent out an unused room in your home, you can also rent out a car you don’t use every day of the week. You can earn hundreds of dollars a month simply by snapping a few photos of your car and uploading them to a rental platform.

Options like Turo and Getaround rent your car to recreational drivers, such as tourists visiting your area who don’t want to go through a traditional car rental company. Others, like HyreCar, rent your car out for ridesharing to drivers with Uber or Lyft. 

Another option is TravelCar, which is ideal for frequent travelers. Rather than parking at the airport when you go out of town, you get paid to rent to others who are visiting your city while you’re gone. On top of earning money for each mile driven on your vehicle, TravelCar also returns your ride with a complimentary car wash. 

Long-Term Ways to Make Money Online

Quick cash is great, but it’s also smart to diversify your income with some longer-term gigs. Some of these ideas require special expertise, while others just need some time to get going. 

Become a Blogger

Does it seem like everyone has a blog these days? That’s probably because you can eventually make quite a bit of money right from home. It takes time to write consistent content and grow your audience, but once you do, you can monetize your blog in several ways. Common strategies include incorporating paid ads, affiliate links, or sponsored blog posts from companies that want to reach your target audience.

The key blogging successfully is to find a niche that is interesting to you so that you can put that passion behind your writing. Start by creating great content for your ideal audience, then continue to add more sophisticated components to your efforts, like growing your social media presence. Once you develop a following (which could take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years), you can likely start to monetize your blog. 

Become a YouTuber

Starting a YouTube channel to earn money online is similar to blogging, except you present your content in a very different way: through video. Once you hit 10,000 total views on your channel, you can partner with YouTube and get paid to have ads placed in your videos. You can also sell products and promote sponsored content, just as you would with a blog post. 

For inspiration, consider some of YouTube’s most popular verticals: gaming, kid’s story times, tutorials, product reviews, and food.

Write an E-book

Self-publishing not only gets your name and message out there, it can also get you paid. Interestingly, you can even earn beyond the e-book sales themselves. Since it’s a digital product, consider writing on a topic that allows you to recommend affiliate products and services. 

Not only do you get that initial payment, you’ll also receive a commission anytime a reader uses the link to make a purchase you recommended. Brainstorm topics from this perspective so you can maximize your income from an e-book.

Sell Photographs

With quality cameras becoming more affordable than ever, it’s easy to sell your photos online. Anyone with a web presence needs stock photos, from bloggers to digital marketers. Popular subjects range include people, landscapes, nature, and travel shots. 

If you’re unsure of what to focus on, browse photo marketplaces to explore in-demand subjects. Once you’ve established a portfolio, list your photos on a platform like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock. As a contributor, you’ll likely earn between 20% and 60% of your photos’ earnings.

Create a Drop Shipping Business

Drop shipping allows you to sell a product online without actually dealing with inventory. Instead, you partner with a wholesaler who manages the fulfillment end of the business. You, in turn,  create an online store and drive traffic to the website. When a customer places an order, it’s fulfilled by the supplier, not you. 

That means your upfront startup costs are quite minimal. You can easily create an online store inexpensively with templates from Squarespace or Shopify. Once you set up the shop and source your drop shipping supplier, you just need the marketing skills to grow your customer base and manage the relationships well. 

Sell Lesson Plans to Teachers

Teachers who already create lesson plans for their own students can make that work go further by selling their resources online to other teachers and homeschoolers. Simply upload materials on a website like Teachers Pay Teachers that other educators may be interested in using, like worksheets, literacy centers, and activities. Tag each item with the appropriate grade level and subjects so teachers can easily find what they’re looking for.

On Teachers Pay Teachers (or TPT for short), you must list your first item as a freebie, then charge for each item listed after that. Expect to earn 55% of your sales with a basic seller account and 80% with a premium seller account. You’ll also pay a transaction fee for each resource sold and premium members pay an annual membership fee of $59.95.

Create an Online Course

Do you have a skill set or hobby that friends and family frequently ask about? Or perhaps you’ve already been successful in a certain career or side hustle? Make a course about it to sell online! It definitely takes some upfront work but can become fairly passive over time. Plus, there’s no need to get crazy with video editing. You could make something as simple as a PowerPoint presentation with your voiceover on top. 

There are plenty of platforms to list your online course, such as Udemy and Teachable. Alternatively, integrate an online course into your own platform, especially if you already have an online following to tap into.

Become a Freelancer

There are countless ways to make money as an online freelancer, regardless of your professional background. Either leverage your existing talent to quickly get started or you can learn a new skill and start picking up clients after a short period.

Companies and entrepreneurs all have countless tasks to outsource. Hiring a freelancer is often more convenient than hiring an employee, especially if the business doesn’t have the need for full-time work. Here are some of the most popular online freelancing jobs to consider. You can also browse job listings on websites like Upwork and Fiverr to get ideas of what you’d be good at.

Web Developer: When you learn to crack the code and create customized websites, you can build your online business with a range of businesses that either need a new website or want to relaunch an existing one. 

Freelance Writer: As a freelance writer, craft anything from blog posts to email copy. You’ll have more success in landing clients if you pick an area you’re already familiar with and highlight your past experience.

Editor or Proofreader: Grammar nerds earn anywhere between $20 and $85 an hour perfecting someone else’s work. 

Social Media Manager: If you know how to craft a social media post that drives comments and clicks, companies will pay you to create and curate their social accounts.

Graphic Designer: This in-demand freelancing gig requires specific knowledge of programs like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. It’s a skill that can be self-taught but takes time if you don’t already know how. 

Transcriptionist: Many companies need audio recording transcribed into text documents. While there is software that can do this, the quality isn’t always up to par, thus the need for freelance transcriptionists. 

Common categories include medical and legal records. You’re usually paid either by the page or by audio hour (the length of the recording). The more experience you gain, the more you’re likely to earn.

Virtual Assistant: The need for virtual assistants is a growing one. This catch-all role includes handling tasks such as managing emails, social media, blog comments, and more for companies or individual brands. 

Invest in Real Estate

As you begin earning money actively online, you might start thinking about how to keep the ball rolling with some passive income. Investing in real estate online is an easy way to get in the market without a large down payment.

There is risk involved, just as there is with any other investment. You can spread out your investments based on your tolerance level. For example, a more conservative approach would be to invest in a real estate investment trust (REIT). You can choose between direct property investments or real estate debt investments.

New investment regulations also make it easier for anyone to invest in commercial or multi-family residential real estate through online crowdfunding platforms like Fundrise, RealtyMogul, and RealtyShares.

Invest in Dividend Stocks

Dividend stocks differ from typical stocks in that they pay out dividends to investors on a regular basis. You can either choose individual stocks or a dividend ETF, which offers some more diversification and an easier management process on your end. In most cases, expect to receive dividend payouts monthly, semi-annually, or annually.

Jump on the Peer-to-Peer Lending Train

Another passive investment option (though not risk-free) is lending money through a peer-to-peer platform. You basically become a lender and charge borrowers interest for borrowing your money. 

The P2P platform lets you invest however much you want in different borrower classes, ranging from higher risk borrowers with low credit score to lower risk borrowers with a stronger financial history. You’ll lose money if a borrower defaults on a loan you’ve funded; otherwise, you’ll earn money as the borrowers in your portfolio make their loan payments. Reputable platforms include Lending Club, Peerform, Upstart, and Prosper.

Store Your Savings in a High Yield Account

As you continue to earn money online, make sure you store extra cash in a savings account that actually helps you grow your balance. While interest rates are historically low, you can still find online savings accounts that earn up to 2.0% APY or slightly higher. After all, earning money is awesome, but managing it well is equally important.