There are a lot of reasons to consider making money online. It can be a continuous form of passive income. It can also be a cool side hustle to bring in some extra dollars on top of your 9-5. Maybe you have a specific goal in mind like saving for a vacation or trying to get out of debt. Regardless of your intentions, using the internet as a means to make money is worth the effort.
Top ways to make money online
Using online platforms as a way to make money might seem a bit daunting, but it’s not always as complicated as it seems. There are even ways for kids to make money online. You have so many different options to creatively make money online. It’s likely that at least one or more of these options will be appealing.
Here’s a list of how you can capitalize off the internet to either make a living or earn some extra dollars:
1. Start an e-commerce website and sell products online
Do you think you have (or can produce) a product that people want? If so, then starting an e-commerce site might be your best option. You’ll have the chance to sell products directly to consumers with no middle man. Of course, this means you’ll have to take on a heavy share of the responsibilities. That includes the following:
- A website to host your products
- A merchant account to accept payments (Something like Stripe or Paypal)
- Logistics strategy, meaning a way to accept orders and deliver products to consumers
- Somewhere to house all your products
- A marketing strategy so people are aware of what you’re selling
If you don’t have your own products, you can also consider selling products that aren’t your own through Dropshipping. Dropshipping doesn’t involve you owning or keeping any products. How it works is that you offer products for sale on your website. You fulfill those orders by purchasing the product from a third party then shipping it directly to the customer.
You’ll have to decide whether you want to sell commodities (essential products in high demand), niche products or a combination of both. You’ll then need to decide which platform to sell on, regardless of if you’re selling your own products or curating products to sell online.
Some popular e-commerce platform options include:
- Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)
The major benefit of dropshipping is that you don’t need to purchase products upfront. You don’t need to purchase any product until you get paid by the customer. This is lower risk than selling your own products, but also takes more work in curating the right mix of products that will be enticing enough for consumers.
2. Find freelance jobs
Freelancing is a great option if you enjoy working on multiple projects. You can pretty much freelance any skill — writing, photography, graphic design, handyperson, developer — and never need to commit to any single project for too long of a period. Freelancing is a proven way to make some extra cash. If your goal is to make a living as a freelancer, however, you’ll need to secure several gigs at the same time.
One contract rarely pays enough to cover the cost of living. This means you’ll need to develop some kind of system for finding leads, learn how to craft cold pitches, and understanding where there are opportunities for work outside of regular channels.
Top platforms to find jobs for freelancers:
- 99 Designs
- Task rabbit
Each specific industry will have its own set of freelance platforms, but these sites are a great place to start.
Promoting yourself as a freelancer
Being a freelancer means you are your own boss. There’s no one handing you work and telling you to get it done. You’ll have to take the initiative. Part of that initiative involves marketing yourself through various channels. Depending strictly on freelance platforms to find you high paying jobs won’t cut it. People need to know what you do.
Social media is one of the first places you should start. You’d be surprised what kind of response you’ll get if you just let your friends know what kind of services you’re offering.
Posting about what you do is one tactic. What’s more effective is compiling a list of your friends that you think may be interested in your services or know someone who might be interested. Send these friends a personal message. They’ll become your first advocates.
Another means of promotion that freelancers ignore is partnering with agencies. Signing on to a recruitment agency reduces the amount of effort it takes to find leads. Agencies are typically connected to several large companies that are looking to engage freelancers. The contracts with agencies tend to be larger because they also need a cut.
Some of the more well-known agencies for freelancers include:
- Tundra Technical
- Creative Circle
- Flex on Demand
Freelancing is fun and does give you a degree of control over your own time. But you’ll still be working with deadlines that need to be met so don’t think all your days will be wide open. Time management will be key, along with staying resilient enough to keep pushing through the months where cheques aren’t piling up.
3. Start a YouTube channel
Of all the ways to make money online, this is probably the boldest. You can’t be camera-shy, you’ll need to have some technical know-how, and you absolutely must be consistent. That said, some YouTubers make serious income. And you don’t need to be the most charismatic personality to get there. Even kids and teens can earn money on YouTube.
Before you go out and buy a fancy camera and lighting, take a step back. The most important step in starting a YouTube channel is figuring out why. Not why you want to try YouTube, but why should anyone watch what you’re producing. This is one of the top reasons for the success of any YouTuber, along with what your videos will be about and who will they be made for.
The reason it becomes important to determine why anyone would watch you is simple: YouTube is a highly saturated platform. Even if you think your videos are niche, there are likely thousands of videos already available on that topic. For that reason, you must start with a differentiator. What makes you different?
Popular content on YouTube
Some content on YouTube tends to perform better than others. Educational videos, unboxing videos, gaming, comedy, and vlogs are all popular. Product reviews and how-to videos are the two most popular.
This is no way means you should stick to any of these. However, this gives you a good gauge of what people are viewing. If your idea can somehow fit under one of these umbrellas, you’ll be in for some tough competition but you’ll also be in a content stream with plenty of potential eyeballs.
How to make money on YouTube
This is the question many people want to know the answer to. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly straight forward. Youtube pays YouTubers based on ad views and ad clicks, so the simple answer is to get as many views as possible. Most YouTubers earn between $1.50-$3.00 per 1,000 views. That can work out to $300-$2000 (roughly) for every million views.
Your first step is to create a YouTube account (if you have Gmail, you already have a YouTube account). Once you create an account, you need to turn on Ad Sense. That’s how you’ll get paid.
Google, who owns YouTube, actually outlines five ways you can get paid:
- Advertising revenue — We’ve already discussed this. You get paid from display or video ads.
- Channel memberships — You can get your subscribers to make monthly payments in exchange for some kind of premium membership.
- Merchandise shelf — You can sell merchandise that’s displayed on what’s called watch pages.
- Super chats — This gives fans the option of paying to have their messages featured in a chat stream.
- YouTube premium revenue — Google describes this as getting a piece of a “YouTube Premium subscribers fee” whenever any of your subscribers view your videos.
4. Teach English online
Teaching English online is a relatively new hustle. Before all of these online platforms started popping up, teachers who wanted to teach English would fly to the country they’d want to teach in. While that’s still an option, teaching online has become a popular alternative.
What makes teaching online appealing is the relatively low point of entry. All that’s required is for you to be a fluent English speaker and in some cases, have a college or university degree. Once that’s established, it’s all about finding the right platform, and there are plenty. Here are a few of the platforms that have had success pairing teachers with online teaching jobs.
Popular platforms to teach English online
- Teach Away
How much money can you make teaching online?
The amount you can make varies. It depends on the platform and, in some cases, on your experience. Some platforms pay up to $25/hour while some will pay 0.17 cents/minute which adds up to roughly $10/hour. If you join a platform like Cambly, the requirements are a lot less rigid and the students are looking to improve their English rather than learn. Other options like DaDa or iTalki require you to teach lesson plans to younger students who may not speak much English at all. You’ll have to decide on which experience matches your goals.
5. Do jobs on Amazon Mechanical Turk
Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is essentially a crowdsourcing site. It allows businesses to hire remote workers temporarily to complete tasks virtually. These tasks usually involve research, conducting surveys or validating data.
How much money can you make on MTurk?
The overwhelming majority (if not all) of the tasks on MTurk pay cents on the dollar. You may make a $1 for completing a psychological survey, but that’s considered extremely high on the pay scale. Many of MTurks gigs are in the 0.01 cents to 0.35 cents range. On top of that, Amazon takes anywhere from 20-45% off of each transaction.
A recent academic study concluded that Turkers (workers on MTurk) make an average of $2/hour. It’s not too surprising that Turkers are willing to take this pay considering one-third of them are otherwise unemployed most report a household income under $47k USD.
If you’re looking to earn a living, this may not be the best platform. If you’re between jobs and looking to make a few extra dollars, then give MTurk a try.
6. Sell your craft on Etsy or Ebay
Creatives often have a hard time finding ways to earn a living. In many instances, it’s not a matter of the quality of work they produce, but how to get that work in front of people willing to spend their dollars. That’s the beauty of Etsy.
Etsy has made its name as one of the premier destinations for selling arts and crafts, unique vintage products and handmade items. They operate more like a community for creators and small business owners interested in rare pieces that can’t be purchased in traditional stores or on larger consumer shopping sites.
If you have a talent for creating your own work — be it visual art, postcards, photography, accessories — then Etsy is the right platform.
Getting started on Etsy
Setting up shop on Etsy is fairly straight forward.
- Create an account — which includes adding a photo and bio.
- Click the Sell on Etsy link then Open Your Etsy Shop.
- After filling out some general demographic info (country, language, currency), you’ll get to name your shop.
7. Sell stock photos online
Photographers, don’t feel at all discouraged that anyone with a smartphone can theoretically be a photographer. You should be excited.
Businesses and influencers are looking for content more than ever, and most pieces of content need photos to go along with it. If you’re just starting, you need to focus on two things:
- Finding your niche — As a photographer, you need to establish a consistent style. There has to be something your audience can expect from your photos. Are you focusing on fashion photography, travel, portraits, nature; whatever you choose, stick to it. At least for as long as it takes for your audience to get accustomed to the fact that they can depend on your output.
- Building your audience — Exposure is key early on, so platforms like Instagram will be your best friend. Be consistent in how much you post and do some hashtag research to make sure you’re reaching the right audience. If you change your Instagram account over to a business account, you’ll be able to have people purchase pictures directly from your stream.
Monetizing comes after these two parts of your brand have been established. Selling photos can be tricky, but getting on the right platform is key.
Where to sell your photos
Here are a few that you should consider:
- Adobe Stock
- Getty Images
There are many more, but these give you a good start and are well known to consumers.
8. Become a Virtual Assistant
This is becoming a popular means of earning an income online. A Virtual Assistant (VA) is just what it sounds like: someone who can lend their skills to support a project virtually. Most of the time, VAs are tasked with admin or secretarial tasks, but that’s not the full scope of being a VA.
Some of the services provided by Virtual Assistants include:
- Blog Manager
- Digital Marketer
- Newsletter Writer
- Online Translator
- Plus many more.
Becoming a Virtual Assistant
The key to becoming an effective VA is to learn or sharpen a skill. Start with free learning. Spaces like LinkedIn and Hubspot offer free courses where you can actually become certified. You can then move on to platforms like Udemy, which does cost but isn’t as expensive as it would be to take a full semester college course.
Where to find clients as a Virtual Assistant
Before thinking about where you can find clients, you need to think about attracting them. That means that you are your best promotion. Find ways to demonstrate your skillset so people are aware of what you can do. If you want to manage blogs, then prove your case by managing your own blog.
With that said, here are some places Virtual Assistants can find clients:
- Networking Events
It might also be worth it to start your own website. Your site will act as a hub for all of the work you’ve done, plus showcase your skills.
9. Transcribe audio and interviews
One of the most time-consuming parts of conducting an interview is transcribing the recording. It can take hours to get it done right and using transcription software isn’t always accurate. Not to mention that there are several other needs for transcription outside of interviews. For those reasons, human transcription is a service businesses will pay for.
Types of transcriptions
In addition to general transcription of voice to text, there are other opportunities to utilize transcription services.
- Legal transcription
- Medical transcription
- Data entry
- TV and Film
Where to find transcription gigs?
There are several places to find transcription jobs. Be sure to use a trusted site. There are known scams where you won’t end up getting paid for your work.
- AccuTran Global
- Transcribe Me
- My Other Office
- Transcribe Me
- Daily Transcription
How much can you make transcribing?
This completely depends on the client. Rates vary from .60 cents/minute – $1.20/minute for audio transcription. You may also get paid by the “audio hour.” This can range from $10-$20/audio hour. However, according to the Bureau of Statistics and Labor, the average salary for a medical transcriptionist is $34,770.
10. Put your apartment on Airbnb
This is kind of an online/offline hybrid but is still worth mentioning. Airbnb has made it possible for anyone to make some money leveraging their home.
It’s a simple system: you put your home up for short term rent on the Airbnb platform and travelers check-in. You control how much you charge and AirBnB handles the transactions.
Pros and cons of starting an Airbnb business
There are lots of reasons that Airbnb is a great way to make money online, even though it does involve a lot of offline demands.
- Flexibility — you can hop on and off AirBnB whenever you choose. If you’re going away on vacation, you can make your home available and earn some revenue while you’re away.
- Airbnb does the work — they provide a system to handle all communication and transactions, as well as rating potential tenants of your home.
- Control — if you rent out your home on a full-time basis, you don’t have the same amount of control as you would with AirBnB. Imagine you have a difficult tenant. You’re likely locked into that contract for a full year. That’s not the case with Airbnb.
- Revenue — You control how much money you want to make. You get to price your property and schedule how often you make it available.
- It’s a lot of work — you’ll be constantly checking your app for guest inquiries, taking questions before and during check-in, and dealing with any complaints.
- Nothing is certain — yes, Airbnb is the top service for renting out your home, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll be booked up every time you make your home available.
- Bad reviews — AirBnB host system is based on reviews. If someone staying in your home has a negative experience, that could turn people away from staying at your property.
How much do AirBnB hosts make?
According to Priceonomics, Airbnb hosts make an average of $924/month. That’s a pretty good side hustle. Some hosts can make up to $10,000, but that depends on many factors, including the size and location of their home and how often they’re willing to host guests.
11. Complete online surveys
This is a low-stress way to make money online. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and you don’t need any predetermined skills. Time is all that’s required, and even that is usually minimal. That also means that you shouldn’t expect to make this your main side hustle. Some surveys don’t even pay in cash but will give you points that you can redeem at specific outlets.
Best places to find surveys to earn cash
Here are a few places to find surveys with solid payouts:
- Opinion Outpost
- Pinecoast Research
- Maru Voice Canada
- Survey Junkie
12. Start a niche blog and leverage affiliate marketing
Starting a blog is one of the easiest points of entry for making money online. There’s a reason that it’s worth mentioning the word niche. Your blog needs to be laser-focused on a specific topic. It’s not enough to be a food blogger anymore. You need to be blogging about cafes in rural areas of Canada.
While that example may not be attractive, the point is that your content needs to be narrow enough that your audience knows exactly what they’re getting every single time. And once that audience is identified, it makes affiliate marketing that much more effective.
Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission for generating traffic or sales to a retailer you’ve partnered with. It’s usually accomplished through posting links on your blog page that directs your audience to some product outside of your site. Your blog must be niche so you can identify partners that fit your content. Using the rural cafes example, you likely wouldn’t post affiliate links of vacations to South America. You’d want to keep the affiliation to something closer to rural cafes.
Top affiliate networks in Canada
Some of the best affiliate programs in Canada include:
- Ownr Affiliate Program
- Share Results