Out of everything you can do on the web, one thing is to make money online. If you’re here, reading this, you probably know or have a mild idea that you can make money online. Or you might as well be wondering how to make money online?
Well if you are, I’m here to do just that.
While the internet is becoming everything, one of those things is income sources. Sure, it wasn’t made for that in the first place. Internet was invented to share information seamlessly without any limitations. Well, it turns out, people have commercialized it.
As the Joker said, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”, considering the number of skills people have these days, number of ways to make money online is equally high. You just need to know ‘How’.
Getting into how the internet works aren’t in the scope of this post. What’s in scope is to tell you ways to earn money online. But before we begin, I want you to know that this isn’t about ‘Get rich quick’, it’s about slowly & surely growing online business to make money from it.
So if you’re looking for that, I’m sorry to say you’re in the wrong place. You might as well close this tab right away.
If not, read on.
Why start an online business?
The world is getting more & more densely connected by the internet. Many brick & mortar shops are blaming the internet for throwing them out of business.
I remember a local taxi service (Fast track) that dominated the city I was living in. Its taxis were everywhere, so much that it was the most affordable mode of private transport (don’t misunderstand it as a personal mode of transport).
Then came in Ola & Uber who uprooted their business in no time & now they are nowhere seen.
The inability to adapt to the change led to their business collapse like the house of cards.
58% of the human population is already using the internet.
As an inspiration, I’d like to share a story. Just the moral.
Do you know who Michael Dell is?
By the name, you might have guessed it. The founder of Dell computers, or Dell Inc.
This guy revolutionized the computer era single-handedly. Keeping the details apart, Dell sold the computers directly to the customers, without relying on middlemen.
This happened by selling it online. Though he started doing that offline, however, it’s online where the real magic happened.
So if you’re all pumped up, let me begin sharing the needful.
Understanding the investment required
I get it, you landed here assuming I’d share ways to earn money online without any investment. Trust me, this is not one of those scams.
I’ll explain this in a bit. Stay with me.
You and I know that ‘time is money’.
I believe you can either save money or time, not both.
Here, you can either spend time or money, but in this case, you can spend both.
But this post is about ways to earn money without investing a lot of money (sometimes)
Though I have included ways that require little to no money, but to take it to the next level, you have to invest money. Money that will bring in more powerful tools & services that will help you make more money with your online business.
The ways included here requires you to invest a lot of time & I assume you’re ready to put that. Don’t worry, I’ll explicitly mention where you need to invest money.
If you’re looking for ways to make money online literally without any investments (not even time), you still have the chance, you’re in the wrong place.
With that assumption, let me cut you some slack & give you cream.
30+ ‘Legitimate ways to earn money online (with little to no money)
1. Start a blog
Starting a blog these days is so easy that even an 82-year-old can do it in under 30 minutes.
You can pick a niche that you already know or are interested in, or pick a niche that already performing really well in terms of monetization & consumption.
Think of the long term, you can’t afford to switch niches every now and then. It takes time before you see some results, so I want you to be patient enough before you finally decide to switch a niche.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is earning a cut by promoting someone else’s product/services. Like Amazon or eBay has an affiliate program where you can pick a product(s) and promote it all over your site or specific blog post.
Depending on the niche you’re in, there are big players who have affiliate program running which you can leverage & make money from it.
The best part is these platforms offer a particular time period within which if the sale is made, you’d still get the commission.
For example, I promote a product/service & you don’t right away buy it. You intend to buy maybe a few days later after you get paid or get the pocket money.
The cookies of my unique referral link will stay in your browser for a specific number of days (amazon has 90 days period) and when you make the purchase within that period, I’d get paid the same amount I would get paid if your purchase on day 1.
Some of the most famous affiliate networks are:
- CJ Affiliates
- Share A Sale
3. Online Courses
Good at teaching or have a specific skill that you’re bored of writing it down in the form of multiple blog posts?
Well, you can create online courses & publish it on platforms like Udemy. You can even create your own marketplace i.e. your own blog where you sell the membership to access the premium courses.
Market yourself as an authoritative subject expert and generate leads to your website who’ll be interested in buying your courses.
Memberpress is a great online solution that can help you manage your online course marketplace. Also, if you’re on WordPress, you can make use of the Learnpress plugin to manage your courses.
Here’s a great guide that will help you get started with making money from Udemy.
Running an e-commerce store is different than selling on an e-commerce store. Setting up a Shopify store or a Woocomerce store will be a great use.
Woocommerce is a freemium solution that makes your WordPress website into an ecommerce store. If you want an even simpler solution, you can use Shopify.
You can sell ebook, music, software code or full functional software. You can even ship products that are not easily available in the market.
Remember, people are lazy to step out of their houses. Make use of this and make money without even leaving your drawing room or from any part of the world.
Also, you can handcraft some products and ship them for minimal price. I can think of candles, cards & other fancy decorative crafts.
You have the freedom to sell whatever you want unless it’s legal in your own country & target country (if different).
Remember I mentioned creating a membership site for selling your courses? Well, it turns out you can create a membership site for pretty much anything, it can be news, coaching material, solved question papers, research papers, etc.
You can use a free Facebook group or a telegram channel to market your membership site. Publish a gist of what you’ll be selling, even if 10% of people buy, you’ll have decent money coming in from that source.
If you’re looking for a source to get started with building a membership website, you can get started right away.
Membership websites are great but you have to be very choosy to pick the niche. Since the content you’ll be selling is already available on the web.
Make sure the premium content is worthy enough, even though you charge $1.
This is one of the coolest ways to make money online, as it’s very easy to start with minimum effort. Dropshipping is a duo of affiliate marketing & ecommerce store.
Here, you create an online store to sell someone else’s product and not only you make a commission, but you also have a profit margin.
Even though the profit margin is thin, you can make the difference by selling in volumes.
Once you have decent traffic coming in, you can sell your own products & increase the revenue & profit margins drastically.
7. Job portal
This requires some serious efforts, but you can earn a consistent commission for recommending great candidates to companies.
If you don’t want to put a lot of effort into creating a portal, you can create a community on Facebook where you can charge recruiters to post their requirements.
Also, if you take the difficult route, chances are you can emerge into a job search engine giant & really make a huge difference. Not only by helping people find jobs but you can earn a fat income by doing that.
8. SEO & PPC Expert
If you’re not sure what to do to make money online, I’d suggest learning SEO & PPC.
What’s that you ask?
Well, it’s what the whole business world is chanting right now.
While more and more businesses are getting online, SEO & PPC has become an inevitable part of their marketing strategy.
SEO stands for search engine optimization and PPC stands for pay per click.
SEO is an organic or free way to get consistent traffic from search engines. Your job is to rank your client’s content higher in search engine page results.
PPC is for very specific businesses, where they bid for high-value keywords & run ads for those keywords. It’s tricky when the volume is very high, you can use your skills and help your clients get results & more sales.
You can either have a fixed fee, or a cut from the sales they make.
You can get certified for free from Google & showcase your expertise.
9. WordPress developer
WordPress powers more than 35% of all the websites that are online now and there are over 1 billion blogs & websites.
The best thing about WordPress is that you can completely customize the look and feel of your website. You can even add custom features using PHP.
You can learn PHP and offer this skill as a service to those who need customization. WordPress is an open-source community that is run by people like you. You can join the WordPress community & get recognition from the community and use that showcase your expertise.
Also, you can go through the WordPress developer portal to learn more.
Have you seen CodeCanoyon yet? It’s a marketplace that sells code scripts for pretty much all industries and the parent company Evanto Marketplace sells in-house & third-party themes & plugins.
You can develop your own plugins & themes and publish there for bigger exposure.
But the point is you can develop such a marketplace that can turn into an income source for many.
The trick is to help people make people money.
11. Graphic designing & video editor
With more businesses taking the online route, sales pages, brand videos and other elements for marketing are only increasing.
You can teach yourself graphic designing & video editing and find yourself a lot of projects.
Again, help people more money & you can make more money with that.
The best part of this is that people always require graphics & videos. Everyone may not have the budget for videos, but sure, everyone has a budget for graphics.
Next is creating a portfolio. You can either do that on Instagram or professional platforms like Behance.
Or create a website to do the same. I’d recommend beginning with social media unless you have enough budget to make a professional portfolio on your website.
Off late, I’m loving podcasts. Not because it’s a fruitful alternative to listening to music, but because I find a lot of value listening to it.
There are very few reasons why I love it. However, one of those reasons is JRE Clips by Joe Rogan. He talks about pretty much every topic under the sun, at least I think so.
Here’s a video on how COVID-19 affects lungs:
How records the episodes as podcasts, but also publish video on YouTube for broader reach. Another reason why he probably publishes on YouTube is he can make money by running ads. A profile of his stature can earn a bomb of money just by ads.
Now, without diverting further, let me talk about podcasts.
If you don’t already know, podcasts are the audio episodes where you talk about topics that interest you. Podcasts make money by advertising, sponsorships, partnerships, affiliate marketing & more.
12. Review platform
Ever heard about Tripadvisor? That’s worth over $16 billion right now.
Tripadvisor does is review hotels, restaurants, agents & overall travel packages. Basically it makes your travel experience better.
You can start a review website, or even do that on social media. Review movies, restaurants, travel destinations, books, tools, gadgets, and the list goes on.
You can either choose the niche you like or pick a niche that people are heavily consuming. If you choose to start a review blog, you can earn by placing ads, affiliates, paid marketing, sponsorships, etc.
13. Trade domain names
Did you know that Facebook paid $8.5 million to acquire fb.com? You can buy creative domain names & hold it until you get an offer from giant companies or startups to sell that domain.
Depending on the urgency & the business model, you can price the domain. The best part is they cannot go elsewhere because only you own that domain.
You can even create a fully functional website, get high-quality users engaged to it and sell it on Flippa. Flippa is the amazon of websites. You can literally shop for websites on Flippa.
This is like trading real estate sites. You buy & hold onto it until you get a great offer.
14. Start a YouTube channel
Heard of Pewdiepie? His net worth is estimated to be well over $25 million. That’s a bomb of money for someone who records videos for YouTube.
Again, pick a niche that interests you. If you choose to be a YouTuber, you’d have to stick along for a very long time. Pewdiepie is doing this since 2010 and not many years ago, did he actually started making real money.
That’s why I recommend picking up a niche that interests you, else you will drop it too early since you’ll get bored.
15. Social media influencer
The Digital era is totally killing it. Not long ago social media was a place to connect with friends & family.
Now you not only connect with friends & family, but you also connect with businesses. Businesses that sell the products/services that you may or may not know you need.
If you love taking pictures/videos & have the patience to continue helping people before your word actually matters, you are an influencer material.
You’d ask what is the difference between becoming a YouTube influencer & Instagram influencer (or any other social media influencer)
Well, the key difference is the length of content you put on both ends of the spectrum. YouTube has no length (I’ve seen 8 hours long tutorials) and other social platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter & TikTok have restrictions on the length, though not directly.
Short videos, 1-5 minutes long videos tend to perform well on all social platforms other than YouTube. Furthermore, all social platforms have their own ambiance, Instagram is picture first platform, Facebook is a mixture of both photos & video.
16. Offer technical support
If you’re good at the technicalities of certain systems, you can engage in relevant forums like Reddit or StackOverflow. Offering the support will land you for a job that you can do remotely.
Many companies outsource the support system and their customer support can live chat & seek support. Your expertise in their product will help you get that job. In most cases, you can support the customers from your home itself.
17. Digital Marketing Consultant/Services
Digital marketing is yet another source that can make a lot of money while spending time on the web. If you don’t know about digital marketing, take courses, or learn it from free resources on digital marketing.
You can even earn certificates for specific skills like Facebook Ad Expert by Facebook Blueprint, or PPC expert as mentioned in #8.
To get leads for your skills, you will need to market yourself on various platforms like social media platforms, forums like Quora, Reddit & Stackoverflow.
I’m a digital marketing consultant, & I generate leads from Quora & Medium. I have my portfolio & detailed services on my website & these blogs as my other income source.
Similarly, you can come up with a strategy that will help you establish as an authoritative digital marketer.
18. Google Adsense/Media.net
Google has paid nearly $10 billion in 2015 alone. It’s the most effective way to make money out of your blog.
Yes, you will need a blog either hosted on Blogspot or self-hosted WordPress. You can’t place Adsense ads on free wordpress sites (understand the difference between free WordPress & self-hosted WordPress blog)
You can also use media.net as an alternative. The main reason being Google Adsense has become very strict with more and more applications piling up.
Read further: What should you do before & after approval from Adsense?
19. Direct Ads
This works only when you have decent traffic on your blog or any form of content (in most cases it is a blog). The idea is to bring business owners & their target audience closer.
Here your content act as a medium or a bridge.
Remember those blogs that are open for advertisement? Lifewire is a classic example of this. If you see the footer of the blog, you can see a link that says “Advertise”.
What this means is that the website is open to advertising. This is similar to running ads of Facebook, YouTube or Google.
Your goal should be to have a platform that attracts business owners who’re ready to pay you to run ads on your blog.
Pro tip: Have a media kit that contains all the detail about the stats of the blog, audience details, type of ads, placement of ads price, duration & other such relevant details. This will help expedite the process of ad placement.
20. Sponsored posts
There are many blogs that offer sponsored posts. Here, a publisher pays you for having a post of their product/service and you charge a certain amount for it. The amount you charge justifies your reach.
You can use services like Payperpost to find sponsors who’re looking for bloggers like you who can market their content & broaden their reach.
21. Public speaking & keynotes
This is once you have an authoritative following online. Like Gary is followed by millions across the globe, he’s a serious influencer and hence he’s appearing on keynotes occasionally.
That’s your goal.
Begin with podcast & YouTube videos. That’s how you tackle the fear of getting in front of the camera & hence the hall full of people.
21. Paid event calendars
As weird as this sounds, but this is a great way to make money online. I don’t see anyone else doing it. The idea is to promote events of specific niche so that more people will join the event.
Basically, you’re promoting an event & helping the organizers fill up the hall & you get paid for that.
SaaS stands for software as a service. Pick any software that you use daily is a SaaS. WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter you name it.
Revenue model might be different but the baseline remains the same – selling software as a service.
This is for those who’re good at developing and can afford to spend time, a lot of it. Also, to make software efficient, you need to invest in premium resources like fast servers & databases.
It can be an Android or iOS app that solves daily life problems for people.
You can begin with developing extensions for browsers & then shifting gears to bigger projects.
I know a couple of health professionals who sell ebooks on email. They built a highly qualified email list on social media and then pitched ebooks on various topics.
It didn’t take long to see a conversion rate of 12%-15% selling $20 on average to a list of over 100,000 people.
A brilliant move that they made was to choose topics. They chose the most generic topics that any health-conscious person would relate to.
Also, their marketing strategy was to reach anyone who’s alive. Basically spreading awareness about health issues people might have if they don’t pay attention to it.
In the process of educating the audience, they bagged a huge list that’s super-engaged & brings in a lot of sales.
You too can sell ebooks on your blog or sell it on social media or just email.
Webinars are seminars, on the web. Though people do it for free, you can relay premium content on your own blog or use tools like Webinarjam
First, you need to pick a niche, then do your marketing that will help you bag more leads who will attend the paid webinar. You can find leads by giving free advice first and then divert the traffic to a detailed webinar.
You can even sell your ebooks, tools, or other paid programs at the end of the webinar as an exclusive offer for the attendees.
This one is easy, that’s how I began my career. I began from Fiverr, then Freelancer & then UpWork. I still love working there. You can begin your career there and either find buyers for your skill or develop a skill that’s trending in your region or the platform.
The base price is $5 and the maximum is anything you think is worth your work.
26. Print on demand
“Customization & personalization is the future of entrepreneurship.”
The Print-on-demand business model is trending now, in fact, it is the next thing. Every business needs stationaries & clothing that has their branding on it.
Next smartphones are not going anywhere, people customize it by covers. You can create a platform where you sell pre-designed accessories and clothing or whatever you list.
Or you can have the template where people can customize as per their requirements & place the order to print it.
Trust me, this is the next big thing.
27. Help local businesses setting up Google My Business
This one is very easy. All you need to do is search for local shops in any niche and search then on Google Maps. Or simply begin searching “<service name> near me”, for eg: “Salon near me” and look for “Claim this business”, as shown below.
If you find that link, that’s the business you need to target. Contact that business and tell them you can help them list their business on Google Maps which can give them more visibility.
If the business is already registered on Google My Business, this link will not be available. So you have to skip those businesses.
You can charge them anywhere between $20-$30 per listing. If that brings them more business, they’ll be more than happy to give you that money.
28. Help businesses setup Facebook Pixel
Facebook pixel is a code from Facebook that user tracks activity on websites, which then can be used by businesses to target users with ads on Facebook.
The best usecase of Facebook Pixel is retargeting or remarketing. Use this to pitch to the businesses who don’t have Facebook Pixel set up already.
How do you find if a website has a Facebook Pixel setup or not?
It’s easy, simply install Facebook Pixel Helper Chrome extension.
What this extension will do is highlight all the Pixel codes that are live for a particular domain name.
Here’s an example:
I already have the extension installed. So I opened Forbes and immediately the extension shows that Forbes has a Pixel code setup already.
So this is not the business I want to target. Moving on to businesses that do not have a Pixel code setup.
I’ve not set up Pixel code for this blog, so when I open the home page, the extension tells me that the Pixel code isn’t already set up for this blog.
You can get in touch with such businesses and brief them about the benefits & importance of having a Pixel code setup.
You should find businesses that seem to be interested in growing the userbase. Who knows, you may even have them as a client & who hires you for social media marketing.
29. Ghost Writing
I don’t know if you know already, but ghostwriting is a real thing now. I have seen Nicholas Cole become a world-class ghostwriter. I’ve seen him grow exponentially on Quora. Now he killing it on Medium.
He has an agency that provides ghost writeups for CEOs & entrepreneurs. But this isn’t the highlight.
It’s his efforts that he put on Quora back in the days that actually laid the foundation stone of who he is today.
So yeah, ghostwriting is a thing.
30. Ad agency
I specifically focus on ads here. You help businesses run ads on various platforms like search engines & social media. You can run ads for business fulltime and help businesses earn more than they invest in ads.
You have the upper hand that there will always be a platform that will yield a way better ROI. Right now it’s Facebook & Instagram.
Look for certifications on the official website of the individual platform if not a third-party certification from Coursera also would do.
31. Sell stock photos
Love photography? Well, it turns out there are marketplaces where you can host your photos & every time someone use your photos for commercial use, you get paid.
Though there are a lot of platforms, these are the best.
You can even set up your photography website & sell directly from the website & have a fat profit margin.
However, you have to market your portfolio from scratch. And platforms like Shutterstock have the upper hand that they already have users globally.
32. Bug Bounty programs
All the tech giants have this program. If you have a hacker’s blood, this job is for you. You have to find loopholes in the current system and report it to the concerned authority.
Once they validate and approve it, you can make serious money, at least 4-5 figures, depending on the bug you find.
I remember Facebook giving around $15,000 for a major security loophole back in 2015. It was related to username & password.
You can test the features of many products and provide feedback. These are real products looking for real feedback and you can monetize your testing skills & attention to details.
Use Usertesting to find such products and earn serious money from it.
I know the listings here require you to invest a lot of time & do a lot of marketing. There’s a huge difference between knowing & doing. Now that you know what to work on, I’ll help you with how to execute that. These were some of the most effective ways to make money online.
I’m sure you’ll find some of the above mentioned ways useful. Let me know in the comment section below, also if you know some other ways share that too. Let us learn & grow together.