25 Ways to Make Money Online in 2021
Twenty years ago, I received my first payment for affiliate sales through my website. This was the start of a long internet career in which I explored dozens of ways to make money on the internet.
You should not not be fooled by pyramid schemes and other “Get Rich Quick” campaigns, however I truly believe anyone can make money from the internet if they are willing to put in the work.
Whether you are looking to make a little extra cash on the side or establish a long-term online career, there are many different ways for you to profit from your skills and hard work ethic.
In this article, I would like to share with you 25 different ways to make money online.
1. Monetize Your Social Media Presence
Social media has transformed the way that we communicate on the internet and given everyone a platform to voice their opinion.
If you are active on a service such as Instagram or Twitter, you may want to consider monetizing your social media presence.
One way to do this is to promote products and services of other companies. Sponsored messages are common on social media and are usually tagged with #sponsored and #ad so that advertisements can be identified.
Advertisers are looking for engagement with your followers, therefore you need to ensure sponsored products are relevant and be creative with how you promote the company. Otherwise, you run the risk of alienating your subscribers.
Influencer marketplaces such as Aspire IQ and Upfluence are a great starting point to find sponsorships as they give you access to thousands of potential companies, but you should also look into working with companies directly.
Alternatively, you can use your social media presence as a springboard to launch your own products. For example, if you post about fitness a lot, you could sell fitness related products such as t-shirts, protein bars and water bottles. Others choose to use social media to promote online courses and their latest blog posts.
Whether you sell advertisements on your social media accounts directly, or use it use it as a platform to promote your other interests, the goal is to keep your followers entertained whilst still making money.
2. Do Micro Jobs
Want to make money from your skills? Of course you do!
A common way to start making money online is to sell your services on a micro job marketplace such as Fiverr. The marketplace allows anyone to sell digital services across a number of different categories such as graphics and design, writing, videos, music, business, lifestyle and more.
Micro job marketplaces evolved from regular freelancer marketplaces that businesses use. The lines between both platforms has blurred a little over the years as companies adapt to an ever-changing landscape, but generally speaking, the jobs on websites such as Fiverr are small tasks that are quick to complete.
For example, you could offer to write a blog post, design a logo, write messages for a company’s social media campaign or produce a short video for YouTube.
The general idea is that you make money from many small jobs rather than one large job.
Be aware, however, that micro job websites such as Fiverr can be extremely competitive. Therefore, in the beginning, you may have to reduce your rates until you establish yourself as a reliable freelancer.
3. Complete Online Surveys
You are not going to make a career out of it, but if you are just looking for a little extra cash on the side, you may want to consider doing online surveys through companies such as Swagbucks, OnePoll, and Toluna.
These companies reward consumers for giving vital customer insights into brands, products and services. Some companies do pay cash, but it is more common to be sent gift cards and free products for testing.
Many online polling services offer rewards for performing other tasks too. For example, you may be asked to download an iOS app or Android app and give feedback.
If you don’t mind another company tracking your online habits, you can also earn cash using a predefined search engines.
4. Test Websites and Apps for Others
Another way you can provide insights to companies is to test the user experience of websites and apps.
As a tester, you will typically be required to download a testing application to your computer, tablet or smartphone. You will then be asked to perform a series of tasks, with most tests taking 10 to 20 minutes to complete.
For example, you may be asked to find a product in an online store and go through the checkout process.
Don’t worry, you are not expected to buy anything. You are simply testing websites and applications so that the developers can fix usability issues and improve the user experience for customers.
The amount of money you can make from testing varies from service to service.
Testing websites and apps is not going to make you a millionaire, but it is a simple way to make a little extra cash on the side.
5. Launch a Blog
Online surveys and testing can give you a taste of what it is like to make money on the internet, however if you are looking for a long-term return, you should look towards creating a stable business.
One type of business I recommend exploring is blogging. Unlike some other types of websites, you do not need to have any technical experience to start a blog. You just need to be passionate about something.
Blogs can be monetized in many different ways.
If you have established a readership, you can sell banner spaces and ad slots to companies, however I have personally found affiliate marketing to be more profitable. You just have to select good products that pay a fair commission and create quality content around it.
A blog is also the perfect platform to launch your own products. Whether it be eBooks, a private membership area, t-shirts, or whatever, you can use a blog to create sustainable long-term income and promote all of your online projects.
6. Build an Affiliate Website (E.g. Amazon)
The principles of creating a successful blog can be used to build a profitable affiliate website. This includes creating engaging content, marketing your website and adhering to search engine ranking guidelines.
In contrast to blogs, with an affiliate website you are gearing everything towards specific products. This is why most affiliate websites contain product reviews.
People who are searching for a review of a particular product are more likely to purchase it after reading an informative review, therefore the odds of making a referral commission are greatly increased.
Whilst it does help to know a product firsthand, you can write good product reviews by either hiring others to write for you or summarizing what others have wrote.
There are millions of products being sold online so the opportunities to make money from an affiliate website are limitless.
Companies list partnership opportunities for their products on affiliate networks or through their own in-house affiliate program.
Hundreds of thousands of affiliate programs are available online, but a good starting point is the Amazon Associates Program. Whilst Amazon’s commission rate is low compared to other affiliate programs, their store tend to convert better due to brand loyalty.
Without doubt, affiliate websites are one of the most effective ways of making money online.
7. Launch an Online Shop
According to Digital Commerce 360, eCommerce spending was around $3.5 trillion in 2019 and is expected to grow further in the next few years.
It is a massive market and one which you should consider tapping into.
As you would expect, building a successful online shop requires a lot of hard work, therefore it may be several months before you start making a healthy monthly profit.
Prepare yourself by looking at how others have built successful shops and research what products to sell, who your competitors are and who your target audience is.
There are many great eCommerce shopping platforms available, but two I recommend looking further into are Shopify and WooCommerce.
WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin that has grown to become the most popular eCommerce solution online. The plugin is free to download, however you will have to host your online store and possibly purchase additional plugins to extend functionality.
Like Shopify, there are a huge variety of WooCommerce themes on the market to help you market your products effectively.
Check out our Shopify vs. WordPress article to see which platform is right for you.
8. Sell Products on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, & More
When you launch an online shop, you have to spend time administrating the store, however in order to find customers, you also have to market your store and its products.
This can be difficult unless you have a large budget for an advertising campaign or a platform to promote your products such as a blog or a social media account with a loyal following.
Shopping marketplaces and auction websites are competitive, however there are few barriers to get started.
On a website such as eBay, you can get going by selling old things around the house that you do not need. Alternatively, you can search your local area for products that are on sale and then sell them nationwide at a higher price.
More established sellers tend to use dropshipping. There are thousands of sellers on Alibaba that help you do this. Once someone purchases something from you, you buy the product from China and ship it to them. The customer will never know that you did not ship it directly as your branding and marketing material can be included with the package.
To reduce delivery times, many sellers choose to buy items in bulk and send it directly to Amazon’s warehouses using the Amazon FBA program. It’s an attractive setup as you can build up a large successful store on Amazon without ever having to store the items yourself.
9. Create a Job Board
What’s the best type of website to build to make money online?
If you had to ask an experienced internet marketer this question, my guess is that “Job Board” would be bottom of the list, yet there is a lot of money to be made with job boards.
The most difficult part of launching a job board is attracting companies to post jobs and then establishing an audience. In the beginning, you may want to duplicate job listings from other websites. After all, no one is going to visit a job board that has no job listings.
Job boards are an attractive long-term project as once the job website is established, it requires very little maintenance to keep it running and earning money.
Take the ProBlogger job board, for example. This popular blogging job board earns thousands of dollars every month from charging $70 to list jobs. All the staff have to do is approve or reject new job listings.
There are many job board products available online, such as Smart Job Board and JobBoard.io, that help you launch your own job board website. A number of job board WordPress plugins are also available.
10. Create a Discussion Forum
Up until the mid to late 2000s, discussion forums were one of the most common places for internet users to hang out and communicate with each other. I launched my first discussion forum in 2000 and launched a dozen more over the years.
Forums are less common today due to the popularity of social media, yet they can still be hugely profitable.
Many large discussion forums continue to be monetized by banner ads and sponsored ads from partners, but over the last 10 years we have also seen more private discussion forums arrive. Private discussion forums charge members a monthly or yearly fee to gain access to the forum.
Obviously, you cannot just install forum software and expect money to start rolling in. You need entice people to sign up to your private discussion forum by offering something they cannot find elsewhere. This could be an extensive online course or simply direct access to yourself or others who can provide support.
For some discussion forum owners, the best solution is a mixture of free and premium access. By keeping registration free, they can increase the number of people who join the community. Members can then unlock additional features and permissions if they pay for a premium membership.
There are dozens of great forum applications available online.
11. Build an Email Marketing List
Ever wondered why every major online shop, blog or community, wants you to sign up to their newsletter?
As the popular marketing saying goes: “The money is in the list”.
A targeted email list gives you permission to contact someone directly. This is an extremely powerful tool.
If you have an online store, you can email customers with discounts and offers, whilst bloggers can promote their eBooks and online courses to readers.
Even if you do not have a website, you can still profit from building an email marketing list by simply promoting targeted affiliate offers and deals. You can also use it to build your profile on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and more.
If you are building your email list from scratch, you may want to consider using a service such as MailChimp as the first 2,000 subscribers are free. As your list grows, the monthly cost of maintaining your email list on MailChimp becomes similar to email marketing ervices such as Sendinblue and GetResponse.
Once you have created a newsletter subscription form, you can promote it on your website, your online store, your blog and your social media accounts. This will help increase sign ups to your list.
If you have a WordPress website, I encourage you to check out our “Top 9 Email List Building Plugins for WordPress” article. It lists many useful plugins that help you integrate MailChimp and other services into your website.
12. Develop a Membership Website
If you have what it takes to run a successful blog, you have what it takes to build a good membership website.
Like blogging, the key to a successful membership website is good content, but whilst the vast majority of blogs are free to read, most content on membership websites is hidden behind a paywall.
It is wise, however, to offer some free content to users in order to showcase what a full membership offers.
A full membership may include detailed reviews, in-depth written and video tutorials, access to a knowledgeable support team or community, free eBooks, and more.
Successful membership websites tend to dripfeed content to members over time too. This is to stop people accessing all content immediately and then cancelling. In other words, you need to have a reason for people to hang around.
To get a better idea of what sort of membership website you could build, I recommend searching through the web and looking at what others have created. You will see membership websites for a variety of topics such as website development, fitness, cooking, music, video creation, sports and more.
Pay attention to the cost of competing websites too. In certain niches, it is common for memberships to sell for $99 per month, in others it may be as low as $10 per year.
WordPress is a good platform to build a membership website due to the vast number of plugins and themes available that will let you expand your website.
To help you see what membership WordPress plugins are on offer, check out the articles “Build Your Tribe: 7 Top WordPress Membership Plugins Compared for 2020” and “The Best WordPress Membership Plugins To Match Any Budget“.
13. Host a Podcast
Got something to say?
If you’re not a writer, you may want to look into hosting a podcast.
Podcasts remain as popular as ever. There are shows for every topic you can imagine: Sports, films, music, history, comedy, politics, fashion and more.
Podcast episodes can be recorded using your smartphone, however you can improve the quality of your recordings significantly by investing in an affordable microphone or recorder for under $100.
If you can establish an audience, you can make money by selling advertisements and promoting your own products and services. Profits can then be used to purchase more advanced recording and mixing equipment.
Whilst there are things you need to learn about recording equipment, editing audio files and promotion, podcasting is a lot simpler than many people think.
Podcasting services such as Blubrry do a lot of the work for you. They will host your audio files, submit your podcast to podcast directories and even help you monetize your show.
To view what podcast hosting services are available, check out our article “The Best Podcast Hosting Services on the Internet“.
14. Become a Freelancer
Freelancing marketplaces are a great place to find work online.
These job directories list contract work, part time jobs and full time jobs. The popularity of micro job marketplaces such as Fiverr has influenced freelancing marketplaces too, with small jobs and tasks being advertised.
General freelancing marketplaces such as Freelancer list many different types of jobs. This includes data entry, graphical design, mobile app development, freelance writing, and more.
There are also freelance marketplaces that focus on specific niches. For example, the competition freelance website 99Designs only lists design jobs.
Freelancing marketplaces are notoriously competitive.
Building up your freelancing profile, on and off the marketplace, is therefore essential if you want to successfully bid for clients. It tends to be difficult in the beginning, which is why some people reduce their rates when they begin, but over time your reputation will grow.
Once you have established yourself, you can be more selective with how you freelance and define how often you work and what rates you charge clients.
You can also choose to freelance part time to compliment other work you do online.
15. Write a Book
The old saying goes that “Everybody has a book inside them”.
In the digital age, publishing a print book or digital book is incredibly straightforward. You can publish books of any length on topics such as romance, science-fiction, history, business, education and more.
Books can be written in word processing applications such as Microsoft Word and then uploaded to an online book store for approval. Most book stores will provide you with a template for you to write your book in, which simplifies the whole process.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform is the perfect way to self-publish a book in the largest bookstore in the world.
I have published a couple of books about blogging on Amazon, therefore I am familiar with the process.
Amazon approve books within 24 to 48 hours of submission and you can earn up to 70% of the sale price that you define. Authors retain full rights of their books and can make changes to published books any time they wish.
Just like building a blog or a membership website, writing a book requires many hours of dedication.
It is something you should still consider. You can not only earn money from publishing books, it will also raise your profile and compliment other projects you launch online.
16. Launch an Online Course
Could you teach others a new skill?
Online learning is a billion dollar industry that continues to grow each year, with some teachers earning millions from their courses.
In comparison to membership websites, online courses tend to be more structured and focus on teaching someone one particular skill or topic.
Expectations of courses has grown over the years, so be prepared to spend a substantial amount of time creating content for your course.
The online course platform Udemy has over 100,000 courses in their directory and boasts millions of customers.
It is a huge marketplace that you can tap into, but be aware that Udemy take a 50% commission for allowing you to sell courses. This means you have to price your course accordingly, which can be difficult in such a competitive marketplace.
If you have an established blog or large social media following, you may want to consider hosting an online course yourself so that you keep 100% of the sales you generate.
To learn about the online course solutions available for WordPress, check out our article “6 Best WordPress Learning Management Systems (LMS) Plugins Compared“.
17. Become a Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant helps businesses with many different tasks from a remote location.
As a virtual assistant, the exact work you do and the rate you are paid will vary from company to company.
Tasks could include social media management, responding to emails, preparing reports, booking hotels for clients, managing appointments, performing data entry, doing research and much more.
With the right company, a virtual assistant role is a fantastic entry into the world of making money online.
You will learn about how websites make money and how online businesses are structured. These skills will prove useful when launching your own online projects.
If you prove yourself to be an asset to the company, you may also be promoted to a more senior role.
18. Publish Videos on YouTube
I have had many projects and online ventures over the years, but I have found YouTube to be the most enjoyable way to create content and make money online as it has allowed me to share my passion for technology.
YouTubers with over 1,000 subscribers are eligible to make money through the YouTube Partner Program (Google Adsense).
Unless you have a large channel, it is unlikely that you can live off the income you generate from advertisements on your videos, however you can make money from your channel in other ways.
In the FameBit Marketplace, for example, you will find sponsorship opportunites from thousands of companies. All you have to do is publish reviews of products and services to earn money.
Just like any social media platform, YouTube channels can be a platform to launch other products and services.
It has never been easier to get started on YouTube as most smartphones and tablets today can record videos in 4K and 1080P. You can produce impressive results with a smartphone or tablet by placing it on a tripod, connecting a microphone for better audio and picking up some cheap lights from a local DIY store to improve lighting.
Alternatively, you can record video tutorials from your laptop or PC using an application such as Screencast-O-Matic. The application is free to use and the full version retails for around $20 per year.
In the long-term, if you want to step up your game and improve your video and audio quality, you will need to invest in better equipment.
19. Stream Games on Twitch, YouTube or Mixer
The growth of game streaming over the last few years has been phenomenal.
Game streamers mainly earn money from sponsorships and donations, however many top game streamers are branching out and selling t-shirts and other products.
If you own an XBox One or PS4, you can stream directly from your console by simply connecting ar headset and webcam. The upcoming Xbox Series X and PS5 consoles are rumoured to enhance game streaming functionality significantly, which will help the industry grow further.
Whilst you can stream directly from modern gaming consoles, if you want to improve the quality of your stream, you are better streaming directly from your PC or laptop using an application such as OBS.
Game consoles can be recorded using game capture devices from companies such as Elgato, though you will probably have to use two computers if you want to record gameplay from your PC.
Game streaming is highly competitive, so if you want to be successful, you will need to stand out from the crowd.
20. Edit Videos for Others
Editing is a big part of producing videos for platforms such as YouTube.
With some YouTube channels, the content creator may spend two hours recording footage and then ten hours editing the video for publication.
If you have experience editing videos, you can make a good living editing videos for online businesses, YouTubers, game streamers and more.
Freelancing marketplaces are a good place to start looking for a job as a video editor. You will see many website owners looking for help there as it is a skill that website developers and marketers do not typically have.
You can also find work by approaching YouTubers and game streamers directly and offering your services.
For example, you could approach a top game streamer on Twitch and offer to edit their top gaming videos into short compilation videos for YouTube.
21. Test Products for Online Shops
Product testing should be considered more of a hobby or side hussle than a serious career, but it can be a nice way to earn a little cash and perhaps get some free products in the process.
As a product tester, you will be asked to provide valuable feedback to the company about what you like and did not like.
Each company have their own set of rules and guidelines.
In the Nike Product Testing program, for example, you are expected to return their products before you are sent another product for review. In contrast, companies such as Phillips will let you keep cheaper items free of charge, but give you expensive items such as coffee machines at a greatly reduced rate.
For lower priced products, companies will sometimes give you a gift card or payment to compensate you for feedback.
As I noted earlier, you are not going to make a ton of money by performing product reviews, but some savvy product testers actively sell the products they receive on eBay in order to make some extra cash.
Please be aware, however, that there are a lot of fake product review websites and scam websites which make ridiculous offers such as free iPhones. Stay away from websites that make these claims.
My recommendation is to go directly to the source and use official product testing programs. If you search online, you will find that most large companies have a testing program for products such as make up, clothing, technology, games and more.
22. Sell Stock Photos and Videos
Have you got an eye for photography?
If so, you may want to consider selling photos and videos online.
There are many great free image services online, however the premium image and video stock photo market remains a billion dollar industry.
By listing your content on stock image websites such as Shutterstock, you will receive a payment every time someone downloads one of your items.
Stock images and videos are used by blogs, news websites, YouTube channels, mainstream media, magazines, online shops, and more.
If you want to make a living by selling digital items such as images and videos, pay attention to what content people are downloading on stock image marketplaces. This will help influence what content you should sell yourself.
23. Resell Website Hosting
Reseller hosting is one of the oldest businesses on the internet and the backbone of the whole website hosting industry.
As a reseller, you purchase a package from a hosting company and then resell an allocation of the hosting resources you have purchased to others. This is actually how many website hosting companies operate, even those that have tens of thousands of clients.
To make money as a hosting reseller, you need to spend time marketing your services in order to attract customers and then provide excellent support to retain their custom.
The vast majority of website hosting companies have an affiliate program and a reseller program. Whilst an affiliate program will pay a standard commission for referrals, with a reseller program you have full control over what customers are charged.
Historically, resellers would have to build a website for their host reselling company that featured an account dashboard and a support area for customers, however larger hosting companies are now simplifying the whole process.
The GoDaddy Reseller Program, for example, helps you build a storefront for your hosting website and handles payments for you too.
Make no qualms about it, the hosting reselling game is a tough business, but if you are willing to work hard, you can make a ton of money.
24. Buy and Sell Websites & Domains
Website trading is big business.
If you know how to build websites, you can make money by creating websites, generating income and then listing the websites for sale. This is a low risk strategy as your investment costs are low.
Those of you with more experience may want to buy websites with the sole aim of selling it later for a profit; a technique known as website flipping.
The goal of website flipping is to find websites that are undervalued or underdeveloped and then develop them further to increase monthly profits. Not every website is sold at a fair price, so be prepared to spend a lot of time researching websites for sale.
There is a lot of money to be made in website trading if you know what you are doing.
The key to selling is to develop websites that have reliable income streams. Potential buyers will look at the time and cost to administrate a website too, which is why low maintenance websites sometimes sell ay higher prices.
There is never any guarantee of success when you purchase a website from someone else, but you can stack the odds in your favour if you ask the right questions and perform a full analysis of website costs, traffic, revenue, and administration.
Marc Andre from Kikolani has some great guides:
25. Translate Content for Others
Can you speak another language?
Translation is something that businesses are always looking for. A typical business will not only have to translate official sales pages and news articles, they will also have to translate documents, marketing material, press releases and more.
There is a growing demand for translators on video websites such as YouTube too as captions can help generate additional views and increase search traffic.
You can find translation jobs on freelance marketplaces such as Freelancer.
As with most online jobs, rates vary greatly and companies may pay on an hourly basis, per word or per task.
Many part time and full time translation jobs can also be found online.
I have been fortunate enough to work on the internet for over twenty years. It has allowed me to travel around the world and given me a freedom that few other jobs can.
I believe that anyone can make money from the internet, but you should not be under any illusions about what you have to do to make money. If you start looking for shortcuts to success and following “Get Rich Quick” schemes, you will lose money.
My advice is to spend time learning new skills and gaining experience. This knowledge will help you with your own websites and projects and make you an attractive contractor for others. Be as proactive as you can, whether it be emailing companies looking for work, adding content to your own websites or buying books to learn about the industry.
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* Some of the images in this article were sourced from Pixabay. Be sure to check them out and show them some love 🙂