7 Easy Ways to Start Making Money Online
Ever thought about making extra money online, but weren’t sure where to begin?
I’d be willing to bet that most people would answer that question with a “yes”. And that’s why I’ve put together this list of easy ways to start bringing in some of that sweet, sweet Internet money.
Working online can be extremely rewarding. It’s a serious change of pace from your “real” job, and a chance to flex your creative muscles. Perhaps best of all, you don’t answer to any boss but yourself.
Now, these ideas might not make you rich (although most of them could with the proper dedication). But they will bring in at least a few extra bucks, and the barrier to entry for each is almost non-existent.
They’re also quick. If you pick an item on this list and really sit down with it this weekend, you could easily be seeing some of that money by Monday.
Who says starting your own business has to be hard?
1) SEO Writing
I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for SEO writing, simply because it’s how I made my first dollar online.
For the unaware, this is basically ghostwriting blog articles for individual businesses – or, in many cases, for the marketing companies that they’ve hired to handle their website.
So long as you can actually write coherently and with a decent structure, it’s really not too difficult to do. Just about anyone who has, for instance, written papers in college probably has the skills to get started. Of course, it certainly helps if you don’t hate writing.
Usually, an SEO writer is asked to write ~300-500 words around a specific keyword/keyphrase. Sometimes you’ll be given the headline as well. Clients want these to rank well in search results for the target keyphrase, and ideally to be helpful or interesting enough that readers will share the link.
SEO articles are usually very straightforward: plenty of “Top X Things to Do in ___” or “5 Surprising Foods That ___”, etc. You’ve probably read a lot of these already.
They should be informative and helpful, but don’t need to be particularly deep. They’ll also almost never require any particular prior knowledge. With the power of Google at your disposal, you should be able to do whatever basic research is needed.
There are a few ways of going about finding your first clients:
- Blind Emailing – sending unsolicited emails to web marketing companies, introducing yourself and stating your availability to write SEO articles. It’s best if you can prepare a few example articles ahead of time – many companies will want to see writing samples before sending you work.
- Craigslist – check the “writing gigs” section, and not only for your city. Hundreds of people seeking written content post here each day, so it’s a more reliable way to connect with those who actually need your services. Unfortunately, some don’t value writing work highly and are not interested in paying much (or anything at all). I’d strongly recommend just ignoring these and moving on.
- Local Businesses – do you know any businesses in your area that don’t have much of a web presence? Try approaching the owner or manager in person, with a friendly smile and an explanation of how you can help them out. Some of the most fun gigs can be the ones for your favorite restaurant, gym, or hobby shop.
If you want to learn more about the theory behind SEO writing, try this free ebook from Copyblogger – a great source of knowledge about writing for the web.
2) Sell Your Photos
If you’re any good at setting up shots, why not try selling your photos on stock photography websites?
It’s notoriously tough to get a lot of sales with so many others competing for attention, but the money is almost entirely passive. Just upload your best work and wait/hope for purchases to trickle in over the coming weeks.
The trick here is that the photos most likely to sell are often of people or items in very specific situations. Everyone and their mother has a nice sunset pic from their latest vacation, so the competition for that sort of thing is very high.
So don’t be afraid to throw “weird” shots up there, and get creative! Maybe someone needs a front-lit image of a pyramid made of stacked cucumbers. If you’re the only one offering that, their purchasing decision is easy.
If stock photography sounds up your alley, definitely check out the following sites:
- Shutterstock – a subscription-based service that lets you license the use of your work, and pays you a small amount for each sale (or a percentage, for video sales). This amount goes up as your lifetime earnings increase, and you’ll always retain the copyright.
- Bigstock – although Bigstock is actually owned by Shutterstock, it operates a bit differently. Customers can choose individual images, and pay for them with pre-purchased “credits”. As a content creator, you’ll receive a share of each credit spent on your work. There is a subscription system available as well.
- iStockPhoto – run by Getty Images, this is easily one of the largest online marketplaces for stock photographs. Royalty payments here will vary depending on how the image was licensed (subscription/credits/pay-as-you-go) and whether you sign up on as an “exclusive contributor”.
Of course, you can also sell photos in a more familiar fashion:
- SmugMug – turn your best pics into cash with made-to-order prints and wall art. SmugMug also gives you access to professional-looking tools, like package deals and coupons, so you can really impress potential customers.
- Fine Art America – one of the older (and better) print-on-demand sites, Fine Art America is great for everyone from photographers to painters to pen-and-pencil illustrators. They even have a Facebook app, so you can sell directly from your profile page. The free version has a low annual sales cap, but the pro version is affordable and worth considering.
- Fotomoto – for the aspiring/current photo pro who already has their own website, Fotomoto is a great alternative. It’s a simple widget that allows you full control over any prints and products you choose to sell.
3) Teach English Online
There are a number of online platforms that connect language learners with interested teachers (and would-be teachers).
It’s pretty easy to qualify, too – if you’re a native English speaker with a college degree, have a stable Internet connection and webcam, and can show up to sessions on-time and with a professional look and attitude, that’s often all it really takes.
Here are a few links to get you started, but this is by no means a complete list:
- SkimaTalk – 25-minute English lessons conducted over Skype. Students (mostly teenagers and adults from Japan, Korea, and China) can indicate if they would prefer structured sessions, and SkimaTalk does have coursework that you can choose to follow. That said, most students will be more interested in open conversation and practicing their skills. I’ve used SkimaTalk myself!
- italki – Like SkimaTalk, this is a very popular platform for 1-on-1 video-based language tutoring. But since italki doesn’t focus specifically on English, you can also try teaching other languages that you may speak natively. It’s also a great place to find a foreign language teacher of your own!
- VIPKID – video-teaching all sorts of elementary school classes to Chinese children, but done entirely in English. Early immersion is the best way by far to learn any language, so you’ll be having a very real impact!
4) Write an Ebook
Maybe you’ve long had a burning vision for a book in the back of your mind. Maybe you’ve even started writing it, but weren’t sure how to show it to the masses.
Good news: self-publishing has never been easier than it is today. If you’ve got a creative spark to share with the world, why not get it out there and make a few bucks to boot?
And there’s no need to stick to short stories and fiction novels, fun as they can be. There’s plenty of money to be made in travel guides, self-help books, and how-to manuals for everything from your favorite hobby to the software you already use at work.
With decently high royalties, a global reach, and flexible price-setting tools, Amazon’s Kindle marketplace makes a great place to get started. If your ebook sales start to pick up, you could legitimately be pulling in thousands of dollars per month – and five figures isn’t totally out of question.
Pro tip: many authors will make their ebook free for the first 5-7 days or so, and promote it heavily to rack up some downloads. By the time the price is increased, your book should be more visible, thanks to the bestseller charts – and hopefully you’ll have some great ratings and reviews to boot.
5) Sell Your Services on Fiverr
If you haven’t heard of it before, Fiverr is a website where people can sell their services (or “gigs”) for cheap. Five dollars is the baseline, although lots of gigs now include (optional) paid extras.
Everything from graphic design, to voiceover work, to essay-editing is widely available, and these are great places to start if you’ve got the skills. But with some creativity you might even stumble on an idea that nobody else has had.
Fiverr has a pretty massive audience. That means there are plenty of folks who may already be looking for what you have to offer, but it also means it’s a bit tougher to stand out from the crowd.
One of the best things you can do is to record a video promoting your services, and add it to your profile. The most successful sellers have all done this, and it’s a lot of reward for very little work.
Your video doesn’t have to be amazing, or even all that great. It will still do plenty to boost your visibility, since Fiverr tends to push gigs with incomplete profiles a bit further down in the search results.
Put yourself out there, and give it a shot! If you’re still struggling to get your gigs noticed, check out Fiverr’s “Tips for Sellers” forum.
6) Amazon’s Affiliate Program
Maybe the lowest-effort way to collect an extra dollar here and there is Amazon’s Affiliate Program.
Anyone can sign up for free. When you do, you’ll receive your own personal affiliate tag, which is automatically embedded in Amazon.com links whenever you’re signed in. Anyone someone clicks one of your links, and then buys something from Amazon within the next 30 days, you’ll get a cut of 4%. And once the people you refer start buying, that share can quickly get raised to 6%.
How’s that for easy? They don’t even have to buy the specific product you linked to them! Maybe you have a relative who already does plenty of online shopping – just ask him or her to use your affiliate link in the future.
In fact, if you have a popular blog, social media account, or any other website, you can cast a wider net. Link to specific products or even just the Amazon homepage with your affiliate ID (just like this, winky face), and you’ll receive a small slice of the action whenever someone clicks and makes a purchase.
7) Become a Consultant
Everyone is an expert at something or another.
Even if you’re not an “industry leader” or a master artist, the odds are pretty great that there is something you know more about, or do better, than almost everyone else.
Take a look at me, for instance. I do quite a bit of copywriting and blogging, and have studied both a fair amount on my own (though never in a classroom setting).
I may not be the greatest at either, but the fact is that most people have never studied copywriting at all, and never started a blog. Of those that have, some still have less knowledge/experience than me.
It’s not a stretch, then, to think that I may know more about the subject than 95% of people on Earth. That means I’ve got something to offer, and I’m willing to bet that you do too.
Consulting online isn’t that hard to do, either. Here are a couple of active platforms that let you sign up for free and get started within minutes:
- Clarity.fm – a phone-based service where entrepreneurs with budding business ideas come in search of specific advice from experts in various fields. Clarity.fm is wildly popular, and boasts freelance consultants including the likes of Mark Cuban and Eric Ries – but of course, anyone is welcome to join!
- 24sessions – a fledgling startup with an emphasis on video chat, which is something Clarity.fm doesn’t offer. A great opportunity to get in on the ground floor with a growing website!
Of course, reaching out to your current business connections can be helpful as well. If you go it on your own, be sure to whip up a basic website, or hire someone to do it for you. This lets you list your services and shows off your commitment to professionalism. Sort of an online business card, at the very least.
Remember, consulting is just as much a mindset as it is a show of expertise. So long as you’re a relative expert, with more relevant knowledge than the average person, you can add real value to the lives of others.
Got any other tips for making extra cash online? Share them in the comments section below!