How to Make Money Online: 31 Simple Ideas to Cash in On
We’re deep into the age of the internet. At this point, you can do basically anything through a screen — including increase your income.
Yep. You can earn, sell, invest, work full time, work part time and even watch videos for some extra cash… all from your computer or smart phone screen.
Bookmark this post to peruse it anytime you want to make extra money or need inspiration for a career change.
Or click here to jump to the jobs that are the best fit for you:
- Freelancing & Side Gigs: Social Media Manager | Freelance Writer & Editor | Graphic Designer | Ride-Share Driver | Takeout Delivery Driver | Grocery Delivery Driver | Package Delivery Driver | Virtual Assistant | Virtual Tutor or Online Teacher
- Start an Online Business: Make Money Through Advertising | Sell Products Online | Sell Services Online
- Full-time/Part-time Work-from-Home Jobs: Customer Service Rep | Technical Support Wizard | Sales Consultant | Personal Shopper | Copywriter | Transcriptionist
- Make Extra Money in Your Free Time: Sell Unused Gift Cards | Take Online Surveys | Buy & Sell Real Estate | Test UX on Websites | List Your Spare Room | Start Investing | Get Cash Back When You Shop
- Start a Thrifty Side Hustle: Sell Your Photos | Sell Your Clothes Online | Trade in Your Used Electronics | Flip Flea Market Finds | Sell Craft Supplies on Etsy | Design & Sell T-Shirts
How to Make Money Online: 31 Creative Ideas to Try
A list of money-making ideas could go on for days — no kidding. You don’t have time to read about all of the possibilities. There’s so much you can do to earn money with little more than a laptop and an internet connection.
In this post, we’ve broken down some common ways to work from home: freelancing, gig work, starting a business, work-from-home jobs and ways to make extra money.
Within each of those categories, you’ll find common ways people make money online. Don’t let these ideas limit you! Use them as a launching point for how to make money online, and get creative to set up the work, life and income you want.
Become a Freelancer or Gig Worker
One of the most attractive characteristics of online jobs is the ability to work for yourself and set your own hours. You’ll probably want to look into freelancing and gig work.
1. Social Media Manager
Social media is constantly changing. For many business owners, staying up to date on the best practices and devising a strategy to grow an audience on social media is time-consuming and challenging.
That means social media skills are in high demand — and we don’t just mean your on fleek selfies (or your knowledge that “on fleek” hasn’t been a thing since 2016). Social media managers know how to cultivate an engaged following around a brand and grow their clients’ businesses online.
It pays pretty well, too. You could charge at least $1,000 per month per client for daily posts, responding to comments and mentions, and removing spam comments. That rate can go way up if you contribute to the brand’s overall strategy.
2. Freelance Writer & Editor
If you’re into writing, you might run across a lot of unpaid or low-paid writing gigs out there. But making a living as a freelance writer/editor is totally possible if you look for gigs in the right places.
Take a note from writer Jamie Cattanach. In her first year as a full-time freelancer, she earned more than $50,000 — beating the salary she’d made as a full-time staff writer by several thousand dollars.
If you want to make a living at it, your best bet is to build a business around a lucrative niche you enjoy writing in. That includes subject matter, such as:
- Personal finance
- Health and medicine
It also includes specialized services, like:
- Grant writing
- Ad copywriting
- Case study writing
- White paper creation
- Video script writing
- Press releases
- Business plans
- Technical writing
You can also expand your repertoire by offering writing-related services. If you’ve got an eye for typos and a serious dedication to the nuances of grammar, you could find more work by becoming an editor or a proofreader.
The average per-page rate for freelance proofreaders is 35 cents, according to Caitlin Pyle, the founder of Proofread Anywhere, an online course that teaches you how to become a proofreader.
Wondering if the gig is right for you? You can test your grammar wiles with a free grammar quiz and learn how to find freelance clients in Pyle’s free seven-day introductory course for proofreaders.
3. Graphic Designer
Want to unleash your inner artist — and earn good money for it? Graphic design could be the route for you.
Graphic design skills are in high demand across industries. Every business needs a logo, website design and social media graphics, and many need designs for product labels, signs, flyers, newsletters, presentations and more.
You could earn money as a graphic designer online either as a remote employee or working for yourself as a freelancer.
As a freelancer, you set your own rate — usually a flat rate for a project or per hour — and common rates are $65 to $150 per hour.
To become a graphic designer, brush up on your skills with software like Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint, and use your eye for aesthetics and fundamentals of visual storytelling. Plus, hone your communication skills — those will be your biggest asset for landing clients and understanding their vision for a project.
You could earn a degree in graphic design through a college, or self-teach the skills through online courses or tutorials.
For an artist, graphic design can be a deeply satisfying way to make money.
Parker Myers, a graphic designer in Nashville, Tennessee, says he loves it because he gets to spend his days “just making beautiful things. The aesthetic side of design is so easy to fall in love with and is so fun to chase and spend hours on little details that nobody else will care about.”
4. Ride-Share Driver
If you don’t mind leaving the house, you can use apps that connect you with gigs that let you make money with your car.
As a ride-share driver, you’ll chauffeur people around your city and earn money as a side hustle or full-time gig.
Uber and Lyft, the most popular ride-share companies, are always looking for drivers. To qualify, you need to be at least 21 years old, have a valid U.S. driver’s license, proof of car insurance and vehicle registration, a four-door vehicle that seats five people, and the ability to pass criminal and driving background checks.
5. Takeout Delivery Driver
Driving around strangers isn’t for everyone. If that’s where you’re at, try meal delivery instead.
Most food delivery apps and services work the same: A customer places a food order with a local restaurant, you drive to the restaurant, grab the order and take it to the customer. You get paid by the order plus tips.
Find food delivery gigs through nationwide and regional apps including:
- Uber Eats
- Eat Street
DoorDash and Uber Eats dominate the market nationally, and they’re generally the most consistent. Compared to ride-share driving, the car requirements are less stringent. You’ll still need a valid driver’s license, insurance and the ability to pass a background check.
6. Grocery Delivery Driver
Going to the supermarket, especially when you have kids, can be quite an affair. Then throw in the pandemic. That’s why grocery delivery services are on the rise.
These apps employ armies of gig workers who go shopping, pick up requested items and deliver them to customers’ homes.
This gig involves more labor and skill than many delivery apps, but generally pays better and offers potential for higher tips, too. You’ll receive an order from a customer — their grocery list — and you’ll shop for them. That means some heavy lifting — and knowing the difference between a kumquat and orange.
Find gigs by signing up with the grocery delivery apps that are popular (and available) in your area, such as:
- Walmart Grocery
- Google Shopping (formerly Google Express)
- Amazon Fresh
- Regional and local services, such as Safeway
7. Package Delivery Driver
If you’d rather your car not absorb the smells of your gig (food or people), you can deliver packages on-demand.
Amazon Flex is a major delivery gig service and is constantly looking for drivers around the country.
Amazon Flex stands out from many other app-based side hustles in that it guarantees a minimum wage between $15 and $19 an hour depending on your location. You can sign up for “blocks” or shifts for a finite amount of time, which lets estimate your daily earnings with stability similar to a part-time job.
To qualify, you need to be 21 years old, hold a valid license and have car insurance. Vehicle requirements vary based on the type of delivery. For some orders, you may have to have a larger vehicle.
You can also find package delivery gigs through these apps:
8. Virtual Assistant
Small business owners have a lot of administrative and miscellaneous needs that aren’t worth paying the rates of specialized contractors like writers or designers. That’s where virtual assistants come in.
Virtual assistants handle tasks similar to what you might do as an assistant in an office, like:
- Answer emails.
- Manage your client’s calendar.
- Schedule meetings.
- Organize files and information.
- Provide customer support.
But you can make more money online as a virtual assistant if you upgrade your skills to offer virtual assistant services in content marketing, such as:
- Publishing posts in WordPress.
- Coordinating a blog’s editorial calendar.
- Curating and posting content on social media.
- Creating websites and landing pages in editors like Squarespace, Wix, Leadpages and Unbounce.
- Publishing email newsletters in email service providers like MailChimp, ConvertKit and Infusionsoft.
Like with writing and editing, finding a niche as a virtual assistant could help you command a higher rate. Check out these VA niches that pay at least $20 per hour on average.
Find VA gigs through freelancer job sites like:
- Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
9. Virtual Tutor or Online Teacher
Have a knack for teaching and a love (and patience) for kids?
A tutoring job could be a great part-time gig to help you make money online. Yep, you don’t even have to leave your house to be a tutor anymore!
Online tutoring jobs come in all varieties, and which is best for you largely depends on your teaching experience and education, and how much time you want to put in.
Find traditional tutoring gigs through these platforms:
Work with homeschooling families through these online teaching platforms:
- Varsity Tutors
And teach English online to non-native speakers around the world through these companies:
- Rosetta Stone
Start an Online Business
If you love working for yourself and want to build a brand around what you uniquely offer to customers, consider turning your expertise into an online business.
Starting a business isn’t as complicated as you might imagine. Start by setting up a website where you can sell products or services to your customers or clients.
10. Make Money Through Advertising
Want to start your own website? Turn it into some money?
It’ll take quite a bit of dedication, but it can really pay off.
Take, for example, Helene Sula, a professional travel blogger who visited more than 85 cities last year and earned $200,000, in part through her blog, “Helene in Between.”
We recommend you start by building up your high-quality content.
Then you can look into advertising platforms like Google AdSense, a tool that automatically serves your readers display ads. The price advertisers pay varies, so there’s no way to say how much you can make using Google AdSense, but you’ll get paid when a reader interacts with the ad.
You can also add links to Amazon products in your content and earn affiliate commissions through Amazon Associates.
If you build your site with high-quality content that attracts readers through search, advertising and affiliate marketing can become a reliable passive income stream.
For more details, check out our guide to starting a blog, gaining page views and monetizing it.
You can also earn money by advertising products and services through content you create on other platforms, such as:
- YouTube: Grow your YouTube channel, and turn on ads on your videos.
- Social Media: Grow a following in a lucrative space like food or fashion, and you could earn money through branded content deals as a social media influencer.
- Newsletter: Grow your email list, and use your newsletter to earn money through affiliate marketing.
11. Sell Products Online
Create physical or digital products, and sell them online through platforms including:
- Amazon: Sell pretty much anything under the sun, including products you create or products you resell.
- Kindle: If you’re a subject-matter expert, you could write and self-publish a book through Kindle Direct Publishing and sell it on Amazon. Writer Steve Gillman wrote a book in a week and made up to $350 per month as the book sold on its own.
- eBay: Got unique or crafty trinkets sitting around? Sell them on eBay to clear your closets and turn them into cash.
- E-junkie and Gumroad: Use these platforms to easily sell digital products like ebooks and courses.
- Your website: Set up an online shop with Shopify or Squarespace to sell physical or digital products online.
12. Sell Services Online
Set up your virtual office space to attract clients to your business. You can turn virtually any skill into a sellable service online, so get creative!
Here are some types of businesses you could start online:
- Freelance services: Provide services like writing, design and virtual assistance to clients as a freelancer. Use your website as a portfolio and sales page to let clients know what you have to offer.
- Coaching or consulting: Turn your expertise into a teachable moment — or a few. Book individual or corporate clients for one-on-one coaching and group trainings to learn what you know. Work 100% online by booking clients through your website and hosting virtual trainings, or use your website as a storefront to connect with clients for in-person training.
- Courses: Create online courses to make your expertise available to even more people. You can teach live sessions to an intimate group, or make your courses self-guided, so there’s no limit to how many people can enroll at once.
- Marketing and PR: Create a “firm” — even if it’s just you — to help small businesses with online marketing and public relations. There’s a ton you can do in this space, so build services around your strengths and interests. For example, you could focus on writing, social media, paid lead generation, networking or connecting clients with media outlets for free media exposure.
- Bookkeeping and accounting: Launch a virtual bookkeeping business to help small businesses in your area or around the country keep track of their finances. Get started with these online bookkeeping courses.
- HR services: Do you have experience in recruiting, building teams, managing employee benefits or other human resources duties? Strike out on your own, and offer your services as a contractor to remote companies.
- Direct sales consulting: If you want to work for yourself but benefit from someone else’s established brand and business model, consider becoming a consultant with a direct sales company — a.k.a. multi-level marketing (MLM). You’ll sell things like health and beauty products and clothing, and you can sell entirely online through your website or Facebook groups.
Find a Full-Time or Part-Time Job Working From Home
Prefer the structure of working for someone else? That doesn’t limit your ability to work online.
Look for remote jobs that let you work from home as a full-time or part-time employee. You’ll get the best of both worlds: the flexibility of working from your PJs on your couch and the comfort and perks of being part of an established company.
To find full-time and part-time work-from-home jobs, keep an eye on The Penny Hoarder Work-From-Home Jobs Portal, where we post tons of work-from-home jobs hiring all over the country. Subscribe to The Penny Hoarder Jobs newsletter for the latest.
13. Customer Service Rep
You can be a customer service agent without ever setting foot in a call center! You can do this popular job entirely from home — and many people already do.
Customer service representatives answer customer questions and respond to complaints by phone, email, online chat and social media.
14. Technical Support Wizard
In addition to general customer support, many companies need product specialists or tech support agents. These positions are similar to customer service — your job is to answer customer questions.
You’ll likely commit to a set schedule and may have to work nights or weekends.
15. Sales Consultant
An online sales job is just like an old-fashioned sales job in an office: You speak with a company’s existing customers or prospective buyers by phone or email, answer their questions, explain products and promotions, and — ideally — make sales.
Online sales jobs are often available with tech and software (SaaS) companies, where your job is to talk with people at other companies to sell products and services that help their business.
16. Personal Shopper
Put your killer fashion sense to use by giving personalized recommendations to customers shopping through popular department stores online, or online clothing and cosmetic brands.
We talked to Brie Reynolds of FlexJobs to learn more about unique customer-service-adjacent roles like this.
“You’ll help people find the right clothes, make returns, get style information, all that sort of stuff,” Reynolds says. “There’s a huge amount of customer service in each of those roles. But they are probably more fun than what you’re thinking of as call-center jobs.”
You won’t necessarily need experience in the fashion industry or in a retail environment, but knowledge of fashion and beauty brands and trends is a must.
You won’t likely work directly for a department store in this kind of role. Look for jobs with third-party customer services companies, and you’ll be placed on a team that specializes in a brand, such as Chanel, Nordstrom or Sephora.
Want a job that lets you…
✅ Work from home?
✅ Flex your creative muscles?
✅ Work full-time?
✅ Get employee benefits?
If you want to work full-time and make a lot of money as a writer, copywriting is the road you want to take. Because all you need to do this job is a computer (and your creative brain), you can find tons of copywriting jobs that let you work from home — and many with flexible hours.
Being a copywriter could mean what you’re picturing: the old ad men of Madison Avenue. You might write ad copy (words) for things like billboards or TV ads.
But online marketing and advertising open up a lot more avenues to pursue as a copywriter. You could write blog posts, website sales pages, social media posts, video scripts, copy for graphics, email newsletters and more.
Are you a good listener — and a good typist? You could make $15 to $25 an hour as an online transcriptionist.
That means listening to audio recordings — like podcasts, lectures and interviews — and typing what you hear.
Transcriptionists are generally paid per audio hour, not working hour, so this job pays off better the more efficient you are.
Check out sites like Transcribe Anywhere or TranscribeMe to find opportunities. You generally have to take a transcription test and fill out an application to qualify.
Make Extra Money in Your Free Time
Even if you’re not interested in making your full-time living in a work-from-home job, you could still make some money online.
Tons of apps exist to help you cash in on activities you already do every day. Take a few minutes while you wait in long lines or watch TV at night to tap a few buttons on your phone, and you could fill your virtual piggy bank with a steady stream of income.
19. Sell Unused Gift Cards
Whether it’s a birthday, graduation or holiday, you probably leave any celebration with a stack of gift cards. There’s a good chance you’ll end up with a few you can’t use or don’t want.
Maybe your boss gave you a Starbucks gift card, but you aren’t a coffee drinker.
Or your Aunt Rita gave you a gift card to Dillard’s, but the closest one is 50 miles from your house.
There is no reason for these well-intentioned gifts to go to waste. You can sell gift cards online for cash.
Each website is a little different. Some let buyers bid on your gift cards, so you can sell directly; others purchase your gift card for a flat rate upfront and sell it themselves.
Compare your offers on popular gift card selling sites to find the best place to sell what you’ve got. Here are four to consider:
- Card Pool
- Card Cash
- Clip Kard
20. Take Online Surveys
There’s a certain appeal to paid online surveys. Tap a few buttons, share your opinions and bank a little cash while you binge Netflix.
No, you’re not going to get rich — earning money on survey sites can be time-consuming. But it’s a good way to make use of the time you’d otherwise spend watching another recipe video on Instagram…
The problem? The internet is littered with online survey scams. To help you out, we’ve combed through dozens of platforms to hand-pick the most legitimate online survey sites, including:
21. Buy & Sell Real Estate
Judging by rising rental prices everywhere, being a landlord seems like a pretty sweet gig, right?
Well, that is, if you can afford to buy property. Spoiler: You totally can — you just have to get creative.
Through real estate investment trusts (REITs), anyone can buy into a piece of property with a small investment. Bonus: You never have to fix the pipes.
Here are a few unusual places to get started in real estate investing when you only have a few hundred bucks to spare:
- Fundrise: Invest in real estate around the country through this company’s investment portfolios. You can start with as a little as $500.
- Stash: Literally buy real estate with your spare change through this micro-investing app.
- Ebay: Find odd plots of land selling for pennies — like, as little as $100. Hold onto them until demand grows in the area, and you could sell for a solid profit.
- Second Life: Set up shop in this virtual world (yep, it’s still a thing), where you buy land to sell or rent for real money.
22. Test User Experience on Websites
Like most of us, you’ve probably commented on how some websites are confusing and others are excellent. Rather than complaining to your spouse or friend, tell the site’s owner and get paid for playing critic.
One Penny Hoarder, Steve Gillman, did just that, and he says you could earn up to $30 per hour as a website tester.
You don’t have to have any special skills or technical know-how to do this gig. Probably better if you don’t!
23. List Your Spare Room
Got a spare room — or garage, basement, pool house or tent? Travelers will pay you to rest their head just about anywhere.
If you live near a travel hotspot, whether it’s a popular tourist city; a theme park; or home to seasonal sports events, concerts or festivals, open your home to visitors to make a little extra money.
List your space on these popular sites to connect with travelers looking for lodging:
To make the most of this side gig, check out our guide to getting started as an Airbnb host.
24. Start Investing
In the 21st century, we like our investments small.
That’s because the word “investment” seems way too big for most of us. It’s too much to learn, too much responsibility, too much risk — just too much.
Micro-investing, on the other hand, sounds adorable, bite-size and totally manageable. It’s all about investments that are small enough to fit anyone’s budget. Plus, you can do it all from your phone.
To get started earning passive income with your spare change, check out our favorite micro-investing apps:
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry; it just takes tiny steps. Check out our beginner’s guide to micro-investing.
25. Get Cash Back When You Shop
Cash-back apps and websites let you make money back on in-store and online purchases. No need to clip coupons or collect store ads — you can do everything where you shop, on your phone or computer.
Cash-back apps and rebate sites offer rewards when you shop from participating brands. Unlike coupons, they don’t take money off the price when you buy. Instead, you’ll earn rewards like you would with a credit card and cash out periodically for cash, gift cards or free stuff.
Some apps require you to shop through their “portal” — their website that lets you shop participating online stores. Others let you earn points by taking a picture of your receipt after shopping in the store, or by connecting your email to share online shopping receipts. Some let you do all three.
To put your rebates on autopilot, sign up with these cash-back apps and sites:
- Fetch Rewards
- Checkout 51
- Saving Star
Start a Thrifty Side Hustle
When you want to make more than a little pocket change… but you don’t want to shift your entire career online… look to these online side hustles.
Starting a side hustle is a smart way to diversify your income, so you can earn more and not rely 100% on your day job for your well being. And you can start small with no pressure, so you don’t have to invest the kind of time or money you’d put into starting a full-fledged online business.
26. Sell Your Photos
Do you bring your camera everywhere you go, snapping perfect shot after perfect shot?
Cash in on your visual skills by selling your photos through stock photography sites. It’s a smart and simple way to turn your hobby into a passive income stream — upload a photo once, and earn a few bucks every time someone purchases it.
P.S. you don’t need to own a fancy camera for this — at least, not any fancier than the one built into your phone. You can sell your smart phone photos through an app called Foap and keep 50% of the sale price each time it sells (typically around $5).
Fancy yourself more of a fine arts photog? Sell your professional shots through these sites that pay $100 or more per image.
27. Sell Your Clothes Online
Is your closet overflowing with last season’s impulse fashion buys? Earn back some of the money you’ve funneled into your wardrobe by selling your clothes online.
We reviewed the five best places to sell your clothes online to help you make a few extra bucks and free up some closet space. List your clothes on these sites to connect with thrifty fashionistas:
28. Trade in Your Used Electronics
You know that phone sitting in the forgotten drawer in your desk? It’s time to give it up and pocket some cash.
Trade-in websites make selling your old phone super easy. We compared these eight buyback sites to find the best place to sell your phone and other electronics:
- Buyback Boss
- The Wiz Cells
29. Flip Flea Market Finds
Flea markets rock. Pick up some cheap, dusty trinkets, and fraternize with fascinating peddlers. Sounds like a great Saturday, right?
If you agree, see if you can find some opportunities to turn your thrifty finds into profit.
Follow Rob Stephenson’s lead. He calls himself the Flea Market Flipper and has made up to $30,000 a year finding and selling flea market gems. That’s a solid side hustle.
30. Sell Craft Supplies on Etsy
Lots of creators sell their artwork and creations on Etsy. But you can make money on the site even if you’re not the artsy type.
Creators also look to Etsy for their supplies — and that could be an opportunity for you.
Penny Hoarder contributor Janet Berry-Johnson earned about $200 a month selling needlecraft kits and patterns on Etsy — and she never had to make anything.
31. Design and Sell T-Shirts
If you’ve got a creative streak — or know how to spin a catchy pun — design T-shirts to sell through Merch by Amazon.
Amazon makes it super easy to create your own little fashion empire.
You’ll just upload your design to Merch, choose the shirt style and colors you want to offer, set your price and add a product description. Before you can start, you’ll have to be considered as an applicant based on your background and experience — but it’s pretty easy to be approved.
Amazon lists your shirts on its site, and when someone buys, it prints and ships the shirts, too. You earn a royalty for every product sold.
Create designs around popular holidays, elections, social movements or memes. Gain traction by including keywords in your description to help shoppers find your T-shirts when they search. Once your designs are up, you could earn passive income for years to come.
Ready? Start Making Money Online
The good news is, with so many ways to make money online, there’s something out there for everyone. All you need, at minimum, is a computer — or, in some cases, just a smart phone.
Start testing some of these money making ideas to see what works for. And remember: These are just our favorites. The internet’s constantly cooking up other ways to earn money, so keep your eyes open.
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.