Start a small business. Being passionate usually translates to a superior product and better service, which is especially sought after in the age of the anonymous, 1-minute online review. Worried that there isn’t a market for your interests? The fact is that though you may not personally know many people who want what you have to offer, thanks to the internet, there’s a huge market for niche-products (pigeon diapers, chainmail wedding dresses, you name it)… and you might just end up being a trend-setter. To create an online store, you can either make your own website or, if don’t want to self-host, you can sell on eBay or a similar site.
Landscape. Look for brush-clearing, mowing, or woodcutting jobs, some of which may land you regular customers. This can save you money at the same time: if you are hired to pick up pine needles, use them to mulch your roses, which will appreciate their acidity and smothering effect on weeds; if you are hired to cut and clear a fallen tree, use it to heat your house that winter.
Hold a yard sale. If you have a yard or garage and plenty of items to sell, you can have a yard sale as early as tomorrow. By advertising your sale on local Facebook pages and Craigslist, you can also skip the paid newspaper ad and keep all of the profits for yourself. If you don’t have time to price everything, try asking patrons to “make an offer” or grouping similar items on tables with an advertised price (e.g. everything on this table is $5).
If you have a propensity for writing and you can slay with your prose, consider writing an ebook. While the market has certainly become saturated as of late, books that help teach people about a technical topic still sell extremely well. This is a great source of passive income but does require a large amount of effort at the outset before any money is generated.
You can create your blog using a free platform from WordPress.org, but you’ll need to pay a small amount – as little as $4 per month – to have your blog hosted. Try GoDaddy.com, which can provide a domain name for your site, email addresses, database storage and other Web hosting services. To make money, you can use the free Google AdSense service to display advertisements on your site. The amount you’re paid varies by ad and usually depends on how many people see it. There's also what's called affiliate marketing, in which you earn a commission (usually less than 10%) whenever someone clicks on an ad on your site and purchases a product. The Amazon Associates affiliate program allows you to advertise the retailer’s products on your site, or try affiliate networks such as CJ Affiliate or ShareASale that work with thousands of companies. Depending on how much time you put into your blog and how many people visit it, you could be making a few hundred dollars each month within a year.
Before I talk about some of the methods for making money online, I wanted to address the role of pain versus pleasure. Every decision that we make in life is weighed on a pain-versus-pleasure scale. We will always do more to avoid pain than we will to gain pleasure, plain and simple. However, this is also what holds us back from succeeding in any endeavor.
Being an online freelance writer is one type of skill that you can use to make money online. But there are a wide variety of other skills that can be used in a similar manner. Every website and blog on the Internet needs technical skills. This can include graphic design, web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing and promotion, content editing, and so much more.
Sell your stuff: Do you have boxes of books or DVDs you don’t really need? Find a used book store and sell your extra stuff. If you run out of stuff, go to some yard sales to get more or offer to help your neighbors go through and sell their extra stuff for a commission. You can also sell clothes, yard equipment, children’s toys. The list goes on and on.
Start a bed and breakfast. If you live in a popular resort area or own a historic property, a B&B might be the perfect side hustle. Not only can you work at home with this career, but you’ll also score some tax write-offs in the process — although most innkeepers caution that the profession requires a lot of hard work and is more of an attractive lifestyle than a money-making pursuit.
As far as the work itself, there’s a good chance you’ll need a virtual private network (VPN) to safely connect to your company’s system, as well as some measure of organizational skills (tip: you can use organizational tools, like Trello) to make sure you’re on top of current projects. The payoff for full-time computer programmers is lucrative, and the average annual salary is over $60,000 according to Payscale.com.
Creating a video series and selling it as a digital download on your blog, much like an eBook, can be another great seller. A video course, teaching viewers a specific skill or how to achieve a particular activity, may well resonate with your audience. If you are going to go down this route then your videos need to be as professional as possible so you should consider investing in some video and lighting equipment, as well as editing software.
Consider selling in lots. A lot is a collection of similar items that is sold in a group. For example, if you have a collection of books, magazines or similar pieces of jewelry, consider selling them all at once in a lot. You many not make as much money as you would have if you sold each item separately. However, the items will likely sell more quickly in a lot than they would individually.
Even in the age of automation, some jobs still require a human touch. Companies often outsource those jobs via services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. These jobs can be tedious — tagging images, transcribing videos, classifying receipts — and can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Pay depends on the task, and the person requesting the work gets to approve the finished product before paying you. That can leave room for scams, so do your research and join a community like TurkNation, which can steer you away from shifty dealers. Read more about doing tasks on Mechanical Turk.
Please note that some of the links below are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools and learning resources I've personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can't afford or that you're not yet ready to implement.
However, the copious amount of emails that editors and companies receive on a daily basis means it’s easier than ever to tell someone no -- or not reply at all. To be a writer means you have to get used to rejection but also that you have to go the extra mile. Don’t settle for having two out of these three qualities, as Gaiman suggested. If you want to make yourself irresistible to businesses, do your best to be pleasant, competent and on-deadline.
Monetize your website. If you already have a blog or website, let it make some money for you. Programs like Google AdSense allow advertisers to bid for your ad space. It’s free and doesn’t have to add to your workload. Ads run on your blog and you make money when visitors click on them. You can also place a PayPal button on your site to allow readers to donate to you or to pay for any products you sell.
Parlay your math, science, foreign-language or test-prep expertise into a lucrative side gig by becoming a private tutor. You can tutor people online or in-person. What you charge can depend on your experience, expertise and what’s in demand. To get started, see what types of tutors are needed on Craigslist, or create a profile on sites like Tutor.com or Care.com. You can also advertise your services at local schools and community centers.
If you actually enjoy putting together Ikea furniture or standing in long lines, you may be cut out for doing tasks for others. Websites like TaskRabbit can connect you with people who need help with a variety of things. Moving, cleaning, delivery and being a handyman have the “highest earning potential,” according to the company. Read about how to get started on TaskRabbit.
That's where Swagbucks comes in. Marketers and brands literally pay Swagbucks users to try their products and services. In many cases, the amount of money that marketers pay will cover a portion of the cost of the product or service itself. However, there are some cases where companies reward users with more than the cost of the service. This is often the case with subscription services where advertisers want to entice consumers into an initial trial of their service with the hope that consumers will stay subscribed after the trial period.
Salvage and resell. Do you love antiques or have a knack for finding valuables at flea markets or yard sales? If you do, it might be time to consider salvaging items for resale – or even scouting out antiques to sell for a profit. While you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time searching for prospects and spend some money buying upfront, you could easily turn a profit if you know what you’re doing.
Comfort. Perhaps the biggest thing that you’ll need to do in order to create a successful B&B is to make sure that your guests are as comfortable as they can be. Remember, they’re paying more for the experience of being comfortable away from home. As a trial, spend a night in the room in your house that you intend to rent and view things from a guest’s point of view. Is the temperature comfortable? Is the bath in the room, or at least a comfortable distance away while still being private? Is the bed soft and inviting? The pillows? Is the bedroom interior design, including colors, soothing? Can you hear household noises, or do you feel that you’re in a world of your own? All of these are important questions to ask yourself, but the answers will determine whether or not your guests recommend your place, or come back for another stay. Think about all the minor inconveniences and discomforts that you’ve just gotten used to over the years, and remember that a paying guest might not tolerate those problems for a night. You may need to spend a little money to fix these issues.
The first follows the startup path we outlined above: You have a disruptive idea for an app or piece of software, you validate the idea with real customers, and then raise money to hire developers or a development studio to build, launch, and scale your software. If you’ve done everything right, your software will be accepted to the Apple and Google Stores and you’ll make money every time someone downloads it or pays for a premium feature.
Sign up with focus groups in your area. Studies that you are eligible to participate in pop up sporadically but pay quite well – often more than $50 for an hour of your time. You can also look for focus groups online but will have to sort through a lot of bogus “opportunities” and sites that ask you to pay up-front for the privilege of participating before you find anything worthwhile.
You know those top-down cooking or craft videos you just can’t seem to get away from these days? There are people out there making a living from them. 78% of B2C companies depend on user-generated content, like those videos, for their marketing campaigns. You can sign up as a creator on a site like Darby Smart and potentially work with brands like Nordstrom, Mattel, and BarkBox. Or, use them to build your YouTube following and monetize through ads and views.
One of the cool things about Google AdSense is that it's so easy to get set up. If you have a blog or website, you can sign up for a free Google AdSense Account. From there, Google will give you a unique code that you will paste onto your website. Google takes it from there, tracking your page views, traffic, and earnings on your behalf. There is no upkeep or maintenance to get this thing going, which makes it a no-brainer if you have a website already.
This can include advertising, but many businesses also need help just filling up their social media profiles with relevant (and consistent) content. If you enjoy learning about social media and want to take things a step further and make extra money, social media management is a great option. If you’re good at it, it can also open up a lot of doors for you down the road. This is a great article from Small Biz Trends on How to Start Your Own Social Media Business.
Look into survey sites like MyPoints, Survey Junkie or Vindale Research where you’ll get paid just for taking surveys and giving your opinion. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? Just remember, these sites are looking for specific criteria. So you might have to wait for the right survey to come along that you qualify for. Plus, you’ll have to reach a certain threshold before you can cash out your points. It’s not a get-rich-quick opportunity by any means, but that extra cash can still add up over time. If you’re the patient and persistent type, give it a shot!
Mentorship. With sites like Etsy, it simply doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel when opening a shop. Instead, look to others who have been down the path and have learned the hard way what to do – and what not to do. Blogs like Handmadeology and EverythingEtsy.com offer hints and guidance for artists just looking to get started in this profitable home-based business.
Use your home to work from home. If you live in an area where there is a demand for short-term rentals (like near a university or the downtown of a large city), you may well be able to find renters by networking in your community. However, with the rise of Airbnb and places like it the Internet has once again made it much easier to make money from home. Using these sites you can rent out a private room, shared room or even your whole house for a night or month or whatever period of time you like.
Recognize that time is money. This critical piece of advice is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who was an accomplished American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat, and statesman--the ultimate multitasker. Your ability to manage your time (and stop procrastinating) is a critical ingredient in your ability to make money. Whether you have a job or are self-employed, keep track of what you're spending your time on. Ask yourself "Which of these activities make the most money, and which of them are a waste of time?" Do more of the former and less of the latter, simple as that. When you're focusing on high-priority tasks, get the job done well, and get the job done fast. By working efficiently, you're giving your employer or clients more time, and they'll appreciate you for it. Remember that time is a limited resource that you're always investing. Will your investments pay off?
Create a killer course experience: With your course validated and in the works, you need to figure out how people will take it. Most course creators choose to host their courses from their own websites. This way, they get all the value of bringing customers back to their site on a regular basis. I host my own courses from a subdomain on my own site so I can easily add more. The course experience is incredibly important as well. And after trying most of the solutions, I highly recommend Teachable—an online platform designed specifically for courses.
Do you see all of those articles, tutorials and guides all over the Internet? Somebody wrote every one of them! If you have decent writing ability (no, you don’t need a journalism degree!), and knowledge in a few specific topic areas, you can be one of those writers. It’s an opportunity to make money online and without ever leaving your home. It’s also the kind of venture that can start out as a small side business, but grow into a full-time career.
Open an Etsy store. If you have a creative talent or skill – whether it’s creating art, sewing clothes, or making keepsakes – you can open an online store on Etsy.com and sell your wares for some quick cash. With your own Etsy store, you’re left in charge of pricing and, ultimately, how much you make. See our detailed primer, “How to Make Money on Etsy.”
Or, if you’d prefer more something more editorial and less salesy, you can find that, too. Media companies (including Entrepreneur) offer digital writing and editing positions for the digital publication, which essentially can be accomplished from anywhere in the world -- as long as you have an internet connection. In fact, we have some writers at Entrepreneur who work from Paris or their home offices instead of the office in New York City.
Prior to that group, they had an online community for teachers looking for lesson plans. That probably sounds pretty random, but it's crazy the type of communities you can build and rally people around. If it's something that you're passionate about yourself and you want to connect with others that have that same passion, then an online community is something you should definitely consider.