Making money online can be tricky, especially for beginners. But don’t worry! You’re about to learn a variety of different ways to make money online, regardless of your previous experience.
In this post, we’re going to discuss:
The basics of eCommerce, including platforms like Shopify and Amazon FBA
Concepts like dropshipping, Print-on-Demand, and affiliate marketing
Sources of passive income
The most lucrative work-from-home jobs
The basics of investing
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
I don’t need to convince you that making money online is possible. Clearly, you already know that, or you wouldn’t be reading this article. The more elusive question is “How?”
The answer is: “It depends.”
It depends on how much you want to make and how hard you’re willing to work. It depends on your existing skillset and what you find joy in doing. Most importantly, it depends on how much time you have to spare.
To help you find the online money-making method that’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most beginner-friendly ways of earning money online.
Some of these methods may end up transitioning into new careers or businesses while others may help you earn passive income.
We tried our best to include something for everyone, and we encourage you to seek out more information on concepts that seem interesting to you.
Each of these money-making methods varies in terms of:
Ease of entry
We took each of these factors into consideration when choosing the order in which to list these methods. However, that doesn’t mean that the topics at the end of the article are any less legitimate.
What it means is that these first few methods come with the most significant potential to earn big bucks.
But, like everything in life, there are trade-offs to consider.
Businesses require you to spend money upfront. Still, they offer unique benefits like better financial rewards and growth potential.
However, businesses also have the potential to fail.
Jobs don't require you to pay anything upfront and offer the security of a consistent, reliable paycheck.
But jobs usually come with a financial glass ceiling, as you ultimately end up trading hours of your life in exchange for money, and there are only so many hours in a week.
With a job, your available time limits your potential to earn.
When choosing a side hustle, remember that your situation is wholly unique.
Nobody has your exact combination of skills, resources, circumstances, and passions.
If you’re somebody who prefers the security of a work-from-home job, feel free to skip ahead a few sections. But for the entrepreneurs in the crowd, let’s begin with our most recommended method for making money online.
A recent in-house survey of entrepreneurs who went into business out of necessity during the COVID-19 lockdown revealed that the #1 most common online side hustle or business was running an Amazon FBA store.
The same study looked at the numbers behind the top 10 most profitable Amazon FBA stores that were listed for sale on Flippa and compared them to the top 10 most profitable eCommerce sites.
When we took a look at the numbers, it was easy to see why Amazon FBA stores were so popular.
The average Amazon FBA store in that sample was only 3.9 years old and earned a net profit of $40,472 per month.
In contrast, the average eCommerce store was 9.1 years old and only made a monthly net profit of $8,605.
What is an Amazon FBA store?
Amazon doesn’t own most of the inventory in its warehouses. That inventory belongs to third-party merchants who have hired Amazon to store and ship the merchandise for them.
Merchants can list their inventory for sale on Amazon and instantly make it available to anyone searching on Amazon.
In exchange, Amazon charges those merchants a small monthly fee, as well as a fee for every item sold and an additional fee for every time a worker needs to “pick” an item.
Sometimes the fees are worth it, and sometimes they’re not. It just depends on what you want to sell. However, choosing products based upon what’s most conducive to the Amazon FBA model seems to be a winning strategy.
Amazon also provides every FBA merchant with a customizable storefront to talk about their products and engage with customers.
How do I start an Amazon FBA store?
The first thing Amazon FBA merchants need is an account on Amazon Seller Central. Seller Central is the portal that merchants use to build their Amazon businesses.
Amazon has different requirements for sellers based upon what you want to sell, and their criteria for approving merchants are highly secretive. Still, there are significant rewards for merchants who successfully navigate the process.
Next, you’ll need to list your inventory. This process can be tedious and slow, but it’s essential for success.
Every product you sell will require a name, description, assigned category, and product photo.
However, certain products may require more information on specific attributes, like whether or not the product requires batteries or needs FDA approval.
Remember to optimize your listings around high-volume, low-competition keywords to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Amazon requires merchants who want to sell in specific product categories to take classes at their online school ‘Amazon Seller University.’ This rule is to satisfy legal requirements for products that may be harmful or dangerous.
While selling on Amazon can certainly be lucrative, it is still just one of many online marketplaces.
There are plenty of sales to be made on competing marketplaces like Walmart, Google Shopping, eBay, and more!
Thankfully, there is an eCommerce platform upon which you can build an online store and list your inventory for sale across every marketplace we’ve just mentioned, including Amazon.
That platform is Shopify.
Shopify is perhaps the most versatile and capable eCommerce platform ever conceived. It’s a one-stop-shop for all your eCommerce merchant needs.
The Shopify app store has over 2,500 apps that add an endless range of capabilities to your online store. With the help of the Shopify app store, you can:
Find products to sell
List your inventory for sale of external sales channels (i.e., Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, etc.)
Arrange dropshipping (more on that later)
Design Print-on-Demand merchandise (more on that later too)
Design a professional storefront
Outsource your warehousing and fulfillment operations
Create an affiliate program
Develop your own mobile app
Manage customer service tickets
Interface with shipping companies (USPS, FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.)
Shopify also makes it incredibly easy to scale your business. You can sign up for a basic plan and then add additional features as you need them. Plus, Shopify manages all of the technical details like security updates and software patches so that you can focus on making sales and running your business.
However, Shopify’s most significant selling point is its versatility.
Let’s look at a few of the different types of products you can sell.
Informational products include eBooks, MP3s, MP4s, document templates, design templates, web design themes, fonts, and anything else you can transfer electronically.
The benefits of selling informational products are somewhat obvious, but let’s review them anyway:
No manufacturing cost (though they will still require research and development)
No shipping or warehousing costs
Once they’re available for sale, they provide a stream of passive income
The one major drawback of these products is that they’re susceptible to piracy. However, anti-piracy technology is making that more and more difficult.
Anything that you manufacture yourself fits into this category. This includes:
Homemade soaps and other bath products
T-shirts and other novelty apparel
Once you set up your Shopify store, you’ll want to make sure you set up a merchant account on Etsy and add the Etsy app to your Shopify store.
Anyone familiar with Etsy probably already understands why: Etsy is the place to go for one-of-a-kind handmade items.
Chances are that if you’re selling a handmade product, you’re also the one handling the shipping.
Again, Shopify makes this incredibly easy.
Simply choose a shipping app from their app store (I recommend EasyShip) and add it to your online store. You can print a shipping label, schedule a pickup, and send an email confirmation to the customer with their unique tracking number with a single click.
Dropshipping is when the manufacturer ships the product directly to the customer without you ever having to touch or see it.
One of the most significant advantages of dropshipping is that you don’t have to buy the product from the manufacturer until after your customer has bought it from you!
The dropshipping_business model is becoming increasingly popular these days, especially in China, where entire networks of dropshipping suppliers (i.e., AliExpress) are popping up.
As you’ve probably guessed, Shopify also makes it incredibly easy to source products that are available for dropshipping and add them to your online store. You can even sell these products on your external sales channels.
The advantage of dropshipping is that you never have to invest in inventory, and you save on expenses like warehousing and shipping.
The drawback is that the entire fulfillment process is outside of your control. Plus, when it comes to customer service, your options for fixing situations are very limited.
For more information about making money with dropshipping, I highly recommend the Shopify webinar: “How to Get Started with Dropshipping.”
Print-on-Demand is like dropshipping for unique novelty items like clothing. For example, let’s say you have an idea for a T-shirt design. The Shopify app store has several different apps that will allow you to design your T-shirt and list it for sale.
When a customer places an order, the Print-on-Demand company prints your design onto a blank T-shirt and ships the finished product directly to the customer. I recommend the Printful app for this task because it has a vast range of products.
For more information about how you can make money with a Print-on-Demand business, check out the Shopify webinar: “How to Quickly Start a Profitable T-Shirt store.”
Passive income is when you put your assets to work for you so that you earn money without lifting a finger. Most people who make passive income do so through property rentals. However, there are many ways to earn passive income without owning real estate.
Rent out valuable household items
You probably have over $5,000 worth of rentable assets sitting in your garage or attic right now.
These include baby gear, camera equipment, power tools, and camping gear.
Rent out your computer’s processing power
You can turn your computer into a money-making machine during the hours you’re asleep or at work. Cryptominers and big data companies will pay you by the hour to borrow your computer’s processing power.
You simply sign up with the right company, set the hours that you’re willing to let them use your computer’s processor, and then sit back and count your money.
Some such companies include:
The faster your processor, the more you can earn. Gaming PCs are ideal for this task, but larger mining rigs are better.
This process is also completely secure.
Recover old 401(k)s
Think about how many different jobs you’ve had over your life. Did any of them come with a 401(k) retirement savings plan? If so, did you go through the process of transferring it when you left that job?
Maybe you took the time to transfer it into your own IRA, but most of the time, we’re too busy scrambling to find another job to put in the time. By the time we get settled in our new job, we tend not to look back.
But that 401(k) money doesn’t move. It just sits there. Forever.
Now, with the help of Companies like Beagle, you can recover that money.
Simply sign up for a free account and see if you’ve got any money sitting idle in an old 401(k) account.
Rent unused storage space
You don’t have to run an Airbnb to make money with your living space. You can also rent any unused storage space to your neighbors who might be running out of storage space.
If you have space in your attic, basement, closets, garage, yard shed, or driveway, you can start earning passive income.
To see our complete list of ideas for earning passive income, check out: “21 Brilliant Ideas for Earning Passive Income.”
OK, so passive income is nice, but it usually won’t be enough to cover all of your living expenses.
People who are less inclined to start their own businesses can still find great-paying jobs without ever having to leave the house.
If you’re looking for something that more closely resembles a 9-5 work-from-home job, consider the following options:
Teach an online course
If you’re proficient at a particular discipline or skill, consider creating an online course to share your expertise.
You can teach about anything from bartending to emotional intelligence and everything in between.
Platforms like Teachable make this exceptionally easy.
If you decide to create and sell your own online course, we recommend finding a niche audience and catering to it. You’ll need to create a structured curriculum and maintain open communication with your students.
Teach English online
If you have teaching experience or need to earn extra money while acquiring some, consider teaching English online.
You can find teaching & tutoring jobs through various websites that cater to students in foreign countries. Most of these websites require you to have either a bachelor’s degree and/or TESOL, TEFL, or TESL certifications. Still, some companies, like Cambly, have no such requirements.
You can also earn a TEFL certification through platforms like i-to-i Online FEFL Course.
People in certain countries, like China, will pay extra for American teachers.
Find work on Fiverr
You can outsource virtually any task you can accomplish by computer to a freelancer on Fiverr.
This includes web design, graphic design, digital cartooning, programming, language translation, transcription, marketing, video editing, voiceover acting, CAD design, copywriting, and so much more!
Platforms like Fiverr make it easy to collaborate with clients and other freelancers. In addition, they offer freelancers the security of knowing that their clients will pay them because Fiverr holds the funds in escrow during your contract.
Larger companies rely on the freelancers they find on platforms like Fiverr more and more these days to offset labor shortages.
Learn a marketable online job skill
Even you don’t have any skills to market on freelance platforms; it’s never too late to learn a new one. Online Universities like Udemy and Coursera offer certification programs in a wide variety of digital skills. Today, the online skills with the highest demand include:
These skills all take time to learn. However, taking the time to learn these skills is perhaps one of the safest and most reliable ways to earn money online.
To see our complete list of marketable online skills, check out: “20 Marketable Skills You Can Learn Online.”
How can you make money online when you don’t have a computer? Money-making apps!
A handful of apps will pay you for completing random tasks. These tasks might include:
Photographing the inside of a store
Photographing the menu of a local restaurant
Completing a survey
Watching a video and giving feedback
To see our complete list of money-making apps, check out: “12 Legit Money Making Apps.”
The basics of investing are very straightforward. I can summarize them in two sentences:
Things fluctuate in value
Buy things when they’re cheap, sell them when they’re expensive, and pocket the difference
There are lots of different “things” you can buy as investments. We call these “things” investment products.
Investment products include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, currencies, and other assets.
The act of actively buying and selling investment products from home all day long as a means of making a living is called “Day Trading.”
According to a recent in-house survey, Day Trading is one of the most lucrative side hustles on the planet. Day Trading isn’t foolproof. But, with a bit of research and some practice, you could potentially earn an income that stretches into the high six or seven figures without ever leaving home.
Suppose Day Trading sounds like something you would like to pursue. In that case, I highly recommend reading Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor and keeping up to date with insider financial publications like The Mindful Trader.
But if Day Trading seems too risky for you there are many other, safer ways to invest your money and accumulate wealth over time. Let’s take a closer look at some of the latest investment products.
Real Estate Investment Trusts are essentially funds that investors put together to finance, own, and manage real estate properties. The fund earns money in a variety of ways:
Interest payments on investments
If the fund earns a profit, which it usually does, that money gets distributed among the shareholders of the REIT.
Some of the more popular REIT companies on the market today are:
These funds have been tremendously successful in recent years due to the overall stability of the housing market. Most importantly, these funds help ordinary people capitalize on the enormous potential of real estate investing without assuming massive amounts of risk.
Overall, trust investing continues to be one of the better investment products available.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “Cryptocurrency” once or twice.
Cryptocurrency is becoming a regular part of mainstream life, even though many still consider it one of today’s most volatile investments.
However, cryptocurrency’s volatility is precisely what has enabled so many amateur investors to earn vast sums of money in short periods of time.
Here is a basic summary of how cryptocurrency works:
Cryptocurrency is unique because it is built upon blockchain technology.
The blockchain is essentially a giant ledger of transactions that anyone can view or verify.
However, instead of being stored in one place, this ledger exists in redundant encrypted fragments across a global network of computers.
This storage structure is what makes the blockchain so secure.
There are several platforms for buying and trading cryptocurrencies, but we recommend Coinbase for its user-friendly interface.
Again, I also highly recommend subscribing to The Mindful Trader for up-to-date financial news that will help you make wise investments.
For more information about investing, check out: “Investing in Stocks and Cryptocurrency for Beginners.”
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are one of the newer investment products on the market. An NFT is essentially a file that exists on the blockchain. This means that no one can ever copy that file; they can only transfer it.
Artists and celebrities have capitalized on this technology by creating and selling unique pictures, videos, and audio files to their fans.
NFTs have existed in the gaming world for years, allowing gamers to ‘remove’ artifacts from the virtual universe in which the game exists and sell those artifacts on real-world marketplaces like eBay.
To buy and sell NFTs, you’ll need a digital wallet; which is different from a regular cryptocurrency trading account.
Again, we recommend Coinbase Wallets for this task.
There are many different marketplaces for NFTs, but it generally pays to only do business on the more reputable ones. These include:
For more information on NFTs, check out: “Where to Buy the Best NFTs & How to Invest in NFTs.”
Some investors want to do more than just grow their money. They want their investments to go towards building and improving their community.
However, it can be challenging to find local businesses that both need financing and have the potential to turn a substantial profit.
Fundraising platforms like Mainvest are seeking to change this by connecting investors, both large and small, with local businesses that meet the two conditions mentioned above.
Helping local merchants fund their businesses isn’t just a wise investment; it also serves a higher purpose.
Local businesses hire local workers and provide local services. They also have the potential to grow into more extensive operations.
The most credible form of advertising is a recommendation from a trusted friend. Affiliate marketing fully embraces this concept by providing companies with a way to incentivize content publishers to mention their brand.
When content publishers link to a particular brand through an affiliate network, they are paid a commission on every sale that they refer.
Affiliate marketing allows content creators to earn money without charging people for viewing their content.
There are several different applications for this method, so let’s take a closer look at some specific examples.
Blogs – One of the most common places to find affiliate marketing links is blogs. In fact, most successful bloggers earn a substantial portion of their income through affiliate link referrals.
YouTube – Content creators often include affiliate links in the comments section of their videos for products that they mention.
Pinterest – You can embed affiliate links in Pinterest pins and then optimize those pins around high-volume, low-competition keywords to maximize your reach.
Affiliate Marketing Networks
Affiliate networks exist to connect brands with publishers. If you own a blog or a YouTube channel, simply register with one of these networks. Then you can apply to be an affiliate of the brands within that network.
Some brands will accept your application right away. In contrast, other brands are more selective about who they associate with and may review affiliate applications individually.
Some of the more popular affiliate networks include:
To learn more about how to earn money through affiliate marketing, we strongly recommend reading: “High-Ticket Affiliate Marketing” and “60 Marketing Experts Reveal Their Secrets for Driving Traffic to an Affiliate Site.”
Low-Tech Side Hustles
We understand that most people don’t want to sit in front of a computer all day. So let’s explore some lucrative side hustles that don’t require any fundamental computer skills.
Host virtual culinary events
You can earn money by creating unique virtual events and other culinary experiences from the comfort of your kitchen. Platforms like EatWith make it easy to market your events to the online community. These events and experiences might include:
Online cooking classes
Online mixology classes
Virtual wine tastings
Virtual whisky tastings
Online coffee classes
In-person food tours
You can also rent your kitchen and other common areas of your home to other event hosts on the platform.
Eldercare & Childcare
There is an insatiable demand for child & elder care in almost every community globally. The work isn’t usually glamorous, but it is consistent.
If you enjoy working with children or seniors, consider advertising your services on platforms like Care.com.
They also help tutors, housekeepers, and pet care professionals find new clients.
These platforms host listings for a wide variety of home care professionals, including plumbers, electricians, house cleaners, house painters, pool cleaners, general handypersons, and more.
Create a local walking tour
Do you live somewhere that sees a lot of tourist traffic? If so, consider creating a unique walking tour and marketing it on platforms like Viator.
Tourists love learning about the hidden gems that only locals know about, and Viator helps facilitate those experiences.
Some of the more popular tours listed on Viator include:
True crime tours of New York City hosted by retired NYC detectives
Ghost tours of haunted buildings in New Orlean’s French Quarter
Celebrity home tours in Los Angeles
Civil rights tours in Atlanta
Mural tours in Philadelphia
The possibilities are endless!
Pet grooming services
If you enjoy working with pets, consider working as a pet groomer. Approximately 70% of US households (90.5 million families) own pets, and caring for those animals is no small task.
Platforms like Care.com can help connect pet owners with groomers, trainers, walkers, and long-term boarders.
There are ample ways for beginners to make money online. Regardless of your existing skillset or financial situation, there are opportunities for everyone!
Take the time to investigate the myriad of possibilities we’ve outlined in this article.
Experiment with different side hustles and find one that suits your unique style and personality.