Let’s cut to the chase. You’re here because you want to learn how to make money online.
Well, if you’re looking for legitimate ways to make some extra money online without having to first purchase an in-depth training course (which always seems to cost $97) about how to make money online, then you’re in the right place!
This is my ultimate guide on how to make money online, and it’s completely free.
There’s no catch, no tricks, and no up-sells here.
I’m sharing everything I’ve learned over the past decade, pulling from my own experience in earning a consistent $10,000/mo or more in side income (on the side of my day job) from online sources like affiliates, courses, freelancing and other ways to make money online that we’re exploring in this guide.
Have questions? Check out my monthly side income reports where I break down exactly how I’m making money from my blog.
👋 And by now you probably already know… one of the best ways to make money online starts with having a blog of your own. For that reason, I recently put together a free course that breaks down how to build a blog
and I share the exact strategies I’ve used to turn my blog into a six-figure business.
Want my Free Course: How to Start a Blog in 7 Days?
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I’m here to tell you that you can too—you can (relatively quickly) learn how to make money online.
It won’t always be easy, and you’ll, of course, have to work hard, push through mistakes and failures along the way.
But here’s the reality; the internet has opened up so many possibilities to people regardless of age, location, or background to build a sustainable, online business or side project that can make extra money online every single month.
And as I said, I’ve experienced this first-hand.
For the past several years, I’ve been on a mission to experiment with the best ways to create sustainable online income and chase my dreams of self-employment. And while I’ve seen my fair share of success, things haven’t always been easy either.
Along with my journey, I’ve launched four separate online businesses.
The first one cost me $6,537 in a matter of months, while I completely overestimated the audience size for the second. Both shut down very quickly.
But after my first two failures trying to make money online, I started to figure some important things out.
My next self-funded business hit $160,000 in revenue in its first year alone. After that first taste of self-made success, I’ve gone on to sign consulting contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars with startups like LinkedIn and Google, launch profitable online courses, and build a following of hundreds of thousands for this blog and my podcast series.
All these highs and lows have given me a clear understanding of what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to making money online.
There’s no better time than now to build a business and make money online.
With over 3.2 billion people now actively using the internet, we’re well into a massive transformation in how the world does business. We’re living in an age where there are no longer limitations on what you can achieve based on geographic location or lack of financial resources.
If you have an internet connection and a few dollars in your bank account, there is little that can actually get in the way of you making some extra money online.
There are quite literally hundreds of clever ways to make money online. From taking online surveys to renting or selling your old clothes, flipping your iPhone to someone in a different country, and even buying low-cost products locally, just to resell them for a higher price on Amazon. There’s truly no shortage of unique ways to make money online.
But don’t fall for the trap of “Easy Money”
Sounds amazing, right? It is. But, before we dive in, I need to address the elephant in the room…
There’s no such thing as an online get-rich-quick scheme.
Most of the quick ways people talk about when it comes to making money online are not true businesses.
Sure, some of them may be good for creating a few hundred or even thousand dollars in one-time revenue. But they’re not going to help you unlock financial freedom and achieve complete control of your lifestyle.
They’re shortcuts that don’t last forever—and many of the “opportunities” like network marketing giants Herbalife and others offer, often pan out to either be a scam or at the very least, damaging to your personal relationships. And I would never advocate for that.
The internet has opened up so many opportunities for entrepreneurs and forward-thinking workers. But it’s also opened up a considerable competition.
Here’s the hard truth: The only ways to make money online in any lasting manner, involve putting in real time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears.
This isn’t to scare you off. I simply want you to know that
this guide is going to focus solely on ways to make real, sustainable extra income online.
Not just a few bucks. I want to share all the mistakes I’ve made that got me to where I am now so that you don’t have to go through them, and can build a successful online source of income for yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of great opportunities to make money online today. It’s that the most common ideas have been picked through a lot more than they were a few years ago. To stand out you need to be smart, look for the best opportunities, and be unique in the ways you approach making money online. And I’m here to help.
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.
So, if you’re as excited as I am now, let’s dive right into the 65 best ways to make real, sustainable money online.
Looking instead for inspiration to just make some quick cash online? Jump down to starting at #11 for a long list of less “long-term business ideas” and instead get inspiration for other (real) ways to make money online that involve less up-front work.
Genius Ways to Make Money Online (on the Side) Today
We’re going to start first with the top ten ways to make serious money online (with a long-term focus).
If you’re looking to build a true online business or start a side business idea
that has the potential to truly change your life (and you’re not afraid of investing months & years of work into the business), this where you should start.
Through my years of experience and research, I’ve consistently found the following ideas have the best potential to create a steady stream of recurring revenue. They’ll take a lot of effort. But if you’re willing to put in the work, they could change your life, as they have for me.
One last quick thing to note before we dive in:
I’m going to be talking a lot about
for every way of making money online that we cover here. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, all it means is your unique topic, angle, market, audience, or voice that will make people stand up and notice your business.
It’s a competitive space online, and the more you can differentiate what you do from what’s out there already, the better chance you’ll have for success.
Alright, now let’s get into my ultimate guide of how to make money online.
Build a Niche Blog (or Website) and Use Affiliate Marketing
If there’s a niche you’re interested in and you can build a decent audience around it, starting a blog and using affiliate marketing to generate income is an incredible way to make money online.
I know first-hand that learning how to start a blog (let alone make money from it) can be a massive undertaking.
So, I put together a free master course for you to take that spreads out all of the work involved in starting a blog, into a series of action-packed lessons. My free course breaks the entire process of starting a blog down into an incredibly simple 7-day process for going from 0 to publishing (and promoting) your first blog post in just 1 week. I can’t recommend it enough.
Start Online Coaching and Sell Your Advice
Similar to selling your freelance services, you can also start selling your knowledge and advice in an area you specialize in as a coach or consultant. If you can bill yourself as an expert, there are tons of people out there willing to pay for your time.
Being an online coach or consultant is a great way to make money online, as instead of giving your client ongoing deliverables (like when you’re a freelancer), you’re teaching them to be better, faster, stronger than the competition. Your expertise becomes the product you’re selling.
Even better, if you can find ways to package your experience and coaching skills into an easily digestible program, you have the potential to significantly scale this business model.
Now, if you don’t know people who might want your coaching services, there are a number of online tools and communities that make it incredibly easy to find clients and teach, on just about any topic area you can think of. Community-driven platforms like Savvy.is, Clarity.fm, and Coach.me provide you with a network of potential clients to interact with, as well as an integrated payment solution.
And while it’s one of the most limited businesses as you’re only able to charge for the time you can provide, many online coaches make hundreds or even thousands for their packages.
It’s also one of the quickest ways you can get set up and start generating revenue. All you really need is an account with one of the online coaching communities I mentioned above and expertise to share.
Create Online Courses to Productize Your Knowledge
If you’re already an expert in a topic—either through your current job, freelance business, or coaching—you can package that knowledge into a high-value course and sell it for years to come.
And while building, launching, and marketing an online course does take a considerable amount of upfront effort, their earning potential is through the roof (especially compared to a lot of the other online ways to make money we’re talking about).
Courses and other knowledge products like e-books are what’s called passive income. That simply means that once the upfront time and effort is put in, with just a bit of regular upkeep and marketing you’ll be able to continue to sell and make money from them for months and years.
So, how do you go about putting together your course? One of my favorite online course success stories comes from
Bryan Harris of Videofruit, who built and launched an online course in just 10 days that made him $220,750!
To hit this awesome goal, Bryan followed a four-stage process to discover, validate, and launch his course:
Explore and discover the best topic for his course based on the most popular posts from his blog. This ensured he knew the content was already valuable to his audience.
Validate that people would actually pay for his course by surveying readers and securing pre-orders. (This is an important part that so many people forget. Never spend serious time building something unless you know there’s a paying audience for it).
Quickly write, record, and edit the course content. As he already knew there was demand, it made sense to create the content as quickly as possible. He could always go back and update or edit based on feedback from his initial students.
Launch the course to his email list. The success of your course comes down to getting it in front of the right people. And your own audience, no matter how small, is usually the best place to start. That said, you need to have a clear idea of your launch plan before you put it live.
Now, what if you don’t have a blog with popular posts? Or an email list to market to? Let’s look at how you can build your own online course with no previous experience:
- Start by taking other courses you’re interested in:
Not only is this important competitor and opportunity analysis, but it also gives you an idea of how a course could or should look and feel. What’s the pacing like? Is it via email, video, in-person chats? Once you understand how you want your course to look, it’s time to decide what it should include. Those same courses are a great starting place. How can you make your course better or more interesting? Do you have experience others don’t?
- Choose your niche and check for demand:
The golden course combination is when you can find an in-demand niche that aligns with your skills and unique experiences. A great way to do this is to use Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Planner to look for average monthly search volume for keywords related to your proposed course content. Are people actively looking for high-quality information about this subject? Of course, if you’re already creating content for a blog, coaching service, or a site like Medium, you can test demand this way for free just like Bryan did.
- Find your niche partners, collaborators, and champions:
As you’re creating your course, look for notable people who are also creating content in the space. Look at how their businesses operate and incorporate that into your own plan. You can also reach out to any influencers and make them affiliates for your own course. This way, they’ll be incentivized to share your content with their own audiences (which can be a major way to generate your first sales and start building your own community!)
- 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.
- Build your audience on a course community:
If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.
- Market your course:
The beauty of using a course to make money online is that you can continue to sell it for as long as you’d like. Look for niche communities on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Reddit that might benefit from your content. Guest post on relevant blogs and sites. Look for anywhere you might be able to get in front of the right people. With just a few hours a month, you can continue to generate sales.
Launch a YouTube Channel to Entertain and Educate
While YouTube recently changed its monetization program, if you’re able to hit their new minimum bar of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of view time in the past 12 months, it’s still an incredible place to make extra money online.
YouTube is arguably the world’s second largest search engine (after Google) and is the third most-visited site in the world. In 2017, almost 5 billion videos were watched on YouTube every single day!
Rather than making money through subscriptions, YouTube channels are based on a traditional advertising system. Meaning the more viewers you get, the more you make. Once you’re approved for the YouTube Partner Program and can start including ads on your videos, with every 1,000 views, you will make approximately $2-$4. Which might not seem like a lot, but if you have 100 videos with 5,000 views a month each, that would be $1,000–$2,000 already. Just imagine if your videos start hitting millions of views!
Building a YouTube channel is a lot like starting a blog or website, except that you’re working in the video—not writing. The first step is to choose what kind of videos you’re going to create. Most successful YouTube channels fall under one of two categories:
- Educational content:
People always want to find the quickest way to learn something new. And YouTube searches including the phrase “How to” are growing 70% year over year, making YouTube an incredible place to teach what you know.
Web series, product reviews, comedy sketches and pranks, vlogs, even video game walkthroughs— there are so many different ways you can entertain people through your YouTube channel.
Next, you need to set up and build your YouTube channel. Your YouTube channel is your home base for all your content. If you already have a Google account for Gmail or Google Drive, then you can use that to log-in to YouTube and start setting up your channel. Pick a username that works for you and is memorable (if you’re using an existing Google account you’ll have to edit your username in Google+).
You’ll also want to make your YouTube channel more easily found by adding relevant keywords under the “Advanced” section and picking your targeted country (where you think most of your viewers are). If you have a personal blog or site, add it as an “associated website.”
Now, it’s time to start creating and uploading content. Make sure you’re using a high-enough quality camera (most smartphones will work but I’d suggest at least having a tripod so your footage isn’t shaky), but don’t worry about being perfect at first. The beauty of YouTube is that you can continue to test out different content and styles as you find what works for you. Instead, stick to a regular schedule to build up your subscriber base.
You can optimize your videos to rank higher by experimenting with attention-grabbing descriptions and previews as well as using relevant tags. You need to stand out and make people want to click on your video.
As you start regularly putting out content, you’ll hopefully start to build a bit of an audience. But to start seeing real money from YouTube you need to market your videos elsewhere. Share your channel on Twitter and Facebook. Distribute videos anywhere else you can think of. Also, interact with comments and build a community around the videos you’re making so people will share it with their friends.
Once you hit the 1,000 subscriber/4,000 hour threshold, you can start monetizing your videos by selecting “Monetize with ads” under the Monetization tab of your channel. While it can take a while to build up a decent following for your YouTube channel, it can be a lot of fun to do as well as become a steady source of extra income.
Record a Podcast and Share Inspiring Stories
Podcasts are super hot right now, and for good reason. With how busy our lives are getting, more and more people are looking for passive ways to take in content. Which makes them both a great opportunity to build an audience and to make money online.
And while it will take time to build up a big enough audience to attract advertisers and other ways to make extra income from your podcast, the opportunity is there.