Living in a technology-enabled world means there are lots of easy ways to make money online for beginners. Sure, there are get-rich-quick schemes out there, but more people than ever are making a good living doing legitimate work online.
The ideas on this list mostly focus on beginners who want to start from scratch and include how you get started. There are also a few options if you have skills to leverage for freelance side hustles.
The reality is that with a laptop and a solid internet connection, you have abundant opportunities to start making money online.
21 Ways to Make Money Online for Beginners
1. Take online surveys
The most straightforward way to make money online is by taking online surveys. Surveys sites help companies gain valuable market research to improve their products and services, and they pay you for your insights.
There are a lot of different survey sites out there, but my top recommendation is Survey Junkie. There’s no cost to sign up and join, and they pay an average of $1-$3 per survey. You’re paid in points that easily convert to cash or gift cards.
Survey Junkie isn’t the only easy way to make money online with surveys. There are lots of other legit survey sites that all work the same way. Surveys can take anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes, and you can make money from your laptop or phone.
You won’t be eligible for every single survey you try because companies are often trying to survey specific demographics of people. But the more information you add to your profile, the more surveys they’ll match with you.
Here are a few more survey sites I recommend checking out:
Taking surveys online isn’t going to make you rich by any means, but it’s one of the easiest ways for beginners to put some extra money in your pocket.
2. Manage Facebook ads for businesses
After I quit my job as a teacher to run this site full time, I started running Facebook ads for local businesses. I didn’t have any previous training or experience with marketing or advertising, and I learned everything online by watching YouTube videos and reading how-to guides.
Beginners can make around $1,000-$1,500/month per client running Facebook ads.
After running ads for a couple of months, I started to outearn what I made as a teacher. The best part: it only took about 2-3 hours per week to manage ads for one client, and I was on my laptop making extra money from the comfort of my home.
This is still one of my favorite ways to make money online for beginners because there are still many opportunities out there for new Facebook marketers. More than ever, small businesses need affordable and effective ways to tell people about their business. Facebook’s robust ad platform offers advanced ad targeting capabilities so business owners can get the most out of their ad spend.
I’ve put together everything I learned about Facebook ads into a comprehensive course to teach you everything you need to know to start running Facebook ads.
The Facebook Side Hustle Course teaches you:
- How to use Facebook’s ad platform
- What kind of businesses need these services
- How to find those business owners and get them to say “yes” to your services
Make $1,000-$1,500/month running Facebook ads
Learn how to run Facebook ads for small, local businesses. Perfect for beginners because there’s no previous marketing or advertising experience required.
3. Start a blog
IMO, starting a blog is one of the best ways to make money online for beginners. But in case you’re looking for ideas to make money fast, you need to know that blogging is a loooong game.
It took me about six months to make any money from my site, and it was only $3. That was 5 years ago, and now I run a 7-figure business.
Even in 2021, blogging is a viable way to make money online. You can take a passion, interest, skills, or hobby and turn it into a profitable blog. There are lots of monetization options: affiliate marketing, sponsorships, sales of digital products, display ads, consulting, coaching, freelancing, and course sales.
Blogging legitimately changed my life. I used to hate my job, and now I wake up in the morning, pull out my laptop, and write about things I genuinely love to talk about.
Even though it takes considerable work and time to build a profitable blog, it’s extremely affordable to get started. You can start a blog for as little as $2.95/month when you start a blog using my exclusive Bluehost link.
You can learn more in my in-depth guide: How to Start a Blog — An Easy Step-by-Step Guide for 2021.
4. Work online as a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants (or VAs) work online from home and help business owners use their time more effectively. If there’s a task that can be done by someone else, like running reports or scheduling blog posts, having a virtual assistant handle those jobs frees up time for the business owner to handle high-level work.
Several VAs help me run this site, and I honestly couldn’t do what I do without them. One of my VAs manages my schedule, does keyword research, does email inbox management, and pays the people on my team. She’s a huge asset to me and my business.
Virtual assistants can make $15-$25/hour depending on the kind of skills they offer and what their clients need.
Learn how to make money online as a virtual assistant
The VA Success course teaches you about the skills you need to become a virtual assistant and how to start your own VA business.Check out VA Success today
5. Become a Pinterest VA
This is a specialized virtual assistant that focuses on helping business owners leverage Pinterest to grow their business. It’s also a fun want to make money online for beginners familiar with Pinterest already.
Pinterest virtual assistant make around $500/month per client, and your responsibilities will include:
- Designing pins
- Running Promoted Pins (Pinterest’s version of paid ads)
- Tracking analytics
Kristin Larsen’s Pinterest VA course will teach you how to launch and grow your Pinterest side hustle. Her students have already seen over $3.3 million in total client revenue since she launched in 2016.
Get paid to play on Pinterest
Testing content goes here for information on the image shown.
6. Start freelance writing
With more and more brands focusing on content marketing, companies are increasingly interested in hiring skilled freelance writers to create great content for their websites. Freelance writers are hired to write articles, blog posts, ad copy, sales pages, emails, and more.
You don’t need to have a background in English, journalism, or creative writing to make money online as a freelance writer. It doesn’t hurt, but the most important thing is that you know how to write well.
The hardest part of getting started is learning how to find a niche and market yourself, but there are some really great courses that make it easy for beginners to start their freelance writing career, like Write Your Way to 1K and Freelance Writing Prep.
7. Work online as a proofreader
Are you the kind of person who can spot spelling errors in menus, grammatical errors in online articles, or spelling mistakes in your favorite books? Then you would make a great proofreader.
Proofreaders earn around $15-$25 an hour putting the finishing touches on written work. They are some of the last people to look at content before it’s published. That’s why you need a good eye for spotting mistakes if you want to make money online as a proofreader.
8. Start a Shopify shop
Shopify is an easy-to-use platform for setting up and running your own ecommerce store. And you can make money online passively if you use Shopify for dropshipping.
Here’s how it works:
- Use Shopify’s platform to build your ecommerce site, and they have over 70 customizable themes and a drag-and-drop editor.
- Select items to sell on your site that can be dropshipped. That means you don’t touch, store, or ship these goods. You’re listing them for sale, and then connecting the customer with the supplier.
- You still need to run traffic to your site, but Shopify can help you make somewhat passive money online.
There are already over 1,000,000 businesses powered by Shopify, including many brick-and-mortar businesses that use their point of sale technology. You can learn how to get started in my Shopify for Beginners Tutorial.
9. Test websites
Testing websites is another incredibly easy way to make money online for beginners. It’s similar to taking online surveys in that companies are paying you for feedback that helps them build a better customer experience.
With website testing, you make money online by visiting websites, using apps, and answering questions about your experience. The goal is to help companies create a better user experience for their customers.
UserTesting is one of the most reputable testing sites, and they pay $10 for each 20-minute test you complete. All you need is an email address to sign up, and you’ll also need to complete a sample test before you are officially approved.
10. Sell gently used clothes online
I bet that if you looked through your closet you could find a basketful of clothes, shoes, and accessories to sell online. Selling stuff online is probably the fastest way to make money online right now — sometimes it’s even same day cash depending on how you sell your stuff.
As far as clothes go, here are a few ways to sell things:
- Poshmark: This site is for on-trend gently used men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and shoes. You set your own prices and are contacted when someone is interested in buying.
- ThredUp: ThredUp is the largest online thrift and consignment shop for women’s clothing, shoes, and accessories. You can request a free Clean Out bag, which you fill with gently used, on-trend items and ship back to ThredUp. ThredUp has high standards, so they won’t accept everything you submit. But you get paid for the items they keep.
- Facebook Marketplace: Using Facebook is a really easy way to sell clothes (or anything else!) online. Besides Marketplace, you can also sell in local buy/sell/swap groups.
- Depop: This platform skews towards a younger audience, and is especially great for unique, handmade, and on-trend items. There are no fees to sell or buy on Depop.
- eBay: Selling on eBay is another option to make money online selling clothes, but it’s also a good platform to sell collectibles, sports equipment, home goods, antiques, and more.
11. Get cash for your old electronics
If you want to make fast money online, I highly recommend going through and seeing if there are any electronics, video games, DVDs, phones, or other devices you are no longer using.
Decluttr is one way to easily make money online with old electronics. You simply scan the barcode or search for what you’re selling in the Decluttr app. They give you a price and send you a free shipping label to send it to their warehouse.
Once Decluttr receives your item, they pay you via PayPal or direct deposit.
Decluttr is a solid site to sell smartphones, video game consoles, tablets, and more.
12. Sell your unused gift cards
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a stash of gift cards I will never use or ones that are partially used. Selling unused or partially unused gift cards is a super easy way to make money online.
Raise is a legitimate platform for selling your gift cards. Instead of letting those gift cards sit in your wallet or drawer, why not make extra money with them?
13. Online data entry
Data entry is repetitive work, but it’s a good way for beginners to learn how to make money online. Most data entry jobs these days are helping with machine learning tasks that help artificial intelligence work even better.
Because humans are still better than computers at doing a lot of things, like evaluating speech and annotating images, companies pay for quick machine learning tasks.
Data entry does not require any previous experience, and there is a growing list of companies offering data entry jobs from home. One of the most well-known ones is Amazon MTurk. It’s a crowdsourcing marketplace where you can get paid to do research, validate data, and moderate content.
14. Cashback when you shop
Getting paid cashback for shopping as you normally do is one of the easiest ways to make money online in 2021.
Ibotta is an app that you download to your phone and then earn cashback when you visit certain retailers’ websites through the Ibotta app. It’s usually a percentage back on your total purchase.
Ibotta works with over 300 major nationwide retailers, like Target, Home Depot, REI, Domino’s Pizza, Glossier, Gamestop, and many more.
You can also claim offers in the app and then upload your receipt when you shop in-store.
Ibotta will process payments within 48 hours of earning your cashback and pay you via PayPal or Venmo.
15. Tutor online
When I was still working as a high school band teacher, I remember lots of my students receiving outside tutoring to help them with specific subjects or test prep. Parents are willing to pay good money to get academic support for their kids.
If you excel at a specific subject, becoming an online tutor is a good way to make money online.
Wyzant is an online tutoring platform that I highly recommend. Tutors set their own rates and schedules. You can make anywhere from $35-$100/hour tutoring online depending on the subject and your experience.
16. Sell your photos
Whether you’re an amateur or professional photographer, you can make money online selling your photos.
Sites like Shutterstock, Twenty20, Adobe Stock, Getty Images, and Alamy are all platforms where you can license your images to be used as stock photos. You typically don’t get paid until one of your photos is used, but it can turn into a fairly passive way to make money online.
17. Watch videos and play games
This sounds like an easy way to make money online that might be too good to be true. Well, it is true, but the fact is that you’re not going to make a lot of money watching videos and playing games.
If you’re interested in this easy option, I recommend Swagbucks. This 100% legitimate site pays points when you watch videos, play games, and answer surveys through their platform. Swagbucks pays in points that you convert to cash.
As I said, it’s not a ton of money here — Swagbucks pays 1-2 points for watching videos, which translates to $0.01-$0.02. Think of it as an alternative to Netflix or games on your phone, because Swagbucks pays you for your time.
Get paid to watch videos online
Swagbucks pays you to watch videos, play games, browse the internet, take surveys, and more. It’s not a ton of money, but it’s to easy not to share.Sign up with Swagbucks
18. Start an Etsy shop
For creative people, starting an Etsy business gives you the option to make money online while still feeling like you can get hands-on with your arts or crafts. There are legitimately so many options for selling on Etsy, including:
- Snapchat filters — I just learned about this one
- Home decor
- Wedding decor, invites, attire, and more
- Baby items — my wife decorated our son’s nursery almost exclusively with stuff she bought on Etsy
- Printables include invites, checklists, planner pages, calendar sheets, thank you cards, gift tags, etc. Learning how to sell e-printables on Etsy can turn into a passive side hustle because you’re selling digital files that can be sold and delivered indefinitely without much work on your end
19. Create an online course
There’s a lot of income potential with teaching online courses. It’s been a part of my business model for a couple of years, but you don’t need a blog to sell courses online.
One of my readers leveraged her background in graphic design to create a series of extremely successful courses that she sells on Udemy and Skillshare. Her courses typically sell for around $20, and she’s making around $60,000 a month in sales.
The most successful courses help people solve a problem or teach a marketable skill. I am a big believer that video-based courses are the way to go. They’re great for visual learners and you can give an over-the-shoulder look at how you’re doing things.
Creating a course may sound like a big undertaking, but you start with a larger topic and break it down into the most important things or steps someone needs to know. Then, divide each of those steps into short 5-10 minute lessons.
As far as selling your courses, you can check out platforms like Teachable or Thinkific. You can learn about all of your options and how to get started in The Best Online Course Platforms for 2021.
20. Start a freelance business
I’ve mentioned a few freelancing business ideas already (writing, virtual assistance, proofreading, etc.), but the fact is that there are dozens and dozens of freelance industries. People love freelancing because it gives them the flexibility to make money online, and clients love it because freelancers are more cost-effective than traditional employees.
Freelancing is growing so fast that there are now 59 million Americans freelancing — that’s 36% of the U.S. workforce.
Besides the ones mentioned already, here are some other ways to make money online as a freelancer:
- Web development: There’s a growing need for web developers who can work with coding languages like Java, Ruby on Rails, Python, etc.
- Transcriptionists: Take audio or video files and turn them into text documents. You can make money as a general, medical, or legal transcriptionist.
- Graphic design: Graphic designers create ads, marketing materials, logos, assist with web design, pamphlets, flyers, and more.
- Bookkeeping: Bookkeepers manage payroll, billing, keep track of business transactions, and prepare reports. You do not need a background in accounting to work online as a bookkeeper.
I recommend starting by leveraging an existing skill because it’s a faster way to make money online as a freelancer because you’re spending less time learning a skill. But if you’re up for learning a new skill, look for areas where there’s a high need for new workers, like digital marketing (i.e. Facebook ads).
When you’re ready to start finding clients, Upwork is a platform to list your services and connect with potential clients.
21. Write an ebook
This isn’t fast money online because you have to write an entire book, but ebooks don’t need to fit the traditional book format, meaning that they don’t have to be 200-300+ page novels.
An ebook can be much shorter, and you don’t have to go through the traditional publication steps when you publish a book on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).
Amazon KDP makes it easy to upload, list, and sell your book on Amazon. These are considered self-published books, and your book is available for purchase worldwide 24-48 hours after you hit the publish button.
The final word on how to make money online for beginners
Technology has opened the door to more and more opportunities to make money online.
The best way to make money online will depend on the kind of commitment you are willing to make. Do you want something simple and mindless like taking surveys on Survey Junkie? Or are you willing to put in the time to start a freelancing side hustle, like proofreading or writing?
Think about what you’re interested in, what kind of skills you have, and your financial goals.
There’s something online for everyone.
Taking online surveys is the simplest way to make money online IMO. It’s incredibly mindless, there’s no skill required, and you can do it anywhere. Of course, online surveys won’t make you rich, but you can earn $1-$3 per survey with Survey Junkie.
Selling your stuff online is the easiest way if you want to start making money today. Go through your house and find things you’re no longer using, like clothes, workout equipment, furniture, kids’ stuff, home decor. Facebook Marketplace is probably the fastest place to sell things, and people will come to you to purchase.
But, be safe whenever someone is coming to pick up your items. Many sellers arrange PPU (porch pick up) and do payments via Venmo or PayPal.
Start by thinking about what your goals are. Are you looking for some extra quick cash, then start by selling stuff online, earning cash back when you shop with Ibotta, or taking online surveys with Survey Junkie.
If you’re able to invest a little more time, you can earn even more money online working as a freelancer. There are dozens of freelance industries, from freelance writing, proofreading, web development, and bookkeeping.
Many of the online jobs I mentioned in this article have the potential to net you a steady $1,000 a month or more. Running Facebook ads, for example, pays $1,000 to $1,500/month per client. Once you have the ad system set up and running, it takes around 2-3 hours a week to manage ads for one client.
Many of the students who have taken my Facebook Side Hustle Course are now running their own digital marketing agencies and hitting the $5,000 to $10,000 a month mark running Facebook ads.