Troubling economic times over the last decade have left a lot of people with either no job or a lower paying job than what they need to sustain their lifestyle. Many of these people have turned to the Internet as a way to make an income from home, without the added expenses of travel, schooling, or other investment.
This list is intended for those people seeking alternative forms of income generation using the internet. It also makes the assumption that you have very little to no money to spare investing. Some of the options will require a little bit of cash up front, or will be accelerated if you have some money to spare, but I’ve largely tried to avoid the expensive endeavors. You won’t be starting a restaurant, here, but you might pay a filing fee to register a business LLC.
These options are not going to replace an income. They’re more likely to get you under $100 per month, unless you go deep into them, and even then it’s an inefficient use of time. They’re a way to drag out what income you have, supplement your savings, or subsidize a hobby.
1. Online Surveys
Online surveys are cheap and come in bulk. You’ll likely only make $1-$5 per survey, and you won’t always qualify for every survey, so it’s a good idea to sign up for as many sites as possible. Ipsos iSay, SurveySavvy, Opinion Outpost, SurveySpot, Valued Opinions, and more are all options to enroll.
You generally have to take a couple of demographic surveys, and then monitor your inbox to see what offers you get.
2. Question Answering
A similar but distinct idea, answering questions for people online can earn you some small amount of cash as well. If you remember sites like KGB and ChaCha, advertising themselves as a go-to answer any question site, that’s what you’ll be doing; fetching the answers. It’s pure volume work, though. You’ll only earn a few cents per answer.
3. Mechanical Turk
The original Mechanical Turk was a device that could play chess, attempting to be an artificial intelligence made in 1770. As it turns out, it housed a human chess master. Amazon took the name and created a site where companies can outsource cheap, repetitive tasks to real people.
The idea being some tasks require a human to perform, but aren’t worth the price of a human employee. Tasks range from audio transcription and content writing to data entry or document proofing. They also won’t pay much, by and large.
4. Fiverr Gigs
Fiverr can range up to the next section as well, but it depends on how good you are at what you do and how well you can sell it. The default base price of a gig is, obviously, $5. However, successful Fiverr sellers tend to have multiple near-essential add-ons that can raise the cost of a single sale into three digits.
5. Product Selling and Reselling
This one might require a little seed money for shipping. Look around your house and find products – clothing, books, antiques, old toys, whatever – and sell it via Amazon or eBay.
Reinvest the money in other items you can re-sell online for more, via Craigslist, garage sales, or just cheaper sales on eBay.
6. User Testing
Developers and companies will often want people to test their new apps and websites before they roll them out, in a hunt for bugs, usability issues, and code errors. You can sign up for sites like UserTesting, StartUpLift, TryMyUI, and others to become a usability tester.
7. Mock Trials
Lawyers for tricky cases will often want to try a “trial run” of their case, to see how it might go in a setting with a jury that isn’t quite as vetted and isn’t quite as permanent with the outcome. It helps them refine their case, practice for future cases, or even just train an apprentice. Sites like eJury, OnlineVerdict, and Trial Juries all provide this service, and you can sign up to be a juror.
8. Selling Shirts (And Other Merch)
If you have a minor amount of graphic design experience, you can create designs and put them up on storefronts to earn a commission when they sell. You don’t have to do much more than upload images and promote your store; the site handles the printing, fulfillment, and payment.
CafePress, TeeFury, DesignByHumans, LikeTotally.Cool, and other sites all offer this same basic service.
9. Paid Search and Rewards
Swagbucks is the main earner here, but there are a whole lot of different sites that monetizes different aspects of your day to day life. Bing Rewards monetizes using Bing as a search engine, PaymentSurf monetizes your web surfing, and so forth.
10. Google Opinion Rewards
Google Opinion Rewards is an app for Android devices that monitors where you travel and will occasionally offer very quick surveys about some location you have visited. Generally these amount to “have you been to X recently? If so, were you satisfied with your experience?” Answering those gets you 10-30 cents in your Google Wallet.
These options may replace a low-level income, such as a part time, minimum wage job. They are, consequently, a bit more detailed and tend to require a more in the way of resources or knowledge to get into.
11. Freelance Ghostwriting
Avoiding the ultra-low-level writing gigs on sites like Mechanical Turk that don’t pay anything someone in a developed country would look twice at, you can still earn a minimum wage with writing.
Sites like Textbroker, Writer Access, Constant Content, Zerys, BlogMutt, Words of Worth, Writer’s Domain, Fiverr, Upwork, About.com, and Demand Studios all offer paid writing opportunities at various levels of income and various requirements to get started.
12. Monetized Blogging
If you want to write but don’t want to sell the rights to the content you produce, you can write your own blog. It’s tricky getting a blog started – see the rest of this site – but monetizing it can get you a decent amount of cash, even if you’re just using Google AdSense.
13. Self-Published eBooks
If you want to write but don’t want to have to manage a website, you can always just write books and sell them through bookstores. Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble have self-publishing options for all genres of book, from fiction and nonfiction to poetry and marketing guides, and everything in between. The larger your library, the more your income will build over time.
14. Search Engine Evaluation
The Google Algorithm is more than just a bunch of Google employees and an AI. It involves a lot of outsourced human double-checking. Bing’s works the same way. Leapforce, Lionbridge, and Appen Butler Hill are three companies that handle that outsourcing and pay a moderate amount of money per hour worked on tasks.
15. Audio Transcription
Audio transcription is the art of listening to poorly-recorded board meetings and typing up everything everyone said as accurately as possible. At the low end it can take an hour to transcript 15 minutes of audio, at 70 cents per minute of audio.
At the high end, you’re doing closed-captions for HBO and earning several dollars per minute of tape, and then you’re sitting pretty. Protip: get a USB foot pedal.
16. Freelance Coding, Graphic Design, Etc
Upwork and Freelancer.com are two sites that have a wide range of possible services you can sell to people looking for talent. Writing is on there, as is coding for a variety of different reasons, and graphic design, as well as some more exotic skills.
17. Phone Support
LiveOps turns you into an outsourced customer service representative, combining online work with phone call center work, without the need to actually be in a call center. The LiveOps program sits on your computer, manages your calls – you can use a Google Voice number – and provides the script you have to work with. Sometimes Steve in Texas is actually Steve in Texas, eh?
Students around the world look to the internet for expert advice in helping them pass their classes. Tutor.com and a few other sites provide tutoring assistance, for a price. You work one on one with students on a subject they need help with, on a per-hour basis.
You sign up and plug in the subjects you’re comfortable teaching, and run with it.
19. Virtual Assistant Work
Being a virtual assistant is like being a secretary, for various digital tasks. It might involve writing articles or press releases, it might involve managing a blog or some internal business processes, or it might just be data entry and email response. VirtualAssistants.com and Zirtual are two sites that help VAs hook up with people in need of assistance.
20. Monetized Gaming
You can monetize playing video games, if you’re lucky, good at it, and can find the right niche. The general process seems to be streaming on Twitch.tv or Hitbox, editing and uploading videos to YouTube, and setting up a Patreon for donations all the while. However, while this can be extremely lucrative, there’s also a ton of competition, and making even $200 per month puts you in the top 10% of earners in the field.
These are the full-on income replacement and lifestyle improvement options. They’re the businesses that can get you thousands of dollars a week, or more. There’s no real cap to how much one of these businesses could grow, if you strike the right idea at the right time.
21. Affiliate Marketing
An upgraded form of blogging, doing the marketing for someone else and getting a commission when they sell their products is the lifeblood of affiliate marketing. It’s far too large of a topic to cover here, though, so I’ll just link you to this guide. Also this one. And this one.
22. High End Freelance Writing
The freelance writing option in the previous section is what people refer to as “content mill” work and doesn’t pay much. Landing private clients can be much more lucrative, with pay ranging from $50 to $500 per article or even more, depending on the client.
Some extremely high-end clients and extremely talented writers pull in four figures for every post.
If you’re fluent in more than one language, you can always offer your services as a translator. Online translation is perhaps the least lucrative way you can be a translator, but it’s a gateway to other forms of translation work, including working for the government. The earnings will also depend on the languages you know, with Chinese, Arabic, and Danish being three of the most lucrative.
24. Creating an App
If you can code and design, you can create a mobile app. Development kits are more available than ever, and it’s pretty easy to get something up on Android via the Play Store and Amazon. Adding something to the Apple App Store is harder, but still possible. You just have to come up with an idea, make sure it’s original enough to draw attention, and make sure it’s well-made.
25. High-End Virtual Assistant Work
High-end virtual assistants do more complex work, typically involving actual education or degrees in the subject, like accounting. This kind of work is correspondingly more valuable, however, and it means you can end up earning $60+ per hour. The more valuable your provided service, the more you can charge.
26. Website Flipping
If you’re capable of making and marketing a website, you can bust them out, get them some measurable level of traffic, and sell them on Flippa.
There are plenty of people out there who would love to blog or set up a business but don’t want to go through the tedious process of creating the site and getting it to the ~1,000 monthly visitors mark. If you can reliably do that, you can sell sites for a tidy profit on a fairly regular basis.
27. For-Hire Development
If you’ve been a developer for apps, websites, network infrastructure, or anything else that requires a technical education in development, you can sell those services as a contractor just as well as you can get a job doing it for a company. Plus, while you don’t get health benefits or a 401K from your employer, you’ll get the flexibility of having multiple clients and the ability to cut them off if they get too aggressive.
28. Graphic Design
Artists with a unique style, as well as more technical graphical designers who know how to put together a magazine, brochure, or other attractive publication, are always in demand. The world is a graphical place, and having mastery over what the eye sees is a gateway to an endless supply of lucrative work.
29. Product Creation and Sales
If you can create something, you can sell it. This can range from selling quilts and pillows on Etsy to selling online courses via Udemy, and everything in between. There’s no better time to start selling the fruits of your labor than now.
30. Unique Business Endeavors
There are as many unique business ideas as there are people. You can always try to pitch your idea to investors and venture capitalists, trying to strike gold. After all, Twitter was once just a minor mobile blogging platform, and Facebook started as a one-college networking app. The sky isn’t even a limit to these kinds of ideas.
Growtraffic.com is the leading pop-under traffic network.
Get thousands of targeted visitors for wholesale prices.