9 ways to make money online
- Play games
Ready to make money while having fun? Multiple apps and websites will pay you—in cash or gift cards to popular retailers—for downloading and playing games. Some sites require that you reach a certain game level or achievement by a set deadline to earn rewards. Others track your gaming time. The more you play, the more you earn.
How easy it is to earn cash: Easy, but it might take a while to reach the app’s payout threshold.
How much you could earn: As much as a few dollars a day.
Hot tip: To avoid surprises, review the payout thresholds and redemption options for any get-paid-to-play app or site before you devote your time to it.
- Take surveys
Everyone has an opinion. Why not get paid for yours? Paying survey sites could turn free time into a modest payout. Most sites require you to share some demographic info before they match you with fitting surveys. Certain profiles might get more survey opportunities than others.
How easy it is to earn cash: Easy
How much you could earn: One survey site says doing 3 surveys per day could turn into $40 per month.1 Another estimates $100 per month or more for “motivated earners.”2
Hot tip: Research and sign up for multiple survey sites to get more opportunities and boost your earnings potential.
- Become a virtual assistant
Do you have superior organizational skills? Love making travel arrangements—and don’t mind data entry? If so, being a virtual assistant could pay off. There are many sites out there that hire virtual assistants and handle placement, payment, and other logistics. You could also set up a profile on talent marketplaces and reach potential clients through their platforms.
How easy it is to earn cash: Moderate difficulty. Potential clients generally want assistants with some relevant experience.
How much you could earn: Rates start at about $17 an hour.3
Hot tip: If you’re new to virtual assisting, consider working for family and friends first to build up your resume and provide references for future clients.
- Sell stock photography
If you have a great eye and a camera, your photos could become an income stream. You could set up your own online stock image store through an existing platform or upload photos to a stock photography site and get paid per download.
How easy it is to earn cash: Difficult; you need to be a talented photographer and take pictures of things or people that customers, such as publications and advertising agencies, want to pay to download.
How much you could earn: It varies by site and how many people want to buy your photos. Commissions range from 8% to 85% per download.4
Hot tip: Look for sites that market your photos on multiple stock photography sites to increase your earning potential.
- Sell other things
Whether you have stuff lying around that you’re no longer using or you’re crafty enough to make wares people want, you could post your castoffs and creations on an official marketplace or just social media.
How easy it is to earn cash: Moderate difficulty; you have to have good-looking and/or practical stuff that other people want and access to the people who want it.
How much you could earn: Some people earn enough to quit their jobs. Others just make a little money here and there.
Hot tip: Some marketplaces charge per listing; others take a cut of the sale. Still others don't charge anything at all up to a certain threshold. If you don’t anticipate selling a lot, the last option might be your best bet. Bonus tip: Make sure to factor in shipping costs if you’re not giving the goods in person.
- Become a tutor
Get paid to share your knowledge through online tutoring. Whether your talents are in K-to-12 education or college-level and beyond, companies have virtual tutoring gigs available—and on your schedule.
How easy it is to earn cash: Difficult; you’ll need to meet education, experience, and competency requirements by subject. You might even need to interview, get a background check, or supply college transcripts. Then you’ll need to set times with your clients to chat.
How much you could earn: Varies by site and your specialty but generally ranges from $16 to $35 per hour.5,6
Hot tip: Application and approval processes for new tutors could take a while. Check out online reviews from other tutors to help you identify platforms most worthy of your time.
- Take on transcription work
Even though there are apps that can turn audio files of people talking into typed-out text, they aren’t as accurate as human transcribers. The result: plenty of transcription gigs to go around. If you wouldn’t mind listening to legal proceedings, interviews, and other kinds of discussions—and then typing what you hear into an easy-to-read format—transcription work could be for you.
How easy it is to earn cash: Moderate; you might need to take a test and/or send in a sample of your transcription work to prove you’re an accurate transcriber.
How much you could earn: One popular transcription site says their users’ average earnings are $245 a month.7
Hot tip: Many transcription clients pay by the project, not the hour, so you could squeeze in more work (and potentially get more money) by being a fast typist.
- Provide voiceovers
Like the sound of your own voice? If you suspect others might too, you could get paid to read scripts that get used in ads, instructional videos, audiobooks, and more. You’ll need to make a demo—or better, a few different samples—and then post your work to sites people search when they need voiceover talent.
How easy it is to earn cash: Difficult. There’s a lot of competition, and it could take some practice until you get good enough to get noticed. Plus, some sites charge premium memberships to bubble your demo to the top when clients search. It could be tougher to be discovered without paying for the boost.
How much you could earn: It’s a wide range, depending on the client and your skills and experience. Expect $5 to as much as hundreds for a single, quick gig.8
Hot tip: You don’t need to record samples in a studio. You could get great sound with a high-quality microphone in a small space at home, such as a closet.
- Be an online translator
Calling all multilingual folks. Your fluency could be a side gig or a full-time online job. From translation agencies to talent marketplaces, there are many places to look for work and make your language skills pay.
How easy it is to earn cash: Difficult; you’ll need to prove fluency and translation competency.
How much you could earn: Varies by language, marketplace, and available gigs.
Hot tip: Translation gigs can include typing out text, live consultations, or a recorded translation—you’ll need to find the sites that match your interests and skills.
Handy tips for making money online
Now that you know how to make money online—and in a wide variety of ways—it’s time for a few reminders. These tips could help you potentially grow your income and keep your finances in order.
- Track your earnings. Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or an online bookkeeping program, keep tabs on your payouts. This includes cash and other awards such as gift cards. You might need to check in with clients or the site you’re working through when you haven’t received an expected payment.
- Consider a separate checking account. To better track cash payouts, you might want to set up a checking account dedicated to your online earnings. Your monthly statement could easily help you see income per site over time and drive you to focus your efforts on more-profitable outlets.
- Stay on top of your taxes. Even if your online income is only a fraction of your total monthly earnings, you’re responsible for reporting what you’ve made. The IRS typically requires self-employed people (which is you if you’re making money online) to file quarterly taxes. The sites that pay you might file 1099 forms if your taxable earnings surpass $600 in a calendar year, but even if they don’t, you’re still on the hook for reporting your earnings.
- Use earnings toward your retirement savings. If you’re bringing in a decent monthly sum, consider setting up a small business retirement plan such as a SEP IRA or a self-employed 401(k). You could contribute to these accounts in addition to your personal IRA or employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a 401(k), as another way to save for retirement.
- Consider professional liability insurance. You might want an extra layer of protection in the unlikely event that something goes wrong with an assignment or client. A professional liability policy—also known as errors and omissions insurance—could help shield your personal assets from a client or company seeking damages.