How to Make Money Online For Beginners: 18 Ideas

How to Make Money Online For Beginners: 18 Ideas was originally published on The Muse, a great place to research companies and careers. Click here to search for great jobs and companies near you.

Making money online has never been easier. With the world becoming increasingly digital, there are plenty of new jobs and side hustles out there that you can do entirely online—or almost. From simple tasks like taking online surveys to more detailed gigs like tutoring, there are many opportunities to earn extra money, even when you’re just starting out. And the best part? All you need to jump into it is a computer or smartphone and a reliable internet connection.

If you’re new to the game and want to explore your options, it’s important to consider what would work best for your routine and lifestyle. Here’s a list of 18 tips on how to make money online for beginners—including low, medium, and high-effort gigs.

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How to make money online for beginners

Is inflation eating into your salary? Are you facing unexpected bills, or perhaps just seeking a new stream of income to support your lifestyle? These side hustle ideas for making money online could be just what you need.

1. Freelance your skills

This is one of the most popular ways to earn money online. “Freelancing or consulting within your current skill set is a relatively low-risk approach to making extra income,” says financial research analyst Richard Morgan, CEO and head of research at Catalyst Fund.

You can leverage your current and past work experience as a portfolio to showcase your skills and attract clients. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to decide how many projects you take on and their deadlines, so you can balance this work with any full-time commitments you may already have.

2. Sell digital products

If you’re creative and good with technology, you can make extra money online by selling digital products. Here’s how it works: you create a non-physical product—like a unique budget spreadsheet or an effective resume template—and customers can buy it to either use online or to print at home.

Running this kind of online business calls for a lot of creativity to keep your offers interesting and a good handle on softwares tools like Canva, Photoshop, or Google Spreadsheets. While Photoshop requires an Adobe subscription, Canva and Google Spreadsheets are free to use. When you’re ready to start, platforms like Etsy are great places to sell your digital products.

3. Do freelance writing

You don’t have to stick to your usual industry to find work as a freelancer. If you’re a talented writer, regardless of your main occupation, you can turn this skill into extra income. Beyond companies that regularly hire freelance writers, there are plenty of people out there who struggle with writing tasks and would gladly pay for help. You could start by:

  • Ghostwriting: Many professionals want to establish a strong online presence on platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, or through blogging, but lack the writing skills to do so. That’s where ghostwriters come in—they write on behalf of these people, mimicking their voice and style.
  • Copywriting for social media: Most companies, no matter their size, have social media accounts, but not all can afford a dedicated marketing team. Enter the freelance copywriter. They create catchy captions to boost engagement and enhance the brand visibility.
  • Cover letter and resume writing: Crafting cover letters and resumes can be daunting, especially for those looking for their first job. While some people seek advice online or turn to chatGPT for help, others are willing to pay a freelance writer for assistance.

If you’re new to freelance writing, work on building a portfolio to showcase your writing style to potential clients. Then, you can advertise on social media or create a profile on platforms designed for freelancers. (You can also find freelance jobs here on The Muse!)

4. Sell online courses

Selling online courses is another popular side hustle for professionals across various industries. What makes it so appealing is that you don’t need to host live classes and interact with students. Instead, you film the entire course and sell it on platforms like Udemy and Teachable.

This type of side gig requires more effort and some investment to get started. You’ll need to dedicate hours of your days creating the course, planning the classes, filming, and likely doing some editing as well. Other things you may need include a tripod for your smartphone or camera, and maybe a microphone.

5. Sell handmade products online

Another way to make extra income online is by selling handmade products. Items like personalized decorations, gifts, pottery, and candles are some of the most common choices. The only downside to this online business is that you’ll need to invest in materials and set aside time on your schedule to handle shipping orders.

6. Work as a virtual assistant

If you’re tech-savvy and have experience in administrative work, you could work as a virtual assistant. In this role, you’ll assist clients with all sorts of daily tasks—from coordinating travel plans, booking flights and appointments, to answering emails.

7. Sell photography

If you’re skilled in photography, you can make money online by selling your photos on stock photo websites like iStock and Shutterstock. Companies and even content creators often purchase images from these platforms to use in ebooks, blogs, social media posts, and banners, to name a few examples.

Another option is Fine Art America, a website where you upload your photos to sell them as canvas prints, posters, t-shirts, and phone cases. It works better for people who have a good camera sitting at home or are willing to invest in one, as well as those with some image editing skills.

8. Sell stuff you don’t use anymore

Do you have too many clothes you don’t use anymore? Or perhaps shoes, accessories, or furniture in good condition cluttering your house? You can sell your stuff online and make some extra money without needing to invest in any equipment.

All you need to do is photograph the items you want to sell and list them on an appropriate website. For instance, Facebook Marketplace is great for selling furniture and decor items, while Poshmark focuses on higher-end clothes and other fashion items.

9. Write and sell an ebook

Creative writers who love storytelling can turn their passion into a second income by writing ebooks. While it’s not easy and takes time, it’s a side hustle you can start with just two things you already have: a computer and internet access.

Plus, an ebook is a digital product that doesn’t require shipping or package, which reduces the impact on your revenue. Platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing allow writers to self-publish and make money based on the number of pages read. Just pay close attention to its fees to make sure it’s profitable for you.

10. Work part-time as a transcriber

Another simple and secure way to make extra money online is by working part-time as a transcriber. As the name suggests, this role involves transcribing audio from lectures, podcasts, recorded interviews, and such. Typically, the only requirements are a stable internet connection, a computer, headphones, and fast typing skills.

This might also interest you: 25 Part-Time Jobs That Actually Pay Well

11. Start creating content

Sure, content creation may not be for everyone, but if you’re willing to put yourself out there, it’s definitely worth a shot. You can create videos for platforms like YouTube and TikTok, or start an instagram page centered around something you’re really passionate about, whether it’s movies, makeup, or football.

YouTube and TikTok have monetization programs that let creators earn money from their content, as long as it meets certain criteria. Over time, as you build your audience, you might even land paid partnerships and sponsorships.

12. Start your own blog

You can use your writing skills for more than just freelancing and start your own blog. While blogs may not be as trendy as they once were, it’s still possible to make money from them. How? Through Google Ads. If you’ve noticed, many websites you visit regularly have banners with advertisements.

To appear on those sites, companies pay Google, and Google, in turn, pays the owners of those websites based on the number of views. In order to qualify for Google Ads, it’s estimated that your blog needs to drive traffic of least 500 to 1000 views per page.

13. Work with affiliate marketing

Have you ever heard of affiliate marketing? It works like this: a content creator shares a link from an ecommerce company or brand with their followers. Every time someone makes a purchase through one of these links, the creator earns a commission for the referral.

If you choose to pursue the content creation route, this is an easy way to earn passive income through your blog or social media account. Typically, affiliate marketing deals don’t require a huge number of followers, but your community must be engaged and loyal for it to be successful.

14. Sell print-on-demand products

Print on demand (POD) is a business model where you design personalized products, and your POD partner handles printing and shipping orders. You can sell a variety of items like t-shirts, mugs, socks, and tote bags, all of which are white-labeled, meaning they don’t feature the POD company’s logo or branding.

Because there’s no need for a stock inventory, this kind of online business is ideal for those with limited space at home or a tight budget to get started. When choosing your POD partner, be mindful of the partnership fees and product pricing to be sure it’s going to be profitable.

15. Take online surveys

Websites like Swagbucks and InboxDollars will give you cash or gift cards for filling out surveys on all sorts of topics, from your vacation preferences to your online shopping habits. Their payouts typically range from $0.50 to $5, but every now and then, you might come across higher-paying surveys worth $10 or $20.

16. Play games online

You can also earn some extra cash without leaving the house by playing games online. Market research companies pay real customers to test their products and provide reviews and/or feedback. Look for opportunities on websites like Swagbucks and UserTesting.

17. Become an online tutor

Are you good at math, geography, or science? Can you teach English or a second language? If so, think about tutoring online as a side hustle. It’s quite a flexible way to make money at home—you can choose how many hours you teach, how many students you take on, and which days you want to work.

You can teach a language on platforms like italki, where you’re paid per hour. But if you prefer not to be tied to a specific company, you can advertise your classes on social media or even in your neighborhood and teach people from your community via video calls.

18. Investments

Investments are also a great way to earn passive income from the comfort of your house. If you’re familiar with investing—or are at least curious about it—you can try your hand in dividend stocks.

“Dividend stocks provide regular income. I advise beginners to invest in mutual funds that offer fixed returns. Such funds invest in government bonds, reputed companies, and money market instruments,” says Bill Ryze, a certified Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a board advisor at Fiona. “However, I suggest researching well and choosing reputable companies.”

This option is more advisable for people who already have a regular source of income and can save a few bucks to invest monthly. If you’ve never invested before, consider meeting with a financial advisor before diving into this world. (This list with some of the best investment apps for beginners can also help!)

Ready to start making money online? Keep an eye out for scams

“Be very cautious of potential scams that promise high returns with little risk, use aggressive sales tactics, or ask for upfront payments. Always research and read reviews,” Morgan says.

If they request personal information upfront, such as your SS number, or have poor written communication, that’s another red flag that it may be a job scam.

“Generally, legitimate employers collect this information later in the hiring process. Also look out for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and unprofessional emails. Legitimate companies maintain professional communication ethics,” Ryze says.

Last but not least, always work with legitimate and well established companies. “Beginners must check the company’s genuineness online,” he says. “The company can be a scam if you can’t find credible information online. You can verify a company’s legitimacy through official websites and directories.”