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How To Make Money Online in 2021: 23 Proven Methods

How to use this guide

There are 3 different ways to make money online.

  • Work for money
  • Build an online business
  • Money works for you

1. Work for money online

Working for money, taking on a job online, is the best way to get started with making money online

The easiest and fastest way to get started making money online is by choosing a ‘work for money’ model.

What this means is essentially you’ll get paid for doing certain jobs online. A remote job falls under this bracket, as well as freelancing.

This is the best way to dip your toes and get started with making your money online. You can easily do this to make some extra money on the side or while you’re setting up an online business.

Either way, you’ll want to work towards getting out of this bracket and evolving full-time into the second bracket: starting an online business

Getting a job online or starting as a freelancer, is a great stepping stone to online entrepreneurship and most internet entrepreneurs have started out this way.

The beauty of this category is that you can get started with earning money right away. It won’t make you ‘rich’, but it could eventually help you become financially free.

We’ll be summing up viable ways to make money online only. Methods such as filling in surveys or testing user websites are not viable ways to make money online and should be avoided.

2. Build an online business

building an online business is the best way to make money online

This is the category most of you will be excited about: building a business online.

This is an instant step-up from the first category: work for money as a business could lead towards passive and semi-passive income.

A successful business generates money while you sleep. You essentially own a system, that works on autopilot.

BUT... Building a business is no pickle. There is no easy get-rich-quick method.

Building a business requires a lot of time, effort and passion.

You will also likely see multiple failures before you reach success.

Success might be MONTHS and even YEARS away.

That’s why it’s best to stay humble and build a business while you retain your current job or take on online jobs.

3. Money works for you

This is the investment-category of this guide.

This is where you leverage YOUR MONEY to make EVEN MORE MONEY.

5 Ways to Make Money Online By Taking on Jobs

1. Start Freelancing

Freelancing is pretty straight forward: you use your skillset to earn a living online by taking on one off-jobs.

It’s similar to having a remote job but with more flexibility. You decide when you want to work, what kind of jobs you want to take on and which clients you want to work with.

You can even choose your own rate! But you should probably start off small and gradually build your rate up as you build your portfolio.

You might think: I don’t have any skills or my skills aren’t freelancable (is that a word?) but you’d be very wrong.

You’d be surprised how many skills you posses that others could benefit from.

Finding clients is the trickiest part. Luckily there are many different online marketplaces such as Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer.com and others to help you out.

You can even take on freelancing jobs on internet marketing fora and subreddits such as r/forhire.

2. Working as a Virtual Assistant

This kind of falls under the freelancing category, but it’s stand-alone enough to deserve a place on this list.

A virtual assistant is someone who helps business-owners run their day-to-day operations on a per contract basis.

Some virtual assistants have specialized skillsets such as SEO and copywriting but many companies are constantly looking for VAs to perform basic tasks such as Googling, formatting word documents, handling customer service, and more.

Anyone has the skill-set to become a virtual assistant.

You can find clients on online marketplaces such as Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer.com to get started.

3. Taking on a Remote Job

Want to work from anywhere? Did you know you can do just that without starting a business or becoming a freelancer?

Instead of getting a regular job, you can get a remote job! Of course, just like getting a decent regular job, this is no small feat and the competition is pretty high.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, right?

Anyway, here are 4 websites to get you started on your remote job hunt.

4. Become an Online Writer

If you love writing, there are many jobs available for you online. You see, the web is full of content, and companies big and small are always looking for content writers.

There are many approaches you could take with this. You could offer your writing services on freelance platforms such as UpWork and Fiverr, you can post on subreddits and other forums, you can look for jobs on LinkedIn and sites like Problogger.

Below are a few resources you can use to get started.

5. Working as an Uber/Lyft Driver

While driving for Lyft or Uber isn’t fully online, it does deserve a spot on this list simply because of how achievable it is.

Anyone who owns a car and a drivers license can become a Lyft or Uber driver. And if you work enough, you can actually make a decent wage.

I wouldn’t do this full time though. Driving for Uber or Lyft is perfect as a side or extra income come model.

For example, you can drive before and after your regular job. Or you can spend a certain amount of time each day driving for Uber or Lyft while at the same time working on starting your own business!

17 Ways to Make Money Online By Starting a Business

1. Start a Dropshipping Store

Dropshipping is the process of selling products online, without actually owning any inventory. Whenever someone orders from you, you simply pay your dropshipping supplier to fulfill the product for you and pocket the difference.

how dropshipping works

This business-model has allowed many online entrepreneurs to start their own online store without having to risk thousands of dollars on acquiring inventory.

Aside from being pretty risk-averse, dropshipping comes with other advantages such as:

  • You can sell just about anything
  • You can sell internationally through international suppliers
  • You don’t have to spend time managing inventory

Check out our definitive guide if you wish to get started with dropshipping.

Setup Time: 2-4 weeks

Keeping research time in mind, you’ll likely spend anywhere from 2-4 weeks to set up your first dropshipping store.

Budget: $500+

While dropshipping can be started with a minimal budget, $500+ is recommended for a smooth start.

2. Start a Store with Print on Demand

Print on demand is a spin on the dropshipping model. Just like with dropshipping, print on demand sellers don’t purchase or manage inventory.

What’s different is that print on demand suppliers will print any design you wish, on their products.

This allows you to sell your own personalized products online, without having to invest in inventory!

If you play your cards right, you can set up an automated business through Print on Demand just like Sarah Crisp from Wholesale Ted.

Sarah Crisp

Ecommerce expert


Per month from print on demand

You can offer your own designs on print-on-demand marketplaces such as Redbubble and Teespring and generate a small passive income from them or you can start your own Shopify store and handle everything yourself.

Setup Time: 2-4 weeks

Keeping research time in mind, you’ll likely spend anywhere from 2-4 weeks to set up your first print on demand store.

Budget: $500+

While print on demand can be started with a minimal budget, $500+ is recommended for a smooth start.

3. Start a Niche Website/Blog

A niche blog or website will focus on one specific topic. Preferably not too broad to avoid too much competition online.

For example, you could start a niche blog about a certain indie video game you love to play. That’s exactly what I did for one of my first blogs. This niche website, which I only update once every 2 months, is still generating a sweet $700 a month from advertisements.

Which brings me to my next point: niche websites have a lot of monetization options.

You could place advertisements on it to earn a passive income, you could make money from referring others to certain products/services (affiliate marketing), depending on the niche you could even launch your own product and sell it to your audience.

Niche blogs are often called ‘money sites’ which I think is the best way to name them. Some people rent out houses to make $1000 per month from tenants, others start money sites to do the exact same thing with far less upfront investment.

Learn more about how much niche blogs make.

Setup Time: 4 weeks

Capping research time at 10 days and assuming you write 1 article a day, it would take around 30 days to set up a niche blog. (Keep in mind you need to keep a consistent position schedule up)

Budget: $100

All you really need to get started is a domain and hosting, which you can get for under $100 a year.

4. Drop Servicing

Drop Servicing is yet another spin on the dropshipping model. As a drop servicing business, you re-sell services instead of products.

Say for example you start a web design agency in your local town but every time someone orders a website from you, you hire an external freelancer to do the job for you.

Websites in your home town might go for $1500 (illustrative example) but a freelance web designer on Fiverr might be satisfied with $500 for the same job.

As a drop servicer you are only concerned with getting clients and can sell any service you want, regardless of your skill level.

You are helping out freelancers by giving them jobs and you are pocketing the difference.

As with most business-models, drop servicing works best when you target niches instead of going broad.

Learn more about starting a drop servicing business.

Setup Time: 4 weeks

Keeping research time in mind, you’ll likely spend anywhere from 2-4 weeks to set up your first drop servicing website.

Budget: $100

Getting a domain and Shopify will set you back about $100 which is the absolute minimum you’ll need to get started.

5. Start a Social Media Marketing Agency

Imagine earning a thousand dollars from the same client every month, sounds sweet right?

That’s what a Social media Marketing Agency does. They establish a WIN-WIN situation with their clients by providing them with sales and followers through Social Media Marketing.

Many companies simply don’t know how to establish their presence online and are missing out on hundreds of clients because of this.

These companies could benefit from having an SMMA run their advertising campaigns for them.

Setup Time: 2-4 weeks

Keeping research time in mind, you’ll likely spend anywhere from 2-4 weeks to set up your social media marketing agency.

Budget: $100

Getting a domain and hosting will set you back about $100 which is the absolute minimum you’ll need to get started.

6. Create and Sell an Online Course

Creating courses has become incredibly popular in the last couple of years. If you are an expert in a certain topic, you can make a lot of money by teaching your blueprint to success to other entrepreneurs.

Setup Time: 8+ weeks

Doing research and creating videos for an online course will likely take you at least 8 weeks to complete.

Budget: $600

Assuming you have to equipment to get started and you do everything in-house, you’ll need about $100 for hosting and a domain as well as at least $500 to advertise your course.

7. Become a Youtuber

With over 2 billion users, almost 1/3th of the worlds’ population, YouTube is a behemoth of a platform.

This opens a lot of doors for us internet entrepreneurs who want to make money online.

In a recent article, we discovered that even smaller YouTubers can make a significant amount of money!

While this is definitely not an easy business model, becoming a YouTuber can set you up for life.

Charlie Chang

Personal finance YouTuber


Per month from YouTube

So if you have something to teach, are creative or entertaining, this business-model might be the right fit for you.

Setup Time: 1 day

You can get started with Youtube in just one day assuming you already have a niche in mind.

Budget: $0

Assuming you use existing equipment (such as your iPhone), and use free editing software, you can get started with Youtube with a $0 budget.

8. Make Money with Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketers make money online by promoting products to their existing audience and receive a (small) commission for doing so.

The beauty of affiliate marketing is that you can make money by promoting amazing products you are using yourself.

For example say you’re a Twitch streamer or a Youtuber and your audience always ask you what setup you’re using, you can send them directly to Amazon via your affiliate links.

That’s why so many streamers and YouTubers always have their equipment listed in their bio or description, this way they can make some extra cash from every referral they send to Amazon.

The same goes with influencers who often will urge you to use their discount code for a certain product.

And us bloggers can earn a fair bit from affiliate marketing as well. For example, I teach people how to set up a dropshipping business on this website, and in those articles, I urge people to get started with Shopify.

Whenever someone ends up starting a dropshipping business on Shopify after they have clicked my affiliate link, I will earn $29 (100% commission) for the first two months they are subscribed.

So for every 100 people I refer, I can make $5800! Now go sign up for Shopify! (I’m just kidding, of course, dropshipping isn’t for everyone.)

Affiliate marketing can be very profitable when leveraging an existing audience, but you will need to have an audience first.

If you don’t have a following on social media or you don’t own a blog with consistent daily visitors, you won’t make a penny from affiliate marketing.

Learn more about how much affiliate marketers make.

Setup Time: 0 – 30 days

With an existing audience, you can get started with affiliate marketing right away.

If you’re starting a blog, it could take up to 30 weeks for your blog to generate enough daily visitors for monetization through affiliate marketing.

Budget: $0 – $100

When using an existing audience, you don’t need to spend a dime on Affiliate Marketing, it will make you money!

If you’re starting an affiliate blog, you’ll need around $100 for domain and hosting.

9. Start a Patreon

Those with an existing audience online, for example through a blog, Youtube channel, Instagram account, and so on, can benefit from starting a Patreon account.

What is Patreon? Patreon is a subscription service that allows artists and creators to share content with their audience.

Every single Patron (that’s what the subscribers are called) will pay a certain monthly fee (e.g. $4.50) to gain access to a certain level of content.

This can be a very lucrative way to share specific content with your audience that you don’t think should be online for free.

Fans of certain creators will often gladly support that creator (for example by paying them $4.50 per month) and in return, they’ll get content they otherwise wouldn’t see.

For example, Investor and Youtuber Andrei Jikh, who earns $19,497 per month from his Patreon, and in return $7 patrons will get access to his dividend portfolio, stock purchases, and more.

Andrei Jikh

Youtuber and Investor


Per month from his Patreon

Again, Patreon is a good platform to make money from if you already have a following online. If you have no existing following to leverage, no one will want to subscribe to you.

Setup Time: Minutes

You can set up a Patreon account in just a couple of minutes.

Budget: $0

Setting up a Patreon account is completely free.

10. Become an Etsy Seller

Etsy is an online marketplace in the arts and crafts niche that has an audience in the millions. According to Similarweb, it’s ranked number 4 in the shopping category and has around 400 million visitors every month. The Etsy mobile app alone has 32 million monthly users.

Those are huge numbers that Etsy sellers can take advantage of. The big downside to Etsy is that many Etsy Sellers are struggling to make more than $200 per month due to the huge amount of competition.

But if you’re crafty and can bring something new to the market, this could definitely be the platform for you.

Learn more about how much Etsy Sellers make.

Setup Time: 30 min – 2 hours

You can set up an Etsy account and upload products in just a couple of hours.

Budget: $5

A single product listing on Etsy is $0.20 and this will be your only cost.

11. Sell on Amazon With Amazon FBA

Amazon is the biggest online retailer in the world. Their platform is trusted by and seen as the go-to platform for millions of shoppers worldwide.

But did you know more than 50% of Amazon’s sales come from third-party sellers? And did you know that anyone can become a third-party seller through Amazon FBA?

Amazon FBA is a business-model designed by Amazon to make selling on their platform super simple.

You sell products on the Amazon marketplace and Amazon stores, packs, and ships the products for you. Talk about an automated business experience!

All you have to worry about is buying inventory and shipping it to an Amazon FBA facility, Amazon will take care of the rest.

In a jungle Scout survey, they concluded that new Amazon FBA sellers make $42k profit per year on average.

Read more about how much Amazon FBA Sellers make.

Setup Time: 4-8 weeks

The Amazon FBA process takes a while. Between getting approved as a new seller, doing product research, and ordering inventory you’re looking at at least 4-8 weeks set up time.

Budget: $500-$1000

Since you’ll be buying up inventory and shipping that inventory from China to an Amazon Fulfillment Center, you’ll need at least $500 to buy your first bulk of products.

12. Become a Twitch Streamer

Twitch streaming has become an incredibly lucrative business-model.

In our recent article, how much Twitch streamers make, we concluded that a small Twitch streamer with just 100 average viewers can make a significant amount of money already.

Those numbers don’t even include donations or off-twitch sources of income!

Meanwhile bigger streamers can make anywhere from $20,000 to $150,000 on Twitch.

Just look at our Profile of Ludwig, one of the top twitch streamers who averages 36,000 consistent viewers on every stream.


Top Twitch Streamer


Per month from Twitch subscribers

Those are some big numbers for people who sit in front of a webcam at home while playing their favorite video games. Sounds like a dream right?

Sadly, Twitch streaming isn’t as easy as it sounds. Only about 1 in 200 committed streamers can make money from streaming on Twitch. Let alone make enough to go full-time.

Setup Time: Minutes

You can set up a Twitch account in just a couple of minutes.

Budget: $0

Setting up a Twitch account is completely free.

13. Become an Esports Athlete

If you’ve got a lot of time on your hand and you can spend hours upon hours playing the same video game, you might have it in you to become a professional Esports athlete.

As the esports industry is booming, this career path is becoming more and more viable. Some of the top e-sport athletes are making a nice 5-figure sum from tournament earnings alone.


Professional Call of Duty Player


Per month from Call of Duty tournaments

But that’s not the only way these esport athletes are earning money, they also get a salary, sponsorships and many of them make a decent sum from their Youtube channels and Twitch streams as well.

Learn more about how much professional esports athletes make

Setup Time: 2 – 4 years

Becoming an e-sport athlete will take multiple years of hard work and sticking to a single game or at least game genre (e.g. shooters).

Budget: $0 – $1000

Budget will depend on whether you already have gaming equipment or not.

14. Sell on eBay

eBay is an online marketplace that allows anyone to list their items online. Over the years, eBay has become the ‘gateway’ to starting an online store for many dedicated entrepreneurs.

The eBay marketplace has over 182 million active buyers. That’s a lot of people you can advertise your product to without having to set up your own shop and drive traffic yourself

Instead, you can leverage eBay’s huge userbase to find buyers. Not to mention eBay ranks REALLY well in Google which opens a lot of opportunities to drive in traffic directly from Google as well.

Setup Time: 30 min – 2 hours

You can set up an eBay account and upload products in just a couple of hours.

Budget: -$250

Starter stores on eBay go for $4.95 per month. On top of that, you’ll have to account for your inventory.

15. Publish an e-Book

In the age of the internet, anyone can publish a book. Remember the Martian? The Matt Damon movie? Did you know it was originally a self-published book for Amazon Kindle? Andy Weir sold it for just $0.99 apiece and turned that into a six-figure book deal AND movie!

If your dream has always been to become a published author, why not start publishing yourself?

Anyone can start publishing on Amazon KDP.

Setup Time: 16 weeks+

Writing an ebook takes time, depending on how often you write and how many pages you are aiming for, this process can take 16 weeks or more.

Publishing using Amazon KDP will take just 5 minutes of your time.

Budget: $0

Self-publishing to Amazon Kindle KDP is free.

16. Start a Podcast

Do you like talking? Interviewing? Covering certain topics? You might be born to become a podcaster! Podcasts have become very popular in the last couple of years.

According to Podcastinsights, 50% of American households are podcast fans. That’s over 60 million homes in the US alone.

Podcasts have a dedicated audience and that opens a lot of methods to make money. Sponsorships, affiliate marketing, advertisements, podcasts do it all.

But that’s not all, podcasting can increase the following of your social media, blog, youtube channel and so on.

If you like talking and have something to share about a particular niche, podcasting might be just right for you.

Setup Time: 7-14 days

Niche research, thinking about the content strategy, creating cover art, creating an intro, and more will likely take you a couple of days to weeks.

Budget: $0 – $200

You can technically bootstrap a podcast using your existing equipment but if you’re looking to be a bit more professional you’ll spend around $200 on a microphone and accessories.

16. Sell Leads Online

Imagine this, you’re generating passive income by sending leads to a local company (e.g. a plumber) in your area. Sounds crazy right?

Many companies don’t know how to gain an advantage online, this creates a lot of opportunities for online entrepreneurs to sell a service to them, for example, leads.

While ranking for the ‘plumber’ keyword in Google is next to impossible, it’s actually a lot easier to rank for a local keyword such as ‘plumber in Falls Church’ for example.

And you can do this for just about any profession and any town in the world.

All you really have to do for this business model is outrank the competition, which for some niches is almost too easy if you know a thing or two about SEO.

Once you can land on the first page for a local keyword, you can sell the leads to local professionals for a percentage or monthly fee.

Setup Time: 2-4 weeks

Niche research, setting up the website, writing content and link building will likely take you a couple of weeks.

Budget: $100

All you really need to get started is a domain and hosting, which you can get for under $100 a year.

17. Become an Influencer

In the age of the internet, turning yourself into a brand is one of the best business models out there. And no, you don’t need to be a big-time social media star such as Kylie Jenner to make money as an influencer (unless your goal is to make a billion dollars…).

Pauline Tantot

Instagram Influencer


Per month from sponsorships and MYM

Many smaller influencers are able to make an income online.

For example, we’ve already covered in previous articles that small YouTubers can make a significant amount of money, as well as small Twitch streamers. But it doesn’t stop there, some micro-influencers on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok are able to generate a good sum each month from sponsorships and paid shoutouts.

Now you may be thinking that becoming an influencer is difficult and only for the crazy attractive, the lucky few, or creative folk but that’s far from the truth.

While it may look like an influencer ‘blew up’ after a viral post, on most occasions they have been working towards that goal for multiple years.

After all, if you keep trying, the chances of you ‘getting lucky’ increase by a lot. Take that haters.

Setup Time: 1-4 years

Becoming an influencer takes time. Dedicated individuals who consistently post creative content to their social media channels might start to see traction after about 6 months but it will likely take at least a year of hard work for it to start paying off.

Budget: $0

Last time I checked posting on social media is free.

Now It’s Your Turn

How are you going to START making money online?

Notice the emphasize on the word ‘start’?

That’s because starting is the most important part. It’s also the hardest part.

If you’re reading this article, you likely believe you could make money online, but are you really doing anything about it though?

At least one of the business models in this article should have caught your attention and made you think ‘I could probably do this…’

Maybe you fantasized about it for a minute, but did you leave this article and get Googling?

Did you grab a notepad an start taking notes right away? Probably not, right?

Here’s the thing though: you should have done that. What you did right there is called procrastination.

It’s the fear of failure kicking in. Even when you believe you’re capable, you tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow.

There is no tomorrow.

There is only right now.

Tomorrow something else will be on your mind and the cycle continues. If you want to start earning money online, you need to start. Today.

So grab your notepad and get Googling. Whether you’re interested in becoming a Lyft driver, starting as a freelancer or starting a dropshipping store, you need to start researching.

As long as you don’t do that, you’ll continue to postpone and one day you’ll be 40, 60, or 80 and regretting everything.

If I hadn’t started researching dropshipping like a madman after finding out about this business-model, I would have never created my first dropshipping store, I would have never started any of my online businesses including this blog.

I would probably still be dreaming of becoming an entrepreneur, and not doing anything to achieve them.

You cannot get anywhere without starting, so start.

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