When it comes to earning money online, some people are in it to replace their day job. Others want to make money around their other priorities (like caregiving or going to school). And there are those of us who want to work from home just to have a little extra jingle in the pocket. Maybe you’re one of them.
If you’re looking for ways to earn money online without quitting your day job, you’re in luck! Today that’s what we’re talking all about. And the great news is, you’ve got a TON of options. Here are some of my favorites.
For Just a Little Bit Here and There
If you’re essentially looking for something to do that makes money while you’re bored, there’s an app for that! Several apps and websites, actually.
Probably the easiest way to get a little bit here and a little bit there during your downtime, or while you’re watching TV, or bored on the computer, is to do online surveys. There are apps to do them on your smartphone, too. I highly recommend the following:
- Ebates – I love, love, love Ebates. It’s not unusual for me to earn $300 to $1,000 per month in cash back bonuses and referring my friends. And, the program is free! They will even give you a $10 gift card just for signing up (and so will you).
- Swagbucks – This program has come a long way from its earn-for-search beginning. Today you can earn SB for completing surveys, watching videos and more. Redeem your SB (aka Swagbucks) for cash or gift cards. (Members redeem approximately 7,000 gift cards per day!) Get a $5 signup bonus when you earn 2500 SB in your first 3 months.
- Ibotta – This nifty little app can help you earn money doing something you have to do anyway – grocery shopping. It's kind of like coupons, but instead of money off at the counter, you get cash back on select items each week. You can take your rebate by PayPal in cash or use it to purchase gift cards at great merchants like Amazon. They also have an amazing referral program. Get $10 for every two friends you refer! If you sign up through my referral link, you will get another $10 bonus when you redeem your first rebate.
Mystery shopping is another way to make money from home. It’s operated online, but it’ll usually involve leaving your house to go do a “shop” at a store, restaurant, or mall kiosk, so these can be a good excuse to get out of the house and try something new, without having to pay for it (and usually pocketing some extra cash in the process).
Freelancing Lets You Set Your Own Workload
If you want to make a some serious cash on the side entirely from home, freelancing may be the answer for you.
The great thing about freelancing is that there’s a market for you, no matter your skill level. If you want to learn how to do something new (like designing Pins or ebook covers) you can start with low rates on a site like Fiverr or Upwork and learn as you go.
If you think you’re a decent writer, freelance writing might be the ticket for you. Lots of folks have built a freelance writing business that replaces their full-time income, but plenty of others keep it to part-time hours and make a healthy side-income.
Writing isn’t the only freelance service you can offer, though. There’s a huge market for virtual assistants at all levels, from low-level data entry tasks to transcription to highly specialized skills such as web design, video production, and running advertising campaigns through Facebook or Adwords. Odds are good that if you’ve got a good “tinkering” hobby that’s primarily computer-driven, there are business owners out there who will pay you to do some of that “tinkering” for them.
Freelancing offers a healthy hourly rate and the ability to set your own workload and hours making it a great choice for people who feel they have skills to use. The potential downside is that you’re dealing with clients who may need you to work a set amount of hours each week (especially if you’re a VA). If that’s a complete turn-off, be prepared to turn down some potential clients; otherwise, you may be interested in other opportunities.
Selling Online Products
Feed your inner novelist by selling your ebooks on Amazon. It costs very little to get started (though you’ll definitely want to invest in a good cover) and once your book is uploaded, your work is mostly done. Your sales will benefit from some optimizing and from ad campaigns, but those are all things that require some work upfront and then very little maintenance.
If you’re an expert at something that many people want to know more about, consider writing a guide and selling it online. Once your guide is ready, you’ll need to set up a sales page that’s SEO-optimized to get as much organic traffic as possible, and you’ll need to have a way to sell it (which can be as simple as a payment processor like PayPal or Stripe, and as complex as a shopping cart service like SendOwl or e-junkie). Again, advertising might help your sales, but ultimately the work for this project is front-loaded and then can go more or less on auto-pilot.
Worksheets and other “printables” are another great opportunity if you’re inclined in that direction! All kinds of people need help planning and organizing everything from their mega-weddings to their morning routines. If you can put together some cute printables, you can turn around and start selling them online either in your own online store, on a site like Etsy, or through your blog (more on that in a sec). This can be a lot of fun if you like making digital products like invitations, announcements, and custom printable files (like custom first-day-of-school printouts, for example).
Blogging combines all the “usefulness” of freelancing — you can use your skills, set your own hours, etc. — with the fact that you’re 100% self-directed. While it’s possible to start making money from freelance writing fairly quickly, it’s difficult to make huge money when you’re doing it on the side. Blogging, on the other hand, might start a little slower income-wise but has a much higher income potential in the long run.
When you start your own blog, there are lots of ways you can monetize it. Ultimately, though, you’ll need to be providing good content fairly consistently. There’s no rigorous schedule to it, but at the same time it does require your time and investment. You can’t just stop publishing and expect to keep making money. Fortunately, you can still run a blog even if you don’t have a ton of time to do so.
Another great thing about running a blog is that you can start selling your own products right there on your blog. And plenty of bloggers will also add a Hire Me page to their blog, which can help them land freelance writing work.
Blogging is extremely flexible and I (obviously) love it, but it’s not the be-all, end-all for making money on the side.
Selling Physical Goods
If you like the idea of making money in your spare time and you aren’t really interested in freelancing or blogging, you might want to take a look at opportunities that let you sell a physical product. There are quite a few ways to do this, some of which involve inventory but others that don’t.
You can sell physical goods on places like Amazon and eBay. There are ways to do this with your own inventory, but you can also sell things on-demand or drop-ship them. (Not sure what’s right for you? Get some expert advice here.)
Etsy is another marketplace where you can sell your handmade and digital products. This is a great place to start if you, for example, are always crocheting something in your down-time and you want to sell the surplus.
Finally, don’t forget your direct sales opportunities! The rule of thumb when you’re getting into direct sales is to sell only those products that you actually use and love. Your motivation should come from wanting to share something awesome, NOT from pumping your network to make sales. When done correctly, you can make a lot of money from direct sales on the side, without having to quit your dayjob. And there are plenty of companies that don’t require you to keep your own inventory — your customers will buy directly from the company rather than from your stock.
Further Thoughts on Working Online Around Your Day Job
Whether you love your day job or you aren’t ready to start working from home as your sole source of income, there are loads of opportunities for bringing in some extra money on the side. The ideas I’ve listed here are all solid ones, and they’re the primary ways people start up their “side hustles,” but this is really just a starting point for you.
What idea are you most interested in and why?