28 Realistic Ways to Make Money Online in 2023
From online lottery to stuffing envelopes at home, there are lots of popular get-rich-quick money-making ideas that always pop up. Do they work? Not really. Will you make money doing it? Maaaybe. But you’d probably make more money from your 9-to-5 job. At least then it’s a guaranteed paycheck.
The truth is there are real ways to make money online—millions of people are doing it each day. From freelance digital nomads to savvy marketers to rising entrepreneurs, there are plenty of business ideas you can try at home using your laptop and a solid internet connection. So let’s break down some real ways to make money online.
How to Make Money Online: 28 Real Ways
1. Start dropshipping
Let’s start our list off with one of the most popular ways to make money online. According to Google Trends, dropshipping’s popularity is rising, highlighting its viability as a business idea. With success stories about how an entrepreneur made $6,667 in eight weeks or how a store owner made six figures selling just one product, there’s plenty of proof that dropshipping is a real way to make money online.
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If you don’t know what dropshipping is, it’s a business model where you sell a product to a customer, but the supplier stores, packages, and ships the product to your customers on your behalf. With Shopify dropshipping, you have access to millions of products that you can add to your store. Some Shopify dropshipping apps allow you to hand-pick your product images, edit item descriptions, and give your business a personalized vibe, so people will love shopping with you.
The best way to make money dropshipping? Most entrepreneurs have been focusing on a few marketing strategies:
Ready to start a store but need products to sell? Handshake is where online entrepreneurs go to buy products at wholesale prices.
2. Try print on demand
Print on demand (POD) is another popular way to earn money online. Many individuals have adopted this business model because it has lower overhead than other businesses.
Print on demand is similar to dropshipping in the sense that you don’t need to carry inventory or ship out products to customers yourself. There are two slight differences, though. First, you can make your own custom products, which is great for brand recognition. Second, you can choose from specific items rather than a vast range of categories. Most print-on-demand companies offer products that are easy to print on, like t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags.
The best way to make money with your print-on-demand business? Free marketing channels. Your best bet would be to promote your products for free on Instagram and Pinterest, and through social media influencers who convert their audiences well.
You can get a complete overview of print of demand versus dropshipping by watching us get into a healthy debate with Wholesale Ted about the pros and cons of each business model.
3. Make money with affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to make money online. Throughout the years, its popularity has gone up and down, but it continues to be a stable way to earn through the internet. The best part about affiliate marketing is that you choose from a vast range of companies to partner with, including Shopify, Amazon, Uber, and FabFitFun.
Affiliate marketing allows you to earn a living by promoting other brands. If you’re a savvy marketer, you can earn a commission from sales by promoting retail products, software, apps, and more. While earning a commission may seem small, keep in mind that you can be an affiliate for several brands and include several affiliate links on a single blog post.
If you really want to make money online doing affiliate marketing, your best bet is to focus on content marketing. By building out a blog with several pages of high-quality content, you create an asset you can call your own. Strategically place affiliate links in your blog posts to drive traffic to your affiliate partner’s website.
4. Start a YouTube channel
If others can make money from YouTube, so can you. The highest-paid YouTuber is Jimmy Donaldson (a.k.a. MrBeast), who uploads bizarre stunts on his YouTube channel, which made him $54 million in 2021. Another high earner is Jake Paul, who’s made $45 million on YouTube by sharing high-energy prank videos and boxing content. His YouTube (and boxing career) fame helped him use his influence to make money online beyond his YouTube earnings.
Your YouTube channel should focus on a single niche so you can build a strong, loyal audience. For example, you can create makeup tutorials, stream video games, review products, teach skills, create prank videos, or anything else you think there’d be an audience for.
The secret to making money on YouTube is to create content that people want. Create witty headlines to entice people to watch your videos and use keywords in your description to optimize for YouTube search. Once you’ve reached the 1,000-subscriber milestone, you can officially monetize your channel with YouTube ads.
5. Become an influencer
Building a personal brand can also help you make money online. Did you know soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo charges between $880,259 and $1 million, on average, for a sponsored Instagram post? While it may seem like reality stars, singers, and athletes are the biggest influencers, keep in mind that even smaller-scale influencers can make more money today than they did a few years back.
To become an influencer, you need to build a healthy following. The best platforms to get started on? Instagram and TikTok. Some of the biggest non-celebrity influencers often gained their first taste of exposure on these platforms. You might want to check out how to get more Instagram followers if you want to build a big Instagram audience.
To make money as an influencer, you can charge for sponsored posts, create your own online store and sell products, add affiliate links in your bio, sell your photos, sell ads on your own podcast, make and sell merch, get paid to appear at events, and more.
6. Create an online course
Selling courses is one of the best ways to make money online. If you’re an expert on a subject, you can monetize your knowledge by creating courses online. You can sell your course on Udemy or, if you already have your own audience, through your own website. Some entrepreneurs earn as much as $5,000 per month with online courses.
To create a popular and successful course, take inspiration from trending courses in your niche. Then, look at the reviews. What are the aspects that people praise, and what are the things people hate? How can you create something better than what’s already been created? Focus on creating content that solves the biggest complaints while emulating the positive aspects people rave about.
The platform you sell your course on will determine how to best make money. If you sell your course on Udemy, you don’t have to do much to promote it. You can almost set it and forget it. Maybe promote it to some blogs or on social media networks. However, if the course is hosted on your own website, you might want to run ads to promote the course. You can also build an email list to promote future courses without needing to pay for marketing.
7. Publish an ebook
With Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, it’s never been easier to publish an ebook. All you need to do is write the ebook, format it, create an ebook cover, publish it, and promote it. In 2013, I created several ebooks on Amazon, and even though it didn’t make me rich, I still made some money from it.
You can choose to hire a writer for your ebook, a graphic designer to design the cover, and a manuscript editor to eliminate errors from the content. When researching the topic, focus on keywords based on popular searches on Amazon. I often use the Keyword Tool, which allows you to find the words people use while searching so you can craft your title around them.
To generate sales for your ebook, focus on marketing tactics that are proven to attract customers. For example, you can give the first few copies of your book away for free. This helps you create buzz on social media and get some reviews, which helps you gain customers via social proof. Other effective strategies for promoting your ebook include influencer marketing and video campaigns.
8. Start a blog
Blogging is one of the oldest methods for making money online. People who love writing tend to start blogs with a niche focus. For example, a blog about procrastination, cars, dropshipping, toys, etc., is often a narrow enough focus to build a loyal following and big enough that you can cover a lot of ground.
You can start a blog on various platforms, from Shopify (remove the checkout feature, so you don’t have to pay a subscription as you build it out) to WordPress. When you start your blog, focus on very specific keywords with a tight focus and continue to expand into other but still relevant categories as you grow and dominate new spaces. This will allow you to build a massive blog over time. Remember that design is also important for making a good first impression on visitors. Here are 20 blog design inspirations to help you launch your blog.
There are several ways to make money blogging. You can add affiliate links in your posts (don’t forget a disclaimer). You can monetize your blog by placing ads strategically in your posts. Sponsored posts can help you make money from specific brands—this is popular among review bloggers. Bloggers can also sell digital or physical products on their websites. You can also use a blog to build a personal brand that helps you get speaking gigs, television deals, or big contracts from clients.
9. Consider freelancing
The easiest way to make money online is to take your current job in your 9-to-5 role and do it online instead. For example, if you’re a writer, administrative assistant, graphic designer, teacher, developer, etc., you can market these skills and find clients online who are willing to pay you to apply them.
There’s a never-ending list of job platforms for each type of freelancer too. For example, freelance writers can apply for jobs on specific online writing job boards, but also on general freelance websites like Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork, and all the others. If you find that your skills can’t be directly used to create income streams, you can try monetizing other transferable skills you may have.
To make money online as a freelancer, you need to start by building out a strong portfolio. That may mean doing some free work with some reputable mid-tier brands to start. Once you create a strong portfolio, you can reach out to potential big clients to earn more money online. Remember, freelancing is a numbers game: the more personalized emails and applications you fill out, the more likely you’ll be to get a response back.
10. Create an app
If you’re not a developer, you’re probably looking at this money-making idea and feeling a bit stuck. Fortunately, though, you can hire someone with programming skills to build an app for you. Sites like Toptal will connect you with plenty of app developers who are open to working with entrepreneurs to turn their vision into reality.
All you have to do is come up with a unique app idea, identify the audience you want to target, and create a brand image for your product. The programmer you hire will take care of things on the development front.
When it comes to making money on your app, your best bet will be to add it to Google Play and the App Store. And while it may seem counterintuitive, having a free app can help you make more than a paid app. With a free app, you can add ads or premium features to help you make money. Since the free app will attract a higher volume of people, it’ll be easier for you to upsell them.
11. Become a writer
With a growing interest in content marketing, more and more companies are looking for writers who can fill their web properties with great content. The secret to succeeding as a writer is to focus on a specific niche. A lot of writers try to be generalists, writing for a wide range of categories, from food to tech. However, having a niche focus as a writer sets you apart and makes it easier to attract clients in your target market.
When you have experience in the niche, you can add a different perspective to a piece of content. That means you’re not just saying the same thing as every other writer online. And that’s what brands really want to pay for—your thoughts, experiences, and insider perspective on a niche.
When applying for writing jobs, make sure to send relevant samples to the recruiter. If someone asks for a marketing writing sample, send them a marketing writing sample. Don’t send a finance article. Or a fitness one. It’s hard for a hiring manager to know how well you understand the niche’s industry if they can’t see a relevant sample. Apply to opportunities suited to your skills and experience
You can find writing jobs to make money online through the following websites:
12. Do side gigs
Side gigs can help you make money online while you keep your full-time job. If you’re looking to make an extra couple hundred dollars per month, this is a great idea. The work doesn’t always last long-term, but it can.
Use platforms like Fiverr to find part-time gigs that you can do online. As a new entrant in the gig economy, you’ll want to focus on offering a low price so you can get your first review. I’d recommend getting a friend to buy your gig to leave your first review so you can get started faster. Treat the friend like a client and actually deliver a finished product that you can feature in your portfolio.
The thing with Fiverr is that it’s also a numbers game. If you look at top Fiverr users, you’ll see that they have multiple gigs available. The more gigs you have, the more likely you will be found.
If you don’t want to get paid Fiverr prices, you can turn to platforms like FlexJobs to find side gigs. Under its jobs section, you can search for contract or telecommute opportunities. The great thing about the telecommute opportunities on FlexJobs is that you can apply for them in any city in the world.
FlexJobs has a variety of side gigs including writing, business, design, accounting, and more. So if your talents don’t match up with anything else on this list of money-making ideas, you might want to try a side gig from FlexJobs. Applying to multiple opportunities will increase your chances of landing a few gigs in a short period.
13. Do translation work
Translation is a fairly underserved niche, meaning there’s less competition in this field than in other niche markets. To capitalize on the opportunity, you need to be fluent in at least two languages. If you’re bilingual or majored in a popular language in school, this may be a great money-making idea for you to try out.
You will need to show proof of your ability to translate. If you have a language degree or experience translating text, make sure to highlight that in your portfolio or résumé. Most companies will require a translation test, and you can’t use translation tools at any time to help you pass the test.
Sites where you can find translation jobs to make money online include:
14. Sell your stuff
An easy way to make extra cash is to sell the stuff you no longer use. When using this strategy, make sure the items you put up for sale are of value to today’s buyers.
Most people immediately think of selling their junk like old CDs and DVDs. But most people don’t want to buy those things. It’s 2023—are you really going to buy a CD? Probably not. So don’t waste your time trying to sell it.
When you’re thinking about selling your stuff, focus on items like electronics, furniture, toys, and crafts. You can list the same products on multiple platforms, including Amazon, Facebook Marketplace, and your own online store. Multichannel selling will improve your chances of finding customers for your items.
Want to make a great first impression on the customer? Include high-quality product images in your listings. You can hire a Shopify Expert to create product photos for you or take a photography course that equips you with the skills to shoot and edit your own images.
15. Become an online tutor
If you want to make money online on your own schedule, consider becoming an online tutor. Studenomics covered a story of a person who made $2,100 in one semester from tutoring. Interestingly, he built up his client base through word of mouth, visibility, and great group rates.
If you have a teaching degree, you may be more likely to land a tutoring position. Having a degree or experience in a language is essential for this type of job. If you’ve spoken at a conference or event about the topic, you might also be considered for an online tutoring, teaching, or mentoring position.
While sciences and maths often have a high demand for tutoring positions, you’ll also find English popular among international audiences. If you’re an expert on a topic, tutoring may be the right platform for you to make money fast.
You can find online tutoring jobs on platforms such as:
16. Drive Your Car
If you own a car, you can make some spare cash as an Uber driver or delivery person. But even if you don’t, you can still deliver food and other essentials using your bicycle or moped. Uber drivers looking to make even more money off their car can turn their vehicle into a moving billboard using Free Car Media. In this case, the company will wrap your car with a removable vinyl featuring an advert for a product or brand.
Want to know how to make money fast driving Uber? If you own your own side business, you can showcase your products to your passengers if they’re interested. Not all will be, though. However, if one expresses interest in your products, you can have products for sale under the driver’s seat for a passenger to sift through. If customers don’t have the cash, you can ask them to pay the cost with Uber’s tip function.
17. Become a virtual assistant
With so many entrepreneurs building businesses, the demand for virtual assistants is increasing almost daily. A virtual assistant is a self-employed individual who provides services to a business from a remote location. Writing, bookkeeping, social media, and customer support are just a few of the services you might offer as a virtual assistant.
You can find relevant gigs on websites like Virtual Office Temps, Indeed, or Upwork. Many virtual assistants have also found ways to make money online by reaching out to brands and entrepreneurs, asking if they’re looking for support in running their businesses. Using a combination of job posting applications and outreach, you’ll land your first client sooner than you might think.
18. Become a Twitch streamer
While Twitch started as a gaming platform, it’s quickly evolving to include other types of content. Nowadays, Twitch streaming is an increasingly popular way to make money online. To make money fast on Twitch, you’ll need to grow your following. If you’re consistent, streaming on this platform can help you build a sizable audience fast.
You’ll need to find a popular game or channel that isn’t overly competitive so people can easily find your content. In order to get people to notice your streams, you’ll need to have a consistent style for your channel: is it going to be funny, educational, or entertaining? Choose your path and stick to it.
There are five ways to monetize your Twitch channel: selling products, brand sponsorships, fan donations, subscriptions, and Twitch ads. As a Twitch streamer, you’ll want to focus on tapping into all five monetization methods to ensure the highest financial gains. With the right strategy and hard work, you can make a lot of money hosting Twitch streams.
19. Invest in stocks
You can also make money fast by investing in stocks. If you aren’t an expert in picking stock, you might want to skip this money-making idea. While it can have one of the highest rewards, it can also result in money loss if you’re inexperienced.
If you currently hold a 9-to-5 job, look into your company’s financial programs. Do they allow you to invest in company stocks? If so, sign up for it. At least with a company stock program, you have some influence on the organization’s success as an employee. If your company has an RRSP matching program, you can also sign up for that if your goal is to save up for retirement or a down payment on your first home.
20. Sell Your photography
Whether you’re a professional photographer or just love snapping great pictures, you can make money online by selling your images. Sites like Shutterstock and Alamy are great places to showcase your work. These websites pay royalties to photographers when someone downloads a copy of their image.
If you’re looking to monetize your photography quickly, you can create a listing on Foap, a smartphone app that lets you upload your works and earn cash. When an agency, brand, or anyone else buys a photo or video from your digital Foap portfolio, the app creator shares the profit with you 50/50.
21. Sell clothes online
You likely have clothes you haven’t worn in the past year and don’t have any intention of ever wearing again. Rather than letting them take up space in your closet, why not make money off of them?
Whether you sell your clothes, handbags, or shoes, there are quite a few websites that allow you to sell your used fashion items. Poshmark, Refashioner, The RealReal, ThredUp, and Tradesy are a few online sites where you can sell apparel for cash.
You could make money online by selling on several different platforms. If you’re looking to drive sales offline, you can use Facebook buy and sell groups in your community to find people online and sell the items in person. I’ve personally sold through these groups before and know they work.
22. Become an extreme couponer
When money is tight, coupons can help save you a few bucks. Plus, sharing coupons can help you make money online. Coupon Chief, for example, offers a Pays to Share program, where customers receive some percentage of sales from the coupons they share on the platform. You’ll need to add coupons that haven’t already been shared. In return, you’ll make a 2% to 3% commission.
It’s like affiliate marketing, where you share referral links and get a commission when someone buys through your link. Coupon companies are known to pay their affiliates regularly, so it’s a legit way to earn money online. Coupon Chief has already paid over $1.3 million in commissions to its users.
23. Buy and sell domain names
If you regularly buy domain names but fail to use them, you can always try to sell them for a profit. Selling domains is ultra-competitive, though. If you own a one-word .com domain, you’ll have a better chance of selling. Words that have a high search volume sell well too.
Also, domains that are on trend now have a better chance of selling. For example, a few years back, fidget spinner domains were an easier sell than they are today. You can search for domain names and buy a custom domain through the Shopify domain registration platform.
You can sell your domains on GoDaddy’s Domain Auction. Look through the domains with the highest bids to see what type of domains sell well. It’ll help you know whether or not your domains are worth selling and how much money you can make selling them.
24. Sell your designs online
Graphic design is an amazing skill that you can monetize in several ways. You can go the print-on-demand route and sell your designs on your own custom products. Alternatively, you can pitch your designs on a crowdsource platform like 99designs. There’s also the option to create your own graphics and templates to sell on marketplaces like Envato or Creative Market. Or how about picking up some clients and working as a freelance graphic designer? According to PayScale, this role will net you $29.90 per hour, on average.
25. Review apps and websites
If you’re passionate about user experience, UserTesting pays reviewers $10 to give other entrepreneurs feedback on their websites and apps. You’ll be given a set of questions that you need to answer as you browse through a site. That’s one fast way to make money online.
You’ll communicate your ideas and feedback to the entrepreneur through a video while navigating their website or app. Your video is only 20 minutes long, so if you do three videos per hour, you’ll make $30. Other reviewers can take projects quickly, so you have to act fast when a new website or app needs to be reviewed.
26. Get a part-time job
When you’ve done whatever it takes to make money fast but struggle to make an impact, sometimes you’re left with no choice but to get a part-time job. You can browse part-time jobs on Indeed or a niche job board that caters to your field.
Some job websites require an upfront fee to register, so read the fine print carefully. Most sites let you filter for part-time and contract-based jobs, so you should have no problem finding relevant positions to apply for. With many companies hiring part-time, it’s easier than ever to make money online without working a full week.
27. Become a TikTok consultant
One of the trendiest ways to make money online is to become a TikTok consultant. Brands will contact you for brainstorming video ideas, developing engaging bios, and more. It’s the perfect money-making opportunity for digital nomads—you can run the entire business from your smartphone. Compared to Instagram, TikTok is relatively new and untapped, so helping brands establish a solid presence on the app can potentially make you a fortune.
However, you need to have a few talents before you begin offering TikTok consultancy to businesses. The most important is knowing how to create viral videos that get people to engage with brands. If you don’t have the expertise to drive sales through this platform, you can still learn how to attract customers by taking this TikTok course.
28. Sell greeting cards online
If you have a knack for picking out the perfect greeting card for different occasions, this might be an easy way to make money online. However, I don’t recommend that you market your services to everyone and anyone—it’s not a smart way to do business. Instead, design or source greeting cards that appeal to a certain segment of the population.
For example, you can make greeting cards that cater to C-level executives wanting to thank their senior vice presidents for making profitable decisions last year. Or you can target health care professionals wanting to thank their patients for choosing their clinic. For designing the cards, you can use an online graphic tool like Photoshop or Canva. These tools make it easy to put together nice-looking cards that will cheer anyone up.
How will you make money online in 2023?
Making money online can help you stay afloat during these troubled times, but it can also help you escape your 9-to-5 job so you can become a full-time entrepreneur. By brainstorming online business ideas and choosing to start an online business, you gain more financial freedom, improve your financial security, and inch closer to living life on your terms.
It really is possible to earn a living online if you work hard and stick with it. So, which money-making idea will you pursue first?