Whether you’re looking to escape the 9-to-5 grind or you just want to earn some beer money on the side, there are plenty of ways to turn your skills and interests into cold hard cash online.
Sure, making money online sounds like a daydream. The truth is, starting a business or online store of any kind is hard work, but countless people have already done it and chances are you can too.
We’re not about to tell sell you one simple life-changing trick or a dream of driving Lamborghinis in the Hollywood Hills. Instead, we’ve put together a collection of simple ideas that you can use to start a real business, without quitting your day job (unless you really want to).
Let’s get started!
1. Build a Dropshipping Empire
Think you need a warehouse full of inventory to run your own business? Think again!
Dropshipping is a great way to kickstart your very own business on a budget. You can hit the ground running by sourcing a pre-existing product from a supplier and having them take care of everything else, including packaging and fulfillment.
This process let’s you skip over a lot of obstacles that might be holding you back from starting your own business, especially finding out if there’s a market for your product without placing a huge order upfront.
Why Choose Dropshipping?
- Your store doesn’t need to stock products in a physical location, meaning that your cashflow won’t get tied up in inventory.
- Whenever a purchase is made, you place an order with a third party and they’ll handle the rest of the process for you. Since you don’t have to deal with things like tracking inventory or mailing packages, dropshipping takes care of a lot of potential headaches.
- No warehouse means that you can run your business from anywhere. Whether it’s your living room or the cafe down the street, you decide where you want to work from.
If you’re interested in dropshipping, read our Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping to learn everything you need to know about getting started.
If you’re not sure what you want to sell, here are some strategies for narrowing down the perfect product:
- How to Find a Product to Sell Online (Including 10 Trending Product Ideas)
- 10 Places Ecommerce Entrepreneurs Go to Find Product Ideas
- How I Imported Gaming Glasses with Alibaba and Made $2416.51 in 5 Weeks
2. Start Your Own Clothing Line
As long as you have some designs in mind and a little bit of time on your hands, you can get your own clothing company off the ground in less than a day.
If you own a Shopify store, you can set up your own clothing line using plugins like Printify, Printful, and Merchify that automatically link your store to apparel printers. They handle every step of the retail fulfillment process for you, giving you the freedom to design and ship a wide range of pieces right out of the gate.
Why Start a Clothing Line?
We used Printful to set up THINK PUP, an apparel store for dog owners, and ended up making over $1,200 in just three weeks. With some time and research, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful t-shirt company for yourself.
Want to get started? Read our comprehensive walkthrough, How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business: The Ultimate Guide.
From crafting your brand’s story to promoting your products with influencer marketing, we’ve curated some handy resources that will help grow your apparel business every step of the way:
- 22 Awesome T-Shirt Templates and Mockups for Your Clothing Line
- Small Business Ideas: How to Start an Online T-Shirt Business
- 4 Creative Ways to Promote Your Product Through an Influential Fashion Blogger
3. Sell Your Art Online
An online store is a great way to sell your art and monetize your creativity. Whether you’re a painter, photographer, or musician, there are plenty of ways for you to turn your latest set of masterpieces into a stable revenue stream with a beautifully designed ecommerce website.
If painting or photography is your forte, you can sell your work as prints, canvases, and framed posters using Printify or Printful with your Shopify store. This is a fantastic way to turn your art into something tangible that people can take home and make a part of their space.
Is music your thing? You can sell your beats, songs, samples, and more as digital downloads and grow your own online music empire.
Just take a look at The Drum Broker, the largest online drum sample business in the world. They created a successful and sustainable business model with the help of apps like FetchApp and ShipStation.
Why Sell Your Art?
Ready to build a storefront for your art? Get started with these:
- How an Entrepreneur from Alaska Built the Biggest Hip-Hop Drum Sample Business in the World
- John Kraft: How to Sell Art Online
- From Artist to Entrepreneur: How Eric Rosner Put His Passion on Pillows
4. Become a Freelance Writer, Designer, or Developer
Writers, developers, and graphic designers are in high demand. As a freelancer, you’ll be able to put your talents to good use by helping people across the world with their projects (while making some quick money on the side, of course).
Freelancing doesn’t mean committing to month-long projects that eat away at your free time either, you can easily pick up bite-sized tasks that fit into your schedule.
It’s worth noting that Fiverr is a little different from a traditional job board - as the name suggests, all the posted jobs cost five dollars. The key to making big money on Fiverr lies in carefully setting up your offers, so that you can easily upsell for more money.
For instance, you could offer to write a 150 word introduction for a blog post as your initial $5.00 service. As an upsell for your clients, you could charge another $10.00 for every additional 150 words. Although this might not seem like much, you can tweak your services until you’ve found a combo that makes it worth your while.
If you want total control over how much you can charge, create a Shopify store. You can list your services as products and disable shipping since you won’t actually be physically delivering anything to your customers. You can also use apps like BookThatApp and Events Calendar to give your customers the option to schedule appointments.
If freelancing sounds like it might be a good fit for your lifestyle, we’ve put together some great articles that can help you make the most of your time and be more productive. Take a look:
- 7 Ways to Be More Productive While Working from Home
- 5 Handy and 5 Hilarious Things You Can Buy for Your Business on Fiverr
- 8 Tips for Highly Productive Entrepreneurs
5. Teach an Online Course
Teaching an online course is a solid way to generate passive income. All you need to do is put together a video walkthrough explaining a subject that you’re familiar with and then host it on your own personal website.
Although it takes some effort up front, if you manage to design a popular high-value video tutorial series, you could be making money on a regular basis as people continue to enrol in your courses.
To start creating your first online course, brainstorm a topic that you know well enough to teach someone how to do from scratch. This can be literally anything - music production, social media marketing, web development - you name it.
Next, you’ll want to grab a screencasting app like Screenflow to record your screen and voice while you walk your viewers through your tutorial. Screenflow also comes with a built-in video editing suite, allowing you to shoot and cut your videos all on the same platform.
Why Teach an Online Course?
- With an online course, you can literally set it and forget it. Take an afternoon to build an online course and you could be reaping the benefits for weeks.
- You already have the knowledge, you just need to share it. Focus on teaching something that you’re already an expert at and the rest will come naturally, whether it’s building iOS apps, creating monthly budgets, or running Facebook ad campaigns.
- Teaching someone a new skill is its own reward. While there’s definitely money to be made in teaching online courses, helping other people is always a satisfying experience unto itself.
Thinking about sharing your skills with the world? Here are some inspirational TED Talks and podcasts to get your brain moving:
6. Flip Your Thrift Store Finds
If you love hitting up thrift stores and hunting down great deals, then opening up an online boutique to sell your secondhand treasures is a natural next step.
Your potential customers want to buy cool stuff, but they don’t want to dig through old soccer jerseys and braided belts to get their hands on that one amazing find. Take advantage of this by positioning yourself as a trustworthy curator who can go out and uncover those great pieces for them.
Why Sell Your Thrift Store Stuff?
- Put your shopping addiction to work. Let’s face it, you’d be combing through thrift store racks anyway, so you might as well make some money while you do it.
- The margins are huge. That $2.00 Radioshack ball cap you found over the weekend? It’s now a $40.00 vintage vaporwave strapback.
- You aren’t just selling products, you’re selling something unique. Nowhere else on the Web will people be able to find the collections that you’ve put together.
Sometimes a passion for secondhand curiosities is all it takes to kickstart a business. Windy Gaming, an online store dedicated to selling vintage video games, started when its owner received a box of old Japanese games from a friend and wanted to sell them online. Now, Windy Gaming generates $1,000 per week sending retro gaming gear across the world.
Want to turn your cool stuff into pizza money? Take a look at these guides to making your products look great in photos:
- 7 Steps to Beautiful DIY Apparel Product Photography
- 10 Common Jewelry Product Photography Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)
7. Publish Your Own Book
It’s okay to admit it: You’ve probably thought about publishing your own book someday. While seeing your name on a list of best sellers might seem like a pipe dream, it’s actually not that far out of reach.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a science fiction novel, a marketing guide, or a children’s picture book, there are now plenty of options for successfully self-publishing your own work.
From releasing your writing as an ebook with the Digital Download app to on-demand printing services like Blurb and CreateSpace, there are many different ways for you to become a published author and sell your book online.
To sell ebooks through your online store, install the Digital Downloads app and you’ll instantly be able to stock digital files as products. Once purchased, your ebooks will be sent to your customers via email or as a direct download link.
If you choose to sell physical copies of your books, you’ll just need to place an order with Blurb or CreateSpace whenever your work is purchased. They’ll custom print your book and handle the entire storage and fulfillment process.
Why Publish a Book?
Ready to live out your dreams of being a published author? These resources will help you out on your way to the top:
- The Malcolm Gladwell Guide to Starting a Business
- Hacking the Press: Clever Ways to Get Free Press Coverage with Zero Budget
It’s Time to Start Your Business
If you've been wondering how to make money online, it's time to get out there start a business. Focus on taking your first steps toward success with our guide to getting started, 50 Ways to Make Your First Sale.Have any more questions about setting up your first side business? Let us know in the comments below.
About the AuthorKevin Donnelly is a content creator at Shopify with an unhealthy Drake obsession.