Starting a side hustle online and unlocking multiple income streams sounds like a dream come true. Imagine having more time to spend with friends and family and traveling anywhere you want—all while making more money.
The best part? You don’t need to be an expert to get started. Even as a beginner, there are dozens of ways you can start making extra money online.
Here’s how to make money online for beginners (we've an article for more advanced entrepreneurs on how to make money online also). As long as you have an internet connection, you’re good to go.
How to make money online for beginners
1. Get involved in market research
Companies are constantly looking for consumers to test websites and digital products, and to provide feedback on their latest features. The good news is, you don’t have to be a pro at using a product or service to take part in market research—in fact, brands are often looking for people who don’t know much about their product to get their initial thoughts. A video game company, for example, might pay a gaming novice to test out how intuitive the game is for people of all levels.
You don’t have to test games, though. There are plenty of sites that record people using a website or navigating a new product and pay them for their efforts. For example, UserTesting pays $10 for a 20-minute screen recording and survey sites like Swagbucks and Branded Surveys pay respondents for their time.
Startup time: A few minutes to create an account on each site.
Effort: Minimal effort depending on how many surveys or research activities you want to be involved in.
First payout: Immediately.
What to know:
- Most survey and market research sites require participants to be 18 years of age or older.
- Survey sites often have a limited number of paid surveys each month, so be sure to sign up to multiple sites to increase your chances of getting paid.
2. Become an online tutor
Teach what you know. Everyone has something they’re knowledgeable about, whether it’s trigonometry, classic literature books, or Spanish conjunctions. The best part is, you only need to be one step ahead of the person you’re teaching to help them.
Because of this, there are tons of websites that let people from all over the world sell their knowledge to students. And because the majority of lessons are done via video chat (or even text chat), you can work remotely from anywhere.
This industry has exploded during the pandemic, providing people with an easy way to make money online as a beginner, regardless of how much they know about a topic. Sites like TutorMe and Wyzant have an easy setup process and let you advertise your services to potential students in several different countries, whether you’re teaching math, science, English, or another language. If there’s something you’re particularly knowledgeable about, you can create short tutorials or sell your lessons to business owners.
Startup time: A few minutes to create an account on your chosen tutor sites.
Effort: Minimal effort to get started, but it will require a certain amount of commitment to maintain a consistent income.
First payout: One week to one month.
What to know:
- Most tutor sites require tutors to be 18 years of age or older.
- Specializing in a specific topic will help you become an expert and earn more.
- Tutor sites often take a cut of your payment or charge a fee to withdraw your earnings.
3. Sell your clothes and other belongings
Who doesn’t have a never-worn-before shirt tucked away at the back of their closet? Selling your unwanted clothes and other items is a popular way to earn extra cash each month and clear out your home at the same time.
Mobile apps like Poshmark, Etsy, and Craigslist let you upload your clothes, accessories, and other items to a personal storefront and sell them to shoppers all over the world. It’s not just limited to clothing though—consider selling ornaments, knick-knacks, and furniture on eBay or local selling sites.
Startup time: An hour or so to snap photos of your items and upload them to your chosen selling site.
Effort: A bit of effort upfront, but then the only effort required is to either maintain your “storefront” and ship items, if necessary.
First payout: Depends on how long it takes to sell your first item.
What to know:
- Most selling sites require you to take charge of shipping, which can add up after a while.
- Upload your products to multiple sites to increase their chances of selling.
- Most third-party selling apps take a cut of your profit or charge a fee for each listing.
4. Become an affiliate for your favorite products
Brand affiliates receive a unique link from a brand and get rewarded with a commission whenever someone in their network buys a product through clicking that link. Multiple brands offer an affiliate marketing program where you can sign up, get your link, and share it with your friends and family. The best part is you can get paid for recommending products you would recommend anyway.
Amazon’s affiliate program lets you add a unique code to a URL to claim back a portion of the payment if someone you know or referred buys a product (it can be any product in Amazon’s catalog), but there are also individual affiliate programs for different brands and storefronts that make it possible for you to become an affiliate for your favorite brands.
Startup time: A few minutes to generate your affiliate codes.
Effort: Minimal effort upfront, but it can take consistent effort to make a decent chunk of money from affiliate programs.
First payout: One week to one month, depending on the payment terms of your chosen affiliate programs.
What to know:
- The average cut for affiliates is 5% to 30%, so you’ll get more money for selling higher-ticket items.
- Most affiliate programs require participants to be 18 years of age or over.
- It helps to have a strategy in place to make consistent income, either via a blog, an online presence on social media, or a community.
- Most affiliate programs require you to add a disclaimer to your unique link saying that you’ll get a cut of the payment.
5. Start a dropshipping business
Dropshipping allows you to sell products online without having to fulfill or ship orders yourself. Customers make a purchase via your store, which alerts a third-party manufacturer or supplier who then sends the product directly to the customer.
This ecommerce model can be a good way to build a small business. There’s the opportunity to make a lot of money and earn passive income, but there can be a small learning curve to getting started if you don’t know much about setting up your own website or an online store.
However, ecommerce platforms like Shopify make it really simple for even the most novice dropshippers to set up a beautiful store and start getting sales. Choose a pre-made template, drag-and-drop your store and product information, and connect up your chosen dropship suppliers to start selling straight away.
Startup time: A few hours to get your store up and running.
Effort: Dropshipping is the easiest ecommerce business model to get into without knowing much about the industry.
First payout: One month on average.
What to know:
- You can use Shopify’s free trial to see if dropshipping is a good fit for you.
- Successful dropshipping is about choosing the right products; research suppliers and trending categories to get it right.
- Most dropship suppliers require a monthly subscription to sell their products or take a cut of each order.
6. Transcribe recordings
Transcription services are still in high demand thanks to the growing popularity of video and audio content. Transcribing simply means listening to a podcast, video, or audio recording from a YouTube channel and turning it into a text document.
As well as joining gig sites like Upwork and Fiverr that advertise transcribing opportunities, you can often find part-time online jobs as a transcriber for companies in various industries. They sometimes let you work remotely, which means you can earn money from home.
Transcribers can get paid quite well (sometimes upward of $25 per hour), but it helps if you’re a fast typer with a firm grasp on grammar and punctuation in the language you’re transcribing.
Startup time: A few hours to add your profile to gig sites or find relevant jobs.
Effort: If you’re a fast typer, transcribing can be a relatively easy way to make money online. Unless you land a part-time job or a retainer client, you’ll need to look for new work regularly.
First payout: Depends on the payment structure agreed with your clients or employer.
What to know:
- Transcribers can get paid hourly or per minute of recording.
- You don’t need any qualifications to become a transcriber, but having an online certificate can help you stand out.
7. Rent out your stuff
Sometimes people don’t want to buy a product, they simply want access to one for a set period of time—we’re talking things like lawnmowers, kitchenware, cars, and even rooms in your house. Sites like FriendWithA make it possible to rent products like this and pay the owner for the opportunity.
If you’ve got a lot of stuff that’s not always in use or that people might be interested in renting out, why not put it up for hire? This way you can earn a bit of money on items that would otherwise be gathering dust in your shed, cupboard, or garage.
You can even rent your car when you’re not using it or the spare room in your house on a site like Airbnb to make extra money on the weekends.
Startup time: A few hours to upload your products to relevant sites and to browse listings.
Effort: Varies depending on the products you’re renting out; hiring out your car or a room in your house involves more effort than lending someone your kitchen scales.
First payout: Usually immediately.
What to know:
- Sites that rent out products usually require both renters and rentees to be 18 years of age or over.
- Get insurance or choose a site that offers insurance on your products in case they get damaged or lost by someone renting them.
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You don’t need to be an expert to make money online
As you can see from the ideas above, you don’t need any prior experience, in-depth knowledge, or specific skill set to start making money online as a beginner. In fact, there are plenty of ways you can earn some extra income, start a side gig, or create a new career. Try out some of the ideas above and start making money online today.
Making money online for beginners FAQ
What’s the easiest way for beginners to make money online?
- Get involved in market research.
- Become an online tutor.
- Sell your clothes and other belongings.
- Become an affiliate for your favorite brands.
- Start a dropshipping online business.
- Transcribe recordings.
- Rent out your stuff.
Do you need skills or experience to make money online?
No, you don’t need any skills or experience to start making money online. There are plenty of opportunities to make a few bucks online, including selling your clothes, renting out your stuff, transcription services, and teaching something you’re passionate about.
How can I make legit money online as a beginner?
There are many legit ways to make money online as a beginner. As well as selling or renting out your stuff, you can offer transcription services, become an affiliate for your favorite brands, or take part in online surveys and market research and get paid for your time. When you get further down the line, there are lots of business ideas entrepreneurs can get into to earn real money, including selling online courses, or becoming a blogger, freelance writer, or virtual assistant.