Earning online and working from home(anywhere) is something many people think about every day. The good news is that this year, side hustles online are actually a realistic prospect for people with internet connection.
Maybe you already have a full-time job and just want a side gig to focus on in your spare time. Or, you might want to find part-time work to support your family with some extra cash. You may be even considering leaving your job for passive-income entrepreneurship.
Whatever the case — you’ve probably heard that working online requires minimal upfront investment and can scale quickly. It’s also available to people from all walks of life. Freelancers, educators, thought leaders, influencers, coaches and entrepreneurs all make good money online. If you’re a beginner, keep reading to find out how you can join them by taking your work online this year.
20 ways to make money online in 2022
Whether you’re trying to make money on the side, moonlighting on evenings and weekends, or just want to work remotely — there are plenty of things you can try.
The best way to go about earning money online is to start by experimenting with as many suitable options as you can. You’ll want to pick a few with the highest potential, and then finally settle on one or two that you can turn into sustainable businesses down the road.
Monetize your expertise
Why not use the knowledge, skills, or expertise you’ve honed over the years and put it to good use? You can make legitimate money by either offering your skills as a service for others, or sharing what you know to turn your passion into profits.
Almost any creative office job (including data entry, writing, design, and coding) can be turned into a freelance gig, or even a career. In fact, most big companies use freelancers to outsource non-core functions (e.g. bookkeeping or customer service) or quickly scale their operations (e.g. hiring remote sales representatives).
A quick way to start freelancing is to sign up for a freelancing platform (like Fiverr or Upwork). But an even better way to start is to reach out to your ideal clients directly and present your services in a compelling way.
- Time to get started: Immediately. You can pick up a project today, even if you don’t have a professional network.
- Effort: Starting is quick, but you only make money while you work. To scale, you might be able to hire others and create an agency later on.
- Payoff: As a rule, aim for twice your in-house hourly rate. On the higher end, freelance jobs can pay tens of thousands of dollars for a single project.
Unlike freelancing, online courses are digital products that require some upfront preparation but are infinitely scalable. You can create a course once and sell it a thousand times, as long as you promote it online.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? You just need a few tools to get started.
- Time to get started: If you’re already an expert in your field (and have some knowledge to share), building an online course on Thinkific will take you anywhere between a few hours and a few days.
- Effort: You need to spend time upfront researching, writing, and structuring your course. Luckily, you only have to do it once.
- Payoff: Multiples of the price of your course. For example, if you price your course at $50, you’ll earn $50,000 if 1,000 customers sign up.
Learn more about building a successful online course.
Another way to leverage your domain expertise is to become a coach. The demand for coaching is growing rapidly. The International Coaching Federation estimates there are currently more than 70,000 coaches worldwide.
Some types of online coaching you can think about include:
- Life coaching
- Business coaching
- Fitness coaching
- Nutrition coaching
The key is being able to share your experience and knowledge to help others achieve their goals. Start by asking people in your network whether they would pay you for teaching them something you excel at.
- Time to get started: Instant, as long as you have Zoom and WiFi.
- Effort: Building a successful coaching practice takes some background work and a lot of expertise. Most clients tend to come through word of mouth, so you generally have to prove you’re a good coach before you can really scale.
- Payoff: It’s best to become a coach when you can provide outstanding value to someone who’s earlier in their journey. Hence, compensation can range from $50 an hour to hundreds.
If coaching sounds too vague to you, but you still have a skill you’d like to teach (e.g. math, French, guitar), you can easily do so online. Start by looking up requests for tutors online and posting your profile on a few tutoring platforms. (And hey, if that doesn’t work, you could always go put up flyers on the poles in your neighborhood.)
Depending on the demand for your skills, your tutoring might be very occasional or occupy most of your day.
- Time to get started: It might take a few days or weeks to get your first client.
- Effort: Some proactive effort to get good clients is required, but it’ll get easier as information about your services spreads through word of mouth.
- Payoff: Payment is usually immediate but your pricing power will be somewhat constrained by the market average.
Monetize your time
Still working on building up your knowledge and skills? There are still plenty of other ways for you to make money online that don’t require you to be an expert. All you need is free time and an internet connection to take advantage of this next set of money-making opportunities.
There are more entrepreneurs today than ever, and most of them need to delegate administrative tasks to focus on their core business. If you don’t mind scanning through emails, writing birthday wishes, filing expenses, managing social media, and answering the phone, being a virtual assistant might be a great answer to how to make extra money online.
Reach out to entrepreneurs and executives you like. Apply for virtual assistant jobs on various online platforms. There’s definitely more demand than supply here, so you can count on getting your first job pretty quickly.
- Time to get started: A few days or weeks to find the right gig.
- Effort: You might want to read up on how existing virtual assistants organize their workflows and write down some tips to be more efficient. (For inspiration, take a look at how executives hire a virtual assistant.)
- Payoff: Anywhere from $20 to $60 an hour (or even more for top-rated virtual assistants).
If you need money right now, and you don’t want to be burdened with long-term contracts, completing a few online surveys might be the perfect choice.
While taking surveys isn’t necessarily the foundation for a long-term career, it’s a great way to make a few hundred dollars on top of your regular job. And it doesn’t require any specific skills or other responsibilities. (Or, too much of your brain power!)
Start by checking online survey platforms like Survey Junkie, create your profile, and get matched with various surveys. That’s it!
- Time to get started: Just a few minutes.
- Effort: Zero effort required to start. Surveys themselves usually take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.
- Payoff: Individual surveys don’t pay too much, usually no more than $20. Sometimes, you can take surveys for Amazon or Starbucks gift cards as well.
When companies make products, especially digital ones, they want to ensure they understand their target audience. Hence, they frequently test their apps and websites for usability with small focus groups prior to launch.
Usually, all you need to do is to complete a few tasks while being recorded on video or observed by a UX designer.
- Time to get started: Just register on a platform like UserTesting, and you’re good to go.
- Effort: Competition is high, so you need to be quick when a new project is announced.
- Payoff: Reviews can pay around $5 to $10, but you can complete a few in an hour.
Every company that does discovery sessions (e.g. digital agencies) records client meetings and needs them transcribed for later use (e.g. brainstorming advertising campaigns). Podcasting is also a growing industry in need of transcription services.
So, if you’re a fast typer and your grammar and proofreading skills are above average, you can make good money just typing away at home. Check out a platform like Rev to see how easy it is to get started.
- Time to get started: It’s a good idea to practice transcribing short audio clips and build an efficient workflow before you apply for gigs. Deadlines are often very tight!
- Effort: Even though typing doesn’t seem exhausting, don’t count on being able to type at the same speed for eight hours every day.
- Payoff: Expect to get around $1.5 to $3 per minute of audio transcribed.
Some people don’t have a lot of free time to devote to projects and would rather complete micro-tasks when they have a minute here and there. That’s when Amazon’s Mechanical Turk can be a good match.
The Mechanical Turk forum posts small tasks (e.g. classifying receipts or tagging images) that can take as little as a few minutes to do. Each task has a price, so you can choose whether you want to take it on or not.
- Time to get started: It can take a few days to get approved.
- Effort: The work might seem tedious, but you get full autonomy to decide which tasks you want to do.
- Payoff: You’re paid per task after your work has been checked.
Do you have a pleasant voice and love reading aloud? You can turn it into a side gig and try to narrate online articles, commercials, and even audiobooks.
Now a fair warning: Narrating is not for everyone. You need to be able to have full command of your voice. A background in acting would help too. Starting a podcast might be a good idea, as a way to practice.
The industry is also close-knit, so breaking into it requires active networking on your part as well as multiple auditions.
- Time to get started: Significant. Might take a month or more to secure your first project.
- Effort: Narrating is not easy. But depending on your day job, it can feel like a true getaway.
- Payoff: Depends on the project but, on average, narrators get paid wages comparable to other skilled creative professionals.
Monetize physical and digital products
The internet isn’t all zeros and ones — you can also make money by selling actual products online. Both physical and digital products can be huge money-makers, as long as you have the time to invest in creating, marketing, and selling.
If you’re good at writing, you can create a scalable side business by selling books on topics people care about. You might know solutions to some common problems from your professional life, or you can do some research. Then you can aggregate all the available knowledge and package it in a book format.
No printing press or graphic designers are needed — just sell your ebook on Amazon or on your own website. Continue writing books on specific topics and you’ll find your “book portfolio” could earn you a sizeable income in a year or so.
- Time to get started: Significant. Even short eBooks require dozens of hours to write.
- Effort: After you invest a lot of effort upfront, you’ll need to support the launch of the book with some marketing and sales efforts.
- Payoff: Selling books is not a fast way to make money. But as you write more books, sales will start to compound.
Those who are interested in coding and fascinated by startups might think about building an app that solves some problem. The more important the problem, the more popular your app will become. Although knowing how to code is beneficial, it’s not strictly necessary — you can put together a useful app with no-code tools to test your idea first.
- Time to get started: Learning the basics of coding will take at least a few months. But in reality, the industry changes so quickly that learning never ends.
- Effort: If your app becomes popular, you’ll need to set aside quite a bit of time for new features, fixing bugs, and customer support.
- Payoff: Apps, and especially subscriptions, are very scalable. It’s not unusual for successful indie developers to make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
The best time to get into the domain names trade was in the 1990s. The second best time might be now.
As branding gets more and more important, owning good domain names becomes more valuable as well. Domain names with high potential for organic search traffic can in fact start profitable businesses.
- Time to get started: Spend a week or so learning SEO tools required to monitor traffic flows on the web.
- Effort: Low effort once you get started. Good domain names only become available once in a while.
- Payoff: You can make thousands of dollars selling a single domain name, but the income is highly inconsistent and largely out of your control.
If you enjoy making something with your hands (e.g. leather or ceramic goods), you can turn it into a small business by selling your work online.
Etsy is the easiest platform to start on. Just create your own store there for free and post new products as you make them. Who knows, maybe it will turn into a full-blown business over time!
- Time to get started: You can start an Etsy store in less than an hour.
- Effort: Depending on your volume, you’ll need to ship products, provide some customer service, etc.
- Payoff: Likely not a huge money-making opportunity right off the bat, but it should cover the input costs of your craft (e.g. paints, leather, fabric) and your labor. As you grow and find ways to scale production, you can expect to bring in a higher income.
Another popular hobby that can make you some extra cash is photography. Nearly all marketing materials used by companies, whether online or not, require imagery. So there are plenty of stock photo platforms looking for new images all the time.
Go through your photo library and highlight the images you think can be used by others. That’s all you need to get your foot in the door in the photo business.
- Time to get started: Immediate. You can post your photo archive to a stock photo website today.
- Effort: You can invest as much time as you’re comfortable with. Some photographers passively upload existing photos. Others specifically take images they think will be in demand.
- Payoff: Inconsistent and supplementary to your main activities.
Some people are good at predicting which goods are going to be in demand in the near future.
So why not set up an online store selling something people are going to be looking for? You can sell your own products or rely on dropshipping platforms to deliver products for you, without you keeping unnecessary inventory.
- Time to get started: Starting takes at least a few days to over a month, depending on what you’re selling and whether you need to register your online store as a business.
- Effort: A dropshipping store is relatively easy to maintain, whereas a successful ecommerce website will quickly turn into your full-time job.
- Payoff: Selling things people want is one of the fastest ways to make money. However, getting stuck with lots of inventory is a quick way to lose money as well.
Monetize your audience
A large following online isn’t just something you can brag about to your friends — it’s also a really effective way for you to make money online. You can monetize your audience in all sorts of different ways, depending on which channels you’re on and what tactics you’d like to take.
One of the best examples of how to make money online for free is including affiliate links on your blog. For example, you can write a long blog post about a topic a lot of people are interested in. (A new camera review, for example.) Then include an affiliate link to Amazon at the end. Every time people buy the camera on Amazon from your link, you’ll get a cut.
- Time to get started: You need to run a blog with thousands of visits every month. Getting to that point might require a year or so of consistent blogging.
- Effort: Writing a good blog post takes time, but it’ll continue to perform for a few months after being posted, giving you passive income.
- Payoff: Depending on the popularity of your blog and what you’re writing about, you can make anywhere from hundreds of dollars (for cheaper products, like books) to thousands of dollars (for more expensive products, like mattresses).
Having a successful YouTube channel today is like running a talk show 30 years ago. And Google will even pay you advertising revenue for views.
Vlogs, pranks, and how-to videos are especially popular nowadays and don’t require much investment. All you need to do is come up with an interesting concept and execute in a way that keeps people interested.
- Time to get started: At least a few months to get enough views for sustainable income. (Unless you go viral overnight — but that takes a good dose of luck.)
- Effort: Editing even a simple video is a significant time investment.
- Payoff: The best YouTubers make millions. However, most make little to nothing at all.
Brands today like for their message to be spread organically. So they work with lots of micro-influencers (1,000+ followers) on Instagram.
If you have a following, you can monetize it by looking for partnerships and featuring products in your posts and Stories. If your profile is known to be about a specific topic (e.g. skateboarding), then it’ll be easy for brands to identify.
- Time to get started: Developing a successful Instagram profile will likely take a few months.
- Effort: You need to maintain your visibility on social media and regularly post new content.
- Payoff: Micro-influencers can expect to make somewhere in the low single thousands a month. (Although this can be very inconsistent, as well.)
If you have a Twitch following and you want to know how to make fast money online — well, it’s donations! You can monetize your streams this way quite easily, as long as you’re capturing the interest of your audience.
- Time to get started: As with any other media channels, acquiring followers takes time — from months to years.
- Effort: Streamers frequently spend hours being on camera online. If that sounds exhausting, it’s likely not for you.
- Payoff: Most streamers make nothing. But once your channel becomes popular, you can make hundreds and even thousands of dollars per stream.