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5 Ways to Actually Make Money Online

There are plenty of ways to make money online—but you have to be patient, smart, and creative.

By
Eric Escobar
6-minute read
Episode #192
The Quick And Dirty
  1. Take online surveys 
  2. Complete odd jobs
  3. Freelance out your skills
  4. Use affiliate links
  5. Hack websites (legally!) 

You're scrolling through Facebook when you see an ad about how you can make thousands of dollars online from home. You probably wince and think there's no way it's anything but a scam. While the claims you can make thousands of dollars in an hour likely are a sales gimmick, there are plenty of ways to make money online doing things that you love.

Just keep in mind you will not get rich quick, and that it will take hard work and patience.

How Should You Get Paid?

One of the first things to consider when working online is how you are willing to get paid. There are some websites that will pay you in credits to their site—say in the form of a gift card or a subscription. Other websites will pay to a PayPal account or to your bank account, just like a typical employer would.

Now payment method can vary pretty substantially depending on the type of work you are doing, and I would strongly recommend using a service such as PayPal to receive payments at first. The reason for this is that PayPal offers protections on withdrawing and depositing money, and they’ve been in the online payment space longer than most everyone else.

The idea here is to avoid giving out any kind of banking information to a company that you do not have a track record with. There have been many scams that try to snag as much information as possible from you in order to withdraw money for an account, or to try to steal you information and identity. In either case, being paid with PayPal for a while doesn’t hurt and keeps you safe.

Work for Yourself or Someone Else?

Now that we have squared away where the money goes, let’s talk about what you can do online to make money. There are two distinctions to be made: you can work for yourself or you can work for someone else. As you start out, you will most likely find that doing work for an existing company will be more lucrative. This is because an existing company will already have customers, a product or service, and a method of work. This means that you should expect a regular paycheck for work, and that you only have to worry about your specific task.

The other option is to work for yourself, which can be more difficult. It requires you to find customers, deal with billing, make a website, produce audio or video content, and figure out how to monetize it all. While this is challenging, it’s can also be much more lucrative in the long run if you’re successful.

Ultimately, what you decide has to work best for you. If you have a full time job already and you’re just looking to make some side income, then working for an existing company will probably take less of your time and you can stop whenever you want. It’s great if you need some extra money around the holidays or if you just want to save some money.

If you’re looking to get out of the corporate rat race, you’ll probably want to start working for yourself. That way you can make your own decisions, and take full share in all of your successes. Just keep in mind that it’s going to be more difficult.

How to Make Money Online

Now let’s get right down to it: what can you actually do to make money online? Well, there are a million different ways but I’m going to group them based upon the type of work that’s available.

Surveys

One really popular way to make money online is to take surveys. Basically you sign up to take surveys about a variety of topics. You can get paid anywhere from $1 to $20 for a single survey. Typically, these come from marketing companies who want data for new products or for market research. While people don't make enough money to live on off this endeavor, an extra couple hundred dollars a month is feasible—and a nice little boost to spending money. If you’re interested, here are some sites where you can make money taking surveys.

Odds Jobs

There are couple of websites I’ve heard great things about such as fiverr.com where you post a skill or problem you can help solve that you charge $5 for. Anything from writing a cover letter, proofreading a paper, translating a document, or making a logo. You just post your skill and if someone needs it you get $5 for completing it. The other odd job I think is interesting is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Amazon will pass you a small job, and you get paid a few cents to complete it.

This could be just looking at a picture of a receipt and typing the total tax. It could be simply identifying what a picture is—say of a dog or a cat, or anything else. The idea behind Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is that people need a job done that only people can do (because computers aren’t good at it) and they need it done fast. Say you had a shoebox full of receipts you wanted to organize: the Mechanical Turk would distribute it the work and get it done in minutes.

Freelance

If you’re looking for any kind of freelance work, it’s all around you. You can get started easily looking through Craigslist for any particular job. This is often the easiest, but some people don’t like dealing with people they don’t know on Craigslist. If you want a more official freelance gigs, then you should check upworks.com. It’s a great source for finding freelancers and hiring them, or if you have a skill of your own that you’d like to market. For example, if you’d like to write, there are a lot of websites or companies that will pay you for content, articles, and copywriting for their site. The compensation can be low for something like blogging, however, other options such as technical writing or copywriting can pay better. (Check out Who Pays Writers for some honest intel.) Some pay you for the number of views it produces, and some just pay you a flat fee. 

Affiliate links

One of the best ways to make money online is to review products and include affiliate links on your personal or business website. Affiliate links are links to products that if users click and buy that product then you get a percentage of that purchase. One of the most popular affiliate programs is through Amazon.

Did you know that you can help out the QDT Team by buying Amazon products using our affiliate link? Visit www.quickanddirtytips.com/offers for more details!

The best ways I’ve seen this put into practice is a person will setup a website or blog and review products, they will include links to those products on their webpage, if you click their link and buy from Amazon then they get a percentage of each purchase at no cost to the user who bought the item! The reason why I prefer this method is that it allows you to passively make money. One article can reach hundreds, or even thousands, of people. The more people that buy using your links, the more money you make. Period. You can make money months after you publish an article without any extra work.

Hacking

Another less known way to make money is through white hat hacking, which is—GASP!—completely legal. There are two types of hacking: white hat and black hat. Black hat is where people hack illegally to break in, steal information, or just cause harm. White hat hacking is where you try and find vulnerabilities in a system so that black hats can’t break in. Legal hacking is done when you have permission from a company or individual to test the security of their system, website, server, product, etc. 

There are a number of companies that provide servers and websites for anyone to try and hack. If you’re successful, then you can receive a bounty of anywhere from $50 to thousands of dollars. Sure, you’d need some specific skills, but if you’re looking to make money and are already a tech savvy, computer guru, this is a great way to get started.

If you check out the website bugcrowd.com, they have a comprehensive list of companies that you can legitimately try to hack. It’s a pretty cool way to get started with programming and hacking, and if you’re really good, you can stand to make a lot of money!

Now I would love to hear about any ways that you’ve made money online. Also check out my post how to make money with YouTube.

Be sure to check out techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com.

I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!

About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.