How To Make Money Online

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Danielle Kubes is a trained journalist and investor who has written about personal finance for the past six years. Her writing has been published in The Globe and Mail, National Post, MoneySense, Vice and Danielle writes about investing and personal finance for Wealthsimple. She has a Bachelor of Humanities from Carleton University and a Master of Journalism from Ryerson University.

Making extra money used to require working nights at the mall and spending your Saturday nights babysitting someone else’s kids. While those methods are awesome, there’s a new, potentially easier and faster way to make money: online. Your online hustle may occasionally require you to get dressed and leave your house, of course, but it’s usually on your own schedule.

If you’re interested in building wealth, then bringing in some extra dough is a great way to do it. While you can cut back on spending, there’s a limit to frugality. At a certain point, you probably can’t trim your budget further and you need to make extra money.

Best ways to make money online

Here are a few:

  1. Invest

  2. Sell things you no longer need

  3. Transcribe text

  4. Freelance in a creative industry

  5. Teach English to international students

  6. Start an ecommerce store

  7. Sell photos to stock photography sites

  8. Board a dog for a few nights

And there's more! We did the research, and compiled the best ways to make money online—from the easiest, to the fastest and to everything in between. You may want to try a few different methods out to see what works best for you. There's no one-size-fits-all guide, so think about your schedule, your interests, and how much spare time you have to dedicate to your new online hustle.

If you don’t need your extra earnings to pay the bills, consider funneling them into a high-interest savings product, or into an investment product to grow your net worth. This way, you’re using the money you made online, to make more money online.

How to make money online fast

Ready to get started? All you need to start is a solid WiFi connection, a computer, and some sort of work surface—and, since you’re reading this article, we bet you have most of those things already.

1. Sell things you no longer need

With the advent of online classified ads, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay it’s never been easier to connect with willing buyers. Simply post a few pictures online of your unwanted stuff—furniture your children have outgrown, the Ikea bookcase stuck in the garage, that vase you got as a wedding gift but secretly hate. Make sure your items look presentable, and use good lighting when taking your photos. Impressing buyers can often mean extra cash! Selling stuff you don't need is a quick way to make a few hundred bucks and organize your life at the same time.

2. Transcribe text

Transcribing text involves listening to recorded audio and typing out what you hear. Journalists, doctors, lawyers and many other professionals outsource this kind of work because it can be a time suck. When it comes to transcribing text, there’s a low barrier to entry and you choose your own hours. The only skills you need are good hearing and quick typing, although you get paid more if you have a legal or medical background.

If you sign up with a transcription agency, like TranscribeMe! , GotTranscript, or Rev, the jobs will come to you. TranscribeMe! says you can earn between ​22 an hour to transcribe one hour of audio, which takes about four to five hours of work. Rev says their average monthly earnings are ​3,000 extra a year, a nice start to an emergency fund or investment account. Many of these agencies pay out weekly in U.S. dollars via PayPal.

To get started, make sure you have a comfortable, quiet workspace and a good pair of headphones. You can practice transcribing sample audio before doing the real thing to see if it's something you can do quickly and effectively. Then you're all set to get started.

3. Get a high-interest savings product

Switching to a high-interest saving product is one of the fastest ways to make money with minimal effort. If you have ​200 a year. By switching to a 2% account you earn ​21,025, while at 2% interest, you end up with about ​1000 bucks for just a few minutes of filling out online forms. This doesn't account for fees, taxes, inflation or any other of that fun stuff that you should watch out for. Fees are like savings termites—they'll chew right through those nice savings you accumulated, so it's best to do your checks.

4. Rent out your stuff

Have space in your driveway? Rent out a parking spot. Have a kayak? Rent it out to a family heading to the cottage on the weekend. Have a kitchen mixer? Rent it out to someone who wants to try a new recipe. One easy-to-use platform is Ruckify, co-founded by Bruce Linton, who also started the biggest cannabis company in Canada, Canopy.  You post the goods and set the price. Once the transaction has been completed, and your item has been returned in good condition, they send you the money, minus a 10% commission and any other applicable fees. Craigslist is also a good bet if you’re looking to rent out your stuff without any commission eating into your returns, but since it doesn’t offer user reviews you’ll have to do the vetting yourself.

ItemHow much you could make
Ice Skates$14/hour
Cordless Chain Saw$15/day
PlayStation 3$15/day
Karaoke Machine$50/day

Easy ways to make money online

You're busy with your day job, your kids, your hobbies, and, let's face it, you don't have a lot of time or mental energy to put into a second job (and frankly, you don't really want another one to begin with). But what if we told you that it's easy to make money online? That you can do it without switching your normal behaviours, but by simply taking advantage of better and more efficient investment platforms, credit cards, and cashback shopping sites and using whatever spare time you have to answer a few questions. Because you can. Here's how:

5. Invest money

Investing money—perhaps the very money you made online is another way to potentially make more money. Before you make trades you should know that investing (particularly stock picking) is notoriously risky. It's absolutely not a “sure” way to make money online. In fact, not only could you not make money—you could also end up losing everything you invested. You'll need to ask yourself if you can afford to take the risk that comes with investing or do a free risk survey that many robo-advisors offer.

Investing has become incredibly easy. It used to be that you had to call or visit a broker (you could find one in the yellow pages) and pay a hefty commission to buy equities or bonds. You were paying for the broker’s advice, their management of your portfolio and for the people who headed down to the pit to shout an wave their hands wildly. If you wanted to contribute on a monthly basis to take advantage of dollar-cost averaging, you had to write out and mail a cheque every month. And unless you had thousands to spare, it was hard to justify the time, energy and fees involved in the process (fees of just 1 to 2% means you can lose up to 40% of your expected investment returns—yikes!). But the internet democratized investing along with everything else, and you can now start investing with the click of a button. Account minimums are a thing of the past—you can get started for as little as $1.

Don't want to do a ton of work to figure out what stocks to buy? Not sure you have the time to do all of that "qualitative research"? Good news, algorithms can do that for you and automate your contributions, rebalancing across asset classes and reinvesting dividends.

Over 15 to 20 years (we did said this was a long-term strategy) you can expect a 4-5% return with a diversified portfolio.

6. Take advantage of credit card rewards

Signing up for a multiple rewards credit cards is a painless way to make money online. You can earn up to 10% cash back during an introductory period, and one to three per cent thereafter. Not to mention the signup bonus that many cards offer. Before you take out a credit card for rewards and points, you should make absolutely sure that you can pay it back.

Different payback structures exist: You may simply get a flat rate, or get rewarded for loyalty, like shopping at a particular gas station, or even earn different rates for specific categories, like an extra percentage points for recurring bills. You can usually choose if you want a cheque or for the amount to be applied against credit card balance. Watch out for high-interest rates charged by credit card providers. And remember, this plan only works if you avoid interest charges, so pay off your balance in full every month and don't actually build up debt.

7. Get cashback when you shop online

You’re going to shop online anyway, right? Might as well make some money off of it! Sites such as Ebates and the The Great Canadian Rebate offer you between .05 to 8% cash back for about 750 popular stores, including Amazon, Nordstroms and The Gap. All you do is sign up, then visit their site and click through to the store. (They get a commission for directing your traffic).

Ebates tallies your rewards automatically, and pays out every three months by a cheque or PayPal while Canadian Rebate pays monthly via PayPal when your balance reaches ​40. Depending on how much you shop, you could earn anywhere from $5 to hundreds of dollars. Consider boosting your discount by also paying for purchase with a cash-back credit card.

8. Participate in market research

Companies are always looking for insights into their products, and it’s easy to participate in online focus groups or do surveys for some extra dough.

After you sign up with a research agency, you select for studies that can be done remotely, or take place in your area. Then you answer some questions to see if you represent their target market. Some research studies only want parents, for example, or IT professionals. You may also need to link to a social media profile to verify your background. If you qualify, you simply participate in the scheduled study. Studies can range from 15 minutes to two hours.

One of the more reputable sites is Respondent. They say their average payout is ​500 for specialty occupations, but they sometimes charge a 5% commission. They pay via PayPal within a week or so of research completion.

User Testing is also a great way to make money in your downtime. Each assignment takes 20 minutes and consists of recording your visit to a website and completing tasks. You share your candid opinions aloud into a mike as you navigate it, and then answer four follow-up written questions. You get paid $10USD via PayPal for every 20-minute video you complete.

Another option is answering questions on survey sites. These are generally easier to qualify for than focus groups and take around five minutes. The payout is also correspondingly lower: around ​5 per survey, so you’ll likely want to sign up to multiple sites to ensure you’re getting enough surveys to make it worth your while. Most of these sites pay out USD via PayPal and are open to international respondents. But be wary: The space is littered with scammers and sites that give gift cards instead of cash. SurveyPolice offers a directory of online sites with reviews and a discussion forum so you can protect yourself and find the best opportunities. Two well-rated companies are Paidviewpoint and Prolific.

How to make money online from home

We all know that professional productivity and sleep are correlated. Why not maximize both by working from home? Millions of potential clients are now accessible through the click of a button. You're no longer limited to customers in your neighbourhood, or even country. What you can think up to sell them is endless. Whether it's new language skills, funny t-shirts or a beautiful piece of art, the only thing you need is initiative and a reliable internet connection. Here's some inspiration:

9. Tutor English as a second language

You likely qualify to teach international students English online if you’re a native English speaker from America or Canada and have a bachelor degree. Although it helps, no teaching degree is usually necessary. But an openness to other cultures along with patience and a cheerful attitude is always helpful. You can earn well above minimum wage and choose your own hours, making it a fairly lucrative, rewarding, and flexible way to make money online.

Many of the top teaching platforms are based out of China, where the demand for English education is high. Parents there are highly motivated to teach their children English in order increase their education and job opportunities in a globalized world. So it's no surprise that some of the highest paying sites are centred around one-on-one tutoring sessions with Chinese children. The best part? Since many of these sites pair the children which whatever teacher is available at the preferred time slot, they plan the curriculum and design the lesson materials for you to ensure consistency. That means you get to do the fun part of teaching—the actual teaching part—while getting to skip out on the drudgery of prep and grading and communicating with parents.

To get hired on one of these platforms you'll have to apply and do an interview. Note that you may need to buy an external microphone and camera.

VIPKID, a popular site for this kind of work, provides the lesson plan and pays a set rate of up to $22USD an hour, plus bonuses for referrals, making class on time and teaching more than 45 classes per month. They have more than 200,000 students and are investing millions in their platform.

Dada runs on a similar concept and pays once a month via direct deposit. You choose your availability and Dada assigns students to you. Each lesson is about 30 minutes, and you must work at least 10 hours a month.

If you're interested in working outside of the Chinese market check out a platform like Preply, which has a completely different business model. They have 25,000 tutors teaching 40 languages to over 100,000 students from more than 160 countries annually.

Once accepted, tutors can offer their services teaching any language they are proficient in and set their own prices. They have to work at attracting students through an engaging profile, good reviews, and a high search ranking. But a tutor is required to offer the first lesson free. Afterward, if a student is satisfied, he can purchase and prepay for a package of lessons, from which Preply takes a commission of 18 to 33 per cent.

10. Sell photos to stock photography sites

Why not monetize your point-and-shoot hobby? Think of all the blogs, influencers, and businesses that need visuals. But most people don’t have the time or the skill to take pictures themselves, so they end up buying them from a stock photography site like AdobeStock, ShutterStock, or Alamy. In turn, those stock sites pay photographers a commission of about 15 to 50% every time a photo is downloaded.

Another way to make money off amateur photography is to sell your photos on an array of products, like framed prints, canvas wraps, posters, mugs, phone cases, and more. Platforms like Visual Society handle the work of actually printing your photos on the products and shipping it out, along with website hosting, marketing, and payment processing. You merely have to upload your photos and decide on the profit margin. You earn the difference between what they charge for a product and what you want to sell it for. For example, it costs ​112.50. You get paid out the difference, of $37.50.

You can upload six photos to your store at a time for free, or it’s ​25 a month for unlimited uploads.

11. Rent out your home or a room online

Renting out your home or a room through an online platform like Airbnb can be lucrative. You choose the rate and pay Airbnb a 3% commission. Homes and rooms in urban centres and in cute country towns are especially high in demand. Why not decamp to your parent’s house for a festival and rent out your downtown apartment for the weekend? Airbnb estimates that renting out a private room in your urban home for one guest could earn you $843 CAD a month, which could make a significant dent in your rent.

12. Freelance editing, design, animation or marketing

Why not take your creative skills and put them to work? If you have an excellent command of the English language, you can charge others for editing and proofreading their work. Or, if you have a college diploma in animation, why not create one of those animated explainer videos for businesses that are popular these days? Better yet: get into ebook creation! Opportunities abound.

A popular option for starting out is to find clients on bidding sites like Fiverr or Upwork. The platform gets a commission and you can advertise your work or apply to projects. Once you get more established, think about creating your own website to showcase your work. Then you can get clients through word of mouth or cold calling.  And, once you become a superstar freelancer, you can stack your income by creating a course (see below) teaching others the ropes.

13. Start teaching courses online

You may be surprised at the knowledge you can monetize. If you’re a whiz at any kind of specific software, for example, people will pay you to explain how to use it in clear language, and walk them through common troubleshooting issues. Or maybe you’re a fitness buff. Why not create a how-to-get-six-pack-abs-in-two-months course? Creating a course can be a big investment of time upfront, but once it’s completed it turns into a passive stream of income. Coursera, Udemy, and Teachable offer blueprints and advice that makes it easy for instructors to get started. And they handle all the payment processing and video hosting.

14. Start an ecommerce store

Starting an ecommerce store is far cheaper than renting a storefront. Shopify makes it easier than ever to start and manage an online store. They have free how-to guides on starting a business that includes what to sell and how to market it, how to accept online payments, and even provide a business name generator if you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas.

Consider starting by designing and selling mugs or t-shirts online. You can use Shopify’s print-on-demand service.  Tucker Schreiber, a former Wealthsimple product manager and current entrepreneur, built a business selling funny dog t-shirts and sold $1,248.90 in three weeks! He's not even a huge dog person—he just saw how passionate people are about their pets and marketed to that community. There's plenty of opportunity for you to do the same.

Or perhaps you already know what you want to sell. Maybe you love to craft or fix up furniture and are looking for some place to hawk your wares. In that case, consider Etsy It charges about a 10% transaction and payment processing fee, and a ​3.9 billion. With those numbers, there’s definitely room for you.

15. Start pet sitting

Pet sitting is a great gig if you love animals. You can meet clients through apps like Wag or Rover, and then set your own schedule and prices for any combination of pet care services you choose. Most people earn anywhere from ​20 to walk a dog, and ​60 to board a furry friend overnight, minus a 20% commission.

16. Give expert answers online

If you’re a carpenter, lawyer, mechanic, or another kind of highly-skilled worker, you can get paid to answer people’s questions on Just Answer. Once you prove your skills and get approved, you can make a few dollars for every question you answer. Once you’ve earned more than $

25 you get paid via PayPal monthly. For those in the startup world, you can use your hard-won expertise on Clarity, to advise entrepreneurs over the phone on everything from email marketing techniques to growth hacking. You get anywhere from ​16USD a minute, minus a 15% commission. It’s a great option if you’re a busy venture capitalist and are tired of giving away your advice for free. The next time a would-be-entrepreneur asks you for your opinion, kindly direct them to your Clarity profile which clearly states how much your time is worth.

17. Monetize a blog through affiliate links

Affiliate links are one of the top ways bloggers make money. These are basically kickbacks from directing readers to specific shopping websites.

Let’s say makeup is your passion and you’ve worked hard on designing a blog. One way to earn money is to create a monthly post on your top 10 favourite lip glosses and insert a shopping link for each product. You get a cut of the sale for every reader who clicks the links and buys it. Sometimes you even get a cut of the sale of anything else your reader buys on that website within the next day or two. It’s a win-win: Your reader knows exactly which product you’re talking about and where to find it, and you’re setting up a stream of potential income from each post. A win-win!  Amazon and RewardStyle are two popular affiliate programs to apply for, and here's 15 more.

18. Become an influencer

“Influencer” is one of those job titles that didn’t exist five years ago, but is now a legitimate way to make a living. You can be an influencer in any field as long as you’re passionate and able to build and maintain an audience that trusts your recommendations.

After you’ve chosen a niche, choose a primary platform and start creating high-quality content. Travel, fashion, beauty, and fitness are especially popular areas since they lend themselves well to visuals, while YouTube and Instagram are the most popular platforms. Once you’ve created content that people want to consume, you can start to make money by partnering with brands and affiliate marketing (see above), and creating and selling products.

For example, a fitness influencer who posts compelling photos to Instagram of their workouts every day and builds a following, can eventually start selling to that following—either directly or indirectly: perhaps by offering a special recipe for protein powder, by creating affiliate links to workout equipment, or by creating ads for an athleisure brand who pays them to post ads.

The influencer field changes rapidly—we’re talking every few months—so keep your popularity up by being flexible. Watch out for new platforms, fleeting industry trends, and changing audience tastes.

To make any money from this career, you’ll likely need to build a following of at least 10,000. An influencer with about 10,0000 to 100,000 followers can expect to make around ​500 for a sponsored post while the biggest influencers can make hundreds of thousands a year online.

Want to get the ball rolling and starting earning money online? Why not make it easy and open an account with Wealthsimple Invest, an automated investment platform. Every Wealthsimple client gets state-of-the-art technology, low fees, and the kind of personalized, friendly service you might have not thought imaginable from a low-priced investment service.

Last Updated May 10, 2021

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