Income Hacks

Make Money Online [in 2020]: 50+ Proven Strategies

Howtomakemoney

I’ll be honest with you until I started making money online myself, I believed it was just a myth.

I thought the only way to make money online was by sending mass-emails pretending to be a foreign prince who had been deposed and needed $1,000 to get his throne back.

I believed there were no legitimate ways to make money online.

You might feel that way, too.

But here I am, like thousands of others around the world, making a full-time living from my laptop. On beaches, in cafes, from my couch.

Now, the scams you are thinking of are out there, and they can be tempting — if you don't know how to make money online.

But there are many 100% legitimate ways to make money online as well, and that's what we'll cover in this guide.

From the outside, you might be wondering how ordinary people can build four, five, six, and even seven-figure businesses from their home office (or home couch).

But it becomes more apparent once you dig deeper and study the different online business models and examine examples of people who are doing the work to make it happen.

In this resource, I’ll give you a brief introduction to more than 40 ways to make a full-time income on the web and share some simple online business ideas with you (even if you’re a total beginner).

However, unlike many other posts on this topic, I’ll focus ONLY on real business models that are sustainable in the long run and have the potential to replace your day job — not just ones that will help you make a little bit of extra cash.

So don’t expect to see methods like "gambling" or "crypto" (or worse “selling your organs”) on this list.

Let's dive in (because there's a lot to cover). Here are 40 additional ways to make money online as well as tools that will help you succeed at your new venture.

(RELATED: Not sure which money making method is right for you? Pick one from the proven Business Idea Blueprints in NicheHacks Academy)

What We'll Cover in This Guide to Earning Money Online

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now...

What you need to know if you want to earn money online

Before we go into the details of the 40+ legit ways to make money online, I want you to remember a few things that will keep you on the right track and away from scams...

#1. To Make Money Online, You Have To Treat It Like A Real Business

Which means you need to give it the respect it deserves. There’s no mystery in it.

Just like real businesses, you need to identify a need or a gap in the market and provide a solution to make money. There are no easy money shortcuts.

Let me repeat that again as it's so often overlooked or ignored...

If you want to make money on the internet, you have to focus on coming up with a legitimate online business idea.

Too many people think that somehow the internet differs from real life and there's easy money to be made without any work at all.

There isn't.

Especially not in the long term. If you want to make real, life-changing money online, you have to focus on building an online business that provides real value to people.

#2. Making Money Online Requires Hard Work

Your online business has the potential to work on auto-pilot, but that only happens after you invest hours of hard work into creating a self-sustaining system.

So if you come across an online business idea that allegedly requires "no work" or is "fast and easy" or sounds too good to be true, run away fast.

If you have the idea that you can create a "four-hour workweek" today, I've got news for you.

Those businesses exist, but the owners work four hours a week only after investing a ton of time in building their business.

All the real online business models that work and will make you money require time, effort, and an (often small) amount of capital from yourself.

There is no get rich quick scheme that works long term.

#3. You Won’t Become a Millionaire Overnight

“But I just saw in a Facebook ad that Guru X went from being a broke farmer with zero computer knowledge to becoming a seven-figure internet marketer in a matter of hours!”

Now, you will find exceptional success stories in every business, but I can guarantee you that the gurus you see online waving wads of cash around or posing in front of their new Maserati are fakes.

Or they're lying about the amount of work they put in.

Even if they have made money online, they're doing it by fooling you (their target customer) into paying for their "priceless" insight.

Nobody goes from total internet noob (or broke farmer) to seven-figure internet millionaire overnight.

Online business plans based on flukes and exceptions rarely succeed. So only bother reading this post if you’re in this for the long-run and want to make money legitimately and over the long term.

#4. You Don’t Need to Know Everything to Make Money

Nobody knows everything, and because the internet changes every couple minutes, even if you are an expert today, you're only an expert until your knowledge becomes obsolete.

All you need to know about your topic is more than the people you're teaching.

If you're even just one step ahead of them, you already know more than them… and that's enough to teach them.

It's about understanding your target market. If you're relatively new to the subject or intermediate level, you wouldn't try to market to experts, but to newbies who are just learning the ropes. You have something to teach them, after all.

And all you need to know to get started and progressing is the next step. Figure out what you have to do next, then learn it and put it into action then learn the next stage after you're done.

You cannot learn everything at once BEFORE you start because it's impossible. You'll never know everything anyway. Not even the experts know everything.

Okay, with that out of the way, let's move onto proven strategies and business ideas to make money online.

How to Make Money Online (Without Scamming Anyone)

These strategies have worked for thousands of ambitious entrepreneurs just like you. They are real, proven methods for making real money online.

Let's get into it!

(RELATED: Not sure which money making method is right for you? Pick one from the proven Business Idea Blueprints in NicheHacks Academy)

01Freelancing

If you have a skill that can add value to other people’s business or lives, you can become a freelancer right now. Freelancing is merely trading your time for money.

Unless you have people working for you, it’s not a passive income source (which we'll talk about in the next section). But it’s the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to making money online.

This is why there are 57 million freelancers in the US (15% of the total population), and it's estimated that half of the working US population will turn to freelance work over the next five years.

And, once you start, you won't want to stop: 51% of freelancers say that no amount of money would get them to return to a "traditional" job.

Americans are spending more time freelancing

If you haven’t made a penny on the web yet, freelancing is the best place to start.

But don’t underestimate its earning potential.

According to a study by Payoneer found that the average freelancer in the U.S. earns $31 an hour (almost $5 more than the average employee).

However...

As a freelancer for several years myself, I can tell you that your income mainly depends on your skillset and your brand image.

For example, the monthly income of a freelance graphic designer or a programmer or a high-quality copywriter is usually 4-5x higher than a freelancer offering translation or data entry services.

freelancer salaries

But above all, it's the independence of working on your terms that drives most freelancers to this business model. Again, more than half of all freelance workers wouldn't trade their lifestyle for any amount of money.

Like everything else, it takes time to build a profitable freelancing business.

But the effort is well worth it.

(RELATED: There's 10+ Business Idea Blueprints you can emulate inside NicheHacks Academy)

16 strategies to make money online as a freelancer:

People offer all sorts of crazy services — including cuddling.

But since we’re talking about long-term money-making ideas, here are a few legitimate services you can offer as a freelancer and make a career out of.

  • Freelance Blogger – Writing blog posts for other blogs, like I do.
  • Freelance Guest Blogger – Writing guest posts for your clients on other blogs.
  • Freelance Ghostwriter – Writing articles, blog posts, books, etc. without putting your name on it.
  • Freelance Writer – General writing projects like press releases, eBooks, articles, manuals, magazine articles, technical writing, etc.
  • Freelance Copywriter – Marketing copy for websites, landing pages, emails, etc.
  • Freelance Web/Graphic Designer – Designing websites, logos, banners, social media images, etc.
  • Freelance Editor: Edit copy, social media posts, ebooks, and physical books for grammar mistakes, flow, and overall content.
  • Freelance Programmer – Creating software.
  • Freelance App Developer – Create mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows phones.
  • Freelance Virtual Assistant – Assist your client in daily activities like responding to emails, prioritizing tasks, doing other non-business tasks.
  • Freelance Social Media Marketer – managing social media accounts for your clients, including creating posts, responding to customers, and tracking metrics like engagement and followers.
  • Freelance Search Engine Optimizer (SEO) – Optimizing content and web pages for Google Search
  • Freelance PPC Advertising (Google Ads, YouTube, Bing, etc.) – Running and managing paid ad campaigns.
  • Freelance Social Media Advertising - Running and managing paid ad campaigns on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
  • Freelance Analytics Expert - Managing a business' analytics and communicating the success or failure of campaigns.
  • Freelance Community Manager - Coordinating outreach and managing relationships with influencers, other businesses, and online communities like Facebook or membership sites.

How to Find Freelance Projects

According to a study by Payoneer, the most common places freelancers find jobs are online marketplaces and direct clients.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of freelance marketplaces and sites like Upwork since there’s a lot of cheap competition on these platforms. I get all my clients from my own website, referrals, and through guest posts that I’ve published on other leading industry blogs.

I prefer direct clients because the business is chasing me, which means I get to choose my own rates.

If you're looking to get clients directly, having a strong brand image and a well-populated portfolio is also essential.

Word of mouth can also be an incredibly valuable tool for finding freelance clients. Start by reaching out to business contacts and letting them know you are freelancing, and ask them to let you know if they hear of anyone looking for help in your area of expertise.

As you build a client base, make sure to reach out to old clients, and see if their needs have changed regularly. That is an easy way to bring in new work.

As for the different freelance portals, they do offer a steady inflow of projects if you can establish yourself as a reliable freelancer. The rates also improve once you start getting more positive client feedback.

But it takes time.

However, for most beginners, these online marketplaces are an excellent place to start.

Tools and Websites to Find General Freelance Jobs

Tools and Websites to Find Blogging/Writing/Editing and Content Marketing Jobs

Tools and Websites to Find Web and Graphic Design Jobs

Tools and Websites to Find Programming and Web Development Jobs

There must be hundreds of other freelance job portals, but I’ve listed the ones I know and have used.

Freelancing is a real and legitimate way to build your career online. But it does require patience, dedication, and a lot of hard work.

If you’re willing to do that, there’s a lot of money waiting for you on the other side.

(RELATED: Affiliate Marketing? Blogging? Membership Sites? Amazon? Which business model to choose? It's made simple with NicheHacks Academy)

Pros

  • Low entry barrier, anyone can start freelancing
  • You can start making money from day one
  • You can work on your own terms
  • You can choose your clients and set your own rates
  • You can work from anywhere

Cons

  • High competition on all freelance marketplace websites
  • Not a passive source of income.
  • Scaling a freelance business is hard work
  • You get paid only when you work, which increases the chances of burnout
  • Work revisions, delayed payments, and bossy clients are common problems for freelancers

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now...

02Become an Affiliate Marketer

When most people talk about making money online, they’re not referring to freelancing or trading time for money.

They’re talking about passive income: making money even when you’re not working. We'll explore the concept of passive income in more detail below, so be patient for now.

Affiliate marketing fits that criteria perfectly, which is why it’s one of the most popular ways to earn money online.

Though, like with every online way to earn cash, you'll succeed only if you treat it like a real online business idea and not a way to make a quick buck.

Sure, you could do it as a "side hustle" to supplement your income, but those who see affiliate marketing as a genuine online business opportunity (like The Points Guy below) see far greater rewards than those who do it casually.

For instance:

Affiliate marketer, The Points Guy, managed to build a wildly successful 100 person media company off of affiliate fees — and travel the world while doing it.

The Wire Cutter, a gadget review site that generated more than 150 million dollars in affiliate sales between 2011 and 2015 and was then sold to The New York Times Company for a cool $30 million. Not too shabby, right?

Most of the NicheHacks tribe is also more interested in affiliate marketing than any other online earning method, so we're going to dive pretty deep into this method of earning a living online.

What is an affiliate?

An affiliate is someone who promotes products or services of other businesses and earns a commission when a sale is made as a result of their marketing activities.

But affiliate marketing is much more than spamming people with your affiliate link and expecting them to buy from (or through) you.

affiliate marketing is more than spam

You might get an occasional sale here and there using this method, but if you want to turn affiliate marketing into a long-term and sustainable income source, you’ll need to develop a group of people who trust you and consider you an expert in your niche.

You can do that by creating high-quality blog content, YouTube videos, social media posts, and other forms of content, and by building your email subscriber base so that you can send them more offers in the future.

You can promote both physical and digital products and services as an affiliate marketer. However, the strategies for each approach may slightly differ.

Strategies to make money online as an affiliate marketer

There are hundreds of thousands of eCommerce stores that offer affiliate commissions to anyone who promotes and sells their products.

As the biggest eCommerce site in the world, Amazon has the biggest affiliate program as well.

It’s popular not only because people prefer buying through Amazon, which makes it easier for the affiliates to sell more, but also because Amazon offers a seemingly unlimited range of products that affiliates from any niche can promote.

Here are some strategies affiliate marketers commonly use to promote physical products.

Make money online by blogging/vlogging

If you blog regularly on a certain topic and have a loyal readership, you can monetize it by sending them relevant product promotions. This is one of the most common ways marketers make money online.

You can either find products to promote on Amazon or look for affiliate programs that are specific to your industry.

For example, if you’re an animal lover, you could search for pet-related affiliate programs on Google.

I found more than 17 million results for pet-related affiliate marketing programs:

pet-related affiliate marketing programs

This is just one example. You can find such offers in every industry.

Here’s a detailed guide on how to naturally promote affiliate offers as a blogger without being too pushy.

#1. Blog on niche sites

A niche site is just a fancy name for blogs that are super focused on a very narrow niche. For example, instead of writing about health & fitness in general, a niche site would focus on narrow sub-niches like “weight-loss for diabetics” or “fitness for entrepreneurs.”

The Prepared is a good example of a niche site that’s focused on a very narrow topic — survivalist.

survivalism niche site

(Image Source )

Some niche sites make money by promoting related Amazon products in their content body and sidebar, but The Prepared links directly to products on several different platforms, including eBay and Amazon.

survivalism related products

(Image Source)

If you’re wondering what niche to target for your site, we have already done the hard work for you.

Here’s a free research report with more than 1781 niches that you can target.

#2. Create or contribute to product review sites

As the name suggests, product review sites mainly publish reviews of different products and help readers choose the product that fits their needs.

Again, most product review sites use physical products from Amazon. But you can use other affiliate networks as well.

Hosting Facts creates in-depth reviews for web hosts and website builders like BlueHost, HostGator, and GoDaddy. They make a commission from each user who uses their link to purchase a host or site builder.

Hosting Facts web hosting review

(Image Source)

Luqman Khan, a member of NicheHacks Facebook Mastermind, managed to reach $40,000/month in just eight months with his product review site.

Almost all of his income was generated through Amazon’s affiliate program. You can read his success story here.

You can learn more about the right strategies to create product review sites by reading our detailed guide.

#3. Create or contribute to price comparison sites

Price comparison sites help users find the best deals on the web and earn a commission every time a sale is made through them.

Creating comparison sites is a huge business, especially in the travel, insurance, and banking industries.

To give you an idea of how these sites can impact sales, 77% of consumers say they use comparison sites to switch car insurance companies, and 37% say they've used comparison sites to change home insurance or energy suppliers.

However, there’s no reason why they won’t work in a narrow niche.

Here’s an example of a comparison site for mattresses. They even have a comparison tool, which makes it easier for consumers to compare two or more mattresses they are considering.

mattress comparison site Our Sleep Guide

(Image Source)

You can learn much more about creating price comparison sites in this detailed guide.

(RELATED: Learn step by step how to build a successful online business of your choosing with tools, expert tips, and resources at NicheHacks Academy)

Selling Digital Products as an Affiliate Marketer

Marketing digital products as an affiliate is usually a more challenging prospect compared to physical products.

I say this because most affiliates promote digital products like online training programs, web-based software, web hosting services, and different automation tools.

The problem is, there are so many scams out there. So, to sell these products, you need to earn the trust of your buyers before you can pitch them an offer and convince them of its usefulness.

But that’s just my opinion.

If you want to market digital products as an affiliate, make sure that you...

  • Only promote products that you genuinely believe can be useful to your buyers.
  • Only promote products from reliable sellers/networks so that they deliver real value to the buyers.

If you can build your reputation as a trustworthy marketer, people would be more than happy to buy the products you promote.

You can use product review and price comparison sites for selling digital products as well. But the more sustainable and long-term approach is to first route your target audience to an email list.

From there, you can send them emails to increase awareness about the products you’re offering and offer exclusive discounts to drive more sales.

Your best chance of doing that is by starting a blog, creating high-quality content, and building a pool of loyal email subscribers.

Matthew Woodward’s blog is an excellent example of this approach.

He started blogging in 2012 and has amassed a huge following that drives his business.

Here’s a snapshot from income reports from 2017, which is the last time he published income reports:

income reports from 2017

More than $20,000 a month income — not too bad, right?

To give you an idea of what he promotes, here’s a snapshot from his June income.

snapshot of affiliate income

NicheHacks is another example you can follow.

This blog was started with zero subscribers.

But today, NicheHacks is a thriving community of thousands of email subscribers, Facebook Mastermind members, and followers on other social networks.

Note: Stuart shared exactly how he grew NicheHacks to 1 million readers in this post

From time to time, he promotes relevant and high-quality products to his email list subscribers and makes a lot of money from affiliate commissions.

Here are a couple of posts that describe his strategy in more detail:

There’s no substitute for high-quality content.

If you want to generate regular and sustainable income from affiliate marketing, you need to build a blog, publish lots of great content, turn readers into subscribers, and then promote relevant offers to them.

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now...

Where to Find Affiliate Offers

Almost every SaaS company, web hosting service, or marketing automation tool I know of invites affiliates to sign up, promote their products, and make commissions.

You just need to search for them.

But you can also join an affiliate network and choose relevant products to promote. An affiliate network is a platform where product creators and affiliate marketers like you interact.

When a product creator wants to launch his product, he lists it on an affiliate network where affiliate marketers from relevant industries and niches sign up for it and promote it to their respective audiences.

Here are a few affiliate networks you can join to find relevant offers to promote:

If you're interested in becoming an affiliate for a SaaS company, here are a few of the top business programs to join:

(RELATED: There are 10+ Business Idea Blueprints you can emulate inside NicheHacks Academy)

Pros

  • It’s a passive income source that’ll keep earning you money even when you’re asleep
  • It’s easy to start and doesn’t require any big investments
  • You don’t need to create your own product
  • You don’t need to worry about after-sales, customer service, or any other logistical support
  • Thousands of affiliate programs to choose from, many of which pay as much as 80% commissions

Cons

  • You’re risking your reputation by asking your audience to buy from a third-party merchant since you have zero control over the product quality
  • Affiliate networks can suspend your account or hold your commissions sometimes even on minor mistakes or misunderstandings.
  • You can’t start making money from day one. It requires a lot of time and effort
  • If you want to make it a completely passive source of income you need to rank for the right keywords in Google search and build a huge email list
  • There are lots of scams in affiliate marketing, so you need to be very careful before choosing a product to promote
03Creating Online Content

I’ve already mentioned content creation a number of times since most online earning methods revolve around great content.

However, content creation still merits a whole section because it helps you build an audience around your business and a platform that can be used in countless ways to make money online.

The whole idea behind content creation is to create well-researched, actionable, and in-depth content that solves the problems of your audience and helps them take action.

When you do that on a consistent basis, people start considering you as an expert and trust your advice and recommendations.

This is when you can make money with blogging.

Here are a few ways to do it.

Create An Online Course for Your Website

Target one major problem that's bothering your audience and create an online course that solves it. Your course could contain a series of video lectures, worksheets, PDF guidelines, and additional reading material.

Online courses are high-ticket products that can be sold for high-four figures as long as you can provide value.

For example, Anna Runyan of Classy Career Girl sells a variety of courses designed to help women create the life they want — whether that means starting their own business or building a career they love.

Anna Runyan Classy Career Girl courses

(Image Source)

As a result of online courses and a membership site, she was able to pay off six figures in debt and support her family of four.

Tools to help you create and sell an online course from your website:

Create an Ebook

eBooks won’t immediately fill your bank account. But they’re easy to create, provide quick value to the readers and sell like hotcakes.

Plus, they help you turn your email subscribers into buyers that can be upsold to higher-priced products.

For example, Stuart’s 101 Digital Affiliate Hacks and 101 Traffic Hacks are ebooks by definition, but they provide more actionable information on their respective topics than many full-fledged courses. And that too at a fraction of a video course.

So when Stuart does eventually launch his own video course, his buyers would happily buy from him because they know he over-delivers on value.

Not bad for a few hours of work.

Because of these advantages, some of the biggest blogs on the web still actively sell ebooks on different topics.

Build an Email Course

Instead of publishing everything in an ebook, you can break it down in a series of emails and offer it as a premium course.

For example, Nat Eliason earns more than $58,000 in five months by creating an email course called Programming for Marketers.

Many bloggers and marketers use this strategy to make it easier for their buyers to digest all the information on offer — and it is automated, so this is a true passive income generator.

Create a Members-Only Site

Instead of just offering an eBook or a course, you could create a membership site and offer all your exclusive premium content for a monthly fee.

Membership sites not only have greater perceived value among buyers, but they also give you the flexibility to keep adding new content to it whenever you have time.

This is personally one of my favorite online business models as the revenue just stacks up month after month.

The Platform University by Michael Hyatt is a great example — he uses his membership site to teach other people how to run a membership site and has helped more than 20,000 people build more successful businesses.

The Platform University by Michael Hyatt

(Image Source)

You could also add a premium members area to your existing blog instead of creating a completely new site for it.

NicheHacks has an exclusive members area where new niche research reports and other useful content is regularly added.

These are just some of the product ideas that you can sell on your blog. You can find several other ideas in this post.

(RELATED: Not sure which money making method is right for you? Pick one from the proven Business Idea Blueprints in NicheHacks Academy)

Pros

  • Creating your product is a one-time effort that keeps paying you back for years
  • Creating your product is a one-time effort that keeps paying you back for years
  • The earning potential is limitless
  • You can introduce different pricing models to cater to different sets of buyers
  • You get to keep all the income from your product sales, unlike affiliate marketing

Cons

  • Requires an initial investment of time and money
  • It requires extensive market research to come up with a unique angle since there a lot of products on the same topics now
  • You need to build an email list and an engaged audience pool before you can sell them a product
  • You need to keep adding new modules from time to time to stay relevant
  • The marketing expenses eat up a significant portion of your earnings

Making Money Online With Ad Networks on Your Site

Perhaps the most popular way to make money online is to sell advertising space on your blog.

The concept is simple.

If your blog attracts a decent amount of traffic, you can either sell ad space on your site to relevant brands or place link/banner ads in your content body using an ad network.

For instance, Search Engine Journal shows relevant ads to readers, which generates revenue:

relevant ads on Search Engine Journal

The earning potential of this method is huge, but it mainly depends on the number of visitors you can attract to your site on a regular basis.

How you get paid also depends on the nature of your ad.

There are 3 different types of advertising models you can use.

#1. Cost Per Click (CPC) Ads:

As the name suggests, when you place CPC ads on your site, you earn money when someone clicks on the ad.

#2. Cost Per Action/Acquisition (CPA) Ads:

In CPA, you’re paid when a reader on your blog not only clicks on your ad but also performs a certain action, for example, filling a form or answering a survey, etc.

#3. Cost Per Mille (CPM) Ads:

Cost Per Mille (which is also known as Cost Per Thousand) makes you money based on the number of impressions or views your ad gets. The rate is usually set based on 1000 impressions.

List of CPA, CPC, and CPM Ad Networks

There are hundreds of such networks on the web. But not all of them are reliable. If you’re just starting out, it's better to stick to well-known and mainstream networks.

Here’s a list of some of the leading ad networks:

Pros

  • A completely passive income source
  • An easy way to monetize your traffic
  • A huge variety of networks where you can choose the right ads to promote
  • You don’t need an email list to make money
  • Immediate earnings

Cons

  • To make this model work, you need to generate a LOT of traffic from search engines
  • You have limited control over the ads
  • Scams are common
  • Ads have a negative impact on user-experience

(RELATED: Affiliate Marketing? Blogging? Membership Sites? Amazon? Which business model to choose? It's made simple with NicheHacks Academy)

Making Money Online with Sponsored Posts

When your blog starts generating traffic and the size of your audience increases, it becomes attractive for different brands and marketers who’re looking to promote their content.

Many leading blogs have a clearly marked section for sponsored posts.

It’s up to you to decide whether you want to disclose sponsored content to your readers or not. Some bloggers do, some don’t.

For the sake of your brand image, though, be careful and selective in accepting sponsored posts.

Pros

  • Easy money that requires no money from your side, especially if the content is also provided by the brand
  • You get high-quality content and get paid for it
  • One sponsored post opens up doors for more

Cons

  • It’s hard to create a balanced sponsored content that doesn’t appear too salesy
  • If the product doesn’t perform well for your audience, it hurts your credibility
  • Sponsored posts often have low quality, copied or spun content

Making Money Online with Paid Links

Just like sponsored content, paid links are also a pretty big source of revenue for many bloggers.

You’ll start getting offers to include backlinks in your content, in return for money, as soon as the domain authority (DA) of your blog crosses 25-30.

Marketers are ready to pay big bucks for high DA backlinks and I’ve seen bloggers charge in excess of $500-1000 for a single link.

A word of caution though...

Buying and selling links is clearly against Google’s guidelines and can get you penalized or even completely wiped off from search results if Google finds out.

So even if you do opt for this revenue channel, limit yourself to reliable and well-known brands that are not involved in link spamming.

It’s still risky though.

04Selling Online Courses on Third-Party Platforms

Selling online courses directly from your blog is a great way to create a passive income stream, It makes a great side hustle idea, but can also be a full-blown online business idea, too.

But even if you don’t have a blog or an email list, you can still sell courses on third-party platforms.

There are dozens of websites where you can create and upload video courses on all sorts of topics ranging from business, marketing, and SEO to music, arts, and science.

These platforms attract millions of visitors every month. If your course is good enough and makes it to the top of your category, there’s potential to bank big bucks.

Udemy online learning platform

For example, the astonishing case study of Abdul Wali (a broke street seller from Pakistan) who never went to school but turned his life upside down by making more than $100,000 in one year selling courses on online learning platforms like Udemy.

His story was so inspirational that Udemy flew him all the way to San Francisco to attend their annual conference.

Abdul Wali at Udemy annual conference

The downside of selling courses on a marketplace is that you don’t get to keep all the money since you need to pay the platform fee as well as its share in every sale you make.

You can sell courses on Udemy, Skillshare, Eliademy, YouTube, and several other platforms.

(RELATED: Learn step by step how to build an online business of your choice with the Business Idea Blueprints at NicheHacks Academy)

Pros

  • No entry barrier, anyone can create a course
  • Your content is exposed to millions of potential buyers
  • You get modern and state of the art course creation tools
  • Your content is fully optimized for search engines
  • No payment disputes or delays

Cons

  • Lots of competition in all categories
  • You need to pay a major chunk of your earnings to the course platform
  • You can’t route the buyers to your email list directly
  • Limited potential for your personal branding
05Monetize Your Social Media Audience

If you’re a talented writer or consider writing as one of your passions, you don’t need to wait for an agent or a publisher to write your first book.

You can join hundreds of thousands of authors who’re making a full-time living by self-publishing books on Amazon. This is the perfect way to not only launch your own book but an online business too.

Lawyer turned writer LJ Ross became a full-time, self-published writer with her series of novels that tell the stories of Detective Chief Inspector Ryan. To date, Ross has written a total of 19 novels and sold a total of 4.5 million copies of her books.

LJ Ross novel series

Getting started is easy; you only need to sign up, upload your book online, and start selling. Being successful, of course, requires learning how to market your book well.

Amazon also offers on-demand book publishing through its company CreateSpace. The service gives your readers the option to order hard copies of your book from Amazon.

The Pros and Cons of Publishing on Amazon

Pros

  • One-time effort, long term passive income
  • Your work is exposed to millions of Amazon users
  • Easy to publish a book and become a published author
  • Publishing a book opens up doors for more book ideas, partnerships, speaking opportunities and

Cons

  • Amazon books sell for low prices
  • It’s hard to stand out since there’s a lot of competition
  • You don’t get to keep all the money, Amazon also charges a fee on every sale
  • You need to spend money on marketing to generate sales
06Monetize Your Social Media Audience

There’s more to social media than cat videos and the Kardashians.

If you have a large and engaged following, brands would be happy to pay you to promote their products and content.

estimated influencer price per post

Sponsored social media posts pay so well that many marketers have made it a full-time career.

This makes it a perfect side hustle gig.

Here's an example from Ivy Carnegie, an influencer in the pregnancy, motherhood, and wellness category. In this post, she is promoting a nutrient supplement.

Ivy Carnegie influencer post

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Here's another example from Carl Thompson who promotes a variety of products on his Instagram, including drinks, fashion items, and grooming products.

Carl Thompson social media product promotion

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The amount of money you can earn grows with the growth of your audience. Here’s a quick cheat sheet to give you an idea of the earning potential on different channels.

When your network grows, brands usually reach out and make an offer themselves. But if they don’t, you can sign up on different networks that connect social media influencers with relevant brands.

Different platforms target different niches, so you'll need to research the right one for your audience. Most will ask you to create a creator profile and fill out the information about your followers, niche, and social media account.

(RELATED: Not sure which money making method is right for you? Pick one from the proven Business Idea Blueprints in NicheHacks Academy)

The Pros and Cons of Monetizing Your Social Media Audience

Pros

  • Everyone uses social media, why not earn money while doing so
  • Huge earning potential once you have a large following

Cons

  • Social media is overcrowded and you need to spend significant time and money to grow an audience
  • Social media is a double-edged sword. One wrong post and your popularity can come crashing down
07Start an Ecommerce Store

If you already run a small brick and mortar store and don’t have the resources to physically expand your business, eCommerce is just the right solution for you.

Or, you can avoid all the unnecessary costs and establish a full-fledged business by setting up an eCommerce store and growing it using different digital marketing strategies.

Depending on how you set up your eCommerce business, you might not need to handle any actual products at all. If you create a drop shipping company, your products are sent right from the warehouse or manufacturer to your clients — we will get into that in the next section.

List as many products as you want and serve thousands of customers at the same time.

There are just no limits.

There are a couple of ways you can start selling right away.

#1. Sell on B2B/B2C Marketplace Platforms

List your products on different eCommerce platforms that attract millions of visitors every day. There are thousands of such platforms in every niche. You just need to search them on Google.

An easy way to start, though, is by listing your products on Amazon and eBay. If you’re selling in bulk, you can also find buyers on Alibaba.

Alibaba homepage

#2. Sell on Your Own Store

The other strategy is to create your own eCommerce store and sell directly to your buyers.

You can set up an eCommerce store using a premium WordPress Theme with WooCommerce integration, or you could use a ready to use eCommerce solution like Shopify or Squarespace.

You can create a business in just about any niche. Blueland, for example, uses Shopify to sell eco-friendly cleaning supplies.

Blueland Shopify store

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The Pros and Cons of Starting an eCommerce Store

Pros

  • It’s very easy to set up a fully functional eCommerce store
  • It’s a highly scalable business model that has turned small-time vendors into millionaires
  • The trend of buying online is increasing exponentially
  • There’s still a huge business opportunity for this model in niche markets

Cons

  • This is not a completely online business model.
  • You need to invest in product development/procurement, warehousing, and supply chain
  • Managing shipments, customer care, and product returns is hectic work
  • You need to invest a LOT of money in marketing your products online
08Start a Dropshipping Business With Shopify and AliExpress

Let's say you’re completely broke and don’t have the resources to invest in an eCommerce business.

Can you still sell online and turn it into a profitable online business venture?

Definitely yes!

Dropshipping is an ideal online business model for anyone who’s low on budget, wants to test new products without investing too much time and money, or just doesn't want to worry about hands-on tasks such as shipping and returns.

The business model is simple:

Instead of manufacturing the products yourself, handling storage, warehousing, shipping, etc. you just promote other people’s products as your own at a higher rate.

When you get orders, you route them to the original product owner and get it shipped directly to the buyer. You make money by selling the product at a higher rate than the original supplier.

Here's how it works:

how dropship model works

You can use AliExpress to find cheap products to sell at a higher rate on your Shopify store.

I prefer Shopify since it helps you automate the whole dropshipping process with plugins and apps like Oberlo.

When you automate the whole system, your only job is to market your products using Facebook Ads and Google Adwords.

The Pros and Cons of Dropshipping With Shopify

Pros

  • No setup cost in terms of product inventory or supply chain
  • An online store can be set up with Shopify in a very little cost
  • You can start making money, now
  • The whole process can be automated and turned into a passive income

Cons

  • You have zero control over product quality, supply chain, and after-sales
  • You need a significant marketing budget to promote products and make sales
09Launch Your Own Private Label With Amazon FBA

Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA) is a service by Amazon that takes care of the shipping, after-sales, and customer service of your products in your target country.

You only need to manufacture your products (or purchase from a wholesaler) and ship them to Amazon.

They’ll take care of the rest.

how fulfillment by Amazon works

The advantage with Amazon FBA is that you can source products or get them manufactured from China, India, or any other country, add your brand name, and ship the products directly to Amazon’s warehouses.

The rest is their responsibility.

You just need to focus on listing your products on Amazon and marketing them to attract buyers.

Because of Amazon FBA, small-time sellers have transformed into global brands with thousands of satisfied customers and millions of dollars in revenue.

Individuals have launched their own lucrative online businesses on the Amazon platform.

Marvin, for example, was able to turn a $500 investment into a $10,000 a month business that allowed his wife to stay home with their children and gave him a faster path to retirement.

Marvin and his $10,000/month Amazon FBA Business

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(RELATED: Affiliate Marketing? Blogging? Membership Sites? Amazon? Which business model to choose? It's made simple with NicheHacks Academy)

The Pros and Cons of Amazon FBA

Pros

  • Amazon is the world’s largest eCommerce store
  • FBA allows you to utilize Amazon’s supply chain, inventory and after-sales services. This helps reduce your costs significantly
  • Once you have a trusted supplier and a winning product, the whole process can be automated.
  • They handle customer service so you don't have to.
  • The fees can be high — Amazon charges storage fees up to $2.40 per cubic foot as well as monthly fees, fulfillment fees, labeling feels, and returns processing.

Cons

  • Requires a significant initial investment in product development
  • Finding a reliable supplier is easier said than done
  • You need to invest in product marketing
  • Amazon controls the customer relationship; if they do something you don't like or if your account gets shut down, you are out of luck.
10Earn Huge Money by Flipping Websites

If you’re good at building high traffic websites from scratch, you can find lots of buyers willing to pay huge sums of money to acquire your site.

Website flipping is a big business in the online marketing world. The value of a site is determined by its monthly traffic volume, the quality of its content, and its existing revenue.

Jenn Leach made $80,000 flipping her website by creating a solid social media presence, and improving sales.

how I made $80,000 flipping my website

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If you’re not willing to start a website from scratch, you can buy a website from someone else, work on it for a few months and sell it for a profit.

Or, you can buy a site that is doing okay, build it up, then keep it for a few months to earn that passive income before selling it for big bucks.

Josh, for example, is able to make more than $5,000 a month by buying a website, building it up by perfecting the monetization methods, building links, and creating more content.

website flipping makes more than $5,000 per month

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You can learn the business of buying and selling websites in this mammoth website flipping guide.

Here are a few platforms where you can flip websites:

The Pros and Cons of Flipping Websites

Pros

  • Huge earning potential
  • Once you understand how the process works, you can buy ready to use websites, polish them with better content and earn a lot of money for very little effort
  • Learning curve — if you aren't already knowledgeable about SEO and online marketing, you will have a lot to learn.

Cons

  • Flipping platforms keep a major portion of the sales price
  • Growing a website from scratch is hard work and requires a lot of work.

The Philosophy Behind Building Online, Passive Income

When it comes to making money online, there are two main strategies — you can trade time for money (like in freelancing) or you can find ways to make passive income.

What is passive income?

Passive income is earning that requires little to no effort to maintain. It is the set it and (mostly) forget it version of earning an income online.

Think of it this way — with freelance work you are making money with your time. In fact, most jobs involve trading a portion of your time for money.

But what if you could invest time upfront, and then have a business that keeps making money for you with little to no extra effort?

That's passive income.

Examples of passive income businesses

The most traditional sources of passive income are ventures like rental properties or a high-yield savings account. But, there are also a multitude of ways to make passive income by building an online business.

An affiliate-oriented blog is an example of a passive revenue-generating stream.

Here's how it works:

  • Create a website targeted to a specific, niche audience, ideally one you understand well or are a part of. This could be any topic from photography tips to tabletop gaming.
  • Create valuable content — this could be videos, how to guides, reviews, or articles about news in the industry.
  • Add affiliate links, which include a small piece code that tells the seller that you sent the traffic. (Amazon is one of the most popular affiliate platforms, but there are also dozens of others to choose from.)
  • If any of your readers make a purchase from the site, you make a small commission. On Amazon, for example, you can make a commission for nearly anything they buy in the next 24 hours.
  • Use other marketing strategies, such as social media ads and email marketing, to drive even more traffic to your affiliate sites.

Real-world passive income case studies

Tom Dupuis makes more than $400 a day — or $12,000 per month — writing guides about website speed optimization and recommending products for website owners such as hosting sites, marketing tools, and Amazon products.

Tom Dupuis sales overview

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He uses affiliate link management plugins to manage the different affiliate sites he uses, which keeps everything organized.

And while he does create content regularly, each piece he writes continues to generate content for months or years to come — which means the income is passive.

Here's another example from Suzi Whitford, a blogger who runs a small blog and still manages to generate more than $1,000 a month in passive income:

Suzi Whitford generates more than $1,000 a month in passive income

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According to Suzi, a good portion of her success is built on natural links to her affiliate products and creating evergreen content that generates traffic for years to come.

Top strategies to generate passive income

Affiliate marketing isn't the only way to generate passive income, but it is one of the more popular options.

Several of the online businesses we've mentioned above are also passive income generators, including a drop shipping business, self-publishing a book, and creating an online course.

How do you make the most out of generating passive income? Here are a few strategies to help you generate passive income for years to come.

  • Choose a topic you are knowledgeable about: If you are a 25 year old college senior, it wouldn't make much sense to create a blog about geriatric medical supplies, right? Unless, for some reason, you had a lot of knowledge about that field. Sure, you could research it, but you might get some things wrong and you'd send a ton of time learning about the field.
  • Choose a niche you are interested in: You might have a ton of knowledge about how to choose the right mattress, but if it bores you to death, you aren't going to have the drive to work on the business.
  • Make sure there is a need: In addition to making sure the business is in a niche you are knowledgeable about and are interested in — make sure there is an audience for the business. You might know everything there is to know about Christmas tree boxes, but if no one else cares, you won't be able to make passive income.
  • Create a monetization plan: Passion is important, but so is the ability to make money. Before you invest time in your new venture, make sure you understand the path to monetization. Will you sell products directly? Use affiliate marketing? Sell your own courses?
  • Don't set it and forget it: A lot of people assume passive income means easy money. The reality is, you will need to invest a ton of time building your passive income stream. And you will have to continue spending at least a small amount of time refreshing content, addressing new trends in the industry, and managing other aspects of your business. Depending on your model, you may only have to invest a few hours a week after your initial investment.

Which Online Earning Method is Right for You?

That's a tough question.

But if you ask me, the answer to this depends on your current objectives, financial status, and knowledge.

So let me break this down into three scenarios:

1) You're Broke and Looking to Make Money Online Today

If you're looking to make money fast, but don't have any money to invest, freelancing is the best place to start.

As I said at the start, it's the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to making money online. It can be a side hustle or a full-time online business for you.

But since it's never wise to keep all your eggs in one basket, I'd recommend you to start selling online courses on Udemy and eBooks on Amazon as well. Both require very little money but have the potential to pay back big time.

Taking online surveys or user tests are another way to make fast cash with very little upfront investment in terms of time or tools. However, you will normally make very little per hour.

If you have patience, you can also jump into niche marketing, since it has the potential to drastically change your financial condition.

It's not quick money, though.

The money you earn through freelancing can be invested in creating affiliate sites and other passive income methods.

2) You're Financially OK, But Looking for More Ways To Earn

Start a blog and give yourself 6 months to build an email list and develop a pool of loyal followers.

Once you have a sizable audience, you can monetize it through affiliate marketing, advertisements or by directly selling your own products.

You can also look to start a niche site, as a side project, to promote affiliate offers.

To make it more manageable, consider hiring quality freelance writers to create a steady flow of high-quality content for your blog and niche sites.

On the eCommerce side, you can start a small dropshipping business using Shopify and AliExpress, since it does not require any investment and has the potential to pay back quickly.

You'd only need to spend money on Facebook and Google Ads.

Blogging, when done correctly and with a clear monetization plan in place, can become a full-fledged online business venture.

3) You're Financially Stable and Looking to Diversify Income

eCommerce is an industry worth billions of dollars.

And it's getting bigger every day.

According to Statista, the number of online shoppers has risen more than a billion between 2014 and 2021.

online shoppers has risen more than one billion between 2014 and 2021

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That means there is a massive audience you can target — and it is growing fast.

If you have money, create your own online store and market your own products.

Or, take advantage of Amazon FBA and consider launching your own private label products.

On the digital side of things, you can hire a team of content writers, SEO's, and social media marketers, and focus on developing your own affiliate marketing empire.

This is a modern-day gold rush with individuals using Amazon to build their own successful online business without ever having to hold stock.

To discover 200+ profitable niche markets click the image below now...

(RELATED: There are 10+ Business Idea Blueprints you can emulate inside NicheHacks Academy)

40+ Tools and Resources to Help You Make Money Online

Are you ready to start earning money online? Here's a list of articles, tools, and websites that will help you get started building a solid income right from your couch (or a beach chair, if you prefer!)

I've broken them down into sections based on the type of business you are considering starting, and listed a bit about what they do when appropriate.

Freelancing

Becoming an affiliate

Creating online content

  • Snappa: Browser based digital design platform with easy to edit templates so you can create professional-looking visuals for your content.
  • Grammarly: An online editing and grammar tool that serves as a second set of eyes for writers and content creators.
  • Answer the Public: A free keyword tool that provides questions that people are asking about specific topics, which increases traffic.
  • How to Use UDemy to Generate Dozens of Content Ideas in Less Than 10 Minutes
  • Yoast SEO: SEO plugin for WordPress to make it easier to rank for your target key terms
  • MarketMuse: AI-powered content strategy tool to help outline, create, and optimize your content to rank higher in search engines

Selling online courses on third-party platforms

Becoming a self-published author

Monetizing your social media audience

Starting an eCommerce store

  • BigCommerce: SaaS platform for eCommerce websites, including a website builder
  • Shopify: SaaS platform for building and managing an eCommerce store
  • Optimizely: Software for A/B testing, tracking, and optimizing your eCommerce website (or any website)
  • Google Analytics: Free native analytics platform from Google to help you understand what products and pages are working effectively, find data about your audience, and much more

Starting a dropshipping business

Launching your own label with Amazon FBA

Flipping websites

Are You Ready To Make Money Online?

No matter where you are in the world, if you have a computer and an internet connection, you can legitimately make money online. It could be to supplement your income via a side hustle or you could start your own business.

I could’ve added dozens of other earning methods to this list as well because there are just so many of them, though all these methods are legit online business ideas that are suitable for beginners.

I wanted to focus on the methods that I consider long-term business models and legitimate ways to make money online that’ll keep filling your pockets for years to come, instead of the usual "make money online" scams that are everywhere.

Just pick one of them and start taking action and you will find a way to make money online and a business idea that suits you.

And if you’re serious about making money, joining the NicheHacks community is a no-brainer. It will give you access to resources beyond this article and connect you to like-minded individuals.

Jawad Khan