Two weeks ago, I published a post titled “How I Get Things for Free Online.” Admittedly, I get more stuff than money, and stuff is great sometimes – it’s what we need money FOR, afterall!
I DO, however, earn a little bit of a side income online. I could be making a lot more than I do if I were more focused and dedicated. The income sources I’m going to share with you could definitely net you a decent amount if you worked them.
Just to be up front with you, I have to disclose here that since I began working on this post I’ve had a bit of a change in priorities. I most likely won’t be pursuing many of these options this year now that I know about all of the tax laws associated with online income. Still, these are legitimate ways to earn money online that I recommend without reservation.
Just like getting free stuff online, a blog is not a requirement. Being a blogger certainly helps for a number of reasons (having an easy point of contact and a platform for generating exposure for the companies you work with, for instance), but there is plenty of work to be had for non-bloggers.
I’ll begin with my sources of revenue that are specifically tied to blogging, and then move on to those accessible by everyone. I’ve placed an asterisk (*) before the ideas that I haven’t yet tried but wanted to be sure an include.
Make Money With Your Blog
Ad Networks – This is the most reliable method of monetizing your blog. When you sign up with a blog network, you agree to let them display ads on your blog in exchange for being paid a certain amount per impression or click. You may or may not be able to control the types of ads displayed depending on the network. I currently use FaithAdNet and like them so far. I used to have a food blog and I used FoodBuzz and LOVED them!
Sponsored Posts – Bloggers most often receive “free” product in exchange for review and sometimes hosting a giveaway. Some sites, like The Motherhood, connect bloggers with opportunities that pay in cash as well as product. They have connected me with companies like Libby’s foods and Olympic Paint, and they are super fun to work with. If you’re interested in blogging for them, fill out this survey.
Affiliate Sales – Have a favorite brand? A favorite e-book? An online course you’ve enjoyed participating in? They may be seeking affiliates to help them sell their products. When you direct someone to their site and they make a purchase, you will earn a commission. Amazon has a very popular affiliate program (click here if you’d like to see our favorite products!), as do many other large online companies. You can see a handful of the affiliates I choose to support by looking at my “Recommendations” in the right hand column.
Money Anyone Can Make Online
Earn Points and Redeem for Gift Cards and Cash
Swagbucks – Earn “swagbucks” that you can redeem for prizes and cash by searching, taking polls, shopping, and completing special offers. I regularly earn Amazon gift cards, and have made enough the last few years to pay for Christmas. They also have a great referral program (so click here and sign up using my affiliate link)!
My Points - I’ve been a member for several years now. I learned about them through BzzAgent and have earned some great gift cards through them – most recently a $25 Amazon GC. I’ve earned points mostly through reading emails – 5 points at a time – but I’ve also completed quite a few of their surveys and offers. I also earn mypoints through surveys and BuzzReports at BzzAgent. Gift cards start at 1400 points for $10 and go up from there depending on the merchant and value. If you are interested in signing up, leave me a comment or email me and I’ll send you an invitation.
Sunshine Rewards - Requires $20 balance to cash out. Earn money by taking daily surveys (up to $7.95 a day!), getting cash back from online shopping, and completing free offers. It’s super easy and there is a great forum with lots of support and community.
Social Moms – Earn Rewards Points that you can redeem for Amazon cards or Paypal cash my commenting on posts, tweeting articles, contributing content, and participating in marketing campaigns sent to you by email. It’s very easy to earn points and I’ve enjoyed participating in the discussions in any case.
Surveys – In recent years I’ve forgone taking surveys for $$, but lots of people successfully earn a side income from surveys. Rather than list out every survey company in detail, I’ll direct you to this excellently written post from a fave blogger: Top 12 Surveys to Earn an Extra $50-$200 a Month from A Proverbs Wife. Also note that you can take a number of surveys directly through Sunshine Rewards as linked above.
Get Paid for Online Tasks
Amazon Mechanical Turk – Get paid for completing HITs (Human Intellegence Tasks). Basically you are paid upon completion of simple tasks requested by companies and individuals. Sometime it’s as simple as categorizing a photo, or as complicated as transcribing an audio clip. There is a great overview of how it works and whether or not it’s worth your time at Christian PF. I think that the assessment that you’ll only earn a couple dollars an hour is fair unless you put a lot of time into learning the ropes. I haven’t been motivated enough to keep up with it.
LeapForce – My husband did work for this company last year as a search engine evaluator. It’s difficult to get a position with them, but it pays very well compared to other online jobs. It is “tedious and mind-numbing” work in my husband’s words, but worth it for the pay. One caution is that you’d be considered self-employed, working as a contractor, for tax purposes. My husband made $4000 with them last year, but in the end we didn’t see nearly as much of it as we thought after filing our taxes. Click the link above to view available positions.
Ebay/Online Resale – I went through a purging phase near the end of college as we prepared for our wedding. I was able to make enough on ebay off of things like random bottles of gifted perfumes, books, movies, and collectibles to really help our wedding budget. After we got married and consolidated our belongings, we sold many books on half.com and lots of larger items on Craigslist. Just recently I learned that ThredUp is accepting children’s clothing for consignment and I think that is another excellent option. Amazon is another great resource.
*Etsy/Handcrafts – If you make things (and really, I mean anything!) and need a place to sell them, the internet is the spot! Obviously, this is not entirely “online work” (unless of course the things you “make” are graphic designs or blog templates, etc) but it’s easy to use the internet to facilitate sales.
*Online Storefronts – If you have a particular interest or experience with a certain type of product, consider creating an online store to sell them. You don’t necessarily have to manufacture anything yourself, just set up a storefront and do the behind the scenes work you’d do with a brick and morter specialty shop or boutique. An example might be parents of multiples setting up a shop full of items designed to make raising lots of little ones easier. Here’s a good primer on setting up an online store.
*E-books – So many bloggers make money this way! Put in the initial work and then make a profit without having to worry about printing, shipping, and signing publishing contracts! What could be better!? Of course, you’ll have to get the word out there by promoting your book as well. Blogging with Amy has a great guide to get you started.
* I have yet to personally attempt to make money with the things marked with an asterisk (*)
The amount of money we are talking about here can vary widely. I know bloggers who make more than my husband at his full time professional job. I also know moms who have successfully worked just a few of these systems and earned enough to cover family vacations, etc. Personally, I’ve made between $200 and $500 in recent years. It’s not much – but again, I know I could make more if I tried.
How have you generated an income online? Have you found one thing to be the most profitable for you? Any ideas to share with the rest of us?
Please be aware that all income is taxable, no matter how small. For more information and resources, read this post. Scroll to the bottom for helpful links.
Also, several of the links above contain referral links and I may make a commission or earn a reward for referring you. However, I stand behind my reviews of each and promise that I didn’t include any just to get referrals.