How To Make Money Online: Ultimate Guide

How To Make Money Online: Ultimate Guide

How To Make Money Online: Ultimate Guide: Over the past several years, interest in quick ways to make money online, from the comfort of our homes, is on the rise.

The magic of the web is that it’s a powerful sales channel, marketing network, and community hub all in oneplus so much more. There are many creative ways to make money fast online beyond filling out surveys and selling used goods on marketplaces.

How To Make Money Online: Ultimate Guide
How To Make Money Online: Ultimate Guide

That said, some side hustles are better suited to the laptop lifestyle than others. In this idea guide, we’ll break down the pros and cons of 30 of the top online money making ideas.

How to make money online: 5 great ideas

  1. Sell stuff online
  2. Start print on demand
  3. Start freelancing
  4. Start a dropshipping business
  5. Create custom products to sell online

To make choosing the best ways to make money online easier, we’ll look at several key factors:

  • Business type: whether the idea is product based, service based or driven by an audience.
  • Effort: how much time, skill, or experience you’ll need to put into the idea. 
  • Leverage: how well positioned you are to turn the idea into a money-making one that increases in value without needing your direct attention. A high-leverage idea isn’t a 1:1 trade of time for money. 
  • Startup costs: the upfront budget you’ll need to launch the idea.
  • Profit potential: how much profit you can expect to make from your idea per year.

1. Sell stuff online

One of the best money-making ideas for quick cash is selling stuff online. For example, you can sell clothes, furniture, and handbags from your own home, or you can buy and resell higher-value items like laptops, TVs, or phones. You can buy these products online through sites like AliExpress or from local garage sale and thrift stores—a great way to make money fast and earn extra cash.

Try to sell your products on multiple platforms and marketplaces instead of just one. The more places your products live, the more likely people will be to find them. There are hundreds of online selling sites, all with their own niches and commission fees. A few examples include:

  • eBay
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • VarageSale
  • Mercado Libre
  • Your own online store

If you enjoy this process, you can start a legitimate reseller business and sell anything from vintage clothing to refurbished electronics.

Startup time: A few hours.

Effort to start: Medium.

Time to first payment: Varies, depending on the marketplace in which you’re selling your products.

What to know:

  • The more places your products are available to buy, the more likely people are to find them.
  • There are hundreds of online selling sites with their own special niches.
  • Each marketplace has its own rules and fees. Make sure to understand them before you sign up for a marketplace.


  • Products to sell.
  • You may need to create an account and get verified to sell in a marketplace.

2. Print on demand

Print on demand allows sellers to customize white label products with their own designs and sell them only after a customer buys, eliminating the need to hold inventory (which is what makes it a subset of dropshipping). When a customer places an order, a print-on-demand company will add your design to the product, fulfill the order, and ship it to the customer.

The most significant advantage print on demand offers over dropshipping is that you control the aesthetic of your products—a key differentiator for product categories where the design is the distinguisher, like t-shirts or fan merch.

When it comes to making money online, you can also use print-on-demand services to:

  • Test online business ideas or new products lines without the risk of buying inventory.
  • Monetize an audience you’ve already built, whether it’s on YouTube, social media, or a personal blog.
  • Offer diverse products by selling t-shirts, books, shoes, bags, mugs, phone cases, laptop skins, wall art, and more.
  • Sell photos online by placing your images on physical products to sell to your fans.

Overall, print on demand lets you create customized products quickly. You don’t have to worry about shipping or fulfillment—it’s taken care of by your suppliers. And since you have no inventory to worry about, it’s a low-risk, low-investment way to make money online.

Startup time: A few hours to set up an ecommerce platform, then however long it takes to create your designs.

Effort to start: Very easy with little ecommerce knowledge.

Time to first payment: It depends on when you get your first sale and which ecommerce platform you decide to use, but Shopify’s pay periods are five business days.

What to know:

  • You can set up accounts with ecommerce platforms like Shopify that have the logistics included in their services.
  • Payments will vary depending on how much you sell and your profit margins.
  • Pay period using Shopify Payments is five days, plus the number of days remaining until your payout day.


  • Most ecommerce platforms require that you’re at least 18 years of age. If you’re under the age of 18, your parents can start one on your behalf.
  • Requirements vary by state, but you need to have licenses or permits to sell anything online.

3. Start freelancing

An increasingly popular home business idea is offering freelance services to clients online. Freelance writing, graphic design, data entry, digital marketing—almost every role an online business would hire for is viable as a freelance service. I’ve worked with writers, illustrators, and designers for years at Shopify, most of whom make their full-time living freelancing, not just doing it in their spare time.

Almost all of these services are best positioned toward business clients, for reasons similar to why business software is an attractive product: business clients are willing to spend. What most freelancers quickly learn is they have more leverage over the price they can charge when they position their work as outcomes instead of deliverables.

Put another way, businesses hire freelance writers to create content that drives traffic and leads, not for wordsmithing. Sell clients on the outcome and prove it, where possible, through customer evidence like case studies and testimonials.

The last thing to consider for these businesses is that they are a direct trade of time for money. You can make good money with a small selection of high-paying clients, but the moment you stop working, the cash flow dries up. You may be able to turn a freelance business into more of an agency, where hired help handles some client work.

Startup time: Varies, depending on service.

Effort to start: Medium.

Time to first payment: Varies.

What to know:

  • Collect customer evidence cases, studies, and testimonials to help you in getting your next job.
  • Freelancing is a direct money-for-time trade, so you may eventually want to grow your business model into one with a standalone asset.
  • Sell clients on the outcome you can achieve, then prove it.
  • Know your worth. You have the power to set your pricing.


  • Ability to talk to clients and meet deadlines.
  • An internet connection and laptop.
  • You’ll need to be at least 18 years old to work on freelance marketplaces.

4. Start a dropshipping business

Consider dropshipping—startup costs are low and it’s an increasingly popular way to make money online for beginners and pros alike. Dropshipping is a business model where you don’t keep the products you sell in stock. Instead, when a customer buys something from your store, a third party fulfills and ships the order for you.

Dropshippers can cash in on the latest trends and sell trending products, or there are many steady product categories that offer similar opportunities to do well.

Startup time: A few hours.

Effort to start: Very easy with little ecommerce knowledge.

Time to first payment: Two weeks to one month, on average.

What to know:

  • At Shopify, we regularly see these categories on our list of top performers: clothing and accessories, jewelry, home and garden.
  • You can create a Shopify store and test it out with a free trial.
  • The pay period using Shopify Payments is five days plus the number of days remaining until your payout day.


  • You must be 18 years or older to start a Shopify store. If you’re under the age of 18, your parents can start one on your behalf.
  • Requirements vary by state, but you need to have licenses or permits to sell online.

5. Create custom products

While the options above come bundled with the convenience of not holding on to expensive inventory, they also come with some limitations—mainly that you don’t have full control over the product you’re selling.

And when you think of most direct-to-consumer brands, this is what comes to mind: original products that make meaningful improvements or add interesting details to well-known items. Personally, I’ve purchased many messenger bags, but I’d never seen anything like the one made by Vermilyea Pelle until it reached my doorstep.

Making products by hand is popular among jewelry brands, fashion brands, and home décor brands. It gives you full control over the product development and quality of your items.

The only drawbacks are:

  • It can be time consuming
  • It’s difficult to scale

The costs associated with making products by hand are the cost of materials, storing your finished products, and labor.

Startup time: A few hours to set up your ecommerce platform, followed by however long it takes to create your custom products.

Effort to start: Medium, but it takes a lot of effort to maintain.

Time to first payment: The pay period using Shopify Payments is five days, plus the number of days remaining until your payout day.

What to know:

  • Sellers must collect the state tax where their item is delivered to.
  • Make sure to factor in your packaging costs when pricing your items.
  • You can set up a Shopify store and use it for free for 3 days.


  • Most ecommerce platforms require that you’re at least 18 years of age. If you’re under the age of 18, your parents can start one on your behalf.
  • Requirements vary by state, but you need to have licenses or permits to sell anything online.

25 more ways to make money online

6. Sell on Etsy

Every online marketplace, from Etsy to Amazon, offers a shared set of advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that you get access to their network of shoppers—people regularly browse these sites when they need to buy something, so setting up shop lets you meet them there.

That said, since these channels can work in harmony with your own website, sometimes they’re a great place to begin. New online makers can use Etsy to grow brand awareness at first. We’ve seen many businesses successfully switch to Shopify, for example, after generating their first few sales on Etsy.

If you have an Etsy shop and don’t want to leave just yet, you can always run both stores simultaneously. Once you set up your Shopify store, use a free Shopify app like Etsy Marketplace Integration. You can easily sync inventories, manage orders, and make money online using both Shopify and Etsy.

Startup time: A few hours.

Effort to start: Easy, but it takes a lot of effort to maintain.

Time to first payment: Your funds will be available for deposit three days after a sale for the first 90 days. After that, they’ll be available for deposit the next business day.

What to know:

  • To post an item on Etsy, it costs 20¢/item every four months, until the item sells.
  • When you sell an item, Etsy charges a 5% transaction fee on top of your sale price (this is paid by the buyer) and a 3% + 25¢ payment processing fee per transaction (this is paid by the seller).
  • There are also possible pattern fees, conversion fees, and a variety of ad fees you might be charged, so make sure to read up and see if they apply to you.


  • Sellers must be at least 18 years of age to sell on Etsy. If they are between 13 and 18, they may use Etsy with the supervision of a parent or legal guardian. Children under the age of 13 are not allowed to sell on Etsy.
  • You must comply with Etsy’s guidelines for what items are acceptable to sell and how your items are represented.

7. Sell on Amazon

Amazon has become a marketplace that welcomes ecommerce entrepreneurs. It takes a few minutes to sign up for an account and a few more minutes to get a product listing live.

The platform has a massive audience, it’s a global marketplace, and it’s a go-to destination for product discovery and research. Listing optimization can help your products get found and unlock new opportunities. And Amazon’s in-app promotions can increase your brand’s visibility for highly targeted audiences.

Yet some ecommerce entrepreneurs question the long-term sustainability of selling on Amazon. While the marketplace is great for helping shoppers surface desired products, it’s challenging for sellers to get their business noticed. Amazon attracts many resellers of the same products you may offer.

Homesick went from not being on Amazon two years ago to becoming the number one scented candle company and the number two candle brand in the world. Amazon proved to be a good springboard for selling its products online.

Despite its success, Homesick used Shopify to build an online store as its home base. This gave the budding ecommerce business a place to showcase its brand, connect with its customers, and maintain control over its sales and promotions.

Startup time: A few hours, depending on how many products you’re listing.

Effort to start: Medium.

Time to first payment: 14 days after your first sale is delivered.

What to know:

  • You can only have one seller central account for each region you sell in, unless you have a legitimate business need to open a second account and all your accounts are in good standing.
  • Product detail pages do not belong to a single seller; they are for the specific product itself.
  • You must only ship products that you’ve included in the product detail page. Any additional items sent to the buyer is prohibited and may lead to the deactivation of your seller account.
  • You must confirm that you have shipped the product with Amazon in order to receive payment.


  • An Amazon account.
  • Must provide a product feed to Amazon or use its FBA program and send your products to an Amazon warehouse.
  • Must be at least 18 years old to create an Amazon seller account.

8. Sell digital products

Digital products carry some of the best margins of any product you can sell. The upfront costs of development can be high, but the variable costs of selling digital products is comparatively low. Once media or software is made, it isn’t very expensive to deliver to customers.

At its core, a digital product is an intangible asset you can sell repeatedly without restocking inventory. They often come in downloadable files such as a PDF, plug-in, or interactive document. These products have become such a good source of passive income that many top professional influencers, bloggers, or public icons release digital products like guides, ebooks, templates, research findings, plans, and tutorials.

Many creators make digital products to add another revenue stream to their main business, whether it be consulting, education, or memberships. You could build a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn or build an email subscriber list to promote your products and make sales.

Startup time: Varies, depending on how long it takes to create your digital product.

Effort to start: High initial effort to create the digital products you want to sell.

Time to first payment: It depends on the ecommerce platform you use, but platforms like Shopify take five business days to pay out.

What to know:

  • E-learning is becoming very popular as a digital product that people are investing in.
  • Digital products are scalable. There’s no limit to how many products you can sell. No inventory. No manufacturers. No shipping or logistics. Just market the products
  • An understanding of licensing laws, if you want to license your product or use licensed materials.


  • An online platform to sell your digital products.

9. Sell media

Media is a wide-ranging term, but the best description available if you’re a creator in the market to sell music, videos, digital art, paid newsletters, magazines, or podcasts. Media seems closely related to digital products, but the difference with media is that it tends to be geared toward creative ventures—for example, a writer starting a paid newsletter subscription or an artist learning how to sell art online.

The best part about selling media is that, a lot of the time, it’s a way for people to express themselves online. Artists and creators who didn’t have access to networks, galleries, or PR in the past can now build a brand, grow a following, and make money online doing something they love.

Startup time: Varies depending on how long it takes to create your piece of media.

Effort to start: High.

Time to first payment: Varies depending on the ecommerce platform you use to sell your media.

What to know:

  • Licensing laws, if you want to license your work or use licensed work in your pieces.


  • An online platform to sell your media.

10. Start Blogging

You’ve probably read a business blog at some point in your life. Businesses use blogging to share knowledge and insights, build an audience, and get more leads and sales. Blogging has endless benefits, such as building thought leadership in an industry and improving search engine visibility for a brand.

Blogging to make money online has grown beyond big businesses and side hustles. Anyone can now build an audience by putting out great content and make a lot of money from their blog. Bloggers also tend to take a personal approach that resonates with an intended audience versus getting information from a company blog.

People start blogs for many reasons, some being:

  • An outlet to share their thoughts, passions, or life experiences
  • A platform to educate readers on a topic they know about
  • An avenue to sell products or services
  • A space to build a personal brand

While blogging is a low-investment business idea, it can take time to pay off. Chances are, you won’t find yourself on page one of Google’s search results overnight. But with the right niche and determination, you’ll be well on your way to making money online through your blog.

Startup time: A few hours.

Effort to start: Medium to start, but it will take a lot of effort to maintain.

Time to first payment: Varies depending on how you are monetizing your blog

What to know:

  • It may take a lot of trial, error, and time for you to begin to see the monetization you want.
  • You’ll want to learn SEO and how to monetize a blog.


  • A blog.
  • An interest you want to write about.

11. Affiliate marketing

So, how do you make money affiliate marketing? Essentially, publishers or individuals can apply for affiliate programs, wherever they’re available, in order to be added as an official affiliate. Once you’re accepted, you’ll receive a way to share an affiliate link to the product or service you’re interested in promoting. (Don’t forget to add a disclaimer!)

When someone buys the product after clicking your link, you’ll receive credit for the referral, along with a commission. The commission amount depends on the affiliate program and the product being sold—commodity items on won’t pay out much, but referring a high-ticket account may pay out hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Because affiliate marketing works best when you help a visitor understand why a certain product may be the right one for them, you’ll typically notice it deployed on content-focused websites. Search engine optimization also plays an important role here, and you’ll see everyone from homegrown sites to massive, globally known publications competing for terms like “best gaming laptops 2022.”

Startup time: A few hours.

Effort to start: Medium.

Time to first payment: Varies, depending on how successful your affiliate marketing campaigns are.

What to know:

  • Growth in affiliate marketing can be sporadic in the beginning, but if you stick with it and refine your strategies, it can become a great source of passive income.
  • Building trust with your audience is the most important thing to cultivate with affiliate marketing.
  • Disclaimers are required by the FTC and most reputable affiliate programs.


  • A website or social media presence where you can promote products as an affiliate.
  • Traffic to your website or a social media following.

12. Create online courses and workshops

There’s a reason online courses have a pretty broad appeal. Once a course is created, it accrues all of the benefits of any digital product: the costs to deliver the product to more customers is essentially zero, with the exception of hosting.

Compare that to the need to maintain inventory that all physical product businesses face and you’ll find yourself dealing with fewer product-related headaches as you scale.

The appetite for digital courses and continuing education is there, too. That’s why sites like Udemy and Skillshare thrive. Your biggest hurdle is actually the web itself, where there are thousands of wonderful resources available for free. And content on every topic is getting better by the day.

Remember, though, that while there are countless topics to create content about, there are far fewer topics that people are willing to pay for. Usually, the bestselling courses teach people a valuable skill that helps them progress at their job or get deeper enjoyment out of a beloved hobby.

Startup time: Varies, depending on course, but anywhere between 25 and 100 hours.

Effort to start: Very high.

Time to first payment: Varies, depending on your course’s payment structure.

What to know:

  • Feedback is your friend. After you’ve sold your first round of courses, don’t be afraid to tweak it and improve it based on customer responses.
  • Live elements, like a live Q&A or a live webinar, will raise the value of your course and make it stand out.
  • Creating an online course takes a lot of time and energy, but once you’ve created the course, it will become a source of passive income for you.


  • A way to record audio and video and edit segments together for recorded lectures.

 13. Start a YouTube channel

Ever thought of becoming a YouTube star? Micro-celebrities like 10-year-old Ryan Kaji are making more than $29 million per year on YouTube selling toys. Another top earner on YouTube is David Dobrik, who makes about $15.5 million entertaining his audience with comical videos.

Create a YouTube channel around one niche. This will help you build a loyal audience that repeatedly tunes in to your channel, giving you more opportunities to make money online. You could offer tutorials, review products, keep up with celebrity news—whatever you think will keep your audience interested.

The key to a successful YouTube channel is to entertain or educate with your content. Once you’ve reached 1,000 subscribers, you can make money running YouTube ads on your channel. Beyond advertising revenue, you can also offer paid product placement to big brands, sell products, or become an affiliate to make money on YouTube.

Startup time: A few hours.

Effort to start: High.

Time to first payment: Once you’ve reached 1,000 subscribers.

What to know:

  • You can create a high-paying YouTube channel with the right niche.
  • The key to a successful YouTube channel is entertaining or educating with your content.
  • You can use your channel to become an affiliate.
  • You need at least 1,000 subscribers to start earning money.


  • A way to record video and audio, and a way to cut your video together.
  • Creators between the ages of 13 and 17 need parental permission to start a YouTube channel.