Through the Internet, more people than ever have money-making opportunities available to them from the comfort of their own homes. This is especially the case after 2020, where many industries transitioned into the online world to stay afloat during worldwide lockdowns. Enterprising individuals can take advantage of these opportunities if they have the right knowledge and the commitment to creating a business within the walls of their own home. This can even be done with little initial investment on your part.
Here you’ll find the knowledge that you need to get started. We have detailed all the ways you can make money and what you need to do to get your hands on it. You’ll find our guide split into the following sections:
- Why Make Money Online
- Deciding How You Want To Make Money Online
- Creating An Online Business
- Deciding What To Sell
- Where To Sell Your Goods
- Create A Marketing And Sales Plan
- Understanding Accounting
Between these sections, you’ll find out how to make money online, the specific business practices that work in the online world, and how you go about marketing and accounting for your homegrown business.
We’ve also included references to materials that delve deeper into certain topics, so you can check those out if you want to read more. They also serve to back up any claims this guide makes, so you can be confident you’re getting accurate information.
With that understood, why should you make money online?
Why Make Money Online
Why make money at all? For many people, making money is its own good as long as it’s done legally and in a way that builds your skillset as a budding entrepreneur. This is the case with any business venture, let alone one that starts from home and affords you much more convenience than running a physical company.
There’s a lot of things you can do with money but, assuming the average earnings of a successful online business, you’ll have some extra cash lying around for paying off your student loan or similar debts, as another income stream towards your retirement fund, or just as a holiday fund for a much-needed break. You may just want to have something left over when your day job’s paycheck dries up.
These are all great goals for your finances that are humble and achievable for the average person if they play their cards right. They’re also inequal, a student loan is going to be more expensive than a short holiday, after all. This means you can choose which goals you identify with and use these to motivate you as you establish your business from home.
One thing to keep in mind is that the best entrepreneurs and business people don’t look at money as something to be spent but something to be saved. Financial responsibility is the key to a successful business and long-term profit. Making money isn’t just about making the money, it’s about keeping the money you make and not spending it on fanciful pursuits. That money, once saved, can go towards important financial decisions.
International travel has taken a beating over the last year but for many people, a vacation is a light at the end of the tunnel. Subsidize that travel through a business grown at home, which you can use to save cash for when travel becomes more feasible.
While one of the more indulgent reasons to make money online, vacation time is necessary to decompress and ensure you can keep doing a good job in all aspects of your life for the rest of the year.
Some travel can also be to areas where there are skills to develop or business connections you can make, so a journey abroad doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be all fun and no work.
Start Saving for Early Retirement
If retirement is the goal, an additional income stream is a key to saving more. You can save more so you’re even more comfortable in your golden years or you can opt for early retirement. The F.I.R.E. movement has become popular over the last decade, maybe that’s your end goal? To achieve F.I.R.E., more money going into retirement-aimed investments is the key, which you can source from your newfound money-making opportunities.
Pay Off Loans
If you have loans looming over your head, making more money is perfect for paying off loans you have acquired. It’s good to give back when somebody takes a chance on you and grants you a loan, and some loans may even be enforced, so they need to be paid back somehow. Maybe you’re not making enough to pay it back as much as you’d like, in which case making more money online will help with that.
Get Rid of Debt
Similarly, you can use home business gains to pay off debts you have. The money will be good for all kinds of debts but, since it’s one of the most common, let’s talk about student debt.
With so many young people being motivated to go to higher education, student debt is at an estimated $1.71 trillion spread across a 44.7 million student population in America. If you’re part of that figure, you’ll appreciate more cash flowing your way so that you can pay off your education. While defaults were halted for the pandemic, that won’t last forever and you can get a head start on paying off the loan by starting right now.
Deciding How You Want To Make Money Online
So, you want to make money online, that much is obvious. You’re going to need the Internet when making money without leaving the comfort of your own home. Once you’re in the position to look into money-making opportunities, you now want to decide on how you’ll do it. There are quite a few options to choose from, check them out below. You may even think of other methods we haven’t covered; in which case you should research them to see if they’ll be profitable and within your skillset.
Many people think about making money from home and immediately assume it means starting a business. It doesn’t have to be but this is one of the most potentially profitable options. At the same time, it’s also more difficult to get off the ground since you need to know what you’re doing as an entrepreneur. The risk of starting a business is balanced against the potential rewards.
As somebody based in your home, you’ll likely need a website to establish a business presence online. This doesn’t need to be a dedicated website you built yourself, you can use e-commerce pages built into Shopify or eBay, or even social media groups like Facebook. You can find a handy guide to starting websites here.
Assuming you go the e-commerce route, you can buy, list, and resell products for profit. Dropshipping is a popular means of earning some side income without having to store and maintain the product in your own home. Alternatively, you can create small crafts or art projects for sale on sites like Etsy if you have skills that allow you to make those things.
Getting people to fill out your surveys can be a chore, so enterprising organizations will pay strangers online to hear about their experiences. To get comprehensive datasets, it can take thousands of people to complete a survey and you can be one of those people and get compensated for your time. Marketing firms will pay handsomely for input that can make them money in the field.
Sign your email for survey alerts and wait until the next earning opportunity comes up. Sometimes the compensation will be in the form of vouchers or other non-money payments that can be exchanged for goods and services, but this just saves you money in the long run. Some manage to make $200 a year, others $800, it depends on how many opportunities you can sniff out and how much time you dedicate to answering other people’s inane questions.
Check out some survey suggestions here.
Many websites online make their money through blogging. Whether it’s an affiliate gig or a monetized labor of love, you can make some cash based on how much traffic visits your site every month. That’s dependent on how many people see and click on your site, which comes from SEO maintenance performed on your site, and how good you are at marketing your blog on other platforms.
Write great content and share it with the world through social media and tuned-up search performance. If you’re targeting the right crowds and doing a good enough job, your traffic will steadily increase within a year. If you’re an affiliate, you’ll want a portion of those to click through to other sites and buy things. Amazon’s affiliate program is a popular example of this. Otherwise, you can get some advertisement banners on your site that will pay you depending on how much traffic you can get.
You need to have a topic that you can write about effectively and authoritatively. If it’s something you like to write about, it won’t even feel like work at all!
Speaking of blogging, there are other ways you can make money writing online. How? Through some of these gigs:
- Writing online articles
- Reader contributions
- Writing competitions
Many of your favorite websites, whether that’s Buzzfeed, Cracked, or What Culture will pay for articles assuming they’re relevant and good enough for publication. Some sites may ask for a small fee which you should be wary of, sometimes this can be a great marketing play for other services you offer but otherwise, check out opportunities where you can write online articles for other people’s sites.
Similarly, check out the reader contributions of lifestyle magazines. If you have a story to tell, you can earn some cash by contributing a story, recipes, jokes, or other relevant written work that matches what the magazine is all about.
If you’re more of a creative type, you can enter writing competitions to make some money. The amount of money you can win is directly proportional to how competitive they are, so entering smaller competitions that offer three-figure rewards is much easier than national awards, if you have the creative ability to place in them.
Self-publishing is also an option. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, you can monetize a published work on Amazon. The effort you put into the book(s) will vary depending on your strategy.
Teach English Online
If you’re a reader in the Anglosphere, you have a valuable skill already. Often considered the global lingua franca, many countries pay for native English speakers to teach online. There you can help people from all around the world learn English, which opens up many doors for their careers and helps them advance in life, all while getting paid to do it!
Many of these opportunities come by way of Korea or China but you can find opportunities all over the world for teaching English. Some may involve working with children, others may involve working with adults who want to further their career prospects, either way, you can make money teaching English by joining the online TEFL market.
Become A Freelancer
If you like being your own boss, you should take a look at freelance work. As a freelancer, you can register on sites like Upwork, People Per Hours, or Fiverr and use one of your skills to make money. Maybe you can play an instrument, in which case you can be commissioned to play for people.
A lot of these roles also revolve around writing. Somebody else pursuing blogging or magazine editing might contact a freelancer and pay them to write for their websites. As a freelancer, you can set your rates. If you grow your client base, you can change your rates to be more favorable to you.
Take a look at these:
- Content and copywriting.
- Copy editing and proofreading.
- Video editing.
- Web development.
- Graphic design.
- Sound design.
- Product/studio photography.
Qualified, or just half-decent, at any of those? If you are, you can market these skills online and make some cash out of them. A freelance job doesn’t just earn you money, it comes with the extra freedom you have from deciding your workload and working how much you want to charge. You can work part-time or full-time as a freelancer, either to make an income or to add to the money you make from your day job.
Creating An Online Business
If you’re going to try and make an online business, you need to figure out some logistics. The main functions of an online business that drive profit can be boiled down into six things. Your business might not have all of them but most of them are necessary to be successful.
- Build, design, or acquire a functional website.
- Drive traffic to your site through search engines.
- Supply copy that drives traffic/sells a product.
- Email customers/subscribers who engage with the site.
- Put yourself forward as an expert in the topics/niche you’re targeting.
- Find income in backend sales or upselling.
These should be the six goals of your online business, no matter which specific business model you’re working with. As with all businesses, it starts with identifying a need. As a beginner working at home, you’re not going to outcompete seasoned pros and organizations that have been conducting online business for years. Carve a space of the Internet out for yourself and monetize it.
Deciding What To Sell
If you’re going to look at e-commerce, you need to know what you’re selling. Some go for affiliate work where they hawk other people’s products or services, which can be lucrative, but if you’re selling your own product then you’ll fall into three categories.
The first is one we’ve touched upon already. Sites like Etsy specialize in providing a marketplace for people to sell homemade crafts and other artistic projects. While some are fans making a few bucks off of their favorite IPs, others turn it into a fully-fledged business. If you or somebody you know has expertise in crafting or other artistic exploits, you can monetize that skill through an online business.
If you have no product you can sell, how about selling some ideas instead? You may have a teachable skill that you can create an online course from. Even if you don’t, you can get educated about a topic and create the course anyway, it’ll just take more of a time investment on your part.
The creation of every online course goes through roughly seven steps until the idea comes to fruition, at which point you’ll know if the project was a success or not.
- Find the best subject for your online course.
- Research the subject extensively if you have no prior knowledge.
- Outline what you want the course to be.
- Write the content for the course, along with any required diagrams or art.
- Put your course online in some monetizable fashion.
- Market and sell your online course through the Internet.
- Build a community around your course to discuss the subject and further market future materials, if you’re going to make more courses on similar, interrelated topics.
Often called dropshipping, this is where you resell products from your online marketplace without needing to store the materials yourself. The logistics are handled by other companies who own the storage and transporting processes involved with the purchase, so you can make some money without any of the overhead operating costs that other businesses are subject to.
Many e-commerce hubs have materials and tools you can use to start a reselling operation. One of the biggest examples is Shopify.
Where To Sell Your Goods
If you don’t have your own e-commerce website where you list your goods, you will have to choose an online marketplace to sell your stuff on. While many of them are thought of as customer-to-customer sites made up of individuals, businesses can set up a page on popular marketplaces and advertise it through their social media and other materials related to their online business.
Setting up your online business on an established marketplace is great since they’re brands with high levels of awareness in mainstream culture. There are three main examples of marketplaces that everybody knows and loves, which you can use to sell your goods.
eBay was founded in 1995 and is still kicking to this very day. It survived the dot-com bubble and is likely to survive whatever upheavals may wait on the horizon for the massive marketplace. It’s also very convenient for people thanks to being one of the first major marketplaces to offer PayPal integration.
As one of the oldest online marketplaces out there, eBay is famous for its consumer-to-consumer transactions that allow users to buy and sell products. Sellers can even set up auctions where users bid on items and try to get them for the most competitive prices.
As a mainstay in the world of online marketplaces, eBay should be considered. That said, it depends on whether a community exists for what you’re selling. If nobody’s buying products like yours (and so nobody is selling them) then maybe eBay isn’t for you.
A company that needs no introduction, Amazon is the biggest success story of the last decade. It was founded in 1994 with the aspiration of becoming the biggest bookstore in the world. We don’t need to tell you that it became just that and then some. Nowadays, you can find just about anything sold on Amazon. Whether it’s through established manufacturers and their pages or entrepreneurs who are selling/reselling goods, Amazon is the broadest online marketplace there is.
They also offer many monetizable schemes, whether that’s the Amazon FBA, the aforementioned affiliate program, or their self-publishing services. If you’re selling goods, it’ll be the Amazon FBA service that you’ll want to look into. This allows you to sell goods and make a profit while Amazon handles the logistics.
As we’ve mentioned, Etsy is a one-stop-shop for handmade trinkets from thousands of skilled and dedicated craftsmen and craftswomen. The company was founded in 2005 and has garnered a reputation for providing fandom memorabilia made by people just like you. Of course, the savviest of users have turned these Etsy accounts into fully-fledged businesses to generate profit for themselves.
There’s no reason you can’t do this too! Through Etsy, businesses tend to take a much slower and personalized approach. After all, you’re not selling an identical product to hundreds on Amazon, many Etsy products are crafts that take time and love to create. This also means that you can have higher asking prices because people will pay top dollar for items that are aesthetically appealing to them; the Etsy community appreciates the work that has gone into each product.
Create A Marketing And Sales Plan
If you’re serious about making money from home, you’ll want a plan. The requirement for a formal business plan is debated in entrepreneurial communities and, as an individual plying their trade online, you shouldn’t think too deeply into it. That said, a plan is what separates the winners from the losers. Every business, no matter how small, should have some form of plan.
It’s great to have the inner workings of your business laid out in an easily understandable way. They can help you with:
- Identifying what you need to get the business off the ground, like startup costs.
- Keeping track of your business’ progress and establishing goals to work toward.
- Identifying possible financing routes, if that’s necessary.
- Determining whether hired or contracted work will be needed to help you.
- Finding out what your competitors do and how it differs from your service.
- Establishing the future of your business, so you can focus on the now.
For a marketing and sales business plan, you’ll mainly focus on the market you want to penetrate and the competitors who will try and keep you out. If you’re offering a product, you’ll also need to consider how it’s marketed and priced so it can sell well.
Remember the five Ps of marketing:
- Product – A description of your product/service, what they do, and how they’re different from competitor offerings.
- Price – This will be a pricing strategy that outlines a target profit margin. Determine how to price your goods so that they’re making a profit yet still competing in the market. Do buyers get more by buying your product? If so, you may be able to justify pricing higher than competitors.
- Place – Otherwise known as distribution, how will the products be sold and transported? Many places have in-built order fulfillment systems that make this process much easier for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. If there are fulfillment expenses, list them here so they can be worked into the price and covered so you still make a profit. Establish a return policy, too.
- Promotion – How will you get your goods in front of people? This could be a focus on SEO specialization or through paid advertising, or posts on social media. Maybe all three, in which case log how much of your advertising budget is spent on each method. Remember discounts, coupons, and other incentives as they can get people in the door.
- People – This is how your business will relate to people. Employee concerns may be here but this won’t be relevant for many readers. Which audiences are you targeting and how? How will you measure customer satisfaction after they receive your goods? Does your business model rely on an email/subscription list?
Of course, this all needs to be measured somehow in a way that you understand. Use tried and true methods of gauging your marketing effectiveness, like the analytics tools built into search engines and social media. A/B testing is another foolproof way to see which marketing strategies offer the best returns, allowing you to choose the best practices to carry into the future of your home business.
You’ll be handling your business’ finances, which means that accounting is necessary. For many, this word inspires fear. Fortunately, you don’t need to be an accountant by day to effectively manage the finances of your company. Thanks to the Internet and the explosion of online entrepreneurialism that came from it, there’s such a thing as home accounting software.
You don’t need to be a big company to have sophisticated accounting tech at your fingertips anymore. One person, with help from one of these apps or programs, can tame their company’s financials and make sure they’re in the black going forward.
Even with this help, here are some basic documents you should master to ensure that your business accounting runs as smoothly as possible.
- Income Statement – This shows how profitable your company is by telling you how much the business makes and loses in a given period.
- Profit and Loss Statement – A snapshot of your business’ income and expenses, taken on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.
- Cash Flow Statement – Details where money is received and spent across operating and investing actions.
- Bank Reconciliation – A means of keeping your business expenditure consistent with bank statements related to your business or personal finances related to your money-making activities.
With that, you should be armed with all the knowledge you need to start making money from home. Hopefully, we’ve helped you with money-making ideas that you can start working on right now, in the comfort of your home. Whether that’s part-time freelance work or a sophisticated e-commerce operation organized in your living room, you can get a second income if you know what you’re doing.
Starting any new money-making venture is a big deal, so don’t rush anything and work through our guide like a checklist if that’s what you need to do. By doing that, you guarantee that you have a stable foundation for your online business with nothing left unconsidered.