For all the convenience and access to information that the Internet offers, the ability to earn money online—honestly and legitimately—just might be one of the most useful. At a minimum, you need an Internet connection and computer. Or for some jobs, just a smartphone will do.
The challenge is to wade through all the muck and pitches for free get-rich opportunities to find authentic ways to make money.
The opportunities for online jobs are out there. But it’s not like winning the lottery. Most require hard work and dedication before you get paid for your time. But isn’t that true of just about any kind of job? None of what follows will make you an overnight millionaire, but each represents a legitimate way to earn extra money online.
There are a number of websites that will pay you to do stuff—things like taking surveys, watching videos, and testing products.
Swagbucks is an online rewards program that gives users points (“Swag Bucks,” or SBs) for various tasks—100 points = $1.00. Points can be traded in for eGift cards for more than 1,500 popular merchants like Amazon, Target, Starbucks, and Walmart. Don’t want gift cards? Redeem your points for cold, hard cash via PayPal.
Swagbucks rewards members for the everyday things they already do online like shopping, answering surveys and polls, watching entertaining videos, discovering videos, searching the web and even playing games.
Members can earn SBs using the mobile app and from their computers.
To get started, create your free Swagbucks account. Once verified (you’ll get a verification email message) you’ll get your first 5 SBs. Then take a quick survey or watch a 5-minute video. The opportunities to earn SBs will be endless. Do as little or as much as you want.
Swagbucks is super easy to use and you’ll be amazed how quickly you can earn SBs. We have EC readers who earn hundreds of dollars every year that they earmark for Christmas shopping.
You can choose to speed up your earnings by searching for online tutorials and following Swagbucks’ Facebook Page.
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Formerly Ebates, only the name has changed. Rakuten is a free rebate site that I have written about in the past. I hope you are already earning cash-back rebates when you shop online or in-store at any number of popular retailers like Amazon, Old Navy, Chico’s, JCPenney, Lowes, Groupon.
And don’t worry about the name change to Rakuten. Nothing has changed for you—your cash back account is intact. If you don’t have an account, it’s super easy to open your free account. And quite amazing how much you can earn with cash back from onlie purchases you would have made anyway.
Here’s the way you can turbocharge your Rakuten account to give you even more extra cash. Refer friends and relatives to open their free account. Rakuten will pay you a whopping $25 for every new member you refer who he or she shops and makes a purchase at one of its partner merchants sites. And there is no limit to how many referral fees you can earn. When you open your Rakuten account, you get your own unique referral link, which you can use at will—even on social media.
Rakuten sends checks out once each quarter and it’s by paper check in the mail.
Project Payday is an opportunity for the super-organized person because it’s tricky. If you are not slightly obsessed with organization, move along. This is not for you.
Basically this site will pay you to get trial offers. You sign up with Project Payday and then agree to give your opinions and reviews of products and services. The kicker here is that you have signed up for the free trial.
I’m sure their clients are hoping you’ll forget to cancel before the free trial period ends. If that happens, you’ve just shot yourself in the foot. But if you can keep track and cancel before you get charged (if you don’t want the product or service), and you don’t slip up at all, this is a great opportunity to consider. You could earn some serious cash.
If you feel fairly comfortable navigating websites, testing websites, and giving your honest feedback this may be your ideal side hustle. UserTesting is a company that tests websites to give feedback to site developers. They need people like you who are not familiar with those websites, to test them and give valuable feedback from the typical user’s standpoint.
To get started, watch this video, by Bob Lovitch from SeedTime, and then this video from the UserTesting site. Both will walk you through the steps to get started and qualify as a tester so you can start earning cash—up to $30 an hour. Testers can easily complete three tests ($10 each) per hour—when they want and in their spare time.
Once you sign up to be a website user tester, you’ll take a qualifying test. Once you submit your test results, it takes 2 to 3 days to hear back. It is not unusual to not pass the test on the first try. Just know that, don’t get discouraged and plan to try again. Once you get the hang of how to give excellent test responses, you’ll be on your way.
Similar to Swagbucks, at Inbox Dollars you earn money taking surveys, shopping, and so forth. If that is of interest to you, I suggest you sign up with both Inbox Dollars and Swagbucks. Both offer $5 just to sign up for their search engines, so look for both. For other similar sites that pay, look at Survey Club, GlobalTestMarket, and E-Poll Surveys.
Fiverr is a website where you can consistently make money as a freelancer if you can provide services other people need. The deal is that you offer to do a “gig” for five bucks.
I’ve hired Fiverrs from time to time for digital tasks and have been really happy with the outcome. Often what I need equals a couple of “gigs” but still, for $5 I can get stuff done online that I don’t know how to do or don’t have the time. If nothing else, it’s a hoot to read what people will do starting at $5.
If you prefer the idea of working for a company but doing that via the Internet from home or any other place you happen to be, there are lots of opportunities to earn money that way, too.
This is a call center that hires customer service reps who work from their home. You need to check the site carefully, but generally, Liveops pays an hourly wage that isn’t great, but you have the opportunity to earn commissions on top of that.
Think of all the things you do every day that require sight—things we take for granted because they have become so commonplace. Things like browsing the web, reading a book, shopping for groceries. We take these activities for granted. For the blind or folks with low-vision, all of these activities require assistance. Aria is an online company that offers assistance to the blind.
One website, Aira, provides that assistance virtually by offering help with their day-to-day routines to Aira members. An Aira agent must go through intensive training as a part of the recruitment process. Once hired, you will connect with Aria members via video calls.
The estimated pay for new hires is $15 an hour—which is not bad. To qualify you’ll need a high school diploma although college is preferred and skills in solving problems.
No, this isn’t hiring out as a public speaker. Or even writing. SpeakWrite hires people to transcribe dictation, information, speeches, and shows. If you’ve got crackerjack typing skills, you set your own schedule and get paid by the hour. Read the guidelines carefully.
How does viewing and ranking websites for cash sound? If hired by Appen, you can make an hourly wage at home for pretty easy work. Couldn’t hurt to apply.
Are you qualified as a medical transcription? Fast Chart allows you to work from home as an independent contractor. The pay appears to be competitive for the industry.
If you are a skilled writer, there’s money to be earned online. But you need to know where to look and how to build your portfolio.
If your writing skills are a little rusty or you’ve not kept up as the world has gone digital, gather your courage, tap into your talents, hone your skills and you could be sitting pretty a year from now. True: You are not likely to get paid in advance. You’ll need to submit, learn from rejection and, basically, never give up!
Don’t expect to earn a full-time, living wage from the start. You’re going to put in a lot of time before you see a paycheck. If writing for a living were easy, everyone would be doing it. My advice is to assume you’ll get a number of rejections before one acceptance. Get busy now getting rejections out of the way, so you can move on to earning money as a writer.
Check out these opportunities that will pay you to write for them. Just make sure you read the guidelines. They will be unique to each site. Follow them exactly.
A List Apart
Are you a list maker? That means you might find success in writing for A List Apart. Think “Top Ten” with a lot of copy between. Articles must be at least 1,500 words, fun, compelling and informational. You’ll earn $200 for each article accepted.
Since 1997, Freelance Writing has delivered daily and real-time freelance writing jobs online for freelance beginners and experts. This is the #1 source for freelance writing jobs. This is where some of the Internet’s best writers find their jobs.
Yep, yet another list site in search of well-written lists. Listverse pays $100 per accepted article.
If you’re a traveler and like to write about your experiences, here’s an interesting opportunity. My opinion is that International Living is not looking so much for expert-level writing as it wants stories about the awesome, unusual, and exciting experiences you’ve had while traveling to other countries. The pay rate is $75 per for each accepted post.
I love this site. Maybe that’s because I have some pretty funny stories about how I fell into the backdoor of earning a living as a writer! FundsforWriters is looking for short articles, 500-600 words on one topic: Earning a living as a writer. The pay is pretty low at $50 per article but will give you the cred and experience you need to build momentum.
Definitely take a look at Uxbooth and start submitting. Just make sure you’re keeping to their guidelines and expectations. And find something to do while you’re waiting to hear back. They can take 2 to 3 months to respond. And if accepted you’ll get $100 per article for your efforts.
Head here if you’re an experienced writer in search of freelance opportunities. Textbroker pays as much as a nickel a word. TextBroker is a place you can get started if you’ve got the skills and abilities. You’ll be required to submit a sample article as a kind of resume to determine your level of writing. Might sound scary, but what do you have to lose? This is a place where you can submit and have accepted unlimited numbers of articles on any number of topics. Not a bad gig.
Basically, these are online sites that match freelance laborers with people who need stuff done around their homes.
Even before the pandemic, seniors are at higher risk of isolation and loneliness than other age groups. And the pandemic has done nothing to make that any better Papa, a senior-care company, to help combat what he calls the “loneliness epidemic.” The company hires senior aides, Papa Pals, to check in with seniors to see if they need help with tech, ordering groceries and medicine, or provide basic companionship.
TaskRabbit is an amazing and unique website that is specifically based on providing various helping services to the users. The services offered include fittings, handyman, picking up heavy items, lawn and garden tasks, etc. You can signup to be a Tasker. Then, as people who are in need of help post their jobs, you can bid on them. Everything is handled through the TaskRabbit app. Taskers get paid 24 hours after the task has been completed. Check it out.
Video Game Support Agent
Not kidding. It’s a real job. You can actually get paid to talk about video games.
Gaming support agents help players with questions about their video game accounts, billing issues, technical problems, glitches, and other general gameplay inquiries. These positions provide general customer support services paired with in-depth knowledge of popular games across several platforms, including Nintendo Switch, Xbox, Playstation, and PC.
The companies tend to hire gamers themselves. Because of the international player base of popular video games, second-language skills are highly sought after, especially Korean, Japanese and Spanish. For many openings, second-language skills are a requirement.
Start a blog
I’m a blogger, as you may have noticed, so it makes sense that I save the best for last. Quite possibly the least straight-forward way to earn money online on this list, blogging is very doable. And so much fun. I love blogging and I know of hundreds of bloggers who feel the same. So let’s talk about making money blogging and what it really means.
Blogging requires a lot of patience. You will not earn money on day one. Or even day 5 or 365. It takes time. But start-up costs are minimal if you have more time than money. In fact, you can create your own website at sites like SquareSpace and Wix.
If you’re truly interested in becoming a blogger, start by poring over the archives of ProBlogger, Copyblogger, and SmartBlogger. Then go read through all the free guides over at Quick Sprout.com. If blogging is right for you, you’ll be inspired.
If, on the other hand, learning what it takes to be a successful blogger gives you a rash, scroll up to TaskRabbit. Accept a few short tasks to get you going. You’ll be working very soon and have legit money in your pocket in no time!