How to make money online: 10 terrific ideas

6 min read
John Coomer

If you’re wondering how to make money online, you’re certainly not alone. Many Australians are looking for ways to make extra cash, especially since the coronavirus turned the economy on its head.

Here are 10 solid ways to make money online.

1. Sell your old stuff

Top on our list of how to make money online is obvious. Unload your stuff.

Over time, most of us gather plenty of things that we don’t need or use regularly.

Instead of hoarding these things and letting them gather dust, you can sell them online on popular sites like Facebook Marketplace, eBay and Gumtree.

2. Sell your time

If you’ve got a skill and you can do it for people or businesses remotely, you can sell your time online. More and more people and businesses are outsourcing the tasks that they don’t have the time or the skill to do to remote online workers.

Young Woman Wearing a Headset
Wondering how to make money online? Consider transcription, data entry or virtual assistant work.

One of the great benefits of the internet is that it can let you do certain types of work anywhere, anytime.

You can become a freelancer and hire out your online services to anyone who’s willing to pay for them.

For example, you could become a virtual assistant by doing various admin tasks for companies from the comfort of your own home. You can find work on websites are:

  • Upwork
  • Freelancer
  • Fiverr
  • FlexJobs

Some people even make a living on these sites, having regular clients and setting their own rates.

3. Affiliate marketing

If your website or blog attracts a good amount of visitors, you can potentially earn money by entering into affiliate marketing arrangements. Affiliate marketing involves referring people from your site to buy the products and services of other businesses.

It’s basically a three-step process once you’ve been accepted into an affiliate program:

1) You receive a personalised link from your affiliate marketing partner.
2) You place the link on your website, social media site, blog page etc.
3) You receive a small portion of the sales when people click on that link and buy your partner’s products or services.

You can find start-to-finish details on getting started with affiliate marketing in this post.

4. Sell new products

Another proven way to make money online is to sell products directly to buyers. There are two main ways to do this:

But how can you get new products you can sell for a profit, I hear you asking?

Well, you could do what many successful Amazon sellers do. They source their products cheaply from places like China and then sell them online for a profit. They find suppliers who will custom-make low-cost items that they can sell, often incorporating distinctive branding to help them establish a point of difference and gain a competitive edge in the market.

5. Become a paid social media ‘influencer’

Man Seated Outside Talking on Camera

If you can become an online influencer on popular social media platforms like Instagram or YouTube, companies will pay you to post about their products.

But how do you become a paid social media influencer? You need two things:

1) A LOT of social media followers who are actively engaging (clicking, sharing, etc) with your channel. For example, to start making money on YouTube, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months.

2) A partner company that believes your followers have the same characteristics as their target market (age, interests, etc).

The best way to build up a large number of social media followers who share similar characteristics is to pick a niche topic. Then you need to post interesting content regularly about that topic, including impacting photos and videos.

The more you do that, the more followers you’re likely to generate by people liking and sharing your content. And that’s when you might be able to start monetising your online influence. Companies might approach you, or you could be proactive and approach them yourself.

Related: How to make money on YouTube

6. Write and self-publish your own eBook

The days of needing a publisher if you want to be an author are over. You can now self-publish and sell your own book through sites like Amazon. For example, if you have some expertise on a particular topic, you can create your own how-to eBook. Or if you’ve got a great story to tell, you can write a novel. Self-publishing gives you a lot of room in deciding how you make money online.

Related: The DIY guide to writing a book in 10 steps

7. Buy shares

While the Australian share market (and those around the world) took a dive when the coronavirus hit, the aftermath could be a good time to buy if history is any guide.

Share markets tend to bounce back over time after a shock.

For example, they reached new record highs even after the global financial crisis (GFC) hit in 2007/08.

Savvy investors buy when share prices are low, so they can get a bargain and make a profit when the market recovers.

The most important thing is to choose your shares wisely. Look to invest in companies that will bounce back quickly. Then buy their shares via an online brokerage service.

NOTE: The above should not be taken as financial advice. If you wish to invest in shares, consult a professional financial advisor for guidance.

8. Podcasting

If you start a podcast and you build up a decent subscriber base, you might be able to make money online through advertising sales.

It’s a bit like becoming a social media influencer. If you can get enough podcast listeners who share similar characteristics (e.g. age, interests and gender), then advertising on your podcast will potentially be attractive to businesses who are looking to target that market.

9. Online tutoring

Person Reading Class Materials on a Laptop
If you have a teachable skill, tutoring is a great way to make money online.

Education is increasingly moving online, and the coronavirus may only have accelerated that trend. If you have any academic expertise or knowledge, you can capitalise on that by becoming an online tutor for people in Australia and internationally.

10. Fill out consumer surveys

Market research is big business these days. Some companies will even pay you to fill out online consumer surveys for them.

A word of warning though: make sure you only fill out genuine surveys from reputable companies. Be wary of scammers. And NEVER give out your personal information like your bank account details, tax file number or address in an online survey.

That’s how to make money online

There are many potential ways to make money online. Some of them (like becoming an influencer, affiliate marketing and podcasting) require you to build up a significant online presence which takes time, but many other methods don’t. The key to making money online is to use the most suitable methods for your individual situation.