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How To Make Money Online

73 legit ways you can earn money online in 2020

how to make money online

This is the definitive article about how to make money online.

On this page you’ll see ideas and examples for earning a few dollars 💵 to millions per month 🤑 on the internet. At the end I’ll also tell you the best way to get started (click here to find out now).

The info you’ll find here is based on:

  • My experience earning a living online since 2010 (including $13k last month)
  • 1000’s of hours researching ways to make money online
  • Input from 1000’s of entrepreneurs we’ve worked or corresponded with over the years

We’ve structured this article according to the 6 levels and 19 types of online business.

You’ll see the quick and easy opportunities listed first. As you scroll down, the earning potential tends to increase, along with the level of difficulty.

⚠️ None of the real-world examples on this page represent how much money you would earn with a similar business; their purpose is simply to show you what’s possible.

🗂 GetPaidTo Level 1 / Novice

Often abbreviated to GPT, this is the type of work pretty much anyone can do online. You rarely need specific skills or qualifications.

Popular GPT tasks include completing surveys, watching videos, or participating in research studies. The offers tend to be small and frequent or big and rare. Each offer gives you the chance to earn or save money. 

Complete Online Surveys

PrizeRebel is the best site we’ve found for earning money with online surveys…

  • Ricky Rebel

  • Online Survey Taker at PrizeRebel
  • $2 – $5 per hour

Watch Videos

You can earn a little money watching videos via the Swagbucks website or apps…

  • Sammy Swagbucks

  • Watching Videos on Swagbucks
  • $1 – $5 per day

Participate in Online Research Studies

Respondent is a popular site for finding the occasional paid research study…

  • Renee Respondent

  • Online Research Study Participant at Respondent
  • $21 average earnings per hour

Provide Feedback on Social Media

You can earn a side income working for Appen as a social media evaluator…

  • Annie Appen

  • Social Media Evaluator at Appen
  • $7 – $20 per hour

Become a Mock Online Juror

Sign up to OnlineVerdict and they’ll notify you when attorneys in your area need people for a focus group or mock trial…

  • Julie Judicious

  • Mock Online Juror at OnlineVerdict
  • $20 – $60 per hour

Earn Cash Back Rewards

This is basically “getting paid to spend money” but it can be worthwhile if you use cash back offers for things you planned to buy anyway, like gas or groceries.

For example, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a $200 bonus if you spend $500 in the first three months, plus 1.5% cash back on purchases.

Sarah Chrisp uses cards like that for business expenses and earns impressive rewards…

  • Sarah Chrisp

  • Founder of Wholesale Ted
  • $1,000 monthly credit card rewards

You can also earn rewards from shopping platforms like Rakuten, which offers up to 40% cash back at over 2,500 stores like Macy’s, Old Navy, Apple and Nike…

  • Kerry Kuten

  • Online Shopper via Rakuten
  • $10 welcome bonus on first purchase

🗂 Contests Level 1 / Novice

With these opportunities you’ll be competing with others online to win cash prizes, typically by providing a service to clients who pick the winners. 

You do the work upfront and get paid if your performance is deemed good enough.

Enter Naming Contests

Come up with a great name for a business on Squadhelp and you’ll get paid…

  • Scottie Squadhelp

  • Naming Creative at Squadhelp
  • $100 – $300 per contest won

Enter Branding Contests

Squadhelp also hosts branding and identity contests. The prize money for these can be even bigger…

  • Stella Squadhelp

  • Branding & Identity Creative at Squadhelp
  • $100 – $500 per contest won

Enter Design Contests

If you have some web or graphic design skills, a design contest might be right up your alley.

99designs is the most famous site for design contests…

  • Nina Ninety-Nine

  • Design Contest Participant at 99designs
  • $271 average per contest won

DesignCrowd is similar but the prize money’s a little less…

  • Danny DC

  • Contest Participant at DesignCrowd
  • $215 average per contest won

🗂 Remote Job Level 2 / Intermediate

A remote job is like having a regular office job, but you can do it from anywhere (usually at home). 

You would be a full- or part-time employee of a company, working from your computer. Some remote jobs allow you a flexible schedule and freedom to travel, while others have strict work hours and/or require you to live in a specific country or time zone. 

You’d typically get paid a salary.

Some examples of people with remote jobs…

  • Kaurie Albert

  • Remote Executive Assistant
  • $35k – $70k estimated annual salary
  • Art M.

  • Remote Health Coach
  • $32k – $67k estimated annual salary
  • Chris Nolan

  • Remote Accountant
  • $40k – $71k estimated annual salary

Turn Your Current Job into a Remote Job

If you work a regular office job, you may be able to negotiate a remote work agreement.

Jake was able to do just that and now works from home instead of a cubicle…

  • Jake Bartlett

  • Remote Customer Success Manager
  • $41k – $104k estimated annual salary

For tips on negotiating a remote work agreement with your current employer, see chapter 12 of The Four Hour Workweek.

Failing that…

Find a Remote Job

Pretty much any job that can be done from an office can be done remotely these days, and you’ll find plenty of remote job openings posted online.

Here are the best remote job boards to find a remote job fast.

🏆 Best Remote Job Boards 🏆

Best overall

FlexJobs

Best for US-based

Virtual Vocations

Best for anywhere

Dynamite Jobs

Best for corporate jobs

FlexJobs

Best for startup jobs

AngelList

🗂 Freelance Level 2 / Intermediate

As a freelancer (or contractor) you’d be building and running your own business. 

You would use specific skills or training to provide an online service. Clients or agencies would pay you for your time and/or output. 

You might hire other people to help you out occasionally, but you’d be doing most of the work yourself.

If you don’t want to get a remote job, freelancing is my #1 recommendation to get started earning a living online.

Freelance Your Existing Skills

You probably already have skills you can freelance online.

For example, if you’re good with kids, you could try your hand at virtual babysitting via VeeBee

  • Vicky VB

  • Virtual Babysitter at VeeBee
  • $16 average hourly rate

Or if you have decent social skills and enjoy teaching, you could help people learn English on iTalki

  • Ian Italki

  • Community English Tutor on iTalki
  • $4 – $25 per hour

You can earn even more on iTalki if you have a language teaching certification (like TEFL)…

  • Ivy Italki

  • Professional English Teacher on iTalki
  • $5 – $44 per hour

Or you could start freelancing the same skills you used at your 9-to-5 job.

That’s what Kat Ambrose did, going from producing content for an ad agency in Denver to running her own online writing business…

  • Kat Ambrose

  • Freelance Writer
  • $4,500 monthly revenue

To be clear: you will have to learn additional skills to become a successful freelancer – the skill of getting clients being the most crucial – but leveraging your existing skills can get you earning good money fast.

Learn New Skills You Can Freelance

This can be done faster than you might think, given how easy it is nowadays to learn new skills via inexpensive or even free online courses.

A great example is Justin Clifton, a college dropout who spent two months building and practicing a new skill set. He landed his first client at $9 per hour and a year later was charging as much as $50 per hour while traveling the world…

  • Justin Clifton

  • Freelance Google Ads and Web Analytics
  • $6,000 monthly revenue

Fiona Wong got kicked out of college but was able to teach herself enough to earn a living online as a single mom with two kids…

  • Fiona Wong

  • Freelance Virtual Assistant
  • $7,000 monthly revenue

Writing is one of the most popular skills people learn to start freelancing.

Conor Walsh confessed to having “zero experience” when he started freelance ghostwriting, but was quickly able to earn a good income from it…

  • Conor Walsh

  • Freelance Ghostwriter
  • $2,700 monthly freelance writing income

To give a more extreme example of a self-taught freelancer, this 19-year-old hacker from Argentina earns big money helping major companies improve their cybersecurity…

  • Santiago Lopez

  • Ethical Hacker at HackerOne
  • $1 million earnings in 3 years

Offer a Productized Service

A popular way to boost your freelance earnings is to offer a productized service.

For example, Wayne Chin sells his voiceover service as several “products” on Fiverr…

  • Wayne Chin

  • Freelance Voiceover Artist
  • $50 – $250+ revenue per Fiverr order

When you sell a productized service like Wayne, each project you work on is quite similar, making it easier to optimize your workflow and thereby earn more money in less time.

Work with Groups

Another way to scale a freelance business is to offer the same service to a group of clients rather than working with each of them individually.

For example, Nagina Abdullah started offering group coaching in addition to one-on-one coaching and was able to work with “hundreds more clients.”

  • Nagina Abdullah

  • Online Weight Loss Coach
  • $15,273 avg monthly coaching revenue

🗂 Agency Level 3 / Advanced

Think of this as the evolution of a freelance business.

As an agency you would still have clients, but instead of doing all the work yourself you’d build and manage a team to do the work.

Grow a Freelance Business into an Agency

This is how most agencies begin.

Joel Young started off doing freelance video and voiceover gigs for $5 a pop, and gradually evolved his business into a video content agency…

  • Joel Young

  • Founder of JumpStart Video
  • $60,000 monthly agency revenue

Similar story with Pamela Grossman, who left her day job to start freelancing and grew the business into a marketing agency…

  • Pamela Grossman

  • Founder of In The Present
  • $165,000 monthly agency revenue

Dive straight into the Agency model

This is likely a less viable path – freelance first seems to be the norm – but it is doable.

Sam Ovens started out this way, finding paying clients for website and digital marketing services then outsourcing the work to contractors…

  • Sam Ovens

  • Founder of Consulting.com
  • $10k – $15k estimated monthly agency revenue

Sam now teaches others how to emulate his success.

🗂 Referral Level 3 / Advanced

With this kind of business you’re the middleman (or woman) connecting buyers and sellers. You are not the customer, nor do you ever own or provide the end product; you are the bridge between the two sides.

You usually get paid a commission or finder’s fee.

Start a Niche Website

Niche websites focus on a specific topic and mainly generate income by referring visitors to third-party products and services via affiliate marketing and/or display ads.

Jill Loeffler started a niche website about San Francisco, recommending different things to see and do in the city…

  • Jill Loeffler

  • Founder of SFTourismTips.com
  • $5,000 monthly website revenue

Sa El has a niche website that helps people buy insurance…

  • Sa El

  • Founder of Simply Insurance
  • $50,000 monthly website revenue

Both Jill and Sa built their sites from scratch.

Another option is to buy and grow an existing niche site…

Buy a Niche Website

For example, Kim Guzman started a niche website in 1998 and it was earning $2,600 each month before she sold the whole thing…

  • Kim Guzman

  • Founder of CrochetKim.com
  • $90,000 income from website sale

The new owners will try to increase monthly revenue and perhaps resell the site for a higher price later on.

Try Affiliate Marketing Without a Website

Instead of building out a full niche website, some people find success promoting affiliate offers via paid ads on social media or search engines.

Robby Blanchard is a prime example…

  • Robby Blanchard

  • Founder of Commission Hero
  • $400,000+ monthly affiliate revenue

⚠️ It looks like it has become increasingly difficult to make money doing affiliate marketing via paid ads. I struggled to find believable examples of people doing it beyond 2019.

Generate Leads for Local Businesses

This is sometimes known as Rank and Rent SEO. You would create a website that generates leads for local businesses, and get paid per lead.

For example, one of Ruan Marinho’s websites generates leads for painters in Connecticut…

  • Ruan Marinho

  • Founder of Develomark
  • $1.5k – $3k per month from one website

🗂 Resale Level 3 / Advanced

This is another “middleman” business but here the customer sees you as the owner of the product and they deal directly with you.

You still don’t create the products yourself; you buy and resell, or you order from the creator/manufacturer on behalf of the customer.

You make money by selling at a higher price than you buy.

Start a Dropshipping Business

Dropshipping is probably the most famous type of resale business.

⚠️ Looks like it’s harder to succeed with dropshipping nowadays, but people like Rene Delgado were seeing fast success with it a few years back…

  • Rene Delgado

  • Bounce House Dropshipper
  • $300,000 revenue in first year

Resell with Amazon FBA

Dan Meadors and his business partner have had great success with this…

  • Dan Meadors

  • Co-founder of The Wholesale Formula
  • $400,000+ monthly amazon wholesale revenue

They buy products in bulk, get those products shipped to Amazon’s FBA warehouses, then resell them on Amazon.com.

Resell on eBay

This is one of several ways Ryan Roots and his wife make money online…

  • Ryan Roots

  • Co-founder of Ralli Roots
  • $24,176 Ralli Roots monthly revenue reselling on ebay

However, there is a significant offline component to Ryan’s business – they store quite a lot of product in a warehouse and ship it to customers themselves.

Resell a Digital Product

Aaron Kerr finds classic literature with expired copyright, formats the text for Kindle and sells on Amazon…

  • Aaron Kerr

  • Public Domain Publisher
  • $1,300 monthly revenue

Flip Domains

The glory days of domain flipping seem to be long gone. 

Unless you have a time machine, you’re not going to replicate the success of someone like Glenn Stokes. He bought the domain plants.com for dirt cheap in 1995 and sold it for a bundle 23 years later…

  • Glenn Stokes

  • Domain Flipper
  • $450,000 sale of one domain

However, domain flippers like Jonas Nielsen show that it’s still possible to flip domains for a small profit in a few weeks…

  • Jonas Nielsen

  • Domain Flipper
  • $824 from one domain flip

Flip Websites

This is more complex than flipping domains but it can be a solid way to make money online if you have the right skills.

Like Doron here…

  • Doron Wolffberg

  • Co-founder of Cliverse Media
  • $124,750 company profit from one website flip

🗂 Authority Level 4 / Superior

An authority business draws and holds attention online, and they can monetize that attention in various ways. 

It’s basically any business with a significant number of followers or subscribers. Think of influencers or experts providing entertainment, information, or inspiration, to the point where people keep coming back for more. 

In an authority business, the owner or brand is usually better known than any particular product or service they provide. 

Start a Podcast

Jarlath Regan’s niche podcast earns him a decent amount each month…

  • Jarlath Regan

  • Podcaster, An Irishman Abroad
  • $2k – $5k per month via Patreon

Start a YouTube Channel

Patricia Bright started on YouTube way back in 2009 and now has three channels and millions of subscribers…

  • Patricia Bright

  • Fashion and Beauty Influencer
  • $28,295 monthly ad revenue from one YouTube channel

A more modest example would be Ryan Roots, who started on YouTube in 2016 and grew it to more than 120k subscribers…

  • Ryan Roots

  • Co-founder of Ralli Roots
  • $7,000+ monthly YouTube ad revenue

Become a Social Media Influencer

If you can build up a big following on social media, you can probably earn a good income.

For example, Katy Bellotte has more than 170,000 followers on Instagram and gets paid for sponsored posts…

  • Katy Bellotte

  • Content Creator and Freelancer
  • $2.4k – $5k per sponsored Instagram post

Another option here is to monetize a popular Facebook page, like Lester Diaz does with in-stream video ads…

  • Lester Diaz

  • Internet Marketer
  • $7,462 one month Facebook ad revenue

Build an Authority Website

An authority website = a website that is recognized as the authority on a certain topic.

For example, Cassidy Tuttle created an authoritative website about house plants that has done very well…

  • Cassidy Tuttle

  • Founder of Succulents and Sunshine
  • $66,000 average monthly revenue

Start an Email Newsletter

Email newsletters are an add-on for many websites but they can also be the main event.

Sam Parr’s newsletter is certainly that…

  • Sam Parr

  • Founder and CEO of The Hustle
  • $1+ million The Hustle monthly revenue

🗂 Digital Product Level 4 / Superior

With this kind of online business you’d be creating and offering a digital product, not a service. Think information products or self-hosted software. 

You’d sell the product directly to the customer, usually for a one-time fee, or make money via ads, donations, that kind of thing.

Write and Sell an eBook

Yes, it’s still possible to make money online this way.

Daniel Vassallo is a good example, earning a bundle from an ebook and an online course in early 2020…

  • Daniel Vassallo

  • Digital Product Creator
  • $100,000 revenue in 4 months

Create and Sell an Online Course

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner created a profitable online course about affiliate marketing…

  • Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

  • Blogger and Online Course Creator
  • $1.1 million online course revenue in 2.5 years

Create a Mobile Game

Monetization options are limited here but Anders Lundbjörk proves that you can make a decent living as an independent game developer…

  • Anders Lundbjörk

  • Mobile Game Developer
  • $5,000 monthly revenue

Build a Mobile App

Danny Connell has created several apps and earns a good chunk of income from them…

  • Danny Connell

  • App Developer and Coding Instructor
  • $7,776 monthly revenue from apps

Build an Add-On or Plugin

Adrian Spiac’s small company has done well building and selling premium plugins for WordPress…

  • Adrian Spiac

  • Co-founder of Cozmoslabs
  • $45,000+ monthly revenue from premium wordpress plugins

Create and Sell Music or Audio

Ant Chamberlain went from $0 to $20k/month creating and selling his beats online…

  • Ant Chamberlain

  • Music Producer
  • $20,000 monthly revenue selling beats

Create and Sell Photos or Videos

Steve Heap seems to be one of the few people earning decent money from this nowadays…

  • Steve Heap

  • Photographer
  • $2,737 monthly revenue from stock photography

🗂 Physical Product Level 5 / Distinguished

With this kind of business you would produce physical goods – or get them produced to spec – then sell them via an online store or marketplace. 

Of course, most physical product businesses are not 100% online, but the ideas and examples listed in this section all have a significant online component.

This is something of a hybrid of digital and physical products. You would create the design or artwork that would be printed onto physical goods – t-shirts, mugs, whatever – before being shipped to the customer.

A third-party service like Printful or Merch by Amazon would handle the printing, packing and shipping.

Sarah Chrisp has achieved impressive success with this kind of business…

  • Sarah Chrisp

  • Founder of Wholesale Ted
  • $60,000 monthly revenue from print on demand store

Create and Sell a Private Label Product

To create a private label product you would find a manufacturer who already produces something similar, and have them produce a slight variation for you. 

Add some good branding and marketing to the mix, and you’re off to the races.

For example, Michael Schneider’s private label product is a phone wallet that sells well on Amazon

  • Michael Schneider

  • Co-founder of Gecko Travel Tech
  • $88,000 monthly e-commerce revenue

Sell Your Arts and Crafts Online

Courtney Bleier and her sister teamed up to create and sell handmade jewelry via Etsy…

  • Courtney Bleier

  • Co-founder at Ann + Joy
  • $4,000 monthly e-commerce revenue

Mass Produce Your Own Physical Product

At only 16 years of age, Kartik Gurmule got some luxury shoes designed in the UK, found a manufacturer in Italy, then started selling the shoes online and shipping worldwide…

  • Kartik Gurmule

  • Founder of KASA, Co-founder of Dropshyp
  • $80,000 monthly KASA revenue

Create and Sell Customized Physical Products

90% of Dane Jensen’s e-commerce sock business comes from designs submitted by customers…

  • Dane Jensen

  • Founder of Sock Club
  • $1 million sock club monthly revenue

Crowdfund Your Physical Product

Charles Harris is a pro at this, having run multiple successful crowdfunding campaigns, including one for a tangle-free charging cable that raised almost $4 million…

  • Charles Harris

  • Founder of SuperCalla Technology
  • $3.7+ million crowdfunded for one product

License an Idea for a Physical Product

Licensing an idea effectively makes you a silent partner in a business; you come up with the concept and the licensee does everything else.

Back in 2005, Nate Dallas was able to sell an idea for a board game to Mattel and earn $300,000 in passive income over the next ten years…

  • Nate Dallas

  • Serial Entrepreneur
  • $2,500 monthly royalties for one product idea

⚠️ Nate admits that the Mattel deal was exceptional; his subsequent licensing deals weren’t nearly as lucrative.

🗂 Cloud Service Level 5 / Distinguished

With this kind of online business you would own some software, infrastructure or platform and give people continuous access to it via the cloud. 

You’d monetize by charging an access fee, selling ad space, selling user data, that kind of thing.

Software as a Service (SaaS) seems to be the most popular and, I’d argue, by far the most accessible kind of Cloud Service business, so I’ll mainly share SaaS examples in this section.

Build Marketing Software

Nathan Barry built and grew ConvertKit into a popular email marketing solution…

  • Nathan Barry

  • Founder of ConvertKit
  • $2+ million ConvertKit monthly revenue

Build a Hosting Business

Traditional web hosting companies fit here, but a more relatable example would be Matt Basta’s podcast hosting service…

  • Matt Basta

  • Founder of Pinecast
  • $13,000 Pinecast monthly revenue

Build Collaboration Software

Ryan Badger apparently built v1 of his Dropbox-like software in a weekend from a beach in Thailand…

  • Ryan Badger

  • Serial Entrepreneur
  • $19,500 peak monthly revenue for Uploadfiles.io

Build Project Management Software

Renato Marinho’s PM software started off as a side project while working for another startup…

  • Renato Marinho

  • Founder of GitScrum
  • $50,000 GitScrum monthly revenue

Build Freemium Software

Curtis Herbert built an app that helps skiers and snowboarders track their runs. You can use a free version or pay a subscription for premium features.

  • Curtis Herbert

  • Founder of Slopes App
  • $25,000 monthly revenue from app

Build Niche Software

How’s this for niche: Preetam Nath’s software enables online store owners to communicate with visitors and customers via WhatsApp…

  • Preetam Nath

  • Co-founder of SuperLemon
  • $29,000 SuperLemon monthly revenue

🗂 Marketplace Level 5 / Distinguished

Think of a marketplace business as the evolution of a referral business. You’d own an app or website that makes it easy for “buyers” and “sellers” to meet each other.

Many marketplaces monetize by taking a cut of each transaction or by charging for membership or listings.

Start a Physical Products Marketplace

John Sillings co-founded Art in Res, an online marketplace that connects artists with art buyers…

  • John Sillings

  • Co-founder of Art in Res
  • $16,000 Art in Res monthly revenue

Build a Digital Products Marketplace

Joe Magnotti co-founded Empire Flippers, a marketplace for people to buy and sell online businesses (mainly websites)… 

  • Joe Magnotti

  • Co-founder of Empire Flippers
  • $2.47 million Empire Flippers monthly revenue

Start a Services Marketplace

BJ Wright started Funnel Rolodex, a marketplace for freelancers who offer services related to building and optimizing funnels…

  • BJ Wright

  • Founder of Funnel Rolodex
  • $58,000 Funnel Rolodex monthly revenue

🗂 Social Network Level 5 / Distinguished

With this kind of business you’d provide an online platform that people would use to build social connections with others who share similar interests, goals, backgrounds, whatever. 

Usually several monetization options for a social network business.

Create a Free Online Forum

Most of the well-known social networks are essentially big message boards monetized with ads.

Reddit is a prime example, co-founded by Alexis Ohanian in 2005…

  • Alexis Ohanian

  • Co-founder of Reddit
  • $8.3+ million Reddit monthly revenue

Dan Andrews co-founded the Dynamite Circle, a private community for established entrepreneurs…

  • Dan Andrews

  • Serial Entrepreneur
  • $50,000 Dynamite Circle estimated monthly revenue

Members of the DC pay a quarterly or yearly fee.

Start a Facebook Group

Colin Theriot grew his own social networks (Facebook Groups) within an existing social network (Facebook) and has monetized them in various ways…

  • Colin Theriot

  • Founder, Cult of Copy Facebook Groups
  • $20,000+ monthly revenue

⚠️ Take extra caution with the opportunities below ⚠️

You typically need a lot of time, money, or luck to succeed with any of them – and many aren’t even considered businesses in the traditional sense – but I’m including them to be thorough.

🗂 Trading Level X / Wildcard

With trading you’d be trying to profit from financial markets using short-term strategies.

Day Trading / Swing Trading

This usually means buying and selling stocks within a few minutes, hours or days.

You’ll find the occasional success story here, like Ryan Roots quickly earning thousands of dollars on trades via the Robinhood app…

  • Ryan Roots

  • Co-founder of Ralli Roots
  • $8,000+ profit from 16 days of trading

However, the largest studies done on day trading show that you’re unlikely to earn any money this way.

Poor Donnie here is representative of the typical day trader…

  • Donnie Day-Trade

  • Day Trader
  • $0 or even less

Forex Trading

Here you’d be buying and selling currencies online (eg. US Dollars or Euros), aiming to sell for more than you buy so you can earn a profit.

Justin Mueller has had some good results with this…

  • Justin Mueller

  • Serial Entrepreneur
  • $31,224 forex profit in 2 months

Crypto Trading

This is like forex except you’d be trading cryptocurrencies (eg. Bitcoin or Ethereum) instead of traditional currencies.

Tony from JRNY Crypto is one of the few regular crypto traders I’ve seen doing well…

  • Tony JRNY

  • Founder of JRNY Crypto
  • $3,802 profit in 3 weeks trading crypto

🗂 Investing Level X / Wildcard

Here we’re talking about investing money in digital assets or financial markets for the long term. Think months, years, or even decades. 

You can profit if the value of your investment increases enough over time, or if you invest in successful companies that pay dividends.

Buy and Hold

The buy-and-hold approach is most commonly applied to stocks, but Erik Finman applied it to Bitcoin in 2011 and saw the value of his investment increase almost 500x over the next six years…

  • Erik Finman

  • Bitcoin Investor
  • $2+ million from bitcoin investments

Robo-Advisors

Robo-advisors are automated investment services. You set your investment goals and risk tolerance and let the algorithms do the rest.

Popular robo-advisors include Betterment and Wealthfront

Mr. Money Mustache saw almost a 25% return in six years investing with Betterment…

  • Mr. Money Mustache

  • Do-It-Yourself Investor with Betterment
  • $40,944 5-year earnings on $167k deposits

Dividend Income

Jason Fieber has bought shares in more than 100 businesses. Thanks to the regular dividends earned from those investments, he was able to retire from regular employment at age 33…

  • Jason Fieber

  • Investor and Entrepreneur
  • $1,500+ monthly dividend income

Real Estate Investing

Online platforms like Fundrise let you invest small amounts in real estate projects and earn returns.

This guy tested out Fundrise for 18 months and reported an 8.4% return…

  • Dave HF

  • Investor
  • $1,244 return on $14,813 investment with Fundrise

🗂 Esports Level X / Wildcard

Esports is playing electronic games for money. You would usually compete with other people in organized tournaments.

For the purposes of this article, we’re only interested in esports that are played online (ie. not in big arenas packed with spectators).

Online Video Game Tournaments

Will Wierzba has earned quite a bit of money online playing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

  • Will "Rush" Wierzba

  • Professional Gamer
  • $15,300 average monthly winnings

Playing Poker Online

Poker pros like João Vieira seem well capable of winning big in online tournaments…

  • João Vieira

  • Professional Poker Player
  • $109,603 prize money from 3 weeks of online poker

Playing Chess Online

Chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura has done nicely playing his game online…

  • Hikaru Nakamura

  • Chess Grandmaster
  • $35,000+ estimated monthly revenue

🗂 Betting Level X / Wildcard

By betting I mean placing a wager on a certain outcome and winning money if your prediction proves correct. This is similar to gambling (see below) but not purely based on luck. Your skill, knowledge or ability can influence whether you win or lose, sometimes significantly.

Sports Betting

Jonas Gjelstad is one of the rare few who have made quite a bit of money online betting on sports…

  • Jonas Gjelstad

  • Co-founder of Trademate
  • $54,000 monthly sports betting profit

Matched Betting

With matched betting, the aim is to make money via the free bets and deals offered by online bookmakers.

This chap earns a decent hourly rate doing exactly that…

  • Foxy Michael

  • Matched Bettor
  • £31 – £42 per hour

Bet On Yourself

With HealthyWage you can bet money that you’ll reach your weight loss goal. Win the bet and they’ll pay you a cash prize.

  • Wendy Wage

  • HealthyWage Winner
  • $1,945 average weight loss prize

Other sites and apps where you can bet on yourself:

  • DietBet – similar to HealthyWage
  • StepBet – bet that you’ll take a certain number of steps
  • RunBet – bet that you’ll run a certain distance
  • ProveIt – bet that you’ll beat other people in arcade games

🗂 Gambling Level X / Wildcard

Gambling is playing games of chance for money. You can’t influence the results; they’re totally random. You pay to play and get paid if you win. 

Online Lottery

Apparently you’re more likely to get struck by lightning ⚡️ than you are to win the lottery (source).

But rare stories like this from theLotter – a website that lets you buy lottery tickets online – keep people playing their lucky numbers…

  • Aura Dominguez Canto

  • Online Lottery Winner
  • $21 million jackpot winnings

Online Casino Games

Here we’re talking about playing games like slots and roulette online.

Most likely you’ll lose money playing these kinds of games.

This lady is one of the few believable examples I’ve found of someone winning big playing online slots…

  • Stacey R

  • Online Slots Winner
  • $143,235 online slots winnings in 24 hours

🗂 Multi-Level Marketing Level X / Wildcard

With this type of online business you’d be a salesperson for an MLM company that sells physical or digital products. 

You’d make money by selling the company’s products, but the big earnings come from recruiting other salespeople and getting a percentage of their sales, then a percentage of sales from the people your recruits recruit, and so on down the line.

Become a Multi-Level Marketer

Actually, best not do that.

Research shows that the average MLM participant – like Marsha here – earns very little money…

  • Marsha MLM

  • Multi-Level Marketer
  • $0.67 average hourly earnings

The best way to make money online?

Let me wrap this up by clearly mapping out the most reliable path for you to build a successful online business.

This comes not only from my own experience, but also from the experience of 1000’s of people I’ve worked or corresponded with over the years.

This is the path of least resistance, the path I’ve seen work best for most people, so it’s likely to work well for you.

Step 1

Get your income flowing consistently with a Level 2 online business…

Level 2 online business
The path to a Level 2 online business. See our framework for more visuals and explanations.

That means becoming a freelancer or getting a remote job.

Those are the quickest and easiest ways to earn a living online, and you can even do a bit of both at the same time.

Step 2

As you gain experience, increase your rate 📈 and reduce your hours 📉

You want to get to the point where you only have to work 15-20 hours per week, at most, and earn enough in that time to cover all your expenses and have some money left over.

Step 3

Once you get to that point, you’re free 🥳

Now you’re earning a comfortable living working part-time hours, and you can spend all your free time off traveling the world and having loads of mad adventures (that’s what I did initially).

Or… you can spend your free time building a Level 3-5 business.

Because those ARE businesses worth building.

Yes, they are more challenging, and yes, they take more time to get off the ground – which is why I don’t recommend trying any of them right out of the gate – but, if you’re anything like me, you won’t want to play the entrepreneurial video game on easy mode forever.

So think of remote work and freelancing as stepping stones – albeit very important stepping stones, but stepping stones nonetheless – to bigger and better online business models.

You start small, make things easy on yourself, get some money flowing, free up your time, gain some experience, and then move on to the big leagues 💪

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