We live in a digital era. There are so many opportunities to make money right at our fingertips thanks to modern technology, so why not take advantage?
The on-demand and gig economies have revolutionized how we work, and have offered opportunities for flexibility and work-life balance without the demands of full-time employment or sometimes along with a full-time job.
Whether it’s a side hustle or you hope to work entirely online as your full-time source of income, there are plenty of ways to make it happen.
The following is a guide to some of the best ways to make money online without investment right now. Check out our picks for 10 ways to make money online without investment and see if any will work for you.
Table of Contents
Work As A Freelancer
Working as a freelancer is one of the best ways to get paid when you work online, and in most instances, it would require no initial investment.
There are platforms like Upwork that connect freelancers with people who need their skills.
Freelancing can be a high-paying way to work online with no investment because many times when businesses and entrepreneurs are looking for freelancers, they’re looking for people with very specialized skills and in particular niches.
If you’re thinking about working as a freelancer, consider the following:
- Choose a niche: One of the big mistakes a lot of freelancers make is thinking they should take any job they come across. For example, they might look for data entry, writing, graphic design, and virtual assistant jobs all at once, and that’s not going to allow them to really target a niche market effectively. It’s much better to focus on one area and do it well. If you were to choose writing, if you could get even more specific and focus on writing only on certain topics such as health care or real estate, even better. It helps you be more strategic in your work, focus your energies, and build a better, more cohesive portfolio to show future clients. If you become an expert in one area, you can eventually raise your rates.
- Visualize Who Your Perfect Client Would Be: Not every client is going to be your ideal client, but by having an idea of how you most want to work for it can also help you know who you don’t want to work for. It will also help you tailor and target your pitch to the needs of that ideal client.
- Create a Portfolio Website: Most freelancer sites have the built-in tools that allow you to build a portfolio there, but you should also set up your own portfolio site as well. If you can get your name as your domain, great. You can show off your skills and direct possible clients right to your website to highlight what you can do, rather than having to get together a bunch of samples every time you send out a proposal.
- Choose Places to Find Jobs: There are a lot of platforms that can connect you with future clients. When you’re considering which will work best for you, there are a few things to think about. First, where are your targeted clients most likely to be? If you’re looking to work with a large, well-known company, they might not be looking for freelancers on Fiverr. Already touched on above, Upwork is a great resource for freelancers in all niches and categories. There are millions of clients, and there is work for everyone from entry-level freelancers to experienced professionals. Toptal is a site that looks for experienced freelancers with unique talents. Guru is another freelancer platform similar in many ways to Upwork.
- Build Your Skills: As you’re building your freelancer portfolio and profile, make sure you’re simultaneously building your skills. You can take a free online course to develop more specialized skills, so go for it.
While working as a freelancer isn’t a way to get rich overnight, if you do build your name and reputation as well as your portfolio, eventually you may be able to make it into something you do fulltime.
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ten ways to make money online without investment, but again, it’s not easy, and it’s not something that you can build overnight.
With affiliate marketing, you can set up a site or social media profile that will allow you to earn passive income.
Affiliate marketing is one of the traditional types of digital marketing and essentially, you’re recommending a product and then if someone buys that product, you receive a commission as part of the purchase.
There are affiliate programs for just about everything you can imagine, including products on Amazon, courses and education programs, services, financial products and accounts, and more.
When you join an affiliate program, you then choose the products you want to promote. You get an affiliate link that’s unique to you so that purchases can be tracked back to you.
You share the link or the product on your blog, Facebook, YouTube videos, or even in social media ads and you get paid for the purchase.
You don’t necessarily have to set up a blog to do affiliate marketing, particularly if you have a large social media following but most people do.
You don’t need any special qualifications to do affiliate marketing, and there isn’t a charge for doing these programs although you may have to pay if you do things like advertising. That’s entirely up to you, however.
Participate in Market Research
There are different formats of paid market research, including surveys, using samples and writing reviews, as well as participating in focus groups.
Depending on the type of market research you do and the organization you do it for, you could end up making up to $100 an hour.
Doing market research by taking surveys on sites like Survey Junkie tends to pay less, but there are more opportunities, and it takes significantly less time. With Survey Junkie, you fill out a profile with demographic information about yourself.
Then, Survey Junkie will match you with different companies looking to do market research on people who have demographic qualities like yours.
Surveys usually take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, and some survey sites will pay cash, while others might pay in other ways such as gift cards.
Another option that’s similar is using InboxDollars.
With InboxDollars you can get paid for surveys but also for doing online activities like watching videos or just surfing the internet.
When a company designs a website, they need it to be user-friendly, and one of the best ways for them to know whether or not it is is to have people test it.
Many companies are willing to pay people to test their website and provide them with feedback.
For the most part, the requirements to test websites are pretty similar.
These tests usually take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes, and you just need a computer, internet access and be able to speak English.
If you have experience developing websites, some company might view that as a perk, but you don’t necessarily have to have that skill.
There are different places you can go to get started as a website tester. For example, there’s UserTesting and with this site, you may earn anywhere from $10 to $15 for 20 minutes of testing a website.
UserTesting does make you do a sample test to ensure you’re going to be a good fit, and money is transferred right into you PayPal when you complete an assignment.
Another option is TryMyUI, and there’s also TestingTime.
TestingTime has a bit of a unique approach. You do studies over Skype, and they take longer to complete—usually anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes.
You then receive a payout within 5 to 10 days.
If you are interested in the best ways to make money online without an initial investment, why not consider tutoring?
The online tutoring industry is already large and is continuing to expand.
There are opportunities whether you’re new to online tutoring or you’re an experienced educator.
With online tutoring, there are gig and freelance jobs, but also some companies hire employees as well.
Some online tutoring positions don’t pay that much if you don’ have a lot of experience or they provide you with most of your prep and teaching materials. However, if you’re experienced and especially if you’re tutoring in specialized areas like ACT or SAT prep, you can make quite a bit more.
If you’re a certified teacher and you’re working with school-aged students, there may be the opportunity to earn benefits.
Along with working for a company, you can also work on your own as an online tutor and make more money, but you’ll have to do marketing and find your own clients.
If you’re going to be working with students who are K to 12, in most cases, you will need to have a four-year college degree, and you may need a state certification to teach also. It’s preferable you have experience tutoring too.
Another option is tutoring in English. English as a Second Language or ESL tutoring requires that English be your native language, and many companies do want to see at least some experience teaching or tutoring.
Other options don’t have such strict requirements.
With Qkids, there are more than 600,000 Chinese students, that are part of the network and you are paired with them to help them learn English online.
To work for Qkids, you do need a bachelor’s degree and be legally eligible to work in the United States or Canada, and you have to commit to working at least six hours a week.
VIPkid is a similar platform where you also teach English to children in China, and according to the site, you can earn up to $22 an hour.
Start a Blog
We covered the concept of affiliate marketing, and that’s one way to earn income from a blog, but there are others as well.
Many people think the idea of making money from blogging sounds like a great idea, particularly because once you get it up and running it can lead to passive income.
At the same time, a lot of people don’t know where to start, and they also wonder if it’s possible to make money blogging.
It is, but it requires time and dedication.
Along with including affiliate links in your posts and content, some other ways to monetize a blog include:
- CPC Ads: CPC ads or PPC ads are usually banner-style ads that you can place in different places on your website. When someone clicks the ad, then you get paid for the click. There are also CPM ads, so you get paid based on the number of people who view an ad. Google AdSense is the most well-known network for adding these types of ads to a website. You don’t have to work directly with advertisers with AdSense. Instead, Google will choose the ads they think are most relevant to the content on your blog, and if people click, then you get paid.
- Sell Private Ads: If you have traffic going to your site, companies might be willing to pay you to host their ads on your site. The benefit of selling ad space directly on your blog is that you have complete control, you get the set the prices, and you get all of your earnings. The downside is that you do have to work directly with advertisers, which can be more challenging and time-consuming. You can do ads as links within your content, or you can do banner ads.
- Sell Products: If you have a blog, you can use it as a platform to sell digital products. Digital products are things you can make with no investment and can include eBooks, online courses, images, or music. If you can create an in-demand product that people like, you can keep earning recurring income from it over time.
- Sell Memberships: Another way to earn money from a blog is to sell memberships. You might have exclusive content or some service that blog visitors can only access if they pay. It’s tough to do this, however, because you have to put a lot of work into making sure you’re offering something that’s actually valuable to site visitors and that they’re going to be willing to pay for.
- Use It As Marketing: If you’re doing something else to make money online, such as offering your services as a freelancer, you can also consider using the blog as a marketing tool to help boost your other efforts.
Start a Dropshipping Business
Dropshipping is a concept that allows you to build an eCommerce business without having to buy inventory upfront. You build a site or some other way for customers to see what you offer.
Then, when someone purchases something listed on your site, it ships from a third-party and directly to the buyer.
You’re the merchant, and you never actually have the products in-hand with this model of eCommerce.
The third-party fulfilling orders is usually a manufacturer or wholesaler.
There are quite a few benefits of dropshipping compared to other eCommerce models.
For example, if you can build a simple site, you can theoretically start dropshipping with no upfront money. You don’t have to think about purchasing inventory or storing it.
Since you’re not buying items ahead of time, you don’t have to worry about what you’ll do if something isn’t selling and if you want to change what you offer you can do so quickly and easily.
There’s also complete flexibility in this because you’re not tied to an inventory. As long as you can communicate with the supplier who’s going to send the product out, you’re good to go.
A dropshipping model is highly scalable, as well.
If you want to scale up or down, it’s simple.
Of course, dropshipping isn’t without downsides.
One of the biggest downsides of dropshipping is the low margins.
Most merchants may pay only 40% or less of the sale to you as a dropshipper, which can be problematic with low-priced items.
You may also face a lot of competition from other dropshippers offering the exact same products and perhaps for a lower amount as well.
If you do dropshipping you also have to think about keeping up with changes in inventory so you’re not selling items that are no longer available.
Sell Your Services Online
The gig economy has produced opportunities to make money driving, delivering things, and performing household work and chores on-demand.
Uber and Lyft are two options where you can get online, download and app are relatively quickly start driving people.
Driving people isn’t for everyone, however, and there are other available options. You can sign up to deliver packages for Amazon Flex, or you can deliver food using an app like DoorDash or UberEats.
There are also sites like TaskRabbit so you can go on and offer your online services, such as handyman work or even helping people move.
You’re connected with clients in your area looking for your services so you can make extra cash as often or infrequently as you want.
If you go with an option like TaskRabbit, you will have to create a profile that’s going to appeal to clients.
You set your hourly rate, and then you do face competition from others offering similar services, but once you can start building your experience on the site, you’re going to stand out.
Sell Photos You Take
If you love taking pictures, you can earn money by selling your images online.
There is a lot of demand for images online because businesses, bloggers, and marketers use these images, and they have to pay to do so.
It’s really not feasible to use images without paying for them, and for businesses that do, they can face lawsuits.
Some of the most popular types of pictures that sell include photos of different types of people, people working, food, and travel.
There are quite a few different routes you can take to sell your photos online.
One option is to create your own website and sell them there, but again if you don’t use a third-party, you’ll have to market your site and draw traffic to it to make money on the images
You can sell to a site such as Adobe Stock rather than selling through your own site. Adobe Stock offers a competitive royalty share, and photos available on Adobe Stock are available across other Adobe applications like Photoshop.
You can make anywhere from 20 to 60% on your images, and they don’t require that they are your exclusive seller of images.
Shutterstock is another place people go to sell photos online. Shutterstock has millions of images, and you can protect your copyrights on the site.
You also receive credit as an image owner.
If you become a contributor on Shutterstock, you earn money every time someone downloads your content.
Work As a Virtual Assistant
Sometimes you can work as a freelance virtual assistant, but other times people make it their full-time job, and they may work for an employer that offers traditional perks and benefits.
A virtual assistant can do a wide range of tasks, and this can include creating content, social media management, email management, and more.
Much like a traditional assistant, as a virtual assistant, it’s your job to pretty much help your boss do whatever they might need on any given day.
Virtual assistants based in North American can earn anywhere from $25 to $40 an hour on average, and some very experienced virtual assistants can earn quite a bit more.
In many cases, you don’t necessarily need any special education or training to work as a virtual assistant.
What you do need are good communication skills, you need to be organized and reliable, and you need to be able to manage your own time well.
You might work for one client if the work is full-time or you could work with several clients at any given time.
The above are 10 ways to make money online without investment, but there are plenty of others as well. Earning money online without an upfront investment is certainly possible, but not without work and planning.