I’ve been making money online since I was 17 years old.
First it was selling old crap on auction sites, then buying other people’s crap and selling it, then buying wholesale, eventually I started importing product from overseas. Then I started trading shares, using “get paid to” sites and survey sites to kill time at my job, then I started a new career as a freelance writer and now I blog full time.
I’ve talked a lot about saving more for travel, but the accelerant to that is earning more. A lot of saving involves avoiding late nights at the bar and resisting the mall on Sunday, but what do you do with all that extra time? An online side income is the perfect answer. You can do it from home and often from the road as well. Even if it’s only an extra $10 or $20 per week, that’s $520 per year – easily enough for a plane ticket, a few months of accommodation, 500 plates of pad thai,
bail money for Tijuana, stuff like that.
Check out these ten ways that will allow you earn a bit of extra cash today.
1. Surveys and “get paid to” sites
Back when I had a desk job, there were two websites I would check into every morning (one was Smile City, the other I forget). Basically you just earned points by answering a poll or doing a quick survey or clicking an ad. After you earned enough points, you got to cash out around $15 or so. Actually, one of the highlights of my day was trying to get a big points bonus on one of the daily games (sad, I know).
To be clear, I don’t recommend becoming a full time survey monkey. These sites are the online equivalent of washing dishes; crappy, but better than nothing. But they can be good for quiet days in the hostels, and perfect for killing time in the cubicle 😉
P.S. I did actually get active on some sites again for “research purposes” (aka procrastinating) and racked up around $20 in around a week. I usually do it while lying in bed in the morning. Can’t say it works out to a great hourly rate, but it works. Check it out:
There are literally thousands of these sites, but I’ve collated the best of what’s out there. The following are all reliable, have offers regularly and are free to register. It’s hard to say which one will be best because it all depends on your demographics (sometimes there will be a lot of surveys for single mothers, other times it will be married men everyone wants to talk to). I’d recommend signing up to all of them and you’ll get an email whenever they have an opportunity for you.
Swagbucks (considered one of the top sites in the industry. You’ll get paid for taking surveys and also other easy things, such as surfing the net, watching ads or playing games. Free $5 bonus just for signing up!)
American Consumer Opinion (this is my favourite and is very active and global – I get multiple offers per week. Only gripe is that payouts can take a while to clear).
Survey Junkie (another that comes highly recommended. Geo restricted to US, UK, Australia and Canada).
2. User Testing
I only found out about this recently but as a site owner I think it’s a pretty cool idea. Basically you are paid to test people’s websites for them, which involves doing simple tasks and reporting on how easy/difficult it was. It could be anything from finding a contact page to subscribing or just describing your feelings or first impressions when you visit a page.
I actually ordered some free sample tests for Bren On The Road and those were really helpful, so I can see why site owners are paying for them (my tests are public – you can check out one of them here). You will basically be doing the same thing if you sign up, and you’ll get paid $10 per website you test. Pretty easy. Again it’s not something you’ll make a career out of but much more productive than Netflix binging. Offers are quite regular – I get at least a few emails per month.
Fiverr is cool. I’ve hired a couple of people on Fiverr to do odd jobs around this website, and I think the premise of the site is great. Pay somebody five bucks (or more) to do a job you don’t want or don’t know how to do. Sometimes it could be something that requires specific knowledge, like fixing a website, or sometimes it could just be sorting out data into a spreadsheet, proof reading somebody’s English homework, researching something on the internet etc.
It’s pretty competitive but if you can find yourself a niche it can be a nice way to earn some side money.
Getting started is easy, just sign up for an account at Fiverr and start bidding.
4. Sell your stuff
I think this is one of the best options if you’ve got some time on your hands, because we all have a lot of junk lying around and we all could use the extra cash. Plus it’s free!
Selling stuff is literally as simple as taking a photo and writing a description of it. You can upload it to Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Amazon, have a garage sale if you want to. A lot of you will have more local versions of Ebay in your own countries too.
I have literally been trying to sell all my crap for the last five years, stripping all my belongings to the bare essentials, and even after around 200 things I still have crap lying around. Just looking at my desk now I see at least four things I could put up for sale today. It is a never ending source of stress (and pocket money).
Simply sign up to the sites listed above and start listing. For a more thorough guide, the entire first chapter of my free e-book, So You Wanna Be A Traveller? is about how to sell your crap. You can get your free copy here.
5. Make stuff and sell it on Etsy
Several blogger friends of mine are now doing this, selling artwork – jewellery, paintings, and various different crafty things on their own Etsy stores. The cool thing is a lot of things sold on here may tie into your hobbies anyway. Much of today’s generation is hunting for unique, indie things to buy and wear, craving for individuality (notice the avalanche of tattoos recently?) Etsy is the ideal platform to tap into this craze. Your creations – birthday cards, fridge magnets, bags etc will sell. Homemade jewellery is currently massive on Etsy (I’ve bought some!) You might be surprised at what you kind of things you can move on that site.
You can sign up for an Etsy account here.
Etsy Conversations is a great podcast about what other Etsy sellers are getting up to and will give you some ideas of how to get things started.
6. Rent out a room
Spare guest room? Kids moved out of home?
You could make some serious side money renting your rooms out to travellers. People charge anywhere from thirty bucks to a few hundred to rent their vacant rooms out on sites like Airbnb. Almost every big hotel chain has been losing their shit over Airbnb. That’s a good sign it works.
If you’ve got a big garden, you can charge travellers a small fee to camp in your backyard using a site like Camp In My Garden.
You can sign up to Airbnb here. Go through the approval process and you’ll be ready to list. They provide you with all the information you need.
I’ve never actually used this (if you have, let us know in the comments), but I believe it’s like a mystery shopping gig where you do various tasks at different stores at get paid for it. It’s basically a tool for bosses who want to spy on their staff; you’ll go into a shop pretending to be a customer looking for socks, you ask the shop assistant to help you and then report back on whether she had good manners and whatever. Then you get paid. Pretty easy. Unlike the rest of this list you can’t do it “from home”, but it still seems easy enough and a good way to earn some pocket money.
You can sign up to Roamler here.
Another similar app is Field Agent.
Both of them are geo-restricted, so if neither are available in your country, simply Google “mystery shopping” and find an agency near you. I know many people who did it in New Zealand – it’s pretty common (and easy).
Freelance writing changed my life in a lot of ways as it was my first foray into the online world as a “professional”, and also showed me I could make a lot of money anywhere in the world if I dedicated the time to it. Eventually that led me into blogging and I found myself where I am today.
I believe freelancing is amazing for three reasons:
- It’s free to start and you can start today.
- You can do it anywhere.
- It teaches you a lot of entrepreneurial skills that will transfer to other areas of your life.
You can also make very good money. $100/hr freelance writers are not uncommon and I know several. In fact I also fall into that group on several of my jobs and to be honest I don’t have that much experience.
For the newbies, you can check out my guide to freelancing, detailing how I made $4,000 in my first month, by clicking here.
9. Other freelancing
You’ll notice that freelancing extends far beyond writing. On sites like Upwork and Guru, you’ll find jobs for everything. In fact, if worse came to worst, I’m 90% sure I could make a full time living just doing accounting work on these sites (book-keeping, consulting, taxes etc).
What else can you do?
- Graphic design
- Data entry
- Web design
- Video editing
- Photo editing
- Social media management
- Consulting of any kind
- Virtual assistant tasks
Consider what skills you have to offer. If you’ve ever had a job, particularly in an office, that means you have skills people are willing to pay for. What do you currently do all day at work? Chances are there is someone willing to pay you to do the same thing online. Look at other profiles on Upwork and see what kind of jobs other people are doing and how much they charge. Use my freelancing guide to start placing proposals.
10. Create a course
Everybody is good at something. With a platform like Udemy, you can teach it to others and earn money for it. You don’t need a website, a popular blog, you don’t even need any money. Udemy will host and promote the course for you (for a cut).
When I started out as a freelancer, I did an entire accounting course for an Indian company as a writing job, and was this close (you can’t see my fingers right now, but I’m holding them really close together) to creating a similar course on Udemy. Cooler heads prevailed and I started this blog instead. But if you have a unique talent and are passionate about sharing it, you could monetise it like this. Even if you only charge $5 or $10 per student, that’s something right?
You’ll find all sorts of courses on there, like how to manage relationships, how to be a better parent, how to overcome anxiety, how to bake cookies (yeah, really). Again, it’s free. Give it a go.
You can sign up to Udemy here. Everything the information you need to get started will be provided. My buddy Johnny makes a few hundred dollars per month from his Udemy courses and has a pretty good guide to getting started on his blog here.
Just get started!
When it comes to money, and particularly saving money for travel, every bit counts, and making money is not necessarily difficult. I know there are at least a few things on this list that everybody can do, and most of them are not difficult (a ten year old could do some of them).
Most of these items are not million dollar ideas and you won’t get rich off them, but that’s not the goal here. The goal is to be a little more productive with your time, make a few extra dollars a week, and add some diversity to your income. The bigger goal is to transition into something more permanent (like starting a blog or store, for example) and you will probably transition into that naturally anyway as your online income grows!
When I started freelancing, I never expected to earn a lot of money – I just gave it a try and it worked out. It was the same with this blog you’re reading now – it was a natural transition after trying out new things like the ones listed above. Even if you don’t want to work hard at anything, you can check into a survey site instead of playing Clash of Clans each morning and earn a few extra dollars. It’s just about making time and getting started. I’ll be honest – making a lot of money online, particularly while travelling, is difficult. But making a couple hundred just to keep you going each month is actually pretty easy. Sign up to a survey site. Make a Fiverr account. Anything! Just get started.
Questions? Leave them in the comments!