The economy has been completely shaken up by COVID-19, with millions of Americans losing their jobs and having to find alternate ways of making ends meet.
Since so many workplaces are closed or limited due to lockdown restrictions, more people than ever before are looking online to find ways to make extra money right from home.
Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ways to make money online with the skills you have now.
Give an online course
One of the great things about the internet is how easily it allows us to share knowledge across borders. If you’re an expert in a particular subject or if there’s just something you think you can contribute to in your field, consider selling an online course.
Dozens of sites facilitate the process for you, like Skillshare, Udemy and Coursera, where you can create a course and upload the lesson videos and materials.
Depending on the site you go with, students can either buy your individual course or subscribe to the site and access all courses whenever they want. Most sites pay you per student, so the more popular your course gets, the more you’ll earn.
Start a blog
Another way you can share your knowledge with the world is with a blog dedicated to your area of expertise. Bloggers typically earn money by placing ads on the site.
The most popular way to do this is with Google AdSense — you decide where on the page you want the ads to appear and Google AdSense will match the content of your blog with advertisers looking for readers like yours.
Another way to make money blogging is by placing affiliate marketing links on your posts. With affiliate links, the URL has a unique code attached to it. When readers click on the link and make a purchase, you receive a commission (related: affiliate management agency).
Creating a blog doesn’t have to be difficult. Sites like WordPress, Squarespace and Wix can help you quickly create an attractive and easy-to-navigate website with integrated ads.
Sell your old clothes
Most of us have items in our closet that we'd like to get rid of, but throwing out an old dress or vintage pair of shoes may feel like a waste if it’s still in good condition. One great way of making some extra cash is to sell the items cluttering up your home.
For clothing, online thrift shops like thredUP, Poshmark and Depop can help you free up space and make a few bucks on the side at the same time. For most sites, you’ll take care of the selling and shipping yourself.
Other sites, like thredUP, will ask you to mail your items to their distribution center, where they’ll take care of the sale and send you the earnings.
Find gigs on freelance marketplaces
These days, it’s easier than ever to work for yourself. One Statista report shows that 57 million freelancers were working in the United States in 2017. The number is expected to rise to 90 million in the next eight years, meaning that just over half of all workers will be freelancers —online and offline— at that time.
One popular way of finding freelancing gigs is through sites like Upwork, Toptal and Fiverr. There, you can advertise your work on any number of categories, from graphic design and web development to voice-over work and illustration.
Processes vary from site to site, but generally, clients will contact you with their request, and you can accept or turn down the job. Once the job is completed, you’ll submit it to the client and receive payment.
Sell stock photography
Stock photography is a great alternative for artists looking for a side hustle. If you have a professional-grade digital camera, you can sell your high-resolution shots on dozens of sites. Some of the most popular are Shutterstock, Getty Images, Dreamstime, and iStock.
To sell stock photos and videos online, you’ll need basic knowledge of the types of images clients are looking for. You’ll also need to determine whether your photos will be royalty-free (meaning there is no additional payment after the first purchase) or rights-managed.
If you’re using models, you may want to look into model releases to protect your models’ image and your own liability.
Offer online tutoring
With the recent rise in distance learning, there are many opportunities to create a side hustle in online tutoring with students of all ages. Math and science tutors may be the most popular, but tutors in all subjects are in demand, including ESL tutors for language learners.
Some popular online tutoring sites are TutorMe, Skooli, Wyzant, Chegg and Khan Academy.
If you are a native speaker of a language other than English, you may consider language tutoring sites such as Italki, Preply and Verbling, where students sign up to practice their conversational skills with native speakers of the languages they’re studying.
Become a lender
The rise of “crowdlending” is just another example of how the internet has shaken up practically every sector of the economy.
Before, someone looking for a personal loan had to go to the bank, credit union, or payday lender. If the person didn’t have good credit, they’d have to deal with high interest rates if they were approved for the loan at all.
Now, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending websites match borrowers with lenders who are just regular people like you.
Instead of taking the entire amount from a single lender, a loan can be pooled from multiple lenders. As the borrower pays back the loan, you will receive a portion of your investment back plus interest.
Some popular P2P lending platforms are Prosper, Perform and Upstart.
As with any investment, there are risks associated with P2P lending. The borrower may default on the loan and leave you and the other lenders in the lurch. But if you have extra money earning pennies in a savings account, crowdlending could be a way to make some passive income.
Start a streaming empire
It’s hard to imagine the internet before live-streaming became so widespread. Once, it was restricted to gamers playing live and talking to their viewers.
While gaming is still at the core of live-streaming, you don’t have to be a gamer to make money online as a streamer.
Creators of all kinds are broadcasting their lives across the internet, from cosplayers making their costumes on camera to groups of friends running a live Dungeons & Dragons session, to just regular people talking about their lives.
Income for streamers comes from subscriptions, donations, affiliate marketing, advertisements and third-party sponsorships.
The most popular streaming site is Twitch, but other sites like YouTube and Facebook offer user-friendly streaming tools. Similarly, social media apps like Periscope, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok also allow you to stream from your mobile.
Sell your creations
If you’re crafty or artistic, there are so many ways to earn money from your hobby.
Etsy is the most popular site for selling handmade products like leather purses, wall prints, custom phone covers, sewing patterns… the list goes on and on. Whatever quirky, weird thing you make will probably find a home there.
If you’re an artist looking to sell prints of your work, print-on-demand sites like CafePress, Big Cartel, RedBubble and Society6 can simplify things for you by printing and shipping products whenever customers purchase.
If you’d rather skip a marketplace's transaction fees and handle all aspects of the business yourself, e-commerce sites like eBay, Shopify, Big Commerce, Squarespace and Wix can help you set up your own online store, complete with payment processing.
Amazon is also a great choice if you're interested in dropshipping.
Get support from your followers
Finally, if you’re a creator of any sort, you can receive financial support from your followers to pursue your projects.
Sites like Patreon allow you to set up a membership program with multiple tiers so you can produce exclusive content for your subscribers that other people can’t see. It’s a great way of showing off works in progress and sketches, or workshopping an idea with the help of your fans.
Another popular site is OnlyFans, which is mostly known for not-safe-for-work content; however, the site is open to creators in any field.
If you’d rather receive money for a specific project, then crowdfunding is the solution for you.
Sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and GoFundMe let you create a project proposal with a funding goal. Supporters can back you and, once you reach your financial goal, you receive the money (minus a central processing fee) with the promise to deliver to your backers.
Before you start hustling
There are countless options for making money online, but you should always make sure you’re dealing with a reputable company. Beware of scams that ask you to make a large cash investment to purchase merchandise to sell.
Also, watch out for clients and customers who want to take advantage of you. Know what your work or product is worth and advocate for fair compensation whenever you can.
It's possible to make good money working a full-time job online and at home. Making your own way in the online job market will be hard at first, but it will be worth it.