The Best Online Side Hustles: Generate Income in Your Spare Time

Online earning refers to making money on the internet through various activities and services. With the growth of the digital economy, online earning has become very popular in recent years as more opportunities arise to monetize online skills and resources. Some of the most popular ways people earn money online include freelancing, blogging, selling digital products, affiliate marketing, social media management, dropshipping and more.

The main benefits of online earning include the potential to earn a full-time income without geographic restrictions, low startup costs, flexible working hours, and the ability to do work you enjoy. However, it also comes with challenges like building your reputation, dealing with clients, marketing yourself effectively, and having the self-discipline to work remotely. Overall, online earning provides an accessible avenue for many people to increase their income and work for themselves, but does require effort to establish your business or services and find a steady stream of clients.

This article will provide an in-depth look at the most popular and effective methods of earning money online, outline the key steps to get started with each one, and offer tips and strategies for succeeding as an online earner. Whether supplementing income from a traditional job or building a full-time online business, online earning can empower individuals to take control of their financial future if approached strategically. The information presented here will help readers understand the diverse options available and determine the best path to start earning money online.


Freelancing involves doing project-based work for clients as an independent contractor rather than a full-time employee. It provides flexibility and freedom to work from anywhere. There are many popular freelancing platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, that connect businesses with freelance professionals offering services in areas like programming, writing, design, marketing, and more.

Some of the most common types of freelance jobs include:

  • Writing & Translation – Freelance writers, copywriters, translators
  • Programming & Tech – Programmers, app developers, web designers
  • Marketing – Social media marketing, SEO, market research
  • Design – Graphic design, web design, video editing
  • Consulting – HR consulting, business consulting, financial consulting

Pros of freelancing:

  • Be your own boss and set your own hours
  • Work from anywhere – home, coffee shops, coworking spaces
  • Variety of projects and clients to work with
  • Flexibility in your schedule
  • Higher hourly rates than traditional employment
  • Learn new skills and build expertise
  • Diversify income streams

Cons of freelancing:

  • Unpredictable and irregular income
  • Constant need to find new clients and projects
  • Providing your own benefits like health insurance
  • Being responsible for taxes, billing, etc
  • Isolation and lack of coworkers
  • Competitive marketplace makes getting started difficult
  • Income relies on your output and effort

Overall, freelancing provides an excellent opportunity to be self-employed and have flexibility, but also comes with the responsibility of managing your own business and finding work. It takes effort and time to build a successful freelance career but can be very rewarding.


Blogging can be a great way to earn money online if done consistently and with a smart monetization strategy. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to start a blog and start making money from it:

How to Start a Blog

  1. Choose a blogging platform. The most popular free platforms are Blogger and For more customization choose a self-hosted WordPress site.

  2. Pick a niche/topic for your blog. Think about your interests and expertise. Choosing a focused niche will help attract targeted readers.

  3. Get your own domain name and web hosting (for self-hosted sites). Your domain name should be short and related to your niche.

  4. Design your blog with an eye-catching layout. Use themes and tweak settings.

  5. Create high-quality content regularly. Well-written, useful articles will attract and retain readers.

  6. Promote your blog content on social media, forums, and networking platforms to drive traffic.

Monetizing Your Blog

  • Affiliate Marketing: Sign up for affiliate programs related to your niche and promote relevant products within your content. You earn a commission when readers purchase through your links.

  • Advertisements: Sign up with ad networks like Google AdSense and place ads on your site. You earn money when visitors click/view the ads.

  • Sponsored Posts: Accept paid article deals from brands relevant to your audience. Disclose sponsored content.

  • Sell Your Own Products/Services: Create your own digital info products, like ebooks, courses or templates, and sell them from your site. Offer consulting/freelancing services.

Examples of Successful Blogs

  • Smart Passive Income by Pat Flynn: Makes over $100k/month by promoting affiliate products, online courses, and his podcast.

  • Problogger by Darren Rowse: Earns from display ads, affiliate marketing and online courses. Gets over 300,000 pageviews a month.

  • Food Blogging Pro by Kiel James Patrick: Uses affiliate marketing, advertising, product creation, and partnerships. Earns over $100k a year.

With smart monetization and consistent, high-quality content on topics people care about, you can build a successful money making blog over time.

Online Surveys

Taking online surveys in your free time can be an easy way to earn a little extra money from home. There are many reputable websites that offer survey opportunities in exchange for compensation.

The most popular survey platforms include SurveyJunkie, Swagbucks, SurveyMonkey Rewards, and Opinion Outpost. These sites connect users with consumer research companies, nonprofits, universities, and other organizations that are seeking opinions on various topics.

Online surveys typically pay between $1 to $5 for completion, though longer and more involved surveys may pay up to $20 or $30. With most survey sites, you earn points for each survey completed, which can then be redeemed for cash, gift cards or other rewards. It’s possible for diligent survey-takers to earn $100 to $200 per month.

Here are some tips to maximize your survey earnings:

  • Register on multiple survey sites to access a wider range of opportunities. Each site has a specific member demographic they’re seeking.

  • Be consistent and take surveys routinely. Many sites send more invites to active members.

  • Answer surveys honestly and carefully. Don’t rush through just for the compensation.

  • Avoid sites that require an upfront registration fee. Legitimate survey platforms don’t charge members.

  • Take advantage of referral programs to earn bonuses.

  • Meet the demographic requirements specified in each survey screener to qualify.

  • Check for new surveys daily or set up email alerts so you don’t miss opportunities.

With some consistent effort, taking online surveys can become a decent side income stream. Just be selective about which sites you use and set aside dedicated time to complete the surveys.

Selling Online Courses

One of the most lucrative ways to earn money online is by creating and selling your own online courses. With the rise of e-learning platforms like Udemy and Teachable, anyone can now share their knowledge or skills with students around the world.

The process involves first identifying a topic that you have expertise in and breaking that down into a curriculum. This could be anything from photography, marketing, coding, fitness, cooking – you name it. Do your research to see what people are searching for and interested in learning more about.

Once you’ve designed the course outline and materials, you can build your course on a platform like Udemy or Teachable.

These make it easy to upload your videos, documents, quizzes and manage your course. They also handle all the video hosting, payment processing, and student management for you.

When your course is ready, focus on marketing it. Promote it on your website, social channels, email lists and forums related to the topic. Set an attractive price – $100-$200 is typical for a robust multi-hour course. With thousands of students worldwide, popular classes can earn creators multiple 6 figures per year.

The key advantages of selling online courses are passive income, scalability, and the ability to reuse content. The hard work is upfront in creating the course, but then it can earn you money month after month. Expand your catalog over time to increase your earnings. Just be sure to focus on topics you have qualifications in so you can provide real value.


Dropshipping is a business model that allows entrepreneurs to start an online store and sell products without keeping stock or inventory. With dropshipping, the store owner partners with a supplier or manufacturer that stocks the inventory and ships products directly to customers on behalf of the store owner. 

How Dropshipping Works

The basic steps involved in a dropshipping business are:

  • The store owner sets up an online store and adds product listings.
  • When a customer places an order, the store owner receives the order information. 
  • The store owner then places a corresponding order with the supplier, providing the customer’s shipping details.
  • The supplier ships the product directly from their warehouse to the customer.
  • The customer receives the product and the store owner keeps the profit margin between the wholesale and retail price.

At no point does the store owner take possession of the inventory. The supplier handles shipping the products, customer service, returns and exchanges. This makes dropshipping appealing to entrepreneurs because it removes the challenges of inventory management and upfront capital investment.

Pros of Dropshipping

  • Low startup costs: Don’t need to invest in product inventory upfront. Only need to pay for store platform and marketing.
  • Easy to scale: Can add new products from suppliers without extra overhead. Don’t need more staff or warehouse space.
  • Low risks: Don’t have to worry about being stuck with unsold inventory. 
  • Wide selection: Can offer many products through multiple suppliers. Not limited by physical store space.

Cons of Dropshipping 

  • Low-profit margins: Have less control over pricing compared to wholesaling. Pay retail price to supplier.
  • Shipping delays: Reliant on supplier inventory and shipping times. This can lead to poor customer experience.
  • Less branding control: Customers get generic packaging from suppliers. Harder to develop strong branding.
  • Supplier errors: Issues like inventory inaccuracies and shipping errors can negatively impact customers.

Finding Suppliers and Products

The key to a successful dropshipping business is finding reliable suppliers with good profit margins. Some places to find suppliers include:

  • Wholesale directories like SaleHoo and WorldWideBrands
  • Manufacturers directories like ThomasNet and Made-in-China
  • Platforms like Spocket, Modalyst, and Oberlo that connect you to verified suppliers

When evaluating potential suppliers, look at factors like product selection, order fulfillment time, product quality, reliability, and wholesale pricing. Test orders first.

Focus on high margin products in growing niche markets. Avoid cheap generic products with low margins.

Setting Up a Dropshipping Store

The most popular platform for running a dropshipping business is Shopify. Shopify makes it easy to find dropshipping apps, themes, and payment solutions. After finding suppliers, the store owner can easily import products and sync inventory. 

Other aspects like branding, marketing, and order processing can also be managed on Shopify. With some effort put into marketing and branding, dropshipping represents an attractive online business model for first-time entrepreneurs.

Social Media Management 

Social media management has become a popular way for people to earn money online in recent years. As businesses realize the importance of a strong social media presence, there is increasing demand for social media managers who can handle posting content, engaging with followers, running ads, analytics, and more. 

Building Social Media Management Services

The first step is determining the services you want to offer as a social media manager. Some common services include:

  • Content creation: Writing posts, taking photos/videos, designing graphics 
  • Community management: Responding to comments and messages, monitoring conversations
  • Paid social advertising: Running and optimizing paid ads on platforms like Facebook or Instagram
  • Analytics and reporting: Tracking key metrics and providing insights on what’s working 
  • Strategy development: Planning social media initiatives to help reach business goals
  • Platform management: Posting and scheduling content across different social platforms 

You don’t necessarily have to offer everything right away. Start with core services like content creation and community management, then expand your offerings over time.

Finding Clients

There are several ways to find clients as a social media manager:

  • Network online and offline with small business owners, entrepreneurs, agencies, and other potential clients
  • Reach out to businesses directly via email or cold calls/visits
  • Leverage your own social media channels and content to attract clients 
  • List your services on freelancing sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer
  • Attend local events and conferences to connect with prospective clients
  • Partner with complementary service providers like web designers who may have client referrals
  • Run Facebook or LinkedIn ads promoting your services
  • Pricing Packages

When determining your pricing, consider the scope and frequency of services provided. Monthly retainers that bundle services are common. For example:

  • Basic: $500/mo – 10 posts per week, daily community management  
  • Standard: $1,000/mo – 15 posts per week, daily community management, 2 paid ads per month
  • Premium: $2,000/mo – Unlimited daily posts, full community management, unlimited paid ads  

Be sure to outline exactly what is included and optional add-ons. Discounts can be given for longer contracts (6-12 months).

Tools to Use

Some helpful tools for managing social media accounts include:

  • Hootsuite, Sprout Social, Buffer – Social media scheduling and analytics
  • Canva, Adobe Creative Cloud – Graphic design
  • Later – Instagram scheduling and content planning 
  • SEMrush, Sprout Social – Social media monitoring and competitive analysis  
  • Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Wave – Invoicing and accounting 
  • Trello, Asana – Task and project management
  • The key is finding tools that help maximize efficiency and provide reporting and insights to clients.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is a popular way to earn money online by promoting other companies’ products or services on your website or social media. Here’s an overview of how it works and tips for getting started:

Overview of Affiliate Marketing

  • Affiliate marketing involves joining affiliate programs and receiving a commission when you drive sales to a merchant’s products. 
  • You can promote affiliate products on your website, social media, YouTube, email list, or other platforms.
  • Most programs pay affiliates on a cost-per-action basis for leads, sales, app installs, etc. Typical commission rates range from 5-30%.
  • When a visitor from your site clicks your affiliate link and completes the target action, you earn an affiliate commission.

Finding Affiliate Programs 

  • Research affiliate programs in your niche by looking at popular merchants and networks like Amazon Associates, ShareASale, Clickbank, Commission Junction, etc.
  • Consider promoting products or services you already use and can authentically recommend.
  • Look for generous commission rates, reliable payment terms, and a good reputation.
  • Search for affiliate programs offering recurring commissions in addition to one-time payouts.

Driving Traffic to Promotions

  • Promote affiliate links and offers on your website through product reviews, recommendation pages, dedicated resource pages, and content integration.
  • Share affiliate links on social media, include them in your YouTube video descriptions, email newsletters, forums, podcasts, etc. 
  • Use promotional banners, text links, product images, or custom landing pages.
  • Target your audience and placements carefully to drive high-converting traffic. Track performance to double down on what works.

Affiliate Networks

  • Joining large affiliate networks like ShareASale gives you access to thousands of merchants with a single account.
  • Networks feature offers across many verticals and let you browse by category, commission rate, cookies duration, etc.
  • They provide affiliate management dashboards to track your links, traffic, conversions, earnings, and payouts.
  • Some networks offer exclusive deals as well as advice, marketing materials, and optimization tools to boost commissions.

Starting Your Own YouTube Channel to Earn Money Online

YouTube has become one of the most popular ways for people to earn money online by creating videos. With over 2 billion monthly users, YouTube provides a massive potential audience for your videos. While becoming a successful YouTuber takes time and effort, the financial upside can be well worth it. Here’s an overview of how to start earning money on YouTube:

Getting Started on YouTube

Sign up for a free Google/YouTube account if you don’t already have one. Make sure your channel name and profile represent the type of content you plan to create. 

  • Customize the look and layout of your YouTube channel page to reflect your brand. Add channel art, photos, playlists and other design elements.
  • Set up your video recording equipment and software. You can use a smartphone, DSLR camera, webcam, microphone, and editing tools like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. Invest in higher quality gear as your channel grows.
  • Create compelling video content consistently. Aim to post at least 1-2 new videos per week in order to build an audience. Consider mixing shorter and longer format videos.

Monetizing Your YouTube Videos

Turn on YouTube monetization once you hit 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours in the previous year. This allows you to earn money from ads running on your videos.

  • Enable Fan Funding to allow viewers to donate directly to your channel through a “$” icon. YouTube takes a 5% cut of donations.
  • Sell merchandise like t-shirts and mugs via partnerships with sites like Teespring. Promote your merch in your videos.
  • Become a YouTube Affiliate and earn commissions promoting other YouTube channels through shoutouts. 
  • Partner with brands as an influencer to produce sponsored videos promoting products for a fee.

Growing Your Audience on YouTube

  • Research keywords and produce search-optimized titles, tags and descriptions for each video to improve discoverability.
  • Engage with your audience in the comments section and use YouTube cards to link to your other videos. 
  • Promote your videos on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to drive more views. 
  • Collaborate with other popular YouTubers in your niche to tap into their fanbase.
  • Stay active and consistent with uploading videos to keep subscribers engaged and returning.

With dedication and persistence, you can build a successful YouTube channel to earn money from ads, sponsorships, donations and other income streams. Do quality work, engage your audience, and promote your brand for YouTube success.


Online earning provides a lot of great opportunities to make money from home and set your own schedule. Some of the most popular and accessible ways to earn online include freelancing, blogging, taking online surveys, selling online courses, dropshipping, social media management, affiliate marketing, and creating YouTube videos.

Each online earning method comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. Freelancing offers a lot of flexibility but requires building up a portfolio and client base. Blogging can be done on your own time but takes consistency and traffic to start making decent income. Surveys provide quick extra money but usually don’t add up to much on their own. 

Selling online courses allows you to earn passive income but requires an upfront time investment to create content. Social media management lets you earn utilizing existing skills but depends on finding consistent clients. Affiliate marketing has no overhead but success depends on driving a lot of traffic to promotions. YouTube can become quite lucrative but standing out in a crowded niche takes time.

The most important factors for successfully earning online include having in-demand skills, effective time management, consistent marketing and networking, comfort using technology, and the patience to build an audience over time. While online earning provides freedom and flexibility, it also requires self-motivation, discipline, and the willingness to learn new skills and tools. With persistence and dedication, online earning can become a fulfilling and financially-rewarding career path for many.

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