The past year encouraged all of us to embrace the great indoors. No surprise, then, that interest in making money online from the safety of our homes is now on the rise.
What once felt like a distant daydream is now a reality for millions of people. Those of us who worked remotely from our home offices for the last few years have a lot less explaining to do at family events—the path to earning a meaningful amount of money online has become much clearer.
The magic of the web is that it’s a sales channel, marketing network, and community hub all in one—plus so much more. There are many creative ways to make money online beyond surveys and selling used goods on Craigslist.
That said, some businesses and side hustles are better suited to the laptop lifestyle than others. In this guide, we’ll break down the strengths and shortcomings of a few of the top money-making options.
How to make money online: 25 proven ways
To make choosing the best ways to make money online easier, we’ll look at several key factors:
- Business type: whether the idea is product based, service based or driven by an audience.
- Effort: how much time, skill, or experience you’ll need to put into the idea.
- Leverage: how well positioned you are to turn the idea into a money-making one that increases in value without needing your direct attention. A high-leverage idea isn’t a 1:1 trade of time for money.
- Startup costs: the upfront budget you’ll need to launch the idea.
- Profit potential: how much profit you can expect to make from your idea per year.
Here are the top picks:
- Print on demand
- Custom products
- Sell on Etsy
- Sell on Amazon
- Digital products
- Affiliate marketing
- Online courses and workshops
- Freelance services
- Start a YouTube channel
- Become an influencer
- Write ebooks
- Look for side gigs
- Do translation work
- Sell stuff online
- Livestream on Twitch
- Take online surveys
- Sell photos online
- Become a social media consultant
- Start a podcast
- Become a transcriber
- Review apps, websites, and software
- Become an audiobook narrator
Business type: Product based
Startup costs (out of 5 💸): 💸
Earning potential (out of 5 💰): 💰💰💰
Last year, many worldwide trends experienced a decades’ worth of acceleration. One such trend was the rise of ecommerce. There are a number of ways to run an ecommerce business, some of which allow for minimal need to carry and hold lots of inventory.
Enter dropshipping. Dropshipping is a business model where you don’t keep the products you sell in stock. Instead, when a customer buys something from your store, a third party fulfills and ships the order for you. Because startup costs are low, it’s an increasingly popular way to make money online for beginners and pros alike.
Dropshippers have a habit of chasing the latest trends. And while there’s nothing wrong with catching a trending product wave, know that there also are many product categories that are steady and offer similar opportunities to do well. At Shopify, we regularly see these categories on our list of top performers:
- Women’s clothing and accessories. Far and away the most popular category of products on Oberlo. There are a variety of interesting niches within this category, too, including dresses, accessories, intimates, hoodies, socks and hoseries, and rompers. Since these products have a large market, are purchased relatively frequently, and are successfully sold through great marketing, they’re consistently a top performer for dropshipping.
- Jewelry. If you want to turn jewelry into a profitable small business, dropshipping is a good model to try. You can sell in a variety of categories, including fine jewelry, fashion or costume, and collectibles. Or sell jewelry made from different materials, like gems, wood, textile, or metals.
- Home and garden. Home and garden is one of those dropshipping niches that seem to always be trendy. People are always looking to add personal touches to their space to make it feel warm and cozy, which can make this an exciting (and profitable) niche to sell in.
- Beauty. The beauty and personal care market is projected to be worth $511.4 billion by the end of 2021. Beauty is a thriving industry fueled by younger generations entering the market and is strengthened by social media and ecommerce. You also have options in the beauty niche: you can sell cosmetics, skin care, personal care, hair care, fragrances, and more.
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