Updated January 20, 2023
There’s so much bullshit out there about making money online. When I was starting my journey into running Roostervane, I read it all too.
“Take online surveys for $5 an hour.”
“Join an affiliate program and earn $0.10 per thousand clicks.”
Honestly, there’s so much crap and it’s really hard for people to discern true from false. So, in this post, I want to talk through what I have learned about making money online.
Yes, I do make money online. In fact, you could say that I make all of my money online. But I don’t waste my time filling out surveys.
In this article, I want to tell you the hard truth about making money online, and why the common “make money online” avenues don’t work for most people. And, I want to give you 10 legitimate and realistic ways to make money online this year. In fact, I want making money online to be a legitimate part of my plan to build wealth. And it needs to be real money. Not pennies.
Here we go…
This post may contain links to affiliate products, which–if you choose to purchase–pay us a commission at no extra cost to you. This helps to support our work. We only promote products we’ve used and love.
10 real ways to make money online
In what follows, I want to give you real ways to make money online. Actual, decent money, not pennies. I’m not going to tell you to fill out surveys for money or become a Mechanical Turk because those things suck and exploit you.
So let me tell you some things I believe actually will work. Many of these I’ve used myself.
1. Get a job
Oh snap, I started here. But let’s be honest, a lot of amazing jobs are remote now. I have spent months working on teams that I have never met in person. I think that qualifies as working online.
What is it you want from making money online? For most people, it’s freedom. I know what it’s like to be chained to a desk every day. I wanted the freedom to make money as I travel, living in new places, experiencing new things. Five years ago, it was very hard to get a job that let you have this. Now, tons of companies are working remotely. Some will even let you work from abroad. The unicorns will even give you a bonus to travel and work abroad.
So it’s worth it to figure out if a job could give you some freedom and wealth online. You can always build other stuff in your spare time.
2. Consulting + Freelancing
If you don’t want to get a job, or you want more flexibility, you might choose consulting or freelancing instead. The great thing about consulting or freelancing is that you often earn a much higher rate. You might be able to make two or three times per hour what you can make as an employee. But you do have to be a bit entrepreneurial. That might be a bad thing for some people, or it might be exciting for others.
Probably depends on your personality. But with platforms like Upwork, it can honestly be super easy to get started and find clients.
3. Start a community
One of the online businesses that’s growing fast, and I’m betting will explode in the coming years, is starting a community. People are looking for connection, and online communities are one way to find it.
That’s why I’m all-in on community as the ultimate business in the coming years. Think Discord or Facebook group, but people pay money to belong. It’s huge.
It could be communities for business owners, hobbyists, or just about anything under the sun that can unite people together.
Even a community of 40 people paying a membership fee of $40 is $1600- a respectable side hustle. If you grow it to 100 people, you’re making what a lot of people make in a full-time job. And within a community you can charge for events, launch paid courses, and more.
I build my communities on Mighty Networks, which is by far the best community engine out there. It’s awesome for community, but you can also create and sell courses, mastermind groups, live events, and a bunch of other stuff. They don’t even make you put in a credit card to try it.
It looks like this:
Try Mighty Networks free for 14 days
I have to give blogging a place here since it changed my life.
I already told you that I don’t make a full-time income off of this, but I should add a caveat.
I don’t make a full-time income passively–with ads and affiliate sales.
So I’m not going to tell you that you’re going to put up a blog tomorrow and be making full-time passive income in a few months to a year. That would be stupid. It takes time to learn how to blog and grow your traffic.
But in my experience, blogging does so much more for you than just the passive income of affiliate marketing or ads. For me, blogging has led to being considered a thought leader. It’s led to book sales, speaking engagements, and consulting.
When you factor all this in, I’ve made a TON of money from blogging.
That means that I still believe blogging is a solid way to make money online. BUT… you have to actually get good at it. Learn content strategy and SEO to drive people to your site and create an attention machine.
Try the web host I started Roostervane with–Bluehost
Do you want to know why I prefer blogging to social media? It’s the same reason I prefer YouTube to Tik Tok or IGTV.
The search engine factor.
The 10,000 people who read this blog every week come from search engines. Not from social media.
So when I wanted to start making videos, I chose YouTube for the same reason. And it works. I don’t have a huge Channel, but it consistently gets views on videos that are months old. It’s what I love about YouTube. And why I think it could be a good bridge to making money online.
The trick is, if you’re going to go all in with YouTube, you’ll need to find a way to monetize. Monetizing with ads is fine, but you’re not going to make much. At least for a while. The best thing to do is probably to create an offer that goes with YouTube. Sell merch. Create a course or community. Find a way to monetize.
6. Create an online course
It’s a tried, tested, and true way of monetizing on the internet. But you could create an online course. Online courses are super popular, and it’s becoming more challenging to get attention on yours and to sell it. But with a constantly growing audience of people who know and take online courses, it’s still possible to make good money off of one.
I think the keys will be your price point and your niche:
- Assume that you’re not going to sell 100,000. If you do, amazing! But price it in such a way that, even if you only sell 50, you can feel good about it.
- Niche down to a specific end-user. There are a million “start a business” courses out there, but there probably aren’t as many “start an Amazon store as a single mom with kids at home” courses. If you can find these key niche markets, you’ll likely have more success.
You should also decide whether you want to host your course yourself or put it on a marketplace.
A marketplace comes with a group of users who are already there–you build your course and they can buy it. Udemy and Skillshare are two popular options, but I think Udemy is a bit better for monetization as a creator based on its revenue structure.
Hosted Course Platform
The alternative to a marketplace is a platform that hosts your course for you. You have to bring your own students, but it’s all yours–nobody is going to buy your competitor’s course instead of yours. Teachable is a good course platform you can try that does this.
I’m also giving a shout-out to Mighty Networks here too since it’s a great platform that lets you bring courses and community together. In fact, I think it’s the ultimate all-in-one.
Try the platform I build my community on–it’s free to try!
7. Start dropshipping
Of all the ways to make money online, I think dropshipping makes a lot of sense. Disclaimer, unlike the other options on this list so far, I’ve never tried dropshipping. But I’ve heard from people who do pretty well with it.
Unlike the old days of selling physical products, where you had to stack your garage full of inventory, dropshipping basically just means you sell a product and someone else handles the shipping and fulfillment. There are lots of companies that do all this for you and you just provide the customers.
8. Amazon flipping
Amazon flipping is another web business that’s so hot that brick-and-mortar stores are reporting an increase in robberies in which people get merchandise to sell on Amazon. But you wouldn’t do that, right?
If you’re interested in legitimate Amazon flipping, you can get merch from local stores, garage sales, thrift shops, and more–as long as you can figure out your price points so that you can buy, flip, and resell for a profit (don’t forget to add your work time and shipping into the costing).
9. Print merch
It’s not totally different from dropshipping, but if you’ve got a blog, YouTube channel, or following of any kind, you could print merch! Again, you don’t actually have to do it yourself. There are lots of companies that will print your merch for you–whether it’s stickers, hats, shirts, or something else.
Chances are you need to build a following first, but with the sites out there that do everything for you, you could just set up a funny t-shirts website or something like that.
10. Write an eBook
Writing an eBook and hosting it yourself on Amazon is a great way to make money online. Seriously. I’ve done it. And it consistently brings in anywhere from $100-$200/mo in passive income. Now I know what you’re thinking, “That’s not much!” And it’s not!
But look around this site, do you see a book advertised anywhere? (okay, you will see it in a few places.) That fact is, I put next to 0 time into promoting it–I just wrote it and forgot about it. And people keep finding it and buying it on Amazon.
What could you earn if you just devoted yourself to making money through writing? What if you focused on publicizing your books? I actually think it’s a great way to make some money online, and you can self-publish on Amazon KDP and keep all the royalties!
Now Read: 14 REALISTIC Passive Income Ideas
6 truths about making money online
I could let you go here, but if you’re still with me, I want to tell you a few more things I wish I’d known about making money online. Here are some of the things I’ve learned the hard way.
1. The successes are the exception
Let’s start here. Most of the ways people talk about earning money online are legit. BUT very few people succeed at any of them. If you are looking at monetizing from any of the old school or influencer models of monetizing, and I’ll talk about some better ones below, there are far more dreamers than there are people cashing in.
There are different reasons for this, but in simplest terms, it’s damn hard to make money through a lot of these methods.
Take being an influencer, for example. You need to be able to create amazing content, consistently, manage social media platforms, grow your following, work the business side to create brand partnerships, and use your influence to sell a product successfully. To get paid well, you need to reach at least tens of thousands of people. Not everyone can do this.
2. People don’t understand how much time it takes
I make money off this website. But it’s still not a full-time income, I supplement with other things. And I have been doing this for at least three years, on and off, 20 to 60 hours a week.
Now, if you were thinking of starting a blog or a YouTube channel, are you willing to put that much time in for free? Most people aren’t. Most people will start, do it for a few weeks, and then quit when they don’t get instant success.
If you’ve ever read Robert Kiyosaki’s book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, you’ll remember that rule number one is that the rich don’t work for money.
Rich people don’t get paid by the hour. They build things that pay them, and it can take a long time to get paid.
And that’s true in the online space too. The people who make money off this can spend a lot of time building things, sometimes for years, before they ever get to cash in.
When you see a YouTuber with 5 million followers, remember that they probably spent three to four years working consistently for free.
3. The gold rush principle
There’s a famous axiom about the gold rush: the people who made the most money in the gold rush were the people who sold the shovels and the pickaxes. I sort of feel like that’s a good analogy for many of the online money-making strategies.
A lot of the people who are making money online are people who teach how to make money online.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know that this is not universal. I know that there are exceptions and that there are a lot of creators making a living with all sorts of different things.
But the next time you see a YouTube or Instagram ad promising you millions online, do a deep dive into that person’s testimonials and make sure that their clients have actually made money.
4. Very few people will apply it
There is all the information in the world about how to make money online, almost too much in fact. But one of the biggest challenges is that very few people will apply it. I’m an affiliate for Bluehost, which means that when people sign up to start websites with Bluehost, I make a commission payment. I want people to start websites, to succeed, to experience what I have.
But I know that most people will abandon this journey long before they get close to where I am. Ask anyone who sells online courses, a very small percentage of the people who buy the course actually finish. Maybe it’s because the course sucks.
But more often than not, it’s just because life gets in the way.
5. It’s still very possible
Yes, it’s still incredibly possible to make money online. There are more ways than ever. Facebook now lets you start your own store, YouTube now lets you sell merch, it seems that every social media platform is giving you new ways to monetize. Oh yeah, and how about those people making millions on NFTs and creator coins?
There’s a lot of money out there.
6. It takes incredible dedication
Maybe I’ve been dancing around this, but let me say it outright. It takes incredible dedication to the mastery of a craft to make money online.
To me, it’s worth the effort.
Because even if my website fails, the skills I have transfer into just about any tech company on the planet and put me in high demand. These are skills that are hard-won, that took me years to develop.
If you treated making money online like a part-time job, devoting yourself to mastering it, you could probably be successful. Most people won’t.
There you have it, the TRUTH about making money online, plus 10 real ways to make money online in 2022. Have you tried these? Have they worked for you? Let me know! Share this post on social media and tag it!
Now Read: 14 Viable Passive Income Ideas for 2022