Don’t Leave Your Home: 39 Legit Ways to Make Money Online
We’re deep into the age of the internet. At this point, you can do basically anything through a screen — including increasing your income.
Yep. You can earn, sell, invest, work full time, work part time and even watch videos for some extra cash… all from behind your computer screen.
How to Make Money Online: 39 Legitimate Ways
Whether you want to find a non-committal side hustle or dive into a full-time career, here are some of our favorite ways to earn extra money online this year.
1. Make an Extra $1,200 This Year From Your Laptop or Phone
Don’t have a whole lot of free time or brain space left for a second — or even third — job? That’s OK! This doesn’t take much energy from you.
A free rewards website called Swagbucks will pay you to watch videos. Yup.
One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.
All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward.
This might sound too good to be true, but we talked to one Swagbucks user in Pennsylvania, 52-year-old Carolinda Hendrickson, who earned $1,200 in a year. Not bad for something you can do from your couch.
It takes seconds to sign up, and you can even earn a $5 bonus.
2. Turn Those Crumpled Receipts Into Free Visa Prepaid Cards
What do you usually do with your receipts? You check out, they hand you a mile-long piece of paper, and you frantically stuff it to the bottom of a grocery bag. Pretty worthless.
But a free app called Fetch Rewards will turn them into Visa prepaid cards.
All you have to do is upload a photo of your receipt to the Fetch app, and it does everything for you. No scanning barcodes or searching for offers — and you can use receipts from any grocery store.
Fetch rejects receipts more than 20 days old, so don’t forget to take that picture! You’re basically throwing away free gift cards if you don’t. Plus, with its new e-receipt feature, any time you shop online at partner brands using the same email as your Fetch account, you’ll earn points.
When you download the app, use the code PENNY to get a 2,000-point bonus toward redeeming your first gift card — you only need 3,000 points to cash out.
Not so bad for a useless receipt, right?
3. Find Money the Government’s Been Holding Onto
State treasuries throughout the U.S. have more than $43 billion in unclaimed funds, according to The New York Times. Just sitting around! Waiting for you to come play lost and found.
Check with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. Click your state on the map, and it’ll redirect you to your state’s appropriate search site. (Beware: There are several look-alike sites out there. Be sure you’re searching legitimate ones.)
Penny Hoarder reader Kelli Howell heeded our advice, performed a quick search and found unclaimed money in her husband’s name.
“As I was scrolling through, I saw his name and his middle initial,” she says. She asked him to confirm his old Florida address; he grew up in Tampa. Sure enough, Mark Howell was entitled to $56 from a “matured insurance policy.”
No, it’s not always a huge money-maker, but that’s not bad for an unexpected check, right?
4. Spend $1 to Own a Piece of Amazon, Google or Other Companies
Take a look at the Forbes Richest People list, and you’ll notice almost all the billionaires have one thing in common — they own another company.
But if you work for a living and don’t happen to have millions of dollars lying around, that can sound totally out of reach.
That’s why a lot of people use the app Stash. It lets you be a part of something that’s normally exclusive to the richest of the rich — buying pieces of other companies for as little as $1.*
That’s right — you can invest in pieces of well-known companies, such as Amazon, Google or Apple, for as little as $1. The best part? When these companies profit, so can you. Some companies even send you a check every quarter for your share of the profits, called dividends.
It takes two minutes to sign up, plus Stash will give you a $5 sign-up bonus once you deposit $5 into your account. Subscription plans start at $1 a month.**
*For Securities priced over $1,000, purchase of fractional shares starts at $0.05.
**You’ll also bear the standard fees and expenses reflected in the pricing of the ETFs in your account, plus fees for various ancillary services charged by Stash and the custodian.
The Penny Hoarder is a Paid Affiliate/partner of Stash. Investment advisory services offered by Stash Investments LLC, an SEC registered investment adviser. This material has been distributed for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended as investment, legal, accounting, or tax advice. Investing involves risk.
5. Take 5 Surveys and Get a Free $5 Amazon Gift Card
Listen. We all spend too much money on Amazon, but here’s an easy way to get $5 toward your next order: Take five online surveys through a website called MyPoints.
MyPoints is a research company that’ll pay you to answer questions about different products and services you use. In return, it’ll give you free gift cards. You can even do this from your phone.
To date, MyPoints has paid people more than $236 million in gift cards.
To get your $5 Amazon gift card, just sign up and complete your first five surveys.
6. Play Free Scratch-off Tickets
The odds don’t usually make playing the lottery worth your limited funds. But what if you could get the tickets for free?
Instead of a convenience-store stop, try scratching for free using an app called Lucktastic. Each day, it releases a new assortment of digital scratch-off tickets. Lucktastic says instant wins range from $1 to $2,500, in cash or gift cards to popular retailers.
The app is supported by advertising, which allows it to keep the payouts high and the games free. For more info, check out Lucktastic here.
7. Invest in Real Estate (Even if You’re Not a Millionaire)
The stock market can be a scary place. Stock prices shoot up and down like a roller coaster ride, and who knows when the whole thing might crash?
It would be nice to diversify and invest some of your money in real estate, but don’t you have to be wealthy to do that?
Now you can invest like the 1% does, and all you need to get started is $500. A company called DiversyFund will invest your money in commercial real estate — specifically, in apartment complexes that it owns — and you only need $500.
Real estate can potentially earn you more money than the stock market. Over the long term, investing in the stock market will earn you an average annual return of 7%, adjusted for inflation, according to a number of studies. DiversyFund can’t guarantee how its investments will perform in the future — no one can — but historically, it has earned an annual return of 17% to 18%.
So you don’t need a fortune to invest in real estate. All you need to get started is $500.
8. Get Paid up to $600/Week to Drop off Starbucks
Your city is filled with two things: Starbucks, and people who want Starbucks.
An app called Doordash will pay you to pick up and deliver an extra latte when you’re already out and getting your caffeine fix. And it’s not just coffee. You can deliver from Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Five Guys and hundreds of other restaurants in your area.
With Doordash, you set your own hours and work as much or little as you want, meaning how much you make is up to you.
You’ll earn money for each delivery, plus tips. Jose Neri, from California, reports earning $500 to $600 a week working just lunches and dinners.
The best part? No passengers — that grande, no-whip macchiato will be the only thing to hear your beautiful singing voice.
If you sign up for Doordash now, it’s possible to get your first paycheck this week.
9. Earn up to $69/Hour as a Small Business Owner
Can you open an excel spreadsheet? Does earning $69 an hour sound appealing? How about the freedom to work remotely while helping others succeed?
Those are the perks of working as a bookkeeper, says Ben Robinson, a CPA and business owner who teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers through online courses called Bookkeepers.com.
You don’t have to be an accountant or even really good at math to be successful in this business. In fact, all you need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners tackle real-world problems. The ability to stay moderately organized is helpful, too.
You can make up to $69 an hour, according to data from Intuit, the creator of QuickBooks, and you have no commute. It’s a great opportunity for parents who want a part-time job, recent college grads or anyone who wants to bring in real money working from home.
Robinson shares what it takes to be a virtual bookkeeper, plus tips for making this career work for you in his free class at Bookkeepers.com. If you stick with the classes, you could be running your own business in just a few months.
10. Share What’s in Your Fridge
Remember the Nielsen company? The one that’s always tracked TV ratings? Well, now it wants to know what’s in your fridge.
Once you sign up to be on the Nielsen Consumer Panel, you’ll gain access to the NCPMobile app. (If you don’t have a smartphone, Nielsen will send you a scanner.) As you unload your groceries after your next shopping trip, simply use the app to scan items’ barcodes.
Nielsen will reward you with points, which you can redeem for free gift cards, electronics (new TV, anyone?) and household items. The longer you stay on the panel, the more opportunities you have to earn.
Applying to become a panel member is straightforward. You’ll answer some basic questions about you and your household, then Nielsen reviews your application and will contact you when you’re eligible to join.
11. Invest 15 Cents Into the Stock Market
Yeah, we know what you’re thinking: 15 cents? How’s that going to do me any good?
Well, that leftover change from your morning coffee and evening grocery hauls could turn into more than $1,000.
That’s what happened when Penny Hoarder reader Jeremy Kolodziej opened an investment account with Acorns. The app’s round-up feature bumps each of your purchases up to the nearest dollar and puts the spare change into the stock market, which helped him mindlessly save $1,076 in about 20 months.
“It’s a virtual coin jar,” he says. “You don’t even think about it.” He used the spare change to pay for two vacations.
Plus, Acorns invested the money for him, allowing him to grow his savings — without studying stock prices or managing trades.
The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
12. You’re Missing Out On a Free $150 by Using the Wrong Credit Card
It might sound too good to be true, but the Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card will give you a $150 bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months of signing up. That basically means you’d just need to use the card to buy groceries.
Plus, it’s probably better than any other credit card in your purse or wallet. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, all the time, so you don’t have to keep track of revolving categories or anything like that.
And unlike a lot of competing rewards cards, there’s no annual fee.
Applying for the card online takes no more than about two minutes. Then you could be well on your way to that free $150.
Just remember to spend responsibly and pay your balance off each month!
*The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited card has been collected independently by The Penny Hoarder. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. The Penny Hoarder is a partner of Credible.
13. Copy This Strategy to Get Checks in the Mail Totaling $526
Remember when getting the mail was fun? Now it’s just bills. And Valpak envelopes.
But for Colleen Rice, checking the mail meant finding checks. For doing nothing. Seriously. Since she started using a free website called Rakuten, she’s received $526.44.
Rakuten has the hookup with just about every online store you shop, which means it can give you a kickback every time you buy toilet paper on Amazon — even book that flight home for Thanksgiving.
Rice says she uses Rakuten for things she already has to buy, like rental cars and flights. She even used the money she earned to help her pay for her recent cross-country move.
It takes less than 60 seconds to create a Rakuten account and start shopping. All you need is an email address, then you can immediately start shopping your go-to stores through the site.
Plus, if you use Rakuten to earn money back within the first 90 days of signing up, it’ll give you an extra $10 on the first check it sends you.
Talk about money for nothing.
14. Sell Your Photos (Nope, You Don’t Have to Be a Professional)
Those thought-out photos you take can get you more than just Instagram “likes.”
You can upload your iPhone photos to stock photography sites. And they don’t have to be professional, either. Many of them are trying to get away from the “perfect” photo and are looking for more realistic images.
You likely won’t become a millionaire; Foap, for example, splits the profits with the photographer evenly.
15. Write and Sell an Ebook
If you’re a subject-matter expert or have an intriguing life experience, you could write a book. But there’s no need to send it off to all the major publishing houses in New York City.
You can self-publish ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Writer Steve Gillman wrote a book in a week. Yup, Ebooks don’t have be hundreds of pages long. Gillman found many books as short as 6,000 words.
After publishing on Amazon, he started making $350 a month. The best part? He continued to make money, even months and years later.
16. Make Money Doing Voice-Overs
Janna Polzin, a stay-at-home mom in Toronto, earns money by talking to herself. In her closet.
After her son was born in 2013, the stage actress turned to the online acting community and kept hearing about one voice-acting platform again and again: Voices.com.
“I often walk away from my computer thinking, I can’t believe I just made money from that!” she says.
Voices.com is an international online voice-over acting marketplace that helps vocal talent — both professional and amateur — find clients who need them.
17. Join a Mock Jury
Jury duty isn’t always fun, but what if you could do it from the comfort of home? Becoming an online mock juror can be an interesting way to make some extra money.
Here’s how it works: Attorneys present cases to online juries as a way to test it before trial — to find that’s working and what isn’t and craft the best arguments.
You can sign up as an online juror through a site like eJury. When a new case is submitted, you’ll be notified. Jump in to review the case and answer questions. You can earn $5 to $10 per case, depending on its length.
18. Trade in That Old Phone for Cash
You know that phone you have? The one sitting in your junk drawer or perhaps your bedside table? It’s time to give it up and pocket some cash.
Online trade-in sites, like Gazelle and Swappa, make the process super easy.
For example, with Gazelle, you just enter your device’s information, and it’ll will give you a trade-in estimate. For qualifying devices, it’ll even send you a free box for shipping.
If you need money more quickly, see if an affiliated kiosk is located in your area. You’ll be able to get an estimate on your device, and if you agree to sell, you’ll immediately get cash.
19. Turn Flea Market Finds Into Profit
Do you frequent flea markets? Why not turn some of your finds into profit?
Follow Rob Stephenson’s lead. He calls himself the Flea Market Flipper and has made up to $30,000 a year finding and selling flea market gems.
He doesn’t even have to put a ton of elbow grease into flipping items. Once, the Orlando, Florida, man found a $30 prosthetic leg and turned around and sold it for $1,000 on eBay, his go-to selling site.
He shared his tips on how to successfully sell on eBay.
20. Collect Craigslist Freebies and Turn ’Em Around
Have you ever perused Craigslist’s freebie section? Look for items that are close to you and easy to sell immediately. They could be scraps from a job site or metal items you can sell, for example.Pro Tip
For a quick turnaround, avoid investing in items like furniture or electronics. These can be good to sell, but they'll take longer to fix up.
21. Get Crafty (But Not Too Crafty, If You Don’t Want)
If you’re a creative, consider selling your art on Etsy. Although there are some fees, including the 5% transaction charge, the marketplace connects with more than 33 million buyers globally.
Those are a lot of potential customers.
If you aren’t necessarily the artsy type, you could still make money on Etsy by selling craft supplies. For example, Penny Hoarder contributor Janet Berry-Johnson made about $200 a month selling needlecraft kits and patterns.
22. Design and Sell T-Shirts
If you’ve got a creative streak — or know a catchy pun or two — consider putting your designs on T-shirts and selling them through Merch by Amazon.
You’ll upload your T-shirt designs to Merch, choose a product type and color (e.g., a lavender T-shirt), set your price, then add a product description. Amazon creates a product page. When customers buy your designed shirt, you don’t have to worry about production, shipping or customer service.
You’ll also be able to set your own prices, and you’ll earn a royalty each time a product is sold. Before you can start, you’ll have to be considered as an applicant based on your background and experience.
23. Answer the Phone
Have you ever considered doing customer service from the comfort of your home? An increasing number of companies are hiring work-from-home customer service reps, instead of running call centers.
These jobs can be full- or part-time and offer a variety of schedules, including daytime, evening and weekend shifts with a range of pay depending on the position and location.
Your job is usually to answer customer questions over the phone or via online chat. You may find sales positions that include higher pay and performance incentives; or technical support positions, which are best if you’re tech-savvy and have an interest in helping people understand technology.
You should enjoy helping people, though! You know how a bad customer service call can totally ruin your day? You don’t want to be the bad rep on the other end of that call.
If you don’t like working with customers, keep an eye out for other work-from-home jobs at these job sites.
24. Work for Amazon… Kind of… Only When You Want
Mechanical Turk, from Amazon, pays people to do tasks computers can’t do, like choosing the best photo from a set or taking online surveys.
The downside: Some tasks pay very little for your time.
Here’s a smart workaround: Use Reddit threads to find the tasks that pay the most and/or require the least work so you can make the most money online in the least time.
With some careful searching and task-choosing, you could earn an extra $100 a week — or more.
25. Make Someone’s Day Easier as a Virtual Assistant
If you have a knack for organization and communication, there are people who will pay you to keep them on track.
You don’t have to be the busy corporate assistant you see in old movies or TV. You can be a virtual assistant right from your couch.
We recommend starting your search with ZipRecruiter.
When you click here to search, ZipRecruiter sends you to a list of geo-tailored work-from-home job openings.
Type in “virtual assistant,” and peruse the listings to find information about the company, pay and type of employment. ZipRecruiter will even let you know if you qualify for a position based on your credentials. (But we always recommend applying anyway!)
26. Polish People’s Words as a Proofreader
Do you have an eye for typos and a serious dedication to the laws of grammar?
You could be a perfect candidate to make money online as a proofreader.
The average per-page rate for freelance proofreaders is 35 cents, according Caitlin Pyle, the founder of Proofread Anywhere, an online course that teaches you how to become a proofreader.
You can test your grammar wiles with a tricky quiz and learn how to find freelance clients in Pyle’s free seven-day introductory course for proofreaders.
27. Play Search Engine Police for Google
Search engines use complicated algorithms to determine the results you see — and they don’t always get it right.
They’re vulnerable to errors, so they need real humans to look at the results and judge them for quality, relevance and usefulness. And those humans can get paid around $12 an hour for the work.
If you want to get paid to clean up Google’s mess (or Bing’s or Yahoo!’s), look for a job as a search engine evaluator.
Tech company Lionbridge is typically hiring for these jobs, and it pays $12 to $15 an hour. Read more about Lionbridge’s gigs, and see if you can find some openings.
28. Help Doctors Spend More Time With Patients
If you’re looking for a part-time gig that offers flexible hours, consider becoming a virtual medical scribe. Basically, you’re there (behind your computer) to help doctors out with paperwork and documentation, which allows them to spend more time with patients.
iScribes, for example, regularly looks to hire medical scribes. It outlines some of the perks: virtual work, flexible hours, medical industry exposure and paid training.
29. Earn $137,000 a Year as a Self-Taught Developer
The demand for programmers is high these days, and good news for you: You can learn programming without a college degree.
Yup! You can hop on the DIY track and teach yourself to code without paying thousands of dollars in tuition. There are a ton of online bootcamps and even apps to help you get started.
30. Help Make the Internet a Better Place
Have you heard of user-testing? It helps shape websites by tapping into the minds of customers (like you!).
Tons of websites are looking for users tests. To find gigs, search sites like UserTesting.com, where you can potentially earn up to $60 per user test.
31. Use Your Listening Skills as a Virtual Transcriber
Are you a good listener — and a good typist? You could make $15 to $25 an hour as a transcriptionist.
Yep. That’s you listening to audio recordings and typing what you hear.
You get paid per audio hour, so this is a task that’s perfect for people with great focus. If an hour-long recording takes you four hours to transcribe, you still only get paid for one hour, so listen closely! Check out sites like Transcribe Anywhere or TranscribeMe to get started.
32. Flex Your Way With Words as a Full-Time Freelance Writer or Editor
Making a living as a freelance writer, editor or both is possible. Just take notes from Jamie Cattanach, who, in her first year as a full-time freelancer, made more than $50,000. That was several thousand more than she made while working full time on a salary.
Starting her freelance business wasn’t exactly a breeze, so she offered some advice to budding freelance writers.
33. Get Involved in a Class-Action Lawsuit
If you use a product that’s involved in a class-action lawsuit, a little online sleuthing could get you a cash payout.
The rules of each settlement are different, but in most cases you’ll have to provide proof of purchase or product use, like a serial number or a receipt. Once you fill out your online claim form, you may have to wait a few weeks or months before receiving your payment.
Psst — we regularly post new class-action settlement information, so check in often to make sure you’re not missing a chance to get paid!
34. Create a Blog and (Potentially) Earn Millions
Want to start your own website? Turn it into some money?
It’ll take quite a bit of dedication, but it can really pay off.
Take, for example, Helene Sula, a professional travel blogger who visited more than 85 cities last year and earned $200,000, in part through her blog, “Helene in Between.”
We recommend you start by building up your high-quality content. Then you can look into advertising platforms like Google AdSense, a tool that automatically serves your readers display ads. The price advertisers pay varies, so there’s no way to say how much you can make using Google AdSense, but you’ll get paid when a reader interacts with the ad.
See how that goes, then you can consider jumping into affiliate marketing.
If you want all the details, check out our guide to starting a blog, gaining page views and monetizing it.
35. Become an Instagram Influencer
Shelcy Joseph makes $1,600 a month through Instagram. She manages an account with her sister, and they split the income — that $1,600 is after the split.
The duo, who have more than 10,000 followers, makes money from sponsored posts and affiliate marketing, YouTube advertising and private consultations.
Joseph spills the tea about making money through Instagram.
36. Cash out on Bank Promotions
Banks are willing to hand over bonuses when you sign up for new checking accounts. (Just make sure you need one first and that you can maintain any minimum balance requirements!)
If you do, you could earn an extra bonus of $50 to $250 easily!
We rounded up a few of our favorite bank bonus promotions of the year.
37. Buy a Gumball Machine
Scratching your head yet? Brad Hines, a master of passive income, actually used to make money from those gumball machines you see in restaurants; he’d get 80% of the profit.
You can also look into the same idea with vending machines. There will be some management you have to do, but, again, it’s one of those hybrid passive income sources.
Plus, it’d be kind of cool to say, “Fun fact: I own a gumball machine.”
38. Create Online Courses to Teach Others How You’ve Done it
Have you mastered the art of making money online? Or the art of anything, for that matter? Create an online course to share your knowledge with others.
For example, one math teacher created an online course on programming, and he made $1 million in less than a year.
Now, don’t go in setting your expectations that high, but with a solid platform like Udemy or Skillshare, you could start raking in some money — just by being generous with your knowledge!
39. Work From Someone Else’s House
Working from home is wonderful, but sometimes it’s nice just to experience a new space — perhaps in a new town or a new country.
Consider house sitting. You can make big bucks by keeping someone’s house company. There are tons of websites out there that’ll help you find the perfect gig, too. Check out a few of these house-sitting marketplaces.
Ready? Start Making Money Online
The good news is, with so many ways to make money online, there’s something out there for everyone. All you need, at minimum, is a computer — or, in some cases, just a phone.
Start testing some of these tricks out. And remember: These are just our favorites. The internet’s constantly cooking up other ways to make money, so keep your eyes open.