Don’t Leave Your Couch: 45 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: 45 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. Watch Videos Online
InboxDollars offers members a fun, mostly mindless way to make some extra cash while propped up on the couch.
The BBB A+–rated site actually pays you to watch TV online.
The site hosts a ton of stuff to watch, including cooking, entertainment, news and health shows. The shows are sponsored by brands that need more viewers. Every time you watch a video, InboxDollars will credit your account with a little bit of cash.
2. Share Your Opinion and Watch Videos (and Get a $5 Bonus)
Swagbucks just might be one of the most popular ways to make money online. Why? It offers users a variety of ways to cash out — not just through surveys.
It’s also known for handing out free rewards points (called SB) at random, just as a little “thanks for being here” prize.
Plus, you’ll snag a $5 bonus (or 500 SB) when you sign up and earn 2,500 SB within your first 60 days.
Once you accumulate enough SB, exchange them for cash or gift cards to a number of popular retailers, including Amazon.
3. Invest in Real Estate Around the Country — Online
Want to try real-estate investing without playing landlord? We found a company that helps you do just that — with a minimum investment of just $500.
Through the Fundrise Starter Portfolio, your money will be split into two portfolios that support private real estate around the United States.
This isn’t an obscure investment, though. You can see exactly which properties are included in your portfolios — like a set of townhomes in Snoqualmie, Washington, or an apartment building in Charlotte, North Carolina.
You can earn money through quarterly dividend payments and potential appreciation in the value of your shares, just like a stock. Cash flow typically comes from interest payments and property income (e.g. rent).
(But remember: Investments come with risk. While Fundrise has paid distributions every quarter since 2014, dividend and principal payments are never guaranteed.)
You’ll pay a 0.85% annual asset management fee and a 0.15% annual investment advisory fee.
4. Get a Free $10 in Cash the Next Time You Go to Starbucks
A new cash back app called Pei will give you 1% cash back every time you go to Starbucks. Yes, you read that right.
You don’t have to use a coupon code either. Just download the Pei app and connect your credit card. Going forward, Pei will pay you cash you every time they see Starbucks on your credit card statement.
But, the best part? If you download the app today and use our referral code “foslxb”, they’ll credit you with $10 in cash immediately. That’s $10 you can transfer to your bank account to save or to fund your Starbucks habit.
5. Become a Virtual Bookkeeper — and Earn up to $60/Hour
Ben Robinson, a certified public accountant and online business owner, teaches others to become virtual bookkeepers through his online course, Bookkeeper Business Launch.
You don’t have to have a CPA to work as a bookkeeper. All you really need are decent computer skills and a passion for helping business owners.
Learn how you can make up to $60 an hour through Robinson’s online class.
6. Earn a Free $5 From This Survey Site
MyPoints aggregates market research survey opportunities for its users. You can earn gift cards for taking polls and filling out surveys. Once you complete your first five surveys, you’ll earn a $5 bonus.
A big perk? You’ll earn points even when you don’t qualify for a survey.
7. Invest $50, Get $50 More — Automatically
It’s no secret: Investing is a great way to grow your money. But that’s something only wealthy people do, right?
You don’t have to be Warren Buffet to get started with investing.
In fact, you can get started with just $50, using a company called Swell Investing. Plus, when you invest your first $50, Swell will match you with a $50 bonus! Talk about instant returns.
Just use the code PENNY when you sign up.
You don’t even have to know how to pick stocks — as a newbie investor, Swell does the heavy lifting for you.
Oh, and with Swell, you’ll have an impact by investing in companies that are committed to clean water, zero waste, renewable energy or disease eradication, to name a few.
Disclosure: We have a financial relationship with Swell Investing LLC and will be compensated if consumers apply for an account and/or fund an account with Swell through links in our content. However, the analysis and opinions expressed here are our own.
8. Invest Your Digital Spare Change With the Tap of Your Thumb
For beginners, investing can feel quite intimidating. It’s difficult to know where to start, what to Google or to whom you should talk.
You can begin your endeavors simply — with $5 and the the Acorns app.
You can stack up change over time with its “round-up” feature. That means if you spend $10.23 at the grocery store, 77 cents gets dropped into your Acorns account.
Then, the app does the whole investing thing for you.
The idea is you won’t miss the digital pocket change, and the automatic savings stack up faster than you’d think. For example, we reviewed how Penny Hoarder Dana Sitar was able to save at a rate of $420 a year!
At that rate, you could set aside $1,000 in about two and a half years — without trying.
The app is $1 a month for balances under $1 million, and you’ll get a $5 bonus when you sign up.
9. Let Guests Crash in Your Spare Room (or on the Couch)
Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one.
Here are some tips:
- Make your space available during high-demand times in your area. Think: concerts, conventions and sporting events.
- Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels.
- Be personable. A lot of travelers turn to Airbnb for the personal touch they won’t find at commercial properties.
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
10. Get $150 for Opening a New Credit Card
Like banks, credit card companies will reward you with a nice bonus when you sign up (and usually spend a certain amount of money). Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re monitoring your credit card purchases so you don’t get tangled in a high interest rate.
If you’re in the market for a new card — and a bonus — we like the Chase Freedom Unlimited card*. Its claim to fame? You’ll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases. Plus, if you spend $500 in your first three months of opening the card (hi, groceries), you’ll pocket a $150 bonus.
11. Earn Rewards for Going Shopping
The best kind of savings are the kind where you don’t have to do a thing. That’s what makes the Drop app so appealing.
What’s special about Drop is all you have to do is link your credit and debit cards (no coupon clipping or hoarding receipts!). When you make a Drop-qualified purchase, you’ll automatically earn points, whether you’re grocery shopping at Walmart, hailing an Uber or ordering a pizza.
The points will add up, and you can exchange them for gift cards in the app to popular retailers like Amazon and Starbucks.
Bonus: Through Dec. 31, enter the code TPH for 5,000 free Drop points!
12. Earn Money Back on Almost Anything (and Get a $10 Walmart Gift Card)
Here’s one way to earn cash back on almost everything: Shop through the cash-back site Ebates. For example, Ebates grants you up to 10% cash back on online Walmart purchases.
That means you could stock up on paper products and earn cash back — without leaving the couch.
Plus, when you sign up for Ebates and complete your first purchase of $25 or more within 90 days, you’ll pocket a $10 Walmart gift card.
13. Test Your Luck, and Win Money to Stack Your Savings
The Long Game Savings app turns saving money into a game. The more money you stash into savings, the more coins you’ll earn to play mini games for a chance to win cash prizes.
Your savings will earn 0.1% interest. It’s not a ton, but you have the potential to earn cash by playing games (lucky slots, spin-to-win wheels and scratch-offs), which can pay off even better than interest at your bank.
14 Earn an Extra $36/Year for Shopping on Amazon
Calling all Amazon shoppers!
ShopTracker, one of the leading public opinion research companies, wants you to share your Amazon purchase history. And you’ll get paid for every month you share.
When you sign up for ShopTracker, it keeps your private information, well, private. All it wants to see is your order information.
To earn your first gift card today, just download the ShopTracker app on your Windows computer and Apple or Android phone. It takes about two minutes. You’ll need to answer a few questions about your Amazon use to qualify.
Follow the prompts, and connect your Amazon account for a quick $3 Visa e-gift card delivered to your inbox within 48 hours. Then, take a couple of minutes to share your purchase history to earn another $3 each month.
15. Turn Your iPhone Photos into Passive Income
Are you that person who’s constantly snapping photos on your phone? Well, it’ll finally pay off (in more than Instagram likes).
An app called Foap lets you easily sell photos online.
Here’s how it works:
- Download the free app and create an account.
- Take a quality photo and upload it to Foap’s marketplace.
- Someone buys the license to your photo for $10. You make $5.
If your photo sells 20 times, you make $5 each time and end up with $100 in your pocket — all for about five minutes of work. Not bad, right?
16. Start a Used Books Business
There are a number of ways to sell used books online and yes, you can do this at home. Start by selling the books you aren’t going to read from around the house. To make more money, learn how to do used textbook arbitrage (locate sellers with low prices and top-dollar buyers).
17. Fill This out While You Watch Netflix
Survey Junkie’s clean look will help keep you motivated to take as many surveys as you can. Plus, it’s relatively quick to reward you with points once you’ve completed a survey.
If you take all the profile surveys, which will ideally help match you to opportunities you qualify for, you can earn an easy 200 points or so.
Once you earn 1,000 points — equal to $10 — you can cash out for gift cards or cash via PayPal.
18. Earn Amazon Gift Cards While Curled up on the Couch
OneOpinion is a fairly new survey site that’s super user-friendly — no absurd amounts of pop-up ads and screens included.
Additionally, you’ll see exactly how many points you’ve earned and exactly how many you need to receive a payout. You can exchange for PayPal cash or gifts cards to places like Amazon, Target and Starbucks.
19. 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.
20. Clean out Your Closet (Finally) and Earn Cash
Got a stack of books, a pile of clothing or a closet full of decor you haven’t touched in years?
You can sell virtually anything on Letgo. This easy-to-use app lets you snap a photo and upload your item to its online marketplace in less than 30 seconds. It removes a lot of the hassle of selling things online, and it’s 100% free to use.
21. Sell Your Dusty Ol’ Technology
Take a look around. Do you have stacks of CDs, DVDs or video games collecting dust? Yeah, when will you use those again?
Download the Decluttr app, and start scanning the items’ barcodes. You’ll get an immediate quote, then, at checkout, enter code FREE5 for an extra $5.
Ship your items off to the Decluttr warehouse for free, and you’ll get paid the next day.
22. 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.
Gazelle is an online trade-in site that makes the process super easy.
Enter your device’s information, and Gazelle 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.
23. 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.
24. 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.
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.
25. 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.
26. List Your Freelancing Services Starting at $5 a Pop
Have you got skills? Can you shoot photos, edit videos or design websites? Can you write blog posts or code? Can you draw?
If you’ve got game, list your services on Fiverr, an online marketplace for creative freelance services.
Gigs on Fiverr range from standard data entry and research tasks to the truly out-there. On any given day, sellers in the “Fun & Lifestyle” section are offering thousands of unique services — from polishing a Tinder profile to creating a family tree.
27. Find Freelance Work Through Thousands of Gig Listings
Upwork is a great freelancing platform if you’re just wading into the freelance world.
Once you create a profile, search through thousands of gigs based on your skills and interests. If you find one you’re interested in, apply.
One of the perks of Upwork is that it handles all money transactions, eliminating any unease or questions of, “Will they really pay me?!” Upwork takes a 20% fee for the first $500 billed through the platform.
A note for first-timers: Carefully consider the pay rates that are listed. Penny Hoarder Carson Kohler has used the platform to find freelance writing gigs, and she reports low rates — like $3 for 500 written words. It’s probably not worth it. (And, yes, you’ll have to scroll through a whole lot of these low-paying listings to find the good ones.)
28. 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.
29. Make Someone’s Day Better (and More Organized) 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!)
30. 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.
31. Tutor Kids Across the World… From the Comfort of Home
Did you know you can make money online while working as a teacher? Better yet: You get to pick your own hours, too.
There are several online-learning platforms focused on teaching English as a second language to students in other countries. For example, Angela Brumbaugh is a QKids teacher. She teaches 36 half-hour sessions a week and makes up to $20 an hour.
Then there’s VIPKID, another online tutoring platform. Jennifer Ross works part-time for the company, and, at $22 an hour, she brings home more than $520 a week.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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.
Let Kelly Vaughn inspire you. She’s never even taken a coding class. Yet she earned $137,000 in her first year as a freelance programmer.
35. 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 User Testing, where you can potentially earn up to $60 per user test.
36. 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!
You might work more quickly if you invest in a transcriber foot pedal, which will cost about $50.
37. 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.
38. Turn Your YouTube Videos Into Cash
It’s almost 2020, baby, and these days, you can make millions as a YouTube star. Yup, that’s a job title.
It may take time to turn video views into dollars — about $1 per 1,000 views, according to Inc. — but with enough videos for fans to scroll through, those views can add up over time.
While you’re building an audience, you could also join affiliate programs related to your channel and make money online through affiliate links in your video descriptions.
39. 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.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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?
43. Publish a Kindle Book
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 publish ebooks through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Penny Hoarder contributor Steve Gillman wrote a book in a week. Note: 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. He outlines exactly how he did it and the best tips and tricks for you.
44. 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!
45. Become a Life Coach
According to a Forbes article on surprising six-figure jobs, about 20% of life and business coaches top $100,000 annually. The article notes that “No special degree or training is required,” but if you want, you can get certified by the Universal Coach Institute.
You can coach your clients by phone and email from the comfort of your home.
Want to learn more? Check out our post on how to become a life coach.
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.
*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.