20 Legitimate Ways to Earn Money Online Without Paying Anything

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As long as you have an internet connection, you can legitimately make money online from anywhere in the world.

Instead of scanning through Facebook, stalking your ex on Instagram, or determining which Hogwarts House you belong to via a BuzzFeed quiz, let’s get you doing something much more productive with your time.

Whether you’re a stay at home mom with napping children, a college student in between classes, or someone with only part-time work, even the smallest window of opportunity will allow you to earn money online.

To get you started, our team scoured the web, consulted other side hustle experts, wracked our brains, and then drafted the most epic list of money making ideas for you to try, starting today.

Best Ways to Make Money Online Fast

Low effort, low commitment, and without investment. The ideas in this section are all about quick ways to make money online (and better yet, you can try them all for free).

1. Participate in Market Research

Participating in market research studies is an easy way to earn money online.Market research companies like to collect data on consumer trends and spending habits so brands can learn how to better market their products.

They conduct this research this via online questionnaires and they’re always on the lookout for new survey participants.

If you’re a first-time survey taker, we recommend starting out with Swagbucks. They’re currently offering a free $10 sign up bonus and they’re the largest survey site in the world.

Here’s how Swagbucks works:

✔️ Register: Build your profile (takes less than 5 mins).

✔️Earn Rewards: Complete surveys and earn rewards in the form of “Swagbucks”.

✔️Get Paid: Redeem your Swagbucks for PayPal cash deposits or e-gift cards.

If you’ve ever spent time taking paid online surveys, you know that you can earn money online every month while sitting at home in your PJs. You won’t get rich, but a few minutes a day typically adds up to a few dollars, and few dollars a day is enough to cover a utility bill by the end of the month.

Other survey sites we like:

If you’d like more in-depth information about the survey sites before getting started, you can read about them in their respective reviews.

Swagbucks Review | Survey Junkie Review | Vindale Research Review 

2. Cash in on Sign Up Bonuses

Earn $15 in sign up bonuses by downloading the Ebates and Dosh mobile apps if you need money today.Want $15 for a few minutes of your time? Of course you do.

Lucky for you, rewards sites like Ebates and Dosh can make that happen. They’re currently offering cash incentives for people to download their apps.

What’s the catch? None, really. The above apps, and other cash back apps like them, act as affiliates for online merchants. Whenever you make a purchase through one of the apps, they get a small commission from the store. They then pass a portion of that commission back to you as “cash back”.

Example #1: You buy a pair of Nike shoes through the Ebates app. Ebates gets a $10 commission because you purchased the shoes through them, but then they give $7 of it back to you. It’s basically a way to get sale prices on things that aren’t otherwise on sale.

Better yet, you can sometimes double (or even triple) dip and use the apps on top of normal store sales and coupon offers.

Example #2: Nike has a site-wide 20% off sale. Ebates offers an additional 8% off and you have a store coupon code for $10 off that you found on the internet. A $60 pair of shoes suddenly comes in at $36. Not bad.

Ebates credits a $10 signup bonus after making $25 of qualifying purchases within 90 days.

Dosh offers a $5 bonus issued instantly after you link a credit or debit card to the app.

Since they’re free, we recommend signing up for both. Any time you go to make an online purchase, just compare deals between the apps and use the best one.

For more information on the cash back apps (along with savvy hacks for earning more money), check out their respective reviews.

Ebates Review | Dosh Review 

3. Open a High-Yield Online Savings Account

Do you have money sitting in a savings account that’s paying .05% interest?

If so (or if you don’t have a savings account at all), it’s worth your time to spend a few minutes opening a high-yield online savings account.

Here’s why:

national average savings rate

national average online savings account rate

Online savings accounts usually come with substantially higher interest rates to help you grow your money faster (regular in-person banks can’t offer rates as high).

Banks like CIT Bank and Discover Bank, among other top players in the industry, offer savings accounts with interest rates over 20 times higher than the national average.

Better yet, on top of ultra-competitive interest rates, online banks often offer large one-time deposit bonuses to customers who open a new account. These deposit bonuses can reach as high as $500 and require minimum balances only be held for a few months at a time.

Once that minimum holding period expires, you’re free to withdraw your money along with the captured deposit bonus. Think of it like travel hacking, except you’re doing it with savings account deposit bonuses.

If you’re interested in even higher returns, be sure to check out the best apps for investing money online.

4. Make Money Online by Watching Videos

Watch videos on your phone with Swagbucks is one of the easiest ways to earn money on the internet.I mentioned Swagbucks earlier as a reputable survey site, but it turns out that taking surveys isn’t the only thing they’ll pay you to do.

You can also make money online with Swagbucks by watching short, ad-like videos on a wide variety of topics (like entertainment, news, sports, personal development, and more).

Perks include:

  • A $10 sign up bonus for new users.
  • The ability to watch videos on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
  • A wide array of entertaining clips from leading content sites.

Again, it’s probably fair to assume you won’t get rich by doing this, but setting your phone down and letting the videos play through on silent seems like a pretty easy way to make money online to us.

5. Download the Nielsen App

Nielsen will pay app users $50 per year to join and participate in the Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel.Have you heard of Nielsen, the company that tracks TV ratings? Turns out they collect data on a lot more than just TV.

One area they’re really into is internet usage research.

What does that mean for you? It means Nielsen will pay you $50 a year to keep their app on your favorite internet browsing device.

The app itself collects statistics on your internet usage anonymously, so you never have to worry about any data being linked to you.

How the Nielsen Computer & Mobile Panel works:

  • Noninvasive, requires little storage space, and won’t impact device performance.
  • After you’ve installed the app, just use the internet as normal.
  • You’ll earn $50 for the first year you have the app installed.

6. Earn Money Online by Surfing the Web

Get paid to surf the webInboxDollars is a market research company that pays you to use their search engine instead of some of the more prominent ones like Google and Bing.

The idea here is that they will learn more about people search habits and uncover patterns that may be valuable to companies trying to better understand consumers.

InboxDollars isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, but if you’re wanting to make money online for free, it never hurts to make a few extra bucks for searching the web like you normally would.

Here’s how InboxDollars works:

  • $5 sign up bonus for new users.
  • You get $0.15 for every 4 qualified searches you complete.
  • Get $0.05 each time you complete 4 or more searches in a week.

Want to learn more about InboxDollars? Check out our InboxDollars Review.

7. Try Trim

The Trim App can save you hundreds of dollars per year on common expenses, and it does it all automatically.They say a penny saved is a penny earned.

That same adage becomes even cooler when those pennies become dollars. And while this next app doesn’t exactly allow you to make money per se, it’s importance can’t be understated.

Enter Trim. An app that can save you hundreds of dollars a year with almost no effort on your part.

How is this possible?

Well, Trim starts by taking a look at your monthly spending, and then looks for places where you’re overspending — like abnormally high bills or subscriptions you forgot about.

You might be surprised to see how much you’re spending on things you don’t really need.

The best part of Trim is that it can actually lower your bills.

Once the app shows you all the subscriptions you spend money on, you pick the ones you want to cancel and Trim does it for you. Next, the app goes after those high bills, and actually reaches out to the companies on your behalf to negotiate a lower payment.

There’s almost nothing in this world that we hate more than high bills and elevator music. Let Trim handle both for you.

8. Get Paid to Test Websites

earn money online by testing websitesWebsite testers give their opinions on websites, including the design, quality, and ease of use of a site. This allows companies to make changes to their websites in order to provide a better experience for their users (and hopefully increase sales).

Of course, they are willing to pay for your feedback, which makes this one of the easiest ways to make money online without paying anything yourself.

A few sites for getting started include:

  • UserTesting: $10 for every 10-15 minute test completed.
  • WhatUsersDo: $8 for 15-20 minute tests. You’ll need a microphone.
  • User Conversion: $10 per study. Get started in as little as 5 minutes.

See Also: 8 Ways to Get Paid to Test Products at Home

Earn Money Online as a Freelancer

We’re picking up the pace now. These online side hustles require a bit more effort, and often a small upfront investment, but your income potential will be significantly higher.

9. Become a Freelance Writer

The term “starving artist” definitely does not apply here. There are many successful freelance writers out there who’ve used their business to replace their full-time job.

You don’t need a background in English or writing to make it as a successful freelance writer. For instance, Holly Johnson from Club Thrifty started doing freelance writing on the side with no real background, and now makes over $200,000 per year from her writing.

She recently put together a free workshop where she teaches others how to get started earning money online with writing.

How to Build a Six-Figure Writing Career:

  • Learn the techniques Holly’s used to build her writing income to over $200,000/year.
  • Get actionable tips to get your foot in the door and increase your income over time.
  • Gather positive testimonials and expand your online presence.

10. Become a Freelance Proofreader

Does the incorrect use of there, their, and they’re drive you crazy? Put your eagle eyes to good use by earning money as a proofreader.

Caitlin Pyle of Proofread Anywhere made $43,000 her first year as proofreader, in her spare time, while studying abroad. Impressive, right?

Once she realized demand was high — far too high for one proofreader to fill — she created an online course to help others start their own proofreading business.

She also has free workshops almost every day.

In Caitlin’s free workshop, you’ll learn:

  • What a successful proofreader does (and doesn’t do)!
  • How to elevate your skills to become a successful proofreader.
  • Where to find high-paying proofreading clients.

11. Become a Virtual Assistant (VA)

Writing and proofreading aren’t for everyone. Some people prefer more administrative or data-oriented tasks, which is exactly the role of a virtual assistant.

Businesses use virtual assistants for things like booking travel, answering emails, social media management, email management, and more.

As a virtual assistant you can choose which services to offer clients and at what rates. The more value you can provide, the more you can charge.

Some stats about VAs:

  • The average North American virtual assistant earns between $35 and $50 per hour.
  • There has been a 95% increase in demand for VAs over the last three years.
  • There are over 150 different services you can offer as a VA.

The great thing about virtual assistant work is that it almost always opens the door to bigger and better opportunities. Be it an expanded or full-time role within the company you work for, a lateral transfer to a new company, or a huge leap forward because of the skills you learned on the job, VA work has quickly become our favorite way to generate income on the internet.

12. Make Money Teaching English Online

Make money teaching English online with VIPKID.

Have you heard of VIPKID? Here’s a snippet from their site that explains a little more about them:

VIPKID provides an international learning experience to children in China between the ages 4-12. Headquartered in Beijing, the company offers fully immersive one-on-one English language instruction provided online by highly qualified teachers. The curriculum is based on the U.S. Common Core State Standards and uses a flipped-classroom approach to foster creativity and critical thinking skills.

For just 90 minutes a day, you can easily make over $500 per month. All you need is a Bachelor’s degree and English classroom experience.

More information on VIPKID:

For perspective, Forbes has VIPKID as the #1 work from home company on their list from 2018. That’s pretty high honors for the remote gig, and speaks to the flexibility and legitimacy that VIPKID has to offer as an online income opportunity.

13. Website Designer

If you have a knack for computers and an eye for design, you can easily make $1,000 or more each month by building websites for small businesses.

Want proof? We paid a designer over $6,000 to custom code our website theme. From branding and color schemes, to ease of use and user satisfaction, web designers are the ones responsible for bringing a website to life.

If you’d like to learn more, check out this article by Creative Market on how to become a web designer.

Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator are essential pieces of software you’ll need to master, and proficiency in HTML, CSS and JavaScript is a must.

If this sort of geek-speak inspires you, a career in web design is right up your alley.

Ideas for Starting an Online Business

If you are looking to earn serious income online, it might be worth going “all in” and starting your own online business.

In most cases, owning an online business won’t help you get rich overnight. And further complicating the matter is that most businesses require real skills, a significant time investment, and most likely a cash investment, too.

If we haven’t scared you away yet, here are a few options that can eventually lead to a full time income online.

14. Start a Blog

Start a blogDo you feel like you have a message to the world, but don’t have a platform to deliver it?

Maybe it’s time for you to start a blog.

DollarSprout started out just as two college buddies who liked to talk about all things finance. Fast forward a few years and DollarSprout is now  a team of entrepreneurial money-nerds helping to spread sensible money management advice.

What started as an online side hustle, has turned into a full-fledged business endeavor.

Here are some ways that bloggers make money online:

  • Selling advertising space.
  • Promoting affiliate products and earning commissions.
  • Selling their own digital products and courses.
  • Sponsored content, and more!

Starting a blog is easy, but turning your blog into a successful business — now that’s hard. If blogging sounds like the side hustle or full-time business of your dreams, we’ve put together a helpful guide to help you get started.

Here’s a quick rundown of the process:

1️⃣ Find your niche. Start with something you’re passionate about (no need to be an expert).

2️⃣ Set up your blog. We recommend HostGator (it costs as little as $2.75/mo).

3️⃣ Start writing content that helps readers solve a problem.

4️⃣ Build an audience. Pinterest is a great starting point.

5️⃣ Start to Monetize. Ads, affiliate marketing, products — it’s up to you!

See Also: How We Made $347,365 Blogging in 2 Months

15. Start a Drop Shipping Business

The drop shipping business model is taking the internet by storm right now, and for good reason. It’s a legitimate way to make money online, and requires very little startup cost.

What is drop shipping?

In the words of Shopify,

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the merchant never sees or handles the product.

If blogging isn’t your thing but you still want to start an online business, starting an e-commerce site is yet another option to consider.

If you didn’t gather from the Shopify explanation, the premise of drop shipping online is actually really simple. You create a storefront, arrange product sales directly between a manufacturer and a consumer, and collect on the margins created by being a middleman. If you get good at driving web traffic to your storefront (using paid methods like Facebook Ads), you can score a healthy ROI on high-margin products.

In fact, there are dozens of people all over the world that have made tens of millions of dollars doing exactly this. Now, their results aren’t typical, but it goes to show that sometimes there is value in mastering a skill outside a traditional career path.

If interested, Shopify frequently offers free workshops that are designed to teach you the basics of getting started.

Earn Passive Income Online

The items in this section all require an up-front cash investment, but offer the opportunity for your money to make you even more money — all online. If you are financially able to, building up passive streams of income is a key part of accumulating wealth.

16. Invest in Crowdfunded Real Estate

Many people consider real estate investing one of the best ways to accumulate wealth. The problem is, it usually takes a lot of money to get started, which puts it out of reach for many people.

Luckily, there’s a way to invest in real estate without buying entire properties yourself.

Introducing Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS)

A REIT is a pool of money, managed by financial professionals, that goes towards investing in real estate. Investors put money into the REIT, the REIT buys properties, and the returns are disbursed back to investors.

The best part? You don’t have to worry about handling the landlord duties.

Most REITS still require a hefty investment to get in, but we found a place that has just a $500 minimum investment to get started. With Fundrise, you get access to dozens of solid, value-producing assets.

Here’s how Fundrise works:

  • Invest directly in a real estate portfolio that a team of professionals identifies, acquires, and manages on your behalf.
  • 8 – 12% expected annual returns.
  • Read our Fundrise Review here.

All-in-all, it’s an ultra easy way to diversify your investments and get exposure to a market that may have been previously inaccessible.

17. Rent Out Your Car While You’re Not Using It

A legit way to make money online in 2019 is to rent out your vehicle. How much downtime would you say your car has each week while you’re traveling, at work, sleeping, or just hanging out at home?

According to Getaround, most cars in the U.S. sit idle for up to 22 hours per day. That’s 22 hours a day you can lend your vehicle to someone else, and get paid to do it.

As a Getaround participant, you also get access to premium parking, as well as a $50 monthly rental credit (in addition to the money you make renting out a vehicle).

With $1 million in insurance coverage, you can rest assured your property is in good hands.

To get started, just register for a free account, name your car, set the location and availability, and enter a description.

If you decide to stick with Getaround after the 30-day free trial, you’ll be charged a one-time fee of $99 for a Connect™ installation as well as a flat fee of $20 per month. (The Connect™ allows renters to locate and unlock your car straight from the app so you don’t have to deal with lost or stolen keys. It also comes with added security features like tamper detection, GPS tracking, and engine lock.)

You’ll also get a digital key so you can access your car any time, and unlock it from your phone. If you ever have issues, Getaround is there for you with 24/7 roadside assistance and customer support.

Rental earnings accrue on a monthly basis and are paid on the 15th of the following month. Getaround keeps 40% of all earnings to cover the costs of insurance, 24/7 support, and other perks.

Click here to try Getaround free for 30 days.

18. Peer-to-Peer Lending

If you happen to have cash on hand, and are looking for a high interest rate investment outside of your retirement account, consider peer-to-peer lending (aka P2P Lending).

What is peer-to-peer lending?

Peer-to-peer lending is financial system that matches prospective borrowers with investors that are willing to fund their loans. It’s like traditional lending, but without a bank as the middle man. As an investor, you take the bank’s place in the equation, and collect interest payments on the process.

How much money can you make?

It depends on what types of loans you invest in and how much money you invest with. If you play it safe, you can expect to make 2-5% per year, whereas riskier loans can pay as high as 12% or more.

Lending Club is one of the largest online P2P Lending marketplaces:

  • Open an account and transfer as little as a $0.01 minimum initial deposit.
  • Build your portfolio: Invest in a range of loans in increments as little as $25.
  • Get paid: Receive monthly payments as borrowers repay their loans.
  • 99% of Lending Club investors with a 100+ note portfolios earn positive returns.

When the interest rates of cash equivalents (short-term bonds, money market funds, etc.) are depressed, peer-to-peer lending presents a profitable alternative to just letting your cash sit idly by.

19. Earn Money as an Airbnb Host

earn passive income with airbnbIf you want to get your feet wet in the renting business, Airbnb is a great website for getting started.

If you own your home, or your landlord permits it, you can earn money online by sharing your home with others.

Here’s how it works:

  • Create a free listing: Describe your space, how many guests you can accommodate, and add photos and details.
  • Pick your price: What you charge is always up to you.
  • Get paid: You can be paid via PayPal, direct deposit, or wire, among other ways.
  • DollarSprout’s Complete Guide to Profitable Airbnb Hosting

So just how much money can you expect to make? According to Airbnb, the average host makes $6,000 per year.

That’s a lot of money for letting someone else sleep in your house while you vacation and/or spend time elsewhere. More impressively, some hosts have made as much as $200,000 renting out their pad, while living somewhere cheaper, of course. If you’re apt to switch up living arrangements to make a little cash, this seems like a no-brainer way to do it.

20. Invest in Dividend Paying Stocks

It’s been said that the average millionaire has seven streams of income. Dividend stocks are usually one of them.

What are dividend stocks?

Usually when you buy stocks, you do it with the intent to buy low and sell high. Dividend stocks work the same way, but with one other benefit: just for owning the stock, you are paid a small portion of the company’s earnings. So with dividend stocks, you get paid when the stock goes up in value, and when dividends are paid out.

Five dollar signup bonusIf you are looking to get started with dividend investing (or any type of stock market investing), consider checking out Acorns. It’s a beginner-friendly app that can help you get started with investing using just your smartphone.

Better yet, Acorns is now offering a $5 signup bonus if you open a new account. After registering, Acorns will deposit a free $5 into your account to give your investments a head start.

Your Turn

We live in an age where there’s an opportunity to make money online at every corner. That said, you can’t just leave your computer unattended on your desk and expect your bank account to start growing.

Unless you have money to invest, you’re going to have to put in some good, old-fashioned hard work.

Keep experimenting, keep learning, keep putting yourself out there, and eventually you will find the right online money making opportunity for you.

See Also31 Creative Ways to Make Money Fast

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