The expansion of e-commerce in recent years has launched many new companies that provide opportunities for conducting business online. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce sales in the first quarter of 2021 alone were estimated at $215 billion.
E-commerce businesses have helped to shape and create new ways to make money online. Many entrepreneurs, freelancers, and small business owners use popular e-commerce sites like Amazon and Etsy to generate income, although there are many other options to consider if you’re looking for ways to make money online.
How To Make Money Online
Making money online means that you don’t need to open up a shop or necessarily consider lining up storage space for inventory in order to operate a business. There are many online platforms that offer a simple sign-up process for many kinds of other small business owners to start making money right away.
Tips for Getting Started
Like any startup business, there are a few steps you’ll need to take to get started. Different industries have different requirements. Here are a few general tips for new businesses:
- Find your niche
- Make a business plan and stay organized
- Register your business and/or complete any necessary paperwork, contracts and licenses
- Network and expand your social media channels
- Conduct research for search engine optimization (SEO) and potential competition
- Determine your rate or fees, if freelancing
- Consider branding and intellectual property needs
One of the most popular ways to make money online is by opening a virtual shop on Amazon. Amazon is a huge platform for sellers, with $386 billion in net sales in 2020.
With options like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), which allows sellers to store their inventory in one of Amazon’s fulfillment centers, Amazon makes it easy for sellers to make money. There are two plans sellers can choose from: the professional plan at $39.99 a month plus fees and the individual plan, which only charges 99 cents per product sold.
Upwork and Fiverr for Freelancers
Freelancing is a great way to quickly begin making money online. If you already have a network in place, you can reach out to those people for potential client work. But if you’re just starting out, you can try a freelancing platform, which connects clients and freelancers.
Upwork and Fiverr provide a marketplace for freelancers to find work. This includes graphic designers, writers, marketing consultants, IT specialists, administrative workers, and many others. Using Upwork, freelancers create a profile and can find work by pitching projects, bidding for posted jobs, and connecting with recruiters. On Fiverr, you create a gig and are notified when you receive an order. Fiverr keeps 20% of the transaction, while Upwork’s cut ranges between 5% to 20%. Despite the fees involved, earning potential is unlimited.
With over 2 billion users in over 100 countries, YouTube has proven to be the leading platform for video creators. Many YouTube content creators are musicians, educators, experts, or influencers who speak on general topics, but anyone who is comfortable in front of a camera has the ability to make money on YouTube.
To get started with a YouTube channel, you’ll need to first find your niche and conduct research so you can optimize your videos with the best tags. As your views increase, you’ll be able to make money by monetizing your videos, meaning you’ll bring in revenue with the ads placed within your videos. You’ll need to gain at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watching hours as well as open an AdSense account, to be accepted into the YouTube Partner Program.
According to Google AdSense, websites in the business and industrial categories, for example, can potentially make nearly $220,000 with 1 million views. Revenue depends on both the category and number of views. For example, a website on health could make over $10,000 a year for 50,000 views. An arts and entertainment website could bring in about $202,000 with 3 million views.
Bloggers have the potential to make decent money if they find a niche to gain popularity, optimize their website, and work hard to update content regularly. A few of the most successful bloggers can pull in monthly incomes of over $100,000.
Blogging opens up opportunities to earn ad revenue, gain social media followers, and build expertise for freelance writing opportunities.
Many bloggers make their money with a combination of advertising sources and may also earn income through affiliate marketing, selling merchandise, or writing a book.
Etsy is the ultimate hub for arts and crafts. Sellers can list any unique items they create, then oversee all aspects of selling their products, such as promoting, pricing, and shipping. Sellers have the potential to be financially successful; some Etsy shops reach numbers of transactions up to six digits.
Etsy charges some fees for products and transactions: a 20-cent fee per product listing, 5% of the transaction total, and 5% of the shipping fee, if charged. There is also a payment processing fee of 25 cents, plus 3% of the total for banks in the U.S., with an average of about 4% in other countries.
Print-on-Demand Platforms for Designers
If you’re an artist, graphic designer, or a photographer who is looking to make extra money without having to put in the extra time, you might want to consider using a print-on-demand company. These process your orders, payments, and shipping, so all the artist needs to do is simply upload their designs.
Artists can sign up as sellers for free and receive royalties for the designs sold, which may be determined by the artist or the company. Here are two examples of these platforms.
Redbubble is a print-on-demand site that sells a variety of products with unique designs. Artists can place their designs on over 70 different products, including T-shirts, stickers, wall art, tote bags, and smartphone accessories, to name a few. Artists are able to set their royalties and prices. According to Redbubble, they have the opportunity to become featured artists and ultimately earn more royalties, if they follow a few steps:
- Add relevant tags
- Format design layouts on products
- Expand number of designs
- Complete an artist profile
Zazzle is another print-on-demand platform that allows artists to sell their designs for free. Zazzle is popular for its invitations, greeting cards, and other stationery products, though it also sells a variety of other items. Zazzle recommends artist royalties of between 10% and 15%, though artists can set their own prices.
For example, if a set of wedding invitations costs $100 at a 15% royalty, the artist receives $15 for one set of invitations sold. So, if 40 sets were sold in a month, that would bring in $600 from only one product. The amount of money you can make depends on the prices you set and the number of products you list with your designs.
Build Your Own E-commerce Website
If you want to make money online as you see fit, you can create your own e-commerce website. This will take much more effort than other options on the list because you’ll need to consider SEO and customer service, but it also could give you the opportunity to make the most out of your business idea. Plus, with several options for connecting with vendors and distributors, you won’t need inventory space or a shop to be able to run a successful e-commerce site. You can do it all online.
Creating your own company will require certain paperwork and fees, depending on how you want to classify your business. For example, if you decide to run it as a sole proprietor, then you are not required to register your business and will only be necessary to register a “doing business as” (DBA) entity if the name of your company is different from your name. But if you decide to register as a limited liability company (LLC), you’ll gain protection from possible personal liability.
When building a brand, you also need to consider intellectual property, such as copyrights and trademarks, depending on your industry. Consider hiring a professional to help you figure out whether these are necessary or beneficial for your business.
You also can earn money online through the site that started it all, eBay. It has 187 million buyers globally, which offers potential for a strong customer base. There are a variety of products available on eBay, from new to used, business supplies to home décor.
Sellers have the option to list products as auction items or to enable the “Buy It Now” function. You can use eBay as a one-time seller, or you can set up an account as an ongoing business. Business plans start at $4.95 a month and range up to about $3,000 for enterprises.
Whether searching for work on job boards like Monster.com or Indeed.com, you can find thousands of job postings for remote work. These postings can be freelance work, temporary work, or even full-time positions with benefits. Simply search a keyword for the position you’re seeking and include “remote” in the location field.
Make sure to read the job descriptions thoroughly, as some jobs may be listed as “remote” even when they’re only partially remote, and some may require travel.
Other Ways To Make Money Online
- Self-publish an e-book
- Become a tutor
- Sell used clothes
- Become an affiliate marketer
- Become a social media influencer
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How do I make money writing online?
Writers can make money online writing books, blogging, and through many other freelance opportunities. Writers who are self-employed should build a network, gain followers on social media, and become experts in their field by enhancing their skills and gaining industry-specific experience.
How do I make money advertising online?
If you’re a content creator, you can make money by placing ads within your content. Using Google AdSense is one way to monetize your content. The amount of ad revenue earned is based on the number of views your webpage receives—more views means more ad revenue.
How do I sell art online?
Artists who want to sell art online can sign up on websites like Redbubble and Zazzle, described above. These sites are free and simple to use and only require the artists to upload their designs. Everything else, from customer service to shipping and returns, is handled by the company. If you decide you want to be in control of all aspects of your products, you can also sell your art on Amazon, Etsy, or even create your own e-commerce website.
How can teens and college students make money online?
Teens and college students can make money online in various ways, depending on their talents and abilities, though some platforms may require users to be 18 and over. Students may sell art, find tutoring jobs or find intern-level remote work opportunities.