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:Money / Small business finance

19 proven ways to make money online in 2021

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We like reliable tips, proven methods, and long-lasting results. And when it comes to how to make money online, we like action most of all. That’s why we’re sharing 19 proven and actionable ways to make money online using the knowledge and skills you already have.

As you’ll see, there are many valuable ways for creators like you to make money online, many of which you may already be ready for. We’ll also address some of the most pressing questions like: How much money do you need to start? Do you need a lot of time on your hands? And how much money can you actually expect to make?

Listen, we know you have skills and an itch to earn, here are ways you can actually make it happen.

1. Share your knowledge through courses

We know you must be thinking, “Of course, Teachable would say courses make money.” We say it because it’s true. We’ve seen it. Thousands of creators make millions of dollars launching courses on Teachable each year.

For those who have spent years amassing knowledge, crafting a niche, and establishing an expertise, translating that into a course with Teachable is not only a fantastic way to earn a profit, scale a business, and diversify income, but it’s also a powerful way to share a passion. And with courses, you can charge a premium—we’re talking at least $100 a course.

Teachable makes it seamless and simple for creating a course, uploading your content, and working with clients. We have entire blog posts centered around creating your online course, and many more detailing everything you need to know to be successful and grow your business. You can also join our webinar—seven steps to launch a profitable online course—to get started today.

2. Go one-on-one with coaching

Coaching on Teachable allows you to accomplish many goals. First, you can utilize coaching to validate your courses and test the waters to know if your audiences are prime for purchasing.

Let’s break it down: You can validate your ideas for a course (or courses)with a small batch of customers first and get feedback from coaching before putting in the work to build and launch your full course. It also allows you to source testimonials to use for your sales page.

But beyond that, coaching on Teachable is something you can offer immediately, without any additional tech or equipment. We’ve taken care of all the communication, payment, and scheduling aspects.

Plus, because online coaching requires attention, time, and commitment, you can also ask for a higher price tag for your services.

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No credit card. No crazy commitment. Just you, taking the first step to launch your course. Start your free trial today.

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3. Put pen to paper and freelance write

There are a lot of ways you can get started freelance writing—whether you reach out to publications or websites directly or build a portfolio and wait for customers to come to you. Either way, the more proactive you are the more successful you might become. Plus, building a name for yourself helps secure you as an authority in a given field or topic.

Tips for freelancing:

  1. Build a portfolio site of sample writing to showcase your work.
  2. Identify sites or blogs you would like to contribute to. But make sure to do your homework before pitching. Identify the proper editor, related topics, and why this piece would be a good fit.
  3. Send your pitch. In your pitch, you should focus on your unique point of view, and why it’s relevant to the publication.

4. Embrace your eye with freelance designing

You can also make money as a freelance designer. The process is largely the same as with any freelancer starting out: build a portfolio, gain testimonials, pitch your work and services to appropriate sources, and book gigs.

Well-thought out designs are always in need, so don’t be afraid to get creative with your services. And remember: Sometimes, it’s the more specific services that are the most valuable to clients. For example, if you want to only design infographics, don’t be afraid to market yourself for this particular niche.

5. Show off your video editing skills

Designers and writers aren’t the only creatives who can earn extra money online for their talents. Whether it’s for a single project or on an on-going contract, videographers are always in need to help with editing, storyboarding, and filming.

If you’re in the video world, chances are you know the ins and outs of pitching your work. But, we urge you to consider broadening your scope of where you’re looking for gigs. Sure, there are brands and publications who need video work, but today, just about everyone has a need for video help. Look to social teams, influencers, fellow creators, and more for projects that pay.

6. Build affiliate connections

Creators can earn affiliate income by partnering with a brand or company and earning a commission of every sale they drive. And, there are thousands of affiliate programs online: retailers, Amazon, tech companies, and so much more.

Most pull in a few hundred dollars a month with affiliate selling, but this can vary based on the creator, partner, and platform. Just remember, if you join enough programs and are strategic, you may be able to earn several thousand—just like Hash Agrawal, who made $80,000 in five years.

The most important thing to remember when joining an affiliate program is to always do your homework. Many programs pay creators in gift cards or store credit, which may not be your preferred method of payment.

7. Tune into YouTube

When it comes to YouTube, ads reign supreme. The average YouTube pay rate hovers between $0.01 and $0.03 for an ad view, which translates to $3-$5 per 1,000 views with top tier YouTubers earning up to $5,000 for 1,000,000 views, according to Forbes.

You earn YouTube income through AdSense, brand sponsorship, and affiliate linking. Just remember—when creating content on YouTube, you’ll only receive a payment after you’ve earned $100 or more from ads on your videos.

Although not every creator will be able to make millions on YouTube, diversifying your revenue stream is key. Angela Fehr, for example, is a talented watercolor artist on YouTube and has since created an online academy teaching watercolor on Teachable.

Setting up your YouTube channel:
  1. If you have a Google account, you can set up a YouTube account with just a few clicks.
  2. Establish a niche for your channel—drone flying, wood carving, knitting. The fun part is up to you.
  3. Go to “Settings” and turn on monetization.
  4. Establish an upload schedule and always be consistent.
  5. Market yourself to gain subscribers and work toward paid collaborations.

8. Put those search skills to use with search engine evaluating

With over three and a half billion daily Google searches, it’s fair to assume that a few bugs might pop up from time to time. To stay on top of these bugs, Google hires independent contractors to work as search engine evaluators. (Naturally, you will need familiarity with SEO.)

On average, you can expect to make around $12 to $15 per hour as a search engine evaluator.

How to get started:
  1. Scout sites like Appen, Lionbridge, ZeroChaos, and of course, Google to look for roles.
  2. Pass an entrance exam of some sort.
  3. Note: You may have a few hours of unpaid training before you see an income, so be mindful of your time and commitment.

9.  Look to the digital airwaves with a podcast

Not too long ago, you may have had to explain the definition of a podcast to the world. Not so much anymore.

Podcasts allow you to cover virtually every niche possible. Like blogs, podcasts aren’t profitable themselves per se, but once your audience grows, you can monetize your following through ads that you sell in fifteen-second blocks.

Tips for a first-time podcaster:
  1. Purchase any equipment you may need to get your podcast up and running.
  2. Figure out a niche for your podcast. Remember: The more specific, the better.
  3. Recruit guests to appear on your podcast and encourage them to get the word out about your broadcast.
  4. Begin recording and come up with a regular posting schedule.

10. Set up shop

Creators who specialize in a certain area of craftsmanship may do well to sell their goods directly to consumers via an online store. Of course there are many routes to take for selling physical (or even digital) goods. Marketplaces like Etsy allow sellers to set up a sales page and list inventory without much heavy lifting.

Alternatively, platforms like Shopify give a seller total control by allowing them to set up a store, customize it, organize it, and advertise as needed.

11.  Serve up your skills as a VA

Virtual assistants take care of any aspect of business that can be done virtually. This might mean scheduling tweets, designing blog graphics, managing an inbox, or researching for blog posts. Or something else entirely. The sky’s the limit with what a virtual assistant can do or earn.

It’s up to you to decide how much time you can devote to being a VA and what special skills you can bring to the mix. On average, active VAs can aim to earn around $1,800 a month.

Tips for becoming a virtual assistant:
  1. Join specific groups geared toward virtual assistants. Facebook is a great place to start.
  2. Research prices for your specific skills and services.
  3. Create your own VA site or reach out via online groups/forums for potential gigs.

12. Craft infographics, guides, and workbooks

Perhaps you have a knack for marketing or other types of branded content creation. You may not realize this, but writing infographics, guides, and workbooks is a highly sought after skill—and one that many smaller businesses or organizations will commission.

Focus on honing your skills in this niche area if you’re a writer. Marketing yourself as a copywriter with this special area of interest and expertise will likely help you land more gigs and build up your resume and testimonial bank. Plus, the more work in the field you get, the higher you can charge per piece of content.

13. Go back to blogging basics

For starters, bloggers earn money online through advertising, partnerships, selling their own products, and affiliates. Although advertising might seem like the easiest way to earn money on a blog, it’s not going to yield high returns. A better way to generate meaningful revenue is to partner with a brand for “sponsored posts.” Bloggers can charge anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars per sponsored post.

But, an even more impactful way for bloggers to earn money is to sell a product. Although creating meaningful content and building an audience is always wise for online creators, creating and selling a product—like courses or coaching—to your reader base is another way to generate revenue.

Tips for beginner bloggers:
  1. Brainstorm your domain name and blog niche
  2. Create a backlog of content prior to launch
  3. Launch and publish your blog
  4. Establish a consistent posting schedule
  5. Promote your blog on social media and build up an email list (this will be important when you start selling a course or offer coaching)

It’s easy to assume that blogging makes money. But, a smarter way to look at it is: Influence makes money. Running a blog is just one means to gain influence and a following.

14. Offer your photography services

Photographers are like videographers in the sense that they’re always needed. But, don’t be limited to think you’re just able to make money from taking pictures. Many photographers can find work editing photos, storyboarding social media accounts, retouching, and even set and lighting design.

The more you expand your offerings, the more likely you are to offer your services to a variety of clients. And you may even find that you’re able to pitch to current clients why your storyboarding skills may be needed as well. What’s more, all of this learning and niche marketing provides the perfect fodder for launching an online course down the line.

15. Transcribe or translate work

If you don’t have a ton of time to devote to larger strategic projects but still want to earn a little extra money online while sharpening some of your skills, marketing yourself as a transcriber can be a great option.

Offer to transcribe interviews, sit in and take notes on meetings, create condensed outlines and transcripts from webinars and online events. With much of the business world now working remotely and online, there’s an added opportunity to make people’s lives easier—and make money—by transcribing.

And if you’re fluent in another language, that only sweetens the deal. Translators of any language are always across any field.

17. Provide caption or copywriting for social media

We’ve talked a lot about copywriting and freelance writing, but if your specialty is in the world of social, capitalize on that. Many small brands and businesses may not have an internal social media team but still need help with their social platforms.

If you’re an experienced social media professional or writer, offering your services as a highly specialized social media copywriter is definitely a proven money maker. From crafting a brand’s voice and tone on social to actually sitting down and copywriting posts’ captions, social media writing is a growing money-making opportunity.

18. Consult as a social media community manager

As anyone with a social presence knows, running a social media account doesn’t just end when you upload a picture or post. To really make an impact with your social platforms, you need to engage with your audience.

This is particularly true for brands or businesses to ensure an engaged and authentic voice on social and to troubleshoot ASAP when issues arise. Offering your services as a social media community manager can be another way to tap into that social mindset to earn some extra money.

Duties as a social media community manager can be anything from:
  1. Liking and replying to comments
  2. Answering customer service questions
  3. Escalating problems as necessary
  4. Responding to DMs
  5. Troubleshoot during crises

18. Strategize for Pinterest

Don’t be fooled by this social platform known for housing recipes and DIY projects, Pinterst is on the rise again. Just recently, Pinterest grew 50% year-over-year with most of the increase driven by millennials and Gen Z. Now is the time to flex your Pinterest knowledge and make money along the way.

A good way to do this may be to work with current clients or brands and explain to them why investing in a Pinterest strategy is wise. Then offer your services as an add-on or upsell for a higher price point.

Tips for building your Pinterest strategy:
  1. Do a content audit (What content is there? What boards exist? What should be created?)
  2. Decide upon a goal for the client’s Pinterest (Increased blog traffic? More sales? Brand recognition and more followers?)
  3. Set trackable metrics and KPIs to report on
  4. Establish a Pinterest voice and pinning cadence

19. Stay in the know as a social media strategist

We’ve talked a lot about social media services as a way to make money online. But one of the most impactful ways to consult or freelance is to wrap it all up into one and offer your services as a full-scale social media strategist.

From here you can:
  1. Flush out the client’s social objectives
  2. Establish a voice and image guidelines
  3. Create and publish posts
  4. Community manage
  5. Report on established KPIs and goals

Building your authority in the social world will only help polish your skills for when it’s time to launch your own online course and build your own social presence.

What we really mean to say is…

We don’t buy into get-rich schemes. And neither should you. You’ve done the work. You know your craft.

Whether you’re an expert embroiderer, know exactly the best sustainable living tips for small spaces, or are dreaming of sharing your love of latte art with the world, creating an online course or coaching business can be a powerful way to make money and get your knowledge out into the world.

And whether you realize it or not, many of the other previously mentioned money-makers can actually translate into an online course or marketed as a coaching opportunity.

You’ve got the knowledge, we’ve got the technology. Get started with Teachable today.

Millions have done it. You should too.

Why wait to start making money? You can sign up for a free trial with Teachable and get started today. Already signed up? Now’s the time to make it official. We’re ready for you.

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Author: Caitlin Miller, Caitlin Miller is the Editorial Strategist at Teachable. In her spare time, she's often found listening to vinyl records, buying too many house plants, and enjoying a run on the streets of Brooklyn.

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