How To Make Money Online for Free: 10 Ways – GOBankingRates

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Many workforces are shifting their focus from working in an office building to working from home. As a result, remote working opportunities are expanding. For individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit who want to make some money online for free, either as a side gig or a full-time job, there are many avenues to pursue.

How To Make Money Online for Free: 10 Opportunities 

You don’t have to worry about overhead with these side hustles. All you need is an internet connection to turn these money-making endeavors into quick cash. Here are 10 viable methods for earning money from home without an initial investment:

  1. Focus groups
  2. Online researcher
  3. Selling photos and photography
  4. Social media consultant
  5. Online surveys
  6. Transcribe files
  7. Virtual assistant
  8. Website reviewer
  9. YouTube channel
  10. Affiliate marketing

1. Focus Groups 

Online focus groups can pay their participants anywhere between $20 to $200 an hour. Participating in a focus group can greatly range in responsibility, and the pay will reflect that. You might have to fill out surveys, do market research or answer questions about a product. As companies are always looking for feedback, participating in online focus groups can be a great way to make some extra cash.

To get started, Google “focus group companies” and sign up for mailing lists. To avoid flooding your main email box, start a new account just for focus groups. Then you can start applying.

Pros: It’s an easy way to supplement income and many focus groups you can do from home.

Cons: Some focus groups pay in gift cards and are during the day. So if you have a full-time job, you can try to schedule a focus group on your lunch break. If not, look for evening ones.

Each focus group is different. Some only need participants for 20 minutes, others are 90 minutes, and some focus groups can last a full day, so make sure you know exactly what you’re signing up for. Also, be aware that it’s a numbers game. The more you apply for, the more you’ll book.

2. Online Researcher

If you are good at Googling, consider that many companies will pay you to find reliable sources and information for them in varying fields. Doing web deep dives can now be accompanied by a paycheck. Here are examples of companies that consistently hire online researchers:

  • 10EQS
  • Boston Scientific
  • Chainlink Labs
  • CrowdStrike
  • Edmentum
  • Humana
  • Parexel
  • Robert Half International
  • Twilio
  • Wonder

To get started, go directly to the site you want to do online research for and apply, or try Indeed or ZipRecruiter.

Pros: You can work from home and earn up to $54 an hour, per ZipRecruiter.

Cons: Depending on the company you work for, having a degree in the relevant field may be required, as well as knowledge of how to use services such as Lexis Nexis.

3. Selling Photos and Photography 

If you are someone who has a healthy arsenal of photos stockpiled, you can sell them as stock images to companies. Anytime someone downloads your image from the company you would earn a small commission. Here are a few examples of websites where you can sell your photos:

  • 500px
  • Alamy
  • Adobe Stock
  • Burst
  • Etsy
  • Getty Images
  • iStock
  • Shutterstock
  • Stocksy
  • Zenfolio

To get started, find your niche and style, take photography lessons–for example, Groupon tends to run good deals often–and invest in a professional camera.

As a beginner, you can expect to spend $800 to $1,000. However, if you don’t have the funds to take lessons or buy nice equipment, you can learn on your own and use a camera you already have.

Pros: Being a photographer is an ideal freelance job to get paid under the table. You can make, on average, around $18.73 an hour, depending on the gig. Weddings, family photoshoots and parties are fertile ground for photographers. Though you may have to leave your home, you can also set up a studio in your house.

Cons: It’s a competitive market.

4. Social Media Consultant 

Social media is a must for any business to have. But just because companies have to have a social media presence, does not mean they know how to successfully operate their accounts. If you have social media savvy and know how to gain followers, you could loan out your skills to companies in a consulting capacity. It’s pretty straightforward to promote yourself as your own profile serves as your portfolio. Expertise in the following platforms goes a long way:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Reddit
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • Tumblr
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

To get started, find your speciality. The industry has many components such as copywriting, content creation and more, therefore finding a niche can better serve clients. Next, gain entry level experience. Create a dynamic social media account for yourself to show off your skills and network.

Pros: There is always a demand for social media consultants. You can express yourself creatively, have an impactful engagement, continuous learning, have flexibility and work remotely. The average hourly rate is $54.

Cons: Mistakes can go viral.

5. Online Surveys

A great way to make some extra cash is by completing online surveys. Some sites to consider are Branded Surveys, InboxDollars, Survey Junkie and Swagbucks. Along with filling out surveys, you can earn money, gift cards or other rewards in a variety of ways including the following:

  • Watching videos
  • Filling out questionnaires 
  • Playing games 
  • Data entry

To get started, go to the survey site where you’d like to participate and sign up. After you enter your information, survey companies will match you with opportunities to earn money.

Pros: It’s easy and can be fun.

Cons: You don’t make a lot of money–around $100 a month–if you sign up on different survey sites. Also, watch for scam sites, as they can be prevalent. Do your research ahead of time before giving up personal information.

6. Transcribe Files 

Medical transcriptionists transcribe and type up the medical reports of physicians and other healthcare practitioners. They can make around $34,220 annually and jobs range from freelance to full-time. This position is well suited to those with typing skills and some knowledge of medical terminology. Transcribing is essentially writing down and recording what has been dictated to you for filing purposes.

There are also many other transcribing opportunities with audio and video files in other fields. There is job security in this field, as many companies prefer a human over artificial intelligence to accurately transcribe videos and speech files into text. To get started, sign up for a transcribing certification course. This costs about $499. Or, if you prefer not to obtain certification, you can find work that doesn’t require a specialized background on sites such as TranscribeMe, Speechpad, Rev, Daily Transcription and more. Rates vary per site, but can pay up to $25 an hour.

Pros: Flexible hours and you can work remotely.

Cons: You will need equipment such as a computer, headphones, an ergonomic chair, a foot pedal, dual monitors (if you prefer) and transcription software, which could cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000.

7. Virtual Assistant 

Virtual assistants or virtual administrative assistants tend to bring in an annual salary of $66,870. This position operates as high-level support for businesses or business heads. 

They organize schedules, meetings, and conference calls and correspond through phones and emails. The expansion of technology allows this position to now be worked remotely. It’s office work without the office. 

To get started, sign up for a training course. Udemy offers several options that range in price, or a monthly plan starting at $20 that gives access to several courses. Next, look for jobs on sites like UpWork, Indeed and ZipRecruiter. Also, for $9 a month, join the virtual assistant networking VA Networking where you can also find gigs.

Pros: Flexible hours and location independence.

Cons: Lack of job security.

8. Website Reviewer 

One of the easiest ways to make money online for free is to review websites or apps for various companies. Many sites will pay you in cash or merchandise to review products, give testimonials or critique the user experience of the website or app itself. Here are examples of places that pay you to review products:

  • American Consumer Opinion
  • BetaTesting
  • Harris Poll Online
  • Homescan
  • McCormick & Company
  • Pinecone Research
  • Review Stream
  • Testbirds
  • TryMyUI
  • UserTesting

To get started, learn the basics of web development and HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Then look on sites such as Usertesting, UserPeek, Checkealos, IntelliZoom Panel, and Enroll to sign up and start getting work. Each company is different and rates vary, but you can make $10 every 10 to 20 minutes on some sites.

Pros: Flexible and easy side hustle to earn extra money.

Cons: Some sites require you to pass a test.

9. YouTube Channel

YouTube is a great platform to grow some extra cash. You can set up your free account through Google and start a channel under your name. Here you can do anything from skits to tutorials but it does help to find your own niche and focus on it. 

In order to make money you need to have an audience and gain followers which adds up to more views. Here is how you can monetize your channel:

  • Gain at least 1,000 subscribers
  • Run ads on your channel
  • Partner with brands to get sponsorships or sponsored content
  • Become an affiliate.

To get started, you need to join the YouTube Partner Program and build an audience through quality content, engaging with your audience, selling products or merchandise and promoting your channel.

Pros: Creative expression, building up your brand, earn extra money. According to Shopify, you can make the following:

  • $20 per video for a YouTuber with 1,000 subscribers
  • $200 per video for a YouTuber with 10,000 subscribers
  • $2,000 per video for a YouTuber with 100,000 subscribers
  • $20,000 per video for a YouTuber with 1,000,000 subscribers

Cons: It can take a while to build an audience.

10. Affiliate Marketing 

If you are a freelance writer for blogs or websites with a sizable audience and significant traffic, you can add sponsored posts with affiliate links. Even if you have a strong social media presence, you can still take advantage of this side gig. Sponsored posts will highlight a brand or business. If you generate traffic for these companies with your link you can earn a commission or set payments.

To get started, create a media kit that shows your blog’s reach audience demographics, and the types of sponsored opportunities you offer.

Pros: Diversified income streams, access to brands, products and services, and expanded reach and growth.

Cons: Blurring editorial and commercial content and users may become overwhelmed by the number of ads on their social media feeds. For 100,000 readers, you can charge $500 per sponsored post. For sponsored Instagram posts, you can charge $500 to $2,000 for 15,000 followers or more.

Final Take To GO

In today’s economy any income, whether it is a full-time job or a side-hustle gig, is welcome. There are many avenues to pursue when chasing down your next dollar, and for many of them, you don’t need to leave your home. Simply explore one of these 10 ways to make money online for free.


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about making money online.
  • How can I make $100 at home today?
    • Here are some examples of where you can make $100 a day from home:
      • Get paid to play games online
      • Take part in online research
      • Take surveys for companies
      • Secret shopping
      • Watch videos online
  • How can I make real money online for free?
    • There are many ways to make real money online for free including participating in focus groups, online researching, data entry or selling your photos or photography services.
  • What is the most legitimate way to make money online?
    • There are many legitimate online gigs where you can earn money such as being a social media consultant, virtual assistant or transcriptionist.
  • How can a beginner make money online?
    • A beginner can make money online by looking into the following side gigs:
      • Focus groups
      • Online researcher
      • Social media consultant
      • Website reviewer

Caitlyn Moorhead contributed to the reporting for this article.

Information is accurate as of June 19, 2024. 

The article above was refined via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of our editorial team.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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