Robert Sullivan is a self-published author, blogger, social media manager, and more.
It's been said time and time again that you have to spend money to make money, but as it turns out, that just isn't the case. And if you are like the rest of the world then you are probably wondering how to make money online for free. It's a good thing you came here then, because here are the best seven ways to do just that.
Now I have talked about how to make passive income with no money before, but this list is a little different. Some of these are more like a traditional job, one in which you get paid for working, but they are still a great way to increase your income if you have free time and a good internet connection.
1. Sell Stock Photos
If you consider yourself something of a shutterbug then you might be pleasantly surprised that you can make some decent side money selling your photos online. When businesses and blogs have to create marketing material, one of their primary concerns is where they are going to get quality images to use. As a result companies like iStockPhotos and Shutterstock took to selling a large portfolio of images online. The best part is that these companies will allow you to upload and sell your own photos, and split the profits.
It’s a great system. If you have quality photos that are in high demand, then you can make some cash off of them. But there are a couple of tricks to doing this right. For starters you have to be good at tagging your pictures.
Tagging pictures is what allows the buyers to find them in the search function. If for example you have a picture of a woman in a dress, then you of course would want to put “Woman” and “Dress” as tags. But you need to take it much further than that to get good results. Where is she? What is she doing? What color is the dress? Is the weather nice, or is it raining? Are there other people in the picture? Is she in a crowd? Does she stand out or blend in? Asking questions about the photo gives you ideas for what tags to put on it. Take this picture for example.
A good list of tags would be: woman, dress, red dress, lake, pond, dock, relaxing, nice day, outdoors.
The more accurate the tags, the more likely someone is going to find the picture and buy it.
The second important thing to know is there are a million times too many pictures of sunsets, mountains, beaches, and forests. If you want to know how to make money online selling photos, then you need to sell ones that are marketable. You should focus on people in marketable poses, or circumstances.
Look at this picture.
This picture is way more likely to make income than the last one, because it can be used in so many different ways. Take a look at the potential tag list for this one: Boss, meeting, business, businesswomen, career, client, coworker, customer, suit, thinking, discussion, conference, company, employee, interview, manager, corporate, consulting, leader . . . The list just keeps going, and those are the kinds of things blogs and businesses need pictures of.
You are also going to have to get a release signed by any person who happens to be in the picture. Just to legally protect yourself.
2. Create an Online Learning Course
Education is obviously one of the biggest and most expensive businesses out there, which makes it a great opportunity for you to make some cash. In the past teaching required a very direct approach. Usually one person actually taught people directly for a set amount of money. But the advent of video and the internet greatly changed things. In steps Udemy, the teaching platform for anybody.
If you have any kind of talent or skill, then you can turn it into an online learning course, and charge money for people to take it. And because the system is automated, you hardly have to do any work in order to keep earning passive income. What’s also noteworthy, is that Udemy, unlike other online teaching resources, doesn’t require any money from the person selling the course.
Now if you want to make some real money on Udemy, then you are going to want to follow a few good business practices. This video lays the bulk of them out nicely.
The only thing I would add to what was said in this, is to make sure that your content is of the highest quality. He briefly touches on that in the video, but it’s important that you stand above the competition. Make sure to have a personality, quality information. The more you put in up front, the better your chances of making both an impact and money. It's a good idea to keep your content timeless too, if the content is evergreen, then it will continue to make money for years, rather than only while the current fad is trending.
I like this one because you can teach about such a wide variety of subjects. You can even teach other people how to make money online! Basically, if you can fill a need, then you'll be able to get some clients.
3. Sell Your College Notes
If you're still looking for ways to make money online for free, and are still in college, then this one might be for you. Studysoup is a platform which allows students to sell the notes they take in class online. There are some real successes with it, take a look.
Now, there are a couple of things you are going to need to focus on to do this right. First, your notes have to be all original content. If you are copying something, then that’s plagiarism, which can get you in a lot of trouble.
Secondly, you need to focus on writing the best possible notes, in plain and easy to read English. If they aren’t useful to anyone else, then they aren’t worth anything.
The third thing you need to remember is that the course you are taking notes on, must be popular enough for it to have a substantial amount of people who would buy your notes, otherwise, you aren’t going to see any decent returns.
Still there are people who managed to practically pay for college by doing this, so it can be worth the effort.
4. Sign up for MTurk
Amazon created a program that lets its users do small amounts of work for money online. Their Mechanical Turk Service isn't exactly exciting, but it's a good way to turn your spare time into a couple of bucks.
The way it works is actually quite simple. See, there are companies all over the world which need certain services or small pieces of work which a computer just can't be programmed to do. Or at the very least creating a program to take care of these problems wouldn't be cost-effective. These are called Human Intelligence Tasks. So Amazon sells its service to these companies, then serves the contracts to people who sign up for the program. Which means the work varies heavily.
You'll do anything from surveys to video and audio transcription, and usually in very small chunks. Because of their level of difficulty the pay per individual task is quite small, but that's not to say you can't make good money doing it. One guy made over $21,000 dollars one quarter at a time! He says that if you just keep working at it you can earn on average between 6 to 12 dollars an hour, which isn't half bad for something so easy.
5. Sign up for Fiverr
This is a bit of an odd one, but it's definitely catching on. Fiverr is a website that allows you to sell your services online, and what that means is up to you.
You can do just about anything you want and charge people for it. Though if it's too strange you might have some difficulty finding a buyer. Although, there have been people who have made a good chunk of change just by charging people 5 bucks for them to sing "Happy Birthday" terribly. And yes I do mean terribly, that was part of the gimmick of it.
Though that's not to say you can't do something more useful. You can easily turn your skills as a graphic designer to use and make logos for people. Or if you just have a huge social media account, people will pay you to post their content to it. So the ways to make money online for free are almost limitless. So long as they're legal.
6. Review Music
If you are still wondering how to make money online for free, then you have got to listen to this. Over at Slice the Pie, they will pay you to review music. All you have to do is sign up and then start listening. Once you get to the end of a song, you give it a rating, and they give you money! It doesn't get much easier than that.
Granted you are going to hear some pretty bad songs from time to time, and it's certainly not going to make you a lot of money, but it's something you can do while you are working on one of these other methods.
7. Create and Sell an Audio Book
If you took my advice in a previous article and self-published your own book, then you can increase the revenue substantially by turning it into an audiobook. This tends to work better for informational books rather than fiction, but even they can get a good turn around if it’s narrated well.
To get this working you are going to need your own book, and furthermore all of the marketing that comes with it. So while you can make money online for free with this method, there is certainly a time investment to make this work.
Don't Give Up!
I hope that this article helped you learn how to make money online for free. Of course, I'm sure there are more ways to do it, but it takes a certain level of determination to make it work. Just don’t give up, keep trying, keep learning, and you can be on your way to financial independence.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Sonia Sylart from UK on August 07, 2017:
Hmm - this is a great list and doing an online course has piqued my interest. Thanks Robert.
Robert P Sullivan (author) on July 24, 2017:
Audio books are becoming a bigger and bigger market. It's in part due to the cultural shift toward multi-tasking and ease of assimilation. But I'm also pretty sure that Audible's aggressive marketing probably has something to do with it.
The nice part about that is you can use their marketing to your advantage.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on July 24, 2017:
There's some good ideas there. I wouldn't mind doing an audio book, that's a good idea. =)