Want to make money, but you’re not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
And you’re not alone. More than one-quarter (27%) of Americans earned extra income from side gigs last year, according to the Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2020, released in May 2021 by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
NerdWallet rounded up 25 legitimate ways to make money — at home or out and about — and listed each option based on how fast you can get started and get paid. While most people prefer fast cash, don’t discount the “slow” gigs, as they may pay more in the long run.
How to make money online
Making money online is the sweet spot people look for in the gig economy. Whether you aspire to be a six-figure social media influencer, or are just looking to supplement your regular income with some internet gigs, we’ve found some viable options.
1. Pick up freelance work online
Make money online through websites such as Upwork, Fiverr and Freelancer.com. These sites offer opportunities to do a variety of freelance jobs, such as writing, programming, design, marketing, data entry and being a virtual assistant. Fluent in a second language? Check sites such as Gengo or One Hour Translation, or drum up business through a site of your own. No matter what kind of freelancing you do, keep track of the going rate for the kind of work you provide so you know if you’re charging too much or too little. Learn how to get started on Upwork.
Total time: It can take a while to get your first gig. Setup: 24 hours. How easy to start: Easy, if you have the expertise. Age threshold: 13+ but varies by site. Payment speed: Varies by site.
2. Test websites and apps
Another way to make money from home is on sites like UserTesting.com. You get paid for your thoughts on how well — or not so well — certain websites and apps worked. You’ll have to pass a short test to be accepted, then you’ll be paid $10 for each 20-minute test, which involves a recording and answering four follow-up written questions. Or you could earn up to $120 to participate in a video conversation with a customer after your test.
Total time: Approval time can vary. Setup: Less than an hour. How easy to start: Easy, if you have the tech gear and complete a sample test. Age threshold: 18+. Payment speed: Seven days.
3. Pick up tasks on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk
Even in the age of automation, some jobs still require a human touch. Companies often outsource those jobs via services like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. As a “worker,” the tasks you’ll be assigned can be tedious — tagging images, transcribing videos, classifying receipts — and can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Temporary employers or “requesters” set the price for each task and get to approve the finished product before paying you. That can leave room for scams, so do your research. Join a community like the MTurk Crowd forum, or the MTurk and Turker Nation subreddits, which can steer you away from shifty dealers. These communities and fellow “workers” can answer questions and give a realistic idea of how much money you can expect to make. Read more about Mechanical Turk as a way to make quick money online.
Total time: Several days to find out if you’re approved. Setup: Depends on the task you choose. How easy to start: Easy if you have certain skills. Age threshold: 18+. Payment speed: You get paid following work approval, which can take up to 30 days.