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How to Make Money Online Without Paying Anything (Seriously!)

By Emily Brookes |

If you’ve been wondering how to make money online without paying anything, you’ve come to the right place! There are loads of ways to make real money online, but many of the suggestions you will come across when you search on google will require you to pay something upfront.

Not here though.

Today I’m going to be sharing how to make money online without paying anything. 

Yep, that’s right. Not a single penny!

Now, I just want to preface this with a small disclaimer: None of these ideas are ‘get rich quick’ solutions. All of these ways to make money online will require time and effort on your part. If you’re not prepared to put in the effort, making a living online may not be right for you. The good news is though, that if you are willing to put in the time and effort required, you can make really good money online! 

I’ve always known I wanted to be my own boss. Although I was a great employee (in my humble opinion), I have never enjoyed going to work to earn money for someone else’s business. 

Fast forward today and I have replaced my clunky office computer with a sleek Macbook Pro which I can use sitting on my sofa, and I’m the proud owner of three online businesses which give me the money and freedom I have always craved.

So if you’re on the fence, and you want to make some extra money, I just want to say… go for it! It’s 100% possible, and anyone can do it. 

Let’s talk money making!

How to Make Money Online Without Paying Anything: 9 Online Business Ideas

Believe it or not, there are actually a ton of different ways that you can make money from the internet.  Many of these are small side hustles that you can do part time, while others are full blown business that you can start and turn into something significant.

Check out the great online business ideas to start below.

Become a Virtual Assistant

virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is just like a personal assistant or an office assistant, except they work exclusively online! As more and more businesses move online, business owners are realizing that they don’t necessarily need full time employees. In many cases a virtual assistant can save a business both time and money, and VAs are becoming more and more in demand every day.

There are a couple of ways you can work online as a virtual assistant: 

  1. Work as a freelance virtual assistant. You would find your own clients using a freelance job board or you can pitch clients directly. You will set your own rates, and manage yourself.
  2. Work for a virtual assistant company as an hourly paid remote worker.

What skills do you need to become a virtual assistant?

The good news is, almost anyone can become a virtual assistant. The key here is to offer services that take advantage of the skills you already have. If you used to work in an office doing administration, then you can easily offer this service as a virtual assistant. Similarly, if you have bookkeeping skills, or excellent research skills, you could offer this service virtually to a number of clients.

There are a few skills that you should definitely have if you want to make extra money as a virtual assistant:

What is a typical virtual assistant salary, and what do you need to know?

Freelance virtual assistants charge upwards of $25 per hour for general tasks, and $45/50 per hour for special skills such as graphic design or bookkeeping.

You should note that if you decide to get an online job as a virtual assistant for a virtual assistant company, you will most likely be paid a lower hourly rate (usually around $15/hour), but you would have the benefit of not having to search for clients, and would be able to dedicate more hours to working, so there’s pros and cons to this.

Become a Freelance Writer

freelance writing

Freelance writing is one of my favorite ways to make money online, because I have seen first hand how easy it is to get started as a freelance writer. You will of course need to actually have a love for writing, and a good grasp of spelling and grammar, but you certainly don’t require a degree of any kind to become a freelance writer!

What do you need to become a freelance writer?

If you want to start freelancing as a writer, all you need is a laptop with good access to the internet, and Google docs. It’s also a great idea to create your own website which you can use as a portfolio, but it’s definitely not a deal breaker.

I highly recommend choosing a niche if you want to make money freelance writing. Why? Because this way you can position yourself as a subject matter expert, and you will have a far greater chance of winning clients that need writing relating to your chosen subject.

Having a niche will also enable you to become an expert on the topic, which will mean that over time you will need to do less research, and you will start to become quicker at producing content, making you more money in less time! You can literally choose any subject to write about; pets, gardening, software, you name it, there will be people who need content about your subject!

You will need some samples of your writing to show prospective clients, so my suggestion would be to write a couple of sample articles on the topic you would like to write about, which you can show to prospective clients. You can publish these samples on your own blog, or if you don’t have the confidence to create your own blog, you can create a profile and publish them on Medium, which is free!

How to find work as a freelance writer

Once you have a couple of samples of your work, you will need to find some clients. You can search for clients on freelance blogging boards like ProBlogger, a freelancing platform like Upwork, or you can pitch clients directly. 

Job boards can often have a lot of low paid work, but I still recommend them as they’re a great place to start for beginners. It can still add up to a good amount of extra cash and you can always raise your rates as your confidence grows.

If you’re pitching clients directly, you can find the people you want to write for and reach out to them on Linkedin or twitter to see if they are hiring writers! 

How much do freelance writers earn?

Freelance writers can earn anything between $0.02- $2 per word, $20-$200 per hour, depending on experience and expertise, so although you might start out earning a lower amount, there is huge potential for growth here once you become an expert, so I would definitely recommend it as a great idea if you’re wondering how to make money online without paying anything!

Write on Medium

Here’s another way to make money online as a writer, this one is slightly different though! Medium is a writing platform that provides AD free content to subscribers, who pay around $5 a month for membership. 

You don’t need to be a paying member to make money from Medium! You can have a profile and write on medium for free, so this is a great way to start making money online if you don’t want to invest anything upfront!

The best thing about Medium is that you can write about literally any topic that interests you, and there’s no need to stick to one subject either.

How do you make money on medium?

Writers can make money online by publishing their own articles on Medium. Here’s how it works.

  1. Set up a Medium account and sign up to the Partner Program.
  2. Create a publication, and apply to be a writer for any other publications you want to write for.
  3. Write your first article! 1000+ words is ideal for Medium articles to ensure they are in-depth.
  4. Publish your article. You can publish it in your own publication or submit it to another publication.
  5. Get paid! You will get paid a percentage of the membership from each paying member who reads your story. This is why it’s great to submit your article to a publication: more reads = more cash!

The beauty of writing on Medium is that not only do you have the freedom to choose what you write about, but you can work on your own schedule, with no deadlines!

How much can you earn on Medium?

Earnings can vary greatly on Medium. The money you make will depend on a couple of things; how much you publish, and how many people read your stories. Basically, you get out what you put in. Medium publishers can earn anything from a few cents to thousands of dollars per month, here’s a guide with a breakdown of some of the highest earners. 

Affiliate Marketing

This is another favorite of mine! Affiliate marketing is where you promote a product or service from another company, and when someone buys it through your affiliate link you receive a percentage of the sale as a commission! The great thing about affiliate marketing is that because you are promoting someone else’s product, you don’t need to invest anything upfront.

Affiliate marketing is a multi-billion industry, and according to Statista, it’s not going to be slowing down any time soon, with marketing spend predicted to reach over $8billion in 2022.

That’s huge.

Anyone can make money online with affiliate marketing, and it’s surprisingly easy to get started. First you will need to choose a product or service that you want to promote, and sign up to their affiliate program. 

Make sure you choose a reputable company that you are happy to be associated with and promote to your followers on social media. If you recommend a poor quality product or service, people won’t trust your recommendations in the future. On the other hand, if you recommend a great product that people love, people will happily take your recommendation in the future and you could build a loyal following of buyers!

Once you are signed up to an affiliate program you can start promoting your affiliate links! You can promote your affiliate links on your own blog, social media, Facebook groups, Pinterest, and more, so there really is no need to pay anything upfront if you don’t want to invest in a website.

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One of my favourite affiliate programs is Amazon associates. Amazon will pay a commission on anything bought through the affiliate link within 24 hours, even if they didn’t purchase the product you originally linked to. Cool eh!?

Amazon is such a great site to promote, since most people have an amazon account, and it’s such an easy way to shop online. I don’t know about you, but I spend quite a big chunk of money on Amazon every month! 

How much money can you earn with affiliate marketing?

It’s tricky to say exactly how much you can earn with affiliate marketing. Some affiliate marketers are earning $100-$200 per month, while some are earning upwards of $100,000 per month, so the potential here is huge. 

Start a Blog

Blogging is another one of my favorite ways to make money online without paying anything, because there are so many ways you can make money from your blog.

How do bloggers make money?

There are several ways to make money from your blog, including:

How do you start a blog?

It sounds daunting, but it’s actually incredibly easy to start your own blog, and there are free platforms you can use like WordPress.com which will let you get started without paying a penny. 

However, if you do have a few dollars to spare (I’m talking $2.95/month here) I would highly recommend hosting your own blog. Hosting your own blog makes you even more attractive to advertisers and gives you huge potential for growth!

Here’s the ultimate guide on how to start a blog to help you get started on the right foot. 

There are loads of benefits to starting your own blog. Aside from the fact that it can be a moneymaker in itself, having your own blog can position you as an authority in your industry, opening more doors for future opportunities and collaborations!

How much money do bloggers make?

The amount of money you make blogging will vary depending on how much traffic your blog gets, as well as how large your email list is and a number of other factors. There are some bloggers out there who barely scrape a couple of dollars a month with their blogs, and on the other hand there are bloggers out there making six or even seven figures per month.

The great thing is, lots of bloggers share their income reports, which is really helpful and inspiring, especially if you’re just getting started. Let’s take a look at some examples of how much money some of these successful bloggers are making:

The key with blogging is consistency. You may not start to see results immediately, but if you regularly add new high quality content that is useful to your readers, and spend time on keyword research and SEO, the rewards will start to come.

Start a Youtube Channel

YouTube is one of the most fun ways to make money online without paying anything upfront. You will, however, need to invest your time here. Although this can be a very time consuming way to make money online, it is probably one of the most enjoyable (if you like being on camera, that is!) 

You can set up your own YouTube channel for free, and start creating straight away. You will need something to record on (a smartphone or laptop will work just fine). Plan your content, and then start filming.

After you have finished filming you will need to edit your content to make sure it’s interesting and easy to watch, and then go ahead and publish!

There are a few different ways you can make money on YouTube:

  1. Become a YouTube partner and earn money from Ad revenue
  2. Brand collaborations and sponsorships
  3. Affiliate marketing
  4. Licensing your content to the media

How much money do YouTubers make?

If you are making money through adverts on YouTube, you will get paid according to how many views you get. According to Influencer Marketing Hub this is around $3-$5 per 1,000 views on average. So if you wanted to make $2,000 each month you would need 400,000 page views a month.

You can even do affiliate marketing on YouTube as well.

Create and Sell an Online Course

Online education has seen a huge boom in the last couple of years, and is more popular now than ever, with people looking for an affordable and convenient way to learn new skills in their own time.

With the rising costs of Universities, it’s no surprise that people are looking for alternative ways to learn, and for most people, learning online is an easy way to digest a subject.

You can create an online course on any subject you have experience in. Let’s say for example you can paint beautifully in water color, you could easily create a course to teach complete beginners how to get started with water color paints. If your first course is a success, you can create more in-depth and advanced courses for your students to move on to after they have completed the first course!

How to create and sell an online course

You can create your course on a course creation platform such as Teachable or Udemy. Teachable has a free plan which allows you to create and sell a course with them without paying a penny- they will simply take a percentage of the course fee when a course is sold so there’s absolutely nothing to pay upfront. 

Udemy has the advantage of also being a marketplace. They take a little more commission than Teachable, but they do all the hard work of promoting your course within their marketplace, so you don’t need to spend any time trying to market or sell your course, you can just focus on creating it!

There is a lot of upfront effort involved in creating an online course, but the good news is, once you have created it and made it available for people to buy, you can profit from it over and over again without having to do any additional work, making this a great source of passive income for years ahead.

Dropshipping With Print-on-Demand Products

If you are creative and have a little artistic talent, you can make money online without paying anything upfront by dropshipping print-on-demand products.

What is Dropshipping?

If you’ve never heard of dropshipping before, it’s a great way to make money by selling someone else’s products online. Here’s how it works: A customer orders and pays for a product from you, you then order the product from the supplier and have it shipped directly to the customer. You pay the supplier at a discounted rate from the money that the customer paid you, and you keep the profit!

What is Print-on-Demand?

Print on demand, or ‘POD’ is a way you can sell products that you have designed yourself, without actually having to hold any inventory! You sign up to a print on demand website such as Printful, and choose which products you want to sell. You then upload your own designs onto the products, create a mock-up, and you are ready to sell!

Where can you sell your products?

Don’t worry if you don’t have your own website, there are loads of other ways you can sell your products! 

This is a great opportunity for artists to make money online, as you can sell your designs on mugs, t-shirts, and hundreds of other popular products!

Side note: Amazon also has their own Print on Demand service, called Merch by Amazon, where they handle all the production, shipping and customer service for products you have designed, so you can receive a royalty fee for each product you sell with no upfront costs.

Write and Publish an eBook

Self-publishing an eBook is one of the best ways to make money online with no upfront costs. All you need is an idea! You can publish a book on anything you like. There is a high demand for both fiction and nonfiction books, but personally I think nonfiction is the way to go.

How much money can you make publishing eBooks?

eBooks can sell from $0.99 to $9.99, and sometimes even higher depending on the topic. The good news is, it’s you who sets the price, so you have full control over how much profit you make from each book you sell.

How to write and publish your own eBook

  1. Decide on a topic. Make sure it’s something you are interested in and have adequate knowledge about
  2. Outline each chapter of your book
  3. Write the content of your book
  4. Add in any images and tweak the layout
  5. Create an eye catching front cover (Canva is a great free tool for this)
  6. Save as a PDF, EPUB or MOBI file
  7. Publish your eBook on Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing or make it available to download on your own social media or website using a tool like Sendowl.

The best thing about publishing an eBook, is that you put in the hard work upfront, and after that it’s all profit. This means you can reap the benefits for years to come. Once you have uploaded your eBook to where you will be selling it, the rest of the process is automated so you will now have a passive income stream!

Summing it up…

If you’ve been wondering how to make money online without paying anything, hopefully some of these ideas will have inspired you, and shown you that it absolutely can be done!

Whether it’s just a bit of extra cash you’re after, or you’re looking to replace the income from your 9-5 job, you will be able to make extra money online with these ideas. Please don’t waste your time on Survey Junkie and other paid survey sites!

Whichever way you choose to make money online, be prepared to invest your time and effort up front, and be patient, if you put in the work consistently you will eventually start to see results.

If you are thinking of starting your own blog for some extra income, don’t forget to check out our in depth guide on how to start a blog.




Niche Business Ideas

By Emily Brookes

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

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