Updated April 20, 2023
Whether you’re at a typical 9-to-5 or working nights and weekends to thread several paychecks together, it seems everyone could use some extra money.
Before you sign up for another shift delivering groceries, check out this list of creative ways to make money. Many use your creative juices, while others aren’t the expected side gigs. While some of these money making ideas may be an easy way to score an extra $20 a month to stash in your savings account, others can earn you hundreds or thousands of dollars, and some will even get you started on your own side business.
56 Creative Ways to Make Money
Scroll through to spot ways to supplement your full-time job or simply find a creative outlet for making money. Links are included to get you on your way.
Start Your Own Side Gig
If you want to run your own show, you’ve got a lot of options.
1. Design Websites
Earning potential: $24.70 an hour
Web designers can expect to take home an average of $51,424 per year, according to Payscale. It’s tough to get to that point if you’re freelancing, but plenty of sites exist to help you to build up your clientele.
TopTal pays top dollar for those creative skills, but be warned: The company boasts that it only hires the top 3% of freelancers.
If you’re not yet ready for the big leagues, try sharpening your skills by signing up and accepting clients from other freelance websites.
Freelancer is a marketplace where both workers and employers can create special listings and hourly rates. Upwork is the largest freelance platform in the world. Gigster is an on demand software development website offering freelance work to designers, developers and product managers. Guru invites freelancers to bid on projects and jobs posted by employers. Employers reach out directly to freelancers as well.
2. Create Podcasts
Earning potential: $22 per episode if you have 1,000 listeners to $27 per episode if you have 1 million listeners.
When you create podcasts, you can sell subscriptions to listen or use them as an advertising platform. A quick search on iTunes will show you if there’s a demand for a topic you could offer. If there is, make yours the best podcast on the subject or give it a cool spin.
You can make money through several methods; advertising is the most common. Once you amass a decent amount of listeners, you can attract advertisers who will pay to be featured in your podcast, usually in the form of native ads — ads within the podcast, usually read directly by the host.
Advertisers pay based on a podcast’s “cost per thousand listeners” or CPM. (The M stands for the Latin word “mille,” which means 1,000.) According to advertisecast.com, the average CPM for a podcast with 500 to 999 listeners is $22. Rates go up with more listeners. The average CPM for podcasts with 100,000 to 999,999 listeners is $27.
Companies such as Midroll help podcasters find advertisers.
You may also charge a monthly subscription fee (usually between $5 and $15) or crowdsource funding directly from your listeners on websites like Patreon, Go Fund Me or Indiegogo. It’s probably best to incorporate an all-of-the-above approach.
3. Create and Sell Online Courses
Earning potential: $150 to $1,000 a month on average, though there are documented instructors making more than $1 million a year.
Are you a self-taught coder with a knack for simplifying instructions? You could create an online course about it. Maybe you’re an expert at finger-picking techniques on acoustic guitar; you could make an online course about that, too.
If you’re good at explaining whatever it is you specialize in, people out there are eager to learn, and with Udemy, you can create content and host online courses — no master’s degree required.
Many variables affect what you can make including: the fee for the class, how many students take it each month and if you refer them or they come through the site. Usually, teachers make 25% to 50% of what each student pays for a class, but if they refer they can make 97%. Classes on Udemy typically cost $10 to $200.
Get clicking: Udemy
4. Freelance Online
Potential earnings: $10 to $75 an hour depending on the skill and demand.
Whether you’re good at math or marketing, you can sell your services online for extra money. Plenty of sites will pay you for just about anything, but you have to be wary of scams.
Opportunities abound on freelance websites including nDash for writers, Gigster for techies and PeoplePerHour for experts in just about any field.
You can sign up on the sites for free, and they can earn you a quick buck or a longtime client. And don’t worry, we vetted them.
5. Start a Spray Tan Business
You can buy a hand-held spray tan machine and the tanning potions for $300 on Amazon. Then charge $25 per customer, which is more reasonable than tanning salons. The machine is paid for once you’ve tanned 25 customers and everything beyond that is profit, profit, profit.
Get clicking: Allure Spray Tan System
Ways to Make Money Online
We’ve only scratched the surface of ways to earn money online.
6. Be an Online Mock Juror
Earning potential: $5 to $60 for an hour or less
A mock or surrogate juror reviews evidence and renders a decision to help lawyers prepare for real cases. Participation usually requires a full day cooped up in a hotel conference room.
But there are online surrogate juror options, too: eJury and OnlineVerdict. Those opportunities pay $5 to $60 and can take less than an hour.
To qualify as an online juror, applicants must be:
- A U.S. citizen
- 18 years or older
- Free of any past felony convictions
Creating an account for either site is free but will require a questionnaire that asks very personal questions about your age, marital status, criminal history, income, political opinions and more.
7. Answer Questions on JustAnswer.com
Earning potential: $2,000 to $7,000 a month
“Where do babies come from?”
Are you a linguist who can satisfy the curiosity of a 7-year-old? Or a board-certified gynecologist who can detail the complex inner workings of the reproductive system?
Each is an expert in their own way.
A number of websites will pay you to answer people’s questions. It’s as simple as that. Try JustAnswer.com to see if you qualify as an expert.
Creating an account on JustAnswer requires three steps.
- Selecting your expertise category (as many as you want).
- Uploading your resume, experience and education.
- Submitting credentials, if needed. (Not all fields require licenses or degrees.)
After you submit your application, you’ll have to wait five to 10 business days to be vetted and accepted. Experts can answer as many questions as they want.
While rates range depending on your qualifications and how many questions you answer, the site says top earners in each category make thousands of dollars per month.
And even if you don’t qualify as an expert, you could refer one for a $50 gift card to Amazon.
Get clicking: Create an account on JustAnswer.com.
Need a banking service that’s built for freelancers, helping you save for taxes and keep track of your expenses? Check out Found. (It’s free!)
8. Join an Online Focus Group
Earning potential: $20 an hour up to $600
Focus groups can pay extremely well for the amount of time you actually “work,” providing surges of side hustle income.
Most focus groups require between 30 minutes and 90 minutes of work. When you’re doing a focus group remotely, you may be asked to fill out a multiple choice survey. Most of the time, though, you’ll complete a phone or Zoom interview with a live person.
Topics are unlimited: You could find yourself answering questions about your favorite margarita recipe, how you’re coping with pandemic parenting or a survey related to your profession.
Some focus groups may require you to dedicate some time outside the interview itself. For example, you might have to give a specific product a test run or keep a journal of your experiences. This extra time is often accounted for in the compensation.
9. Get Paid to Watch Videos
Earning potential: Gift cards for $1 to $5 after watching a handful of videos
Among all the fun ways to make money, this one may be the dream job, but it does take several hours of watching to get a small gift card.
The app Swagbucks pays you to watch videos and TV from your smartphone in your spare time. For each task completed, you’ll earn points, aka Swagbucks, which you can cash out for gift cards between $5 and $25. It takes about 160 points to earn a $1 Amazon gift card.
Netflix occasionally hires “taggers” to watch shows or movies and mark them with categories they fall within such as “sports comedy,” or “strong female lead.” The company doesn’t fill these positions very often and tends to prefer someone with experience analyzing film. But it only takes a minute to regularly search “tagger” on the Netflix career page.
Nielsen is the company famous for tracking TV viewing habits and rating programs. Nielsen families are chosen at random, but if you are one of the lucky ones, you make around $15 a month.
10. Take Surveys
Earning potential: Gift cards for $5 or $10 or a few dollars cash after completing many surveys.
Again, this is time consuming and not a way to bring in big bucks, but you can earn a little extra money in your spare time or a few gift cards by taking online surveys.
When you sign up for survey websites like Swagbucks, you’ll earn an extra $5 toward a gift card if you complete a certain amount of surveys or tasks within 60 days.
InboxDollars is another paid survey site that could net you up to $5 per survey (though it’s usually closer to 50 cents).
CashKarma allows users to conduct surveys and earn gift cards completely on an app. You can also watch videos, complete sign-up offers and earn bonus achievement. Most surveys earn 50 points. With 6,000 points you get a $5 Amazon gift card.
11. Work on Mechanical Turk
Earning potential: $6 to $12 an hour
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform lets you complete small tasks online for a fee.
Tasks are dubbed Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) on the platform, and they include completing surveys, creating Excel spreadsheet tasks and audio transcription.
Read About It
Get clicking: Sign up here.
12. Test Websites
Earning potential: $10 for 20 minutes to an hour
Websites should be very user-friendly — so easy to use that an intoxicated person should be able to navigate them.
User experience consultant Richard Littauer took that idea very seriously. He started “The User Is Drunk,” a business where he tested people’s websites after drinking too much beer. And his idea took off.
“I raised my price for reviews from $50 to $500 very quickly,” Littauer told The Penny Hoarder, “hoping that people would stop buying so that I didn’t have to be drunk permanently.”
To get a steady stream of jobs, you may have to be creative like Littauer and build up your client base. For a shot at getting more assignments (and more money), sign up with websites like UserTesting and TryMyUI.
13. Be a Search Engine Evaluator
Earning potential: Up to $15 an hour
It’s scary how good Google’s search algorithm is, but it’s not perfect… yet. Neither are other search engines, such as Yahoo or Bing.
To bypass those flaws and make search results more relevant, companies like Appen and Lionbridge frequently hire search engine evaluators as independent contractors. Positions are typically part time, with hourly rates up to $15.
No previous experience is required — just tech savviness and a laptop or Android smartphone.
Using Your Home to Make Money
Your home likely costs you a fair amount of money, so it’s time to enlist it to earn some of that money back.
14. Rent Out a Room with Airbnb
Earning potential: Varies depending on your space, but anywhere from $50 to $150 a night on average for a spare room or garage apartment. Use Airbnb’s calculator to get a more specific estimate.
Have a spare room? You may as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your income.
A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one. We talked to Terence Michael, an Airbnb superhost to get these tips:
- Break out the labelmaker. “I have the entire house loaded with labels,” Michael says. “They look nice; they’re modern. This helps people feel less helpless.”
- Stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels. “I order on Amazon and have it delivered when people are there.”
- Be kind to your neighbors. “I say, ‘I’m not going to put anyone here who I think won’t be good for you,’” Michael says. “And I turn a lot of big groups away, especially in Nashville. I don’t want anyone going to the cops or the city.”
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
Get clicking: Go here to start listing on Airbnb.
15. Rent Your Yard for RV and Boat Storage
Earning potential: $50 to $125 a month.
People need a place to put their boats and recreational vehicles during the off-season, which spells profit for you if you have the space. Your home insurance policy probably won’t cover damage, so you might have to add additional liability insurance (and check those local ordinances again).
Once your insurance is in shape, find a storage-space website and create a listing. While it’s possible to list your storage space on sites like Craigslist or on Facebook Marketplace, other sites are dedicated to RV or boat storage. One example is Neighbor.
You can set the rules and the price. Once you find a client, the agreed-upon amount will automatically be paid to you monthly (minus a 3% fee from the site). Regardless if the client misses a payment, Neighbor will pay out the full listing price.
Get clicking: Making a listing on Neighbor is free.