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How To Make Money Online: What Works and What Doesn’t

by Marcin Wieclaw
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How To Make Money Online: What Works and What Doesn't


The prospect of earning money online is very appealing. You don’t have to commute and can simply trade some of your free time for money. Who wouldn’t want that? Flashy headlines and overpromising influencers aside, there aren’t that many methods that actually work.

The reality is that many bad actors try to achieve the opposite – earn from your free labor. I’m not going to tell you some secret get-rich-quick method. However, I can recommend five methods that have worked for me and a few ones that got me scammed.

Five proven methods to make money online

Let’s start with a short disclaimer of what you must avoid. Even the methods that I have found to work can get you in trouble if you aren’t careful. Following the below rules will help you stay safe online. Stay vigilant and realistic before proceeding.

  • Never provide too much of your personal information
  • Never provide your payment card details
  • Never pay to sign up
  • Never do something that is illegal
  • Never trust platforms that sound too good to be true

Virtual Assistant

Becoming a virtual assistant is one of the most profitable online careers you can find. It’s a person who works as a freelance contractor performing administrative tasks for a company from home. Your tasks as a virtual assistant might include – data entry, scheduling appointments, answering calls, arranging events or travel plans, answering emails, writing, etc.

In most cases, these tasks require low skill to perform. However, you will earn more if you have some valuable skills. Some virtual assistants have backgrounds in accounting, marketing, programming, or design for this reason.

Most people have some skills they can offer. You just need to learn to sell yourself to earn money as a virtual assistant. But I have seen people, even with little specialization, making in virtual assistant roles if they are willing to start to work for a little pay.

There are plenty of job postings on platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and LinkedIn. You’ll have to be active and reach out to potential employees yourself.

Sharing your internet connection

A successful virtual assistant is a skilled worker. If you have yet to become one but still need a couple of dollars per month, consider bandwidth sharing. All you need is a device with a stable internet connection and an app from a platform like Pawns or Swagbucks.

You simply connect your device to the internet and turn on the software to share your internet connection. Other people can then use your connection to access content as if browsing from your location. It helps researchers collect data, companies perform tests, and political dissidents bypass government restrictions.

In turn, you get to earn some money for each Gigabyte you share that way and help make the internet more open. Just make sure that you have a fast internet connection and that your internet service provider does not block such connections.

Re-selling goods online

Sometimes, to make money, you need to spend money. I’m not talking about large investments into something you can’t physically test. The safest bet is purchasing goods online and re-selling them, possibly on a different platform, for a higher price.

There is one caveat, though. You must have significant knowledge about the goods you are purchasing. Otherwise, you can end up spending more than you earn. If you are knowledgeable about IT, then look for cheap parts or laptops to re-sell. If you know a thing or two about fashion, then clothes or shoes might be your thing.

Some people even manage to scale their operations on platforms like Amazon, eBay, or Vinted and start purchasing goods in bulk. It is more risky, but when you have some experience, this can become as profitable as a full-time job.

Paid surveys

Sharing my opinion in online surveys has become a commuting ritual for me. A 30-minute survey can be paid as much as three dollars. So, I’m effectively making my daily commute pay for itself. The topics on paid survey platforms don’t require much knowledge. You just have to be honest and fit the needed demographics.

Some of the best survey websites are Pawns, YouGov, and Survey Monkey. However, you’ll have to research their payout methods and supported regions before starting. Unfortunately, how much work you’ll get highly depends on your region.

Online tutoring

Most people will skip this option because they think they don’t have much to teach. But you’d be surprised to know that many people are willing to pay for just conversing with a native-English speaker. If you know any other languages, you can earn even more on platforms like Preply or Italki.

Most other skills can be transformed into a small teaching venture too. Private real-life tutors are very expensive while getting through school is difficult for children. Platforms like Tutor, Learner, or MyTutor are just a few examples of where you can teach anything. Of course, you won’t earn a lot without relevant qualifications, but it can still cover some expenses.

What doesn’t work for making money online?

The opportunities I listed above might mislead some inexperienced readers. Therefore, I feel obliged to mention two things that went off the rails for me personally.

Untrustworthy job boards. Little-known job boards and social media groups are risky because of scams. The most common trick they use is to order work, receive it, and then not pay for it. Stick with job boards that have their own payment systems.

Cryptocurrency trading. Yes, there are people who have made a profit from crypto trading before it became popular. However, it certainly isn’t something you can get into without considerable knowledge.


The methods that work have one thing in common – they all will earn you only a modest amount. You must be prepared that no miracles will happen, and you won’t make a living without skill. However, unlike scam methods, there is a prospect of improving yourself and eventually earning more.


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