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The Art of the Side Hustle: How to Make Money Online

Eight ways to make passive income online.

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It sounds like a dream doesn’t it? Working from home and making money from the comfort of your living room?

The reality is, not all work-at-home options are created equal: There are two types of home-based income—active and passive—one of which, as the name implies, requires a lot less work.

Active income is trading time for money. You do a job once and get paid for it. Passive income, on the other hand, takes less active work and can often be done in your spare time, but it can have a snowball effect (where you continue to make money long after the initial work is complete).

Let’s take a closer look at eight ways to make some passive income online:

1. Blog with Affiliate Marketing

We’ve all heard about blogging to make money, and affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize your blog. Simply put, affiliate marketing enables you to refer your readers to other businesses via a custom ad link, in exchange for a commission on the final sale, or when an action (like an ad click) occurs. There are many affiliate programs to choose from: Amazon Associates, CJ Affiliate, and Rakuten are good places to start. Remember to promote products or services that your blog audience will benefit from. For example, if you blog about food, you may want to apply to be an affiliate with restaurants or culinary dealers. Plug these affiliate links into your blog posts, or better yet, write a review post about the product that really helps your reader make an informed decision. People are much more likely to buy something from your site when you’ve gone into detail and helped them decide.

2. Blog Offering Your Own Products

If affiliates aren’t your thing, consider using your blog to sell your own products, like ebooks or ecourses (read more on creating an ebook below). Again, pick something your established audience will benefit from. Create it once and sell it over and over again.

If you are using WordPress to manage your blog, consider using eCommerce solutions like WooCommerce, Shopify, or Easy Digital Downloads to feature your store right on your blog.

Or, use an all-in-one platform like e-junkie or Sendowl to help you sell downloads (more on downloads below); or Teachable or Thinkific to host your ecourses. You can link any of these third-party platforms to your main blog to seamlessly sell your products.

3. Vlog on YouTube

Like blogging, vlogging (video blogging) will require active content creation, but once you monetize this content, you can keep earning from it.

To monetize your videos on YouTube, you need to reach a certain amount of channel views (channels are accounts that feature all the videos a YouTube user has created). Adding more videos to your channel can help you increase views faster.

According to YouTube: “Advertisers look for channels that have high traffic, far reach, and a unique, targeted demographic watching. It’s a good idea to invest in growing your audience before monetizing your channel.”

There are a few ways you can monetize your videos on YouTube:

  • Ads: With Google AdSense, you can use ads to monetize your videos. Visit Google AdSense to set up your free account, then head back to YouTube to link it. For a walk-through of this process, watch this video.) With AdSense, you earn a bit of money when a viewer clicks on the ad in your video. Choose from skippable full-screen ads, non-skippable full-screen ads, display ads that are shown to the right of your video, and overlay ads that appear over the bottom portion of your video.
  • Sponsored videos: As your channel gets more established and you grow a following, you can start to work with companies that will pay you to feature their product or show their ad on your video. Companies typically look for established channels with an audience that fits their product.
  • Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing on YouTube is similar to affiliate marketing on a blog; you get paid every time someone clicks on or buys from your affiliate link. Share your affiliate link in the video description for any interested viewers to view.

4. Create a Podcast

Podcasts were huge in 2017 and continue to grow in popularity. Create one by picking a topic you are knowledgeable about, love to talk about, and others love to hear about. It can be motivational, instructional, or entertaining.

To get started, all you really need is a computer and a good microphone, preferably something that will help cancel outside noise. Use a program like Zoom to record your audio; alternatively, Audacity allows you to record and edit your audio.

Once you’re satisfied with your audio file, upload it to an audio-hosting site. Popular ones include iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Libsyn, or Podbean.

Once you’ve uploaded a few episodes and have established followers, you can start to monetize. Because podcasts are generally free to download, making money will require some creativity: One great option is to sell sponsorships in the form of ad space within your podcast. This article provides a good basis for how much you can charge each sponsor, depending on how many downloads your episodes get. Typically, podcasters will feature a sponsor’s product in the introduction of the episode, or somewhere in the middle, sharing the product or telling a personal story about using it.

As far as getting partnerships, research podcast sponsorship agencies like Midroll or AdvertiseCast. Alternatively, you can get sponsorships on your own by researching companies in your niche. Look for companies that already work with other podcasters in your niche. Reach out to these companies with an email that clearly and concisely introduces your podcast, what you talk about, how many downloads you get per episode, and your prices.

Once you have gained a following, consider using podcasts to direct listeners to more of your own related products or services. Create a self-study or instructional course and mention it at the beginning or end of a related podcast and direct listeners to your website for more information.

5. Sell Downloads on Etsy

If you’re creative, and a pro at Microsoft Word or using graphic programs like Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, consider selling downloads on Etsy, like decorative sketches or prints, coloring pages for children, home charts and chore trackers, invitations, even resume and other business templates. Make your downloads instantly available for buyers and there will be little to no work on your part once you’ve uploaded them.

Opening and setting up an Etsy store is free; however, the site does charge a listing, transaction, and payment processing fee.

6. “Dropship” from eBay or Amazon

Did you know you can open an online store without ever having to physically stock items? Dropshipping is a way to sell items without ever having them in your home. You purchase items from a third-party, who in turn ships them directly to your customers. (Keep in mind that if you are in the United States, you will need to get a sales tax ID before you get started. Find out how to get one here.) You maintain the digital store on eBay or Amazon (learn how to set up an Amazon and eBay store) and provide customer service, but never have to directly ship or physically stock anything.

Oberlo and Volusion allow you to search and find products from many suppliers who offer dropshipping and fulfillment services.

7. Sell Stock Photos

If you’re a budding photographer, you can sell your photos as stock. There are two main ways you can do this:

  • Sell your photos via stock websites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Alamy or iStockPhoto. You can submit photos, but keep in mind that not all photos may be picked to be sold.
  • Create your own website and sell your images. With this method, you have much more control over your images, but you will need to do more promoting to get people to your website.

8. Write a Book

If you’re a writer, self-publish a book and sell it for passive income. It’s easier than ever to create and upload an ebook to Amazon for Kindle by using the Amazon Kindle Direct Publisher. Or, create a physical book using sites like BookBaby, CreateSpace, or IngramSpark.

Making money online has never been easier. Get started today and start earning cash for years to come!

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CUNA 2023 diamond award trophy icon

CUNA 2023 Diamond Award Winner

Financial Education

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