If you landed here, it means you are looking for ideas on how to make money online without paying anything. Maybe you’ve found a few great money-making opportunities online, but they require some money to start.
Well, here’s the thing: you need to invest some money to start any type of business in the world. But when you do not have money, that investment comes in the form of skills and time.
You see, I started an online business (this blog) not so long ago with almost no money and now it’s making me much more than I used to earn from my previous soul-sucking job outside the home. I started it with only $2.75, but I invested lots of time and effort to make it work. You can read my blogging story here and the strategies I used to grow this blog.
The good thing about making money online is that there are tons of fantastic ideas out there that you can do without or with little investment and experience. Blogging is only one option but there are a lot more options you can choose from, depending on your skills and interest.
The internet opens a whole new world of opportunities that allow you to work-from-home or anywhere in the world.
But, I must warn you this: proceed with caution.
Working-from-home or online certainly has its perks. But if you don’t tread carefully, you could get lured into online scams that would cost money or your precious time. Before you know it, the supposed income-making opportunity turns into a scheming and cunning plot designed to milk money out from you.
Types of Work-from-Home Scams
If someone tells you how to make easy money online without investment, you better make sure that it’s a legit job and not a scam. To help you inspect these opportunities, here are the most common work-from-home scams you need to be aware of.
1. Envelope stuffing
This scam has been around for years. What happens with envelope stuffing is that a company tells you they’ll pay you to stuff envelopes, but you need to pay them a small fee first, between $15-$40 to get started. But then you find out that you’re going to stuff envelopes with the same flyers you saw and scheme other people with money. This then becomes an endless cycle of deceit.
2. Email forwarding
You’ll receive an email telling you about a work-from-home opportunity. From the outside, the email looks like it came from a legit company, and they’ll offer you something that’s quite hard to resist. The company then tells you that you need to send them some money to pay for software and equipment. Once you’ve sent them the money, you’ll never hear from them again, or tell you to forward the same email to other unsuspecting individuals.
3. Incoming jobs
You receive a tempting job offer via email, and it tells you to click on the link to get more information. Once you get to the website, you’ll find that there are limited slots left and you need to act fast to secure the job. They’ll ask for personal information, such as name, mailing address, and credit card details. They’ll also say that you need to pay $200 for the training, hence the need for your credit card info. Once you’ve given the scammers what they need, you end up $200 poorer and no job.
4. Medical billing
Medical billing is actually a competitive business, and scammers use it to squeeze thousands of dollars from their victims. With this scam, a company tells you that you can set up your own medical billing business. They’ll provide you the software as well as a list of clients. Of course, you need to pay for these before you can even start, often amounting to thousands of dollars. It would then only be a matter of time before you discover that the “clients’ database” is outdated or fake or have no need for a medical billing service in the first place.
Spotting the Red Flags
It hurts to get scammed. Not only does it cost you money, but it also causes your trauma. So, before you bite in an offer and shell out money from your pocket, here are the red flags you need to look out for to avoid getting conned:
1. The offer is too good to be true. If the potential income is way more than the industry standard and the effort you need to put in is very minimal, then it’s likely a scam.
2. You need to pay upfront fees. It doesn’t make sense to pay a company for a job opportunity when you’re the one they should be paying. If they require upfront fees for training, software, or equipment, take a pass – it’s not a legit job.
3. There’s no hiring process. A legit company would want to interview, even background check their employees. If someone says you can join a company without interview and paperwork, it’s probably a scam.
4. The website doesn’t look right. A lot of scammers are smart about copying a legit website, from the logo down to the font. But if you look closely, the URL has an extra or missing letter, or just doesn’t sound quite right. Once you’ve given them your personal information, social security number, and credit card details, you become vulnerable to identity theft.
This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for any purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
How to Make Money Online Without Paying Anything: Top Ways to Earn an Income Without Investment
Is it possible to make money online without paying anything? My answer is a big YES! There is a lot of legit ideas on how to make money online without investment. Here are some ways!
1. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing boomed so much over the years that a lot of people have turned it into their full-time jobs. But what is affiliate marketing, exactly?
Consider this scenario: you’ve found this very cool product or service online and purchased it. You love it so much you can’t stop talking about it. You even tell your friends and family how it’s such a great deal.
But, you can make money from home without investment by promoting the product through affiliate marketing.
In a nutshell, affiliate marketing is making money by promoting other people’s products. Each time someone buys the same product or service through you, you earn a commission. That’s how affiliate marketing works.
What’s so wonderful about affiliate marketing is that there are thousands of affiliate programs to partner up with and once you’re accepted into these programs, you can start making money right away for any purchases made through you.
But, I’ll be honest with you: while the business model is simple and may cost you nothing or maybe very little to start, it may also take an effort to make money with affiliate marketing, at least at the beginning. After all, people would not want to make a purchase through you unless they trust you.
While you can make money with affiliate marketing by simply referring friends or family, the best way to do this is by using a platform such as a blog or a website, or social media account like Instagram. You can use your blog or Instagram to create posts about products or services you personally use or believe in, and start earning money when someone buys it through your affiliate links.
The good news is that creating a social media account is free and you can also start a blog for only $2.75 per month.
It does take some hard work but once everything is set up and running and you have built a good following, you’ll literally make money even as you sleep. This small blog here, for example, also makes passive income every single month through affiliate marketing from posts I wrote two years ago.
And there are so many people out there making an incredible amount of money through affiliate marketing. Michelle of Making Sense of Cents, for example, makes $50,000 per month consistently by promoting other people’s products/services on her blog!
2. Become a YouTuber
Do you also wonder how the highest-paid YouTubers make money?
Becoming a YouTuber is one of the best ways on how to make money online without experience.
In fact, a lot of people have seen the income potential on YouTube. Why? Videos make a great medium for content with easily digestible information. Many people prefer watching video-form content than reading text. And given this amazing YouTube statistics, marketers see that making money from YouTube has become inevitable.
As a YouTuber, you create content on your channel and monetize your channel through ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsored posts.
You don’t need to invest money to start a channel on YouTube and you don’t even need the most advanced gadgets. You can start with a smartphone and basic editing software to create your first videos.
However, to be able to monetize your channel, you will need 4,000 valid public watch hours in the last 12 months and have 1,000 subscribers. You also need to live in a country where the Youtube Partner Program is available.
As per my research, the actual rates Youtubers make vary per niche, but the rates usually range from $0.10 to $0.30 per view. YouTubers earn 68% of the ad revenue, so for every $100 earned, you get $68.
3. Freelance Writing
If you are looking for ideas on how to earn money without investment and make money right away, freelance writing is one of your best options. This remains one of my favorite side jobs because there is never a shortage of freelance writing jobs online.
You see, I am not a great writer and I am not even a native English writer, but I was still able to make $70,000 in my first three years freelance writing part-time from home.
The best thing about freelance writing is that you can get paid right away after completing your writing job. That means you can also start today and get paid today.
If you want to learn how to get started, I wrote a detailed guide here on the steps I took to make money as a freelance writer with no previous experience writing for the internet. Then, check out SolidGigs, Upwork, Problogger Jobs, Verblio, or iWriter to find freelance writing jobs for beginners.
I also recommend checking out this FREE course by Holly Johnson of Earn More Writing. Holly is a successful freelance writer who makes at least $200,000 per year writing from home and now she’s helping people how to do the same. You can sign up for Holly’s free freelance writing workshop to learn more about the strategies she used to increase her writing income to $200,000.
Obviously, blogging is my most favorite way to make money from home. Perhaps I am biased to blogging because I am a blogger myself and I love it. But I am also not lying when I tell you that a blog can make you a lot of money if you work hard for it.
I started this small blog here not so long ago, and 24 months into blogging, I earned $13,000 in one month from both display advertising and affiliate marketing. And the best thing? I started this blog with only a $2.75/ month investment! I know, it’s not entirely free to start, but I really believe it’s worth a shot for the income you can potentially make from it.
Blogging doesn’t require any experience, degree, or certification to get into. Trust me, I knew nothing about how to blog when I started. But, you don’t have to know everything to start and make money. If you deeply care about the topic you blog about and you’re willing to learn how to monetize your blog, I believe you will succeed.
You can make money blogging in so many ways, through affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, and display advertising. Additionally, you may utilize your blog to promote a book or course that you’re selling, webinars, workshops, and many more.
If you are interested in blogging and want to know the exact steps I took to grow my blog, check out this detailed post here that will show you how to start a blog today and make money as a beginner with no experience.
5. Creating and Selling a Course
If you are an expert at something, you could make money by sharing your knowledge with others by creating a course!
If you’ve never thought about creating and selling courses as one of the legit ways to make money online without investment, then you should know Joseph Michael’s story. Joseph Michael used to struggle financially, having to live paycheck to paycheck. And then, he discovered Scrivener, a writing software, and started making himself an expert with it. When he learned everything that is to learn about Scrivener, Joseph created a course about it and sold it.
Joseph didn’t expect his course would take off, but it did! Initially, he earned $25,000, and then $40,000 each month. He quit his day job and has been making over $100,000 per year selling courses.
So, if you’re someone like Joseph who’s passionate about something, and you want to share it with others to help them solve their problems, creating and selling courses is the best money-making method for you. Whether you’re great at cooking, organizing, or DIYing house projects, you can make a course around these ideas.
The best thing about making and selling courses is that you only need to make the effort once. As long as your product provides a real solution to a problem. it will keep selling even if you’re asleep or on vacation, so it’s really a great way to build passive income.
6. Writing and Selling eBooks on Amazon
In the good old days, coming up with a book and publishing it takes a lot of time, resources, and money. But today, you can become an author for an eBook and make money from it, from scratch.
The thing about writing and selling an eBook is that it’s almost similar to creating and selling courses. You need to put in a lot of effort at first but once your eBook is published and available on the market, you can already sit back and make money passively from your product.
The good thing about writing an eBook is that you don’t need anything to begin writing one. You can use your computer’s word processing system and then format it for Kindle. When the book is ready to sell, you need to create a seller account on Amazon and then publish it.
Just as with selling courses, you want your eBook to center around your passion and it should also provide a solution to a problem. Take for example Cori and Casey, a couple who wrote an eBook about moving to Canada. They struggled with the immigration process, so they researched the process well to move themselves. They later realized that many people are in the same boat and need a guide, so Cori and Casey put together what they learned in an eBook and sold it. The eBook makes them an extra $500 a month!
You don’t even have to be the best writer to write an eBook (although proofreading it is necessary), but in order to be successful, you have to provide helpful information and real solution to a problem.
7. Web / Graphic Designer
What if you are not good at writing or creating videos and you are more of a graphic and visual artist? Well, you could also make money as a web and graphic designer and you don’t need anything to start, except for a computer, internet connection, design software, and your skills.
There’s never a shortage of demand for designers because all businesses need them for various reasons: to create logos, brochures, posters, social media templates, and other advertising materials. If you’re quite handy with designing software and apps, you could begin learning how to make money without investment online by getting design gigs.
You can find graphic design work-from-home jobs at job boards like Upwork, Guru, and Flexjobs, but you can also start an online shop for your work at Etsy or Shopify and make more money selling templates, vectors, and clip arts and more.
I honestly thought this is not a very lucrative niche until I stumbled upon Sarah Titus who made a whopping $3.7 million in one year selling printables at Shopify. $3.7 million, without physical products is just amazing!
8. Doing Microtasks
Basically, microtasks are small tasks that are easy and quick to accomplish. It can be as easy as setting up someone’s email account, commenting on blogs, sharing articles on social media, and so on.
Doing microtasks won’t pay as huge as say, designing a logo or writing a product review, but they make a great way to make money in your spare time. Also, it’s one of the easiest ways to earn money online without investment!
You can start finding gigs at MTurk, Clickworker, Fiverr and TaskRabbit.
9. Become an Instagram influencer
Social media engagement has become a real income-making activity for many people. Take Kylie Jenner, for example, who makes $1.2 million per post. That’s not to say that you’ll need to get to Kylie’s level of influence, but it only proves that there’s money to be made from Instagram.
According to Digital Marketing, the average cost per post from a middle-level Instagram influencer is $273, while an influencer with less than a thousand followers can charge around $83, in 2017. Three years later, you can only expect that these numbers have soared.
If you’re one of the people who spend at least 53 minutes a day on Instagram, chances are you’ve stumbled upon a couple of Instagrammers who promote products or post sponsored content. These people don’t do this for free. They make money from these posts, and it’s easily one of the best ways on how to earn money without investment through mobile.
But, like most of the ideas on this list, you may not need to spend money to start, but you’ll definitely need to invest your time to grow your Instagram account and become a paid influencer.
9. Tutoring / Teaching English as a Second Language
Tutoring or teaching English online is an excellent option if you’re looking for a more stable income, and you want to make money online right away. However, unlike the other ideas on this list, there is an income cap when working as an online English teacher, but you’ll enjoy a lot of benefits such as flexibility. You can choose your teaching schedule, and you can work from home or anywhere.
To get hired, though, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree. You also need to demonstrate your teaching abilities and have some professional or informal teaching experience.
Here are a few of the best places where you can find tutoring gigs:
VIPKid connects Chinese students aging 4-12 years old with English-speaking teachers. VIPKid pays $14- $22 per hour, plus bonuses and incentives. Many tutors in VIPKid claim that they can make almost $2,000 in monthly wages.
Magic Ears is another excellent site for ESL tutoring jobs online. Like VIPKid, Magic Ears’ primary market is kids in China. Magic Ears pays at least $18 – $26 hour.
What sets Cambly apart from other online English tutor jobs is that it’s more informal. The founders of the company believe that for a person to learn a new language, he must always speak the language. Therefore, Cambly believes that having conversations with a native English speaker is an effective way to speak the language to non-English speaking clients.
10. Virtual assisting
More and more entrepreneurs are hiring virtual assistants to help them with the daily operations of their businesses. VAs do various tasks such as admin management, social media management, e-commerce management, content curation and publishing, designing, marketing, transcription, data entry, and more. If you have skills that can help an entrepreneur run his business, then you make an excellent virtual assistant candidate.
Virtual assistance is one of the most lucrative legit ways to make money online without investment. According to ZipRecruiter, virtual assistants earn an hourly rate of $16 to $60. And if you keep upskilling, you can also keep increasing the rates you charge.
You can find a lot of clients on sites like UpWork, Assistant Match, and Fancy Hands. However, if you want to earn more and charge premium, it’s best to find direct clients than get them from job boards because most of these sites will take a cut from your rate. Also, transacting directly with your own clients allows you to turn virtual assistance into a full-blown business rather than working as an independent contractor.
11. Sell Your Photos
Selling photos is one of the easiest and quickest ways on how to earn money without investment. I know there is a real market for pictures because I pay for the right to use these photos on my blog.
A lot of people and brands need photos for various needs. One’s blog post may require an accompanying image, while others need pictures for their marketing campaign. Whether you like to photograph nature, slices of daily life, or close-up shots of cheese and crackers, these photos can rake in some money for you.
You can submit high-resolution photos to stock photo libraries and earn money each time someone downloads them. You only need to upload them once, and your income will keep coming in even if people download your images. It’s easily one of the best passive forms of income for the shutterbugs out there!
You can sell your photos online through sites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Big Stock, 123RF, 500 Prime, and more. The more photos you shoot and submit, the more money you can possibly make.
12. Use money-making apps
There’s an app for everything, or so they say, including apps that allow you to make easy money online without doing anything. Sounds too good to be true, right? But there is such a thing! There are lots of apps that pay you real money for using them for FREE!
Let me make things clear though. You won’t get rich for using these apps, but they can certainly pay for groceries or buy you a nice dinner once in a while. I’ve made over $2000 myself from a few apps, and you certainly can, too!
I personally use Ibotta to earn cash back for buying groceries at over 300 retail stores in the U.S. I’ve made over $1000 already in cashback and bonuses from Ibotta for my purchases at Walmart, Costco, Sam’s Club, and even Walgreens.
My other favorite app is Rakuten, which pays you for shopping online at any of their partner stores. If you constantly shop online at retailers like Amazon, Macy’s, and 2,500 more popular stores, you’ll definitely need this app to get some cash back for almost all purchases you make at these stores. If you need to buy something anyway, why not use the app that gets money back into your pocket, right? Plus, Rakuten will give you $10 FREE for merely trying the app!
Another favorite app of mine is Swagbucks, an app that pays you for answering surveys online. I use this app to earn gift cards, although you can also cash out your earnings via PayPal. If you don’t mind answering questions like “Which coffee brand you often buy at the store?” or “What type of car do you drive and when you’ll most probably buy a new car?,” then you’ll probably love using Swagbucks to earn some money in your spare time. A bonus? They’ll give you $10 FREE when you sign up here.
While it’s true you need to invest some money to start a business, time is a valuable investment, too. When you don’t have money, your investment can come in the form of time and skills to make money. These are just some of the best ways on how to make money online without investment or with very little investment (in the case of blogging). Most of these ideas can make you a lot of money even if you started with $0 capital, depending on how much work you put into it.
I hope you’ve found a great idea here that will work for you! Good luck!