The average cost to start an online business is $5,000 to $10,000 — and that doesn’t include inventory, advertising, or marketing. That just covers building the e-commerce website, registering a domain, and paying for web hosting.
If you don’t have that kind of money to spend, or if you can’t raise the money from investors or get a bank loan, you may be wondering exactly how you can make money online without investment.
Fortunately, there are ways you can start earning money without first ponying up cash. If you’re reading this, you likely have a smartphone or computer. Use those to start generating income with these ideas.
Here are ways to make money online without investment
- Create and monetize a blog
- Freelance for companies
- Sell your own content online
- Start a YouTube channel
- Take Online Surveys
Create and monetize a blog
Freelance for companies
Sell your own content online
Start a YouTube channel
Take Online Surveys
If you’re an expert on a particular subject, you can set up a blog on a site like Blogger, WordPress, or Squarespace pretty quickly — and for free. Most of these sites let you choose a simple, free theme for your blog.
By adding affiliate links — if someone buys from one of those links, you get a small percentage of the sale — you can make money without investing in a professionally designed site or even a domain name.
You can also start freelancing for different companies as a way to earn money by writing, editing, translating, transcribing, doing graphic design, or a number of other things.
You can contact companies like marketing agencies, publishers, or others that have a need for those services directly, or you can look for freelance gigs on sites like Upwork. Sites like Craigslist and Indeed also post freelance opportunities that you can apply to.
Think e-books, courses, and photography.
If you’re selling e-books online, Amazon makes it fairly easy to publish a book in the Kindle format and even turn it into a paperback. All you have to do is write it, edit it, then create a cover for it using the cover creator built into Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. You set a price and decide what markets to target, and you can use your own social media channels to promote the e-book.
If you create courses, use the software you already have on your computer, including your webcam to film any hands-on demonstrations, as well as presentation software to show slides. Platforms like Udemy and Teachable offer free accounts that let you upload and sell your courses in exchange for a percentage of your course price.
If you’re good at photography, you can sell your photos on online stock photo sites, assuming you have DSLR photography equipment or, at the very least, a smartphone capable of taking really good pictures and some editing software.
Quality definitely matters when you’re selling stock photography, so if you’re using a smartphone, you might want to sell on sites like Pixabay, which are donation-based. Otherwise, you can try to get accepted to sites like Getty Images, iStock, and Shutterstock, all places where people pay to download stock photography.
In recent years, YouTube has become a viable source of income for a lot of people. Some YouTubers can earn upwards of $10,000 with a single video if it gets enough views.
The videos you upload should be original, and they can be anything from funny to serious. For example, you can upload a series of videos on basic drawing techniques, then monetize the videos by using Google AdSense.
All you need is a good smartphone video camera. Use the editing software that comes with your phone to get your video YouTube-ready.
If these ideas don’t appeal to you, or you just want a way to make money online in your spare time, you can take online surveys for money. A lot of sites will pay for your opinion, including Swagbucks, Inbox Dollars, and Springboard America. In some cases, you might be sent a product to test as well, like a dishwashing detergent or shampoo.
Online focus groups are another way to make money online without investment. They tend to pay more than online surveys, if you qualify. Some focus groups pay anywhere from $50 to $400 for an hour of your time. Fieldwork, Probe Market Research, FocusGroup.com, and others post opportunities you can explore.
There are a lot of other ways you can make money online without investment. Using what you already have — your computer, your smartphone, and your knowledge — can help you earn enough to start your own online business, build a nest egg, or reach another financial goal.