Software drives businesses today. This is a fact not lost on individuals and companies attempting to earn a profit, make a name for themselves, or simply get things done. As a result, the job outlook for software developers will be much sunnier than prospects for many other occupations—creating massive opportunities for this business idea well into  the future. In fact, it won’t take you long to find a good-paying software development project as a side business idea on sites like Upwork, Guru.com, and Freelancer. LinkedIn also recently launched their brand new freelancing platform, ProFinder which has a dedicated section just for hiring talented software developers.

This isn’t to scare you off. I simply want you to know that this guide is going to focus solely on ways to make real, sustainable extra income online. Not just a few bucks. I want to share all the mistakes I've made that got me to where I am now so that you don’t have to go through them, and can build a successful online source of income for yourself.


Mentorship. With sites like Etsy, it simply doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel when opening a shop. Instead, look to others who have been down the path and have learned the hard way what to do – and what not to do. Blogs like Handmadeology and EverythingEtsy.com offer hints and guidance for artists just looking to get started in this profitable home-based business.
Large corporations and business firms can easily hire a full-time staff coordinator or corresponding agency to run their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, but smaller businesses frequently have to manage their own marketing for social media. But, because they have a great number of other responsibilities, many times business owners are too overwhelmed or busy to spend a lot of time on developing their social media approach.
Blogging is still a viable online business idea, and one with as much potential as ever. Just make sure that you start a blog on something that people actually want to read about. If that happens to be something you're passionate about that's great. But you need to understand that it's way easier to monetize a blog about organic dog food than it is to make money from a blog about obscure literary fiction.
Again, if your blog has a large reader base, then businesses may be interested in paying you to review their services or products. Not only will you get a free trial using whatever these businesses are selling, but you will also get a fee for writing them a review and posting it to your site. Paid reviews (and other paid and sponsored content) can be big money, so advertise this service on your contact page to generate business.
If you have a talent for helping people look their best, and know how to mesmerize with eyeliners and turn heads with lipsticks, consider using your beauty skills to pursue this easily profitable side business idea. For under $2000, you can start your own make-up artist business which can make for the foundation of a potentially lucrative side business idea that turns a profit largely by referrals and word-of-mouth from your happy customers.

A word of caution: Some companies are disguised as MLM, but they’re really pyramid or Ponzi schemes – which are illegal in the U.S. and many other countries. The one big red flag is that these illegal schemes will typically only pay you to recruit other members, instead of earning money from any real investment or selling real products or services to the public. So beware and do your research before starting a network marketing opportunity!
There's also (of course) now an app for this side business idea. It's called Bellhops, and you can quickly sign up to start working as a mover almost right away (after going through their application process). The best part about using Bellhops is that they already have customers booked and ready to schedule their moves, meaning you can pretty much get a steady stream of moving jobs depending upon your location, just by signing up and setting the hours that you're available.
But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.

Often, what happens is that we run into unscrupulous Internet Marketers (IMs) who have less-than altruistic intentions of extracting money from you rather than helping you to make it. However, this isn't something new. People have been falling for networking marketing, pyramid schemes, and affiliate marketing scams since before the start of the net.
The music industry might not be as strong as it was in the 80s, but there are still plenty of ways to make money online as a musician. Sites like SoundBetter let you sell your services as a songwriter, producer, or session musician to thousands of customers a month. While Musicbed, Music Vine, Marmoset, and SongFreedom are perfect for licensing your music to TV shows, movies, and web series.
Sure, there are plenty of businesses offering social media consulting services, but you can stand out from the crowd by focusing primarily on networks that are still gathering steam with businesses. Facebook and Twitter are still the top networks, but businesses tend to struggle the most with more visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr and Snapchat. All of these platforms have huge audiences, but many businesses don't realize how big they really are, how effective they can be and how to make them work for their niche. Snapchat has more than 158 million users per day, according to Business Insider. Instagram has more than 500 million daily active users, according to Statista, and Pinterest has more than 200 million. 
Many families with kids, including single-parents, have very limited time resources, creating a demand for part-time child care providers (and a business idea opportunity for you). If you love kids and have some spare time, you can earn plenty of side income by looking after children while their parents are away. Just be sure to identify the particular age group you're comfortable caring for and you’re all set after any necessary certifications. Establishing a home-based daycare center capable of servicing six or more kids is also a lucrative way to really expand upon this business idea if you have the right environment for it.
Every year, hundreds of millions of documents are notarized in the United States: wills, mortgages, citizenship forms, handgun applications. While for decades, this has all been done in person, there is a budding crop of sites that allow notaries to take their services online. If you’re already a notary, you can sell your services online. Or, if you want to get started, check out the National Notary’s checklist for becoming a certified notary.
If you have the next Harry Potter manuscript sitting in your drawer and the publishing industry hasn’t been kind to you, try self-publishing. Using tools like Amazon’s direct publishing or working with dedicated consultants like I_Am, you not only get the satisfaction of pushing your work out there but also retain 100% of your royalties! Don’t think you can write a good novel? Then stick to what you know – self-help is a money-making genre!
If my piece of content is so unique and valuable around hiking backpack recommendations, that other reputable outdoor websites are willing to link to it and build the page’s authority, then I’d have a very real opportunity to rank high in organic search for these search terms (meaning, my page will come up first when someone searches for hiking backpacks).
Social media is a booming industry and is only going to continue to increase in popularity. Companies both large and small are in need of social media assistance and are often happy to have an expert manage their social media presence part-time. There are plenty of social media training courses available and getting started is easier than you’d think! Similarly, with Google being such a valuable source of traffic for website owners, starting an SEO company is something you could also consider!
Experience. Whatever area you want to work in as a consultant, you must be able to show clients that you’re qualified to advise them. If there are organizations related to your field, make sure that you’re a member of them. Similarly, if you can take a course and become certified or registered in your field, do it and then add that to your credentials.
Live in a destination where travelers frequently visit? If you love meeting new people from around the world and also love the city you live in, starting your own local tour company is arguably the best business idea that will give you both of those perks. Take a unique spin on your local tour business like Erik from Vantigo. He was starting his VW van tour business in San Francisco as just a side business idea while he was still working a full-time job, and grew it to being a sustainable source of full-time income before quitting—now he's running a multiple van tour company on the back of what originally began as a crazy side business idea.
Photographers pay attention! You can make money selling your photographs online. There are two options here: art photography and stock photography. Art photography means selling your images for people to have framed or printed onto bags and shirts, though an online platform where someone else does the work. This can be good money, but the audiences tend not to be as big. Stock photography involves selling your images to websites for a small fee, but when done in bulk can net considerable income.
Creating your own food blog, will not only be fun but done well it should also be profitable. Link your site to affiliate cooking products, sell your food photos, create and sell your own physical cookbook, or launch a cooking app. Equally, you could turn your cooking blog into a membership site. You would then share all your content, including recipes, how to videos, food photographs, and much more, with only your paid up members.
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Turning your favorite craft or hobby into a revenue-generating business idea easily counts among the most fulfilling experiences anyone can have. With more and more people demanding a higher degree of personalization in just about anything they own or use, count yourself lucky if your craft happens to be the creation of custom furniture. Not only is the real estate sector regaining its footing, the number of style-conscious customers is also on the rise, creating plenty of room for growth into this business idea.

It can take time to build up your personal freelance business. Yet, there is more demand than ever for freelancers. So, if you want to kick start making money online through freelancing you can join one of the top freelance networks, such as Flexjobs, SolidGigs, Contena, Upwork, Fiverr, or PeoplePerHour. Sign up, build your profile, upload some samples of your work and start making extra money by doing small freelance jobs.


Double check yourself, before you double wreck yourself. Make sure everything you send to a company, whether a résumé, an email or a portfolio, is good to go. Double check your grammar and wording, and for God’s sake use spell check! This is especially important when it comes to the company’s name. Don’t spell their name wrong and be sure to type it how they type it (e.g. Problogger, not Pro Blogger).

Diligence. In this industry, the line between scams and honest businesses is blurry, so you need to do your homework before accepting a position. Call the Better Business Bureau in your area to find out if there have been any complaints filed against the company, and do an online search on their name. Alpine Access is a well-respected company in the field, and Call Center Careers is a great place to look for legitimate call centers looking to hire.
Find an audience for your passion or hobby and you’re all set to monetize something you love via a niche website as a side business idea. That of course, is easier said than done, something not intended for the faint of heart. Prepare to invest a lot of your time, but if you can hurdle the steep challenges and positively answer a few key questions on whether the website business idea you’re thinking about is profitable, then you can begin building it.
A Website Disclaimer is a brief legal notice that states the general terms that a visitor to your website must agree to in order to browse your website. The Disclaimer explains the limitations of your liability as a website owner for the use of your website and the information it contains. It also helps protect you against unintentional damage caused to visitors.
28. Subscription – If you think of something valuable (newsletter, online magazine, etc.) that you can consistently offer on a certain basis (weekly, monthly, etc.), you may want to offer a subscription service. This could be a fee charged each time your product is sent out or on a monthly basis. Either way, this has to be something that your customers can only get by subscribing to your website.
If you are fluent in more than one language then you should take advantage of this skill as Google Translate can only go so far. There are a lot of opportunities for people who can translate text and speech and many are online. Jobs do exist in traditional job search sites for this or you can set up a profile and start immediately on freelancing websites or one of the many sites that provide work specifically for translators.
Using your skills for profit is a common trend with all of the best side business ideas. If you're an expert at something, there's likely an audience of people online who would be willing to pay to become an expert in your field—just like you. If you want to take your skills and turn them into an online course that teaches others how to get the same results you've achieved in your life, career, or business, start with How to Create an Awesome Online Course on Udemy, where instructor Miguel Hernandez covers how he makes over $90,000/yr teaching online. You'll learn from more than 8 hours of video instruction.
Creating a video series and selling it as a digital download on your blog, much like an eBook, can be another great seller. A video course, teaching viewers a specific skill or how to achieve a particular activity, may well resonate with your audience. If you are going to go down this route then your videos need to be as professional as possible so you should consider investing in some video and lighting equipment, as well as editing software.
If you’ve got experience and expertise in a specific area of business, there are hundreds if not thousands of business owners who would love to jump on a phone call and pick your brain. This can be an easy way to make extra money online and to hone your skills to use in your consulting or freelance business. Sites like Clarity.fm let you create a profile where entrepreneurs and business owners can pre-pay to book a phone call with you for a set amount of time. Whether you’re an expert in raising money for startups, building apps, or running a restaurant, you can make extra money selling a few minutes of your time to people in need.
Some people just seem to intuitively know more than others – they don’t get involved in destructive relationships or suffer from loss of self-knowledge. If you can relate to that description and feel your relationships have been fairly happy and stable, then maybe you’re one of them. You’ll need to invest in relevant workshops and books, get knowledgeable and certified before you can start coaching others, but it’s a fascinating business idea that will reward you both financially and morally.
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You know this one already. You include links to products you are promoting as an affiliate, and every time somebody buys the product, you get a commission. With a blog you can integrate advertising with content to make it even more likely you’ll get the sale. For example, you could do a product review — which is useful content — and then include a link to buy the product under an affiliate link.
If you have graphic design skills then you could make money online by creating and selling your own design elements, like templates, fonts, graphics, and other assets. This is a great way to earn extra money and build up a portfolio of work, which could lead to you picking up freelance graphic design jobs. Websites like Envato Elements pay you a fee per element sold, which can become quite profitable if your work is popular.
The cornerstone of your affiliate business is about setting up a website that's focused on a specific niche. You research low competition keywords for that niche, with the aim of ranking on page one of Google for those keywords. People visiting your site then click on a referral link, and if they make a purchase at the destination store, then you get paid a commission. That's why some people call it “referral marketing”.

Wedding photographers command premium rates. After all, you are capturing one of a couple's most important life moments, making it a very lucrative side business idea. Many professional wedding photographers charge between $2,500 - $10,000 (or more) to shoot a wedding, so it's realistic that this side business idea could quickly blossom into becoming a full-time endeavor with the right happy clientele base that's willing to refer you to their friends and family. Check out the Complete Wedding Photography Experience over on CreativeLive to get up to speed on everything you need to launch a successful wedding photography business.
For some people, work just has to be in an office, factory, store, or any other environment that’s separate from home. Even a second job would have to be in a separate place. For others, a home office is a welcome place for a secondary or even a primary job. If you’re one of those people, you have some unique opportunities, but you also have some very particular challenges of working from home.
Data entry is one of the easiest ways to earn money online as it takes no existing skillset. If you are not quick at entering data, you soon will be! However, data entry can often be performed by anyone anywhere which means the pay can be quite low. You can find jobs on freelancing sites or traditional job websites. Read more about how to get started now in our guide.
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