How Can You Earn Money Online?

FT Contributor
A woman holds a tablet in one hand and cash in the other.

The internet has opened doors to countless opportunities — often for our personal financial benefit. However, sifting through misleading sites that fail to pay a fair amount of money can be dispiriting. This article will examine three of the most popular methods for earning money online and provide links to sites where you can leverage your skills to earn some extra income.

The Most Popular Methods for Earning Cash Online

There are many ways to earn money online — some more effective than others. Here are the three most popular methods. Read on to determine whether each is worth the investment of your time.


There are numerous investment sites that people can use to earn money online. Investing online is typically only a viable option for people with enough capital to invest. Whether you’re a first-time investor or you’ve been trading options for some time, there are a variety of interactive online brokers that can help you make smart decisions about where you invest.

Below are a few examples of where you can invest your money online:

  1. Ally Invest: This is an excellent option for beginners, as the platform offers a lot of education about investing. There are no advisory fees for a managed account, which allow you to invest in a variety of options including stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and more. A minimum investment of $100 is required, but Ally will set aside 30% of your investment so that in the event the market crashes, you’re protected.
  2. Betterment: Because trading is automated, this is another great option for beginners. You choose the type of investments you want and the service handles everything else. There is no minimum investment required, but you pay an annual fee of 0.25%.
  3. TD Ameritrade: One of the most well-known online brokers, TD Ameritrade offers a variety of investment options. There is no minimum, but a $9.99 fee is charged per stock trade.

Online Surveys

There are countless sites that will pay you for your opinion. However, the amounts are typically very low — often less than $1.00 per survey. Many companies simply allow users to “cash-out” for gift cards. While this is a very popular trend online, it isn’t truly an effective way to earn money.


If you need cash now, you can ask your social media connections to pledge money to you. They may share news about your campaign, helping you earn money. However, most crowdfunding campaigns are not successful, and unless you have a sympathetic cause that goes viral, you are unlikely to make an impactful amount of money.

Doing Online Side Gigs

One of the more reliable ways to earn money online is to put your skills to good use. The gig economy is a labor market that allows people to work freelance or contract gigs as opposed to full-time jobs. If you’re employed but looking to earn extra money on the side, becoming a member of the gig economy could be the answer.

According to a recent study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, people working in the gig economy enjoy the benefit of freedom that comes with not having a traditional employer. While it’s true that people employed in various “gigs” aren’t protected by the comforts of full-time employment — like vacation and holiday pay or sick leave — the study concluded that members of the gig economy lead richer lives than their corporate counterparts.

It’s important to remember that freelance and contract work can end at any time. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the employee to do their work on-time. Failing to do so often results in no pay.

Independent Content Creation

Whether you operate a blog, a channel on a video platform, or a social media account, gaining enough traction as an independent content creator can open new doors in monetization. You may be able to leverage your influence to appeal to advertisers through these networks. In addition to advertisements, you may be able to strike bargains with affiliate marketers, which can be extremely lucrative.

Best Sites for Finding Online Side Gigs

If you don’t have a place to publish your own content and make money from it, companies will outsource their content needs to you. There are a number of other content writing jobs available from the job boards below:


Behance is an online platform that allows creators to publish their work. Visitors to the site can rate and comment on the works published. In addition, the site has a job board that lists open roles in creative industries such as design, animation, and content production. Users can find a variety of full-time, part-time, and freelance positions in these fields.

A free portfolio with limited features can be created, or users can pay as little as $9.99 a month to unlock all features.


Fiverr is an online marketplace where freelance workers can post the services they offer. Companies looking to hire freelance workers can search through a variety of listings, or gigs, in a variety of categories, from voiceover work to social media and graphic design.

Fiverr takes a $2 fee for purchases up to and including $40, and 5% on purchases above $40.


Guru is a site where employers can post jobs for freelancers and contract workers in industries like tech and marketing. Similarly, freelancers can post listings of the services they provide and receive offers from potential employers. Freelancers can be paid by the project, by task, or by the hour.

Signing up and using the site is free, but a 2.9% handling fee is charged for invoicing. Guru offers 3% cashback when payments are made via check, e-check, or wire transfer.


TaskRabbit is an online resource for a multitude of gigs in specific areas. Whether you need help with yard work or want someone to do your grocery shopping, TaskRabbit has “Taskers” in a number of industries.

To start earning with TaskRabbit, sign up to become a Tasker in a field that you are skilled in. Taskers can set their own rates and choose the hours that they work.

TaskRabbit charges a 15% service fee to the buyer based on a Tasker’s hourly rate.


Upwork is a global freelancing website where freelancers can find work and companies can outsource work. The site caters to more than 70 categories of work, from marketing to customer service.

Freelancers bid on projects they want to work on by submitting proposals. These proposals outline how long the task will take to complete, the freelancer’s hourly rate, and any other pertinent information.

Upwork uses a sliding fee system based on the lifetime of a project.

Important Tax Considerations When Making Money Online

Many people are reluctant to do side work out of fear of tax consequences. Others take a big hit when tax season comes around because they weren’t aware of what they would owe. The tips below can help you do side work without unexpected complications.

Setting Money Aside for Taxes

Your side gig income is taxable, and you don’t want to be surprised when tax season rolls around. While your full-time employer may perform tax withholding on your pay, it can be easy to forget to set money aside from your side hustle.

Saving a portion of your income each time you are paid can keep you prepared. The government deems freelance workers as self-employed, imposing a self-employment tax of 15.3% on these workers. Depending on how much you make (>$1,000), you may have to make quarterly estimated tax payments.

Identifying Work-Related Tax Deductions

A key to managing taxes is properly claiming deductions. The qualified business income (QBI) deduction allows freelance workers to write off 20% of their net taxable income. Below are some of the most common deductions for freelancers:

  1. Transportation.
  2. Vehicle maintenance.
  3. Business travel.
  4. Equipment such as computers, printers, and fax machines.
  5. Home office.
  6. Union dues or legal fees.
  7. Medical exams.
  8. Work-related education.  
  9. Start-up costs.
  10. Advertising expenses.

There are a ton of opportunities for you to earn money online. Be sure to do your own research to find the option that’s right for you.

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