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How to make money online safely

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There is definitely money to be made online. I know; I'm earning some! Yet I've noticed that information isn't as easy to come by for how to make money online safely and ethically, which I'm sure is what you're seeking. There's no sense in putting yourself at risk of scammers, or at risk of losing your reputation. Here I show you several options of ways you can make money online safely and ethically, without requiring specialized skills.

I totally get that you might not be a musician for example, so I'm not going to tell you to make and sell an online course showing people how play the guitar. All of the options here are ones that you can do without any particular skills, and/or that you can learn easily as you go. Anyone should be able to just dive into any of these options.

1. Design T-shirt slogans, coffee mugs and more

Our first option is something anyone can do without needing any graphic design training or software. I know this because I've tried it and even earned a little bit of money. I didn't especially enjoy it though, so I stopped putting any more time and effort into it and eventually closed my account.

You won't be stocking or selling anything yourself; you just design it. Usually the design site will have their own tools on the site that you can use to type your slogan on the T-shirt, so you don't even need any specialized software. Then if anyone orders an item from the site that you've designed, the site makes it and ships it to the customer, and each item ordered gets you a small amount of money. The amount earned depends on the site. Two reputable reliable sites which do this are Zazzle and CafePress. I was on Zazzle for awhile and earned a little bit there; I've never tried CafePress but it has an excellent reputation.

Do read the terms and conditions carefully; I believe at the time of writing that Zazzle has a monthly fee if your account becomes inactive (inactive meaning if you don't make any sales for a certain period of time). At reputable sites the monthly fee will not result in you needing to pay them if your earnings balance is zero. They can't charge you anything because your balance with them is zero. But the monthly fee is annoying when you're trying to get started making money online because it can suck up money you earned from your first few sales if they're not close enough together. Once you're earning enough that you're making sales more frequently, they won't be charging you the monthly fee, but that does make it hard to actually get traction at the beginning.

2. Taking photos and selling them to stock photo sites

This is something that you can learn as you go. If you have a decent digital camera, or can borrow one (your phone camera is likely not going to be good enough), then selling your images to stock photo sites is an option for you.

Typically this works by you signing up at a stock photo site and submitting your images (which need to pass through a quality review process before they are accepted). If a customer of the stock photo site buys your image, you earn a small amount of money. Remember that more than one customer might buy the rights to use your photo, so each photo can be sold more than one time. If you have lots of photos on there that people buy, then you'd be earning more money.

Do be aware that you will also be competing with professionals who have a lot more experience, and all of the other existing photos on the stock photo sites. On the other hand, those professionals all had to start somewhere once too, just like you!

Because a good digital camera can cost a lot, I'd only recommend this if you already have or can borrow a good digital camera. It's not worth the risk of paying out a significant chunk of money for a camera when you don't even know if this will pan out well for you.

If this is something you'd like to look into, check out the guide at PennyHoarder.

3. Earn from your own website, point-and-click (no coding required)

This is my personal favorite, and this is how I earn money online. How do you earn from your website, you may be asking? Well, after you set up your site, a great way to start is earning from affiliate links. This is where you recommend products and when people click through on a specially personalized link to the product, if they buy it then you get a cut of their order. Best of all, you don't have to worry about providing customer service, items, etc... all you have to do is provide a specialized link to the company that sells it.

Of course, not all of the people who visit your site will buy the products you're recommending, but you can definitely earn a decent amount from this if you can grow your site to where you have enough traffic. Another way you can earn from your own site is by displaying ads. Ad income typically doesn't pay the bills by iteslf, but it's a great addition to affiliate links.

If this sounds fun to you, then check out our free all-in-one beginner's tutorial page for step-by-step instructions of how to get started with your own website, no coding required. It needn't be a blog unless you like to write; we show you how to create a social network (yes, really!) or an e-commerce store, or a forum. You've got options to do what suits you. If you like it, then add in a few more websites to earn even more. That's what I do; it's a lot of fun.

4. Fiverr

Fiverr is a micro-freelancing site where you offer gigs (typically starting at $5, although you can offer add-on upgrades). Fiverr handles the money side of things; they get money from the customer and then they pay you after you do the work. Fiverr gets a cut of what you earn. It's OK if you don't have specialized skills. Some of the gigs people are offering are things like "I will model your product" or "I will give you dating advice". Console game coaching even has its own category on Fiverr.

And if you do happen to have any of the more "traditional" specializations like graphic design, coding, writing, or almost anything else you can think of, this is the place to use them! There are lots of people out there looking to purchase services, so Fiverr is a good way to make money online.

The bottom line

Yes, it's definitely possible to make money online safely: try one or try several of the above. There's no law saying you need to choose only one method! Also, on all of these you can start small and expand as you go, depending on how much time you have available. I understand you might have a job or kids and you're already busy but want to earn some additional income. Or maybe you are looking to start something now that you hope to earn enough to allow you to quit your day job in the future.


  • Expect earnings to take some time, whatever method you pick. You probably won't earn much, if anything, in your first few months or even longer. But, after you start earning reliably, it'll become easier and easier to earn more as you go along.
  • If you need money NOW, then online work might not be the best approach. Become a ride-share driver, food delivery driver, or some other option that is more likely to result in immediate earnings.


  • In your own interests, don't quit your day job until you're sure your online income source is reliably earning enough to live on. You can always expand it out more after that point, but don't quit your day job yet!

How to get off to a great start with a side business

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Would you like to try your hand at a fun business: setting up and running a website? Let us show you how with our free illustrated tutorial. Follow along, and you'll be able to quickly set up your choice of sites: a forum, social network, blog, e-commerce store, or Q & A site. Take a look at our beginner's tutorial page and let us get you off to a fast-moving start.

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