6 of the top ways you can make money online

Takeaway: Making money beyond your nine-to-five is a great way to start building wealth, and there are more ways to make money online than you may think.

More and more Canadians are working from home these days. For some, that means more time to pursue interests and passion projects, and for others, that can also mean more time to make more money. There are a lot of ways to make money online – some of which you’ve probably heard about, and others you haven’t – and with the right skills and some luck, you can earn some extra income. For many people, making money online means earning extra cash that can be used to start investing or to help boost savings toward a big financial goal, like a down payment. Here are some ideas you may not have considered.

1. Freelance

The ubiquity of high-speed internet has made it much easier for people with certain skills to connect with clients all over the world. Sites such as Upwork allow freelancers to make money online by showcasing their skills to a big audience that they might not otherwise have access to. Such sites generally take a small cut of the price the client pays in exchange for the exposure and for taking care of administrative work like invoicing. Popular online freelance work includes copywriting, graphic design, translation and consulting.

Other websites, such as Virtual Assistant Canada, help connect you to people who need a bit of help with things like bookkeeping, administration tasks, social media management or even just answering emails. Rather than working exclusively for one person, as a personal assistant in the real world would, you typically do a lot of smaller jobs for several people.

2. Start a blog 

Do you have a passion or area of expertise you can write about? If so, you could start a blog and earn money by linking to products or brands mentioned in your writing. This is known as affiliate marketing: if your readers go to the sites and make a purchase, you earn a percentage of the sale, similar to a commission.

If your channel really takes off, you might enter into the world of influencers. Put simply, these are people who can convince a lot of other people to buy stuff. Popular influencers gain huge followings online and on social media platforms, such as TikTok, YouTube or Instagram, based on their style, their knowledge or their overall appeal. Influencers dish out recommendations for travel, fashion, cooking, music… the options are endless. If you can amass a big enough audience, brands may not only send you free stuff, they could also pay you to talk about their products or services. The number of people who can earn a living solely by doing this is small, but even a few thousand followers could start earning you some extra money.

3. Start an e-commerce business

If you’ve ever thought about opening an e-commerce store, but don’t know where to start, online platforms like Shopify exist to help create and market your website. They also help with back-end processes, like payments and invoicing. If you don’t have the capital to start out, lots of sellers go the route of “dropshipping,” which enables them to take orders without having to keep items in stock. Alternatively, if you have a talent for making crafts or other artisanal items, you could make money online selling the fruits of your labour on Etsy, the popular platform that focuses on homemade or vintage goods. 

4. Start a YouTube channel

This can be very lucrative if you can build a big audience. But fair warning: this is a popular idea, and there’s a lot of competition, so you’ll need to differentiate yourself to stand out. Gamers have some of the most-viewed YouTube channels, or you may consider teaching a class or tutorial, such as home DIYs, makeup or fitness – the possibilities are endless.

Either way, the name of the game here is views, and the more you have, the more money you can make.

The ways to get paid on YouTube are as follows:

  1. Ad revenue: This is based on how many people see or click the ads YouTube places on your channel.
  2. Subscriptions: You can charge people a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive content.
  3. Merchandise: You can sell merchandise displayed on the page where the video is viewed.
  4. Super chats: You can charge your fans to have their messages displayed in the chat stream beside your video.
  5. “Premium” revenue: An additional revenue stream based on the monthly fees people pay to subscribe to YouTube Premium. This is also based on your views.

5. Tutor or teach a language

Like it or not, English is the world’s lingua franca. That means there is huge demand from all over the globe to learn it. And thanks to developments in technology, there are now opportunities for Canadians who speak English fluently to offer their services as online teachers. You can do this by working for a language school, or through an online service such as italki, which connects teachers of many different languages with learners from around the world. Some online teachers have professional qualifications; some don’t. If you are popular, your visibility on such platforms increases. Some teachers make over $20 Canadian per hour teaching several classes a day online.

6. Sell things you no longer need

This one may not offer a steady stream of income, but if you have items around the house you are willing to part with, you can make money selling them in online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to make money on the internet. Generally, it involves little more than posting photos and descriptions of the items you want to sell and negotiating a price with the potential buyer. Depending on the platform you use, you may have to meet prospective buyers to show them your stuff. Other sites, like Poshmark, take a percentage of your earnings, but they’ll cover the cost of shipping, and exposure on their site increases your customer reach.


Bottom line

Whether you’re looking to move beyond the traditional nine-to-five grind or simply seeking an additional income stream, the ideas above are a great way to start making money online that can be used to start investing and realizing your financial goals.