A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

20 Scam-Free Ways to Make Money Online Fast


20 ways to make money online fast.
Make money online fast —
20 REAL ways people make money online.
Cathy is in need of a legitimate way to make money online fast. She writes in: “I was a nurse for almost 30 years when I became disabled from a car wreck. I am a very tough person (I’m a redhead!) I went out last October and bought a new PC to try and make money online, but all I have succeeded in doing is getting further in debt. I know you know what I mean by all the scams that I fell into.

I have been reading A LOT and trying to learn as much as I can. I have run into conflicting stories, though. I just don’t know where to start. I am not a computer tech, nor that knowledgeable about how to start. I am NOT asking for a handout; just a helping hand in the right direction.

I’m not expecting to make tons of money today, but ANYTHING to help me get started in the right direction. I have saved thousands of lives and now I can’t even get through the month without running out of food!”

Cathy has the right attitude — she’s not looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, but instead a legitimate way to make some extra money online.

Having been sucked into some scams myself in the past, I know how difficult it can be to find real ways to make money online fast. Thus, I’ve compiled this list. Some ways require knowledge of certain skills, but all these skills can be learned. If you don’t know where to start, I suggest picking one of these ways and learning more about it, then trying it out!

Note: None of the 20 ways listed below contain affiliate links (that is, links that make me money if you click on them.) This list is for your benefit, not mine. Enjoy!

1. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.

Mechanical Turk is a great way to make some extra cash. You probably won’t make much more than a few dollars an hour, but it’s also dead simple to complete many of the tasks. Most tasks take less than a minute to complete and pay a few pennies. If you do a lot of MTurk, it could add up to at least some fun spending money. Sign up for free, then complete qualifications to earn access to higher-paying tasks.

2. Sell stock photos.

iStockPhoto is just one site that allows you to sell stock photos; there are others. Before you decide to go crazy and upload your whole album, take note of what’s selling well and try your hand at doing something similar. iStockPhoto also works for those who know how to render images; some of their most popular images were created on a computer! Have three killer stock photos ready for iStockPhoto’s inspection; they will want them when you sign up.

3. Sell stuff on eBay.

Start by selling your own extra stuff. Then, once you get a feel for selling your extra stuff, go door-to-door in nicer neighborhoods in your town. Develop an eye for what will sell and what won’t (old laptops, for instance, could be a gold mine–if you know how to format them to get rid of the previous owner’s personal data.) Sign a contract where you take 25-30% (or more) of the gross sale. Your customers will be happy to get cash for their old junk, and you’ll make some good money selling other people’s stuff. eBay

4. Become a freelance article writer.

It may not pay well, but there is a growing demand for this. Write 200-300 word articles and submit them to article directories. Potential clients include bloggers, marketers, and small businesses. You can write articles in a niche in batches and sell them as a package to one or more clients, or you can offer your services for hire per word or article and let your client give you direction. A foundation of keyword research is important to succeed at this job (unless you’re just taking direction from a client), but keyword research is learnable.

5. Write articles for magazines or other publications.

If you have a background in journalism, or just a passion for it, you can try your hand at submitting articles to publications. Don’t just randomly fire off articles, however; have a plan and, preferably, a contact at the publication you wish to submit to. The good news is that there are publications in pretty much any niche you can think of. To see some publications that are hiring, visit Online Writing Jobs, PoeWar Freelance Jobs, and Writing.com.

6. Transcribe audio files.

An easy job; doesn’t pay well, but also a quick way to make some money. Sign up on eLance or oDesk to start, and/or advertise your services in entrepreneur forums. Requires good hearing and a good command of the English language. You may also want to invest in a foot pedal if you plan to transcribe often. Make sure you know how to transcribe interviews before you start your first job.

7. Become a virtual assistant (VA).

There are entire books written on how to become a virtual assistant, so this job is definitely worthy of more research. My advice: Focus on one niche (I just hired Lisa Morosky of VA for Bloggers, for instance.) Also, reach out to potential customers directly and let them know what you can do for them instead of hitting up freelance web sites. Finally, you may want to consider resources such as AssistU, which provides training for up-and-coming virtual assistants.

8. Write articles on eHow.com.

If you understand the basics of keyword research, you can make a good monthly income from eHow. eHow pays you a percentage of the ad revenue they make from each “How to” article you create. You can crank out a few articles a day with relative ease. Try this for a month; assuming your article titles match up with what people are searching for in Google, you can make a significant income. The great news is that you write your articles once and get paid month after month. I’ve seen figures of $100-$150/month for 30 articles. Make money writing for eHow.com.

9. Do some videos to promote affiliate products.

Enjoy making silly videos? Even short, silly videos can sell products online. Find an product worth promoting that has an affiliate program, then target your video toward potential customers of that product. In your video summary on YouTube, place your affiliate link for the product, and after the video, do a 30-second still frame showing a short URL where people can buy the product. If your video is funny, informative, or useful, you may sell some products. Big tip: Try to promote a product that makes you a fair amount of money for each sale, but doesn’t cost a whole lot for the potential customer. You can find products on Commission Junction, for one.

10. Write an ebook targeted to people who need help.

Alexis Dawes created a product called “Desperate Buyers Only”. I interview her for an upcoming case study on Inspiring Innovators, where she mentions that she is able to make up to $97 from ebooks as small as 12 pages. The key? Finding people who are incredibly desperate for the information you provide and then doing good research to find a real solution to their problems. The result? Happy customers whose problem is solved, and money for you — a win-win situation! Caveat: It may be tough to find a real desperate buyer niche (Alexis reveals some in her case study). Here are some hints: When were you last in a situation where information would have either saved you a lot of money or a lot of pain? Has someone else close to you been in a situation where they could have used information to avert pain? Think legal, medical, and financial niches.

11. Build a small niche website.

20 ways to make money online fast.
Yes, you can make money online.
I run a few small niche websites. For instance, How to Convert PDF is a tiny site that has free videos on how to convert other types of documents into PDF format. It sells a piece of software called PDF Creator, and I make a few dollars every time someone buys from that site. I promoted the site using pay-per-click ads and it was profitable. Don’t copy me directly, but do find the intersection of people needing help and a tool, ebook, or software program that will help them fix their problem. Then, create a website designed to get them to buy it!

12. Help local businesses develop an online presence.

Local businesses are struggling. Many have websites, but aren’t getting any results from them. Others don’t have websites at all. You can help by learning search engine optimization, how to set up an email list, and more, and then implementing these for local businesses. If you typically hang around geeks, web marketers, or the Web 2.0 crowd, you may be surprised how many business owners are 10 years (or more) behind you! If you can deliver results, business owners will happily pay. Find customers by going door-to-door.

13. Learn WordPress, then offer to install plugins and upgrade it.

I hired David from Web Geek 4 Hire to upgrade my blogs and install new WordPress plugins. He charges $5 to upgrade a plugin…great for him, since most plugins only take a few minutes to upgrade, and great for me, since if anything breaks, David gets to clean up the mess! You can make this a full time position; there is a ton of demand for these services. Find customers by contacting bloggers directly. Get references from bloggers who understand the value of outsourcing these tasks.

14. Become the go-to person for installations of a particular piece of software.

Anything from Amember to Quickbooks is fair game here. In the hosting industry, iDevAffiliate and Plesk Billing were the pieces of software we would have paid a lot of money to have someone else deal with. The more niche and more complex/annoying/frustrating the software, the better! Even if the software company offers free installation, you can make hundreds or thousands of dollars training business owners or their employees on its usage. Focus on one piece of software and become the trusted expert. Create videos and tutorials using screencast software like Camtasia to increase your profitability; this may also lead into a niche product that you can sell. (Amember offers “free installation”, but it took my boyfriend and I over 10 hours to configure it properly. That’s definitely something I would outsource next time!)

15. Interview other people and sell the interviews.

I experimented with this in 2008 and made over $800 from one interview. The key here is to understand a pain point that people are experiencing, interview an expert, and ask the expert the questions that the people experiencing the problem are having. Then create a small website and sell the interview. There’s more to this, including having good copywriting skills so your website sells the interview well, and knowing where to advertise, so don’t expect to immediately pull in hundreds of dollars. That said, it’s a neat way to quickly create a product. Get the interviews transcribed, then string a few interviews in the same industry together as a membership site or bundle that you can sell for more money.

16. Become a freelance “web geek.”

From configuring a shopping cart to installing and tweaking blog themes, there are virtually unlimited projects out there for geeks who enjoy working with small business owners to get them up and running online. Find people looking for web geeks on the Warrior Forum or other places where entrepreneurs gather.

17. Enter logo and design contests.

Fancy yourself a good designer? Try your hand at creating a logo or other design that a company loves! 99 Designs is the most popular marketplace. Beware, however; you won’t get paid unless your logo wins against many others, which makes many designers unhappy. In my opinion, this is a great way for a budding designer to build a portfolio and learn quickly what clients love.

18. Create Twitter backgrounds and e-covers.

Competition is stiff, but if you are a savvy designer, this is a good way to pick up extra dollars. Even better, if you are an artist, this is a good way to make your art skills pay off. Consider that every design will need to have a reason why the customer should buy the book or follow that person on Twitter to have a real impact. Twitter backgrounds, in particular, are in hot demand right now. For measurements and caveats of Twitter backgrounds, read “How to create your own Twitter background.”

19. Submit websites or blog posts to social media websites.

Not very exciting work, but in high demand from bloggers and small businesses. This involves setting up accounts on all of the social bookmarking services and then bookmarking your clients’ websites or latest blog posts to help them get more traffic. You may be competing against software that does this, but in many folks’ opinions, it’s better to have a real person do it. Even better is if you can goose your accounts with plenty of friends and become a star on a few of the services; then every site you bookmark has higher credibility and you can charge more. To get an idea of the social media sites you will need to sign up for, start at socialmarker.com.

20. Edit audio for others.

This is something that is fairly easy to learn and also in high demand. On Windows, one good program to edit audio is Sony Sound Forge. I use Sound Forge Audio Studio, but if you are doing this professionally, you might consider the upgrade to Sound Forge 9. Get the hang of editing out “um”s and “ah”s from audio. Even better is understanding the “flow” of an interview conversation and editing out portions that don’t make sense. Finally, learning to find and add intro music really gives podcasts that professional touch. Advertise your services on oDesk or eLance. I pay people to do this for the podcasts I am setting up on Inspiring Innovators, and it’s a job that can definitely be done from your house.

Which One Will You Try? Let Me Know…

There you have it…20 ways for you to make money online fast. Now it’s your turn! I’d like to know which of these methods you would like to hear more about. Please let me know by taking 30 seconds to post a comment below, and I will write more about the most-requested topics.

This post took approximately 6 hours to compile, including research. I’d appreciate it if you would support my efforts by Stumbling this post, bookmarking it on Delicious, and Digging it. Finally, if you are not already receiving my free business tips, jump on board! Every week I’ll send you a thought-provoking post about how to build your business and make more money. You won’t want to miss what I have in store for you… Get my free business tips!

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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