We all start as employees. But some of us, with enough drive and focus, learn how to make money online and start our own businesses.
None of us are born as entrepreneurs. We are driven to start.
My guess is you are one of us — the driven few. The ones who are willing to put in the work NOW to change our lives TOMORROW.
So what’s holding you back?
For most of us, it boils down to three things:
- Time: Racing through the day with no time left for yourself, your family, or realizing your dreams.
- Fear: Staying frozen in place rather than face the possibility of failure and ridicule, losing your security, the unknown.
- Knowledge: Not knowing how (and desperately wanting) to make more money without trading away more of your time. Plus, not knowing where to start.
By the time you finish reading this article, you will have everything you need to take action today. (For a step by step guide to doing that, check out our Online Business Checklist.)
How to Find the Time: Where to find the time to build your online business while working a full-time job.
How to Overcome Your Fear: How to get unstuck today – and move closer to your goal (of financial independence) every single day.
Uncovering the Knowledge: The one thing you need to know to take action today. Plus, where to find your profitable online business ideas.
In this article, we are going to learn how to make money online fast in 2020.
- How to find the time to take action
- How to overcome your fear of failure
- How to make money online
- 1. Start a blog and use content marketing
- 2. Affiliate marketing
- 3. Create and sell courses online
- 4. Start a membership site
- 5. Start a podcast
- 6. Social media management
- 7. Become a content writer
- 8. Make money online with surveys and research studies
- 9. Develop and sell software
- 10. Sell your expertise as a consultant
- Learning how to make money online is not just a dream
We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s jump straight into it.
How to find the time to take action
Let’s be clear. This isn’t about how to make money online so you can live a fantasy life with mansions and fast cars. It’s not about startups and buyouts.
But it’s not about creating another job for yourself, either. That’s trading time for money, and you already know it’s not the answer.
This is about making enough money to buy back your time.
It’s about starting small, and learning as you go. Most of all, it’s about fearlessly creating and launching your ideas out into the world.
It’s about freedom.
The freedom to sleep late tomorrow if you want, or not work at all next week and take your family to Hawaii for a last-minute getaway.
“No such thing as spare time. No such thing as free time. No such thing as down time. All you got is life time. Go.”
Not to get morbid, but we’re all going to die one day. And when we’re laying on our deathbeds, we are not going to reminisce about season six of The Walking Dead.
Every day 1000s of people are choosing to start profitable side hustles rather than watch Netflix. What will you choose?
We are going to remember the chances we took, the places we visited, and the things we produced in this world.
From Consumer to Producer
We spend our entire lives consuming other people’s products and services.
We buy new phones, clothes, and cars. We use apps and watch Netflix without even contemplating these purchases — and this is great for producers.
Producers create every app, song, video, phone, website, podcast, and pair of headphones that you own or use — and they get paid to do it.
They build something out of nothing. They get paid to create, inspire, and do work they love.
You can do that too if you learn to be a producer.
Before you consume anything, think about the people behind your purchase. Consumers pay for producers to live bold, exciting lives, on their own terms.
Which side of that exchange do you want to be on?
You know that show that you are watching but it’s not really that good? Give up one episode of it each night. In that one hour, you can accomplish an astonishing amount.
The beauty of not endlessly consuming other people’s creations is you now have hours every day to work towards your goal of making money online. You need to move from being a consumer to producer.
Here’s what I propose: start small. Start something now that gives you ownership of your time and money. And grow from there. Use our goal setting worksheet if you need help getting started.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s overcome the fears and anxieties you may have around starting an online business.
How to overcome your fear of failure
The biggest killer of online businesses and entrepreneurial dreams is not what you would expect. It’s not lack of financing, the economy, or bad ideas.
Self-doubt kills many dreams, long before any external factors can come into play. Most people are afraid to start pursuing their dreams.
Or if they do start, they turn back at the first signs of struggle, convinced they don’t have what it takes.
This is why your mindset is so important to get right in the beginning. Here are 21 business hacks to get you rolling right.
There are so many misconceptions around how to be an entrepreneur, it’s no wonder there is so much doubt (and so little confidence).
The truth is, you can start to make money online from home without quitting your job, knowing how to code, and without a million-dollar idea.
The most important thing is to start off with the right mindset. You need to go into this journey knowing you can get past any obstacle that comes up — you can and will.
Don’t worry, I can help you do it. Check out my entrepreneurial mindset course now.
Learning how to be wrong
Not only are failure and being wrong inevitable in business and in life, but you should actively search for them to learn valuable lessons.
All forms of education are tied to a cost – the cost of failure is time, resources, and humility.
It’s not always easy to make mistakes and fail, but it is essential to your growth and your success in online business and in life.
When you make a mistake, it’s not catastrophic. Keep moving, iterating, and using what you’ve learned to determine your next move. Remember, learning to be wrong is not just something we read on motivational quotes.
When you enter your bedroom in the dark, you reach for the light switch.
If you miss, do you stop looking for it?
Do you decide to wait for the sun to rise and provide you with light?
My guess is you would never think of doing that because without even thinking, you take what you’ve learned (the light switch isn’t where you just touched) and reach out to another spot on the wall.
Again, if you miss a second and third time, you never think of living in the dark.
You instantly reach out again: you don’t get beaten by the defeat, and it never crosses your mind that you might not be cut out for living in a well-lit bedroom.
Think of making money online as a light switch. It doesn’t matter if you’ve tried and failed in the past, you need to know that it will work once you get it right.
Don’t struggle with failure (learn to enjoy it)
As Seth Godin said, there is a difference between failure and your struggle with failure.
Failure is inevitable in business and in life, but somehow we are better equipped to deal with it in day-to-day life.
We don’t know if our business ideas are any good. We don’t know if we have the skills and perseverance to pull it off. We don’t know what will happen if we fail.
Learning to fail and not allowing it to sideswipe you is essential. The good part is, the more you fail, the better you get.
Failure is not catastrophic, it is simply an opportunity to redirect and reiterate your project or ideas.
Of course, you could try to avoid the possibility of failure by never taking any chances. But you will still face risks that you can’t control You can live your whole life taking the safe route, and still have the rug pulled out from under you.
You could get laid off, the stock market could crash, or your job could become obsolete.
Best case scenario — if you silence the voice in your head and push down that feeling in your stomach long enough — you can retire and live with your regrets.
Either way, life is a risk.
How to make money online
There is a lot to learn, and plenty of opportunities to get stuck when you’re starting an online business from scratch.
Even if you’ve run a business in the past, taking your expertise online will involve learning a whole new set of skills.
From creating and selling an online course, to writing a sales page that converts, to learning how to become a freelancer, it’s daunting for anybody. Especially those who don’t consider themselves technically inclined.
I get it. I’ve been there.
But I learned the hard way that trying to learn everything all at once, before you start, means… you’ll never start.
The sheer volume of information and challenges ahead will overwhelm you. You’ll get buried in it, and you might not be able to dig yourself out.
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” — Aristotle
You can read the best business books, take courses, and wait for the perfect idea for years without launching anything. It’s procrastination by learning.
It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re taking action by researching, studying, and reading endless books before we launch our business.
There is no replacement for action. You don’t have to learn everything before you start.
You learn only need to know enough to move to the next step. You take one step, then you learn the next thing.
I call it just in time learning. You learn what you need to know just in time, right as you are about to take action.
You NEED to LAUNCH something.
And once you have, I want you to keep improving your process with all the experience and knowledge you gained the first time through.
Until you jump into the pool, you are not going to learn a damn thing about swimming.
Producers do not have to learn to design and code. Producers need to take an idea and turn it into reality. Creating something out of nothing is your job as a producer.
The producer of your favorite T.V. show does not hold the camera and edit the final show. She simply takes an idea and organizes the right people around her to create the best final product possible.
The internet itself was built by people like you and me.
Now let’s take a look at the best ways to make money online for those who are looking to take action today.
1. Start a blog and use content marketing
Is it still possible to make money online with blogging? Yes, it is.
Now, I won’t lie to you. It takes time and effort to learn how to start a blog.
It only takes a few hours to set up your first blog, but It will take you a ton of work and time (think months or years) to start seeing decent passive income.
You may even feel stupid for spending so much time on something with an unpredictable return on your investment of time.
But once it starts, you are off to the races. Trust me — once you get that first win, things start to change pretty fast.
Blogging can help you establish authority in your subject while earning money in a variety of ways.
If you are ready to get started with blogging, we recommend one course exclusively — that’s Launch Your Blog Biz and it was created by Alex and Lauren at Create and Go.
Blogging took Alex and Lauren from young professionals living every second for the weekend to making over $100,000 per month and traveling the world in our twenties!
And with Launch Your Blog Biz, they teach you the step-by-step solution for taking your blog from $0 to $1,000/month with free traffic and affiliate marketing. Make sure to read our complete review of the course.
Here are the 3 steps to setting up a blog:
1. Pick a name for your blog (and buy your domain)
One of the toughest parts of any new entrepreneurial venture is determining how to choose a business name that's memorable, evocative, and on-brand — but that also isn't trademarked or already in use.
Choosing a good name for your new blog can be overwhelming. After all, the domain name you choose is the first impression people have of your blog.
Depending on your topic you can always use your own name for your domain – James Altucher did this and it’s worked out incredibly well for him.
So how do you find a perfect blog name?
It’s much easier to come up with ideas once you know what niche you serve and who you target.
Spend some time writing down words to describe your audience. Focus on how they describe themselves.
Do your search over at Namecheap, my #1 recommended place to buy your domains.
To help you decide, here are a few characteristics of an ideal domain name:
- Original and available: Do not try to copy another popular name.
- Clear and simple: Keep it simple, so it’s easy to remember.
- Simple spelling: Don’t get too creative with invented words, or people won’t know how to spell it.
- Common extensions: These extensions are common, therefore easier to remember: .com | .co | .org | .io
Choosing an ideal domain name will take some brainstorming. But once you have the perfect name, the next step is finding hosting for your blog.
2. Get the right website hosting
Now that you have a name for your blog, you need to find a place for it to live. This place is your website host.
If this is your first time setting up a blog, then you might not even know what website hosting is. And while this can be confusing, it doesn’t have to be.
Once you understand the fundamentals of how website hosting works, you will be able to make an educated decision.
Website hosting 101:
A website is a bunch of different files connected to the internet. These files hold data and need a ‘space’ that’s secure and accessible to the internet.
This ‘space’ is what a hosting company offers.
The function of a host is to keep the data of your blog safe and accessible.
The worst thing you can do for your blog early on is to choose a hosting company based on price – or going with the cheapest hosting you can find.
You’re looking at endless problems, like slow loading times, and crashing. Add some terrible customer support into the mix and you’ll never want to blog again.
Instead, here’s what to look for in a hosting company:
- Excellent customer support: Get help quickly when you need it.
- Quality hardware: You need your website to be fast and secure. You can’t do that with crappy hosting.
- Economical pricing: The best hosting is less than $4/month.
If you’re serious about the speed and security of your new blog — as you should be — Bluehost is the best option you can find.
Bluehost is one of the few hosting providers recommended by WordPress itself, and that says a lot about their quality and integrity as a hosting company.
Bluehost is our #1 WordPress hosting choice. Get Bluehost now.
3. Pick an effective design for your blog
Now that you have a domain name and hosting, it’s time to get to the fun stuff — designing your blog!
There are two ways to go about this:
- Hire a WordPress Developer
- Get a WordPress Theme
Developers are expensive. When you’re just starting out it is faster and more effective to go with a predesigned WordPress theme. With a theme, you can make a great-looking blog without hiring a developer.
Your blog’s design should reflect your brand’s identity, while also touching on a few key components such as having a fast load speed, easy navigation, mobile-optimized for all devices, and friendly user experience.
There is no perfect design for a blog – but, there can be a perfect design for your blog.
All WordPress themes are not created equal. Some are fast – others are slow. Some are secure – others will get your site hacked.
We are looking for FAST and SECURE.
Genesis is a framework for WordPress. The benefit of using the Genesis Framework is that there are 100s of Genesis compatible themes and swapping between themes (designs) is simple and pain-free.
I've been a fan and user of the Genesis Framework and StudioPress themes for years.
The current version of this site is running Maker Pro theme by StudioPress on the Genesis framework. Make sure to check out our complete StudioPress review.
Yes, it will take time to get rolling, build an audience, and start earning money from a new blog. But writing about topics you are really into, building a community, and getting paid for it is an awesome feeling.
When it’s time to start writing blog posts, follow this process for how to get on the first page of Google.
2. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is the process of earning money by promoting other people’s products. It’s a proven online business idea for getting started.
As an affiliate marketer, you will find and promote products. The owners of the product pay you a commission for every sale or lead you to send to them.
When I interviewed Erik Bergman on the podcast, he said affiliate marketing was the best business model in the world.
If you’re new to making money online, you can use affiliate marketing to test your ideas and find your ideal customer base.
When you learn how to write a product review that converts, you can see impressive affiliate sales coming in.
Once you find a product that sells really well to your audience, you can then think about creating your own (better) version of this same product. Consider it market research you get paid for.
Getting started with affiliate marketing is a 4-step process:
- Sign up with an affiliate network
There are hundreds of affiliate networks out there. When you know what type of products you want to promote, it’s easy to find options.
Some of the leading affiliate networks are:
You can find most affiliate programs by Googling “product name” and “affiliate program” together.
More than anything else with affiliate marketing, you should ONLY be promoting products YOU USE YOURSELF.
- Choose an affiliate product
First off, you need to find products that will appeal to your audience – the people you are marketing to.
If you are just getting started making money online, choose a digital product to promote – such as online courses, ebooks, or software – because they pay a higher commission and are typically easier to sell.
The process of choosing your first affiliate product involves three simple steps:
- Narrow down product ideas
- Choose a single product
- Then validate
By testing which affiliate products resonate with your audience, you can learn what kind of products may be big sellers if you eventually decide to create your own.
- Promote the affiliate product
You’ve researched affiliate programs and chosen a product to promote. Now it’s time to start making some sales.
But you don’t want to feel like a pushy salesperson.
Here’s how to strike the right balance of helpful content and sales offers:
Always do what’s best for your audience and makes sales later.
When getting started online, many people struggle with this part – you aren’t alone. Here’s the exact process we use to create sales pages that convert.
If let your fears hold you back you will never start making money online – or get to enjoy the freedom that comes along with it.
- People purchase the product with your affiliate link
Once you’ve created the affiliate link, it’s time to start selling. Let’s talk about some different ways you can market your affiliate products.
If you already have a good readership on your blog, you have a head-start. You can easily add product reviews to your publishing schedule.
Transparency is always appreciated — let your readers know you will be paid a small commission if they decide to buy.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to get started in online business, but let’s move on to the next way to make money online.
3. Create and sell courses online
There’s never been a better time to make the transition from selling your time for money to selling your knowledge at scale. And creating an online course is a great way to do this.
You can get started with little to no up-front investment, you can start small and grow over time, and you can get paid to help people solve a problem they have.
Your first barrier is figuring out what to teach.
Instead of pondering, “What’s a good idea for my online course?”
Ask, “What challenges does my audience face that I can help with?”
Successful online courses are results-oriented and unambiguous.
They promise to:
- Solve a specific problem
- For a specific audience
- To achieve a specific result
When framed this way, you’ll spend less time judging potential course ideas and more time focusing on the real goal: delivering something of value.
As you build your audience, use lead magnets to build your email list – then simply ask your subscribers what they need help with.
From here, you simply need to commit to your idea and take action.
Do you want to learn more about how to make money from online courses? Check out this step-by-step guide from Podia.
4. Start a membership site
It takes a lot of time to wade through content online to find the golden resources you need. Membership sites remove this from the equation and provide customers with all the info they need in one place.
A membership site is at its essence a resource hub. Customers pay a subscription fee, and they are granted access to the resources the owner creates, aggregates, or sources.
Resource materials can be anything from tutorials, videos, articles, and any other form of content your audience finds valuable.
With the creation of all-in-one platforms like Podia, you don’t have to worry about the headaches of setting up a website. These platforms enable you sell memberships, courses, and digital downloads all in one place.
Membership sites are a great path to making money online if you are a content producer and love social media and forums.
That being said, if that doesn’t sound like a way that you’d like to spend your time, then you will want to choose another online business model.
5. Start a podcast
Of course, I’m a little biased on podcasting since it’s the foundation of my entire online business. But that doesn’t make it any less of a great way to make some extra money online.
If you don’t have an existing audience, learning how to start a podcast is not the fastest way to starting making money in your spare time. But as your popularity grows, you’ll build up your credibility and become a resource in your niche.
You’ll also be able to find sponsors for your podcast who want to pay you to introduce their products to your audience.
Additionally, as the demand for advertising on your podcast increases, so will your ability to select sponsorships that fit your brand, and that could provide you with steady streams of online income.
Here’s the (simplified) process for starting a podcast:
- Pick your podcast topic
- Define your audience
- Position your podcast
- Choose the right format
- Pick a name for your show
- Record your episodes
- Publish and distribute
It’s not a sexy voice, a good microphone, or flashy editing that makes a podcast stand out and become successful. Those things might help you sound good. But none of that matters unless you build a podcast on a foundation of remarkable content.
It is the content that makes the podcast.
Whatever your reason for wanting to learn how to start a podcast – whether it’s to talk about your favorite TV show or to make money – you need to provide valuable content.
That’s not saying you have to be an expert in your field. You will learn as you grow your podcast, but you have to start with by having value to offer.
Grab our Remarkable Guide to Starting a Podcast
6. Social media management
Here’s a way to transform your Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest habits into a profitable money-making venture.
There’s no marketing without social media marketing – and because of this, every business needs to be marketing on social media. The thing is, most business owners either don’t have the time or they just aren’t savvy enough to do it well.
If you’re good at creating content and engaging on social media, this is the perfect way for you to begin earning money online.
The best part is, you can start making money immediately with social media management.
Here’s how you can get started:
- Clean up your personal social media accounts (remove any posts you wouldn’t want a potential client to see)
- Read Buffer’s guide to social media marketing (to create a strategy and brush up on the lingo for making your pitch)
- Email 10 businesses in your local area and make your pitch! (Car dealerships, restaurants, and bars are a great place to start)
- If your self-confidence is running low, you can offer to work for the first month for a reduced rate or even free
You are probably thinking I oversimplified this process, but I didn’t. The only reason you’re telling yourself this is to make it more complicated than it needs to be – and create a reason to procrastinate.
7. Become a content writer
If you want to make money online from home, this side hustle may be perfect for you. If you have a way with words, then you should take the time and do the work necessary to become a content writer.
Content marketing is one of the fastest growing marketing channels for businesses – both local and global – and will only increase in the future.
Learning the art of crafting effective content is a valuable skill that will keep you in demand for years to come. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 53% of brands were looking to increase their content marketing budgets in 2019.
Writing for the web is different than writing for other mediums. If you want a primer, check out Copyblogger’s simple rule for web writing.
To find work as a content writer, you can reach out to your personal network or (again) you can use some of the many marketplaces like Upwork or Fiverr.
There is also an excellent marketplace specifically for companies and writers to find each other – it’s called nDash.
I recommend using nDash because it’s the perfect place to find work as a content writer – and it’s free for writers to sign up!
8. Make money online with surveys and research studies
If you were looking for make money online surveys and found them to be too much work for very little reward. This may be the exact thing you were looking for – research studies. No previous skills or experience required, and each study takes only about 30 minutes to complete.
Respondent is the fastest way to find high-paying research opportunities.
You can get started with research studies in 4 simple steps:
- Sign up here and verify your profile (with Linkedin or Facebook)
- Get automagically matched with your first study
- Select a time that works for you and participate in the study
- Get paid automatically via Paypal
It could not be easier to get up and running today. No excuses, this is your chance to start earning money on the side.
9. Develop and sell software
If you are searching for ways to make easy ways to make money online, this isn't it.
Software development has become very popular with the rise of SaaS (software as a service) companies. The software can be as small as a browser extension that does one specific task or it could be as full scale as Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
Making money creating apps works similarly to software. The idea is providing a product that your target audience needs (or wants), and charging them a one-time payment or recurring subscription fee.
There are three popular payment models when it comes to software and apps:
Freemium: This means that customers get limited access to your software or app’s features. If they’d like to use more features, they can upgrade to a paid subscription.
Free trial: Customers get full access to your software or app for a set period of time, after which they’re charged if they want to keep using it.
Free software business model: The software or app is free for customers to use, but you earn revenue from advertising.
Software business models are some of the most innovative online, and for a good reason. They provide a steady source of recurring revenue to the owners, and over time they have the potential to become a saleable asset.
Because software is digital, it is also highly scalable. You can sell 1 copy or 1,000 copies in a day with no additional work. Due to this level of scalability, software is also labor intensive and can require a lot of customer support.
10. Sell your expertise as a consultant
Consulting is a great use of the skills you’ve acquired in school, work, or from your hobbies, and it has high earning potential. Becoming a digital consultant, in particular, is a popular choice.
Getting your first clients can be tough, but with some outreach on social media, and using content marketing to establish yourself as an expert, anyone can get started making money with consulting.
Don’t fall into the common trap of undervaluing your skills and knowledge. What seems easy, simple or obvious to you, can be amazing to others – not just in the skills you have but more importantly the end result and benefit you provide to your clients.
As you gain experience and confidence using your skills to help clients reach their career or personal goals, you can begin charging higher fees for your guidance and expertise.
Plus, one of the reasons consulting is the best business to start is that you can get started fast, with little to no startup capital.
Learning how to make money online is not just a dream
I’ve been working online full-time for 10 years. During the past decade, there has been a radical shift in how and where people work and earn money.
Five years ago, I could walk into any coffee shop, grab a coffee, sit down to work on my laptop – and I’d be the ONLY person doing that. Today, I can barely find a table at my favorite coffee shop.
The dream of learning how to make money online from home has rapidly become a reality of 1000s of people around the world.
This article showed you 10 ways to get started online. Some of the ideas will give you a faster path to revenue than others, but they will all get you there. You just need to work on finding focus.
Are you willing to step up, do the work, and make it a reality?