How to Make Extra Money Online (For Free)

The stressful daily commute, the constant threat of redundancy and being laid off, the conniving office politics and the rigmarole of climbing the corporate ladder – all can be avoided in favor of a flexible, more relaxed lifestyle of working online – but just how do you go about doing it? We explore the best ways currently to make real money online, and all of the methods we suggest are totally free – no initial investment is required except for your time.

Making money online is the dream for so many of us; we all long for the ability to avoid traffic and congestion in travelling to work, the ability to work flexible hours and be liberated from the restraints of having to be in an office or factory, and the chance to be able to spend more time with our family and loved ones.

The reality is, while it might sound like a pipe dream or too good to be true, it is possible. The simple fact which many have still yet to catch on to is that the global economy and commerce in general is shifting rapidly away from traditional environments and towards the online arena – and consequently, there is money to be made. A lot of it. In fact, it is my opinion that now is the best time to start making money on the Internet, because we’re just at the point now where the paradigm shift has started towards bringing much of our economy online, but the majority of the world’s population has still yet to grasp the money-making potential of online work, so there is not quite as much competition as there perhaps would be.

I will run you through multiple ways to make money online, some of which will net you significantly more money than others but will require a corresponding increase in your time investment and the amount of work you’ll have to do. I’ll rank the money-making techniques in order of my personal preference, and how much I personally earn from each technique – but they will vary according to your preferences and skill set.

Writing Articles Online

If you’re specifically after passive income, in other words, income that you continually earn long after you’ve done the actual work for it, writing articles online may be the best option for you. Passive income is so appealing because you can put in an initial concerted effort, then sit back and either work on something else or even go on a holiday while you see your bank account constantly replenish itself with new income. Best of all, making money this way is completely free. It requires no initial monetary investment from you other than your time.

There are several major article sites that accept user submissions and allow you to earn money. While some of these have taken a downward turn in terms of reliability in recent months, one site that I think is the best site out there currently for submitting articles and earning passive income is InfoBarrel.

InfoBarrel allows anyone to register, and setting up an account is very easy and straightforward. Once you’ve registered, you simply write an article (usually about 500-1500 words) about any topic you’d like that you think will earn traffic. Once you’ve submitted an article and it’s been accepted by the InfoBarrel staff, you receive a 75% commission rate on any click-through payments for the Google Adsense advertisements on your article.

Google Adsense ads typically pay from about $.25 per click at the low-end, to about $3.00 per click at the high-end. The advertisements that appear on your article are generally context-sensitive, which means they will be tailored to the topic of your article. So, for example, if you write about sneakers, you can expect to see lots of ads for shoe companies like Reebok or Adidas on your article page.

The 75% commission rate is currently the highest of any of the article sites, and InfoBarrel is relatively new so there’s not as much competition to get your articles published and promoted by InfoBarrell. Now, how much money can you realistically earn from InfoBarrel? Not much from one article or two – but once you start to pile up the contributions, rest assured you’ll start to see some money flowing in. I, for example, have about 30-35 articles on InfoBarrel and am earning about $300 per month passively, just from having those articles on their site. No extra work is needed on my part, no promotion, nothing like that – I’ll continue earning that extra money as long as the site exists (which we can safely say should be quite a long time).

If you want to get more ambitious than that, you certainly can – some of InfoBarrel’s top contributors earn $3,000 a month and above, which, while it might not be enough for a full-time income, depending on where you live, is a very handy little bonus to receive each and every month regardless of what else you’ve done that month.

There are other, similar article submission websites out there as well, but in my opinion they aren’t as attractive an option as InfoBarrel is right now, for several reasons. The first is that they are more established with a larger writer/contributor base, so the submission and review process is usually more rigorous (and usually takes significantly longer), and secondly because none of them offer as high a commission rate as InfoBarrel do.

However, if you want to see what’s out there, there’s eHow, About.Com, and Blogging.Org, all of which offer a similar deal to InfoBarrel in that you submit your article and once accepted, you receive a percentage of the revenue received from Google for the Adsense clicks on that page.

Freelancing

The second option for making money online for free, without spending a dime of your own money, is by freelancing.

You might not think you have any marketable skills to work as a freelancer on the Internet – however, you’d probably be wrong.

You see, there is an extremely high demand right now for all sorts of skills, ranging from writing, to graphic design, programming, copywriting, and editing. Even if you don’t consider yourself the best writer, as long as you are fluent in English (or whatever language you’re writing in), and can string together readable, coherent paragraphs, you won’t have any trouble at all finding freelancing work.

There are a number of excellent, high-profile and trusted sites where you can sign up as a contractor, set your minimum rates and work conditions and wait for the job offers – or, alternatively you can apply for the many hundreds of job advertisements posted daily. Some of the sites I recommend (and have used personally) are oDesk, eLance, and HireWriters.Com (this one’s for writers only). Another freelancing site I’ve heard good things about, but haven’t actually used yet is GhostBloggers.net.

Now, before you get too disappointed, I won’t lie – freelancing rates can be low when you’re first starting out. Depressingly low. Because you won’t have any reputation established when you first sign up to a freelancing site, unless you are already well-recognized and established in your field with a significant body of work behind you, you’ll probably have to accept very low rates of pay in order to get your first few jobs. How low? The typical starting rate would be about $2-$5 per 500 word article (in the field of writing), in my experience. If you can code or do graphic design or something similarly technical, you can expect slightly higher starting rates.

However, the good news is that once you’ve done some work, impressed a few clients and established a reputation, you’ll soon start to be able to charge higher rates, and once you’re a very well established freelancer on any of the big sites, you can easily earn as much as an average full-time income, or even more if you’re especially hard working or especially talented.

Paid Tasks and Odd Jobs

Another option for earning money on the Internet for free, without any initial investment at all, is performing various tasks for webmasters and blog owners that they don’t have the time to do themselves. One thing I’ve learned about building and maintaining websites is that it’s extremely time consuming. It’s ironic really because so many people start online businesses so they can have more free time to spend with their families or loved ones, or just away from work, but they soon realize that an online business is the antithesis of having lots of free time, as you are faced with an endless stream of emails and constant niggling issues that arise.

But I digress. It’s fairly easy to earn some decent money online by performing tasks for people. For example, you might take on a job to write reviews or brief product descriptions for a client, or you might be asked to simply browse through a giant list of websites and note down those that meet a certain criteria. Trust me, there’s all kinds of weird and wonderful things that webmasters, online business owners and seo experts need to get done.

You can find this type of work at the usual freelancing places I mentioned above, such as oDesk and eLance, and there’s also a number of Web forums for Internet marketing types and the like who need random jobs done. Probably the biggest of these forums is the Warrior Forum, and there’s also the Digital Point forums.

Sell Your Photos

If you’re the type to incessantly photograph everything, and you have an Instagram or Facebook account that’s packed to the brim and bursting at the seams, this could be an ideal option for you to make some extra money. You see, in the world of the Web, high quality photos are a premium asset, and your photos could be earning you a pretty penny without you even realizing it.

Stock image sites that you can offer to sell your photos to include Fotolia, iStockPhoto, Getty Images, and many more – just Google ‘stock photos’ and there’ll be a veritable smorgasboard of options available.

Sell Stuff on eBay

This one sounds kinda obvious, I know, which is part of the reason I left it down towards the bottom of the list, but because it’s such a tried and true and effective method, I had to include it in here anyway. eBay is the world’s biggest marketplace by a factor of about ninety billion, and there’s just so much money to be made on eBay it’s unbelievable.

Now you’re probably thinking I’m going to recommend the general stuff that everyone does about eBay -sell unwanted stuff sitting around the house to make some extra dosh. Nope. While that’s a way to make a few hundred dollars at most, I’ve stumbled across a technique that

You see, when eBay first started, prices for most items were generally a little cheaper than what you’d find in the real world marketplaces. A relatively small userbase and not as much global exposure meant that buyers had more power, forcing sellers to compete viciously price-wise. But now, with the global explosion in popularity of the Internet and eBay being used by virtually every human with access to the Internet, there’s such a huge market of buyers that you can actually sell items for not much less than they would sell for in the real world. This means there are some opportunities to take advantage of.

I’ll give you a little example that I’ve used to make a few thousand dollars from, and I’m sure I’ll use in the future. Here where I live, in the Australian state of Queensland, the Queensland government holds auctions to the public every Tuesday and Wednesday. At these auctions they are looking to sell their excess equipment, which includes the bigger stuff like vehicles but also smaller stuff like computing equipment, machinery, tools, gadgetry, safety equipment, and similar items. This stuff needs to get sold at these auctions and sometimes there’s not many buyers, so stuff often sells for well below its market value. I recently picked up a 3 year old computer complete with lovely pine desk and office chair for $250 – not bad, is it? I then proceeded to plop it on eBay and managed to sell the computer alone for $375 – that’s not even including the desk.

So in my opinion, this is a great way to make money off eBay – scour the real world around you for bargains, whether it’s the local classifieds, or even better, a local council or government auction, pick up some cheap stuff and sell it on eBay for profit!

Become a Software Tester

If you’re sick of encountering show-stopping bugs in your latest iPhone or Android apps, maybe you could do something about it!

Due to the sheer number of mobile applications and games being released on a daily basis, as well as traditional desktop-based software products, there are a number of companies out there that are desperately seeking software testers to put new products through their paces, test and document any flaws in the software.

The job isn’t necessarily as easy as it sounds – if you’re testing games, for example, it can get extremely repetitive as you’re asked to do something like run the same level over and over again 30 times, or test one individual section of a game multiple types under certain conditions, but if you think you’ve got what it takes, by all means, you should consider it as another option to earn money online. It’s another free method, not requiring any initial monetary investment on your part except your time.

I haven’t done software testing personally, but I site I’ve seen recommended several times is uTest.

So guys and gals, that’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ve forgotten some other excellent ways to make money online. If you have any suggestions that people might want to know about, please share it here, we’d love to hear it!

Best of luck to all of you who take the bold step into online work, and remember, as long as you treat it like a real job and put your best effort in, you will start to establish a reputation for yourself and you’ll find it easier and easier to make significant amounts of money online – in fact, you’ll probably find that you’ve got more work than you can handle.


photo credit: bredgur via photopin cc

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