The past year encouraged all of us to embrace the great indoors. No surprise, then, that the interest in making money online from the safety of our homes is now on the rise, here are your guide 11 Real Ways to Make Money Online in 2022.
What once felt like a distant daydream is now a reality for millions of people. Those of us who worked remotely from our home offices for the last few years have a lot less explaining to do at family events—the path to earning a meaningful amount of money online has become much clearer.
The magic of the internet is that it’s a sales channel, marketing network, and community hub all in one—plus so much more. There are many creative ways to make money online beyond online surveys and selling used goods on Craigslist. That said, some businesses and side hustles are better suited to the laptop lifestyle than others. In this guide, we’ll break down the strengths and shortcomings of a few of the top money-making options.
Last year, many worldwide trends experienced decades’ worth of acceleration. One such trend was the rise of eCommerce. There are a number of ways to run an eCommerce business, some of which allow for the minimal need to carry and hold lots of inventory.
Enter dropshipping. Dropshipping is a business model where you don’t keep the products you sell in stock. Instead, when a customer buys something from your store, a third-party fulfills and ships the order for you. Because low startup costs are low, it’s an increasingly popular way to make money online for beginners and pros alike.
Dropshippers have a habit of chasing the latest trends. And while there’s nothing wrong with catching a trending product wave, know that there also are many product categories that are steady and offer similar opportunities to do well.
Women’s clothing and accessories. Far and away the most popular category of products on Oberlo. There are a variety of interesting niches within this category, too, including dresses, accessories, intimates, hoodies, socks and hoses, and rompers.
Since these products have a large market, are purchased relatively frequently, and are successfully sold through great marketing, they’re consistently a top performer for dropshipping.
Jewelry. If you want to turn jewelry into a profitable small business, dropshipping is a good model to try. You can sell in a variety of categories, including fine jewelry, fashion or costume, and collectibles. Or sell jewelry made from different materials, like gems, wood, textile, or metals.
Home and garden. Home and garden are some of those dropshipping niches that seem to always be trendy. People are always looking to add personal touches to their space to make it feel warm and cozy, which can make this an exciting (and profitable) niche to sell in.
Beauty. The beauty and personal care market is projected to be worth $511.4 billion by the end of 2022. Beauty is a thriving industry fueled by younger generations entering the market and is strengthened by social media and e-commerce.
You also have options in the beauty niche: you can sell cosmetics, skincare, personal care, haircare, fragrances, and more.
OK, sounds good. But there is a huge hurdle to overcome with dropshipping: you’re selling an existing product. The ease of starting a dropshipping business also means you’ll be up to your knees in competition—so it relies heavily on customer support.
That means you’re giving up a really important piece of leverage and need to recognize that, in order to succeed, you’re going to have to outcompete the competition with a well-chosen niche and creative marketing.
Print on demand
Print on demand allows sellers to customize white-label products with their own designs and sell them only after a customer buys, eliminating the need to hold inventory (which is what makes it a subset of dropshipping). When a customer places an order, a print-on-demand company will add your design to the product, fulfill the order, and ship it to the customer.
The most significant advantage print-on-demand offers over dropshipping is that you have control over the aesthetic of your products—a key differentiator for product categories where the design is the distinguisher, like t-shirts or fan merch.
When it comes to making money online, you can also use print-on-demand services to:
Test online business ideas or new products lines without the risk of buying inventory
Monetize an audience you’ve already built, whether it’s on YouTube, social media, or a personal blog
Offer diverse products by selling t-shirts, books, shoes, bags, mugs, phone cases, laptop skins, wall art, and more
Sell photos online by placing your images on physical products to sell to your fans
Overall, print on demand lets you create customized products quickly. You don’t have to worry about shipping or fulfillment—it’s taken care of by your suppliers. And since you have no inventory to worry about, it’s a low-risk, low investment way to make money online.
While the options above come bundled with the convenience of not holding on to expensive inventory, they do come with some limitations—mainly that you don’t have full control over the product you’re selling.
And when you think of the most direct-to-consumer brands, this is what comes to mind: original products that make meaningful improvements or add interesting details to well-known items. Personally, I’ve purchased many messenger bags, but I’d never seen anything like the one made by Vermilyea Pelle until it reached my doorstep.
Making products by hand is popular amongst jewelry brands, fashion brands, and home decor brands. It gives you full control over the product development and quality of your items. The only drawbacks are: (1) it can be time-consuming, and (2) it’s difficult to scale. The costs associated with making products by hand are the cost of materials, storing your finished products, and labor.
That said, a custom product doesn’t have to be completely handmade. There are many ways to find a manufacturer or supplier to help bring your product to life. For example, you could:
Use domestic or overseas manufacturers. If you have a unique product that you don’t want to make by hand, you could find a manufacturer to make your products. The Alibaba route is a common way to do this. You can use the marketplace to find potential manufacturers, communicate your vision to them, and get your products made. This will require some upfront investment because of minimum order quantities and storage, but it’s a good way to maintain control of your products while keeping the cost per unit low.
Resell wholesale items. Buying and reselling wholesale items is a straightforward, low-risk way to make money online. You buy products you want direct from manufacturers, usually, brands that are already credible on the market, at a discounted rate, then sell them in your online store at a higher price. It’s important to understand these methods to make the right choices when creating and selling custom products. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks, which you can read about in Make, Manufacture, Wholesale or Dropship: The Pros and Cons of Each Model.
Sell on Etsy
Every online marketplace, from Etsy to Amazon, offers a shared set of advantages and disadvantages. The upside is that you get access to their network of shoppers—people regularly browse these sites when they need to buy something, so setting up shop lets you meet them there.
That said since these channels can work in harmony with your own website, sometimes they’re a great place to begin. New online makers can use Etsy to grow brand awareness at first. They have an active buyer community of 45.7 million buyers.
Sell on Amazon
Amazon has become a marketplace that welcomes new eCommerce entrepreneurs. It takes a few minutes to sign up for an account and a few more minutes to get a product listing live.
The platform has a massive audience, it’s a global marketplace, and it’s a go-to destination for product discovery and research. Listing optimization can help your products get found and unlock new opportunities. And Amazon’s in-app promotions can increase your brand’s visibility for highly targeted audiences.
Yet, some eCommerce entrepreneurs question the long-term sustainability of selling on Amazon. While the marketplace is great for helping shoppers surface desired products, it’s challenging for sellers to get their business noticed. Amazon attracts many resellers of the same products you may offer. Tack on fees and trying to differentiate your brand and you may end up working harder to generate sales but not grow your bottom line revenue.
While selling on Amazon is a good way to make money from home, there are some caveats to consider:
Amazon sets the rules for its marketplace. We know Amazon is a leader in collecting and using customer data to create better shopping experiences, but that information doesn’t get shared with you. If you compete for head to head with a product owned by Amazon, it’ll be hard to make sales. Amazon Retail tends to get the Buy Box advantage.
Amazon prefers sellers to use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). FBA is Amazon’s fulfillment program offered to sellers. Once you put a product in its fulfillment centers and a customer orders it, Amazon will fulfill the order. You must use FBA to be eligible for Amazon Prime and Amazon Super Saver Shipping, two ways to help retailers improve conversion rates and earn extra money.
Amazon owns the customer relationship. Sellers cannot add Amazon customers to a CRM or re-market to them after the sale.
Digital products carry some of the best margins of any product you can sell. The upfront costs of development can be high, but the variable costs of selling digital products are comparatively low. Once media or software is made, it isn’t very expensive to deliver to customers.
At its core, a digital product is an intangible asset you can sell repeatedly without restocking an inventory. They often come in downloadable files such as a PDF, plug-in, or interactive document. These products have become such a good source of passive income that many top professional influencers, bloggers, or public icons release digital products such as guides, ebooks, templates, research findings, plans, and tutorials.
Some key benefits of selling digital products are:
They’re scalable. There’s no limit to how many products you can sell. No inventory. No manufacturers. No shipping or logistics. Just market the products. When a customer purchases a digital product, it’s delivered instantly without your help.
Low overhead costs, high-profit margins. Since there’s no recurring cost of goods or shipping charges, you keep a majority of the profit for each sale.
E-learning is becoming more popular. The e-learning industry is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025. Digital products are a smart way to take advantage of this trend and expand your business.
Digital products can be a great supplement to your main income. Many creators make them add another revenue stream to their businesses, whether it be consulting, education, memberships, etc. You could build a presence on Twitter and Linked In or build an email subscriber list to promote your products and make sales.
Since the barrier is so low when selling digital products, it doesn’t require much upfront investment or risk. The best care scenario is you sell 10,000 templates. The worst case is that few people buy and you lose a few hours of time.
Media is a very wide-ranging term, but the best description available is if you’re a creator in the market to sell music, videos, digital art, paid newsletters, magazines, or podcasts.
Media seems closely related to digital products, but the difference with media is that it tends to be geared toward creative ventures—for example, a writer starting a paid newsletter subscription or an artist learning how to sell art online.
The best part about selling media is that a lot of the time, it’s a way for people to express themselves online. Artists and creators who didn’t have access to networks, galleries, or PR in the past can now build a brand, grow a following, and make money online doing something they love.
Harry Hambley, the cartoonist behind the successful brand, encourages creators to follow their dreams as an artist. In an interview with BBC, he describes turning down university to draw cartoons online. He tells BBC, “You should always do whatever you feel inspired by.”
When it comes to creating media for the public, Harry explains how “doing something complicated doesn’t guarantee success. It’s more about having a solid idea and then being able to communicate it easily.”
In a world where negativity is widespread online, the Ketnipz brand is a positive light. It reflects Henry’s goals to give off a good vibe and be “something that’s quite comforting.”
You’ve probably read a business blog at some point in your life. Businesses use blogging to share knowledge and insights, build an audience, and get more leads and sales. Blogging has endless benefits, such as building thought leadership in the industry and improving search engine visibility for a brand.
Blogging to make money online has grown beyond big businesses and side hustles. Anyone can now build an audience by putting out great content and make a lot of money from their blog. Bloggers also tend to take a personal approach that resonates with an intended audience versus getting information from a company blog.
People start blogs for many different reasons, some being:
Sharing their thoughts, passions, or life experiences
Educating readers on a topic they know about
Selling products or services
Building a personal brand
The key to running a successful blog is choosing a niche. There’s really no shortage of them on the internet. You could be the expert on topics in a specific location (for example, restaurants in Toronto) or for a specific segment in certain categories (like vegan keto recipes and lifestyle).
Focusing on a niche helps you speak to an audience and create high-quality content for them, which in turn can result in leads and sales for your blogging business.
But how do you make money from blogging? Well, once you learn how to start a blog, you can monetize it a few different ways:
Selling physical products that your readers would enjoy, like pillows or t-shirts
Offering digital products such as designs, digital art, courses, templates, or photography that you can make once and sell repeatedly
Selling freelance services such as consulting, writing, bookkeeping, or other hobbies that make money
Becoming an influencer and doing paid promotions for brands
Selling subscriptions or memberships to exclusive content on platforms such as Patreon
While blogging is a low investment business idea, it can take time to pay off. Chances are, you won’t find yourself on page 1 of Google’s search results overnight. But with the right niche and determination, you’ll be well on your way to making money online through your blog.
There seems to be a trend with online-only business models still being relatively misunderstood. Well, add affiliate marketing to that pile. There’s no snake oil to be found here.
So, how does monetization work through this model? Essentially, publishers or individuals can apply for affiliate programs, wherever they’re available, in order to be added as an official affiliate.
Once you’re accepted (or simply approved), you’ll receive a way to share an affiliate link to the product or service you’re interested in promoting.
When someone buys the product after clicking your link, you’ll receive credit for the referral, along with a commission. The commission amount depends on the affiliate program and the product being sold—commodity items on Amazon.com won’t pay out much, but referring a high-ticket account may pay out hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Because affiliate marketing works best when you help a visitor understand why a certain product may be the right one for them, you’ll typically see it deployed on content-focused websites.
Search engine optimization also plays an important role here and you’ll see everyone from homegrown sites to massive, globally known publications competing for terms like “best gaming laptops 2022.”
Niche-to-win applies here, too. Since you don’t have a masthead of 50 writers, you won’t outcompete with professional publications like Wirecutter as a general review site. You may, however, be able to write, rank, and differentiate yourself by covering all things terrariums or high-intensity interval training.
The point being, it’s typically easier to land (pick a distinct niche) and expand (grow into new areas) than it is to compete with a general interest site, especially when you’re getting started.
The best affiliate content helps the reader both solve a problem or make a decision and showcases the right products as part of that solution.
Online courses and workshops
Creating a truly great online course is tough. You need to know the ins and outs of a specific subject and then have the skill (and dedication) to codify that knowledge and either write or record your best advice for customers. And, of course, you need to successfully market the course once it’s made—often the most difficult part of all.
There’s a reason online courses have a pretty broad appeal, though. Once a course is created, it accrues all of the benefits of any digital product: the costs to deliver the product to more customers is essentially zero, with the exception of hosting.
Compare that to the need to maintain an inventory that all physical product businesses face and you’ll find yourself dealing with fewer product-related headaches as you scale.
The appetite for digital courses and continuing education is there, too. Your biggest hurdle is actually the web itself, where there are thousands of wonderful resources available for free. And the content on every topic is getting better by the day.
But the seemingly unlimited options available on the web are precisely why paid courses are valuable: they filter out the fluff and just share the good stuff. Many creators have found success turning their mostly free videos or blog posts into a paid course.
The reason people pay isn’t just for the information, but for the way, it’s organized and presented. Part of the value is the time saved not having to filter through dozens of YouTube videos and random websites and instead get one cohesive course from an engaging instructor.
Remember, though, that while there are a countless number of topics to create content about, there are far fewer topics that people are willing to pay for. Usually, the bestselling courses teach people a valuable skill that helps them make progress at their job or get deeper enjoyment out of a beloved hobby. That explains why courses on Microsoft Excel can become bestsellers.
Once again, it’s often best to go to a market where people are willing to spend. Professionals probably spend the most money on courses, so if there’s a way for you to take the things you know from work and package them in a course, you already have your biggest selling point: help your buyers get a raise or promoted. Help them be better at the skill creating their main source of income.
An increasingly popular home business idea is offering freelance services to clients online. Freelance writing, graphic design, data entry, digital marketing—almost every role an online business would hire for is viable as a freelance service.
I myself have worked with writers, illustrators, and designers for years at Shopify, most of whom make their full-time living freelancing, not just doing it in their spare time.
Almost all of these services are best positioned toward business clients, for reasons similar to why business software is an attractive product: business clients are willing to spend. What most freelancers are quick to learn is that they have more leverage over the price they can charge when they position their work as outcomes instead of deliverables.
Put another way, businesses hire freelance writers to create content that drives traffic and leads, not for wordsmithing. Sell clients on the outcome and prove it, where possible, through customer evidence like case studies and testimonials.
The other lesson freelancers pick up, sometimes through scar tissue, is the need to niche down when they’re getting started. Why would a company specifically hire you over the thousands of people offering very similar services?
You aren’t making a manager’s job any easier by offering catch-all services, either. So be wary of the false appeal of solving for every customer. That’d be like a mechanic trying to expand her customer base by calling her shop “General Fix-It Emporium.”
A better approach is to focus on a recognizable pain point layered on top of an industry or niche. Even then, pitches like “Marketing Content for Tech Companies” are a little crowded—you might see even better results if you sell a more precise outcome or to a subset of a certain industry, like improving the sales pipeline for enterprise software companies.
The last thing to consider for these businesses is that they are a direct trade of time for money. You can make good money with a small selection of high-paying clients, but the moment you stop working, the cash flow dries up.
You may be able to turn a freelance business into more of an agency, where hired help handles some client work. And for many business owners, the personal enjoyment they get from doing the work is a reason in itself to continue freelancing.
But it’s worth noting that you’re not building much of a standalone asset, so you may eventually want to expand into another business model. these are 11 Real Ways to Make Money Online in 2022.