You don’t always have to spend money to make money. If you want to launch a side gig to generate regular part-time income, or if you’re looking for some quick extra cash, there are websites that can help you do it.
Of course, it depends on your definition of “quick cash.” Sometimes earning fast cash still means putting in a decent time investment. That’s why our resource list of ways to make money online is in order from longest time investment to shortest time investment. Because time is, after all, money.
Consider these top resources to make money online:
— Merch by Amazon
Depending on whether you’re looking to earn extra money quickly or build a long-term income stream, each of the following websites offers unique advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) tailored to different needs and interests. Read on for more information on each site.
How it works: This is a popular website that can be helpful for freelancers/a. Know something about digital animation? You can work for someone who doesn’t have these skills and pick up some extra cash. Even better, you can offer to compile web research for someone.
Highlights: You can make good money from the site, says Dan Bochichio, a web designer and digital strategist in Albany, New York, who runs a two-person company called Bocain Designs. He says his firm earns $3,000 to $5,000 a month from Fiverr. “To stay ahead of the competition, I make sure my Fiverr profile and gig descriptions are well-written and communicate the value of the services I’m offering. When someone reaches out to me, I make sure to reply as quickly as I can and follow up with the inquiry by asking good questions. A quick but carefully written reply will increase the odds of them hiring you drastically,” Bochichio says.
Drawbacks: Bochichio’s success aside, Fiverr’s name comes from the fact that many people used to work for $5 a task. You can ask for more (and arguably should), but a lot of your prospective clients may expect low rates.
Time investment: Possibly considerable. If you’re asked to create a digital animated short, for instance, that isn’t something you’re going to whip up in 20 minutes. Plus, it may take 14 days for your money to reach your bank account after your work has been approved, although if you are a regular on Fiverr, you may get it in seven days.
How it works: Upwork is essentially a meeting site where businesses and freelancers throughout the world can connect and collaborate on certain projects. Businesses hire freelancers for a variety of services, including writing, web design and pretty much any work that can be done on a computer.
Highlights: Upwork takes a commission from 5% to 20%, but the more money you make, the less commission you pay.
Drawbacks: Upwork is popular, so there is a lot of competition on the website, and that can be a real drawback for people who are new to Upwork, says Sacha Darosa, owner of a digital marketing agency in Toronto called The Shirtless Web Guy.
“Before I started my business in web design, I created profiles on websites such as Upwork. In the beginning it was a struggle to attract any attention from buyers on those platforms because there’s so much competition. And much of the competition was from overseas, which made it impossible for me to compete with others on price,” he says.
So Darosa lowered his prices, and for a while he was working for next to nothing. But the positive feedback made his profile look better, and Darosa began charging more.
“Although platforms like Upwork can be helpful in building a portfolio and initial client base, I am glad to be off them and on my own,” Darosa says.
Time investment: As with Fiverr, you may be working for days or a week or so. If you’re tasked with creating someone’s website, that may take a little time. Then after your work has been approved, it can take 10 days to get paid. If you’re working regularly for someone, you may be able to get paid weekly.
Highlights: It’s easy to navigate the site and set up a shop.
Drawbacks: There’s a lot of competition on Etsy. On one hand, a lot of people know about Etsy. But once you put up your wares, as with Upwork and Fiverr, you are among scores of people selling stuff on Etsy. It may feel a little overwhelming.
Time investment: How fast does it take you to make custom jewelry or refrigerator magnets? You’ll work at your own pace, so depending what you make or sell, it could take a week, or it could take a couple hours. Generally, you get your money about three days after your point of sale. After three months on Etsy, you’ll start getting paid the next business day.
How it works: Are you willing to get your hands dirty? People come to this site to find those willing to do various tasks, such as putting together a bookcase, cleaning out a garage or running an errand. Do as many tasks as you want, and this could become quite the part-time (or full-time) job.
Highlights: You can apply for tasks, but you can also create a profile, explaining what tasks you’re skilled at, and people may seek you out for work.
Drawbacks: A lot of the tasks you’ll find on TaskRabbit are, as noted, physical — like setting up furniture. Of course, if that’s your jam, that’s a plus.
Time investment: Plan on several hours. Generally, these tasks aren’t huge time investments. Payments are usually approved within 24 hours of task completion, and you can expect the money to land in your bank account three to five days later.
Merch by Amazon
How it works: John Frigo, an affiliate manager for a website called MySupplementStore.com, says he sometimes makes money on the side by creating designs for T-shirts. He sells on Merch by Amazon as well as other platforms like Redbubble.com.
Highlights: Frigo says you can simply upload your designs and get paid. “Graphic designers can upload T-shirt designs and at that point it’s pretty much entirely passive, and you’re paid a royalty for every one of your designs that sell — but you don’t have to handle returns, do any customer service or ship anything,” Frigo says.
Drawbacks: You probably won’t get rich. For instance, Merch by Amazon offers examples of royalty prices, and for a T-shirt that sells for $15.99, the royalty would be $2.21. Still, once the hard work — designing the piece — is done, it’s easy money. If somebody buys your T-shirt, that is.
Time investment: Let’s assume at least a few hours. Maybe you’re an artist who can knock designs out in a hurry. Maybe you take weeks. But for most people, logic would suggest you should put aside a few hours. As for when you see your money, assuming you’re doing a brisk business selling your products, you could get paid once a month.
How it works: Do you have storage space in your house? Or maybe an empty garage or storage shed? You could rent out these spaces on Neighbor.com, which is sort of like Airbnb for the self-storage industry. You set your own prices, and the person who rents your space will pay Neighbor.com a service fee.
Highlights: You’re paid via direct deposit, or you can receive a debit card at the end of the month. There are some small fees subtracted from your payment for using Neighbor.com (a processing fee of 4.9% of the total reservation plus 30 cents per payout).
Drawbacks: There aren’t many. But if you suddenly need to use your storage space, you must give your renter 30 days of advance notice to pick up their stuff. If you don’t give them enough notice, you’ll pay a $60 termination fee.
Time investment: Plan for at least a couple of hours to prepare to store someone’s stuff, which may involve cleaning. You get paid after approximately 30 days of providing storage.
How it works: >If you don’t have the energy to hold a yard sale, OfferUp may be the next best thing. After you take a picture of what you have and price it, hopefully someone nearby will see it online, love it, send you a note and you’ll meet — in a public place, OfferUp’s website recommends — and you can get your cash. OfferUp also offers ways to mail items to buyers.
Highlights: OfferUp is often compared to Craigslist, but some users claim it’s an easier site to post on, probably because if you download the app, you can send instant messages to buyers and sellers, and members have profiles, so you can get a better sense of your buyers. If someone has earned badges on OfferUp, that’s a good sign they’re considered a trusted, reputable seller on the site.
Drawbacks: As noted, if you meet a buyer to exchange an item, meet in a public place. On its website, OfferUp says, “Keep in mind that just because someone is buying or selling online doesn’t guarantee your safety: You’re responsible for your safety, so when you arrange a meetup, take sensible precautions. In the event of an emergency or any danger, call 911 or your local emergency number.”
Time investment: Probably an hour or two of work, or the process could span days, depending how long it takes to sell your item. You take some pictures, set a price, negotiate with the buyer and possibly schedule a meetup to exchange the item for cash. If you ship an item to a buyer, it generally takes about four to five days for the money to show up in your bank account.
How it works: On Wonder, you can earn money for conducting research. Wonder doesn’t hire just anyone, though. The application process takes about five minutes, according to the website. And if Wonder thinks you have the skills to do research, you’ll get access to its dashboard. You can then showcase your skills and get paid for answering a question, perhaps from a business executive or an author writing a book.
Highlights: Researchers report making an average of $8 to $16 for each detailed answer, and job sites suggest researchers can make, on average, about $20 an hour. In short, Wonder offers an ideal gig for those who really enjoy learning and explaining.
Drawbacks: As noted, the pay is not high, especially if you spend a lot of time answering questions.
Time investment: About an hour for a detailed answer. You’ll get paid every two weeks through PayPal.
How it works: With the tagline “secondhand clothes, firsthand fun,” this e-commerce company appeals to thrifty types looking to make money and sell their clutter for cash. The online thrift store sells women’s and children’s clothes. You send the clothes in a ThredUp bag with a prepaid mailing label, and ThredUp decides the value, favoring popular brands and clothing in good condition. You’ll pay a fee if your items aren’t accepted, so hold a yard sale if your items have seen better days. But if you have quality clothing, ThredUp enables you to sell these unwanted items and may even pay you enough so that you can buy new threads.
Highlights: The process is simple. ThredUp sends you a prepaid bag to put your clothes in, or a shipping label if you prefer.
Drawbacks: You won’t get paid until your clothes are accepted by ThredUp. And if your items aren’t accepted, you pay a fee to have them shipped back to you — or to recycle them.
Time investment: Minutes, or as long as it takes to look through your closet and navigate ThredUp’s website.
How it works: Like ThredUp, Swap is an online consignment store. After you send in used clothes and toys and games, Swap will sell them for you. As for how much you can make, the website explains that if something is priced for $8 or less, you’ll get 15% cash back and a 20% store credit. If your item sells for more than $8, you’ll get 70% of the cash, minus a $4.95 processing charge, and a 20% store credit.
Highlights: It’s easier than selling on Facebook Marketplace, where you generally must meet a buyer to hand off an item. Aside from gathering items in your home and putting them in a prepaid box, the process is easy.
Drawbacks: As with ThredUp, your clothes may be rejected, which means either you won’t get them back or you pay a fee to have them returned.
Time investment: Minutes, or as long as it takes to hunt for some clothes and become familiar with Swap’s website. Even if you sell something quickly, it can take some time to get paid. You’ll get paid at the end of the month for sales from the prior month.
How it works: If you have an old cellphone or another device like an iPad or computer, you can sell your electronics here. The website will give you a cash offer for your device. If you agree, you’ll receive packaging materials. Gazelle pays the shipping costs, and you wait for a check in the mail, a gift card or cash transferred to your PayPal account. You may not make a fortune, but it’s better than letting an unused device collect dust on a shelf — and far better for the environment to sell it than toss it in the trash.
Highlights: It’s a pretty seamless process from start to finish.
Drawbacks: If you send in, say, a phone, and the phone doesn’t meet Gazelle’s expectations, the offer for what it will pay may go down considerably. On the other hand, Gazelle will send your phone back for free. So you aren’t risking much other than time.
Time investment: Minutes. It’s probably a faster process that ThredUp and Swap, since you likely don’t have a closet full of cellphones to look through. If all goes well, once Gazelle has your phone, you’ll have it inspected and be paid within about three to five business days.
How it works: This is a popular site for selling gift cards. If you have unused gift cards, CardSell will make you an offer and you can exchange them for cash or another gift card.
Highlights: There’s no charge to mail your gift cards to CardSell, and the process is pretty easy.
Drawbacks: You’ll never get the full value of your gift card.
Time investment: Minutes. Within 48 hours, you should see the money in your PayPal account.
More from U.S. News
Update 05/11/22: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.