How to Make Money: 20 Clever Ways to Earn Extra Cash

Looking for quarters in your couch cushions? Here is a long list of legit ways to make money instead.
Last updated Sep 9, 2020 | By Lindsay Frankel
How to Make Money

FinanceBuzz is reader-supported. We may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

It’s true: Cash doesn’t grow on trees. But there are still plenty of ways to make money, even during an economic downturn. Whether you’re looking for full-time work, a part-time venture, or an opportunity to earn passive income, there are options for everyone, regardless of experience and training. And you don’t have to sell your soul or break the law.

We’ve rounded up a long list of ideas so you can choose something that fits your lifestyle, talents, and personal interests. Some of these ways to make extra money don’t even require you to leave your house and just require an internet connection. Although others do require you to show up in person, if you pick something that sounds fun to you, it might not feel so much like work.

So if you’re looking to start a new income stream in your spare time, check out this list:

Answer online surveys

Participating in market research is a great way to impact the future of business and a surefire way to make extra cash from your couch. Most survey sites match you with personalized surveys and let you pick the ones that matter to you, so it might even be interesting to do.

You will get paid for sharing your opinion, typically either as cash back or gift cards. The best survey sites have a variety of payout options. Some of the same sites will also pay you to watch videos or do other online activities. Some online survey sites even let you answer surveys from your smartphone.

Survey Junkie and Swagbucks are some of the more well-known sites, but there are plenty of others and you can answer surveys on more than one site to stack your side hustles and make even more easy money.

SurveyJunkie Benefits

  • Make money in your spare time
  • Get paid instantly via PayPal for filling out surveys and surfing the web
  • Join over 6 million members

Start a website or blog

If you build a website or blog that gets enough visitors, you can monetize it. The first step is just to pick a domain name that fits your idea and register it or you can start by blogging for free on a variety of platforms. If you’re not sure where to start, just try writing on a niche topic that you’re knowledgeable about.

To make money off the website, you can use Google AdSense to earn money for advertisements on your site, or you can find products that relate well to your content and earn money through affiliate marketing. When readers click an affiliate link on your website and make a purchase, you’ll get commission, and you may even get paid per click. You could also open an online store on your website if you have services or products to sell.

What’s more, writing content for your own website or blog could lead to freelance writing work. If becoming a blogger sounds good to you, here’s how to start a successful blog.

Start a business

If you have a good idea for a business, whether it’s an online business or a sticks-and-bricks business, the first step is to write a business plan to think through the details and costs.

There are a lot of things to consider: You’ll need to secure funding for your business, whether that’s a small business loan, a small business credit card, or crowdfunding. You should also open a business bank account. Finally, you’ll need to register your business, follow any licensing requirements, and get your tax ID number.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to start a business and some business ideas to inspire you.

Deliver food

When hungry folks need meals and groceries delivered, you could be the hero who shows up at their door with the goods. If you can provide friendly customer service and have access to a bike or car, consider working for a delivery service as an independent contractor.

You’ll typically use a mobile app to receive orders, then you just pick them up and deliver them to customers. Like many of the best side hustles, food delivery allows you to make your own hours. Pay varies, but you keep 100% of your tips.

Some services you could work for include:

  • Instacart: Pack and deliver orders from local grocery stores
  • Postmates: Pick up and deliver orders from a variety of retailers
  • DoorDash: Pick up and deliver meals from local restaurants
  • Shipt: Pack and deliver groceries and supplies from Target and other retailers

DoorDash Benefits

  • Be your own boss and set your own hours
  • Keep 100% of the delivery fee plus any tips or boosts
  • Dashers earn an average of $15-25 an hour

Rent out your car

It’s easy to earn passive income renting out your car when you’re not using it. Carsharing marketplaces like Getaround and Turo allow you to list your car for rent. Both companies provide robust insurance coverage, so you’ll be well-protected if something happens to your car. Getaround even offers keyless entry — users unlock your car with their mobile phone, so you never have to meet the renter.

Getaround Benefits

  • Average Getaround car owner makes $1,000s per year
  • Rent your car to potential drivers
  • $1,000,000 insurance on every rental
  • Turn your car into a paycheck

Do social media

Social media can be a great way to make money online. If you’re savvy with social media and have a proven ability to collect followers, you may be able to get a side job or full-time gig managing social media accounts for others. Alternatively, you could grow your own social media account and become an influencer. As with blogging, you can partner with brands or use affiliate marketing to monetize your social media presence.

Start a YouTube channel

If you have skills or knowledge to share, you may be able to get an audience on YouTube. Once you have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours in the previous year, you’ll be eligible to monetize your channel and earn money through Google AdSense.

You might also use your channel to sell related products or services. For example, you might direct viewers to an online course or e-book that you have for sale. Or you might provide longer content on another platform for a fee. You could also build up your skills to get work helping other people with their YouTube channels.

Become a rideshare driver

If you enjoy meeting new people and exploring your city, rideshare driving could be a great way to make money from the comfort of your car. You can choose your own hours — simply open the rideshare provider’s app and accept a ride whenever you want to start working. Some rideshare services even allow you to get paid instantly. Although Uber and Lyft are the better-known services, there are other rideshare companies out there.

DoorDash Benefits

  • Be your own boss and set your own hours
  • Keep 100% of the delivery fee plus any tips or boosts
  • Dashers earn an average of $15-25 an hour

Become a freelancer

Speaking of which, remember that you can turn any of your skills into your own freelance business. You can advertise your services on websites like Upwork, TaskRabbit, and Amazon Mechanical Turk. You might become a virtual assistant, offer graphic design services, or do bookkeeping or data entry.

The possibilities for freelancing are endless. And because you get to be the boss, you’ll have flexibility in setting your schedule. That means you can pick up freelance gigs outside of a full-time job to earn extra income. Eventually, you may even gather enough clients to freelance full time if that’s your goal.

Sell your old electronics

If you have an old phone or computer you no longer use, knowing how to sell your used electronics can be an easy way to make some quick cash. You could sell to an individual on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, or you could use an online resale marketplace like eBay.

There are also companies that will buy your used electronics, but you won’t be able to set your own price. With Gazelle or DeCluttr, you get free shipping and payments via direct deposit or PayPal. Retailers like Best Buy and GameStop also buy used electronics.

Sell your old clothes

If you have gently used clothing that you no longer wear, you can turn your old stuff into extra cash. You have a few options when it comes to selling your clothing, shoes, and accessories:

  • Take your items to a resale boutique or consignment shop
  • Send your items to an online resale site like ThredUp or Material World
  • Sell your items locally on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or LetGo
  • Use an online resale platform like Poshmark, Mercari, Depop, or Tradesy

The last two options will typically result in higher earnings, as you’ll be able to set your own prices. Most online resale platforms also send you prepaid shipping labels that make the process hassle-free.

Walk dogs

If you want a job that puts a smile on your face, consider becoming a dog walker as a way to use your free time to make extra money. With Rover, you can earn good money while you create your own schedule and set your own prices. Plus, you get paid just two days after you complete a service, which could be dog walking, pet boarding, housesitting, or grooming. Just keep in mind that you will need prior pet experience for this gig.

Rover - Become a Sitter Benefits

  • Get paid to play with dogs
  • Choose if you want to pet sit or walk dogs (or both!)
  • Set your own schedule and prices

Uplevel your skill set

Taking online courses or certification programs can help you appear more valuable in the eyes of your employer. That could help bolster your case the next time you ask for a raise or promotion. Some employers may offer to fund continuing education courses, and there are also plenty of free online courses you can take to improve your skills.

Find a new job

If you’re stuck in a low-paying job that you’re not passionate about, it’s probably time for a new role, a new employer, or a complete career change. The best jobs for you will be ones that accommodate your lifestyle, provide enjoyable work, and pay a salary you can live comfortably with.

You may want to take a career quiz to find out which job options are most appropriate for you. You’ll also want to update your LinkedIn profile. You should also consider talking to your current employer about other potential options at your company, as moving into another department may be easier than finding an entirely new place of work.

Make a habit of keeping an eye out for job postings on the following websites as well:

  • Indeed
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Google Jobs
  • Idealist
  • AngelList

Become a handyperson

If you enjoy fixing things, consider offering your services as a handyperson. You may want to start by doing some work for friends or neighbors and collecting testimonials.

You can list your services on a platform like Thumbtack or HomeAdvisor Pro to get sales leads. Be sure to respond to customers promptly, provide superior customer service, and ask satisfied customers to write a review. Ultimately, you may want to create your own website advertising your services as well.

Home Advisor Benefits

  • New projects posted every two seconds
  • Decide when, where and how you want to work
  • Free to join
  • Over 100 million projects started

Sell stuff on Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace that allows creators and curators to sell everything from handmade items and artwork to vintage items and craft projects. It’s easy to start your own Etsy shop, and the listing fee is quite low. Keep in mind that when your item sells, you’ll also pay a percentage-based transaction fee and a payment processing fee, so you should build those costs into your selling price.

If opening an Etsy shop fits your idea of becoming a business owner, here’s everything you need to know about how to start an Etsy shop, along with some Etsy shop ideas to get you started.

Have a yard sale

If you need to declutter your home and need a way to quickly make $1,000, consider having a yard sale. Depending on what you have to offer, you can make a lot of money with a yard sale. You might be surprised by how much you earn while getting rid of old furniture, gently used clothing, tools, your kids’ old toys, and more.

Set your prices a little higher than you’re willing to let the items go for, so you’ll have room for negotiation. To make a little extra cash, you can sell snacks and beverages at your yard sale as well.

Sell stuff on Amazon

Whether you choose to resell or manufacture your own product, Amazon can put your items in front of millions of customers. And if you use Fulfilled by Amazon, Amazon will even store, pack, and ship your items for you.

The fees for selling on Amazon can be low, and if you choose the right product, it can also be an incredibly lucrative venture. For more details, read our guide how to sell items on Amazon.

Jungle Scout Benefits

  • Learn from industry-leading professionals
  • Find products and suppliers
  • Manage inventory and analyze sales
  • 14-day money back guarantee

Start a subscription box service

Subscription boxes are wildly popular, so if you have an idea for a monthly item or themed package, consider selling on Cratejoy. Your box will get the attention of 4 million monthly site views, and there are no monthly fees, just a transaction fee and payment processing fees.

You can either buy products in bulk and combine them into packages or sell something handmade. Do your research to make sure you’re offering something unique and charging a competitive price and you could turn a subscription service into your own business that makes you fun and easy cash.

Host an experience

Airbnb isn’t just for renting out your spare room (though that’s another great way to snag some extra cash). You can also host in-person and online experiences to share your skills, knowledge, and passions with others. These are sort of like webinars, but better. They’re a great way to get to know people all over the world while making money doing something you care about.

You might teach a music lesson or cooking class, take travelers on a walking tour, teach yoga or meditation, or put on a magic show. If you can dream it up and there’s an audience for it, you can list it as an experience on Airbnb. You’ll also be able to set your own prices and host on your schedule.

Bottom line

There will likely be many times in your life in which you need to pick up some extra income. You might lose your job, have your hours cut, or move to a more expensive city. You might also be planning for a large purchase, such as a house or car, or starting a family. Or you could have your sights set on early retirement. Whatever the reason, there are myriad ways to earn the money you need to meet your goals. We suggest picking something that fits in your schedule, is aligned with your interests, and sounds fun — and then just dive in!

SurveyJunkie Benefits

  • Make money in your spare time
  • Get paid instantly via PayPal for filling out surveys and surfing the web
  • Join over 6 million members