I think it’s safe to say that we all want to make extra money. Especially if we can do so in our spare time from the comfort of our own home.
There are thousands upon thousands of articles already written on the many ways you can make extra money both online and off. So much so that I debated whether or not I should add yet another to the mix.
The problem with a lot of these articles, however, is that they’re thrown together lists with the same go-to ideas. In many cases, I really question whether or not the person writing the article actually uses the services themselves, or if they just want to promote their affiliate links and make extra money off of your desire to make extra money.
But not me.
I mean, yes, there ARE affiliate links in this article and throughout my site. And I too want to promote these links to make extra money. (You can read more about that in my disclosure.)
But I mostly want to share what I have actually done and what has actually worked for me to make extra money online, so that you can too. Even if some of these things are the same go-to ideas you’ve probably already heard about.
And I promise you, they are all things that I actually use or have used myself. In fact, there have been several times when I’ve relied on them to make ends meet when money ran short, so I know they work.
If you have any questions about anything I mention, please feel free to contact me. I’m happy to help!
But I Don’t Have a Blog or Website
One potential problem with most of the “how to make extra money online” posts you’ll come across is that they often include blogging as a major source of income. Don’t get me wrong – you absolutely can make money blogging. But it’s not going to be the kind of money that these articles promise, or that you’re hoping for.
For every blogger that makes $2,000 per month from their site, there are thousands that only make 2 cents a month. And most bloggers spend a lot more than just their “spare time” to earn those pennies.
The good news is that there are numerous ways to make money online that don’t require having a blog or website. So I’m going to focus on those.
(But hey, if you are interested in starting your own website check out the resources and services I use to run mine.)
How Much You Earn Depends on How Much
Time You Have
I’m going to be upfront and honest here. You are probably not going to make thousands of dollars a month online in your spare time. I’ll even go as far as to say that making thousands of dollars a year is a stretch. (I have yet to come close.)
But it is possible.
If you have a lot of “spare time”.
And you make the best use of that time.
Back in 2014-2015, I spent a ton of time each week trying to earn a little more. I was either unemployed and underemployed at the time, and really needed the extra money. But rather than putting my time and effort into something that was productive and worthwhile (like growing my website, perhaps?), I spent most of that time answering surveys for less than $1 an hour.
Last year, however, when I found myself unemployed once again (thanks to a horrible boss) and desperate to make money in order to survive, I knew better. I didn’t bother with the surveys that only paid 10 cents each, and instead focused on the things that paid $10 each.
In only a couple of weeks, I was able to make the same amount of money that had previously taken me all year to make.
Make Extra Money with Survey Sites
You know that survey sites were going to make an appearance, so I might as well start here and get it out of the way.
A big pro to survey sites is that they are easy. As long as you have access to the internet, you can answer surveys, no matter where you are.
The biggest con, however, is that most survey sites have a very low payout. A survey that takes you 20 minutes to complete might only be worth 10 cents. So as I’ve already touched upon, finding “higher” paying sites is key to making it more worth your time. But even then, that 20 minute survey still might only pay $2.
Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon for you to be a few minutes into a survey before you suddenly disqualify and don’t get any reward at all.
But they sure are a lot of fun if you love entering your birthday and postal code over and over again! And sometimes you do get surveys for things that are really interesting, like for a new product launch or a brand redesign.
Again, this isn’t a quick way to make any sort of real money, but it is pretty easy to make some money this way. As long as you’re realistic with your expectations.
Swagbucks is probably the most popular survey site, even though it is not one of the higher paying ones. A big reason that it’s popular is that there are lots of ways to earn points (or in this case, Swagbucks) besides answering surveys. This includes shopping online, watching videos, searching the internet, playing games, and taking advantage of exclusive deals or offers from popular companies.
If you sign-up for free, you’ll get a 300 Swagbucks welcome bonus, which can be redeemed for a lot of different rewards including Amazon gift cards or PayPal cash to name just a few.
My Points is a lot like Swagbucks. You can earn points in a lot of ways besides answering surveys, such as shopping online, using coupons, watching videos and even booking your travel arrangements.
You can also get a free $10 Amazon gift card by joining as a new member (if you meet the terms and conditions).
Web Perspectives (Canada only)
This is my favourite survey site. Unfortunately, they are rarely open to new members and are only open to Canadians. As a panelist, this actually works to my advantage as I rarely get screened out of a survey because they’ve already gotten the number of responses needed.
Most surveys are worth 50 cents to $2 in points, which can be redeemed for gift cards at places including Cineplex, Starbucks, Chapters/Indigo and Amazon.ca.
The thing that I like best about Opinion Outpost is that it has a low payout threshold of only $5 for Amazon.com gift cards and $10 for PayPal cash or for an iTunes or Amazon.ca gift card.
This was one of the first survey sites that I started using back in 2014, and I still use to this day. Their interface is simple, but it works!
Most of the surveys on Leo (formerly known as Ledger Web) pay $1 and take about 10 minutes. Although it’s still not a great per-hour rate, it is better than a lot of the others.
You can redeem your points for Starbucks or Tim Hortons gift cards, PayPal cash, prepaid Visa gift cards, a cheque, or convert them into Air Miles or Aeroplan points instead.
As the name suggests, Product Report Card focuses more on product reviews than the other survey sites.
You can register products that you own and qualify for in-home product testing, as well as answering surveys. (I once received free toilet paper to test!)
Most surveys are worth 10-25 cents each, but they do occasionally offer higher paying surveys, too. I’ve done a few that paid $5 for about 15 minutes of work.
The biggest disadvantage of this site is that unlike most of the others, your rewards WILL EXPIRE within a year if you don’t reach the $25 payout threshold. So if you aren’t very active, you do risk losing any points you’ve accumulated.
(If you are Canadian and being told you can’t sign up, please try this link instead.)
On that note, if you are going to sign up for survey sites, I highly suggest picking 2 or 3 that you like, and sticking with those. Otherwise, you’ll end up with multiple accounts sitting at a few bucks each that you can’t cash-out. You want to be sure that you actually redeem and use whatever points you earn, otherwise you’re not making extra money online – you’re just passing the time. (I learned this the hard way!)
Make Extra Money with Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is another way to make extra money online that you were probably anticipating.
If you do have a website or blog, you can include your affiliate links throughout your site (as most of us bloggers do these days) and make money that way. I’ve had the most luck using Gift Guides.
Although affiliate marketing can be a lot easier with a blog or website, you don’t have to have one in order to be an affiliate marketer. You just need to be online in some way.
For example, I am Facebook friends with someone who reads A LOT. I mean like, 20+ books a month. (Don’t ask me how she does it!) After she’s finished a book, she writes a quick paragraph or two on what the book was about, if she liked it or not, and throws in an Amazon Affiliate link. She doesn’t try to “sell” it or even include a “click here to buy it” text or anything. But she makes sales!
So it is possible to do something similar by turning a hobby of yours into a opportunity to make extra money.
People like affiliate marketing because it is easy to share your links. Getting people to click on them and sign-up or make a purchase, however, is where it gets tough.
But with the right strategies and well, marketing, some people (like Michelle of Making Sense of Cents) are making $50,000 per month through affiliate marketing! I, on the other hand, have only made about $100 all year, but I do very little marketing. So I’m sure you can make more extra money than I have if put in the effort.
Make Extra Money with Research Panels
To be honest, I am not sure how I ended up on the online research panels that I’m currently a part of. My guess is that I signed-up for them through bonus offers with other sites like Swagbucks and Product Report Card.
This also, unfortunately, means that I couldn’t find any option to sign-up to these panels or provide a referral link, which is too bad because they tend to pay a lot better than survey sites and take much less time.
(If I do find a way to sign-up, I’ll come back and update this post so that you can join, too!)
One panel sends me a questionnaire once a year. I answer some questions about my household budget (which, as a personal finance enthusiast, I find really interesting!) and they send me $10.
Another panel lasted for a month. I’d complete simple weekly tasks such as answering some questions and participating in online forum discussions. It paid $50.
The only ongoing panel that I’m currently a part of operates the same way with weekly tasks and discussions. They pay me $10 a month in Amazon gift cards for about 30 minutes of work.
Make Extra Money with Website Testing
Of all the ways to make extra money online that I’ve tried, website testing is by far my favourite, and has given me the best results!
As a website tester, you are paid to test out different websites either from your computer, phone or tablet. Your screen is recorded while you navigate the website and answer simple questions as you go. The sites I use typically pay $10 per test.
So yes, those click-bait titles claiming you can make $30 an hour are technically true – but that’s only if you qualify for the open tests. Personally, I’ve never qualified for more than 4 tests in one day, and that’s only ever happened once.
The biggest and only con I can think of is that you do need to be in a quiet place where you can talk out loud. So website testing is not something you can easily do at your local coffee shop or while the kids are napping in the next room.
You also want to be mindful of your privacy, as you are recording and sharing your screen. What I do is simply use a different browser. For example, if you use Chrome most of the time and have all your bookmarks and passwords saved in Chrome, use Firefox to do your website testing. It’s much less likely that you’ll share any personal information this way.
This is the site I use to make the most extra money online. If they had an affiliate link, I’d never shut up about them!
With UserTesting, each test takes 10-20 minutes, and pays $10 via PayPal exactly one week later. (And I mean exactly, like to the minute!) Occasionally, they do offer longer and higher paid surveys, too.
I’ve been using UserTesting on and off since 2015. I used it a lot when I was first unemployed, but then not at all when I was working full-time.
As I already mentioned, last year when I found myself unemployed yet again, UserTesting saved us. Literally. There was a month where things just didn’t line up for us at all, and my husband and I had ZERO income. This is not an exaggeration, either, unfortunately. Our bank accounts were drained and our credit was beyond maxed. But we still needed to eat. We still needed to pay our rent and our bills.
So I hopped online and turned to UserTesting, knowing that it works and they pay exactly one week later, as promised.
If that’s not a glowing recommendation, I don’t know what is!
I have not used IntelliZoom (formerly known as What Users Do) nearly as much as I have used UserTesting, because they also record your face while you take their “Think Out Loud” tests. And I’m not always comfortable with that.
But IntelliZoom also has “Non-Think Out Loud” studies, which I tend to participate in a lot more. This includes card sorting (categorizing a list into topics), screenshot click tests (recording where you would click on a website) and moderated and diary studies.
Each study has a different payment amount, which is clearly indicated, but are usually $5 to $10. The moderated studies can pay more, but I have not personally qualified for one yet, so I’m not sure exactly how much more.
Getting paid with IntelliZoom can take up to 21 business days which is pretty slow, but can be approved in as little as 3 days. So you don’t always know when that money will arrive. And sometimes that’s a big deal.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make extra money online in your spare time. These are just the ones that have worked for me. Hopefully you can find something that works for you too, so that you can be at least a little bit better off financially.
YOUR TURN: How do you make extra money online in your spare time? Have you tried any of the options I’ve mentioned? Do you have your own way that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment and let us know!
Photo by Eugene Chystiakov from Pexels
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.