How to Make Money Online Without Investment?

You want to make money online, but you don’t have money to invest in an online business?

Well, you’re not alone, nor the first one to try to make money without investment.

You may not see it right away, but this great news for you! It means you can learn from the mistakes others made and succeed where others failed.

And I’m here to share my mistakes and prevent you from making them too.

Back in the early days of internet marketing, I had some attempts to make money online, but because I didn’t push through the challenges and wasn’t open to learning new skills, I failed miserably.

The good news is that there are ways to make money without investing money, the not-so-good news is that you cannot do it without putting in time and work, and I learned that the hard way.

So, if you’re ready to take on a few challenges and learn new skills, you can successfully make money online, but only by investing time and work.

Before I line up some of the ways to earn money online, there’s a few things to sort out, namely the skills that you need to polish up on or acquire and some of the caveats of making money online.

Skills You Need to Succeed Online

Depending on which online money-making ideas you’re going to try, you’ll need some of the following skills:

  • Online marketing and search engine optimization skills to efficiently advertise your services and to drive traffic to your website, YouTube channel, etc.;
  • Social media marketing to build a group of loyal followers;
  • Basic IT skills to create a blog or website;
  • Video editing skills to create videos;
  • Good writing skills.

Some of these skills you can learn along the way, with others you’ll have to get a grip on before you take on a project.

Beware of Scams

The web is littered with sites that promise you all sorts of unrealistic ways to earn money while sitting around in your jammies all day, and some of these are straight up scams.

Common scams and job ideas that don’t work include:

  • Anything that asks you to pay upfront to get access to some “secret” way of making money or to buy a “starter package” is a scam and you shouldn’t bother;
  • Ponzi scheme-like businesses (yeah, they’re online too!);
  • Stuffing envelopes for cash;
  • Email processing jobs;
  • Paid survey jobs.

And really anything that sounds too good to be true is probably a scam to trick you out of your money.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many websites and shady online businesses are preying on vulnerable people who are hoping to find a way to make some fast cash.

Paid survey jobs and other similar jobs are honestly not worth your time since you won’t be making enough money to buy a half-decent meal.

Now that we have all these out of the way, let’s see some of the things you can do to actually earn money online.

Money-Making Ideas That Really Work

Thankfully, there are plenty of genuine ways to earn money online. The ones I will be discussing below are legit ways to start an income stream without investment.

Be advised that no investment does not equal zero investment. As I clarified at the beginning of this article, you’ll be investing quite a lot of time and effort.

Some of the ideas do require a few dollars here and there (e.g. to buy web hosting to launch a website), but most of the ideas I’ll discussing can be done without any financial commitment.

So, here they are:

1.  Blogging

This is the only idea on my list that requires you to buy web hosting for your blog, but you can get a shared hosting plan for as low as $2.95/month from BlueHost.

They’ll even throw in a free domain name, so you can save on that too!

Now, on its own generating content for your blog won’t get you paid in sweet internet money.

This is where your newly acquired internet marketing skills should come in to help you market your blog.

The most common ways to monetize your blog include:

  • Directly selling advertising space on your blog;
  • Driving sales for a third party and get a commission after each sale (affiliate marketing);
  • Creating leads for a third-party and get paid for each lead (lead-generation);
  • Running Google AdSense ads on your blog.

Before you can get cracking on these monetization techniques, it’s time to do some research into what your blog is going to be about.


You can’t just willy-nilly post content and hope that something will catch on. You’ll need a plan, and very good one at that!

Because the blogosphere is rather saturated, you need something to stand out. I recommend specializing in a niche and building an audience around it.

You can make your blog about anything that you can build an audience around — a reviews website, a tutorial site, a consultancy site, a site about finance, weight loss, health, fitness, nutrition, you name it!

Do Your Research

Before you start writing content, make sure to check out the competition and do some keyword research.

You can use Google Keyword Planner or other similar tools to see what searches are trending in your niche and how high is the competition for certain keywords.

Look up blogs or websites with a topic similar to your own. In fact, look up as many similar websites as you can.

This will give you an idea of what common problems people are facing, what they need solutions to, and what topics you should cover that haven’t been covered at all or haven’t been covered well enough by the competition.

Get Cracking on SEO

At this point you should really delve into SEO to make sure you’re building up your blog in a way that makes it easy for search engine crawlers to feature you in search results.

In the beginning, you’ll have to write a lot of content to get picked up by search engines. Make sure your content is great, easy to read, and interesting.

Write longer articles, use long-tail keywords, and play around with content to make it as varied and compelling as possible. Use images, videos, infographics to stand out.

The idea is to attract more and more traffic to your blog, which will help you earn money from your blogging.

Keep Trying

Remember that it takes some time for your blog to get traction before you can start earning money.

It could be months of hard work, before you’ll get enough traffic to even be considered by third-party marketers.

The key is not to give up and continue working on your blog with the same enthusiasm like on the first day you started.

If you’re not sure which monetization technique would be most suitable for, I recommend trying them all and see.

2.  Make YouTube Videos

Another way you can generate income online without investing a dime is by making YouTube videos.

The steps are easy:

  • Create a Channel;
  • Create and upload lots of quality videos;
  • Join the Google AdSense Network to serve ads in your videos;
  • Get paid each time an ad runs on your videos.

As for the topics of your channel, you can take your pick — cooking videos, tech reviews, movie reviews, comedy channels, beauty and fitness channels, health channels, and so on.

Before you can start serving ads on you channel, you must put out a lot of videos and build a subscriber base.

To do this, you’ll need some skills like working with the camera or working with video editing tools.

If you don’t want to lend your face to your channel, you don’t have to.

There are quite a few successful YouTube channels like the Infographic Show (2.7 million subscribers) or Casually Explained (1.8 million subscribers), whose creators only lend their voices to their channels.

If you want to earn money making YouTube videos, you’ll have to establish yourself as an authority channel or a popular YouTube creator.

A lot of things can factor into YouTube success like the quality of your videos, the quality of your copywriting, the appeal of the topics you’re discussing, etc.

To drive traffic to your channel and gain subscribers, you should follow the tips below:

Provide Value

Before you can pitch anything to your audience with the goal to monetize your channel, first, you’ll need to provide value to your subscriber base.

Providing value means adding something to their lives, helping them solve a problem, helping them reach a decision, or it can be something as simple as making them laugh.

Either way, you’ll need to publish interesting videos that convince people to subscribe to your channel and watch your videos each time you post something new.

Provide Quality Videos

It goes without saying that you should pay attention to the quality of your videos. This means making sure that sound, lighting, special effects, editing, etc. are all great.

People will be more likely to watch or re-watch your videos if the quality is good. Make sure you know what you’re doing when it comes to editing.

To check off all these points, you don’t need super expensive equipment, you can shoot great videos even with the camera on your smartphone.

Grow Your Channel

Grow your YouTube channel by posting videos regularly. During the initial phase of growing your channel, you’ll need to post as often as you can, but at least 3 times per week.

You need to do this to give your audience a reason to subscribe to your channel and to keep up the pace with competing channels.

Once you have enough videos on your channel, you can encourage your viewers to watch your other videos and subscribe.

Drive Traffic to Your Channel

One way to drive traffic to your channel is to give great titles to your videos and add choose an irresistible thumbnail.

While these are the main things that will help people decide to click or not on your videos, there are other things you can do as well.

You can do some further optimization like adding a good description to your video and tagging your video with relevant keywords.

It’s also a good idea to create your channel a good brand profile by adding an attractive banner image and creating a channel trailer in which you introduce yourself and the topic of your channel.

Even when you’re done with all this, there’s still more that you can do to get more views and clicks. If you already have an existing social media profile, post your videos there and ask your friends to view, like and share your videos.

Monetize Your Channel

Only when you already have a sizeable number of subscribers can you start monetizing your channel.

Google AdSense is one way to do it, but there are alternatives that can be just as financially viable options like featuring sponsored content or sponsored products on your channels, recommending products or services on your channel, sell your own merchandise, and so on.

To run AdSense ads, you don’t have to do much, except enable monetization on your channel and join the AdSense network.

If you opt for other monetization techniques, you must first develop a good rapport with your audience by engaging with them (e.g. replying to their comments) and getting to know them, so you can pitch them products and services they would be interested in.

Listening to your audience can give you a good idea about their likes and dislikes, the things they would enjoy seeing on your channel, and so on.

3.  Write Content for Others/Write eBooks

If you don’t like the idea of managing your own blog or website, you can join websites that bring together content writers and people looking for writers.

Become a Copywriter

Sites like iWriter, Textbroker, Fiverr, Freelancer, Upwork are all good choices for freelance writers.

Simply sign up to these websites, complete your profile and apply for or bid for writing jobs. If you’re selected, you can start writing.

Depending on the website, you can be paid upfront or you can be paid after you complete your writing task.

If you speak foreign languages, you can also offer copywriting in those languages or expand your copywriting services to include translations as well.

Besides joining these networks, you can look for blogs, magazines, or websites that are looking for collaborators and join their team as a content writer.

Make sure you’re ready to submit sample texts or to write a short article on a given topic, so your collaborators can test your writing skills.

You can specialize in writing about topics that you care about or you’re passionate about, but don’t be afraid to take on topics that need you to research certain subjects or delve into topics you’re not immediately familiar with.

Writing niches that are sought-after in 2018 include health and fitness, weight loss and dieting, finance, IT, web hosting, product reviews, games, etc.

Sell eBooks on Amazon

If you’re really serious about writing, you could self-publish an eBook and sell it on Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing.

Selling eBooks on Amazon can be a highly lucrative way of making money from your writing, especially if you manage to get on bestseller lists.

Compared to traditional book publishing, publishing an eBook is much easier and you can control every aspect from putting together your eBook to marketing it to your audience.

If making money passively is another of your goal while working online, writing eBooks is a quintessential example of getting paid over and over for work that you do once.

Of course, even if it’s just an eBook, writing one is not a walk in the park. Most writers don’t see their work published, let alone hit bestseller lists.

And this is where determination, hard work and a good support system from family and friends come into play.

If you’re not keen on trying Kindle Direct Publishing (although you’ll be hard-pressed to find another platform with the kind of reach Amazon has), you can try selling your eBook directly on your site.

This method will allow you to charge as much as you want and keep all the profit from sales.

Selling your book on your own website or blog can work well if you already have an authority blog or website that gets thousands of visitors each day. Otherwise, Kindle Direct Publishing is a better way to make money selling eBooks.

Today’s digital age allows writers to earn money online by cutting out the middleman (the publishing house) and self-publish eBooks or simply write content for affiliate marketing or other platforms.

4.  Sign Up to Fiverr/Freelancer

Platforms like Fiverr or Freelancer can be used not only for landing writing jobs, but for other types of jobs as well.

When Fiverr launched back in 2010, I was fresh out of college with no job lined up for me, so I was the first one to jump at small writing tasks that paid $5. Soon enough, I was making between $300-$500 a week.

Although it kept its name, $5 is no longer the per task price at Fiverr and you can charge custom prices for the services you offer.

As I already mentioned, Fiverr is not all about writing content, you can offer web design, app development, logo design, video and animation, digital marketing and a host of other services.

The secret to success on Fiverr is creating an interesting profile and getting positive reviews from former clients.

Unlike Fiverr, where you’re contacted directly by clients, on Freelancer you have to bid for a job that you’d like to get. If your bid is selected, you can start working.

You can offer any digital services from web design to SEO.

Freelancer also uses a rating system to help clients pick the best bidders for the job.

There are other similar platforms that bring together clients with freelancers for project-based collaborations, but Fiverr and Freelancer are perhaps the most established and well-known marketplaces for freelancers.

5.  Make Money on Instagram

Talking about making the big bucks online! Being a successful social media influencer is indeed a profitable way to get money by promoting products or services to your followers.

Instagram is the platform of choice for most successful social media influencers, but it doesn’t hurt to branch out on other social media channels like Facebook or Twitter.

So, if you’re wondering if you could make what Kim Kardashian & Co. are doing on Instagram, you shouldn’t wonder too much — after all it’s not rocket science.

You may not come close to the influence and fame awarded to these celebrities, but you can be a successful social media influencer even without being born into money.

The recipe to Instagram success or social media success revolves around the following key elements – reach and influence.

If you manage to zero in on these two things, you can earn money simply by making Instagram posts and InstaStories.

How to Build Reach & Influence on Instagram?

Having reach on Instagram means having a large and engaged follower base.

Depending on how much you want to rely on the money you make on Instagram, even 1000 engaged followers can be a good starting point, but generally, popular Instagrammers have hundreds of thousands of followers.

The number of followers you can get is also largely dependent on the niche of your profile. If you’re building an Instagram profile that revolves around beauty, fashion, travelling, fitness, or cooking, your chances of getting more followers is higher.

While you’re still establishing your Instagram brand, it’s important to stay connected with your followers, reply to their comments, and engage in discussions.

Once you’ve managed to build and Instagram profile with a significant number of followers, you can start considering options to monetize your Instagram page and get the best out of your popularity.

This is where influence comes in, which means that your followers view you as an authority or role model in the niche you’re activating in and are willing to listen to your advice and recommendations.

When you have influence, you can start reaching out to companies that you’re willing to collaborate with, or even better, companies will reach out to you for partnership deals.

How to Make Money on Instagram?

There are three major ways to make money on Instagram:

  • Featuring sponsored content;
  • Affiliate marketing;
  • Selling your own products or services.

Instagram models and influencers usually partner with brands to promote clothing lines, supplements, cosmetics, workout gear, shoes, and other similar products.

You can also become an affiliate for companies and get paid after the sales that you drive to those companies.

If you want to launch your own line of merchandise, what better platform to test the waters than your very own loyal follower base?

Most influencers say that being honest and transparent with their followers builds trust, so let them know which of your posts are sponsored or disclose partnership deals.

When you’re trying to pitch them products or services make sure to only recommend things that you yourself would use, otherwise pitching things can blow up in your face.

Making money on Instagram is not all that different from making money on YouTube or a blog. For all of these channels, you need loyal followers and a topic that keeps people interested in what you have to say.

Up until now, we’ve only discussed the various options to earn money without monetary investment. Now, let’s discuss about some of the pitfalls of making money online.

Making Money Online – Pitfalls to Avoid

Some people are money magnets and turn everything they touch into gold. Others? Well, not so much.

If you fall into the second category, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue opportunities.

On the contrary, the more things you try and more determined you are, the higher your chances of success.

As you can see, there are several ways you can make money from the comfort of your home and even without making a financial investment.

But there are some pitfalls you should know about if you want to pursue this route:

Not Learning New Skills

If you’re a complete beginner to the online job sphere, you’re going to have to learn a few things, otherwise you’ll be forced to rely on others and that costs money.

Some people are born with talents that make them good at something without putting in too much effort, but if you’re pursuing things that you’re not talented at or you’re not knowledgeable in, you’re going to have to learn.

With every online project that I’ve listed in this article, you’re going to have to learn the basics of online marketing, SEO, content management, and copywriting.

The more you put off learning these skills, the harder it will become to stay on top of things, and the harder it will become to start earning money.

The internet is abundant with free resources and tutorials on all these topics, so go ahead and peruse them. If you’re not a good autodidact, maybe you have friends that you can ask for help.

Giving Up Too Early

Results usually don’t come right away!

It takes a good while to launch an online business, and in some cases, you won’t see the results only years after you’ve put in the time and effort.

Some people work on their blogs, YouTube channels, or books years on end before they can cash in on their work, so be patient and keep working until you see results.

Sometimes, what works for others might not work for you or your audience, and the solution your problems might be a small tweak away.

So, don’t be afraid to test various marketing or advertising techniques until you find the one that works for you.

Quitting Your Day Job Prematurely

Just because you’ve launched a YouTube channel today and gotten 100 views, it doesn’t mean you can quit your day job.

Stick to your day job until your side hustle grows into a reliable source of income.

Yes, it will be harder to focus on your side hustle while you’re working a full-time job, but until you’re sure you can make a living off of it, don’t just walk away from your other job.

Building something from the ground up is difficult and you’ll have periods when you’ll feel you can no longer do it but take it one day at a time and push through the difficulties.

Making Wrong Choices

Whichever of the above investment-free money-making ideas you’re going to pick, first ask yourself:

Am I willing to learn what it takes to make it in this field?


Is this something that I’m genuinely interested in or passionate about?

If your answer is no, and you still go through with it, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

If you do something just with the sole purpose of making money and you’re not providing any or much value, you’ll have a hard time getting subscribers or followers, and you’ll be forced to jump ship sooner or later.

So, pick a money-making opportunity that you see yourself doing and choose a niche that you’re passionate about.

In a nutshell, these are the pitfalls you should know about before you start attempting to make money online.

Final Thoughts

An investment-free online business is an attainable goal, but its success depends on many factors, and sometimes luck is a big factor.

Despite your best efforts, you may not achieve the kind of success you’re dreaming about, but that doesn’t mean you should give up easily or that you shouldn’t try to branch out into other domains or try something entirely new.

When you take money out of the equation, motivation, time, skill, hard work and determination are your best assets to make money online regardless of whether you’re trying to make videos on YouTube or you’re self-publishing an eBook.

Now that I’ve handed you down my wisdom on how to make it online without investing money, go ahead and get cracking on your online project!

Updated on: August 24, 2018