Smart SpendingSmart Spending

4 legitimate ways to make money online

You can avoid scams and earn a decent income through the Internet.

By businessed Jun 12, 2014 2:47PM
This post comes from Jon Lal at partner site U.S. News & World Report.

When you first see the phrase “make money online,” you probably think of scams or get-rich-quick schemes. But there are plenty of other safe and legitimate ways to earn a bit of extra money on the Internet. If you’re looking for a few ways to pad your monthly income or maybe start a vacation fund, here are four things you can get started on and see a return right away.

Sell your stuff
Clean out the house – and make some money while you’re at it – by selling your stuff online. When you have difficulty getting rid of items you no longer use, try this rule: If you haven’t used it or worn it in over a year, you’re probably not going to.

Once you gather together items to sell, consider the best online venue. EBay is ideal to sell items that are rare and have a large potential audience, or for things that are small and won’t cost much to ship if your buyer is far away. Remember that unless someone opts to “buy it now,” payment from an EBay sale could take a few days until an auction is complete.

If you’re looking for a more immediate transaction, Craigslist is your best bet. This no-frills advertisements website is perfect for selling items in your local community – especially larger pieces of furniture or equipment that are too expensive to ship and need to be picked up. A bonus here is you can get paid for the goods you sell right away, and you have control over whether you get paid in person and in cash.

After attempting to sell all your items, you might find that a few things are too worn or out of style and just won’t go. At this point, you can make a donation to a local nonprofit or charity; just make sure you collect a donation receipt so you can claim it on your taxes at the end of the year.

Sell your knowledge
You can sell more online than just your old stuff. If you have a few extra hours in your day, offer up your talents and insights for freelance work. Elance is a website where you can find opportunities that match your skillset and earn money on various projects. Plus, you’ll sharpen your own set of tools and learn some things on the side that might boost your resume or help kick your regular job performance up a notch.

For something a little easier that you can complete in as little as ten minutes a day, you can participate in online surveys. There is an abundance of survey and market research companies out there that will compensate you for your time in the form of cash, rewards points, prizes and more.

Lastly, do you have any special talents? Can you create something that comes easy to you, but not to others? Start selling your talent on Fiverr, an online marketplace for services that start at $5. Services range from drawing and illustrating to helping create wedding invitations. 

Sell your art
When was the last time you read an article online that did not have a high-quality photo attached to it? There is huge demand for content right now, with more online news, blogs and magazines than ever before. If you have an amateur talent for photography, you could sell your photos to microstock agencies and collect a commission when they are purchased. There are plenty of options for where to do this, so read up on various sites like Fotolia and Shutterstock and pay attention to commission rates or if they charge an annual fee.

Earn while you shop
When you do need to buy something, avoid the stores and head online instead. Click through a cash back website first before making your purchase, where you can earn a percentage back on a sale. The cash back you earn will collect into an account, and then pay out in the form of a check or Paypal once you hit a minimum amount. You’ll be surprised at how much will add up as you make your routine online purchases.

You can also pay for your online shopping with a credit card to accumulate rewards points for future free travel, hotel stays and more. Just make sure you find a card with a low interest rate and pay off your balance on time to avoid fees.

More from U.S. News & World Report
Jun 13, 2014 12:09AM
Some survey companies pay a little, but you could never live on it.
Research before you sign up with a survey company. I make a few hundred extra bucks a year, which isn't much, but it helps.

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.