Looking for ways to earn some extra cash? It seems like we're all constantly looking for ways to supplement our income, and the great thing about earning money online is that you can work around your own schedule and get paid to do things you enjoy. Unfortunately, many people try to take advantage of the desire to earn cash online by advertising scams that will end up wasting your time, filling your inbox with spam, and even infecting your computer with viruses. However, there are plenty of ways to make real money online in exchange for your time and skills, and I'm going to give some ideas for ways to make money online without getting scammed. I'll give some specific websites for you to check out, as well as general ideas that you can get creative with.
I'm sure you've all heard this one before, but there are tons of great websites that will pay you for your opinions. You can get paid in the form of cash, gift cards, sweepstakes entries, and even your selection of items in the website's point-redemption store. Unfortunately, many survey websites are scams and you'll never really get anything in exchange for your time and energy. I have used several online survey sites in the past (and still currently use some of them), and have some that I want to recommend to you all.
Opinion Outpost (www.opinionoutpost.com)
Opinion Outpost is my personal favorite survey site, and it's one of the first places I go when I have some time to kill. For each survey you complete, you receive a number of points (where 1 point= $0.10). You will typically earn between 5 to 50 points per survey, depending on the amount of time it takes to complete them. Once you accumulate a certain number of points, you can exchange them for PayPal cash, Amazon or iTunes gift cards, or even a charity donation. You also earn one sweepstakes entry to their quarterly $10,000 drawing for each survey you complete, and you'll occasionally receive bonus points once you become a valued member (meaning you login regularly and complete a large number of surveys).
My Survey (www.mysurvey.com)
MySurvey operates similarly to OpinionOutpost, in that you receive a set number of points for each survey you complete. One benefit to MySurvey is that they also offer mobile surveys, which is great for when you're killing time in the waiting room or riding in the passenger seat during a long road trip. They also offer a larger array of redemption methods than many sites; you can receive Paypal cash or a variety of gift cards including Amazon, Starbucks, WalMart, iTunes and your choice of restaurants.
Pinecone Research (www.pineconeresearch.com)
Pinecone Research gives you cash for each survey completed, and what sets it apart is that you can redeem without having to accumulate a minimum amount. You typically earn $3.00 per survey and, like OpinionOutpost, you receive sweepstakes entries so that you can win even more cash prizes. The catch for this one is that they only accept a certain number of panelists per month, so you may have to apply a few times before you are accepted into the panel.
I usually don't recommend the survey sites that try to get you to earn points by spending money at another website or signing up for your "free $200 gift card" (never fall for that, please), but CashCrate is one exception. You can get awarded points for surveys, offers, referrals, shopping, games and interacting on the site, but personally I prefer to stick to the surveys. You can redeem your account balance in the form of a check once you reach a certain amount. They also offer daily surveys that usually earn you about $0.50 a day. Another site similar to this is InboxDollars (www.inboxdollars.com), which isn't a personal favorite but I've had several friends who have had good experiences with it.
Online Focus Groups
Online focus groups are similar to survey sites in that you get paid for your opinions. The difference here is that you must pre-qualify for the focus group and commit to spending a few hours on a certain day (or once every few weeks or months) to join the rest of the focus group for a live chat, and you will only get paid once you participate in every required session. The great thing about focus groups, though, is that you can earn a lot of money in a small amount of time. I've participated in focus groups where I've earned $100 for 2 hours of my time in an online chatroom, and have seen offers between $50 to $400 for a few hours of work online or on the phone. Some of the websites you can use to find focus groups are Find Focus Groups (findfocusgroups.com), Focus Group (focusgroup.com), The Paid Focus Group Network (www.paidfocusgroup.net), or Benchmark Research (www.benchmarkresearch.net). Try your luck with these, because if you qualify you could really earn some serious cash.
Blogging and Social Media
Try your hand at blogging and social media sites, and if you're able to get enough traffic going you could end up bringing in some money with it. Bloggers can get paid using services like Google Adsense or affiliate marketing, but it will usually takes a good amount of time and a lot of hours writing to see any substantial profit. Be patient and persistence, and choose something to write about that you're truly interested in. You could also start uploading videos to a website and try to get a company partnership with the website that you upload to (they usually pay based on the number of channel views, subscribers, channel topic, etc.), or try creating your own website if there's a topic you know a lot about.
If writing is something you enjoy and you've built up a portfolio with some of your writing samples, try applying to a site that will pay you for your articles and blog posts. Check out Associated Content (associatedcontent.com) or Helium (www.helium.com) where you can submit articles and they will pay you based on the number of page views the article receives. You could also earn flat rates for specific articles they are looking for, which could be anywhere from $20 to $200. Now, if if takes you a lot of time to create a well-written article, this may not be worth the effort for you. But if you want to try your hand at freelancing, this would be a good way to get started.
If you already have a blog or website that gets good traffic, or a good following on social media sites, you can offer to advertise for other people and companies in exchange for payment. For example, beauty bloggers can charge companies to mention their products or recommend beauty salons, and professors or tutors could offer to recommend textbooks at the end of their online video tutorials.
If you have a few friends who are looking for work, or know someone who you don't think is reaching their full potential at their current job, try out a website where you can refer those people to prospective employers. If the person you recommended ends up getting hired, you can earn anywhere from $50 to a few thousand for your referral, and all you had to do was connect the company to the employee! If you think this could really for you, check out ReferEarns (www.referearns.com), WiseStep (www.wisestep.com), or Zyoin (www.zyoin.com) to get started.
Amazon Mechanical Turk (www.mturk.com)
Amazon Mechanical Turk is an internet marketplace that you can use to sell your skills based on the needs of other individuals and companies. People can post jobs (referred to as Human Intelligence Tasks) which can be anything from writing descriptions of products or services to choosing your favorite shirt from a variety of T-shirt designs. Try browsing the site for tasks and then receive payment when you finish whichever tasks you choose.
Etsy (www.etsy.com) or eBay (www.ebay.com)
Love designing and creating clothes, jewelry, home decor, or something else? Have some unwanted items in your house collecting dust? Try creating an Etsy shop to sell your products or selling old items you no longer want on eBay. If your etsy shop gains popularity (try advertising on Pinterest or YouTube for more business), you can really start to turn a profit, and if you're able to figure out the secrets of eBay (charge the right amount, write good product descriptions, etc), you'll be able to get way more for your items than if you were to sell them to a consignment store or donate to Goodwill.
Fiverr is a place where you can offer services referred to as "gigs", priced anywhere from $5 to $500 each, for anything from taking pictures of your surroundings to creating banners or logos for bloggers or YouTube personalities.
These days you can tutor without even leaving the house! If you have good grades and a college degree and think you'd be good at teaching students new subjects or helping them with their homework, try applying to a tutoring website. Some of the most popular tutoring sites are Tutor.com and www.TutorVista.com. Simply apply and take some certification exams and you'll get contacted if you qualify. This can be a great way to share your knowledge in a certain topic and earn some serious cash (most sites pay between $15-$50 per hour depending on the topic and type of service-proofreading, homework help or tutorials).
Have other ideas for making money online? Leave them below!