What’s the best way to earn money online in 2021?
On the day I am writing this answer, the year 2020 is nearly over. Within the next day, the calendar will show 2021. It might sound negative, but I have zero positive expectations of the world in 2021. That doesn’t mean I’m pessimistic, it’s just that I’m neutral about the coming year, like I always am, and have positive expectations of myself.
Someday, kids will probably learn about 2020 in school as “the year everybody got really sick and went crazy at home.” However, there is a good side to 2020, and it’s that it’s forced people who were curious about working from home or making money online to take it seriously.
I have been studying and perfecting my own style of online entrepreneurship for more than a decade. I have my own businesses and income streams, and they’re all going to be just fine because I intentionally sought out a work-life that was not just extremely easy and over-rewarding, but also secure. And I found it!
The thing is, I can’t honestly say any one method is the best without like, at least five asterisks on each thing I come up with.
What I can do is offer things I’ve tried, and that I was happy with at the time and/or continue to enjoy making money doing right now. And I will explain which is which, so you’ll know the ones I’m currently doing now if you want to just invest your time into one of those. Couldn’t hurt. 😉 Okay, enough jabber. Based on what I’ve learned so far, here five ways to earn money online in 2021.
Freelancers are people who provide a skill or service as themselves, for clients. They are not part of an agency or team and they do not run a company. This is one of the first things I got started with, and although I do not do it anymore, it’s a fine entry point; and you may not necessarily ever want to need to leave it, depending on your industry. A lot of people are drawn to freelancing because you “don’t have a boss”. But in reality, all of these 7 options probably won’t involve any kind of boss. Not having a boss is only one tiny fragment of the benefits of working online. But it’s the first thing people often learn about as an option instead of a typical job, so let’s talk about it.
Your value as a freelancer, and therefore how much you get paid, will raise depending on your skills, qualification, and knowledge, plus if you’re using a platform or middle-man to get clients, and which one. In general, the more specific you can get, the better. A marketing consultant, in general, isn’t as useful to an ice cream truck business as a marketing consultant for a foodservice.
You can work on hourly contracts, fixed-price contracts, long-term and short-term contracts, etc. Whatever works for you, just start looking for that type. And you will have to look, don’t expect to make any real money just from putting yourself up on sites like Fiverr. It takes time to build a reputation in freelancing, and I recommend making a simple website to advertise yourself more easily as a freelancer. For those who stick with it and specialize, there’s a ton of opportunity, but I just don’t like to serve clients very much, so it’s not for me anymore.
#2 Affiliate Marketing:
Affiliate marketing is hawking other people’s goods or services, kind of like a spokesperson but not necessarily so blatant. You earn a good commission for helping that business get more customers. Sometimes this means literal sales, other times it’s about actions, such as signing up for an email newsletter.
In my initial days of earning money online, I did a lot of affiliate marketing and was successful. Honestly, my results never went above triple digits. I still do it, and I’m sure I could get better results with enough focus and effort, but now I have multiple other areas I consider more rewarding. It’s a promising way to make money over time and is likely to remain valuable long after 2021, but you’ve got to do it right and be patient, especially if this is your first time. Again, good, but for the effort, it often takes to get traffic, I have to wonder if creating your own products is better, to direct your marketing energy onto something you don’t share revenue on.
#3 Digital Products business:
Ecommerce is great and all, but in case you haven’t noticed, mail and package delivery have not been great during these unusual times. So, why not make an e-commerce business where you sell things that don’t have to be delivered?
Digital products come in various forms such as online courses, e-books, digital designs, etc., and they’re universally needed in nearly every industry imaginable. It’s a good option and is likely to remain effective in 2021 and onward; it’ll just change shape a bit.
#4 Sell your photos/art:
Not really feasible unless you produce a lot of content, but I figured I’d mention it for photographers or people who produce a lot of visual art. You can put images that you created online on certain websites, for people who may want to pay for permission to use them. Starts small, scales slow, but so easy it’s a no-brainer for those who were making the stuff anyway.
If you have a flair for writing, then by maintaining a blog and/or writing content for websites, you can make a solid income. For the best results, I would build a professional website with a little money and time put into it, with the blog serving as SEO content to draw traffic. Then, implement that with email marketing and a sales funnel with multiple tiers of products, if possible. Do that for a high-ticket niche where you can charge a pretty penny on each transaction, and you’ll be more than okay after the first few months. Sooner if you really plan out the marketing ahead of time.
There are other options as well, stuff that’s kind of out there and working amazingly for me, but here’s the thing: if I explained the exact things I do to make money, your most likely reaction would be “But how do I do that? I don’t see any courses on how to make money doing that.”
And that’s kind of the point. Business is about finding something that works, that not too many of your competitors know about. You can learn from courses, but the point is to pick something that isn’t old-hat, take consistent actions toward success, and discover your own way of doing things, your own ideal business.
By doing more research on whichever of these options appeals to you, and developing your skills accordingly, you too can start earning money online in 2021. I think I listed options that cater to different goals and scales, such as the casual gig of beginner-level freelancing or photo selling for a few hundred bucks a month, versus a dedicated e-Commerce business concept that buys your parents a new house.
Just know that bigger money is going to take more time, more headaches, and more dealing with fear. The more familiar you become dealing with fear instead of obeying it, the better you’ll do in business.
Now, I think it’d be kind of lame to end on these vague points, so why don’t I sketch out a generic, Johnny Everyman path to making some livable dough, for beginners:
First off, get a website. It’s cheap, and putting something decent together is not that hard, and outsourceable anyway. Once you own your own site, you can do whatever you want within the bounds of the law. You can do affiliate marketing to start, which is nice. If you are good at writing, then pick a niche and maintain a blog to drive interest and clicks to multiple products under the same line or topic.
If you suck at writing, no biggie, here’s what you do: take a lot of time to research affiliate products, and pick one that you like the best, both personally and as a money-making opportunity. It needs to make PERFECT sense that your site is recommending this particular product. If you’re not sure, pick something else. Then, hire someone to write some incredible sales page copy for just one page, selling up that product, and focus your marketing on getting visits to that page alone, which includes your affiliate links in several places. Do not skimp on writing if you do this, by the way. Pay up or risk getting an amateur copy that doesn’t convert.
Obviously, affiliate marketing is just one idea, something people feel comfortable with because they don’t have to make a product. You could start making your own products like I’ve been doing. You could base your site on something valuable like an online course, ebooks, exclusive videos, etc.
After you have this infrastructure handled, it’s time to test the machine with traffic and earn yourself some money. It’s going to be difficult at first, while you try new things to see what actually works. There are a lot of options out there, and you can check my site in my profile if you’re curious about things I’ve reviewed on different traffic methods. The bottom line is to be persistent.
If you get frustrated with the time it takes to get traffic, just remember that when done right, traffic sources should not dry up, they should just keep delivering hits in perpetuity, barring some kind of algorithm update that changes how your site is ranked. You aren’t working day after day for no reward, you’re working all year for a very big reward. Stay in that broader mindset and you’ll make it.
This may all sound like a lot, and it Is. That’s why people get paid to do it. If that sounds pretty cool, you can find tons of actionable tips to make money online in the Knowledge Base section on my website.
Feel free to reply if you have any questions.
Good Luck! Happy New Year!