Here are 14 creative ideas for making money (both online and offline), whether you’re looking for a fun way to make some extra cash on the side or a full-time business idea.
#1. Play and Test Pre-Release Video Games
Earning potential: Up to $100 per month.
Video game companies hire testers to play pre-release games in an effort to find bugs before the games are available to the public. If you enjoy playing video games, it’s a great way to get paid for your hobby.
Video game testers work as independent contractors for third parties, which companies like Nintendo hire to provide feedback. The biggest such company is Keyword Studios, which works with 20,000 independent contracts across the world.
On a smaller scale, there are apps like Mistplay for Android, which allows you to earn points by playing existing and pre-release games. You can then redeem those points for gift cards.
You’ll earn less with Mistplay than you would by working directly for a company like Global Beta Testing, but what’s nice is that you can get started today.
Learn more: How to Get Paid to Play Games.
#2. Create an Online Course
Earning potential: Top course instructors earn seven figures per year on Udemy.
When you hear the words “online course,” you may initially think you have nothing to teach people. But before you rule out this option, consider the story of Teresa Greenway.
On food stamps, and having to be home to take care of her autistic son, Greenway decided to create an online course about baking sourdough bread, which was one of her hobbies.
It may not sound like a bread course would bring home much dough, but her course generated $86,000 of income in just the first two years.
Sites like Udemy and Skillshare make it easier than ever to share your expertise online, so take some time to browse the current offerings and see if you find inspiration to create a class of your own.
Thinkific, an online course platform for creators, has an excellent 10 step guide to launching a course.
#3. Grow a Hobby YouTube Channel
Earning potential: For every 1,000 views your channel gets, you’ll earn around $4. Learn more about the earning potential is this article on how much YouTubers make.
The world’s most popular YouTube channels bring in millions of dollars each year. While starting a channel that grows to that level is difficult, there are also tens of thousands of smaller channels that make a great side income for their creators.
For some people, that might be general hobbies like carpentry, cooking, crafts or home brewing. But YouTube has a diverse and worldwide audience, so don’t discount the potential of more obscure hobbies; chances are there are enough people who share your interests to support a channel. And often, starting a channel in a less competitive niche makes it easier to get established and garner eyeballs.
As an example, the YouTube channel Primitive Technology, which was launched in 2016, documents creator John Plant’s adventures in building structures with primitive materials and tools.
The success of his channel led to a book deal, as well as a consistent stream of extra income from the ad revenue generated by his more than 10 million subscribers.
You can learn more about launching your own channel in Shopify’s in-depth post, Lights, Camera, Cash: 7 Ways to Earn Money From YouTube Today.
#4. Sell Your Photos
Earning potential: It takes time to build up inventory across all the popular stock photo sites. But the work compounds (because you can sell each photo multiple times), which makes it a legitimate source of passive income.
Have a flair for photography? One of the more creative ideas for making money is selling your photos online. You’ll earn cash each time your image is purchased.
One good photo that really resonates with people can earn an impressive amount. And even if you only bring in a little bit of extra cash from each photo, it’ll add up quickly if you post a lot of pictures.
There is no shortage of stock photography sites you can sell your pictures on.
Here are a few of the bigger ones:
If you have certain pictures that are performing very well, you can even consider selling high-quality prints on an eBay, Amazon or an Etsy shop.
Learn more: Get Paid to Take Pictures With Your Phone.
#5. Design Graphics
Earning potential: Medium to high. Skilled freelance graphic designers are very valuable to businesses and can often charge a premium price.
Graphic design, with options such as logo design or infographic design, is a creative hobby that can generate good money. Pursued as a part time job or an online business, it can be one of the absolute highest-paying side hustle ideas.
Businesses are constantly in need of graphics, including everything from brochures to infographics to logos. And while getting a full-time job as a graphic designer typically involves a design degree, freelancing as a graphic designer is all about your portfolio — which can include non-client samples you created to show off your skills.
Learn more: Our guide to getting started as a freelance graphic designer.
#6. Start an Etsy Shop
Earning potential: There’s strong potential for Etsy store owners. It’s possible to make over six figures with an Etsy store, although most owners make a few hundred dollars per month.
The opportunities on Etsy go far beyond selling crafts (though selling crafts can be lucrative). If you have any kind of artistic skill, the site can be a great place to get your feet wet as an online business owner.
You can quickly set up a shop, make some product listings, set your prices and start selling.
Etsy is a smart path because you can do it on the side on your own schedule, or turn it into a full-time online business once you pick up momentum.
It’s not unheard of for people to make good money on Etsy, but make sure you set your prices at a level where you can still afford materials and turn a profit.
#7. Become a Freelance Writer
Earning potential: High. Professional freelance writers can earn a six-figure income.
Freelance writing is another skill-based yet creative endeavor that can be anything from a small side hustle to a part time job to a full time, six-figure career.
At the lower end of the scale, you can work for what’s called a “content mill,” which is all about cranking out as many articles as possible — often, without much regard for quality.
This can be an OK way to make some extra money in your spare time, but you want to avoid it as much as possible because there are much better opportunities available. Check out our guide to starting your career as a freelance writer to learn more.
From there, the key is to specialize in one (or a small handful) of topics.
If you’re looking to grow your creative side, look at some of the most interesting jobs on Upwork and you’ll often find opportunities like the one below, which would give you the chance to write romance, crime, religious, sci-fi and horror novels.
Or, in what I’d consider a more standard gig, working as a copywriter for a small real estate office:
There are hundreds upon hundreds of creative ways to make good money with freelance writing. Spend 15-30 minutes seeing what’s available on Upwork.
And if you’re interested, read our guide to getting your first job on Upwork.
The objective is to find a high-paying niche you enjoy immersing yourself in, while taking advantage of your existing skills and abilities.
#8. Retail Arbitrage
Earning potential: Medium. Takes some work to find a niche, but can be a great source of side income.
One growing money-making opportunity is retail arbitrage, which is also known as money flipping or reselling. What you’re doing here is buying a product in one place and reselling it for a profit somewhere else.
If you frequent garage sales, flea markets, Goodwill stores or the far-back sale racks at discount stores like Marshalls and T.J.Maxx, you can make money reselling those items.
There are multiple business models that resellers have had success with:
- Buy from garage sales and sell online. Many resellers buy products at garage sales or other similar venues like flea markets, and then sell them online via sites like eBay or Amazon (or their own online store).
- Buy in-store and sell online. This involves finding something really cheap at a store like Walmart or Walgreens and reselling it online, where there is a much larger audience.
- Buy online and sell online. With this strategy, you find items online that go for below market value and then resell them where they’ll fetch a higher price. This is a good idea if you really understand a specific market well (e.g., trading cards) and you can spot an opportunity due to something like a poor listing description or poor photos that allows you to buy the item at below market value.
- Buy used and refurbish. Here, you’re buying used items, refurbishing them and then reselling them (either locally or online). Furniture is common (e.g., wooden bookshelves or old doors, where a fresh coat of paint can help the item fetch a much higher price).
- Buy in bulk and resell. Buy items in bulk at a discount, then resell them one by one for a higher price. Scan our list of the best items to sell online to get ideas.
Learn more: Check out this Planet Money podcast episode to learn more about retail arbitrage.
#9. Mystery Shopping
Earning potential: Low.
Mystery shopping is a very legitimate side hustle with a lot of opportunity. The pay is on the lower end at around minimum wage, but in some cases you get free food or free products — or even a luxurious experience like a vacation — as part of the gig.
As an example, The Ways To Wealth contributor Jenni Sisson has been on over 100 mystery shopping trips. This includes trips to a waterpark with her family and enjoying a fine dining experience that would have cost over $100.
How the industry works is that you first get set up with a reputable agency. These agencies have an inventory of jobs available in your area. Once you’re signed up with an agency, you can scan what’s available, pick what interests you, and complete the job.
To learn all the ins and outs of making money as a mystery shopper, including the best agencies in your area, check out: Mystery Shopper Jobs – a Complete Beginner’s Guide to Secret Shopping.
#10. Create a Unique Service on Fiverr
Earning potential: Medium to high.
On one hand, Fiverr is a legitimate freelance marketplace where you can make money by offering services like freelance writing, graphic design and voiceovers.
And if you’re skilled in one of those areas it’s a legitimate way to make money online.
On the other hand, Fiverr is also home to creatives who use very unusual ways to make money.
Some fun examples include Elmo rap videos:
Or, get Simpsonized:
So, almost any fun way to make money can work on the site — although they won’t all generate a ton of revenue.
Most freelance marketplaces allow you to submit a proposal to a company looking for labor. Often, you’re then competing with dozens of other freelancers vying for that same job.
Fiverr is the opposite. You create a service, called a gig, with the objective of people coming to you to buy.
To get started, come up with three to five different gig ideas, list them on the platform, and see if any get any takers.
Learn more: How to make money on Fiverr.
#11. Teach Live Classes to Kids
Earning potential: Medium to high.
Most tutoring sites have you work with children one-on-one. The subject matter is predetermined and you’re paid by the hour (typically around $15 to $20).
A new company called Outschool approaches online learning in a much different way.
With Outschool you pick the subject you teach, as well as create the curriculum. Subjects include standard math, science and language, as well as more creative disciplines like art, baking and dance. Actually, two of the most popular classes on the platform are an introduction to mindfulness for kids and a discussion of the Broadway musical Hamilton.
You can learn more by watching the video below:
#12. Become a Field Agent
Earning potential: Low.
Field Agent is a popular app, available for both iOS and Android, that allows you to make money doing random research jobs at nearby retail establishments.
A typical job would be visiting a store and taking a picture of a specific product on display (companies want to make sure their product is displayed and priced properly).
As it allows you to search jobs by proximity, it’s a great app to pop open when you’re running errands to see if a store has any tasks. You’re also able to see how much the job pays and the estimated time, so it’s easy to see if a job is worth it.
You won’t make a killing with this one, but it can be a fun and quick way to make a little bit of easy money — especially if you do the research tasks while you’re already running errands.
Related: Apps that pay you to walk.
#13. License Business Ideas
Earning potential: High.
Stephen Key, inventor and best-selling author of One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine While Letting Others Do the Work, defines licensing as “renting your ideas to manufacturers.”
Licensing is a legitimate — although not simple — way to earn passive income.
The process entails coming up with an idea, pitching the idea to a manufacturer, and then agreeing to an ongoing royalty with the company.
What’s interesting is that ideas don’t have to be groundbreaking or even expensive to prototype.
As Key explains about one of his simple ideas that broke through:
“I loved basketball, and so I shot hoops in my office with an indoor Nerf set. The backboard was boring; it had just a small image of Michael Jordan. Why not shape the backboard itself into an image of Michael Jordan? Three days after I contacted Ohio Art, they sent me a contract. I was extremely fortunate to earn royalties for 10 years. The Michael Jordan Wall-Ball was in every major retailer; there were even commercials on Saturday morning. If my memory serves me correctly, I made about $100,000 that first year. Not bad for a $10 prototype.”
The way Key keeps costs low is by:
- Filing a provisional patent (estimated $100).
- Creating a sell sheet to pitch manufacturers (under $80).
With just these two things, Key has been able to pitch and sell licensing agreements to Fortune 500 companies.
To learn more, check out A Beginner’s Guide: How to Rent Your Ideas to Fortune 500 Companies.
#14. Open a Business in the Metaverse
Earning potential: Low to Medium.
The term “metaverse” refers to a virtual world that mimics the real world but takes place entirely online. And while that sounds futuristic, the rate of growth (and the money going into these virtual worlds) is no small matter.
The thing to understand about metaverses is that they are entire economies by themselves. They need designers, real estate brokers and building contractors; these are all real ways people are making money in different metaverses.
To learn more, check out this Forbes article: Making Money in the Metaverse.
Creative Ways to Make Money FAQ
Yes, in the sense that they require a combination of writing and design skills. However, because your job is to represent a company or brand, drive sales and interact with customers, there are often strict rules about what types of content you can post. So this may not always be the best bet if you’re someone who is looking for a purely creative outlet.
You can learn more in our guide to social media jobs.
Outside of getting a traditional publishing contract — which is possible but takes tremendous skill — one good way is through self-publishing. Amazon makes it easy to create and sell both e-books and physical books, and many authors do quite well with this approach.
At the same time, it’s significantly more difficult to generate extra income via self-publishing than through freelancing, where demand for capable writers is strong and pay rates tend to be relatively high.
You can, but it takes a lot of good luck and most people fail. Choosing stocks is hard, and even most professionals can’t beat the overall stock market on a consistent basis.
However, here’s a different way to make a little extra money from stocks: there are a number of trading platforms that will give you free shares just for signing up.
We wrote an entire article on that topic, which you can find here: How to Make Money as a Kid.
Fun Ways to Make Money for Creatives: Final Thoughts
Whether you’re looking for a fun way to make money from home, a part time job that lets you leverage your creative side, or are searching for a legitimate side hustle that can transition into a full-time career, there is no shortage of ideas that can help you achieve your individual financial goal.
In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
After all, the definition of creativity is coming up with original ideas. Therefore, you may want to use this list as a way to brainstorm ideas on your own.
A great starting point is to list those ideas on Fiverr. You’ll often get quick feedback on whether that idea is worth pursuing and pouring more time into.
What to read next: Fun Ways You Can Get Paid To Travel.