You want some creative and fun ways to make money, but you’re tired of the usual ideas you always run across. You’d rather try something fresh, something easy, or something that’s trending this year.
Well, here’s some good news: there are many creative ways to make money, both online and offline. In fact, a quick Google search will bring up more results than any single person could ever sift through.
So in this article, we’ll highlight some of the best ideas to help you make extra cash, score some passive income, or maybe even start a full-time small business of your own.
16 Creative Ways to Make Money
These days, there are more creative ways to make money than ever. Whether you’re the type of person who wants to sell goods or simply a hard worker who needs some extra cash, there’s something on this list for you.
#1. Play and Test Pre-Release Video Games
Earning Potential: Up to $100 per month.
Video game companies hire product testers to play pre-release games in an effort to find bugs before the game is widely available to the public. If you enjoy playing video games, it’s a great way to get paid for your hobby.
Testers work as independent contractors for third parties, which video game companies like Nintendo hire to provide feedback. The biggest such company is Global Beta Testing, which works with 20,000 independent contracts across the world.
On a smaller scale, there are apps like Mistplay for Android.
Mistplay allows you to earn points (which can be redeemed for gift cards) by playing both existing and pre-release games. You’ll earn less than you would by working directly for a company like Global Beta Testing, but what’s nice is that you can get started today — and there is no shortage of opportunities.
Read More: The Best Ways 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.
Greenway was a stay-at-home mom taking care of her autistic son when she decided to create an online course about baking sourdough bread.
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.
#3. Start a Blog
Earning Potential: There are thousands of six-figure blogs across the internet. It takes time to get to that level, but it’s certainly possible.
When I tell people that I’m a full-time blogger, I get my share of strange looks. But the bottom line is that I’m able to work from home and make a good living running this website.
The revenue is earned from both advertising and affiliate marketing. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out my detailed guide to starting a blog that actually makes money.
I also have a free, comprehensive e-book available. It’s called “How To Make Your First $1,000 Blogging.”
Simply sign up to get a download link for the book, which is designed to help you get started on the path to running your own blog and making extra money in your spare time.
#4. Grow a YouTube Channel
Earning Potential: You can make between 1 and 3 cents per view. So for every 1,000 views your channel gets, you’ll earn between $10 and $30.
The world’s most popular YouTube channels bring in millions 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.
Similar to blogging and creating a course, YouTube allows you to monetize your hobbies.
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 that may not be popular among your peer group.
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 consistent income from the ad revenue generated by his more than 10 million subscribers.
#5. Create a Service-Based Business
Earning Potential: Successful service businesses can range from a “solopreneur” with a small team of independent contractors who makes a healthy six-figure income to a multi-million dollar business with a slate of full-time employees.
With this type of business, you’re providing a service, such as design, copywriting or digital marketing. But where it gets really interesting is when you’re not the one doing the work. Instead, you have a team of people behind you — whether that’s an independent contractor or an employee — performing the actual service.
It’s here that you can start to scale up into a legitimate business that doesn’t rely on you exchanging hours for dollars.
A while back, I started a service-based landing page design company. The thing is, I’m not the best designer in the world. My strength is in copywriting.
As such, I found clients on Upwork and hired contractors for the design aspect of the project. I would then put some finishing touches on the work those contractors turned in, and hand it over to the client.
This worked well because my background in copywriting and conversion rate optimization perfectly supplemented website design.
Starting a service-based business is absolutely doable for anyone with even a little management or organization experience. There’s no shortage of freelance writers and other talented individuals online— all you have to do is pair them with the right work.
#6. Share Your Thoughts
Earning Potential: You can earn around $50 to $100 per month by completing one or two higher-paying surveys every day. You’re not going to pay your mortgage, but the idea here is that this is an easily-available opportunity for anyone with time on their hands.
If you have strong opinions and aren’t shy about sharing them, you might want to take online surveys to earn extra side income.
While online survey taking makes this list of creative ways to make money, you need to go into it understanding that you won’t earn enough to change your lifestyle.
But if it’s something you find enjoyable, you’ll love making money off of it.
There are many online survey sites to consider signing up for, and you may want to do more than one.
One of the most popular is Survey Junkie, which has 5 million members.
#7. Proofread Books, Articles, Blog Posts and More
Earning Potential: Proofreading is a valuable skill you can offer as a service, and many companies are actively looking for skilled professionals. With some experience, expect to earn anywhere from $15 to $30 an hour.
There’s a lot of written content in this world, in the form of books, newspapers, magazines, blogs and more.
And a lot of that content could benefit from a once-over from a proofreader. Cleaning up copy and making it shine is a specialized skill that not everyone can perform.
A talented proofreader can command a decent hourly wage. They can also charge per project. Once you’ve built up a reputation for doing good work, you’ll spend less and less time searching for clients. You’ll have all the work you’ll be able to handle.
If you’re interested, check out the free daily workshop: Learning the Skills You Need to Start Your Freelance Proofreading Hustle.
The course’s creator, Caitlin Pyle, earned over $43,000 a year part-time. See when the next class is here to turn your love for fixing others’ mistakes (not to mention your love of red pens) into a profitable business.
You might also want to consider becoming a virtual assistant.
As a virtual assistant (or VA for short), your tasks will often include proofreading. Plus, you can make good money (more than $45 per hour, in some cases), and you can sometimes work from anywhere in the world.
Additional Reading: Our complete guide to becoming a proofreader, which includes a detailed seven-step process.
#8. Sell Your Photos
Earning Potential: It takes time to build up inventory across all the popular stock photo sites. However, the work does compound, and it can be a legitimate source of passive income.
Have a flair for photography? One of the more creative ways to make 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 earn small amounts 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 eBay and Amazon.
Read More: Get Paid to Take Pictures With Your Phone.
#9. 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 is another creative hobby that can be easily monetized. Businesses are constantly in need of graphics, including everything from brochures to infographics to logos.
In my case, I hire graphic designers to create pins that I use for marketing articles on Pinterest.
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 for fun).
So if you’re willing to teach yourself, it’s a great freelancing skill for beginners to pick up.
Resource: Our guide to getting started as a freelance graphic designer.
#10. Watch Videos From Your Phone
Earning Potential: You won’t earn much, but you can make a little bit of money without much effort by getting paid for doing something you’re already doing.
If you never grow tired of watching videos, and find it an enjoyable way to unwind, you can visit Swagbucks.
Swagbucks is an online rewards site that lets you perform minor tasks for points, which can be redeemed for cash or a gift card. It’s also a shopping site you can use to score cash-back when you make online purchases.
If you want to watch videos through Swagbucks to earn money, you’ll have a lot of categories to choose from. You’re sure to find one that interests you.
The best part? You can do it all from the comfort of your home while on your smartphone.
#11. Start an Etsy Shop
Earning Potential: There’s strong potential for Etsy store owners. It’s possible to make over six-figures with a store, although most owners make a few hundred dollars per month.
If you have any kind of artistic skill, or find yourself frequently making things by hand, Etsy 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.
For more information, see our guide: How to Make Money on Etsy.
Etsy is a smart path because you can do it on the side on your own schedule, or turn it into a full-time job 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.
If you’re not sure what kind of product you’d like to make, see what’s in high demand and frequently selling out on Etsy, then try to create your own unique version of that.
#12. 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 six-figure full-time 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.
You want to avoid this as much as possible, and our guide to starting your career as a freelance writer can help you do just that.
From there, there are really an endless amount of areas to specialize in.
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 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 the freelance marketplace.
The objective is to find a high paying niche you enjoy immersing yourself in, while taking advantage of your existing skills and abilities.
#13. 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 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, 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.
- Buy in-store and sell online. 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. Finding items online that go for below market value and then reselling 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. Buying used items, refurbishing them, and then reselling them (either locally or online). Furniture is common here (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. Buying items in bulk at a discount, then reselling them one by one for a higher price.
#14. 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.
#15. 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 these 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:
Elmo rap videos…
Or, get Simpsonized:
So, almost any creative 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.
#16. Sell Your Data with Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel
Earning Potential: Up to $50 per year.
Nielsen is well-known for being the company that tracks TV viewership. This market research is then sold to broadcasting companies, to measure who is watching what (which is then used to attract advertisers to the network).
How Nielsen tracks this data is via their network of Nielsen Families across the U.S., who regularly give feedback (and get paid to do so) on what they’re watching.
Unfortunately, it’s a random selection process to become a Nielsen Family. There’s no way to sign up.
But Nielsen does offer one way for households to make money: through the Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel.
It can be a source of passive income, as all you have to do is download an app and let it sit in the background of your smartphone.
You can earn up to $50 a year, and there’s a $10,000 monthly sweepstakes for participants.
Learn more about how the site works in our Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel review.
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.
Definitely not! Affiliate marketing can also be a lucrative side hustle on platforms like YouTube and social media; it works anywhere that you can post an affiliate link and have the ability to connect with an audience who trusts your recommendations.
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: 15 Great Options.
Final Thoughts: Fun Ways to Make Money for Creatives
Whether you’re looking for a creative way to earn extra money or are searching for a legitimate side hustle that can produce a solid base of extra income, 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.
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