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How You Can Really Make Money Online

by Elizabeth Harper on June 24, 2015

We've all seen ads or spam email gushing about how with just one click — and perhaps a small up-front payment — we could be making tons of cash online. A lot of these services are scams, but there are also many perfectly legitimate online services that will pay you for doing various sorts of work.

Don't expect to make the thousands of dollars a month, but you can easily make some extra spending cash just by putting in a bit of time—mostly at your computer, though some jobs require you to venture out to run small chores. So you're looking to make a few extra bucks, check our favorite services below and get started earning!

Surveys and studies

MySurveyThere's a wide range of survey opportunities to be found online that will offer you cash. Compensation varies greatly from study to study, but most marketing companies make it worth your while to participate.

But before you start getting visions of quitting your day job to fill out surveys full time, be aware that you may not always qualify — companies are looking for a specific sort of person for each study — and you may not find surveys you're eligible for, even if you're willing to work. Still, surveys can offer decent pocket money.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • MySurvey: Fill out online surveys to earn points, which you can then exchange for gift cards or other types of payment. The number of points you get averages out to be worth a dollar or two per survey, though some surveys may pay more.
  • UserTesting: UserTesting is, as you might expect, about user testing. The site asks you to test web and mobile sites for $10 to $15 by downloading an application that asks you to perform specific tasks on a site. While you're working, the application records your screen and voice to determine how you're using the site. Afterwards, you'll be asked a few questions about your experience.
  • 20|20 Panel: Sign up to participate in online or in-person focus groups, where you could be asked your opinion about any number of things for research or marketing studies. These focus groups are a bit more in depth than the surveys you'd find at MySurvey, but expect better pay for them. Just keep in mind that it may be hard to find panels you qualify for.

Looking for even more surveys? Check out survey review site SurveyPolice, which has full listings of survey sites with user reviews.

Pick up a micro-job

TaskRabbitA micro-job is a small task for which you receive compensation. You can find lots of ways to pick up micro-jobs that can help supplement your income. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • TaskRabbit: Sign up to become a TaskRabbit in cities where this service operates to do small jobs, errands, or chores for people in your area. You might find yourself doing someone's grocery shopping, assembling IKEA furniture, or even completing business tasks around someone's office—nothing too trying—and being paid for your time. Signing up is simple, but you will have to complete a background check before you can grab tasks from the site.
  • Fiverr: On Fiverr, you can offer your services, whatever they may be, to an online marketplace willing to pay you for them—at least $5 a job. The possibilities are endless. You could review homework, give a quick language lesson, record a funny voice mail message or create a drawing for someone. The only limit is your creativity.
  • Gigwalk: Download Gigwalk on your smartphone to see tiny "gigs" in your area, like taking photos of a business. The jobs are quick and easy, though they do require getting out of the house, and they pay a few dollars each depending on their complexity. Free on iTunes and Google Play.
  • Amazon's Mechanical Turk: For all its automated glory, Amazon still needs a human to verify certain parts of its site to ensure it is accurate. They have created a system for people to log in and accept microtasks that usually take only seconds to finish such as checking spelling of a search term or identifying the location of a photo. Because of the quick nature of the work, each task only pays pennies,  but you can take on as many as you have time for. 

While you shouldn't expect to get rich off of any of these projects, you'll find plenty of opportunities to earn some extra pocket money online. Good luck!

[Updated 6/24/2015]

[woman on laptop with cash image via Shutterstock]


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