We all have those moments when we see a business that's so simple or so lucrative -- or both -- that we kick ourselves for not having thought of it first. I prefer to channel those moments into something positive, however, realizing that if "those people" could do it, so can any of us. For inspiration, here are five nearly insane (and often insanely lucrative) businesses that actually worked.
Some subjects are much better paid than others, so although you may love the idea of writing about travel (badly paid) a better bet would be a niche like finance (much higher rates of pay). Check out the Pro Blogger job board for high paid freelance writing jobs – other places to look might be Textbroker or you can look at the “gigs” section on Craigslist.
Similar to a YouTube vlogger, if you have a large following on Instagram then you could become an Instagram Influencer. You will be paid to promote products in your photos, from wearing certain clothes to action shots of you using particular merchandise. As your Instagram following grows, you may start out simply receiving freebies in return for a picture of you with the item in the shot. However, for those with followings running into millions, you can expect large payments to display products in your pictures. Use sites like Hype Factory to help connect you with companies prepared to pay for your influence.
Monetize a hobby. While some hobbies actually cost money, others can be transformed into a profitable business venture. Ultimately, it depends on what your hobby is and how talented you are. You could turn your love of photography, for example, into a part-time gig taking family portraits and wedding photos or selling prints on Etsy or at arts fairs.
If you’ve ever wanted to try real estate investing but don’t want to deal with all the stress of being a landlord, you might want to consider investing with Fundrise. Fundrise is a new platform that allows you to invest directly in a real estate portfolio that a team of professionals identifies, acquires, and manages on your behalf. With a starting investment as small as $500, you get exposure to dozens of solid, value-producing assets.

This is a more technical way to make money online then most of the other strategies given. But you can get an excellent course on how to make it happen with Steve Chou’s Create a Profitable Online Store program. Steve and his wife have built a highly successful online store – selling wedding napkins – and he’s anxious to provide insider secrets to people who sign up for his course..

What are dividend stocks? They are just like regular shares of stock, but with one exception: For every share of a dividend stock that you own, you are paid a small portion of the company’s earnings. Basically, you get paid just for owning the stock! If you are looking to get started with dividend investing, check out Ally Invest (which is included on our list of best investment apps).


As well as selling your eBooks, Amazon can also create paperback copies of your book. CreateSpace, an Amazon-owned company, will help you self-publish your book. A relatively straightforward process, you must upload your work to CreateSpace and submit it for review. Your book will then be displayed on Amazon, and printed on demand and shipped by CreateSpace when purchased. And you can collect up to 70% royalties for each book sold.
Check with your local bank to see if they're giving away cash bonuses for opening up accounts. Banks run promotions like this all the time, so grab some real cash quickly if you're in need. It won't break the bank (no pun intended) but it will give you a quick $50 or $100 -- maybe even more -- when you really need it. You might need to deposit a minimum amount of cash (usually in the thousands) in order to qualify for these types of accounts (but not always).
Find focus groups in your area.[18] Focus groups are comprised of people that can provide a company, organization, or individual with feedback on a product, design, idea, etc. Monitor local postings or search a site like FindFocusGroups.com to find some in your area that you are eligible to participate in. Some of these sites promote online-only tasks, such as serving as an “e-juror” for lawyers working on a case. The pay for these tasks can be relatively good, and can be disbursed quickly.
Holly told me she started writing content in 2011. At the time, she still worked a full-time job but created content online part-time to supplement her income. Over time, she was able to double and triple her rates until she could quit her full-time job to write. These days, she makes bank as a freelance writer and teaches others to do the same via her online course, Earn More Writing.
When I started SmartPassiveIncome.com, I already had experience with a successful, automated online business at Green Exam Academy. A lot of people were providing online business advice at the time, but most were using other people’s businesses as examples, or just spoke theory with no real case studies to back it up. Here, I was able to use my own experience as evidence, and it helped me become more credible right from the start.

Now, it’s time to start creating and uploading content. Make sure you’re using a high-enough quality camera (most smartphones will work but I’d suggest at least having a tripod so your footage isn’t shaky), but don’t worry about being perfect at first. The beauty of YouTube is that you can continue to test out different content and styles as you find what works for you. Instead, stick to a regular schedule to build up your subscriber base.


To give you an idea of how many ways a business can use a freelancer, look at our Drop Ship Lifestyle YouTube channel. Every week I share a video with drop shipping advice and eCommerce strategies. The logo and thumbnail on the video was created by a freelancer, the video was edited by freelancer, and later it will be transcribed by a freelancer. Even our blog— a lot of articles are created with the help of freelancers.
Are you a professional in a field that can help answer questions for people looking for your expertise? Websites like JustAnswer and LivePerson match you up with people looking for answers to technical or professional questions. You can make money online by simply answering these questions and providing the right information to people based on their individualistic circumstances.
I love referral and affiliate marketing. It’s where the vast majority of my income comes from these days. Even if you aren’t a blogger, you can get in on the action as well. You can get paid to refer your friends to a wide variety of legitimate services. While there are many companies like StitchFix that will give you store credit for referrals, we are focusing on those that offer cold, hard cash today. Keep in mind, you will need to be signed up for the program yourself to take advantage of the program. But, you shouldn’t be referring people to things you don’t use anyway.
Do you see all of those articles, tutorials and guides all over the Internet? Somebody wrote every one of them! If you have decent writing ability (no, you don’t need a journalism degree!), and knowledge in a few specific topic areas, you can be one of those writers. It’s an opportunity to make money online and without ever leaving your home. It’s also the kind of venture that can start out as a small side business, but grow into a full-time career.
Establish a business plan. Whether you are selling your own product or one that belongs to someone else, you need to have a marketing plan in place. Determine where you will market the product. Popular venues include online classified advertisements, Ebay, social media sites, and websites. Using as many of these different advertising methods will help you gain adequate visibility.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
This is something like Experts Exchange, except that it’s more general in nature. As a professional in just about any field, you can offer your expertise on JustAnswer. They are looking for professionals in various fields who will provide answers to reader’s questions. You can make money online by answering these questions and pointing people in the right direction to get the solutions that they need.
Do you love getting refunds? How cool would it be to get money back on stuff you’ve already bought? Paribus is a service that lets you find out if stores you’ve shopped at online owe you a refund.  It’s free to sign up. Paribus connects to your email account and checks your receipts.  If they find out a retailer has dropped their price they file a price adjustment claim for you.  Try out Paribus.
So, I put together a free master course for you to take that spreads out all of the work involved in starting a blog, into a series of action-packed lessons. My free course breaks the entire process of starting a blog down into an incredibly simple 7-day process for going from 0 to publishing (and promoting) your first blog post in just 1 week. I can't recommend it enough.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is a service that lets you make money online through doing paid microtasks. Each task is something simple that requires human interaction like rating search results, checking for the right spelling on search terms, categorizing the tone of an article, or even basic translating. You can do these tasks from anywhere you want and make money online from the world’s largest e-retailer.

A website called AchieveMint gives you points for engaging in healthy activities, like exercise, tracking your eating habits, or even taking health related surveys. Points can be redeemed either for cash (10,000 points are worth $10) or for Amazon Gift Cards. The app actually connects with other health apps, like Fitbit and MyFitnessPal, to track your progress.

Offering specific online SEO services is also another online freelancer role that businesses are crying out for. If you know how to improve a website’s SEO by doing keyword research, creating content that can rank in search engines, adding metadata/schema to posts and pages, and building backlinks to a domain, to name a few tasks, then this could be a great line of work for you.


Build your audience on a course community: If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.

For those with a large Twitter following, you can make money from your Tweets alone with Sponsored Tweets. You could be paid for sharing a business’s information, recommending restaurants or hotels, or tweeting pictures of you using or wearing products. As with all sponsored posts on social media, businesses will only be prepared to pay you to Tweet if you have a large following that you can influence. So work hard on building up a loyal fan base.
Recognize that time is money. This critical piece of advice is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who was an accomplished American inventor, journalist, printer, diplomat, and statesman--the ultimate multitasker. Your ability to manage your time (and stop procrastinating) is a critical ingredient in your ability to make money. Whether you have a job or are self-employed, keep track of what you're spending your time on. Ask yourself "Which of these activities make the most money, and which of them are a waste of time?" Do more of the former and less of the latter, simple as that. When you're focusing on high-priority tasks, get the job done well, and get the job done fast. By working efficiently, you're giving your employer or clients more time, and they'll appreciate you for it. Remember that time is a limited resource that you're always investing. Will your investments pay off?
Petroleum remains heavily subsidized by various tax breaks—and they've made fortunes for oil tycoons for decades. Windmill farms and solar energy would not exist without heavy government subsidies. U.S. agriculture has been heavily subsidized since the 1930s, and even more so in Europe. The U.S. steel industry is, in effect, perennially subsidized by anti-dumping and other import tariffs. Real estate benefits from government largess via Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration and tax breaks.
Watch other people’s kids along with your own. There’s a good chance your friends who work outside of their homes would be thrilled to have an experienced parent watch their children while they are at the office. It can be manageable if your friend in need has only one or two kids. Plus, the new playmates will help keep your children occupied for a few hours. Pay varies widely based on where you live and the ages and number of kids you'll be watching, but babysitters and nannies typically can make up to $10 an hour in small cities and much more – even double that hourly rate – in larger cities.
This has become a popular business model for online entrepreneurs over the past several years, and will probably just continue to grow in popularity. The best thing about selling online courses is that once you do the up-front work in creating the course and setting up your marketing strategy, you can get paid over and over again for work you do once.
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