You don't always have to spend money to make money. If you want to launch a side gig to generate regular part-time income, or if you're looking for some quick extra cash, there are websites that can help you do it.
Depending on whether you're looking to earn extra money quickly or build a long-term income stream, each of the following websites offers unique advantages (and sometimes disadvantages) tailored to different needs and interests. Read on for more information on each site.
How it works: Upwork is essentially a meeting site where businesses and freelancers throughout the world can connect and collaborate on certain projects. Businesses hire freelancers for a variety of different services, including writing, web design, running SEO campaigns and pretty much any work that can be done on a computer.
Highlights: Upwork takes a commission from 5% to 20%, but the more money you make, the less the commission is.
Drawbacks: Upwork has been so successful that there is a lot of competition on the website, and that can be a real drawback for people who are new to the site, says Sacha Darosa, owner of a digital marketing agency in Toronto called The Shirtless Web Guy.
"Before I started my business in web design, I created profiles on websites such as Upwork. In the beginning it was a struggle to attract any attention from buyers on those platforms because there's so much competition. And much of the competition was from overseas, which made it impossible for me to compete with others on price."
So Darosa lowered his prices and for a while, he was working for next to nothing. But the positive feedback made his profile look better, and Darosa started charging more.
"Although platforms like Upwork can be helpful in building a portfolio and initial client base, I am glad to be off them and on my own," Darosa says.
How it works: This is also a popular website that can be helpful for freelancers. Know something about digital animation? You can work for someone who doesn't have these skills and pick up some extra cash. Even better, you can offer to compile web research for someone for fast cash.
Highlights: You can make good money from the site, asserts Dan Bochichio, a web designer and digital strategist in Albany, New York, who runs a two-person company called Bocain Designs. He says that his firm makes $3,000 to $5,000 a month from Fiverr. "To stay ahead of the competition, I make sure my Fiverr profile and gig descriptions are well written and communicate the value of the services I'm offering. When someone reaches out to me, I make sure to reply as quickly as I can and follow up with to inquiry by asking good questions. A quick, but carefully written reply will increase the odds of them hiring you drastically," Bochichio says.
Drawbacks: Bochichio's success aside, Fiverr's name comes from the fact that many people used to work for $5 a task. You can ask for more (and arguably should), but a lot of your prospective clients are probably expecting you to work for next to nothing.
How it works: If you're artistic and are the type of person who can make custom jewelry or refrigerator magnets, Etsy is the place to sell your products.
Highlights: It's easy to navigate the site and set up a shop.
Drawbacks: There's a lot of competition on the website. On one hand, the branding is big, and a lot of people know about Etsy. But once you put up your wares, as with Upwork and Fiverr, you are one in a gazillion people selling stuff on Etsy. It may feel a little overwhelming.
How it works: Are you willing to get your hands dirty? People come to this site to find those willing to do various tasks, such as putting together a bookcase, cleaning a garage or running an errand. Do as many tasks as you want, and this could become quite the part-time (or full-time) job.
Highlights: You can apply for tasks, but you can also put up a profile, explaining what tasks you're available for and skilled at, and people may end up seeking you out for work.
Drawbacks: A lot of the tasks you'll find on TaskRabbit are, as noted, physical -- like setting up furniture. Of course, if that's your jam, that's a plus.
How it works: People come to this site when they need research done. Wonder doesn't hire just anyone, but you can apply. The process takes about five minutes, according to the website. And if Wonder thinks you have the skills to do research, you'll get access to its dashboard. You can then choose to answer a question -- perhaps coming from a business executive or an author writing a book.
Highlights: Researchers report making, on average, $8 to $16 for each detailed answer, and job sites suggest researchers can make, on average, about $20 an hour. In short, Wonder offers an ideal gig for those who really enjoy the process of doing research, as opposed to those who just want to make fast money.
Drawbacks: As noted, the money is not spectacular, especially if you spend a lot of time answering questions. If that happens to you a lot, you may wonder why you're using Wonder.
How it works: With the tagline "secondhand clothes, firsthand fun," this e-commerce company appeals to thrifty types looking to make money and sell their clutter for cash. The online thrift store sells women's and kid's clothes. Here's how it works: You send your clothes in a ThredUp bag with a prepaid mailing label, and ThredUp will decide the value. They're looking for nice clothes and popular brands, and keep in mind there's a fee if your items aren't accepted. So, if you have clothes better suited for a yard sale, hold a yard sale. But if you have quality outfits you no longer want, ThredUp enables you to sell unwanted items and may even pay you enough so that you can buy new threads.
Highlights: The process is pretty easy. ThredUp will send you a prepaid bag to put your clothes in, or a shipping label if you prefer.
Drawbacks: You won't get paid (naturally) until your clothes reach ThredUp, and they've been accepted. But if they aren't accepted, you will have to pay a fee to have them shipped back to you -- or they can responsibly recycle them.
How it works: Like ThredUp, Swap is an online consignment store. After you send in used clothes and toys and games, Swap will sell them for you. As for how much you can make, the website explains that if something is priced for less than $10, you'll get a 30% credit to buy something from Swap.com -- or 20% of the sale price back in cash. If your item sells between $10 and $20, you'll earn a 50% credit or 40% back in cash. If it sells for more than $20, you'll receive a 70% credit or 60% cash.
Highlights: It's easier than, say, selling on Facebook Marketplace, where you generally must meet somebody to hand off an item. And aside from collecting stuff in your home, and putting items in a prepaid box sent to you, the process is pretty easy.
Drawbacks: As with ThredUp, you may have your clothes rejected, which means either you won't get them back -- or you'll pay a fee to have them returned to you.
How it works: If you have an old cellphone or another device (think iPads and computers), you can sell your electronics here. The website will give you a cash offer for your device. If you agree, you'll be sent packaging materials. Gazelle pays the shipping costs, and you'll wait for a check in the mail, a gift card to be sent or cash transferred to your PayPal account. You may not make a fortune, but it's better than letting an unused device collect dust on a shelf -- and far better for the environment to sell it than toss it in a landfill.
Highlights: As you would expect, it's a pretty seamless process from start to finish.
Drawbacks: If you send in, say, a phone, and the phone isn't what Gazelle thought it might be, the offer for what it will pay for it may go down considerably. On the other hand, Gazelle will send you your phone back for free. So you aren't risking much, other than time.
How it works: This is a popular site for selling gift cards. Maybe some of the gift cards you got last Christmas have sat around unused, and you don't think you'll ever use them. Well, tell CardSell what you have, they'll make you an offer and if you agree, you can exchange it for cash or, ironically, another gift card.
Highlights: There's no charge to mail your gift cards to CardSell, and the process is pretty easy, as you would expect.
Drawbacks: You'll never get the full value of your gift card, of course. So you might ask yourself: Isn't there some friend or family member I can sell this to?
How it works: If you don't have the energy to hold a yard sale, OfferUp may be the next best thing. After you take a picture of what you have and price it, hopefully somebody nearby will see it online, love it, send you a note and you'll meet -- in a public place, OfferUp's website recommends -- and you can get your cash. That said, OfferUp also offers ways to mail items to buyers.
Highlights: OfferUp is often compared to the ever-popular Craigslist, but some users claim it's an easier site to post on, probably because if you download the app, you can instant message buyers and sellers, and members have profiles, so you can get a better sense that people are who they say they are. If somebody has earned badges that OfferUp gives out, that's also a good sign they're considered a trusted, reputable seller on the website. Nevertheless, you'd still do well to use common sense and buy and sell OfferUp items in public places.
Drawbacks: As noted, if you're meeting a buyer to sell an item, meet in a public place. You don't really know who you're dealing with. On its website, OfferUp says, "Keep in mind that just because someone is buying or selling online doesn't guarantee your safety: You're responsible for your safety, so when you arrange a meetup, take sensible precautions. In the event of an emergency or any danger, call 911 or your local emergency number."
How it works: Do you have storage space in your house? Or maybe an empty garage or storage shed? You could sign up on Neighbor.com and offer to store your neighbors' stuff. It's sort of like Airbnb for the self-storage industry. You don't pay a dime and set your own prices. The person who rents your space will pay Neighbor.com a service fee for getting the two of you together. And on the plus side, if this goes well, now you have incentive to clean out your attic or garage.
Highlights: You're paid via direct deposit, or you can receive a debit card at the end of the month. There are some small fees taken out of your payment for using the Neighbor website (a processing fee of 4.9% of the total reservation plus 30 cents per payout).
Drawbacks: There don't seem to be many. Well, if somehow you suddenly need to use your storage space, you may be a in a pickle. If that's the case, you need to give your renter 30 days advance notice to pick up their stuff. If you don't give them enough notice, according to the Neighbor website, you'll get a $60 eviction fee.
Merch by Amazon
How it works: John Frigo, an affiliate manager for a website called MySupplementStore.com, says he sometimes makes money on the side by creating designs for T-shirts. He sells on Merch by Amazon as well as other platforms like Redbubble.com.
Highlights: Frigo says you can simply upload your designs and get paid. "Graphic designers can upload T-shirt designs and at that point it's pretty much entirely passive, and you're paid a royalty for every one of your designs that sell -- but you don't have to handle returns, do any customer service or ship anything," Frigo says.
Drawbacks: You probably won't get rich. For instance, Merch by Amazon offers examples of royalty prices, and for a T-shirt that sells for $15.99, the royalty would be $2.21. Still, once the hard work -- designing the piece -- is done, it's easy money. If somebody buys your T-shirt, that is.