How to Make a Living Online in 2021: 14 Legit Ways to Get Started

Steve Allen

Online Business

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how to make a living online legit ways to get started

So you want to make money online

Who doesn’t?

Maybe you’ve read some case studies of people earning a living on the internet and you want to give it a try…

But where do you start?

There’s so many online business opportunities these days that it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the hype.

That’s why I’ve created this list of legitimate ways you can make a living online and how to be successful even before you start.

You can start any of these alongside your current job, make enough to earn a good living from it and even turn it into an online business.

I’ll even share how some people are already doing this in this article.

And the best bit?

You don’t have to invest a tonne of money in them so you’ve got nothing to lose but the potential to quit your job, create a lifestyle you love and achieve more freedom.

Let’s get started.

P.S. At the end of this post I’ll share my own personal strategy and which business models I’m currently involved in.

How to Be Successful Before You Even Start

How to be a successful with your online venture
Success starts with you

Many of the ideas in this list can be started as a casual side hustle or started as a full on business. It’s important to have an intented goal in mind.

If you just want to make an extra £200-£1000 per month, that’s great. Equally, any of these can be turned into a scalable business or be an extension of your current business.

That’s why I refer to many of these ideas as business models, but don’t let this put you off if your goal is just to make a little extra money on the side.

We want to be successful in our new online venture so here’s a few things to keep in mind when you start out.

Do These Two Things First

Many people get stuck when choosing what type of online business or niche to get into.

But it really doesn’t need to be a difficult decision. Here’s a simple formula you should follow when taking the leap:

  1. Choose something you’re good at or at least interested in
  2. Don’t care what other people think or say about you

Many people don’t think to start a business around what they’re good at because they aren’t sure if they can make enough money from it and then some people completely avoid it because they’re afraid they’ll be criticised for the work they produce.

It’s a common fear when starting any business…

You fear that your work won’t be good enough or wonder if anyone will buy from you, or you worry that there’s other people out there better than you.

It’s possible that the best in the world of the thing that you’re good at isn’t the best in the world.

That’s because 92% of the worlds population aren’t enterpreneurs, so there’s bound to be someone in there who’s better than the current offer.

And maybe that’s you?

Another way of thinking about it is that you don’t need to be the best in the world. Just marginally better than the majority of people who want the thing/skill/service that your business provides.

Anyone who criticises you about your business venture is showing you their own fear. They’re either worried you will fail or worried you will will succeed.

So don’t worry about what people think and choose something that you’re confident about and that you’re happy to continuously learn about.

When Choosing a Business Model, Learn the Basics and Run With It

Online business can be a little daunting, but don’t let that stop you in your tracks.

Whichever business model you choose from the list below, don’t get too caught up in how it all works. Yes, read a book, take a course or hire a mentor but limit your consumption and learn by doing.

Learn the basics and take some action. When you get stuck, learn the next step and keep going. Trying to figure everything out at once will only make you feel overwhelmed and cause you to procrastinate.

Trust me. I’ve been there!

Set a Goal and Make a Commitment to Follow Through With It

Set yourself a goal and then break it down. Give yourself a deadline to hit your goal and make a commitment to achieving it.

Whether you’re creating a facebook page, creating your first YouTube video or setting up your website, make it a goal you can follow through with. Tell your friends and ask for help if you need it.

You want to get as much support as possible and being held accountable is a great way to stick to your commitment.

I recommend buying a notebook or journal to keep track of your goals and document the whole process.

Be Consistent By Taking Some Action Everyday

Get into the habit of taking action everyday. It might sound a little extreme but it doesn’t have to be much action, just something.

If you make a list of all the tasks you need to take to complete your current goal, you’ll always know what you can be doing that’ll get you closer to making a living online.

But, here’s the key…

As long as you tick one thing off your list every single day, you’re not only getting closer to achieving your goals but you’re forming a habit of being consistent and affirming your commitment to stick to what you set out to do.

Create, Don’t Compete

Here’s a valuable lesson (with my own little twist) that I learned from the book The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles which I’ve read no less than 10 times.

As long as you focus on creating value, learn as you go and iterate when you need to, you’ll grow a thriving audience, find a niche you love and learn from your failures.

Then at this point, competition is irrelevant.

Just create and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

It’s All About How Much Value You Offer

Many people think of entrepreneurs as sleazy sales people who only care about money and although this might be true for some entrepreneurs, for many of us it’s all about providing value to an audience and improving their lives in some way.

If this is what you focus on, money becomes a byproduct of the value you provide which just enables you to continue doing what you’re good at, improve your offer and grow your business.

Now, let’s take a look at the best ways to make a living online.

1. Teach a Musical Instrument

Teach a musical instrument online

If you play a musical instrument, then why not teach others how to play over the internet.

If you already teach people in person then even better, because you already have experience at teaching.

A great place to start is You can create a free profile and select your teaching subject, set your prices and availability and students find you through the platform.

You could then share some video of you playing on social media and let people know that you offer lessons online and send them over to your profile at

If you build a big enough following on social media, from your website or even a YouTube channel, you’ll soon be making enough money to replace your regular job.

2. Sell Your Art or Crafts on Etsy

What if you’re an exceptional painter or just like making things with your hands?

A great option for the creative individuals is to sell your creations on Etsy.

Etsy has been around for years and now has over 33 million buyers. It’s like eBay but for people selling things that they’ve designed or made themselves.

Sign up for free and list your items in your Etsy shop. Your only limit is your imagination.

Take a look at Sharon’s course from where she teaches you how to make an extra $1000 per month with Esty.

3. Turn Your Knowledge into an Online Course

Carrying on with the skills theme, if you’ve tried any of the above before or feel like you can tackle a bigger project, creating an online course could be your best option for making a living online.

Online courses have been growing at an exponential rate in 2019 thanks to online marketplaces such as SkillShare and Udemy.

There are also other, more in-house options where you can sell courses from your own website.

My personal favorite platform is LearnDash where I’ve helped my clients set up and sell their own online courses.

LearnDash is a WordPress plugin where you host and sell your online course from your own website.

If you’d prefer a more hands off approach though, Udemy or SkillShare are a great place to start.

I’ve also heard good things about Podia and Thinkific which both give you a more personalised platform rather than selling on a marketplace like Udemy and Skillshare.

Whichever route you decide to choose, you’ll first need to create your course videos so you can upload them to your chosen course platform.

If you want to learn more about creating an online course, Miles Beckler has a very short yet extremely comprehensive tutorial on his YouTube Channel. Check out his video below.

4. Turn Your Knowledge Into a Book

Make a living self publishing your own books

Could you see yourself as a writer?

Maybe you have a lot of knowledge around a subject but couldn’t stand the thought of creating an online course.

Then writing a book to share your expertise could be a great way of making a living online.

Self publishing has been made possible through Amazon. And it doesn’t have to be non fiction, although putting your knowledge into words is a much easier skill to master than becoming a renowned novelist.

Whether you want to teach people what you know or write a novel, Amazon gives you the ability to publish your book through Kindle, print or audiobook.

Website’s such as Self-Publishing School and are great resources to learn more about self publishing your book.

5. Sell Your Digital Artwork on T-Shirts and Mugs

If you’re into graphic design or digital art and like the idea of selling products online then you need to know about print on demand.

Print on demand or POD for short is a fantastic way to get your digital designs printed on products like t-shirts, mugs, hats, bags and so on.

This is made possible with services like where you upload your design onto your chosen product and then add the mockup images to your ecommerce store.

Then when someone purchases a product from your store, Printful will get notified of the order, they print your design on the product and then ship the product directly to your customer.

This is such a great business model because you don’t need a huge warehouse to store your products and you don’t need to do any of the packing and shipping. It’s all done automatically by the print on demand service

To learn more about the business model, you can take a look at this in-depth course on Udemy or I found this 5 step guide to starting a print-on-demand business.

6. Create a YouTube Channel

Start a YouTube channel

You’ve probably heard of many people starting a YouTube channel, going viral, becoming famous and making tonnes of money.

But how do they do it?

Well for many people, it’s being in the right place at the right time and getting lucky with their content. But for many others it takes a lot of dedication and hard work.

I believe there’s a system to becoming successful on YouTube though and it can be replicated if you’re willing to put in the time and stick at it.

Posting a few videos here and there won’t get you far, but treating it like a business and providing value to your audience is key.

To get started you should follow these steps:

  1. Pick a niche
  2. Find other channels in your niche
  3. Make a list of their most popular content
  4. Recreate these videos in your own style
  5. Be consistent

You want to pick a niche that you have some interest in. The best channels to replicate are one’s where you’re helping your audience achieve a certain goal.

This is the same process I am taking with my own YouTube channel.

I’m teaching people how to make a better website with confidence and I’m creating content that has already done well on YouTube.

As long as I make the content unique by improving it in some way and focus on providing value to my audience, I can’t fail.

It’s important to be consistent and help your audience when they ask questions.

You can then start making money through YouTube’s ads program and even offering premium content to your audience in the form of online courses or digital downloads.

Two of my favourite YouTube channels to learn more on this topic are Gillian Perkins and Jeven Dovey.

7. Turn Your Offline Business into an Online Business

Are you a carpenter by trade? Or maybe a hairdresser? Or a chef?

These and many other professions are starting to see massive exposure on the internet.

Through social media sites such as YouTube and Instagram, building a following of your work to promote your business is a wise move in 2020.

But it’s also possible to build a following on these platforms and make money as a separate source of income.

YouTube has its own free course on how to monetise a YouTube channel.

Whether your profession involves cutting wood, cutting hair or cutting carrots, creating some videos while you’re at work and then posting them on YouTube could be the start of a whole new career.

A good example of this is James with his channel PlumberParts. James has built a huge following on YouTube (over 140k subscribers) and other social media sites with his how-to plumbing videos.

And guess what… He’s even selling his own t-shirts and hats from his website.

It’s safe to say, this chap is making a killing online which is completely separate to his offline plumbing business.

8. Provide a Service on Fiverr or Upwork

There’s a buzz word that’s been going around for several years now, you may have heard of it?

Digital Nomad

This buzz word has gained even more traction in recent years thanks to social media and the growth of job sites such as Upwork and the like.

If you’re new to this world of work and can see yourself as a digital freelancer, the concept is simple.

You join one of many freelancing websites, list your skills and bid on people searching for work that you’re qualified to do.

Here’s just a few service based job sites you can offer your services on:

  1. Upwork
  2. Fiverr
  3. Freelancer

If you’ve developed any skills like graphic design, web development, social media marketing and built up a portfolio of work, it’s possible to do very well on these platforms.

You can even offer consulting services if you’re in this line of work offline, (e.g. financial advisor or legal consultant) why not offer your expertise online and turn it into recurring income.

You never know, one day you may find yourself making more online than you are offline being able to live the digital nomad lifestyle for yourself.

9. Become a Freelance Writer

Make a living as a freelance writer

This is similar to the one above but focused around writing for a living.

Do you have a knack for writing or always dreamed of sharing your thoughts in the form of the written word?

There are thousands of companies out there in desperate need for all types of writers.

  • Journalism
  • Blog Posts
  • SEO
  • Copywriting
  • Technical Writing

All these forms of writing and more need to be written and companies are willing to pay for it.

You can sign up to sites such as:

Then bid on or find writing jobs based on your area of expertise. Being a successful writer is no longer limited to famous novelists writing their own books. The internet has made it possible to get anyone’s words seen by millions.

10. Sell Your Own Private Label Product

Similar to selling a product on Etsy, instead of selling something you make yourself, you have a product developed and manufactured at scale so you’re able to sell them off in the thousands on platforms like Amazon.

This might sound like a daunting task but thanks to the internet, creating your own brand and selling products online has never been easier.

A downside to this business model unlike some others on this list is the initial upfront investment needed.

But, you don’t necessarily need to invest thousands though. That’s thanks to wholesale site

Alibaba is a huge directory and marketplace of Chinese manufacturers who list and sell their products in bulk to buyers who want to resell them on their own websites or retail sites like Amazon.

Amazon FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) is a great starting point as once you’ve chosen your product on Alibaba, found the right manufacturer and placed your first shipment, you have your products sent to an Amazon warehouse where Amazon staff then do all the leg work.

As the name suggests, Amazon fulfill the orders. From boxing them up when they arrive to delivering them to customers and even handling refunds.

It takes out the work of fulfilling orders yourself so you can focus on marketing your products and reordering when stock gets low.

Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits started his Amazon FBA business in March 2015 which started generating $40,000+ in sales per month after just 6 months into the business.

He then went on to sell the business for $425,000!

This story is an amazing one as he started this business venture with no knowledge just 2.5 years before he sold it. You can read about his success with this business model on his blog where he documented the whole process.

11. Buy and Resell Physical Products

If the last business model sounded a little overwhelming then you might be more comfortable starting with this one.

Instead of buying products in bulk from China, you buy products from a supermarket, garage sale or car boot sale and resell these products online.

You can still sell the products using Amazon FBA too. Once you have enough inventory to fill up a large box, you send this off to an Amazon warehouse and they take care of the rest. It’s your job to keep buying more stock from wherever you can to make sure you always have products available to sell.

The key to making this business model work is keeping your eye out for products selling cheaper than they’re being sold for online. You can find some bargains in supermarkets and then double check how much they’re being sold for online so you know you’ll make a profit.

You don’t necessarily have to buy all your products in a supermarket. You could also find products online such as eBay, Walmart in the US or Asda in the UK and then resell them at a higher price on a different online store.

It might not sound like you can make much with this business but thousands of people are already doing this online making a good living.

If on average you made £5/$5 profit per product you would only need to sell 200 products per month to be making 1000 pounds/dollars which is only 6 to 7 products per day, and if you’re really good at finding bargains, your profit margins per product would be a lot higher.

I personally made a good amount of money with this business model a few years ago. All I did was buy childrens toys and kitchen accessories from my local Asda (Walmart), and then resold them on Amazon.

I ended up quadrupling the amount of money I spent in just a couple of months.

If you would like to learn more about this business model, I highly recommend checking out Online Selling Experiment.

12. Start an Affiliate Website/Blog

Make money with your own blog

When you think of a blogger, what comes to mind?

Someone who starts blogging about their life and takes pictures of their food?

Yes, blogs come in all shapes and sizes. Some people create blogs about themselves and do very well but these days, the most successful blogs are teaching people something.

If you have a lot of knowledge on a particular subject or even if you’re super interested in learning something new, you could blog about it and quite possibly make a living out of it.

Alex and Lauren make crazy amounts with their health blog and share everything they learn on their other blog Create and Go.

The aim is to create valuable blog posts that people will love and share with their friends and family. You make money through a number of ways but the most common is with affiliate marketing.

If none of the above ways to make a living online interest you then you have the option of promoting other companies products. You simply share your opinion and expertise in quality content and recommend products to help your readers decide on what to buy.

When your visitors click on your affiliate links and buy these products, you earn yourself a commission.

If you’re serious about it, you can incorporate some of the other business models on this page into your blog.

For instance, Alex and Lauren also sell a Yoga course and created their own supplements brand. They provide valuable content which builds trust with their audience which is the key components of building a successful blogging business.

Also read: How to Become a Full Time Blogger

13. Buy and Sell Websites

If you already have a blog that’s making money, why not sell it?

Yes. you can buy and sell websites on sites like Flippa, MotionInvest or EmpireFlippers. This was one of the very first business models I got into about eight years ago.

Related: Motion Invest Review: My Experience Buying a Profit Generating Website

You can either start a new blog from scratch and then sell it once it’s making some money. The more money your blog is making the more money it will sell for. Usually around 20 – 35 times the monthly income.

So if your blog is making £1000 per month then you could potentially sell it for £35,000. And if your blog is making £8000 per month then it could sell for up to £300,000 if it has good potential to grow.

What if you don’t want to create your blog from scratch? Making money with a new blog takes time after all…

Then you could buy one that’s already making money but isn’t performing as well as it could. You then improve the content and add more that’s working well to increase the monthly revenue and then sell it on once you can make a good return on your investment.

14. Become an Online Consultant/Coach

Choose a career in consulting

Have you ever achieved a big goal in your life?

Lost 28lbs in weight? Overcome adversity? Learned how to meditate? Started a business that makes passive income?

Whatever your achievements might be, if it’s something other people are trying to achieve and you think you could help them get there then a coaching business could be the perfect fit for you.

Coaching isn’t limited to the fitness industry but that’s what a lot of people assume when they think of a coach.

Being a coach or consultant doesn’t mean having to meet your clients face to face either. The coaching and consulting industry has changed vastly in recent years and technology has allowed thousands of people to help their clients over the internet.

More and more people are seeing the value in hiring a personal mentor to keep them accountable to their goals, motivate them to take action and provide a different perspective when pursuing their desired outcome.

If this is something you could do for people then you could have a lot of success with coaching.

Sam Ovens who runs, a site that teaches you how to run a successful consulting business has a fantastic article that explains exactly how you can get started with this business model.

My Online Business Ventures

Here’s a quick rundown of my own business strategy and different ventures I’m involved in.

I won’t get into the details but some of these I’ve already started and making money with and some I’m currently implementing and plan to launch over the next few months and into the new year.

I’m extremely passionate about business and want to learn as much as I can, therefore starting my own businesses and brands will help me do just that.

  • Teach web design, branding and digital marketing on YouTube & this blog: I’ve been a web developer for almost 15 years and now I want to help entrepreneurs gain the confidence of building their own website, creating a brand and grow their business through the power of digital marketing.
  • Sell courses and run a membership site: This is an extension of the content I share for free on my blog and YouTube, with a more structured and premium experience to help online business owners further their knowledge.
  • Sell t-shirts, mugs etc… (POD): This is more of an experiment than anything else. I like designing things, t-shirts and coffee mugs so why not create a store that sells my designs on them.
  • Run affiliate sites: This is my main focus right now as well as Coffee Shop Blogger. I currently have one affiliate site that I’m spending most of my time with, but eventually I’d like to run a whole empire of sites which then leads me into…
  • Buying and selling websites: Like I mentioned before, I’ve already had experience doing this on a small scale but essentially I would buy up cheap sites, improve them and then sell them once they’re making substantial revenue.
  • Sell a private label product: I’ve got a couple of ideas for a physical products business and this is a business model I’ve wanted to get into for a long time so it’s on the cards for next year.
  • Sell ebooks: I’m not entirely sure about this one yet but it would definitely fit within my affiliate site business.
  • Offer consulting someday: Also something I’ve wanted to get into but never really knew which niche to go with. Now I have too many to choose from.

Final Thoughts

That’s it for this post guys. Thanks for reading!

Now it’s over to you… Comment below which business model you’re going to start or let me know if you’re already having success with an online business.


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