Who wouldn’t want to be able to earn money from their computer without ever having to spend it?
Nice in theory. The problem is, we often have a misconception about what making money online means.
If you were going to get rich selling slimming wraps on Instagram or inviting “just 10 friends to join this brand new marketing system,” I’ve got bad news for you.
Because deep down, you can imagine: there is no miracle solution. Contrary to what this pop-up would have you believe, which promises to “make money without doing anything thanks to a simple secret system.”
Basically, making money online is often less easy than it looks – and will require minimal effort. But what is certain is that it doesn’t have to be expensive.
The beauty of starting your business online is that you can turn it into a solid source of income over the long term, with little or no upfront investment.
Is it (really) possible to make money online without spending it?
Yes and no.
Is it possible to earn a few tens of dollars every month in exchange for a little of your time (and not your money)? Yes.
This is the case, for example, with paid surveys. You don’t have to spend anything to enjoy it: only to spend time there, for sums that are still quite small.
But will this allow you to earn significant sums every month and in a sustainable way? The answer is no.
Conversely, can you start an online business to generate real income or even passive income without investing any euro? It’s more difficult but possible.
But you can do it without problem for only a few tens of euros. And you must also keep in mind that you will surely have investments to make in the long term to allow your business to grow.
You will generally need at least certain software, subscriptions, or equipment. But no need to spend several hundred euros per month, on the contrary.
On the other hand, to reduce costs, you will have to spend more than money: time.
Your time or your money
You usually have the choice between investing the money or investing the time.
In general, the less time you want to invest, the more money you will have to invest (quite simply because you will pay to save time). And vice versa.
Building a long-term, sustainable online business without any investment will likely take more time. You have to do all the work yourself, do without paid software or tools that would make your job much easier, and learn how to do it all on the job.
Which doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing: you just have to be aware of it. After a few months or years, by starting to generate income, you can reinvest part of it to make your job easier.
There is neither magic nor mystery.
There are also a few ways to make money online without spending anything, which I will detail later in this article. Some are very easy to start without investment, others a little less.
And if you need to make money fast, and start raising a few dollars now, then this is where the quick methods come in, like the paid surveys I told you about above.
Unfortunately, if they pay quickly, they pay very little and are not really sustainable (unless you dream of spending hours every week taking surveys).
Differentiate scams from opportunities
What can seem difficult when looking to make money on the internet without spending it is to differentiate the scams’ real opportunities.
And that’s normal: there are indeed a lot of scams that can cost you dearly. But that doesn’t mean everything is a scam, either.
Here are some tips on how to best avoid them.
For starters, if you’re asked to donate money to earn it, it’s probably a scam. Please note: I am not talking about buying a book or choosing to take training on this topic.
I’m talking about the “couch potatoes” systems, which require you to buy a method or make an initial investment and then get a return on that investment.
Or the typical MLM montages, in which you are asked to buy a stock (drinks, makeup, jewelry …) to resell online … Knowing that literally 99% of MLM participants lose money.
On the other hand, there are creators whose mission is to help you launch your business on the web in a real and legal way. I myself signed up for several of these courses, which were by no means scams. But they were offered by creators that I had known and had followed for a while – not some high-profile Facebook ad.
You don’t have to put everything in the same bag, but you also have to be aware that scams exist.
If you are asked to send money for a return on your investment later, run away.
I recommend 100% Chris Guillebeau’s book to start learning about the subject, 100 euros to start a business. He inspired me to create this blog and other projects that allowed me to create passive income.
9 ideas to earn money without spending it
1. Offer micro-services
Micro-services are a great way to make money online without having to spend it.
On top of that, it’s an ultra-flexible solution to allow you to work at your own pace when you want.
As their name suggests, the concept of micro-services offers online assignments to clients looking for your skills on very short-term projects.
It can, for example, be:
- Write articles for companies, blogs, etc.
- Do translation, transcription, or subtitling
- Offer your voice as a voice-over
- Create designs, logos, etc.
It is, of course, not a question of offering everything and anything. But depending on your area of expertise, there is a good chance that you will be able to find some services to offer.
The best sites to use to offer its micro-services are:
- 5 euros. As the name suggests, you can offer missions from€5, but also more expensive. It is the most popular micro-services platform to date in France.
- Fiverr. Fiverr works just like 5euros, except that the platform is international. While it is possible to display the English interface, many clients will want to communicate with you in English for your assignments, even if they are, for example, looking for French writers or voices. So you have to be a minimum at ease with Shakespeare’s language – but if you speak English well, that’s a big plus for you.
Here, very little (if any) initial investment is required provided that you already have the necessary computer equipment (at least a computer and an internet connection).
Everything will then depend on the missions you offer. For example, for voice-over services, you will probably need to have a good quality microphone.
2. Become a freelancer
Whether you are a graphic designer, accountant, secretary, developer, or whatever, freelancing is probably doable for you.
Being a freelancer is simply working as a freelance in your profession. Therefore, you do not have a specific employer or a long-term contract (although some assignments may last longer than others).
It’s a concept quite similar to micro-services, with the difference that as a freelancer, you often work on more complete missions, in relation with clients beyond a simple order, and which are more profitable. .. and therefore also require more time.
The big advantage is that you can work from anywhere and on your own schedule. You can also very well start a freelance activity in addition to your salary, or as a main activity.
On the other hand, you will have to manage the relationship with your customers and seek to find new ones while managing your activity administratively.
The main platforms dedicated to freelancers are:
- Fiverr and 5 euros, on which you can also offer more complete services than the micro-services mentioned above.
- The best
- Redacteur.com (specialized in writing)
- Upwork (English)
It is often the start-up that will take the most time, the time to find your first clients, to build your portfolio, and to collect your first recommendations.
This is similar to micro-services for the initial investment cost: zero if you already have computer equipment and an internet connection. Everything will then depend on the missions you offer.
3. Create a blog
If you like to write well and share a topic that excites you, starting a blog is surely a great option.
And you don’t have to be a tech pro to get started or even a digital marketing genius.
The thing about blogging is that you have to learn to be patient before touching anything.
They can take months – even sometimes years – before they start to pay off. I started slowly monetizing mine after about 4 months … and only for a few euros per month at the start.
But often, the curve just keeps going up with the passing of time and the investment of time you put into it.
And the great thing about blogging is that income is often passive – that is, your blog continues to make you money even when you’re not actively working on it. You can take a month’s vacation and still earn money.
After that, of course, everything depends on the work and the involvement you are willing to put into it.
To create your blog, the essential steps will be among others:
- Choose the right niche. Avoid overly generic sites: try to find a specific topic to write about (dog training).
- Identify the problems of your audience, and try to answer them. You should have a minimal understanding of the subject you are writing about or be in the process of training yourself on it and sharing your experience. Your content should help others solve the problems they are having in that specific topic.
- Create quality content. Contrary to the image we often have from blogs, it is not a question of detailing your last vacation at La Grande Motte. But to give value to your readers by helping them accomplish something.
- Learn about search engine optimization. This is a critical aspect of blogging.
Monetizing your blog will depend on two factors: the number of visitors that go there each month and the interest and engagement your visitors have in your content.
Then, once your audience starts to grow, and visitors start to know you and like your content, there are several ways you can monetize your site:
- Advertising (Google AdSense or others)
- Affiliate marketing (which we see in detail in the next point)
- Publish sponsored or ad-editorial content
- Sell online courses, eBooks, or other types of content.
Starting a blog is easy and requires very little or no initial investment. WordPress allows you, for example, to launch your site for free to start.
On the other hand, even if it is an excellent solution to start, especially when you do not know anything about web development, the options are limited. You will probably have to try to switch to a more professional system after a few months.
If you want to go through another system, the costs will generally be those of the hosting + of the platform you will create your site.
4. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is a great way to start making money online without investing.
Your job is to promote someone else’s products (usually a business) in exchange for a commission on each sale with affiliate marketing.
On the other hand, you will have to go either through a website (such as a blog, as we have just seen) or through social networks to get started. This means you need to have a fairly large audience interested in what you have to say.
You also have the possibility to participate in groups, forums, discussions on networks, etc., to answer questions and discussions on the products in question and at the same time share your link.
Please note: this method is a lot more slippery. Nobody likes Internet users who spam groups and networks by sharing their affiliate link all the time. I myself get comments under the posts on this blog myself every day from people trying at all costs to share their links for no reason – and they end up in the spam emails straight away.
Again, the point is to give people value and help them, which will naturally entice them to go through your link to buy.
Say you are promoting protein powder of a certain brand (which you use or actually have used, of course). You can share your experience on forums related to bodybuilding.
But in my opinion, the best option is to launch your blog or website and place your affiliate links in quality content useful to readers.
The ideal is to subscribe to dedicated platforms that connect publishers (you) and brands to find affiliate partnerships. Some of my favorites and most popular are:
- Amazon Partners
The big advantage with an affiliate is that you promote third-party products without creating them yourself – and therefore without having to invest.
5. Become a virtual assistant
The number of freelancers and “solopreneurs” (a person who creates and runs a business alone) has increased markedly in recent years.
Their problem is often that as their business grows, it often becomes more and more difficult for these freelancers to manage everything themselves.
This is where virtual assistants come in.
As a virtual assistant, your role is to remotely manage various tasks, mostly administrative, for your client. You are a bit like an online secretary who accompanies the entrepreneur in her daily life to concentrate on her most important tasks.
The tasks assigned to you will depend on the entrepreneur in question but may revolve around these themes:
- Organize their daily schedule
- Set up appointments and meetings
- Remind important tasks
- Organize and reply to emails
- Manage to invoice or any other documentation
- … and more depending on the domain!
The advantage is also that you can also learn a lot on your own with these kinds of missions, especially if you want to start as an entrepreneur one day.
You can find virtual assistant assignments on the freelance & service sites presented earlier in the article.
You can also try reaching out to entrepreneurs and small businesses on LinkedIn directly to offer them your services.
Having your own website to introduce you and your services is often quite popular – even if it’s just a small free site made on WordPress.
6. Start a dropshipping store
Dropshipping is also a good way to make money on the internet without spending it.
It is a model of e-commerce very accessible by its operation. With drop shipping, you sell a product on your site without managing the stock yourself but requiring the supplier to ship orders directly to the customer.
So you don’t have to manage inventory, orders, or shipments – and you get paid with the margin between the price you charge your customers and the price you buy the product from the supplier.
Dropshipping is starting to get a bit saturated in some niches, with a lot of competition. So you have to try to find an interesting niche before you start.
The other obstacle will be to remain ethical in your approach: the goal is to make products accessible to an audience looking for a precise solution – not to sell poor quality products imported from abroad with an indecent margin.
Here, you can again choose to create a website with WordPress coupled with a solution like WooCommerce or simply go through a platform like Shopify. The first option is free but will require an investment of time to make the site professional and, above all, secure for online payments.
7. Sell courses online
With more than 130,000 courses available and 35 million students enrolled, Udemy is one of the world’s largest online training and learning platforms.
If you have the knowledge, are an expert, or work in a particular field and enjoy teaching a minimum, you probably have the potential to start your own online course on Udemy.
The platform is a huge showcase that allows you to highlight your course in front of hundreds or even thousands of students interested in a domain (in exchange for a commission on your sales).
You can also offer courses in almost any field: dance, cooking, dressage, mathematics, web development …
And you don’t need to create a course worthy of a specialized master’s degree. Different people are looking for different levels of training. Therefore, you can create longer and complete courses and others smaller (by adapting the price, of course).
Here, no upfront investment is required: you only pay Udemy through a percentage of your courses’ sale. If you don’t sell anything, you won’t have to pay anything.
8. Publish eBooks on Amazon
If you love to write, publishing eBooks on Amazon can be a great way to make money.
As you know, Amazon is a prevalent platform with several million buyers going there every day. Including in the books and electronic books section.
Just like online courses, so you have the option of writing an eBook on any subject you are proficient in.
Of course, you will need a little time and patience before you start making any money. Just writing your eBook will take time.
But no need to make one the length of a Tolstoy: eBooks can be kept small in page count, as long as they are useful and provide value to readers.
And as a writer, the possibilities are wide open. You can write novels, non-fiction books, how-to guides, or any other type of book. All while self-publishing your book directly on Amazon: no need for a publishing house.
9. Sell your creations online on Etsy
This idea is, in a way, cents to list an item there.