ways to make money online

5 Successful Ways I Made Money Online this Year (and 1 Failure)

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For me, 2017 was the year of the side hustle.

This was the year I really began to dive into the world of making money online.

I fell in love with the idea of making my own money from home, and I tested out dozens of different apps, websites, courses and sides hustles to make extra cash.

Some were huge successes, some were wastes of time, and one project actually lost me money (oops!)

Read on to find out what actually worked for me and what didn’t!

1. Matched betting

Matched betting is a way of making profits using bookies’ free bets. You use free bets to bet for and against the same outcome, making it completely risk free.

Matched betting will always be one of my favourite ways of making money online because it was the first side hustle I tried back in 2016, and it proved to me that it really is possible to make money from home!

In my first few months of matched betting I was easily making between £300 and £600 per month in a few hours per week.

I’ve slowed it down a lot recently because I’ve been trying to buy a house for the last several months, and I don’t want betting transactions to show on my bank statements when I apply for a mortgage. I still do a small amount of matched betting using the limited number of bookies that accept PayPal, but it has not been a priority recently.

I am looking forward to picking this back up again once I’ve got the house sorted!

I still think matched betting is one of the best ways to earn money online – provided you live in the UK or Ireland, you’re over 18 and you don’t have a history of gambling problems.

If you want to learn more, have a read through these articles:

2. Blogging

blogging to make money online

I have been blogging since October 2016 and now I’m earning at least a couple of hundred pounds a month from it. My blog makes money mostly from affiliate links and sponsored posts, and I’ve recently introduced display ads. I actually have a second blog which is starting to make money too, mostly from affiliate marketing.

Blogging is by no means a quick route to riches, but I believe that it has a lot of potential.

With a blog you are building your own business. You can take it in any direction you want and work on it whatever hours you want. You can even sell your site for a lump sum once it’s big enough.

I’m lucky enough to have met several people who earn a full time income from their blogs, so that keeps me motivated.

Related posts:

I do think that if you’re thinking about starting a blog as a way to make money, you should see it as a long term investment. It’s important to pick a topic you care about, so that you keep motivated.

If you look at how many hours I’ve spent on this blog compared to what I’ve earned from it so far, it’s a pretty dismal rate! However, I genuinely enjoy blogging. It’s my creative outlet, it keeps me learning new things and and it’s just something I enjoy doing. Also, the earning are starting to snowball over time. (Update: as of Spring 2018, I now earn over £1000 each month blogging!)

I recommend starting a blog if you enjoy writing and are interested in a long term side hustle.

3. Pinterest affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing on Pinterest is a new side hustle that I started towards the end of this year.

Basically, affiliate marketing is when you share links to products and you earn a commission for any sales through your link. Pinterest is a great venue for affiliate marketing because almost 90% of Pinterest users have used the platform for shopping! You can share great products, help people make a decision and earn money for it.

I took this free Pinterest Affiliate Marketing 101 course about three months ago. I’m currently making around £100 per month from it and it’s growing week by week.

Like blogging, this is a long term game. It takes a while to build momentum, and then your earnings start to snowball. However, unlike blogging, you can start earning money literally from day one!

Pinterest affiliate marketing is my favourite new side hustle of this year. It is going to be my focus for the first few months of 2018 and I hope to build a regular monthly income of at least £1000 from this method.

To learn more, read my article on making money from Pinterest or head over to the brilliant site OrganizeYour.Biz, where you can sign up for that free course I took.

And if you love Pinterest but affiliate marketing’s not for you, there are other ways you can get paid to use Pinterest such as becoming a Virtual Assistant to help bloggers create their pins.

4. Website testing

Website testing is something I come back to every now and then and it’s good for a bit of extra money. You get paid just to play around with a website for about 20 minutes and comment on what works well, any technical glitches etc. It pays around $10 for a 20 minute test.

You can find a list of website testing companies here. The main one I’m using at the moment is User Testing, as it seems to have the most live tests available at the times when I’m online.

5. Money making apps

I love money making apps! I’m a big fan of anything you can do in your spare time to earn more money. If I can spend five minutes here and there making money from my phone while waiting for a train, that’s a huge win in my book.

I’ve tested out a lot of different money making apps this year, and to be honest many of them were not worth the time it takes to download. Here are some of the apps I still use regularly:

Anyone can easily make at least £20 a month with these apps. And there is the potential to earn a lot more, especially with mystery shopping type apps like Field Agent if you live in a big city! (Unfortunately we rural folk are out of luck).

What didn’t work?

As you can see, I made money online with a lot of different methods this year. But unfortunately, I also wasted some time testing out side hustles that didn’t turn out well.

Print on demand products on Amazon

This side hustle was my biggest failure of 2017.

This model was based on the idea of designing print on demand (POD) mugs and other items on Teelaunch, and selling them on Amazon. I set up a store on Shopify to connect Teelaunch and Amazon. Shopify has integration with Amazon, which means that when I got a sale on Amazon the order was automatically sent to Teelaunch. This idea appealed to me because the whole process was supposed to be hands off. Unfortunately, I completely underestimated this business model!

a selection of t shirts - some examples of the kind of designs you could sell on Amazon!

I spent a few weeks creating designs, uploaded everything, and then stepped back and waited for the sales to roll in.

They did not roll in.

I underestimated the fact that it was a very competitive marketplace, and I really needed to promote my designs in order to get the first few sales and climb up the Amazon rankings.

After a few months, I had not made enough to cover the seller fees, and I didn’t have the time or interest to learn how to promote my products. I put my Shopify and Amazon accounts on hold and chalked this one up to a learning experience.

And that was that…

Or was it?

Well, a couple of months ago I was accepted onto Merch By Amazon. This is Amazon’s own POD service. It is completely free to use – unlike my previous model, there are no monthly seller fees. You simply upload an image, chose what colour and style T-shirt you want it to appear on, write a description, and Amazon does the rest.

There is a waiting list of several months for Merch By Amazon. I had applied early in 2017 and forgotten about it, so the invitatation email took me by surprise.

I didn’t intend to spend a lot of time on Merch, given my previous failure at POD. However, since I had got one of the rare invites and it was free to start, I threw up 3 or 4 designs and forgot about it.

A few weeks later, I checked back in and was surprised to see I’d got 4 organic sales in my first month!

I’m no expert, but I assume that Merch gear sells better that other POD companies because Amazon favours its own listings. Plus Merch shirts are eligible for Amazon Prime, which means free shipping.

I quickly uploaded some more designs and I have been surprised to see that they’ve been selling really well over the run up to Christmas, with almost no further effort from me!

Anyway, I don’t intend to spend too much time on Merch/POD, but I’m happy to have this new potential income stream which is low effort and zero cost. I am interested to see what happens to my sales in January!

What’s next?

As you can maybe guess, I have a huge problem with shiny object syndrome. I get very excited about new money making ideas but I don’t always have the time or patience to commit to them!

In 2018 I’m going to avoid taking on any bigger projects until I have produced steady, reliable income streams (at least £1000 per month) from my main focuses. These will be:

  • Pinterest affiliate marketing
  • Blogging – in 2018 I resolve to start treating my blogs like a business, not like a hobby! I recently purchased some blogging courses and I need to work out a schedule to go through them properly and actually take action.
  • Merch By Amazon – I don’t intend to spend too much time on this because design is not my thing, but it could be a potential source of passive income. Amazon limits the number of shirts you can sell at one time, so I will keep all my slots updated and see what happens.

I’ve chosen these three because although they take work upfront, they can eventually result in passive income streams so that I can have some sources of money coming in even when I need to take time off.

Over all I’ve made £2,094.07 from all my various side hustles so far in 2017 (January-November, not including December’s total). You can see all my income reports here. My aim for 2018 is to make at least that same amount per month to replace the income from my day job!

Want more?

There are lots of other ways to make money from home that I haven’t included on this list. If you don’t fancy any of the above, here are some more ideas for you:

How do you make extra money from home? Which was your best side hustle last year?

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I've tried out a lot of different ways to make money online, and this is what worked for me! Plus, one mistake that actually cost me money - oops!

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7 thoughts to “5 Successful Ways I Made Money Online this Year (and 1 Failure)”

  1. I applied to Merch by Amazon back in September but I’m still on the waiting list. I think in the new year I’m going to try some of the other POD sites, hopefully I’ll have more time on my hands next year to come up with some designs.

    1. Yeah it takes a while. It took me so long I’d forgotten all about it! But definitely worth signing up to some other PODs so you can test the waters and have some designs ready to go. I’ve heard redbubble is good but haven’t tried it myself.

  2. Wow, matched bets are truly an interesting subject. Thanks for all the helpful advice!

    I only bet sports between my friends…and I’d say I would have a slightly above average track record. However, it always makes watching games a ton more fun!

    Will definitely do more research into matched bets, thanks!

    1. I’d never done any ‘normal’ betting before and I knew nothing about sports. The beauty is that it’s all about balancing the bets in different bookies and there are calculators that tell you what bet to place so you make profit every time! It’s definitely worth looking into if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂

  3. It’s a very informative post. I am interested in earning through Pinterest. I hope I could learn more about it. One major challenge I am facing is that I am not from the US and I need to learn how to get more US traffic. Thank you for sharing this awesome information. More power!

    1. Hi Sharon, thanks for your comment! The great thing about Pinterest is that it is so global. I never targeted any particular country but I found that almost half my audience are from the US and half from my country (UK). Good luck in your money making!

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