16 Ways to Make Money Without a Job

Learn some ways to make money outside the traditional 9 to 5 career path.
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Written by Tiffany Curtis
Lead Writer
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Edited by Kathy Hinson
Lead Assigning Editor
Fact Checked
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There are ways to make money without a traditional job. Some people earn with flexible side gigs or freelance work, or by monetizing their hobbies.

Whether you're a student, an entrepreneur or unemployed, we've got you covered with alternative ways to make money without a job.

Nerdy takeaways:

  • It’s possible to make money without a traditional 9-to-5, but it will take time, effort and sometimes investment in equipment.

  • You may already possess skills that you can monetize.

  • In addition to exploring ways to earn, also take a look at your living expenses to see where you can cut or seek ways to lower your bills.

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1. Participate in paid market research

Paid market research allows companies like Usertesting.com, for example, to pay participants to express their opinion on everyday items, services, brands, apps and websites. It can include taking surveys for money, participating in focus groups and taking part in medical research (being paid to give an opinion on or to help test medicine or treatments).

Opportunities differ in the amount of pay you receive — some pay participants with a point system, an hourly rate or in gift cards.

2. Become a virtual assistant

Individuals, groups and businesses often need administrative support. A virtual assistant helps businesses with day-to-day tasks like email management, bookkeeping and social media from a remote location.

The average pay in 2023 for virtual assistants in the United States is about $24 per hour, according to job site Indeed.com.

3. Transcribe audio and video

Transcriptionists convert audio and video recordings into written documentation. There are usually typing tests and recommended typing speeds, and a decent budget laptop will help. Also keep in mind that some training may be required for certain types of tasks, like legal or medical transcribing.

The average pay for a transcriptionist is about $20 per hour, according to Indeed.com.

4. Sell stuff online

The first step is deciding what to sell — do you have vintage clothes, electronics or furniture no longer in use? Next comes determining the best site to use for selling. Read up on sites like Amazon, eBay and Etsy.

5. Housesit

Housesitting can involve keeping a house clean and organized, taking care of pets, watering plants, bringing in mail and packages, etc.

Advantages are having flexible hours, choosing your own clients and setting your own rates. You can choose to house sit in your neighborhood, city or anywhere in the world, sometimes with free travel accommodations.

Check out websites like housesitter.com and housesittersamerica.com, but be aware that some many sites charge a fee to use their platforms for finding jobs. And some house-sitting platforms focus on free accommodations in places where you want to travel, rather than paid gigs.

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6. Write online reviews

Many companies that sell a product or service may pay users for feedback or reviews. Some websites pay for reviews and surveys with cash or a check upfront. Other sites have users generate points per survey completed and redeem those points for cash, checks, gift cards or prizes.

7. Start a blog

Once you begin writing quality content, you can use advertising, affiliate marketing, courses, e-books and more to profit from your blog. It's likely you'll have to build your audience significantly before you're able to make money blogging.

8. Game on Twitch

Gamers can make money by playing video games on Twitch, the world's leading livestream platform, but success and earnings vary. Check out this article to learn how to make money on Twitch.

9. Sell photography

Turn your hobby or talent for photography into income by selling your images to stock photography websites and freelance marketplaces like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Upwork and Fiverr. You can also use your portfolio to gain clients without the use of third-party websites.

If you don't have access to a camera, consider using your phone and investing in editing software like Adobe Photoshop.

10. Pet sit

Pet sitting can make a good side hustle for college students or anyone else looking for flexible hours and rates. To get started, sign up with a pet-sitting service, such as Rover or Fetch! Pet Care. Or, you can begin watching pets in your neighborhood and grow a business through referrals. The average income for a pet sitter is about $15 per hour, according to Indeed.com.

11. Do freelance work

If you've got a skill or interest, such as writing, graphic design or coding, you can be a freelancer. You might also learn to use generative artificial intelligence tools, which can help you make money by creating or editing AI content, or teaching others how to use AI tools.

Freelancers can use Fiverr and Upwork, online marketplaces for freelance services, to advertise or create a personal website and market services using social media, email and word of mouth.

The average hourly pay of a freelancer is about $23, according to Indeed.com. But keep in mind that freelancer salaries vary depending on industry, clientele, schedule, economic market and more.

12. Create a podcast

Starting a podcast can be a fun way of making money. A January 2023 survey by Edison Research found 42% of Americans age 12 or older had listened to a podcast in the last month, up from 38% in 2022. As you start your program and build an audience, learn how to make money from a podcast.

13. Become a rideshare or delivery driver

If you have the time in your schedule and love interacting with people, consider signing up through a rideshare company. Read more on how to become an Uber or Lyft driver. Also, research smaller rideshare companies like Via. Similarly, you can make money delivering food as an Uber Eats or DoorDash driver.

The pay for drivers differs by location, and expenses will cut into earnings. (See how NerdWallet writer Tommy Tindall fared when testing how much DoorDash pays.) And to compare rideshare drivers’ salaries by area, visit Indeed.com.

14. Tutor

If you're knowledgeable on specific subjects, tutoring can be a great way to make money.

You can explore the different approaches and learn how to start a tutoring business. Options include through a franchise or a school, or teaching in your home. According to Indeed, the average salary for a tutor is about $24 per hour in the U.S.

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15. Rent out items

You can rent out clothes, cars, homes, spare bedrooms, furniture, instruments, storage, tech equipment and other items. Particular websites often cater to a specific type of rental. A platform like KitSplit would be great for those renting out camera gear, while Vrbo could be best for someone renting their home. Also check out general websites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

16. Use cash back apps

Who can say no to earning cash back for spending money? There are several coupon and cash back apps that allow you to link your debit card, bank account, or Venmo and Paypal accounts and then earn back a percentage of your purchases at select retailers. Sometimes you earn points that can then be converted for cash or gift cards.

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