The idea of making money online is quite attractive, especially if you’re looking to create passive income, bolster your savings or pursue self-employment. But how do you actually go about turning your computer and internet connection into a way to earn money? And how can you tell the no-so-great opportunities from the legitimate ones?
NerdWallet has taken a look, and gathered eleven real ways to make money online in Canada, along with some of the considerations to keep in mind and an idea of the resources you’ll need to get started.
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1. Sell collectibles
Ebay, Kijiji and Facebook accounts are free and you can use these marketplaces to sell collectibles almost immediately. The keys to making money by selling collectibles online are your item’s condition, rarity and the level of demand. Sell to fellow collectors through Facebook groups they belong to and collect things that don’t depreciate easily and retain their value. When listing, know the market (don’t just look at the asking price, but what similar items sold for). Finally, offering shipping can expand your market, but know its cost to avoid losing money.
Requirements: Collectibles, a camera, and a seller’s account on Kijiji, Amazon Marketplace, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or similar sites.
2. Pick up freelance work
Upwork, Workmarket, Fiverr, Freelancer.ca, Indeed, LinkedIn and similar job sites list opportunities for freelance writers, editors, graphic designers, web designers, coders and other creatives with skills that can be performed online. Sites like these will generally ask you to create an account in order to browse listings and bid or apply for the freelance job you want.
Requirements: To freelance in Canada, you need a Social Insurance Number. Most freelancer listing sites have a minimum age: Fiverr (13), Upwork (18), Workmarket (18), Freelancer.ca (16), and LinkedIn (16 to use the site and 18 to offer services for a job).
3. Sell your artwork using print-on-demand sites
If you’re artistically inclined, print-on-demand sites are a way to put your designs on t-shirts, mugs, posters, smartphone cases and more without handling inventory or shipping yourself. Sites like RedBubble, Printful, Teehatch, Art of Where, Ottawa Custom Clothing, and Printify are just a few of the print-on-demand options available in Canada. When someone orders your product, the site facilitates printing, payment processing and shipping. As the artist, you’ll generally receive a portion of the profit each time you sell an item.
Requirements: Along with a minimum age (unless given permission by a parent or guardian if you’re between 18 and 13) print-on-demand sites typically require a minimum pixel count and that your design does not infringe any copyright.
4. Become a dropshipper
Dropshipping is like print-on-demand, but instead of selling designs, you sell goods. However, you don’t physically stock anything. Instead, you partner with a reputable wholesaler to process and send orders. How much you can make as a dropshipper varies widely depending on your products, market, and marketing efforts. Initial costs can be high ($700 on the low end and $3,300 on the high end) and profit margins are usually low, but if you focus on selling something unique, and partner with an established brand or distributor who sells quality products as advertised (rather than cheap imitations), you may find success.
Requirements: Online storefront, affiliations with reputable brand wholesalers/distributors and an online advertising budget.
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5. Offer a room on Airbnb or VRBO
Depending on the regulations in your area, you could offer a room in your home as a short-term rental on sites like Airbnb or VRBO. Airbnb takes a 3% fee from every booking, while VRBO takes 5% as commission and 3% for payment processing, but there are no account fees and listing is as easy as posting pictures, availability and a description. When setting your rate, you’ll need to account for normal home expenses plus additional insurance and your own sanity (bad guests can slip through).
Requirements: A room for short-term rental with enough time to maintain it and provide amenities. Proper licenses and insurance, as required.
6. Tutor via webcam
Spin your existing knowledge in math, english, science, test preparation or a foreign language into a job tutoring students worldwide from the comfort of your home or in-person. With an account at sites like SuperProf.ca, VIPKid, Preply and Skooli, you can earn money by helping children, teens and even adults excel in a certain subject. The amount you’ll make per lesson or per hour will vary depending on which service you choose to use.
Requirements: Webcam, microphone, tutoring ad listing past experience and qualifications, address and phone number in an eligible country.
7. Take online surveys
Many companies are interested in the opinions and preferences of Canadians just like you, and they’re willing to pay for them. Sites like Survey Junkie Canada, Swagbucks, Daily Rewards Canada, Lifepoints, and Maru Voice Canada allow you to create a profile for free and then ask you to take certain surveys. In exchange for up to an hour of your time, you get cash or points that can be redeemed for gifts cards, for example. Taking online surveys probably isn’t a replacement for a full-time job, as the pay range can be anywhere from $0.50 to $10 per survey, but it can be a way to earn some extra cash in your spare time. Be aware that there are many scam survey sites and services out there though. Read reviews and never join a survey site that charges you to create a profile.
Requirements: Computer or mobile devices with access to the internet, an email account, and a way to be paid online, such as through Paypal.
8. Sell photos to a stock image service
If you enjoy photography and want to start building an online presence as a photographer, selling images to a stock photography service online could be worth your while. Sites like 500px.com, Foap.com, Adobe Stock, Dreamstime, and Crestock allow you to create an account and upload photos. The method and amount of payment will vary depending on which site you choose. In general, you’ll earn more money the more frequently your images are downloaded.
Requirements: Phone or camera capable of taking high-quality photographs, time, internet connection and the ability to accept online payment, such as through Paypal.
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9. Become a virtual assistant
Do you consider yourself a jack of all trades? Excel at multitasking? Do you get a special thrill out of helping others get organized and complete their to-do lists? The life of a virtual assistant might be right for you. By signing up on websites like Upwork, Virtual Assistant Canada and Virtual Gurus, you can earn money helping clients tackle a variety of tasks while setting your own hours and working from just about anywhere.
Requirements: Phone and computer/internet access and be based in Canada. You may need to prove previous professional experience and/or some post-secondary education, be available during business hours, and be able to pass various skill set tests, as well as an interview.
10. Recycle your clothes
If you’ve been working from home or just not going out as much during the pandemic, you may have some nice clothes in your closet that haven’t seen the light of day for quite a while. Instead of collecting dust, your gently used garments could be turned into extra cash. Online consignment and resale companies like Poshmark, Vestiaire Collective, The Upside, Effortless, and Depop are typically free to use. Just create an account, and send in or list your clothing. Each site works differently, but you’ll generally earn a commission on the items that sell.
Requirements: Brand name or vintage clothing in good condition, an internet connection, the ability to ship clothing or bring it to a physical location, and patience (sometimes it takes a while for things to sell).
11. Become a translator
If you’re fluent in multiple languages — or studied a foreign language in post-secondary school — you may be able to cash in by doing translation work online. Sites like Upwork, Gengo, Pro Translating, LanguageLine Solutions and Languages Unlimited are often looking for interpreters and translators. Depending on the company you apply with, the work could be full-time, freelance or on a per-job basis. You may need to provide samples of your translation work, or pass a reading and writing proficiency test.
Requirements: Bilingualism, an internet connection, a computer and perhaps headphones or recording equipment.