2-Minute Money Manager: What’s the Easiest Way to Make Money Online?

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Woman with laptop
Viachaslau Govorkov / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to the “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is one I’ve gotten dozens of times. It’s about whether there’s any way to find legitimate opportunities to work online from home.

Watch the following video, and you’ll pick up some valuable info. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said.

You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

For more information on this topic, check out “The Top 25 Companies Hiring for Work-From-Home Jobs Right Now” and “9 Signs That You Should Be Working From Home.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “work from home” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this question is brought to you by Money Talks News, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Today’s question comes from Curtis:

“What is the absolutely best and easiest way to make money online?”

This is a topic I should know something about, since I’ve been working at home for about 30 years and I’ve been making money online since there’s been an internet. Over the years, Money Talks News has also covered nearly everything from starting a new online career to getting back a little money every time you shop online.

There is no ‘best and easiest’

If all Curtis wants to know is the quickest and easiest way to make a buck or two, the answer’s simple: Cash-back portals like Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates. It takes less than 10 seconds to sign up, and it enables you to get rebates of 1% to 40% when you shop online.

But I suspect that’s not what Curtis really wants to know. I’m guessing he wants to consistently make money with an online job, not just save a buck or two with shopping apps. So, that’s how I’ll answer his question.

Curtis, when it comes to a “best and easiest” way to make a living online, there’s no such thing.

What I’m doing right now — creating this video — is the best and easiest way for me to make money online, but it may be a terrible idea for you. Likewise, you undoubtedly have skills and interests I don’t.

In short, since we’re all unique, so is what’s easy and best. That being said, let’s see if we can narrow it down.

Employee or owner?

If you’re looking to make money online, the first question you’ll need to address is whether you want to work for someone else or own your own business. Either is fine. It just depends on your personality, knowledge, background and resources.

If you want to be self-employed, the best thing you can do is read lots of articles or maybe a book or two to generate some ideas. (I happen to have written one: “108 Easy Ways to Earn Extra Cash: Easy Ways to Make Money Fast, Both Online and Off.”)

Check out some resources and see if anything strikes your fancy. Retail arbitrage? Crafts? Writing? There are a lot of ideas floating around out there. Do some reading, and maybe you’ll find a business you can copy. Or even better, think of something new and unique you can try.

But before you go down the self-employment road, let me give you my three golden rules.

First rule: Starting and running a business invariably takes more money than you think it will.

Second rule: Becoming successful takes more time than you think it will. I’ve operated several successful businesses, including this one, and I’ve never succeeded in any meaningful way in less than five years. But that’s me: Hopefully, you’re either luckier or smarter.

Final golden rule: When you own your own business, marketing isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing. So, if you’re the shy type, beware. You know the expression, “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door?” B.S. Even the best mousetraps have to be marketed.

So, there’s some general advice for owning your own online business. Now, let’s talk about working for someone else.

How not to find work

When looking for work-from-home or online opportunities, don’t start by putting “work from home” into an internet search engine. If you do, you’re going to get a steady stream of horribleness.

A lot of the stuff advertised online is designed for one purpose only: to separate you from your money. And that cash likely will end up in the pocket of a crook — one who’s probably working from home.

So how do you find legitimate opportunities? Read articles, not ads. For example, we have an article called “The Top 25 Companies Hiring for Work-From-Home Jobs Right Now.” Search for that sort of thing. But only read articles from trusted sources, like websites you’ve heard of.

When you’re approaching a work-from-home company, avoid paying money upfront. That’s a glaring sign of a rip-off. While there are legitimate businesses that may require a small up-front investment for things like a background check, you should seek opportunities without paying for the privilege.

Another idea is to check out job-search engines. Go to any legitimate employment site and do a search for “work from home” or “online work.” One site I can vouch for is a site we work with called FlexJobs. But remember, you’re searching a jobs site, not the internet.

I hope that answers your question, Curtis. Hope you have a profitable day, and I’ll meet you right here next time!

Got a question you’d like answered?

You can ask a question simply by hitting “reply” to our email newsletter, just as you would any email in your inbox. If you’re not subscribed, fix that right now by clicking here. It’s free, only takes a few seconds, and will get you valuable information every day!

The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

Got any words of wisdom you can offer on today’s question? Share your knowledge and experiences on our Facebook page. And if you find this information useful, please share it!

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.