7 Creative Ways You Can Start Earning Money Online Today

Work Smarter Not Harder

If this current economic funk set to stay for years thanks to the global Covid-19 Pandemic, it makes more sense than ever to not put all your eggs in one basket. Why not experiment with creating several or more income generation streams and start earning money online?

Back in 2015, I asked myself a question: How does one make a living when you don’t live anywhere?

I actually did live somewhere at the time; Rome, Italy where I was a Program Director and Associate Professor of Digital Media at The American University of Rome with a lifetime contract. But my husband was working for the UN and we felt like our life in Rome was not sustainable given my restless nature and obsession with living and working in developing countries and the need for him to go into the field (to developing countries) so he could move forward in his career.

So in 2016, we set off to begin a three-year stint in Myanmar. As of 2019 we now live in Malawi. But before all that, I decided to explore the online economy and challenged myself to see if I could earn money online from virtually anywhere.

I basically was wondering out loud if I could make my skills more portable and offer them virtually to people in different parts of the world through an online connection.

It turns out apparently, I was preparing for this very moment when education, work, and everything else have been forced to move online and are being reinvented daily to respond to our new pandemic-induced reality.

I’m now fitfully busy working from home making design and multimedia content for UN Organizations in Malawi, but I always appreciate getting the “extra” monthly paychecks from online courses, e-books, print on demand sites, and more.

Just picture little toy sailboats constantly bringing you a dollar here, ten there, a hundred there in a constant stream of abundance. (*And whatever you do, don’t put your mental footage in reverse where money is flowing away instead of towards you!)

My list below is not at all exhaustive. It’s just a list of things I’ve actually done. Since I am by no means a business-savvy person or marketer, I tend to favor enterprises that anyone can do without any special skills, though obviously if you happen to be a creative person who writes, makes art, takes photos, or similar, my list may especially appeal to you.

Results are always going to vary depending on your own skills, level of interest, commitment to giving the “ole’ college try,” etc. However, if you are starting out by seeing what some of your options are and pick one or two to begin with, you should be well on your way to first making some extra pocket money… and who knows? You might discover you make a heck of a lot more than that and launch a full-on second career.

7 Creative Ways You Can Start Earning Money Online Today

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Teaching Online

Start earning money online by teaching online courses on the things you know and are good at. Art, math, science, music, languages? All can (and need to be) taught online during this pandemic.

  • Self-contained video lessons that students go through at their own pace in their own time
  • Offer live webinars, coaching, or scheduled courses (that meet a certain day or time)
  • Meet students virtually in actual time to give instruction in hourly increments

Earn As You Learn

Earn 25% commission when your network purchase Uplyrn courses or subscribe to our annual membership. It’s the best thing ever. Next to learning, of course.

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Writing Informative E-Books

Write e-books and record audio books on the things you know and are good at. Bonus points if you make an e-book to go with your online course or vice-versa.

I often get a lot of questions from people who want help with their crowd funding projects. Writing my first e-book and making it on crowdfunding was a double-win for me, because now I can easily share my tried-and true tips and techniques with people either through my online crowdfunding course, or through its companion e-book in a matter of minutes. (Which then saves me from writing out the same advice in an email week in and week out to different people!)

For my best tips on how to get started creating and then launching your book, have a listen to a recent podcast interview I did for Global Book Publishing. (It’s 24 minutes long and hopefully will get you up and running with confidence fast.)

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Freelancing and Consulting

Again, what is your background and how can you take your skills and expertise to help others who may be lacking in those areas? Some ideas for freelancing include:

  • Writing blog articles for companies
  • Doing freelance art, photography, illustration, or design
  • Doing social media marketing for companies and entrepreneurs
  • Fix, create, or optimize websites
  • Create an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) keyword business
  • Assisting educational institutions with curriculum, policy, and teaching and/or transitioning from a live classroom to the online one.
  • Being a freelance copy editor
  • Becoming a ghost writer
  • Become a digital assistant
  • Doing translations
  • Being an online academic tutor
  • Set up a free account through This website lets anyone who wants to offer consulting set up a free profile.

Affiliate Links and Referral Programs

Become an online affiliate with advertising on your own blog or website.

My husband has a blog, Man With a Mug, he runs as a hobby devoted to tea, fine waters, health, and wellness. One day I suggested he sign up for Rakuten Affiliates program. Now when he mentions a certain brand of tea or a particular wellness product in his blog posts, instead of just linking to that company’s page, he uses his own affiliate links and get a percentage of money if someone goes ahead and buys that product thanks to his referral.

He has a highly specialized niche with loyal tea enthusiasts and tens of thousands of social media followers, so adding simple affiliate links was one of the easiest things he could do to generate some extra “tea money” from his website. 🙂

Want to learn more and try it yourself?

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Print on Demand Sites

Create a free online store that sells your designs as t-shirts, art prints, tech accessories, and more. All you need are your designs or just some smart text quotes (no artistic skill required!) and you can get started building your store and selling your work today. The P.O.D. platforms handle the orders, printing, and shipping for a commission so all you have to focus on are your designs and any marketing efforts you may do to promote your products.

I often do a small creativity exercise each day and set a timer for no more than 30 minutes. I make a random artwork just to keep the creative juices flowing. Often I put the results in my online store and get the occasional sale on something that otherwise would have languished unseen in an old dusty sketchbook or in a folder on my desktop.

How to Get Started:

  • How to sell your artwork online as prints, iPhone & iPad cases, collectables and more
  • Sell Your Work at Redbubble, the Largest P.O.D. Site
  • Add Your Work to Teepublic, a Very Popular P.O.D. Site

Try and others.

Ready for the big leagues? Try Art Storefronts. They are a full web hosting platform, marketing engine/university, and P.O.D site specializing specifically in helping artists with their art businesses.

They are not for everyone however, as they require a monthly subscription fee and the set-up cost can be seen by artists just starting out as too high. I have used many of the P.O.D. sites above and my personal top choice is Art Storefronts. They are the platform hosting my new art gallery, Ma Kalulu Studio.

I have learned so much about having and running an online art gallery (that actually makes sales!) from their tech support, workshops, templates, and resources, and community.

I’d say, start with some of the sites above, and when you feel ready, go for Art Storefronts or perhaps Fine Art America – another great choice specifically for artists.

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Maybe it’s not a job you are looking for, but some emergency assistance to pay for a medical bill, electric bill, groceries, or to help a friend in need. If that’s the case, it’s never been easier to set your own crowdfunding project to garner support and donations.

I’ve raised over $140,000 USD online for worthy causes since 2004 and I continue to fund-raise several times a year to help needy families and communities in developing countries through modern crowdfunding websites like GoFundMeIndieGoGoFundRazr, and others.

The formula for crowdfunding success is quite simple: 1.) Have a good cause that other people will care about. 2.) Set up your project with high quality text and imagery that explains your project well and gets others to care about it too. 3.) Make the first donation to your own project and get close family and friends to donate the day you launch. 4.) Launch your project and promote it to get others on board. 5.) Keep the momentum going, stay transparent, and keep updating.

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More Ideas to Explore

Some More Useful Resources

Finally, have a look at some of my favorite websites for getting inspiration on how you might think outside the box when it comes to earning money in difficult times.

Save the Student: “On this page you’ll find all the best ways to make money in your spare time whilst at university based on our own experience.”

I love Nerd Wallet! “Make money with a side gig and learn how long it will take to see the extra income, whether it’s freelancing online, driving passengers or selling stuff you no longer need.”

The list could go on and on but that would be overwhelming. If you see an option that piques your interest, I encourage you to learn more about getting started through books, courses, and joining online communities of people already successfully doing it.

For more ideas on how to work from anywhere (even if you don’t live anywhere in particular, ) you can also check out my book for sneaky ideas for being employed or self-employed under unusual circumstances, Free At Last: Live, Love & Work Abroad. Find Jobs and Build Your Career Anywhere.

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So Now What?

What ideas, if any, are you going to try first? How are you holding up during this pandemic? Was your job affected?

Since playgrounds are closed and we are professional shut-ins during this pandemic, I used some of my online course sales money to get my sons a tree house. I also like to use online income to donate to worthy causes and help people in need. Always remember to pay it forward.

Whatever you do, I wish you all the best.

Kristen Palana
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Kristen Palana
Award-Winning Artist, Associate Professor of Digital Media, Animation Specialist
Subjects of Expertise: Animation, Digital Media, Graphic Design
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Kristen Palana
Award-Winning Artist
Associate Professor of Digital Media
Animation Specialist

Subjects of Expertise

Digital Media
Graphic Design

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