5 Legit Ways to Make Money Online (Side of Full Time Income)

I’ve experimented with numerous ways of making money online in the past (nearly) 2 decades and personally have found that few ways legitimately work. But today, I’ll show you 5 of them that can actually make you a bit of money (side) or even a full income amount.

The internet has grown substantially since the 2,000’s era. More people use the online world and buy from it today than even before (4 billion users) and with this influx of new people and constant incline, more opportunities have arisen to monetize off it.

When I began trying my luck at this business, these 3 options were what made money online legitimately at the time:

  • Article marketing on article sites.
  • Affiliate marketing.
  • PPC ads.
  • Email marketing.

Today there’s way more options available, but it’s also hard to tell apart which ones are legitimate and which ones aren’t.

In my experience, this has also given a large rise in scams and get rich quick schemes which take people away from the truly legitimate ways of succeeding and so what I’m sharing with you today is not some sort of overnight “trick” or “hack” to make money instantly, but is a legitimate list of options you can use to make a little bit of extra income a month or possibly even more (which also takes a lot of work).

Some of them are side hustles and gigs, while others are investments in time and energy to produce an online business that makes you a passive income.

Now I will say that this is my personal list because I have very high standards for legitimate methods out there, which is why my list is shorter than others, but it also works, so let’s break them down:

Here are the 5 legit ways to make money online in 2021:

legit ways to make money online

  1. Drop Shipping.
  2. Freelance Writing.
  3. Affiliate Marketing.
  4. YouTube Monetization.
  5. Monetizing via course Websites (Udemy, Lynda, Skillshare).

Out of these options, I personally use 2 to this day that make me my income and I’ll explain all of that as I get into the details.


  • Affiliate marketing.
  • YouTube monetization.

1) Drop shipping:

drop shipping option to make money online legitimately


You create an eCommerce website and sell products you don’t own but it appears like you do. When people order from your site, you charge them a certain amount more than it really costs, then order the product from a site that has the product and send it to them. You keep the profit.

For example:

You sell a TV on your site for $1,000. A person orders it. You buy the same TV from a wholesale site for $800, then ship it to the customer. You keep $200 profit from the sale.

What’s necessary to succeed:

Generally all drop shipping success relies on being able to create 2 things:

  1. A decent eCommerce website that sells specific products to a niche audience.
  2. A paid ads campaign (Facebook Ads usually) that targets this niche crowd properly so it caters to their interest.

Difficulty: Advanced.

In order to succeed with this business model and make good money online, you need to understand niche audiences and how to set up eCommerce websites well. Then by driving the right traffic to the eCommerce website through ads, you have a good chance to make good money from every sale.

How much can you make?

Most drop shipping websites sadly don’t make a lot, but the top success stories are able to generate $1,000’s extra every month and some even go as far as six figure profits monthly.

Where to succeed with drop shipping:

You need skills and training to succeed with this. I recommend the courses in Wealthy Affiliate to assist you on this matter. Here is a free webinar you can check out taught by an expert drop shipper in this business.

2) Freelance writing:

legit option to make money online with freelance writing


You write an X amount of words (content) for someone hiring you.

For example:

Bloggers typically outsource a lot of their content to third parties because they just can’t produce it all themselves. If they can find a good service or freelance writer to do it for them, they’ll pay them decent-good money to write the article and then own it.

What’s necessary to succeed:

You have to know how to write pretty well and typically have one or more experiences in a niche or niche topics that are in demand. For example, if someone has a gardening blog and needs to outsource content, you would be a valuable asset to their blog if you understood a lot about the gardening subject and this would help you produce better content for the blogger.

Difficulty: Beginner-advanced.

At the end of the day, having the ability and ambition to write long content is what can get you to become a successful freelance writer.

How much can you make?

Usually a side income (Few $100 a month) to even full time income depending on the person or service hiring you.

Where to succeed with freelance writing:

A good starting point is a service called TextBroker. They’ll help you start a potentially profitable side gig in freelance writing.

You probably won’t make a lot but it will help you find gigs faster and work your way up to finding more serious paying clients who you can deliver a good resume for and charge extra for writing.

  • A good freelance writer can get paid $50 per 1,000 word articles.
  • An excellent, in demand writer can charge $100’s per 1,000 word articles.

What determines your value in this method is how many happy clients and experience you have in the business.

3) Affiliate marketing:

make money online legitimately with affiliate marketing


My personal favorite on the list. It’s the method I’ve been practicing over 16 years now (about me) and it involves online promotions of products, services and other things for which you get paid commissions for. Here’s one of my income reports:

my income reports through affiliate marketing

What’s necessary to succeed:

The sequence I was taught and follow to this day is this:

  1. Select a niche.
  2. Create a blog, then YouTube channel, then do pay per click.
  3. Get traffic to the blog, YouTube channel, or paid ads.
  4. Promote products on the blog, YouTube channel or through paid ads.

Difficulty: Beginner to advanced.

Affiliate marketing is a business which takes time but out of all the methods available, it can be the most beginner friendly while at the same time limitless with potential.

You can promote just about anything you can imagine through the many legitimate affiliate networks out there.

The key to the success is knowing what you’re promoting, reviewing the affiliate product well and marketing it through channels which will actually get people seeing it.

How much can you make?

I personally earn over $5,000 a month with affiliate marketing. At one point in time my profits fluctuated from several $100 a month to even six figures a year (see 1 page $500,000 example).

Where to succeed with affiliate marketing:

I recommend Wealthy Affiliate without any hesitation. You’ll learn everything affiliate marketing there.

4) YouTube Monetization:

make money online legitimately with youtube monetization


You earn money through the YouTube videos you make. This can come in many forms including:

  1. Sponsored videos (you get paid to promote products/services in the video).
  2. YouTube monetization (Adsense basically and you earn money from ads placed on your videos).
  3. YouTube affiliate marketing. You promote products (aren’t sponsored) in your videos and get commissions for sales.
  4. YouTube Ads. You make ads that run towards your YouTube videos that get visitors and then make money from one or more methods above.

What’s necessary to succeed:

Passion for a specific niche and not to be shy to make videos on it.

Difficulty: Beginner to Advanced.

YouTube monetization is one of the easiest places to start in if you’re not shy and the ability to crank out videos in things you love that are also popular niche topic can get you views, and open up the doors to numerous monetization options above.

How much can you make?

I personally make $500 a month from the monetization off my YouTube videos alone. I also do affiliate marketing on them and that varies, but it’s also around the same every month. There are people with channels who make far more in this realm.

Where to succeed with YouTube monetization:

There’s several program available but I’ll give you 2:

5) Making money through course websites:

make money online legitimately with online courses


You create courses and put them up on popular websites where people buy these courses. You earn money from each student/enrollment into your course.

There are several places to do this through, but the most popular are:

Udemy and Skillshare.

Both are gigantic course websites which let you do this and then market your course to students to encourage them to enroll. You can select how much you wish to charge for the course.

What’s necessary to succeed:

A good knowledge of a particular subject that is popular (again). It could be programing, an educational subject (a specific type of math for instance) or even things like marketing. You can literally think of this as an online college where you are the professor sharing your wisdom.

Difficulty: Moderate to advanced.

Setting up courses isn’t easy and it takes organization, work and of course, good knowledge in the topic so you provide great information and content to students. Then you need to put up the course on one of the two sites above and if accepted, also have to get people to enroll in the course too.

How much can you make?

Most students in this field do not make much, but there are exceptions of those who make incredible full time incomes through setting up courses on these sites. Typically targeting popular subjects (like dating or body language) can help get you more enrollments in the class.

If you charge $50 for the course and get 1,000 students to sign up, you would have earned $50,000 from this course (minus the fees from the course platform you’re wish).

Where to succeed with course websites:

Others exist too but those are the most known with the highest member numbers.

Note: You can also create your own courses outside these realms and control the pricing, and compensation fully. The hard part is marketing that course which is where a program like Wealthy Affiliate can help (in the entire set up).

The core skill needed to succeed with any of these legit methods of making money online:

You need to have a passion for any particular topic that’s popular. From there, it’s about getting the education needed to take that experience and channel it through one or more of the options above.

My personal advice is to begin with Wealthy Affiliate and start your online business there. As good as other options are (like Freelance marketing and course websites), at the end of the day, you can make a lot more money with your passion through an online business (website, marketing skills) than you would working for others or being part of a platform where you aren’t fully in control.

But if that’s your thing and you prefer to get a more side gig kind of thing, freelance writing and courses could be your thing. If you have any questions about these options, do let me know!

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