Find a profitable niche. Starting with your interests, write down as many niche ideas as you can. Think about topics people might search online. Ideas include passions (like surfing or body building), fears (like spiders or speaking in front of crowds) and problems (like getting out of debt). Do keyword research to see it others are interested in the topic. Find out if a domain name is available that matches the keyword 100 percent. 
Photographs. Because your customers won’t be able to touch or hold your items, you need to give them as much of a visual feel for the products as you can. You’ll do it with photographs – but not just any photos. They have to be pleasing to the eye and make the item look fantastic. You’ll have to learn the art of photography, and if you can’t get the hang of it, you’ll have to hire someone to do it for you. Yes, it’s that important.
Before you really roll up your sleeves and monetize your personal or professional skills, why not right-size your life? Selling your unwanted stuff is a great way to downsize and declutter your life while earning some income on the side. If you’re transitioning to full-time work-at-home status, that income could provide a critical boost to your plans for a proper home office, or allow you to maintain your lifestyle during lean times without resorting to voluntary simplicity.
My next self-funded business hit $160,000 in revenue in its first year alone. After that first taste of self-made success, I’ve gone on to sign consulting contracts worth tens of thousands of dollars with startups like LinkedIn and Google, launch profitable online courses, and grow my blog to over 400,000 monthly readers and $50,000/mo in side income.
Not only will this multiply the money you’re bringing in in a serious way, but it protects you against any sudden changes in the market or in your business. Remember that old saying about putting all your eggs in one basket? A few hours a week committed to just one or two of the following opportunities will put you in a much stronger position to be financially safe and independent.
If you want to clear some space out in your house and have a big stack of books you’ve been holding onto for too long, you can make money selling your books and textbooks online. Stores like Half Priced Books and others will give you cents on the dollar for each of your current books while you can check what your book is worth by simply entering the ISBN number on Book Scouter.
Build your audience on a course community: If you’re just getting started building an audience for yourself and want to leverage communities already actively looking for content you can choose to host and sell your online course on a site like Skillshare or Udemy. These are easy, cost-effective ways to build an audience and test your niche to see if there’s demand for it.
Decluttr is easy to use. Grab an unwanted item, check that Decluttr buys it (for instance: CDs are great, old clothing is not), and enter its barcode into Decluttr’s “valuation engine” or use your Decluttr smartphone app (iOS and Android) to scan your item directly. You’ll receive an instant price quote that you can accept or decline with no obligation. If you accept, just pack your items into a box large enough to fit them, slap a free Decluttr shipping label on it, and bring it to any authorized UPS location (including drop boxes, if your box contains fewer than 25 items). Decluttr issues your payment the day after your item arrives by PayPal, direct deposit, or paper check. There’s no practical limit to the number of items you can sell: each order is technically limited to 500 items, but you can create as many orders as you like in any given timeframe.
It’s sometimes hard to comprehend just how much people love t-shirts. And with the right niche, marketing and tools, you can create an online t-shirt business that makes you extra money online while you sleep. (Even Bloomberg and Forbes feature stories from entrepreneurs who've done just that.) Services like TeeSpring make it easier than ever to create a t-shirt drop-shipping business where they handle the sales, printing, and shipping, and you’re only responsible for design and marketing. Or you can even buy into well-established franchise businesses like Rhea Lana that sell fashionable, affordable kids clothing and get the backing of a proven organization to fuel your online sales. For more tips, check out this simple guide to launching and marketing an online clothing store by my friends over at Selz.
Like talking to people and helping walk them through problems? You can bring in extra income as a contract customer support superstar for companies all over the world. Due to the 24/7 nature of online businesses, companies are looking for people in different time zones to help deal with issues that their users are having. Better yet, if you have experience in service or retail you’ll be perfectly suited. Check out indeed or the other remote job boards I listed earlier to find opportunities.
While it often takes a significant amount of time and hard work to build up your affiliate income, if you have the ability to regularly publish high quality content that drives in targeted traffic to your website, this online revenue source can become quite substantial. Follow along with my experiment growing two completely new blogs—one finance blog MoneyTalk and one called SmartWP about WordPress, into additional revenue streams for my business.
So, where are we supposed to turn to make money the legitimate way online? This isn't just about generating passive income; this is also about finding ways and means to create an active income through the conveniences afforded to us by the internet that will not only help us with our debt obligations, but also empower us to save, invest and get really rich in the future.
If you’ve got a way with words and expertise in a niche, there are plenty of sites that will pay for articles and content you write. Think of the sites you read regularly. What can you contribute to them that would be interesting? Research your niche and then look for ways to pitch articles. Many sites will simply have a submission or contact link in the footer. To get started, check out my full guide to becoming a freelance writer on the side and then submit your articles to places like Instash, Listverse, A List Apart, International Living, FundsforWriters, and Textbroker.
Mentorship. With sites like Etsy, it simply doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel when opening a shop. Instead, look to others who have been down the path and have learned the hard way what to do – and what not to do. Blogs like Handmadeology and EverythingEtsy.com offer hints and guidance for artists just looking to get started in this profitable home-based business.
Mechanical Turk: Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a resource for doing human-intelligence tasks, or as the site commonly refers to them, HITs. You get paid a very small fee for any given HIT and you'll need a good deal of volume to make a substantial amount of money. But it is a resource you can use in your spare time to generate a small income online.