When I tell people that I make money online, I get asked this questions a lot: Can I make money online for FREE?
You must be wondering the same thing as you read this post if you have zero or close to no experience.
If you need a straightforward Yes or No answer now, the answer is YES.
However, the income you generate will drastically differ depending on the method you choose. You have to be aware of this fact and examine your options before you get into this online industry.
So, What Options Do I Have?
In this internet era, there are so many ways to earn income online. They could be online surveys, online ads, freelance bloggers, online tutors, to name a few.
As a beginner, however, if you don’t want to invest any money or just want to test the water for free, below are the possible options for you.
- Online Survey
- Online Ads (need a Blog)
- Affiliate Marketing (need a Blog)
1. Online Survey
Out of the three, the easiest and fastest way of earning money is Online Survey. You don’t need any skills for this. All you need to do is to join one of the survey sites and invest your time.
Just beware of scam survey sites that are only after your personal information and do not compensate for the time you provided.
I have tried a few legitimate survey programs and you can read all of my experiences here. They are legit and pay you as they claim, but the payouts are tiny.
They normally pay you $0.85 to $1.50 for a 30 min survey. If you calculate it to an hourly wage, you’ll understand what I mean by very small payouts.
Also, it’s very common that they announce you don’t qualify for the survey half way through it, which is quite frustrating.
The only program I feel comfortable enough to recommend to you is SwagBucks, where I don’t have to take surveys to earn pocket money.
SwagBucks pays you for doing online shopping, performing online searches and so forth. Of course, you can take surveys too but I use it only for online searches.
Everyday I use their search bar instead of Google, and occasionally (not every time) Swagbucks rewards me with points that I can later convert to cash or gift cards. I usually choose Amazon gifts cards as a payment option. In a normal month, I would earn $5 to $10 Amazon gift cards by doing online searches as I would do with Google. If you are interested in earning Amazon gift cards for free, you can read about how I earn them or join Swagbucks for free.
If earning $5, $10 or $30 is what you meant by “making money” then online surveys or other PTC (Paid-to-Click) sites are perfect for you. You can start earning small pocket money right away.
But it will never bring you a full-time income.
Some devoted members make hundreds of dollars a month by spending hours and hours at survey sites. Yet, it will never produce enough to replace your 9-5 job or support a family. .
An online survey is an option to earn a small amount of money online for free. As the payouts are so small for the time and effort you put in, this is not the path I recommend you to follow.
2. Online Ads
To earn money from this method, you first and foremost need a blog site of your own.
Your blog site will be your digital property. You provide spaces to businesses that want to place advertisements on your blog and get paid depending on the number of customers you brought to the business (which is usually measured by how many people clicked on the ad).
This option is both easy and difficult.
It is easy in terms of setting your property (blog). Nowadays, making a blog site or website is so simple and easy that you can get it done in a few minutes. I’ll share more on this later, but for now I want you to remember you can do it as a total beginner and Yes, it is free.
Finding ads to display is quite easy too since they are often provided through ad networks such as Google AdSense.
So far, online ads seem a good choice: You set up a site, write some blog posts, and display ads on your site. No need to spend hours and hours everyday on surveys either. Sounds perfect.
However, the real difficult side of online ads is to actually earn good money. Why?
The reason is this. It takes traffic (people visit your site) to make money through online ads as the money that companies pay you per click is very small (normally $0.05 to $0.50 per click). As a brand new blog, your site naturally will not have a lot of traffic and building traffic does take time and hard work.
It is even possible that your website may not get approved by ad networks without decent traffic.
This is why I don’t recommend beginners going for online ads. It won’t be profitable at least during the early phase of your online journey. It’s the option worth considering once your site has matured and created sufficient traffic.
3. Affiliate Marketing
This is by far the best option I can recommend if you wish to try making money online for free.
Just like online ads, the setting up is easy but it takes time and hard work to earn income through this option.
Unlike online ads, however, the payouts are better than one ad clicked so you’ll start generating decent money sooner.
This is how I got started online in my spare time without quitting my job. I am not tech savvy but still could begin making money on the side so I know from experience that it works.
If you are not familiar with how affiliate marketing works on the internet, I wrote about it at length in “What Is Affiliate Marketing?”
In a nutshell, you promote other companies products on your blog site and get a commission for each sale you generate.
Some affiliate marketers make 6 figures or even 7 figures doing this online. To reach that level, of course, you do need to invest money.
However, money is not an absolute necessity to start out and as the theme here is to make money online for free, from here I will discuss how to start an affiliate marketing business free.
How to Start Affiliate Marketing Free
The process is broken down into the following basic steps.
- Choose a niche (topic) … free
- Build a website … free at SiteRubix
- Create Content … free, but it does take your hard work
- Get traffic … free
- Join affiliate programs … free by joining Affiliate Networks
The main concept here is to have your website (#2) and earn commissions through affiliate programs (#5).
Don’t get freaked out by the idea of building a website. With the right tool, you can do it in a few minutes and your website will be the core part of your success. I’ll discuss more on this later.
From here, I’ll walk you through each step and help you understand how to start out free as an affiliate marketer.
Choose a Niche
What is a niche?
A niche is a theme (topic) your business is going to be based upon. In the online business worlds, any topics that people would search for online can be a niche.
What search did you do on Google last time? Did you search for ways to get rid of termites? How to make vegetarian lasagna? Consumer reviews of the latest released game you’re thinking to purchase? Tips for saving money for retirement or gift ideas for your girlfriend? Are you into making homemade soaps or detergents?
They are all niches.
A niche determines the direction of your business. Down the road, you will have to write a lot about the topic you chose. Therefore, be sure to pick something that:
- you are interested
- you are passionate about
- you have a fairly good knowledge
- you would have fun learning about
When you have pure love toward what you are writing about, your content naturally becomes genuine and engaging. Your readers can feel it.
It is vital to your online success, so take the time at this stage of choosing a niche. List up things you like and really ask yourself what you would love to share with the world.
And of course, choosing a niche doesn’t cost you anything.
One of my friends, Jessica, started a website all about cats “Playful Cat Toys.”
Jessica is a cat lover. She shares all the knowledge and tips she has gained by living with cats for years that would benefit other cat lovers. I am a cat lover too 🙂 so I enjoy reading her blogs.
There is another important factor you must consider when choosing a niche, though. Can you make money with it?
Can You Make Money with the Niche?
Since you are going to start a blog site not as a hobby but for a business, your niche has to be profitable.
This is not difficult to figure out. You simply need to find an affiliate program that sells products related to your niche.
Just perform a Google search with the keyword: [your niche] + affiliate programs.
If you cannot find any programs (which is very unlikely but), you can check out one of these affiliate networks. Or, you can always go to the world’s biggest shopping platform, Amazon and see if they sell any products for your niche. Amazon has an affiliate program called Amazon Associates.
In Jessica’s example above, there are tons of affiliate programs related to cats or cat toys. She can join those programs, write about cat toys or health goods that her cats enjoyed, and promote (recommend) them on her website.
At this stage, you don’t have to dig deep in it. Just make sure there are affiliate programs for your niche.
Then, we can move onto the next step.
Build a Website Free
In the past, building websites needed the knowledge of coding, and we had to go to a professional to have our websites built.
Those days are long gone.
Thanks to a blogging and CMS (Content Management System) platform such as WordPress, making a website could be as simple as creating a new Facebook page.
Because of this, many web companies now offer free websites, but you will still have to pay for web hosting in most cases.
What is web hosting?
Web hosting is like the storage space you rent out to store all the information of a website. Without it, your website wouldn’t run on the internet.
But why pay money when web-hosting can be free?
I didn’t know this when I first started out myself, but you can have your website built and up and running today without paying a penny.
After all, my mission in this article is to get you started online completely free. Let’s move on.
Free Website & Free Hosting
I came across this great web company that provides me both website AND web hosting for free: SiteRubix.com
This website you are looking at now was built via SiteRubix. It literally took me a few minutes and my site was up and running right away.
NOTE: Before you attempt to make a website, think how you want to name the following:
- Domain name (onlineincometips.siterubix.com) … you come up with the Italic part only
- Website Title (Yuko’s Online Income Tips)
You can also watch the video below for the entire process. Just keep in mind, though, that Kyle, the founder of SiteRubix.com goes very fast for the sake of speed. (30 seconds!) So don’t get overwhelmed by the pace in the video.
In the actual process, you will take more than 30 seconds as you need the time to test out a few domain names and come up with a good title of your site.
Create Content – Write for Your Readers
You have chosen a niche. Your website is up and running. Now is the time to write articles and share what you want to share with the world.
Creating content (writing articles) may sound daunting or almost scary at first. But trust me. You will get used to it as you progress or even start having fun doing it.
Try not to be perfect. Just speak (write) genuinely from your heart as if you are sharing the information with a real person in front of you.
For the sake of your long-term success, always bear one thing in mind: Online business is the business of HELPING, not selling.
As you create content, your focus should be on providing values to people, not making money.
I know it sounds contradictive, but it is the truth. Helping comes first, and revenue follows after.
Remember the last time you were a customer online. What website did you purchase from? Why did you buy from that particular website? Somewhat you trusted the website owner and felt safe to give away your credit card information, right?
People perform online searches seeking information and solutions. In the example of my friend, Jessica’s site “Playful Cat Toys,” she shares useful tips such as “what is the best cat food for cats?” “can you declaw your cat?” or “how long can a cat be left home alone?”
Other cats owners out there will find those articles helpful. They will feel they can easily relate to Jessica as someone who loves cats. This is how you begin bonding with the visitors. They will develop trust in you and keep coming back to read your content. They will become a regular reader, and eventually a loyal customer.
Trust is the core element of your online success. To gain people’s trust, you must be genuine and add values to their lives.
Trust also takes time to build. That’s why there is no such thing as “make-a-quick-buck-online.” If any programs claim such a thing, know that it is a scam.
So when you sit at your desk to create a new content, ask yourself: How am I going to add values to my readers with this article?
As long as you write from that viewpoint, and keep producing new content, success will be a matter of time.
Get Traffic (Visitors) to Your Website
Ok, this is the part I had the most difficulties in the beginning. I didn’t know how to bring visitors to my website!
No matter how informative and helpful your contents are, what’s the point if you don’t have anyone to read them? No visitors means no customers, hence no income. Fair enough, so how do I get traffic?
HostGator (the web-hosting company) didn’t teach me that. The websites I came across through online searches didn’t teach me that. All the YouTube tutorial I browse through gave me no clear guidance.
I had nowhere to turn to for help and felt completely lost. It was until I discovered SiteRubix.com.
SiteRubix provides me not only free website and free hosting but also free training!
Below is the free course with 10 lessons that is provided with SiteRubix’s free website when I created one. Through this training, I for the first time learned what SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is.
See the title of Lesson 6 “Getting Your Site Ready for SEO”?
Have you ever heard of the term “SEO”? Even if you haven’t, that’s ok.
In a nutshell, it means to make your website well known to the search engines (like Google) so that they would recommend your site to people (by displaying it on the 1st or 2nd page) when they perform online searches on a related topic.
There are numerous SEO techniques but the training above touches the core concept and basics. Please follow each lesson as they are free, after you created a website at SiteRubix.com.
These free lessons are offered by an online program called
Wealthy Affiliate University
run by the same owner as SiteRubix.com.
Read my full review of Wealthy Affiliate University HERE.
Other major factors that you can implement for free are discussed in other blogs on my website.
Join Affiliate Programs
This step should be easy as you’ve already checked on affiliate programs at the stage of choosing a niche.
I put this stage last as there is no point of joining affiliate programs while you don’t have much traffic to your website yet.
In fact, many affiliate programs ask you for your website URL and how many visitors you have an average month in order to approve your affiliate membership.
So it is better to sign up for affiliate programs after you have a website up and running, posted several articles and started seeing visitors coming.
What happens when you join an affiliate program? You obtain the right to earn commissions by promoting the company’s product.
Say my friend Jessica from “Playful Cat Toys” found a scratch pad that she and her cats really liked. She would write a blog post, for example, about how to stop your cats from scratching furniture.
She would mention this particular scratch pad drastically helped and reduced furniture damage (and her stress) caused by her beloved cats.
Her reader read it, wanted to try the scratch pad, and purchased one through the link she placed within the blog post. If Jessica was already an affiliate member of the company that sells the scratch pad, she will earn a commission from these sales.
This is how online affiliate marketing works. It differentiates those who write blogs as a hobby and those as a side business.
If you are going to anyway share a valuable piece of information with the readers, why not monetize the effort, right?
By the way, for whatever the reason if you couldn’t find a company within your niche that offers a satisfying products or commission rate, you can always consider joining Amazon. The commission rate is rather low (4%-8%) but due to its gigantic size of the market and worldwide popularity, Amazon could be a great place to start for beginners.
I explained in a separate blog how to sign up and start as an Amazon Associate (Amazon affiliate member).
There are other major affiliate networks too. You can find them here.
Can I Make Money Online for Free? – Yes! But…
I hope you understand by now why I don’t recommend all the methods I covered in this article. Here is the summary:
- Online Survey … Too little payouts for your time and effort (Not Recommended)
- Online Ads … Need huge traffic in place for a decent income (Not Recommended)
- Affiliate Marketing … Based on your interest, and income grows over time (Recommended)
As a free way to start out online, I recommend Affiliate Marketing the most as a valid option that is worth your time and effort.
Imagine this, three years from now, you will still get only $1.00 for completing a 30-min survey.
But during those three years, if you kept writing an article once a week (most bloggers write a few per week), your website will end up having 156 articles!
Can you guess how many visitors 156 articles could bring to your site? (due to keywords exposure) It’s A LOT.
And those readers keep visiting your site, reading your blog posts, and purchasing products you recommend even while you are sleeping. That is real passive income, and this is why I strongly recommend getting started free with Affiliate Marketing.
Let’s review the five steps of Affiliate Marketing.
- Choose a niche (topic) … free
- Build a website … free at SiteRubix and it comes with free hosting and training
- Create Content … free, but it does take your hard work
- Get traffic … free
- Join affiliate programs … free
Making money via Affiliate Marketing is quite simple. But it’s neither quick nor easy. Like any other businesses out there, it does require your devotion, time, effort, and perseverance.
Out of the five steps, #3 would be most challenging. Until you get used to writing contents on a regular basis, it could be quite time-consuming and daunting.
But I promise you it is totally worth your time and effort. On the work you put in today, you will be earning passive income for many years to come. Imagine the financial potential in the future when you can manage multiple websites? There is also an option of creating your own products and selling them once you are more experienced in this industry.
Literally, the sky is the limit.
Let’s Get Started. Let Me Help You!
But at the moment, the most important thing is that you GET STARTED.
You are the only person who can shift your life. You must take the first step if you wish to change the way of current life and aim at financial freedom.
What I liked about starting my own affiliate business (other than the fact it was all free) was that I could work on it in my spare time.
As I mentioned earlier, I even didn’t have to quit my job.
I recommend you to start your affiliate business part-time at first. Don’t quit your job. You can always decide whether or not going in full-time with this business down the road once you started earning sufficient income.
Currently, I am a Premium Member of Wealthy Affiliate University and helping fellow members to achieve their online success.
Join me for free and I will be there to assist you.
When you create a free website at SiteRubix.com through this link, you will automatically join Wealthy Affiliate University for the free lessons and receive a welcome message from me. We can easily connect inside the program.
(For whatever the reason if you didn’t receive a welcome message from me, search for YUKO. Leave a comment on my profile page and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.)
Honestly, I wish I knew SiteRubix.com and Wealthy Affiliate University from the very beginning so that I didn’t have to go through all the hassles and waste my money on web-hosting.
You don’t have to take the detour that I took.
No credit card information necessary, just think about what you want to share with the world, build a free website at SiteRubix.com and get started today.
You can test the water before you fully decide if this is the path you would like to take. Also, bear in mind that you will eventually want to invest a little money for your success. It will greatly save you time and frustration and help grow your business quicker. (I spend about $80 a month for my business)
But as I said, money is not absolutely necessary to start out online.
I truly look forward to connecting with you and work with you in your online endeavor!
I am very serious about my mission because your success is my success. 🙂
If you have any questions or concerns, do leave them below. I would love to hear from you.