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How to Earn Money Online In 2021: 8 Completely Digital & Profitably Honest Ways

Updated: May 6, 2021

You don't have to pound the pavement, beg for business, or work on thrifty "150 rupees for a logo" or "$3 for a blog post" jobs (it's all too common when you even try to earn money online from India and elsewhere in the developing economy).

No, I won't be listing out 100 different ideas like "babysitting" or "mowing the lawn". You'll find plenty of those out on the Internet anyway (and I don't want to repeat myself).

This blog post will be a list of legitimate, profitable, and honest ways for you to make money online.

Whether or not you're already working, if you have an internet connection and want to know how to earn some extra cash then this is the article for you!

Note: Just reading this list won't get you anywhere. You have to take action. Pick one and start from there. You can always change, pivot, and drift away into different directions (as it may suit you). Don't get stuck with anything.

With that out of the way, here are some top, honest, legitimate ways to earn money online in India (actually, wherever you are from) with my own thoughts and pointers along the way:

Teach online on Udemy

You may not know it, but you do have skills. You can teach. Do you work on excel all day while at your day job? Are you a born creative writer? Are you naturally inclined to gardening? Do you find yourself doing very well on the stock market (and no one even knows this?).

You can teach others what you know. Udemy is absolutely free for you to go out there and start teaching online. Think about what you can teach. Then, go paint the town red.

Things to watch out for:

  • Because Udemy promises exposure (along with the premise that they do marketing on your behalf), Udemy eats a lot of your potential revenue when you sell your courses.

  • Udemy undercuts your actual course price; My $30 dollar course (around 2400 INR gets is currently being sold for 450 INR). That's terrible. As a course creator working hard to do what you do, this is insane.

  • Just because you set your course up on Udemy, it doesn't mean that you can sit back and binge-watch Netflix. You'd have to still promote and push your own courses (only to see that Udemy only pays you a fraction for the resultant course sales).

  • You have no control over your own students. I mean, you'll never have access to their email addresses or phone numbers. Basically, you don't own anything despite selling on Udemy (like, forever).

Alternatives to Udemy: Sell your courses on your own platform (website). Use Thinkific, Podia, or even Wix (you can sell courses on Wix. This website is on Wix).

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is a great way to make money online. You can create your own website or blog, and then promote other people's products by adding links on your site that link to the merchant's website.

When your visitors click these links and buy something, you get paid a commission for the sale.

There are lots of ways to do affiliate marketing- one would be through blogs with ads displayed on them, as well as content writing jobs which include blogging about various topics in exchange for cash or perks from advertisers.

The first question that you should ask yourself is why? Why do you want to get into affiliate marketing or what's your motivation behind it. What type of person are you and what is your strengths?

What's the difference between an entrepreneur and a business owner? Entrepreneurs take risks, they have a lot of passion when it comes to their work.

For many entrepreneurs, the idea of affiliate marketing can be a bit daunting. It's not as simple as just setting up your site and putting together an offer to sell. Here are a few questions to help you get on the right path:

  • How do I know what products to recommend? If I could, would I use them?

  • Are the products I recommend have any real value?

  • Do I have any experience in the industry that is selling these types of products?

  • Are these products paying me good commissions for me to take on the risk of recommending them?

  • Are the merchants (whose products you'll recommend) reliable?

Start freelancing

Freelance work is pure business, where you are self-employed. You trade your time, skills, and experience for the money.

Freelancing is what happens your skills (coupled with your unique personality) shakes hands with eCommerce. When you trade your time, skills, and experience to solve problems for your clients (depends on what skills you have and the kind of problems you solve).

You could be a virtual assistant, a content writer, a social media manager, an illustrator, a graphic designer, or a web developer.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, freelancing isn't as easy as it might sound.

  • Learn how to get clients

  • Figure out ways to keep them for as long as you can. Because you can’t keep them forever, learn to continuously get high-quality work and good clients you can work with.

  • Be confident, stay confident, and provide exceptional work.

  • Always communicate. Always.

  • Deliver work on time (there are no exceptions)

  • Do more than what you promised. Again and again.

Want proof that you can succeed?

By being picky, choosy, slow, and lazy, I made around $125,000 on Upwork alone.

Forget about me.

See how Morgan Overholt made over $400,000 (reaching $500,000 soon) in 3 years.

Learn more about freelancing, as much as you can. Or just my freelancing course (get 10% off).

You can be a freelancer the moment you decide you want to be one. To succeed, however, it’ll take time (depends on you).


Ever heard of sites like Flippa and Empire Flippers? These are large market places where you can sell and purchase domains. Domaining (or Domaineering or Domain Flipping) is when you purchase a domain and resell it for a higher value.

I don't know if you knew this or not, but domains are like virtual assets (much like real estate, but real estate isn't anywhere near virtual and also not as affordable as domains are).

Website flipping

Have you ever heard of website flipping? Website flipping is a process where individuals buy websites with low traffic and high-profit margins, then turn around and sell them for a higher price.

You can use Flippa (mentioned above) for website flipping as well.

This is a quicker way to earn money online since you are purchasing an existing website (all the work has been done for you.

Make updates, improve on the site, add more content, put in some more improvements then sell it again. This can be an excellent way to build your portfolio of websites without having to start from scratch.

Or there are individuals, agencies, and companies that actually create websites that perform (like websites that bring in real results such as traffic or sales or both) and then resell them for a profit.

Become a YouTuber

If you ever wanted to be seen on TV, it'd have been near impossible to do it just a few years back.

Now, it's all changed, thanks to YouTube. With more than 2 billion logged-in members on a monthly basis, YouTube beats the shit out of anything else (as far as viewing and watching is concerned)

You love a few people on YouTube already. You could be following some chefs, singers, travelers, automobile enthusiasts, and so many others.

Why did it not occur to you that you could do it too? My best friend (Arpitha Rai, also a TrooperTribe member) is a fashionista and has her own YouTube Channel now. She captivates her audiences with all things fashion.

In the past year, YouTube has been dominated by a new breed of personality—the YouTuber. These are people who have made careers out of vlogging on their channel and they’ve found success as influencers in an industry that is notoriously hard to break into.

No, it doesn't take anything to become a YouTuber (at least not in the beginning until you grow your audience). All you need is "you" and your camera (even your phone will do).

Start an eCommerce business

Have access to products? Start an eCommerce business. Today, it's easier than ever, at least to get started. You are even luckier if you actually have a business or someone who knows that does this)

In the past, if someone wanted to start an eCommerce business they would need a lot of money and resources. Today you can start your own eCommerce business with just a few hundred dollars (or rupees).

However, it's been said that making "the first $1 million is the hardest." It's also true for starting an eCommerce business.

There are so many aspects to this type of entrepreneurship, from choosing a niche and finding products to designing your site and marketing it that might not even start.

Even if you did, you'll be lost in the vast sea of confusion that's typical (for any business). Plus, did I mention that it's just as hard to succeed with eCommerce as it is with any business?

Also, there's more to eCommerce business success than just creating or building a site.

Start your own Podcast

Who doesn't love listening to podcasts? Podcasts are great for turning your boring commute into a productive one. You can learn new skills, discover amazing businesses and stories, or even make yourself feel better after a long day with some fun audio entertainment.

But we aren't talking about the "listening" side of Podcasts. We are talking about you starting a podcast.

Your own show.

Your voice creating an impact for millions.

With platforms like, you can be up and running, like yesterday.

Here are 19 more tools from the team at Buffer to make podcasting work for you.

Self-publish. Write a book

While it may not be as profitable as some of the other digital business ideas here, it's still something that's capable of making yourself beam with pride. It's as close to "Look, Ma! I am on TV" as you can get.

Write a book. Publish it.

You don't have to go the traditional route of finding publishers and then trying to get books out in print. You can also publish on Amazon (KDP).

The good news, at least if you choose to self-publish with Amazon KDP is that your book could be out both in Digital and print. Here's Amazon's info on self-publishing your book.

That's it. Just pick one of these ideas and start something (you don't need 100 ideas to make money online).

Just one of these will do.

Do that and you'll have enough freedom to do whatever else you want to.

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