The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the economy like few events in recent memory. Ever since the deadly pathogen emerged back in January of 2020, economies around the globe have collapsed, resulting in an erosion of jobs at a level not seen since the Great Depression. Even as today, the effect felt two years ago will affect us for many years ahead.

Young people have and still feel the brunt of the economic impact, as many of the industries they previously relied on for work shut their doors amid national lockdowns. Recent university graduates also had to contend with dire employment prospects as the economy ground to a halt.

But while opportunities in the offline world became scarce, they flourished online, offering new possibilities for people to thrive economically by working in cyberspace, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Today, there are a plethora of ways to generate an income online – and all you need to get started is a computer and internet connection. Suppose your job role was wiped out during the Covid-19 pandemic, and you’re still struggling to earn money as of today. In that case, you may want to brainstorm some ideas that can enable you to work online.

Even if you’re currently employed, an online side hustle can give your income a nice boost. Other benefits include being your own boss, setting your own hours, and replacing the daily commute with more leisure time. 

Interested, but not quite sure where to start? Read on to learn about ten popular ways to make money online in 2021.

Become a Freelancer

Do you have a skill that people would be willing to fork over their hard-earned cash for? If so, consider turning that skill into a money-making operation by offering your services to multiple clients. Not only does this arrangement confer a flexible working schedule, but the ability to choose your projects and personally set your rates. 

There are a variety of skills you can leverage to earn an income as a freelancer. Some of the most in-demand skills include writing, photography, graphic design, web development design, video creation and editing, and digital marketing.

Freelancing is a proven method of generating some extra cash, but you’ll have to put in a tremendous amount of effort to secure gigs, especially at the beginning. In many ways, freelancing epitomizing hustle culture, given the level of competition you’re up against and the pressure of finding clients.

Start by applying on job boards and freelancing platforms such as:

While many of these platforms are notorious for being populated with low-paying gigs, they’re a great way to get some solid experience under your belt, as well as garner glowing reviews for your work.

To acquire clients and further promote your work, consider setting up a website to showcase your skills. You should also become conversant with cold-calling and cold-emailing – directly reaching out to people is an excellent way to access exclusive opportunities not advertised to the public.

Start a blog

Blogs have been around since the early days of the internet and are perhaps one of the most popular and well-known ways to earn money online. 

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In 2021, the optimal way to build a revenue-generating blog is to focus on a narrow topic. This approach will differentiate you from the competition and enable you to become a trusted expert in your chosen domain. Don’t simply start a run-of-the-mill investing blog – the internet has plenty of those already. Choose a specialized area like cryptocurrency or renewable energy stocks.

Once you’ve selected your blog topic, it’s time to set up shop. Luckily, you don’t need to pump your life savings into your blog to make it a success. To start, all you need is:

  • A domain name – a trusted source to purchase one is Godaddy.
  • Web hosting – you can get cheap, quality hosting with providers like HostPapa and Siteground.
  • Website builder – Use a tool like Wix to bring your blog to life – all without typing a single line of code.

When it comes to earning money from your blog, consider experimenting with advertising and affiliate marketing. If you're unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, it's essentially the online equivalent of commission selling. It typically involves posting a link on your blog that directs your readers to a product on another website. Should they purchase the product, the company will compensate you with a commission since your blog originated the sale.

Start a YouTube of Twitch channel

Does public speaking come naturally to you? Are you comfortable being in front of the camera? Do you possess an infectious, engaging, and vibrant personality? If so, starting your own YouTube or Twitch channel could be your perfect side hustle.

Today, the video and streaming space is extremely crowded – you’ll have to find a way to stand out to gain any traction. To cultivate a loyal following on YouTube or Twitch, you must produce entertaining, compelling, and unique content. And, most importantly, you'll have to do it consistently. 

Viewers of YouTube and Twitch channels have high expectations when it comes to production and presentation. Before launching your channel, ensure you invest in high-quality equipment: camera, tripod, editing software, video encoder, audio mixer, green screen, etc. Don’t believe for a second that your grainy laptop camera will do the trick!

Once your subscriber count reaches a sufficient level, you can start monetizing it. Here are some ways Youtubers and Twitch streamers earn cash:

  • Running advertisements
  • Getting sponsorships
  • Creating paid channel memberships or subscriptions
  • Collecting donations
  • Selling merchandise
  • Posting affiliate links in their video description

Teach English online

English ranks as the second most popular language globally and is also the third most widely spoken. If you’re fluent in English, you possess practically all the skills needed to capitalize on this demand. The only other qualifying criterion you typically need before starting is an English teaching certification, such as TEFL. A university degree and previous teaching experience are assets as well.

Vast improvements in cloud-based communication platforms and broadband internet in recent years have made teaching English to students across the world more possible than ever before. There’s no longer any need to travel abroad to be successful at this occupation.

There are plenty of online platforms available to connect eager students with qualified English instructors. A few popular ones are:

Each platform varies concerning earning potential, payment structure, educational prerequisites, lesson duration, and student demographics. You should choose the platform you think will be the most conducive to your success.

Sell your art online

Perhaps there’s no more challenging skill or talent to monetize than creativity. Composers, writers, photographers, visual artists, and those who produce handmade crafts all struggle to eke out even a modest income from their creative pursuits.

Luckily, the internet has provided artists with a wide range of opportunities to showcase and sell their creations to the world. 

Etsy is a global community and the top destination for everything related to handmade crafts. Here, you can present and sell your vintage, handmaid, or customized products to millions of people. The Etsy brand is well-regarded and trusted, so setting up shop here is a no-brainer. Listing your items is a breeze, and the fees are reasonable, as well.

If you’re an aspiring photographer, you can kickstart your career by posting your best shots on an Instagram business account. With a solid promotional strategy, you can quickly build an audience and acquire your first customers. You can then move onto other platforms like Shutterstock, Getty Images, Adobe Stock, and iStock. Just be aware that competition is fierce, so it’s wise to settle on a niche, such as travel photography or portraits.

For budding musicians, gone are the days of waiting to be discovered by a major record label to have any chance of financial success. Today, there are plenty of avenues to explore, such as uploading your music directly to online retailers like iTunes or streaming services like Spotify. You can also sell exclusive access to live streaming shows on YouTube or even license your work to a stock library that sells music, such as AudioJungle

Start an online course

Do you have specialized knowledge or expertise in an area that elicits genuine interest and curiosity from other people? If so, consider packaging it up in the form of an online course. 

If there’s a healthy demand for your knowledge and skillset, it has the potential to earn you some extra bucks, and then some. Start by putting together a rough foundation of your course and ask friends and family for honest feedback. 

Once you’ve determined your course idea has merit, you need to select the most effective delivery method. Will your course be composed of a series of videos, written content, interactive activities, or a combination of all three? Naturally, your decision will affect the budget and time required to create your course. For example, producing video lectures may entail investing in a top-notch camera and many hours of editing to give your lessons a sleek and professional look.  

When the time comes to make your debut, there are various online platforms to choose from that make it easy and convenient to design, market, and distribute your course. Some notable ones to check out include Thinkific, Kajabi, Teachable, and Podia.

Become a virtual assistant

If there’s one thing that busy people lack, it’s time. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have little or no time to dedicate to filling out paperwork, scheduling appointments, managing social media accounts, booking travel accommodations, doing bookkeeping, making phone calls, and sending gift cards to customers during Christmas.

Since the pandemic struck, entrepreneurs around the world lost some of their administrative workforce. A virtual assistant can perform all these administrative tasks, and many others, remotely, enabling clients to focus on their business or other critical duties.

To succeed as a virtual assistant, you must be open to work a flexible schedule, as your clients may send a task your way at random times. You must be a stellar multi-tasker, effective decision-maker, and solid communicator. Also, having a flair for various current technologies, such as mobile apps, VoIP, desktop sharing, social media, word-processing software, and spreadsheets, helps a lot.

If these attributes describe you, the role of a virtual assistant may be perfect for you.

To find clients, you can browse job boards like Indeed and Monster or sites geared to freelancers, such as Upwork. Linkedin is a valuable tool, as well, both for job hunting and networking.

To stand out from the crowd, consider enrolling in a virtual assistant course (online learning platforms like Udemy offer them for a low cost) and find ways to exhibit your skills. For example, if you wish to manage clients’ social media accounts, you should be heavily active on social media yourself. Demonstrate your knack for crafting compelling posts that resonate with people, and your ability to interact effectively and professionally with an online audience.

Create an e-commerce store 

Even though Amazon reigns supreme in the online retail world, you can still make your mark in this competitive landscape by offering something unique at an affordable price. Going niche is the key; otherwise, customers won’t even give your product a second glance and turn instead to trusted brands.

Besides writing a business plan, you’ll need to do several things to get your operation up and running:

  • Register your company
  • Open a business bank account
  • Choose a domain name
  • Select website hosting
  • Choose an e-commerce platform (like WooCommerce and Magento)
  • Select a payment processor (such as Stripe)
  • Find a place to store your products
  • Create a marketing plan

Instead of starting an entire website from scratch, you can also streamline many aspects by creating your store on Shopify. Doing so can save you time, effort, and money – and there’s no coding or overwhelming technical work to perform. For a monthly fee (which varies based on the plan you choose), you gain access to everything you could need to run an online retail operation:

  • A customized website
  • A built-in shopping cart
  • The ability to sell both physical and digital products
  • Inventory tracking
  • Order processing
  • Shipment tracking
  • The ability to use your own domain name
  • A dashboard to monitor marketing campaigns

Turn your home into a vacation rental

Avid travellers are increasingly seeking affordable accommodation during their trips, a need readily fulfilled by the vacation rental industry. Major players in this industry include Airbnb, VRBO, and If you’re comfortable converting your home to a temporary hotel for travellers, consider listing it on one of these vacation rental platforms to earn some passive income.

One of the benefits of partnering with a premier vacation rental company like Airbnb is that it absolves you from tedious work. Typically, the company will handle all the transactions, communication, and tenant screening. All you need to do is register an account and list your property. Typically, the only cost to you is a service fee calculated as a percentage of the total booking price, which can be anywhere from 3% to 15%.

Another advantage is flexibility. You can schedule your property to be available when it suits you and have complete control over the price you charge for guests. 

Though customers will discover your property online, the nature of the business necessitates putting in effort offline to ensure they have a pleasant and hospitable stay. Keep your home clean and tidy and provide basic amenities, such as soap and shampoo. Respond promptly to guests’ inquiries and always strive for cordial interactions. 

Being a stellar host will prompt guests to leave favourable reviews of their experience, which bodes well for your reputation – and your bank account.

Trade stocks

If you possess an analytical mind and are fascinated by the stock market and what makes it tick, you could earn extra cash on the side by executing smart, well-timed trades.

With COVID, most people had to find new hobbies that were more digital. Stock trading was one of the options and a lot of people became self-investors.

If your goal is to become a successful trader, it's wise to become familiar with fundamental analysis, which is a method used to assess a stock’s value. You should also understand some basic economic concepts and technical analysis, which is a way to determine where a stock might be headed based on prior price trends. If you’re new to these topics,  here are five websites is a site you may want to get acquainted with – it contains a treasure trove of information about financial concepts and investing.

When it comes to choosing a broker, two notable options are Wealthsimple and Questrade. Both make trading stocks easy and convenient, though they cater to different types of trading personalities. 

Wealthsimple offers zero commission trades on stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETF) and has no minimum deposit requirement. It’s the ideal choice for beginners to hone their trading skills. Questrade offers a more sophisticated platform with an abundance of market data and analytics, plus the ability to trade a wide array of financial assets, such as options and precious metals. It's geared more toward experienced traders.

One final piece of advice: never trade with money you can’t afford to lose!

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