This page is where I keep track of all the ways I’ve attempted to make money online outside of a corporate job since 2013.
I’ve listed my efforts in reverse chronological order so you can see my most recent money-making endeavor first.
Also, I’m always revising this post with new money-making schemes and updated profit figures so be sure to revisit it!
Lastly, as of 2018 I’m shifting my focus away from active income-earners (side-hustles where you trade time for money) towards passive income earners like this blog.
Money-Saving and Making Mobile and Web Apps
Ibotta* is a cash rewards app you can use to take pictures of receipts and earn money doing it.
You can earn cash back from groceries to personal shopping and everything in between.
If you want to know more about Ibotta, check out my October income report.
Cash Back/Cash Saved: my wife and I have earned $50.85 since October 2017 taking pictures of our receipts and collecting cash rewards on purchases made.
Ask Trim is a money-saving web app that has some very cool features.
- Ask Trim scans your email for Amazon receipts, checks the price of products you’ve purchased, and gets you a refund if the price drops on that item within 90 days of buying.
- It connects to your credit cards and gives you cash back offers. For instance, I had an offer that said, “If you spend $20 or more with your visa at a movie theater in the next month you’ll get $10 back.”
- The web app uses a chatbot to negotiate your telecom bill to take advantage of any discounts available.
Ask Trim gets paid out of a percentage of savings they get you.
So it’s free to use.
For my situation and spending habits, using it is a no-brainer.
Cash Back/Cash Saved: ~$13
Rubixx is a mobile app that sends push notification advertisements to your phone after you link your credit card to it and allow the app to analyze your spending patterns.
The app pays you $0.02+ for you to click on the notification and view offers from 3rd party brands.
Thought it sounds annoying, it’s actually not that bad.
The push notifications are infrequent and the ads are non-intrusive.
I’ve described this app in detail in my July income report.
Cash Back/Cash Saved: ~$2/month/user so my wife and I make about $4 a month or $48 a year total.
Smart Panel IO is a data-gathering company that wants to know how you use the internet.
In fact, they’ll pay you between $5 and $10 a month (depending on how many devices you allow them to track and how long you allow them to track them) to track your internet usage across your smart devices.
You give up your privacy for some monthly cash flow.
But I have no problem with this especially because this data is aggregated and anonymized.
If you have a problem exchanging your privacy for cash, then this app isn’t for you.
Cash Back/Cash Saved: $5 per month for now which should become $10 a month after being with the program for a while.
Shop Tracker (operated by Harris Poll)
If you have an Amazon account (if you’re a human living in the 21st century) you can link that account to the Shop Tracker app and it will pay you $3 a month to analyze your spending patterns.
Again, you are exchanging personal data for cash.
So if you feel uncomfortable with this exchange, then this money-making opportunity isn’t for you.
But it’s easy passive income for those interested.
Cash Back/Cash Saved: $3 per month. You can cash out your balance anytime after month 1 in the form of a Visa or Amazon gift card
2017 – Fitness and Health Hacks
This is another niche blog I’m working on. But, I’m trying to validate the concept by growing a large social audience before attempting to drive traffic to the blog.
Specifically, I’m focusing on building audiences on Pinterest and Instagram.
I’ll report more on this on the future.
For now, Fitness and Health Hacks is in its beginning stages and isn’t very interesting.
Revenue and Profit/Loss:
~$100 loss (investment) on social media automation bots. Social media growth, like progress in any area, requires long-term thinking. I don’t expect anything to come of this until at least a year of consistent posting/following. I haven’t pursued this since mid 2017 and I don’t plan on pursuing it in the near future. My resolution for 2018 and beyond is to focus on content for this blog.
2017 – Surveys
Usually I don’t respond to the survey notification e-mails quickly enough to take part.
And when I do, I often don’t qualify.
That’s why I’ve only completed one survey.
But the one I did complete was actually fun.
Validately surveys usually involve video chatting and screen sharing with a company while you evaluate their website or app and give feedback.
The company pays Validately who keeps a cut and pays you for participating.
My survey happened to be with Republic Wireless, an inexpensive cell phone service I used for a couple of years.
Republic Wireless told me none of their survey participants had ever heard of them, let alone been a customer.
So it was fun and interesting to give feedback on a service I had used.
Status: Active though I don’t go out of my way to take part in them.
Revenue and Profit/Loss: $30 profit for one 30 minute survey I completed with Validately and $150 profit for a 2 hour survey with Google (read more about my Google survey here.)
2017 – From Passion to Profit: How to Turn Your Passion into a Profitable Internet Business in Under a Year (Amazon Kindle e-book)
This book was Matt’s and my test to see if we could repeat the relative success of our first effort.
Unfortunately, it was a dud and didn’t sell many units.
The lack of sales may have been due to different marketing tactics we tried.
Or it may have had a less grabbing title/subject matter than our first (see below).
You can read more about what worked and what didn’t with this e-book in the March Income Report.
Status: With Matt’s blessing and some substantial edits to make it more my own, I’m giving away this e-book for free on here the website!
Revenue and Profit/Loss: $60 revenue split between Matt and me for $30 profit each
2017 – 100 Ways to Make Money Online (Amazon Kindle e-book)
Writing this book with Matt was one of the most successful, quickest returns on investments I’ve experienced.
I’m not currently writing more e-books because several reasons including the hit or miss marketing mentioned above.
Still, this was one of the more lucrative online income experiments I’ve tried.
I think everyone should at least consider self-publishing on Amazon.
Status: Again, with Matt’s blessing and some substantial edits to make it more my own, I’m giving away this e-book for free here on the website!
Revenue and Profit/Loss: $250 revenue split between Matt and me for $125 profit each.
2016 and 2017: Primal Shirts (aka Wear Primal) – a drop-shipping t-shirt company
Matt and I started Wear Primal at the beginning of 2016.
We spent months developing the t-shirt designs and considered marketing an afterthought.
We haphazardly grew an Instagram profile to hundred followers, posted some low quality pics of the shirts to our Instagram, and made one sale.
When we realized we didn’t know what we were doing with marketing and we’re losing money monthly on Shopify’s web hosting, we decided to shut down the project.
I learned the painful lesson (again) that marketing is everything.
If you don’t have marketing in place with a growth engine, you won’t make sales and your business will fail.
This time I worked smarter.
The high-quality photos I posted to Instagram got the attention of a health blogger who loved the shirts.
She even asked if she could sell them on her site.
This blogger and I are still in talks about it so I’m not sure of the outcome yet.
But I’d love to hand the marketing reigns to her, give her a significant affiliate sales commission, and make the business relatively passive.
Revenue and Profit/Loss: Made 1 sale ($15 of profit) and paid $30 for one month of hosting for a net loss of $15. Have yet to make any money in relaunch but my monetary expenses after relaunch are also zero.
2016 – Renting out our car on Turo
If you haven’t heard of it, Turo is a web app like AirBnB that allows you to rent your vehicle to other app users.
A separate Turo insurance policy covers your vehicle and the passenger for up to $1,000,000 in damages.
My wife works within walking distance of our apartment.
So we enthusiastically listed her car on Turo, hoping to make some extra cash on something she didn’t use much.
Turo allows you to place mileage, distance, and duration limits on your vehicle’s renters, but we didn’t place any restrictions on it to maximize our profit.
Unfortunately, our third renter drove the car to a town three hours away and totaled it in a wreck on the highway.
No one involved was injured, but my wife’s car was in bad shape.
If you’ve ever been in a total loss insurance situation, you know that the insurance company either cuts you a check for what they believe was the value of the car before the accident, or they give you a reduced amount and let you deal with the vehicle.
We thought Turo’s insurance offer for the car was more than generous so we took the money and used it to buy Jasmine a different car.
All things considered, the situation turned out well.
But, we decided renting our vehicles on Turo just isn’t worth the risk.
Worst-case scenario medical damages could exceed the $1 million insurance policy.
If that happened, the other party’s medical bills could be your responsibility.
Revenue and Profit/Loss: $200 in rental profit before car was totaled.
2016 – Profitanywhereblog.com
After taking a broad approach with lifehackersguide.com (see below), I decided to “nicheify” my interests into their own respective websites.
This is when I created profitanywhereblog.com to blog about my interest in business, entrepreneurship, passive income, and making money on the web.
When I first started the blog, I had concerns about my ability to publish content regularly.
I enlisted Matt’s help for this, hoping we could co-run the blog and publish enough content together.
We spent three and a half months co-owning the blog before we decided to part ways.
I realized that we did better as business accountability partners than as business partners.
Even so, we continued (and continue) to bounce ideas off one another and talk about business daily.
We always entertain the possibility of partnership should the right opportunity present itself.
Status: Active (obviously)
Revenue and Profit/Loss: No direct income at this point
2016 – Lifehackersguide.com – a blog for my interests including health, fitness, business, entrepreneurship, and more.
This is when I first began pursuing search engine traffic by attempting to rank for keywords.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know what I know now about ranking for keywords.
I tried to rank for “ketogenic diet” which has massive search traffic and would be extremely difficult to rank for.
I also learned that when you put yourself out there on the web, you will inevitably have haters.
I encountered my first online haters when posting my ketogenic diet article in several keto Facebook groups.
I drove ~1,000 visitors to the post and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
Except there were one or two haters that didn’t like my article and marked my Facebook posts about the article as spam.
Although ridiculous, I took the haters’ messages personally.
It’s easy to let this happen when you put so much effort into your work.
And it’s human nature to focus on the one or two nasty comments instead of feeling encouraged by the majority of positive comments and feedback.
But it’s critical to not let the haters get to you and to focus on adding value to the audience that appreciates your work.
Revenue and Profit/Loss: made $26 of profit on Amazon affiliate income
2015: Jasmine Alley Art – an e-commerce commission painting website I made for my then fiance now wife.
I ripped off Instapainting’s concept and web design and undercut their prices.
The website received no visitors except for the handful of people that clicked on a paid Google ad I created.
Apparently the field of dreams line, “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t apply to websites.
In other words, I learned the painful e-commerce lesson that just because you make a website doesn’t mean you’ll get any traffic.
I also learned firsthand the importance of knowing your product and target audience.
I had no idea how people bought fine art so I didn’t know the customer pain points or how I could address them.
Revenue and Profit/Loss: lost ~$100 on a year of hosting and a lot of time
2013/2014: Tudu (aka Day Plan)
Tudu was a mobile phone application idea I came up with that a team of computer engineers at USC tried to turn into reality as part of their class project.
At the time, my roommate and I would sometimes stay up till the wee hours of the night talking about the app and wishing it existed.
When the time came for him and some classmates to make an app for one of their classes, we pitched it to them and they agreed.
The app never made it to the app store and the engineers all got corporate jobs after graduation.
This project got me started learning the importance of salesmanship.
I realized that didn’t spend the time or effort necessary to sell the engineers on the concept and as such they didn’t take it very seriously.
Instead, they treated it like a class project that they would ditch as soon as they graduated.
And I don’t blame them. I didn’t give them any other other reason to think of it differently.
Revenue and Profit/Loss: lost $0 and a lot of time
As you can tell, none of these money-making endeavors have been spectacular successful (yet). But one of my goals with this blog is to share everything that I’m trying, whether it works or not. I hope this post gives you guidance on what to pursue (or not to pursue).
And of course, feel free to contact me if you have any questions!