“It takes money to make money.”
How many times have you heard that saying? They tell you over and over again, whether you’re an investor, entrepreneur, or career professional. It takes money to buy stocks, start a business, or pay for a college degree.
Or does it?
If you suddenly had no money, your first thought might be getting a job or a loan. But what if there were a way to earn income without wasting time or taking a risk? It turns out there is.
- Can You Make Money Without Money?
- Real Ways to Make Money Without Money
- Money Without Money: Will It Work For YOU?
Can You Make Money Without Money?
But if you think it will be easy, you may want to read this guide. When people say it takes money, they refer to leverage. You WILL need money to make BIG money.
But when you start from nothing, you have two other resources: time and skill. If you have no experience whatsoever, it will take you longer. And if you don’t want to waste years on low-paying jobs, your money has to come from your skills.
So you can have a better chance of success, let’s set the expectations right from the beginning:
Myth #1: Anybody Can Do It
Making money without money is harder than with money. Then why do so many believe the opposite? Price perception.
Have you ever spent +$500 on some business course? It makes you feel excited like you can become a millionaire in X weeks. If the same course were free, however, you may not even watch it.
When something is free, it implies that:
- It’s not very valuable
- It’s zero risk
- It’s easy to do
All income streams require either money, time, or skill. If you lack two of them, it will be harder if you lack one, regardless of cost. Do you have the skill and time to make it happen?
Myth #2: It Can’t Happen Fast
Just like you can earn without money, you can earn without using money AND time. With enough skill, this means you’ll always be able to make money in any situation. Which gives financial confidence.
What happens if you try it with a low skill level? You risk wasting time on failing opportunities. And if you’re lucky enough to earn something, you risk losing it all.
While get-rich-quick has a bad reputation, it’s both possible and recommended. Easy? More like the opposite. Those who achieve this are typically entrepreneurs who succeeded in other businesses already.
Not as first-timers. But if you’re new, you can make it if you have the time to develop the skill.
Myth #3: It’s a Waste of Time
People skip over these models because they’re not “guaranteed income.” When they hear of online arbitrage or affiliate marketing, they don’t believe they can sell it. The only way to minimize this risk is with research skills.
Even the most successful hustlers rely on some luck to make money. And when they do, they earn more than the guaranteed income of an employee. You get lucky and failing fast and trying more.
Most opportunities only take a few hours to research the market and products. Once your offer is live, there isn’t much to do (besides management and troubleshooting). Because it’s fast (and free), you can test more opportunities.
Real Ways to Make Money Without Money
Make money with no money. Even passive income, if you put the time to build it first. But do you have the skill to make it happen?
Some models require more than others. You can make some “easy money” to leverage later, or you can build high-income skills for the long term. To find the right option for you, here are five ways to make it work:
#1 $0 Online Arbitrage
Buy low, sell high. Arbitrage is about finding the right offer and place it in the right marketplace. But did you know you can sell stuff without buying it?
In e-com platforms like eBay, you can list products without owning them. When someone buys from your listing, you get the payment and delivery address. You then use these to buy the same product from a cheaper seller.
Traders do it all the time, whether it’s flipping Walmart items, shipping from China, or drop-servicing. Online arbitrage is free because you’re working with the customer’s money. And if it doesn’t work, it’s easy to refund.
So why does this model work?
- People buy from platforms they trust, not necessarily based on price
- If you buy in bulk, you can get a discount on your order
- Many customers will buy the cheapest when selling on their platform (regardless of ranking)
- You get more sales as you get more reviews
- You can keep selling the same product again
If you have market-research skills, you can find a product with low competition that sells every day. If you do that again, you could have a dozen products generating monthly revenue. Some traders have reached six figures this way, as it gets easier after reinvesting.
Still, there’s nothing easy in retail arbitrage. If not, everyone would do it! Some challenges you may find include:
- New traders can join your market anytime and bring down your profit margins
- Suppliers may change their prices or experience delays
- Your payment platform may hold your money until you deliver the order
- Shipping costs may be different for every client. You won’t know it until you get the order
- Sellers with market research software have an advantage over you (even though there are free trials)
If you plan for these obstacles, arbitrage can make you fast money. Also, it’s not limited to flipping products:
- You can sell things around your house that you don’t need
- You can offer a freelance service by hiring another freelancer
- You can claim items from giveaway sites and list them somewhere else
#2 Get Paid for Sharing
Chances are you already have something that’s valuable. It could be an item you bought, what you’ve learned, or even the time you’re spending. The way you get paid is by sharing something you don’t use (or something you’ll do anyway).
- Share software subscriptions with other customers
- Share your opinion on focus groups and polls
- Share online data for activities you do anyway
To give you an idea of how sharing makes you money, here are two examples:
Example: Sharing Software
Suppose there’s a profitable business opportunity with millions of people interested (e.g., eCommerce). But to succeed in this model, you must own some research software. You want to buy it from the no.1 platform, which prices it at $100 per month.
Many have affiliate programs to sell their subscription. For example, ClickFunnels has a purchase discount code, and the affiliate marketer who promotes it also gets a commission every month. The thing is, many users only want to use it for one month.
Software is overpriced unless you’re buying annual plans. But how can this make you money?
If it costs $100 per month, find enough people to split the payment, like $25/month among four. As long as you have 4 “clients” paying it, you can keep renewing the subscription. From there, every new person that joins the group will make you an extra $25.
It’s not different from affiliate marketing, except that you’re selling a deep discount that they can’t find anywhere else. Would you rather pay $100/mo for the lite plan or $25/mo for the business plan? And while everyone can use the multi-user account, you’re the administrator.
Example: Sharing Work Hours
Let’s say you work on a boring job. It’s not hard but the pacing is too slow to keep you engaged. It could be customer service, community moderation, data entry, security, maybe driving?). You may find yourself distracting too often.
Instead, why not take advantage of your passive job?
If your job is slow or monotonous, consider multitasking. Maybe you are an Uber driver, and when there’s no one to ride, you can learn skills online. Or if there’s nothing going on in the office, you could work on a side hustle from your laptop.
You’re not using that time anyway, so why not?
#3 Claim Free Money
Many companies give you money for simple tasks: open an account with them, validate your profile, order a credit card. Some of these require spending money upfront, some of them don’t.
If you have to spend anyway, make sure you’re claiming all those welcome bonuses. Many banks offer up to $1,000 for new clients who spend within the first few months. And while there may be annual fees, you can waive them by downgrading the account later.
If you don’t have anything to spend, you can still get bonuses on trading platforms. There are dozens of them, and you just need to verify your account and transfer the funds to your main one. You then withdraw to your bank account, either with the exchange methods or a P2P platform.
For example, you can get started on CoinBase Earn, which pays you to learn about cryptocurrencies. When you pass the test correctly, you get $20 of that token immediately. If you share the program and someone else completes it, you get further affiliate rewards.
For free, although with limited offers.
#4 Partner for Business
Maybe you know a lot about a business model. You just don’t have the money to invest in it. But anyone who had the funds could profit knowing what you know.
If you can find that person and help them profit, it makes sense to get a piece of it:
- Consulting: You help the person run a profitable business
- Traditional partnership: You both run the business and focus on different parts (research, product, marketing, funding)
- Silent partner: You borrow money, invest it in your own business, and distribute profits when successful
Just because someone has money, it doesn’t need that they will succeed in business. That’s where you can help. But how can you prove that your efforts will lead to profits?
The more you can do, the easier it is to prove the value:
- Offer a step-by-step overview to build the business (like in a course)
- Validate the products and marketing strategy
- Find the products and do the marketing
Someone with these skills could make money as a freelance consultant, whether the business results. Instead of waiting for success (and your commission), you can charge a service fee for your work. If you don’t own the company, there’s only so much you can do to make it work.
And if it does, you have more credibility to do it again.
#5 Increase Productivity
Arbitrage, sharing, partnerships… These all require time to find out if they work for you. But if you don’t want to take that risk, the fastest way to earn is to improve on whatever gets you paid already.
If you learn to work faster, you can do more work in that time, so you make more money. And if you work per hour, you can finish work earlier and do something else meanwhile (like a side hustle). You’ll earn faster than if you started something from scratch.
Money Without Money: Will It Work For YOU?
#1 Start With One
While all these strategies work, you make the most money when you start with one. Why not do it all at the same time? Because it will take longer.
Think of each strategy like a process. Before you can make money from them, you have to put in enough work. If you split your effort into 3 different paths, it takes you three times longer to earn anything.
The best you can do is start with the one you think will help you the most. Set a goal: what do you think you should do to make it work? Once you achieve it, you then add other strategies.
You may for example start with ways to claim free money, followed by productivity and online arbitrage. It’s easier to earn with one and then leverage that money for the next strategy.
#2 Leverage Your Money
No matter the method, you’ll find it takes more work than you thought to earn without money. But it doesn’t need to be that way. As soon as you earn something, reinvesting the funds will make the task easier.
- Online arbitrage: you now have more liquidity for expensive products (or drop servicing)
- Get paid for sharing: more money to share different subscriptions. Or offer a discount to those members who bring new ones
- Partnerships: partners are more likely to help when you already have something to invest
- Free money: the more money you have to spend, the better rewards you get (cashback, cash rewards, travel vouchers)
- Productivity: you can keep “working faster” by automating tasks or paying someone to do them for you
Or instead of these, you could start a business that makes money with money. By making the right decisions, it may turn into the easiest money you can make. You should still keep making money without money in case the investment doesn’t work out.
And if it does, you might earn enough to free your time and make passive income.
#3 Build Your Personal Brand
How do you build your wealth when starting from nothing?
A common path is to start with low-paying jobs and go up from there. You earn until you can invest in something more sustainable. And if you lose it all, you start all over again!
Very different from the personal brand strategy. AKA investing in yourself.
When you invest in yourself, you make big money regardless of your savings or the economy. People know you’re valuable. Because you’ve built your skills and lots of strong relationships.
- If you go broke but have a high-income skill, you can find a client this week and start generating income.
- If you have an extensive portfolio with successful case studies, it doesn’t matter if you lose it all. You still keep your credibility.
- If you have a large audience, you already have enough traffic for sales. You can earn the same day by posting about a product on social media or email.
It’s easy to waste money. But whether you’re broke or not, you can always earn with these three resources: skills, credibility, people. As long as you take care of them, they pay off forever.
The problem is, it’s not fast. You can’t grind for a week and expect top skills, credibility, and thousands of followers. The way you get these is by making them your priority for the long term.
Imagine if you put 30 minutes a day on any of these for the last five years. Today, that would be enough to live off your brand.
#4 Beware of Work-From-Home Scams!
Making money without money. The first time you hear it, it sounds like getting something out of nothing. And that’s what scammers want to make you think.
That zero-cost money is easy.
That’s the no.1 red flag to look for. Because when looking for income stream ideas, you WILL find these people sooner or later. If you can learn about these scams early, you’ll save yourself from unnecessary problems:
- Multilevel marketing: Not a scam itself, but it’s often promoted as a pyramid scheme without regard for the product
- “Money” Jobs: Anything involving postal jobs or funds management is probably money laundering. Also, jobs that pay you upfront as “working capital” can be payment scams (see chargebacks and check fraud).
- Advance fees: You have to do a free test project, pass a paid test, or buy gear from them
#5 Do Not Overthink
When investing money, you have to think carefully to make the right decision. When earning without money, however, there’s no wrong choice. The only one is to take immediate action on whatever hustle you choose.
Here’s the situation. You learned a bit about earning money, and you may feel excited to start. You might feel like starting five side hustles at once.
The problem is, (1) you have nothing to lose, and (2) you don’t know when it will work (if you even have the patience). Because of this, your motivation will start to decrease until one day you drop out. The only way to avoid getting stuck in to get the first results fast. Something like earning your first dollar.
You’re more likely to improve if you get fast (small) results. It applies to arbitrage (flipping $1), partnerships (meeting one person), even your career.