I Carefully Tested 5 Ways to Earn Your First $1 Online — These Really Work

I’ve got screenshots and proof for all of these.

Zulie Rane
8 min readFeb 21


A blonde, young-looking white woman stares contemplatively at the reader, with money floating in the background. I do feel this image is evocative of someone thinking about how they can earn their first dollar online.
Image generated by Midjourney AI. Prompt: young woman photorealistic thinking about earning money online. No creepy hands or teeth visible in this one, thankfully.

So many aspiring freelancers sign up to earn money online. And yet so few actually succeed. One 2021 study found that out of 163 million aspiring freelancers, only 11% have gotten any work, and only 3% have made over $1,000.

And yet as any successful freelancer can tell you, it’s not that hard — once you get going.

My theory? It’s that first dollar that’s the hardest.

I decided to write an actual actionable guide on how to earn your first dollar online. And crucially, I have tested all of these. These all really work. I included screenshots as proof.

It’s obviously possible to earn a lot more than just a dollar, but I find for many beginners, it’s a mindset shift. Once you earn your first dollar, you can go on to earn your second, hundredth, thousandth, and so on. But that first dollar is the hardest.

So let’s get into five ways to earn your first dollar online — that I have tested.

What do you need to earn your first dollar online?

To earn your first dollar online, you will typically need a few things, aside from an internet connection:

  • An audience. This can be readers subscribed to your newsletter or an existing audience on a platform like Instagram you access through an algorithm.
  • A product. This is what you’re going to sell.
  • A seller. This is who’s paying you for selling the thing to an audience.

You can spoof the “audience” element to some degree. For example, if I know about SEO or virality, I can post a video to YouTube that will get me sales through the pre-existing YouTube audience, even if it’s my very first video online and I don’t have any followers.

But the other two are non-negotiable.

Let’s look at five uncommon ways to earn your very first dollar online. In each section, I’ll say what the audience, product, and seller are. I’ll also explain how to maximize your earnings.



Zulie Rane

Content creator, cat mom, 6-figure entrepreneur. She/her. Get 2x weekly emails on how to make money writing online: https://zuliewrites.ck.page/3e3d3a8187