How To Increase Income: 17 Creative Ways to Make Money

How To Increase Income: 17 Creative Ways to Make Money

Whether you’re an industry veteran with decades of experience or a recent graduate who’s just starting a career, you’re probably interested in earning more cash. Who wouldn’t be happy to have a way to supplement their income?

Finding additional income streams can help you put your skills to use and become a more agile working professional. Moreover, this extra income can be put into savings or asset investments to help you secure your future.

Increasing your income can be achieved through both active efforts and strategic financial decisions. Optimizing your existing income sources is one way to boost your earnings without necessarily working more hours.

What exactly is the best way for you to increase your income? Clearly, “the best” method will vary from person to person. In this article, we explore 17 creative ways to consider increasing your income.

Note: The use of the word “income” in this article isn’t confined to a fixed salary. Income can be any amount of money that you frequently earn through active (like part-time jobs and side hustles) or passive (like appreciating investments and renting out assets) methods. Income also may not always come in regularly. For example, freelance gigs help you get paid frequently, but the intervals between payments might differ from time to time.

17 creative ways to increase income

1. Ask for a raise

Many working professionals find themselves stuck working jobs that don’t pay well enough, leaving them feeling unsatisfied and overworked. Why does this happen? Often employees simply don’t ask for a raise at the right time.

If you think the compensation for your services doesn’t accurately reflect your contribution to the company, asking for a raise might be a good idea.

Do some research to know when to push for a raise to keep moving forward in your professional career. You should keep close track of what the average salary for your job title in your industry is and try to negotiate with your employer accordingly. The end of a contract term and during annual reviews are generally the best times to negotiate a raise.


The end of a contract term and annual reviews are times that clients and employers look at the value you’ve shown and their expectations of you in the near future. This creates an opportunity to discuss your expectations for yourself and of your client or employer—including your salary.

Consider a marketing professional who researched industry salary standards, noting the average pay for their position. Armed with this data, they scheduled a meeting with their boss near the end of their contract term. They confidently presented their contributions, highlighting the value they brought to the company. By using evidence and keeping the conversation professional, they’ve opened this aspect of their work up to negotiation.

By timing your request when these conversations are expected—during reviews and contract negotiations—you can avoid some of the awkwardness that comes with discussions of pay.

2. Search for a higher-paying job

Sometimes, asking for a raise doesn’t yield the desired results. If you’re stuck at a full-time job that doesn’t pay as well as you’d like, a raise may not be enough. In these situations, you may need to improve your skills and look for higher-paying jobs that can help you achieve your financial goals faster.

Online courses through distance learning sites like Coursera and Udemy can help you gain relevant skills and certifications from the world’s leading universities. With these credentials on your resume, you can start applying for new jobs where your skills are valued much more, with appropriate compensation.


Perhaps you work in digital marketing. You could take an online course in advanced SEO techniques, gaining a valuable skill that's in high demand. With your new expertise, you start applying for positions at top companies. Before long, you land a job that both recognizes your skills and offers a much more substantial paycheck.

Or maybe you're a graphic designer, but you've always been curious about coding. Enrolling in a coding boot camp could open doors to high-demand tech roles with lucrative salaries. By continuously improving your skill set, you're positioning yourself for a career leap that offers both personal and financial fulfillment.

3. Look for ways you can cut your expenses

Cutting expenses where possible can add to your savings. Start by tracking your personal finances using an app like Mint. Try to cut out luxury expenses (like eating at expensive restaurants, shopping for clothes you don’t really need, and racking up credit card expenses). Work systematically on reducing the more significant expenses.

The goal should be to replace your larger expenses with more viable options that can help you save money in the long run. For example, try to carpool with a friend or colleague and skip regular Uber or Lyft rides to save a little extra money.


Use apps like Mint to monitor your spending. Trim luxury indulgences—especially if their real value is short lived. Focus on big ticket items first, but also pay attention to recurring costs. Going ten minutes out of your way to wait in line for another ten minutes to get an expensive coffee may be trendy—but making a cup of joe at home can save you both time and money.

Consider looking into more affordable options for services like cable TV. You can choose streaming platforms that provide better value for your money—and you can quickly cancel or rejoin those services depending on your current viewing habits. By making strategic choices to reduce your expenses, you're freeing up money to fuel your savings, ensuring a more secure financial future.

4. Automate your savings

Cutting your expenses can help you manage your money better, but it’s only the first step toward maximizing your savings. Any money you save each month should be automatically credited to a separate savings account you can use for future investments.

You can also set your bank account to automatic debit, where a small portion of what you earn each month is directly transferred to your savings account. If you plan to do this for the long term, you may also be able to enroll in your employer’s 401(k) program or an individual retirement account (IRA). These programs help you automate your retirement savings and also offer additional incentives and tax benefits.


You might consider setting up an effortless saving routine. Let's say you save $200 each month. Have this sum automatically diverted to a dedicated savings account. Over 30 years, this would add up to $72,000 plus interest. This ensures that you're consistently building a financial cushion without even thinking about it.

Now, picture this: Your bank automatically transfers 5% of your monthly earnings directly into that savings account. It's a small, manageable amount, but over time it adds up, and you're pleasantly surprised by the growing balance.

For long-term security, consider enrolling in your company's 401(k) program. Your contributions are tax-advantaged, plus some employers match your input, doubling your retirement savings. Similar benefits can be reaped from an individual retirement account (IRA).

5. Sell used items online

Sell used items></div><p>Many of the items you already own but use infrequently can be sold online. You may need to invest a little to get them repaired, refurbished, or repainted to sell them at higher prices.</p><p>Sites like <a href=eBay, Craigslist, and Poshmark allow users to sell used items such as books, jewelry, and vehicles. Try to sell used clothes through thrift or consignment stores. Sustainable fashion is trending, and you may be able to capitalize on that.

Brands such as Vestiaire Collective even give customers the option to buy and sell second-hand luxury goods from leading retail brands, including Hermes and Gucci.


You can turn unused items into cash by selling them online. Let's say you have a collection of books you no longer read. List them on platforms like eBay, reaching a wide audience of book lovers. Maybe you have some jewelry you no longer wear. Poshmark is an excellent place to find interested buyers.

If you have a knack for fixing things, consider refurbishing old electronics or furniture before listing them. People are often willing to pay more for items in good condition. Alternatively, if you're into fashion, sell pre-loved clothes through thrift stores or specialized online fashion resale platforms.

6. Pursue side gigs

Side gigs are a tried and tested way of adding to your monthly income. Look for part-time jobs that pay on a contract basis, or choose to freelance in your spare time. Side gigs can help you get industry experience with a skill you possess but have not been able to put to use in your full-time job. For example, consider looking at websites like Craigslist, Nextdoor, and TaskRabbit.

Monetizing skills like event planning, packing and moving support, and driving can help you earn extra cash. Pursuing these interests may open alternate career options as well.


If you're skilled at event planning, offer your services for small gatherings or local events.

Another option is to tap into the growing trend of gig-economy driving, whether it's rideshare services or food delivery.

Additionally, if you're skilled at packing and moving, promote your skills on platforms like TaskRabbit.

7. Use Upwork to source gigs

Source gigs

For some people, freelancing is their full-time job. For others, freelance gigs are a great way to put their spare time to use and earn money on the side. Freelancing often allows for flexible scheduling—there are deadlines to meet, but when you work is largely up to you. And you can work contracts that pay on an hourly or project basis, depending on your skills and services.

Upwork is the world’s leading marketplace for trained professionals offering freelance services. Clients from a variety of industries look to Upwork to source freelancers in order to increase their speed-to-market and access hard-to-find skills, among other reasons.

If you already have a portfolio, you can showcase it on your Upwork account. If you have the skills but don’t yet have a portfolio, you can find smaller contracts to grow your resume, possibly leading to high-paying gigs. Many valuable skills, from UI (user interface) design to translation services, can be monetized using Upwork.


If you’re a skilled graphic designer, join Upwork to earn extra income. By showcasing your portfolio and delivering high-quality work, you can gain a positive reputation that can lead to more clients seeking your services. The more in-demand you are, the more you can increase your hourly rate.

Or maybe you’re a bilingual professional, capitalizing on Upwork's translation services demand. You can offer your expertise in English-Spanish translations. By completing multiple projects, you will establish yourself as a reliable translator, leading to steady work and extra income.

8. Invest a portion of your budget

Smart investments are the key to generating a stable supplementary source of income. After you’ve met your basic budget needs, try to set aside a portion of your monthly salary for the purpose of investing it in various assets. You can choose to make both long- and short-term investments. Systematic investment plans (SIPs) and bonds are long-term investment options that you might explore.

Once you become proficient in investing, you may want to expand your portfolio with more specialized assets, such as cryptocurrency, debt funding, and real estate investments. These investments can help you diversify your portfolio, possibly making it eligible for tax benefits and other incentives.


Suppose you’re a software engineer with a steady income. After covering expenses, you dedicate 20% of your monthly earnings to investments. You start with an SIP in a diversified mutual fund, aiming for long-term growth. Over time, this could yield substantial returns.

As your confidence grows, maybe you decide to dabble in real estate. You purchase a rental property, generating monthly income while benefiting from potential property value appreciation. This hands-on investment helps secure your financial future.

Additionally, you invest in cryptocurrency, understanding the risks but seeing the potential rewards. Although volatile, a well-timed investment could lead to significant gains.

9. Start a side business

Starting a small business as a part of your side hustle is an excellent way of supplementing your earnings. Many side businesses recently have found success through social media marketing and a consumer shift toward authentic, homegrown brands.

Consider seeking assistance from organizations in your community that help fund and manage small startups. Some American banks also offer manageable interest rates on loans for innovative entrepreneurial ventures.

You need to highlight your business’s authentic products and capitalize on the power of social media marketing. Small, community-centered businesses may find great success on sites like Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, and Etsy if marketed well.

If you can consistently supply quality products to your customers, then your side business can be profitable in the long run.


One inspiring way of starting a successful side business is selling handcrafted jewelry. If you have a passion for crafting, begin making unique, handcrafted jewelry in your spare time. You can leverage social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Etsy to showcase your stunning creations, gradually gaining a loyal following. By consistently engaging with your audience, offering personalized pieces, and sharing your creative process, your business could take off.

Another example is opening a computer repair shop. Maybe you’re a software engineer by day, turning your passion for computers into a side business. You can hone your PC repair skills and start selling your services on Upwork.

10. Create a passive income

Passive income is the income you generate from a rental property, a limited partnership where you’re the silent partner, or any other venture that doesn’t require you to be actively involved. The definition of active involvement tends to vary. While rental properties are generally considered textbook examples of passive income sources, they require some time and effort for upkeep and maintenance on the owner’s part.

The idea of passive income is to create an income stream that doesn’t require a lot of work from you. The incoming money can be through appreciating assets (such as bonds and stocks) that add to your portfolio income or through utility-based assets like rental houses, spare vehicles, and vending machines that you can rent out.

You can even consider exploring more unorthodox methods of generating passive income, such as domain name investing. Alternatively, if you have expertise in a certain niche, you might be able to create an online course or write an informative ebook about the topic of your expertise and sell these items online on marketplaces like Udemy or Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Based on subscription or purchase, you’ll continue to receive money from these endeavors over time.

While the income from passive assets might initially not be as substantial as other additional income sources, it can accumulate to be a great stream of income in the long run.


Consider real estate rentals. Purchase a small apartment or a condo and rent it out. Proper property management could allow you to earn around $800 per month, giving you an extra $9,600 a year without extensive active involvement.

Invest in dividend-paying stocks. Let's say you invest $10,000 in a dividend stock with a 3% yield. You'd receive $300 annually without having to sell your shares.

Or try automated vending. Place a few vending machines in high-traffic areas. Each machine can generate an average of $50 per month, giving you $600 a year per machine. Many vending machines are placed in office buildings with an agreement with the building owner. You will likely also need a license from your local regulating authority, such as a business license, as well as a food or beverage service license if your vending machine sells food or beverages.

Another idea is to create a comprehensive online course on a subject you're knowledgeable about. With steady sales, even if each course sells for $20, you could make $1,000 or more per year. You can easily create and sell an online course through an online platform such as or

11. Rent your vacation home

Renting properties you own but aren’t occupying is one of the most highly recommended ways of earning supplemental income. While these properties may require a fair bit of upkeep, they can be very valuable assets.

Real estate companies allow you to lease your rental property through them for a nominal fee. You can also choose to make the property available through lodging services like Airbnb, which can be especially fruitful if the property is in a location that sees a lot of tourist traffic.


Imagine you own a charming cottage near a popular tourist destination. By listing it on Airbnb, you could generate significant income during peak seasons. With proper marketing and great reviews, you might earn thousands more annually.

If you own multiple properties, consider hiring a property management company to handle rentals. This allows you to scale your income without the daily hassle of tenant management. And with several properties, upkeep and responsibilities can quickly add up.

Participating in a vacation home exchange program allows you to explore new places while earning income from your own property. This unique approach lets you swap homes with other travelers, saving on accommodation costs, while potentially earning money from renting out your home while you're away.

If your property is in a business hub, target corporate travelers by offering furnished rentals for short-term stays. Business travelers often prefer the comfort of a home over a hotel, and you can charge premium rates for these high-demand rentals.

12. Sell your handmade creations

If you have some creative skills, you can use platforms like Etsy to sell your crafts and creations. For beginners seeking extra income, turning your crafting skills into cash is a smart move.

Every personalized item you craft has the potential to not only express your creativity but also pad your wallet. Whether it's handcrafted jewelry, custom art prints, cozy knitwear, or even beautifully designed home decor, marketplaces like Etsy provide an audience of eager shoppers seeking handmade crafts.

The best part? You control the process, from creation to pricing, giving you the autonomy to grow your side hustle at your own pace.


Suppose you're a graphic design enthusiast. Why not sell custom prints or digital art on Etsy? Or if knitting is your talent, you can create unique handmade scarves or blankets. Or if you have woodworking skills, you could craft stylish home decor to sell.

Imagine you’re a healthcare professional with student loans. An Etsy side hustle might just be the solution. It's all about embracing your creativity, connecting with others, and watching your income rise.

13. Rent out equipment

Renting out your high-demand equipment is a great method for increasing your income. As a beginner, this path may seem unfamiliar, but the earning potential is real.

Keep your equipment in good shape, set competitive rates, and offer excellent service. Before you know it, you'll be turning that idle gear into a steady income stream, all while helping fellow renters get the tools they need.


Say you've got a professional-grade camera sitting around. Consider listing it for rent on specialized platforms or local rental shops. New photographers or video creators would be thrilled to borrow it at a reasonable fee. Or maybe you've got a selection of power tools that a DIY enthusiast could make use of. Renting them out can be an effective way to boost your income.

Another idea to make money from your equipment could be starting a YouTube channel sharing DIY projects. It's a great way to showcase your equipment, establish expertise, and attract potential renters. The content you create could lead to a solid following and have more people interested in renting your equipment.

14. Participate in clinical trials

If you're healthy and meet the eligibility criteria, participating in clinical trials is a way to earn some extra bucks while contributing to medical research. As a beginner in this field, you’ll want to choose trials carefully, prioritize your safety, and understand the commitments involved. Your participation could lead to a healthier bank balance while advancing medical knowledge.


Imagine a medical research facility is conducting a trial for a new drug. They're looking for participants who fit certain criteria, and that's where you come in. Maybe they need non-smoking, healthy adults within a specific age range. You could spend a few days under observation, maybe take a new medication under medical supervision, and you can be compensated for your time and effort.

Another example is a trial for a medical device or treatment. Perhaps they're looking for participants with a certain condition or background. You could be eligible for a paid trial if you match the description. You need to understand the potential risks and benefits, so make sure to do thorough research and consult with medical professionals.

15. Promote products with affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a lucrative form of internet marketing, especially for beginners seeking extra income. Here’s how it works: you promote products online and earn a commission for every sale made through your unique referral link.

Affiliate marketing has the potential to generate a substantial amount of money, even in your spare time. Plus, it doesn't require large investments or complex skill sets. It's a creative way to expand your income sources, aligning with your personal finance goals. Remember to disclose your affiliate status, ensuring transparency with your audience.

Upwork offers a range of affiliate marketing professionals who can help you set up your own affiliate marketing business.

As you explore this income stream, be mindful of scams. Stick to reputable affiliate programs and platforms, and be cautious of any opportunities that promise quick riches. Start small, track your progress, and watch the extra cash flow into your bank account.


Leverage your social media presence. Share links to products you genuinely love and believe in. Whether it’s fitness gear on Instagram, tech gadgets on Twitter, or skincare products on Facebook, your authentic endorsements can yield substantial extra cash.

If you’re a video content creator, affiliate marketing is a great fit. Review and recommend relevant products in your videos. For instance, if you're a fitness enthusiast, review workout equipment and include affiliate links in your video descriptions.

Or start a blog around a specific interest or industry. Discuss and review products related to your niche and use affiliate links to monetize your blog. For example, if you're passionate about graphic design, then you could review design tools, software, and resources on your blog.

16. Invest in stocks

Research and invest in stocks for potential capital gains if you're looking to level up your earning potential this year. If you're a beginner, start with mutual funds to spread your risk by diversifying investments across multiple assets.

Research is crucial, but the best way to mitigate your risk is to diversify your investments. You can also diversify by investing in different types of stocks, industries, and even across different markets.


If you’re just starting out with investing in stocks, consider investing a portion of your earnings in reputable mutual funds. As you gain confidence, explore individual stocks. Keep an eye on healthcare and tech, because these sectors often perform well.

You can steer clear of scams by watching out for the most common tricks in the stock world:

  • Pump and dump schemes
  • Offshore and penny stock scams
  • Advance fee fraud
  • Unregistered brokers
  • Phishing and identity theft

Avoid these examples of common scams to help you do well when investing in stocks.

17. Dropship online products

Dropshipping can be a good way for you to earn extra cash without holding inventory. To dropship, you set up an online store and, when a customer buys a product, the supplier ships it directly to them. This cuts out the need for you to pay for storage and other upfront costs.

Start small, learn the basics, and monitor your progress. As you expand your online store and customer base, you could see a substantial boost in your earning potential. The advantage of dropshipping is that it allows you to run your store in your spare time, making it a flexible option to supplement your income and move closer to your financial goals this year.


Consider opening a store selling eco-friendly home products. Partner with reliable suppliers who handle shipping directly to customers, saving you inventory costs. Market the products as a sustainable choice, tapping into the growing environmentally conscious market.

Another niche for your shop might be pet accessories. Source unique, high-quality items from a dropshipping supplier specializing in pet products. Curate a collection that includes everything from stylish collars to organic treats. Leverage social media and pet enthusiast forums to reach a targeted audience.

Lastly, think about personalized gifts. Collaborate with a dropshipper offering customizable items. Offer monogrammed items, photo-printed mugs, and engraved jewelry. Market these as heartfelt gifts for special occasions.

Make extra income with Upwork

Supplementary income streams like side gigs work best when they are well-matched to your abilities; second jobs that don’t interest you can be emotionally draining. The good news is that Upwork gives you the opportunity to monetize your preferred skills and get freelance work that you actually enjoy.

Our leading remote talent platform helps clients across all sectors hire freelancers for their businesses. When you join Upwork, you can choose the projects you take on, set your own rate, and connect with other like-minded professionals.

If this opportunity sounds interesting and you’re ready to benefit from having a freelance career, then browse the available jobs on Upwork today.

Upwork is not affiliated with and does not sponsor or endorse any of the tools or services discussed in this section. These tools and services are provided only as potential options, and each reader and company should take the time needed to adequately analyze and determine the tools or services that would best fit their specific needs and situation.

This article is intended for educational purposes and should not be viewed as legal, financial, or tax advice. Please consult a professional to find the solution that best fits your situation.


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How To Increase Income: 17 Creative Ways to Make Money
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