The first time I realized that you can make money online was my last year of college.

I was browsing Pinterest when I came across an article about how some women are making a full time income working online while traveling the world. Like anything in my early twenties, this was my dream. So I definitely thought, "How can I make money online so that I can travel anywhere I want?"

I decided to do some research to see if anyone else lives the "laptop lifestyle", and works from anywhere with an internet connection and cellular reception. As it turns out, thousands, if not millions, of people are making money online every day.

Once I realized that there are many legitimate ways to make money online, I decided to give it a try myself. Since then, I've earned thousands a year while working from my laptop. And it's easy to get started.

Easy Ways to Make Money Online

There are some ways that pay higher rates than others to make money online, so choose the one that works for you in all respects. Here are some ideas and resources to get you started in learning how to make money online for free.

1- Get rewards and cash back when you shop

Cashback apps and browser extensions help you save money on everything from groceries to books. Again, you won't make a fortune, but you will save money on the things you actually buy. My personal favorite is Capital One Shopping because it works with very valuable stores like Vitacost, Overstock, and eBay.

If you are already using Capital One, you can create a Capital One Shopping account using your usual bank login. If you don't use Capital One, registration is still a quick process. Once you create an account and get the browser extension, Capital One will tell you while you shop if a deal is available for that retailer. You can cash out your rewards for gift cards to Walmart, Redbox, Sephora, and other retailers.

2- Participate in market research

Online surveys will not bring you huge income, but you can earn a few dollars here and there. Many survey sites pay in gift cards, but some, like branded surveys, allow you to withdraw your earnings via PayPal or direct deposit. By constantly taking surveys and earning points, you will become a member of the branded elite tier and qualify for additional points and rewards.

We've reviewed dozens of paid survey sites, many of which are scams that claim to be legitimate entities, so be careful when handing personal information over to a brand you haven't heard much about.

3- Start a blog of your own

Start a blog of your own

Earning money by starting a blog is more realistic than you might think. Bloggers make money by advertising the companies they belong to. When your users click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, you will earn a commission. There are other ways to make money from blogging like selling your products, showing ads, or writing sponsored content.

Blogging platforms like HostGator provide a simple and affordable way to start your own digital business from home for less than the cost of a cup of coffee every month.

4- Complete micro tasks

Small tasks are one of the easiest ways to make money online. But small jobs come with small salaries. You can earn a few bucks a month with Swagbucks by watching videos, playing games, and using the Swagbucks search engine. Other micro-job sites pay users to review content, verify data, or test apps and websites.

Read about Unique Small Business Ideas.

5- Become a proofreader

Proofreaders help authors, bloggers, and even court reporters make sure that their content is grammatically correct and free of errors. The role of the proofreader is to be an extra set of eyes after the author and editor have finished their job. They search the content for any errors that they may have missed earlier. Learn how to make money as a trial auditor.

6- Work as a virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is a comprehensive address for a person who provides online services to businesses and small businesses. Services can range from graphic design to blogging management and email marketing. A best friend of mine started working as a virtual assistant. She earns $35 an hour and offers copywriting and email management for local businesses. Working as a freelancer will increase your hourly wage but it comes with the downside of having to find your own business. Another option is to work with well-known virtual assistant companies that have a constant flow of customers, but at a lower hourly rate.

7- Manage Facebook Ads for businesses

One of the ways Facebook makes money is by allowing people and companies to advertise their services and products in users' news feeds. Most people don't realize the value of running Facebook ads when they start their small business. By learning how to communicate the value of advertising in reaching new customers and building brand awareness, you can earn $1,000 to $2,000 per month for each customer you book. Start by connecting with small business owners in your area or by taking an online course that teaches you how to manage ads on Facebook and start booking clients.

Read about Profitable Ecommerce Business Ideas.

8- Teach English as a second language

Being a VIPKid teacher, I can honestly say that it is a legit way to make money online. VIPKid employs native English speakers to teach English to children, most of whom are from China. Your salary depends on your level of teaching experience and how well you performed in the pilot interview. When I worked for the company, I had no experience and was regularly earning $1,500-$2,000 a month teaching part-time. For a full look at the pros and cons, check out the VIPKid guru review.

9- Pick up freelance work

Pick up freelance work

I have earned thousands of additional income over the past 3 years as a freelance web developer, writer and most recently as a project manager. The easy way to sell your services online quickly is to present what you already know. If your day job involves managing social media, or if you learned podcast editing from working on personal podcasts, these are legitimate services you can offer clients. Sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com offer a network of professionals looking for freelance translators with your skill set.