If you’re reading this, then you’re likely wondering how to make money online in South Africa. Well, you’re in luck! We’ve compiled hundreds of different ways that you can make money online, and in this article we’ll be covering the 30 ideas that are best suited for South Africa.
Why Make Money Online?
The world is changing! It is becoming easier than ever to work from your laptop, and job opportunities are sprouting up all across the world. South Africa is one of the best-poised countries to take advantage of this trend, since it has the third-largest economy in Africa, and roughly 31% of the population speaks English.
So, no more waiting — let’s dive right into our best ideas for how to make money online in South Africa!
How To Make Money Online In South Africa With An Online Business
#1 – Dropshipping
Dropshipping is one of the first options you should consider when looking at how to make money online in South Africa. Basically, dropshipping allows you to sell products online without worrying about buying inventory ahead of time, storing it, or making a million trips to the post office.
With dropshipping, you are the middleman between a product supplier and the end customer. Your job is to find products that people want, convince people to buy the product from your online store, and then pass off the order to your supplier who will then ship the product directly to your customer. Most dropshippers set up their store on Shopify with products from platforms like Zendrop, but there are a ton of different ways to operate.
The reason dropshipping is so appealing is that you don’t need to invest a bunch of money in inventory, you don’t need storage space, and your risk is minimal compared to starting a full eCommerce brand. At worst, you can lose the money you invest in setting up your website and getting traffic. At best, you can develop an online store, shift towards your own products, and you can sell the store for a hefty profit.
Want to learn more? Check out our full dropshipping guide!
#2 – Start A Blog
A blog is a text-based website (such as this one) that either tells you stories, reviews products or services, or helps you find information. This is a content-based business, so the goals are to get your articles in front of readers and to build an audience.
In order for your blog to make money, you’ll need to learn the basics of SEO and write keyword-focused articles. By targeting keywords (e.g. “best laptop for computer games”) you can reach your target audience and make money off them. Some prolific bloggers, like Adam Enfroy, pull in over a million dollars a year using this business model.
To get started, you can build a website for only a few dollars using WordPress. You’ll want to choose a niche category, research keywords, and write articles that target those keywords. As much as you want to start a site that aligns with your interests, just remember that it’s a business first and foremost. If you execute it properly, you can make money with niche sites for years to come.
#3 – Rank And Rent Local SEO Websites
‘Rank and rent‘ is a system where you will basically build websites, rank them for local-specific keywords, and then rent them out to local service-based businesses. For example, you might build a site that focuses on a service like plumbers, get it ranked in Google for keywords like “best plumber Johannesburg” and “fast plumber Capetown”, and then rent it to businesses that stand to benefit from the traffic.
If your website appears higher in Google search results than those businesses, then you can offer to rent the site to them and generate leads for their services. Since you will be driving leads that they would have otherwise not received, they will be happy to pay you for your efforts. And, if they fail to pay you, you can take the website back and offer it to one of their competitors.
#4 – Build A Lead-gen Site
A lead-gen site is basically the same thing as we just covered in the rank-and-rent section above, but without being rented. The main difference is that you would retain control of this website after ranking it for certain service-related keywords, and request a commission for each lead you generate for the business.
As an example, here’s a site from Canada called TheBestToronto. It ranks for dozens of keywords related to Toronto service providers and helps citizens figure out what business to choose. Then, the website either takes a cut out of each sale they generate, or offers to rank a business higher in exchange for a flat fee.
The same business model could easily be applied to Johannesburg, Capetown, or any other big city out there.
#5 – Make & Sell Handcrafts Online
While they might not be very special locally, handcrafted items are very popular in regions like North America and Europe. People love to know that their decorations or accessories have a story behind them. So, if you like to create your own products, the may very well be a market for them online.
What are we talking about? Well, these can be handmade sculptures, jewelry, fashion accessories, or whatever else. If you want more inspiration, you can do a search for “South African” on Etsy to see what people are already buying.
The hard part about this business model is building an audience. You can list your products for sale, but getting sales is harder than it looks. That’s why it is always best to work on getting sales before you make a bunch of inventory so that you can narrow down what people want and deliver on it.
#6 – Start A Podcast
A podcast is a digital product that is released in installments. Similar to how tv shows have episodes, podcasts have episodes too, although they are usually in a purely audio format (i.e. no video). Podcasts come in all different types of genres. There are podcasts on business, interviews with celebrities or interesting people, true crime, or anything else you can think of. The most popular podcast in the world is currently the Joe Rogan Experience.
You can start a podcast on any subject you’d like. The goal is to build an audience of listeners and then monetize it with advertisements or sponsorships. Or, you can release it as a paid subscription. Either way, podcasting can be a great way to make money off your passion, even though the majority of them will never achieve profitability.
#7 – Start A Youtube Channel
If you’re wondering how to make money online in South Africa, and you don’t need results right away, then Youtube is certainly worth considering. As of 2022, Youtube is the second-biggest search engine in the world, second only to Google. If you’re willing to make video content, then you can reach a market of billions of people — all on a single platform.
When starting a Youtube channel, there are a few ways you can go about it. What is important is that you stay consistent, so that people will have an idea of what to expect, and a reason to subscribe. You could start a vlog, or a documentary channel, create video essays, review products, go over pop culture updates, repost videos you found on the internet, and much more. The options are literally endless.
To monetize your channel, your options are essentially paid ads, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, and funneling your traffic.
Paid ads (shown before your video plays) will be determined by how many views you get. Your channel also has to have at least 4,000 hours of watch time (within the last year) and at least 1,000 subscribers.
Affiliate marketing involves sending your traffic to other people’s products and getting a cut of the money they spend.
Sponsorships are when third-party companies sponsor the creation of your video, in exchange for you talking about them.
And lastly, you can send your audience nearly anywhere you’d like to. You can create and sell online courses, offer coaching, sell a book, or whatever else.
#8 – Buy & Flip Profitable Websites
Let’s face it — the early stages of starting an online business are the hardest.
It can take a lot of work and investment just to get your online business idea to the point of making money. And, unfortunately, sometimes you’ll realize halfway through that it isn’t worth continuing. This is where flipping websites comes in. Instead of starting a new online business, you can buy one that is already proven to be profitable.
Sometimes online businesses haven’t been run by their owners properly. Sometimes their owners just need a quick sale, and will accept less than the site is worth. Either way, this gives you the opportunity to acquire the website, make some changes, and then sell it for more.
For example, if we’re talking about a content site, then you can look at adding new content, changing the ad network to one that pays more, creating a monetized email newsletter, or adding a membership component. And, because websites are generally sold for a multiple of their profit (say price = 36 months of current profit) every dollar you add to the website’s profitability will be multiplied when sold.
So let’s say you buy a website that generates $1000 in profit per month and pay $36,000 for it. If you can get the profit to $1,500 per month, you’ll likely be able to get $49,000 for it — a $13,000 profit. Not bad for a few months of work!
#9 – Create A SaaS Business
Any article on how to make money online in South Africa would be incomplete talking about the world of SaaS businesses.
What is a SaaS business? It stands as software-as-a-service. It’s basically any piece of software that is released as a subscription, rather than a one-time purchase.
If you’ve ever seen an antivirus that comes where you pay for 1-2 years, that’s a SaaS. This website is built on WordPress and hosted with a data center, which is another SaaS. If you use email marketing software to send your emails, that’s another SaaS. They’re everywhere.
You can build your own if you’re tech-savvy. Unlike one-time products, SaaS businesses are usually able to retain customers for long periods of time, meaning that revenue is more predictable. And, surprisingly, you might be able to build it without even knowing how to code.
#10 – Start An Online Community
Online communities are everywhere. These can be Facebook groups, Slack groups, Discord groups, Forums, or even Whatsapp groups. The idea is to bring people together around a common interest, such as tourism in Capetown, or Entrepreneurs in South Africa. The more people you have, and the more value you create for them, the better. Once you have a community, you can allow businesses to offer relevant products and services to them for a price. Or, you can release your own paid products or services, since you already have a free marketing channel.
To get started, you can see what kind of communities are lacking. Creating a Facebook group can be a solid first step since there are already billions of people on Facebook, and you can likely get your first few hundred members by posting in similar other online groups. Just make sure that you don’t allow your group to get saturated with spammers, or people will be unlikely to take it seriously.
#11 – License Your Photography
If you’re a photographer or would like to become one, then you can actually get paid for your photography. Licensing your photography basically means offering it for rent to other businesses and entrepreneurs in exchange for a fee. If a photo is used without a license, then the business using it can get in serious trouble for copyright infringement. This could be a one-of-a-kind photo that you rent out to National Geographic or just a few basic stock images that you rent out to hundreds of blogs at a time.
To get started, check out sites like Shutterstock and Envato Elements. Both of these sites allow you to list your own photos for licensing, and you’ll get paid every time a business uses them. Once your photo is listed, there’s very little work required on your part, making this a nearly 100% passive form of income going forward.
This is a bit different than traditional photography, but we have an article on freelance photography business ideas if that’s your thing instead.
#12 – Write And Sell Ebooks
So, you want to know how to make money online in South Africa, and you’re hoping to find something that will allow you to make money while you sleep. Well, writing an ebook might be exactly what you’ve been looking for!
Ebooks are books that exist primarily (or exclusively) online. That means you can write a book, and sell it to a million people as easily as you can sell it to 100 people. All they need to do is hit “download”. There’s no printing, no storing, and no publishing deal needed. Once it is written, you can sell it as many times as you’d like.
Ebooks don’t have to be long either. If you choose a narrow subject, it can be as short as 50 pages or so. Amazon is currently the best place to list the ebook, although you can sell it on whatever platforms you’d like. You’ll want to sell it for $3-$10 to get started. Then, once it’s up and running, you can start the next one. With 20-30 books published, you can certainly sustain a comfortable lifestyle in South Africa or locations with a similar cost of living.
#13 – Start An e-Newsletter
An e-newsletter (electronic newsletter) is basically a newsletter that you subscribe to and is sent through email. It will normally cover a certain subject, news, or whatever else people can find value in.
Newsletters are great because you don’t need to create a lot of filler content to get started. Unlike a blog, you’re not waiting months and months for Google to begin sending you traffic. You can begin monetizing as early as you want.
There are a few different ways to go about it. First, you can offer a free newsletter and feature sponsored content from businesses trying to reach your audience. Second, you can offer a paid newsletter, with the pitch being that there are no ads — only valuable content.
#14 – Sell Digital Downloadable Products Online
As one of the lesser-known side hustles on this list of how to make money online in South Africa, selling digital downloadable products online doesn’t get as much attention as it should.
Basically, when you go on Amazon or Etsy, you’ll see a small section dedicated to digital products that can be downloaded and sometimes printed. These can be things like coloring books, stickers, sudokus, journals, and more.
What makes this a great side hustle is that there are a bunch of tools that can help you create these products fairly easily, and each product can be sold an unlimited amount of times. No inventory, no storage, nothing. Just make it, list it, and sell it as much as you want. It’s nearly completely passive once things are up and running.
How To Make Money Online In South Africa With Freelancing
#15 – Virtual Assistance
A virtual assistant is a freelancer who performs administrative tasks for a business or individual. Virtual assistants help with tasks like making phone calls, data entry, setting appointments, managing websites, or anything in between. This can be a great opportunity to work under an entrepreneur or small business and can be a highly flexible line of work. Best of all, a virtual assistant can work from home with a small setup of a computer and smartphone.
To get started, you can check out marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork, Facebook groups for entrepreneurs and small businesses, or ask around in your personal network. Your job is basically to make your boss’s life easier, so keep that in mind.
#16 – Media Buying
If you’ve spent time on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tik Tok, Google, Youtube, or any other big website, then you’ve certainly been exposed to ads. And, for every ad you see, there is someone behind the scenes choosing what ad will be shown to whom, and under what circumstances. This person is called a digital media buyer.
Although it isn’t rocket science, a lot of business owners don’t want to learn how to manage these ads themselves. Or, they don’t have the time. This creates an opportunity for tech-savvy people to help them, in exchange for a fee. You can become manage their ads on a freelance basis, and carve out a living doing so.
You’ll want learn Facebook or Google Ads and complete some of the free certifications that they both offer. It will get easier once you have a portfolio of past work, and you can show metrics of how you improved the sales for clients in the past.
#17 – Web Design
If you haven’t noticed by now, most businesses need an online presence in order to compete in the market today. For anyone wondering how to make money online in South Africa, freelance web design is one of the first options you should consider.
As a freelance web designer, you will help businesses and entrepreneurs by designing a website that fits their needs. You’ll be working with platforms like WordPress, Shopify, Wix, or whatever else you’d like to learn. But, don’t be afraid to specialize in one of them. It’s better to be an expert at one Content Management System (CMS) than to be sort of alright at all of them.
Don’t know how to code? No problem! There are a ton of platforms that don’t require any knowledge of coding at all. It’s more important that you have a bit of an eye for design, and that you can convey your value to your clients.
To get started, you’ll likely want to choose a platform or two and start experimenting. You can also take an online course on platforms like Udemy. You’ll want to put together a portfolio of your designs, and then you can begin looking for customers on freelancing platforms, in Facebook groups, or wherever you’d like.
#18 – Software Development
Wondering how to make money online in South Africa, or while traveling the world?
Two words — software development.
Software development basically involves learning how to code and then using that knowledge to help develop applications and programs for businesses.
It isn’t easy to learn, but once you do, you’ll have a highly valuable skill that you can sell to companies all across the world. You can get paid in USD, which will give you more than a comfortable lifestyle in South Africa.
There are a ton of free resources out there that can help you get started. It requires you to invest your time, but it can absolutely be worth it.
#19 – Copywriting
Copywriting is another one of my personal favorites on this list of how to make money online in South Africa, largely because it involves psychology.
Copywriting is the art of convincing people to do something through your written words. As a freelance copywriter, you will be working with clients to help them sell their products, get leads for their business, click on their ads, or accomplish whatever other goals they have.
What separates it from regular writing is that you need to use psychological principles to maximize the chances of someone taking the action that you want them to take. For example, if you’re writing an ad for a product, you might talk about how many other people have bought it — “over 10,000 sold”. This is a well-known principle called ‘social proof’ which can establish trust with your reader.
You’ll work with clients on their ads, their websites, their emails, and more.
#20 – Data Entry
Data entry — the process of moving, editing, or formatting data — is one of the most boring things you can do on a computer. But, that’s exactly why businesses will be willing to pay you to do it for them.
As a freelance data entry specialist, you’ll be taking on projects for small businesses and helping them organize their data. It’s not glamorous, but it’s consistent and pretty straightforward. You’ll get paid per project or per hour, and can develop your own systems and shortcuts to help you get the job done efficiently.
This is one of the easier options to get started with if you’re wondering how to make money online in South Africa, and don’t have a lot of online work experience.
#21 – Transcription
Transcription is the action of writing out the spoken words that occur in an audio or video recording. It can serve many purposes. This might be for a podcast that wants to include a written form of their episodes, or it could be for a business that wants a written account of their sales calls, or it could be Netflix preparing subtitles for one of its movies. All of these are examples of transcription, and you typically get paid by the minute (of transcribed audio) or by the project.
To get started, you could try a marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork, you could browse for gigs on related Facebook groups, or you could start on a specialized website like TranscribeMe or Rev.com. However, it’s worth mentioning that this can be a slow and grind-y form of making money online, and it’s unlikely to pay well (by American standards) unless you’re very fast and accurate.
#22 – Youtube Video Editing
Making Youtube videos is a lot of work. Most of the time, you’ll need to come up with an outline, write a script, film the footage, edit it afterward, design a thumbnail, upload the video to Youtube, enter the description, etc. It can take hours and hours.
That’s why many YouTubers rely on assistants to help them get everything done. Depending on what kind of channel it is, you can likely take over most (if not all) of the different tasks listed above. In exchange, you can get paid a healthy wage for your efforts.
You’ll be able to provide the most value if you know how to edit videos and create thumbnails, although you can possibly get hired to take care of the other stuff as you’re learning. You can find clients on platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, or even in Facebook groups. Don’t be afraid to reach out to channels you think you can help, either.
#23 – Teach English Online
If you’re a native English speaker then there’s a good chance you’re able to teach English online. While some sites will require that you have a post-secondary degree or a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate, other sites such as Cambly just require that you’re a native speaker.
With Cambly, you can expect to make approximately $10.20 USD/hour for Cambly or $12 USD/hour for Cambly Kids. You aren’t required to work a minimum number of hours per week, and you can work from anywhere at nearly any time of day. Once you get some experience or certifications, you’ll be able to charge twice as much.
English speakers wondering how to make money online in South Africa should give this option some consideration, especially if you have a degree or are willing to get a quick certificate.
#24 – Customer Service
Pretty much every business that has customers will need to have a customer service team. And, with so many businesses primarily operating online, many of these customer service interactions occur through email, chat, or over the phone.
With such a high rate of South Africans speaking English as their first or second language, this opens the door to you working for a company that operates in English.
At the time of writing this, that is exactly how my brother makes his living in Canada. He works from home for a Canada-wide waste management company, and when their customers give the business a call, it gets routed to his computer in his workstation. He works fully remotely, as I’m sure you could too.
#25 – SEO Consulting
Google is an extremely powerful tool since it can drive hundreds, thousands, or millions of visitors to your website every month. However, it’s also competitive. Only websites that are optimized for SEO (search engine optimization) will appear at the top of search results. That’s where an SEO consultant comes in.
An SEO consultant works with small businesses and website owners to develop a plan to maximize results on Google. SEO is more of a science than an art, so there are frameworks that you can use to get better results. This is extremely valuable to businesses, which is why they’ll happily pay you for your help.
To get started, learn the basics through Youtube, help businesses for free, and work towards developing some relationships. Then, once you have some experience and results in your portfolio, you can begin to charge.
#26 – Graphic Design
Graphic design is the process of designing visual digital elements. These elements are stuff like ebook covers, ad creatives, logos, Youtube thumbnails, or anything else that a business might need to save as a PNG or JPEG.
Businesses that are looking to grow online need compelling visual elements for whatever they’re working on. You can’t just find stock images or illustrations and expect to stand out. Graphic designers work with programs like Photoshop to create original designs and get paid for their creativity and quality of output.
#27 – Content Writing
One of my personal favorite ideas on this list of how to make money online in South Africa is content writing.
Websites (such as this one) need content in order to survive. Without content, there would be no reason to visit them, and they certainly wouldn’t show up in search engines like Google.
This creates a demand for freelance content writers — people that create written content for websites that meets their needs. As a South African, you likely already have some command of the English language, which is all you really need. The next steps are to put together a portfolio of your work, learn how to write SEO-optimized content, and find some clients.
The reasons content writing is so great are that you don’t need to invest anything to get started, you can raise your rates as you improve, you can work remotely, and you can keep coming back to the same clients for more work.
#28 – Small Business Consulting
If you understand some basic principles of business, then why not help small business owners that are facing issues? Most small business owners are not experts at everything. They might own a café, but have trouble with marketing. Or they might be a good electrician, but they suck at closing sales.
That’s where you come in. You can take a look at the systems they use to run their business, and make suggestions or plans for what can be improved. You don’t necessarily need a lot of experience either. If your suggestions are sound, your clients will likely recognize that and you can build trust with them organically.
#29 – Social Media Management
Nowadays, most companies want some sort of a social media presence. Even if you’re a basic landscaping company, you can get millions of views posting timelapses on platforms like TikTok. But, not every business owner knows how to capitalize on social media — that’s where you come in.
You can take over the social media management for companies in exchange for a monthly retainer. You’ll be creating and posting content, engaging with their followers, and finding ways to expand their audience. It’s a valuable service, and it’s really not that difficult to get started.
How To Make Money Online In South Africa With Investing
#30 – Day trading
Day trading, while not one of the easiest options on this list, can be a highly profitable option for anyone wondering how to make money online in South Africa.
As you likely already know, the stock market is responsible for creating many millionaires and billionaires. Day traders are a specific kind of trader that seek to buy and sell assets on the same day, taking advantage of the fluctuations in price that these assets can experience throughout a day on the market.
There’s certainly more to it than we can go into right now, but there are plenty of guides on the internet that can help you get started.
Just be careful — it’s quite easy to lose money day trading if you don’t know what you’re doing. Always start with a paper trading (virtual) account first.
#31 – Stake Your Cryptocurrency
Staking your cryptocurrency is one of the most passive ideas in this article on how to make money online in South Africa, but it still won’t be the right option for most people. Basically, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies require mining, which takes a lot of energy and resources. So, ‘staking’ was developed as a way to process transactions on blockchain networks without CPU power. Instead, you lock up your crypto on an exchange, and they pay you an interest rate.
If that all sounds like mumbo jumbo, don’t worry about it. It’s confusing, even to the experts.
Here are the basics — when you buy crypto like Ethereum or Solana, you can make ~4% to 10% per year in interest by allowing exchanges like Binance to keep your crypto locked up. Your crypto is (in theory) safe, and your interest is (also in theory) stable.
But, given that you’ll need to invest ~10x as much as you want to make per year, this is better left for people who have some starting capital. And you should always stay diversified since crypto is a highly volatile and risky industry.
#32 – Sports Betting
Sports betting is basically betting your money on the outcome of a specific sporting event. You could bet on who is going to win the upcoming football match, what player(s) will score, or you can set up parlays (bets that require you to be right several times in a row) that pay out at much higher odds.
Tons of sports are available, and many sports betting websites will even give you a cash bonus to use on your first bet.
This entry is the most controversial on this list since it can lead to or further develop gambling addictions. In most circumstances, you’re better off learning a skill or starting a business. But, if you’re looking at how to make money online fast in South Africa, and you’re comfortable with some risk, this could work for you.
#33 – Matched Betting
Matched betting is basically sports betting without risk. Many sports betting platforms offer bonuses matched to the amount you deposit. For example, if you deposit $100 and make a bet, they can give you $50 in free betting credits.
The reason this is risk-free is that if you do this on two platforms at the same time, you can bet on both sides of an event, and win no matter what. If you bet that Manchester United will lose on Platform A and that Manchester United will win on Platform B, you’ll cash in on bonuses from both sides.
It’s not super fast or scalable, but it’s fairly risk-free and can be a solid idea for how to make money in South Africa on the side.
More Ways To Make Money Online In South Africa
By now you should have an idea of how to make money online in South Africa, but if you’re looking for more ideas, then feel free to check out our Hustles database. We’ve compiled nearly 200 ideas for how you can make money online, and we’ve also added filters that can help you figure out which option is best for your circumstances.