5 Worst Ways to Make Money Online

Worst Ways to Make Money Online

Beware of Online Scams

What are the worst ways to make money online? Actually there are plenty. It is not hard to make money online when you know what you are doing. However, the main problem is, many people who are new to this area are not sure how to go about it. Millions of people dream of making a living online but few accomplish it. Part of the reason is that they get caught up in these myriad different ways that promise to help them make money online but are little more than scams. As a beginner, it is very important to know the right approach and method that will make money for you. Do not make the mistakes of taking up one of these worst ways to make money online –

1. Paid to Click (PTC)

This is perhaps the worst way to make money online ever designed. The reason it is popular is because it requires absolutely no skill, no commitment, no investment, no risk taking and no real effort to learn. It is then not surprising that the returns are so low. The way PTC or paid to click works is that you need to click on an advertiser link and be on the page for 20-30 seconds, after which you will get anywhere from $0.001 to $0.01 per visit.

If this were a job, you would perhaps need to work 100 hours a day to feed your family. The amount of money that you can make is surprisingly small. The payouts are deliberately made to be high so that many people can drop out. Actually it isn’t that high – say $10 is the norm but then to reach $10 you need 1000 clicks, which is about 1000 minutes of your time, including the loading of the pages and everything else. That is about 16 hours of work for $10!

As you can see, all you need to do is just click on sites and visit advertisers. There is nothing else that you need to do. You don’t require any skill and there is nothing to work smart. They do have some incentives for referrals but that is a low and hard process in itself. Worse, many of them don’t even have Paypal payments but will instead pay you through AlertPay or Liberty Reserve which make it extremely hard to transfer even the $10 to your bank account.

What is surprising is that PTC is one of the worst ways to make money online, yet people flock to it very often, especially the beginners who know no better. I wish I could gather them all and teach them a thing or two about real ways to make money online!

2. Paid to Surf

Paid to surf is another pathetic way to try to make money online. There can be manual surfing or auto-surfing where you need to install a software. The reasons are similar to the ones given above – the amount of money you can potentially make is very less. Paid to surf pays less than paid to click, so you can imagine that you might need to spend an eternity doing nothing to get paid with these programs. It is not really a way to make money.

In rare cases, you might want to use paid to surf programs to drive traffic to your site (of course you must beware never to use programs like Google Adsense in these sites, otherwise you will be banned) for whatever reason. This traffic will almost never convert but you might want higher traffic stats for whatever reason. Even then, it is one of the worst ways to make money online.

3. Pyramid or Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) Schemes

These are nothing but scams. Pyramid schemes continue to flourish, especially on the internet in spite of their notoriety . I would say these are worse than the above two because at least in Paid to click and Paid to Surf, you don’t need to make any initial investment. In MLM marketing or Pyramid schemes, you are required to buy a worthless product and then promote it to your friends so they buy it and so on, and the people who join under bring you a commission.

There are very few genuine multi-level marketing programs but most on the internet are total scams. The products are inherently worthless and you are required to keep selling these worthless products to others. The point of pyramid schemes is that they are by design unsustainable and many people in the pyramid stand to lose a lot of money. The only people who really make money are people running it.

4. Online Data Entry Jobs

Don’t get me wrong, there are many genuine data entry jobs online, which is to be expected. However, most of the advertisements that you see require you to “buy” an initial package for say $49.95 only. This is ridiculous. If you really want genuine data entry jobs, try Elance or oDesk. These online data entry jobs will again need you to sell these packages to friends, which is kind of like a pyramid scheme again. Since these offer no real jobs and need you to pay upfront, these are one of the worst ways to make money online because it is totally misleading.

5. High Yield Investment Programs (HYIP)

These are classic Ponzi schemes. You would be surprised by the number of people who think they can get something out of nothing. All HYIPs are scams, without exception. If only people would think with a clear head before “investing” their money in these programs.

Anyway, the typical sales pitch for HYIPs is that they need to money to invest in some very technical and complicated investments or Forex trading. Then, they claim to give you extraordinary rates of interest. Many years ago, it was akin to “double your money in a month” but now it is more “believable” about 10-15% a month. Still, this is just a ponzi scheme and there are no investments that guarantee this return. After a saturation point is reached, the site will wrap up with all the money.

Bonus. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing microtasking platform where digital workers spend their time doing digital tasks … for a few pennies. Tasks typically take 10-15 minutes at least, and you’ll get paid about 10-15 cents on those on an average. You’d be lucky to make $1/hour, and $2/hour is probably the maximum anyone can make. As to why so many people actually work there, that has even baffled the experts who are actively researching this. Don’t become one of their subjects!

So these are some of the worst ways to make money online. If you are aware of other common newbie traps, do comment and let me know and I’ll include those in further posts.


  1. Devan says:

    Haha, i’m actually guilty of trying to make money through PTC and Paid To surf programs as you mentioned. But there are some legitimate MLM, but they are all offline and product based. The pyramid schemes online are almost 99% scams

  2. Sid says:

    Devan, product based MLMs can be legitimate, like Amway is, but online there is no underlying value to what is offered. It is just a Ponzi scheme in that case. Online MLMs are actually illegal in many countries unless there is a physical underlying product.

  3. My first try to earn online was when I joined what they claimed a legit ptc site,I forgot the website but it has “sense” at the end.First few days are good but after 3 weeks,there were no more ads to click.:(

    • Sid says:

      It’s not worth it even if they were legit. You’d probably have gotten a couple of dollars for all the ads that you clicked on and watched, spending a few hours at least of your cumulative time.

  4. Hey Sid, Nice post and you have listed all worst of making money online. These methods are true time wasters and I think one should avoid these methods if they really want to make money online. Most of these programs are full of scams, even if one can find a good paying program. It would take months even years in some cases to reach the payout limit. So instead of wasting time with these programs one should concentrate on some more genuine methods like freelancing writing and blogging etc.

    • vecky says:

      In ptc business, the real income comes from renting referrals. People are passively earning over 60 to 70$ per day from ptc sites.

  5. Like Devan said, I also think there are some legit MLM companies out there. It is unfortunate that so many bad apples spoil the perception about MLM.

    Also, it is very possible to make returns of 10% per month with medium to low risk. It is just a matter of knowing the right strategy to employ. If you look hard enough, there are quite a few strategies out there. I have used some strategies where I made 100% in an hour with a reasonabl amount of consistency. I won’t mention them here because that’s not the point. I just don’t want people to be totally mislead. Other than that, solid info!!

  6. PTCBox says:

    I read this article and had a little chuckle to myself as it reminded me of my own situation, back in 2004 I was out of work and looking for ways to make money online and yes you guessed it, I found PTC sites, I was clicking at over 10 sites everyday for peanuts, I soon learned if I wanted to make any money from these sites I would need to get my own referrals.

    This was the catalyst that opened my eyes to internet marketing and just how lucrative it can be, I taught myself how to build website, I learned the basics of getting website traffic, I discovered affiliate programs, pretty much I discovered possibilites that I just didn’t believe were possible.

    8 years after I first started, I am still involved in 3 PTC sites, I don’t click the ads myself personally, but I have built downlines that I earn money from, I am involved in one get paid to signup site, of course I don’t sign up to anything myself, but I earn a residual income from my referrals and I promote survey sites via affiliate programs.

    At the end of the day I have learned to be self sufficent and not need my day job, although I do still work a few days a week just to get myself out of the house and away from the computer. Could I make more money if I promoted products, created adsense blogs? Yeah maybe, but my needs at the time and as a complete and utter noobie let me do paid to click and I have to thank them for the lessons I learned, to be wary of scams and if you do your homework and put some time in, you can actually make some money on the internet, there fore from my prospective I have to admit that paid to click sites do have their spot, if for nothing else but a learning tool for bigger and better things.

    • Sid says:

      Adam, thanks a lot for sharing your story. It is always good to hear from real users. I totally agree with you that these can be learning experiences for the future and I think I have one too many stories to share too!

    • merlin says:

      One noobie to another, any advice? I studied computers in college, but only the inner hardware. The programming/web design teacher was hard to understand as she spoke spanish and funny she claimed she was a professional Linux user and programmer, yet barely knew how to post assignments on the school webpage for our class.

      Anyways, I’ve been looking for the means to work online as I’m planning to fly abroad. I’m still finishing my BA degree (anymore you can’t go far without one). I’m trying to find something I can do on my computer to pull in enough to survive on for at least a year. Reason I’m going abroad is because cheaper living and more opportunities. Anymore in the US, you’re taxed through your ears for anything you do and life revolves around plugging 40 hrs a wk to eat.

      I’ve thought about creating my own website to connect with Facebook or something and sell a few products…or else start a blog. I’ve thought of crowdsourcing, but most I find require some sort of programming or writing skill and it’s a battle to the death over 2 dollars for an entire day’s worth of writing/research/programming. There’s thousands of books out there, but, like trying to teach myself guitar, I dont know which one is good?

  7. They always give us good reponse but after few week they always do same like no clicks no money no profit. Your post is truely great people must read these types of post they should know what is wrong what is rite.

  8. I wish i had read the warning about data entry earlier! Although it’s totally out of my area of expertise, when i needed the money , i said why not? Because it sucks!That’s why. I really find it one of the worst things you can do..Sorry, if i came out to strong but my experience with data entry is one i’m doing my best to forget.

    • Sid says:

      I am glad you shared your experience. Yes, data entry isn’t exactly the best job online and people should quickly graduate from it or just not bother with it at all.

  9. deborah says:

    Thanks for the information. How do you feel or what is your input on paid surveys?

    • Sid says:

      Deborah, I didn’t like them at one point of time, which was a very long time. However, I think there are some good survey sites now that pay you a decent amount per completed survey. That being said, there are some limitations, like being in the US/North America because that’s the market that advertisers want to target. I could be wrong, but from what I understand, if you are in the US, there are a few good ones you can try out.

  10. Mike Kennedy says:

    Wow, and I was actually considering PTC and date entry jobs – especially not PTC now! I’ve seen those “buy a data entry package” postings on Freelancer, oDesk, etc. I thought there were pretty fishy-looking ; I’m glad my suspicions were right and did not pursue them. These sites should screen job postings, or at least somehow prevent fraudulent “jobs”.

    • Sid says:

      You’re lucky you caught these early without wasting tons of hours. Look for better online jobs, even at oDesk or Elance. If you think you don’t have all the skills, just learn! Everything is free online now, especially if you want to learn something. There is no excuse for doing these and not moving up the chain of good jobs. Good luck!

  11. Thank you for the post. Why not, I can’t believe in actually online survey. May be, my idea is not clear about that.

  12. Well there are a lot of bad ways to make money on here. Especially the ones where you have to do it manually. But that’s why I pick the ones that I can put on autopilot. That’s always the way to go! ๐Ÿ™‚

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