How to Use AI to Make Money Ethically: Top 15 Ways

How to use AI to create more good and more $$$

How to Use AI to Make Money Ethically: Top 15 Ways
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It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that AI is entirely new and "just a fad" based on all the headlines and hype, but AI has actually been around longer than the Internet, believe it or not. It's the same technology that helped us move from MapQuest to our phone's GPS, from having to Google everything to asking Siri or Alexa for some quick help, and from typing gibberish to having our autocorrect make sense of everything.

There are plenty of ways AI has made all of our lives better, and ultimately, we can all continue that trajectory together if we're intentional about how we use it. This blog post holds 15 ways to use AI to make money ethically without adding to the hysteria of AI stealing jobs, taking over the world, or anything else like that.

See how AI is making publishing 1000x more accessible. Anyone can publish a book and start making online, no experience or degree required. We'll prove it to you at this free training!

How to Use AI to Earn Money Ethically & Addressing Concerns

You can use AI to earn money ethically through content creation, social media management, consulting services, and other creative pursuits like music or art. There are ton of AI business ideas to earn money ethically. We'll dive into each category a little later on in this blog post, but let's knock out some of the biggest misconceptions about AI first.

The main concerns about using AI usually boil down to these three things:

AI & Lack of Creativity

AI cannot completely replace human creativity. That's true, but it can definitely help you get out of a creative rut or writer's block in minutes. How crazy is that? You can generate literally unlimited ideas at just the click of a button.

AI & Plagiarism

AI might occasionally borrow ideas from other sources and produce outputs that could be considered plagiarized, but the truth is this happens with human ghostwriters, artists, and other professionals, too. In any case, it's always your responsibility to create something authentic or give proper credit where it's due.

AI & Taking Jobs

According to Forbes, AI has made dangerous factory jobs a lot safer and is actually helping humans become more productive by significantly speeding up busy work. That gives us even more time to be creative, do more high-level planning, and build things we're proud of.

Benefits of Using AI to Make Money

So, what's the big deal with AI anyway? Is it really worth it?

You can decide for yourself!

These are three of the biggest benefits of using AI-powered tools:

1. Increased Efficiency & Speed

  • Data Processing: AI analyzes data faster than humans, helping us make quicker and better business decisions.
  • Content Optimization: AI tools can optimize different types of content with relevant keywords tailored specifically to each target audience, helping us generate content that people can actually benefit from.

2. Better Scalability

  • Task Management: AI technologies can handle multiple large-scale tasks at the same time. We humans like to think we can multitask, but there have been plenty of psychological studies that prove otherwise.
  • Chatbots: AI bots can manage thousands of customer queries simultaneously across multiple platforms, which makes for a much better customer experience.

3. Creating Passive & Recurring Income

  • Digital Art and Design: AI tools like DALL-E can help you create unique digital artworks or designs to sell on platforms like Redbubble or Teespring. You'll earn royalties each time your designs are purchased.
  • AI-Powered eBooks: You can use AI to develop eBooks and sell them, including personalized children’s books or niche-specific guides. Once they're listed on platforms like Amazon KDP, these books can continuously earn money with each sale (even if you're working on other books or taking a break from your publishing business altogether).
  • Stock Photography: You can use AI technology to enhance photographs or create better digital images for stock photo websites. As these images are licensed or purchased, they'll provide a continual source of income.

Top 15 AI Side Hustles to Make Money

Alrighty, here we go...15 ways to make money online with AI!

#1: Self-Publishing

Traditional publishing is pretty much a thing of the past these days! Amazon KDP removed all the red tape from the publishing process, so anyone can research a good niche, put out a quality book, and get paid royalties directly—all without even leaving the house.

Types of Books You Can Self-Publish

  • No Content Books: Journals, notebooks, diaries
  • Low Content Books: Coloring books, planners, word puzzles, activity books
  • High Content Books: Novels, how-to guides, non-fiction

Formats Available

  • eBooks: Accessible on Kindle devices and apps, ideal for global distribution, high sales
  • Paperbacks: Traditional print format, moderate sales
  • Audiobooks: Growing in popularity, accessible through Audible, moderate sales
  • Hard Covers: Premium print option, higher royalties but lower sales

Advantages of Self-Publishing

  • Creative Control: Full autonomy over the content, cover design, and pricing.
  • Global Reach: Access to Amazon’s massive customer base across several different markets.
  • Higher Royalties: Earn up to 70% in royalties compared to traditional publishing houses.
  • Speed to Market: Publish your book as soon as it’s ready without waiting for publisher timelines.
  • Get Paid Directly: There's no middleman. All your royalties will be paid directly to your bank account (or by paper check if that's what you prefer).

How Much Money Can You Make Self-Publishing?

How much you make through self-publishing on Amazon largely depends on factors like the demand for your chosen genre or topic and the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. But overall, the BIGGEST predictor of success is always going to be the quality of your manuscript.

The people who take quality seriously are the ones who go on to earn an extra $500 a month or more.

See how this mom made over $10k in a single month just six months into her publishing journey:

AI Tool Recommendations

#2: Content Creation

Tons of businesses need help with their content marketing these days and are willing to work with contract or freelance writers. You never know until you send an email and check!

Types of Content You Can Create

  • Emails
  • Local Ads and Flyers
  • Blog Posts
  • Newsletters
  • Web pages
  • Social Media Posts
  • Digital Guides

Advantages of Content Creation

  1. Flexible Schedule: Content creation allows you to work on your own time, making it ideal for fitting around other commitments (like health, family, exercise, etc.)
  2. Low Startup Costs: Getting started often requires minimal investment—just a computer and internet access.
  3. Creative Freedom: You have the autonomy to choose projects that interest you the most and can work across several industries if you're the type of person who needs more variety.
  4. Skill Development: An AI writing tool like Grammarly can help build your skills by teaching you things about syntax and grammar, which is bound to come in handy with future projects.
  5. Passive and Recurring Income Potential: Once your content is published, it can earn money long after the work is done.

Tool Recommendations

  • ChatGPT
  • Jasper
  • Buffer
  • Grammarly
  • ProWritingAid
  • Hemingway

#3: AI-Powered Marketing & Advertising

Integrating AI into your marketing and advertising projects can help you create more engaging and targeted campaigns for your clients while saving time and resources. In other words, it’s a win-win for both parties.

Advantages of AI-Powered Marketing & Advertising:

  • Efficiency: You can automate routine tasks like posting ads and sending email campaigns.
  • Targeting Precision: You can use AI to analyze data and predict which audiences will be most receptive to your campaigns, increasing your odds of getting a better return on investment.
  • Personalization: AI algorithms can help tailor your marketing messages based on user behavior, increasing customer engagement and satisfaction.
  • Cost Reduction: AI can help you get more out of your marketing budget by optimizing your advertising spend and reducing wasted effort.

Tool Recommendations

  • Klaviyo
  • Monday
  • Sprout Social

#4: AI-Driven Product Development

AI-driven product development has to do with how companies design, prototype, and market new products.

It's especially useful for things like:

  • Idea Generation: AI can automate the brainstorming process, quickly generating new product ideas based on market data or your existing ideas.
  • Design Optimization: Use AI to refine product designs, simulate performance, and predict potential market responses before committing to large-scale production. AKA, you can run through every best-case and worst-case scenario without having to blow your budget by running costly tests.
  • Technical Documentation: AI tools can help you create detailed technical documents and user manuals in a fraction of the time it would take a human to do the same tasks. AI software can also run compliance checks or make a list of compliance considerations you might not have thought of.
  • Content Creation: Various AI writing tools can help develop engaging product descriptions, marketing materials, and user guides tailored specifically to your audience.

Advantages of AI-Driven Product Development:

  • Speed to Market: Faster product development cycles from concept to launch.
  • Cost Efficiency: Reduced overhead by automating design and documentation tasks.
  • Market Relevance: AI's predictive capabilities make sure products meet current and evolving consumer demands.

Tool Recommendations

  • OpenAI
  • IBM Watson
  • Retool
  • Arena AI
  • Invention Assistant

#5: AI Integration Services

A big problem that many companies face is having disjointed processes across their departments, like sales, customer success, and marketing. As a freelancer or contractor, you can use AI technology or AI software to help them find a better solution.

Advantages of Artificial Intelligence Integration Services:

  • Operational Efficiency: Automate complex processes and reduce the need for manual intervention.
  • Enhanced Customer Interaction: Implement AI-driven chatbots and customer service solutions to improve response times and customer satisfaction.
  • Data Insights: Have AI run data analytics and clean up scattered data.

AI Tool Recommendations

#6: Affiliate Marketing & AI

Affiliate marketing has become very popular in the last five years and still has some loyal followers who think it's one of the best ways to generate online income.

Advantages of Using AI in Affiliate Marketing:

  • Campaign Optimization: AI can analyze performance data to optimize your marketing strategies for higher conversions.
  • Content Creation: AI-generated content or AI-assisted content can drive more traffic to your affiliate products.
  • Targeted Marketing: AI can identify and target the most likely audience to personalize offers and increase conversions.

Tool Recommendations

  • Ahrefs
  • BuzzSumo
  • Mailchimp

#7: Paid Advertising & AI

Running ads can quickly get expensive if your only strategy is trial and error. AI can help you make sure that every dollar spent is done so strategically.

Advantages of AI in Paid Advertising:

  • Creative Optimization: AI can evaluate or suggest multiple design and copy variations to determine which combinations perform best.
  • Budget Efficiency: AI can analyze your advertising budget and make suggestions for planning different types of ad campaigns.

Tool Recommendations

  • AdEspresso by Hootsuite
  • Albert.ai
  • Acquisio
  • AdRoll
  • GeniusMonkey

Listen to Jeff talk about running ads for his publishing business here:

#8: Freelance Coding With AI

Another way to make money with AI is to optimize algorithms, create better apps, and review code for possible errors or redundancies.

Benefits of Using AI in Coding:

  • Automation of Repetitive Tasks: AI can automate coding for basic structures and tests, freeing you up for more complex problem-solving.
  • Enhanced Code Quality: AI tools can analyze code for errors and inefficiencies, suggesting improvements or corrections.
  • Advanced Problem Solving: AI can tackle complex algorithms and data processes, helping you provide more sophisticated solutions to clients.

Tool Recommendations

  • TensorFlow
  • GitHub Copilot
  • SonarQube
  • PyCharm
  • SQLAI
  • Sourcegraph's Cody

#9: CRM & Sales Consulting Services

The revenue growth of most businesses is directly correlated with how happy their customers are (no surprise there). The thought of embracing AI might feel like becoming more robotic as a brand, but that's simply not what most studies show.

According to SurveyMonkey:

  • Over half of consumers are interested in AI that walks them through a product, website, feature, or experience.
  • Nearly half are interested in getting personalized deals.
  • Nearly half are open to AI-driven product recommendations.  
  • Nearly 2/3s would be comfortable using AI to order food and drinks.
  • Over half would use AI to return a purchase.
  • Nearly 1/3 would consider investment advice from AI.
  • Over 1/4 would be comfortable receiving medical advice from AI.

Benefits of AI in CRM & Sales Consulting:

  • Enhanced Customer Insights: AI can provide detailed profiles of customer preferences, behaviors, and avatars.
  • Increased Sales Efficiency: AI can automate routine sales tasks like sending follow-up texts or emails, allowing sales teams to focus on closing deals and building relationships.
  • Personalized Customer Experiences: AI can help you plan customer loyalty programs that boost retention and increase your customer's LTV (lifetime value).

Tool Recommendations

  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot
  • Pipedrive
  • Zoho's Zia
  • Freshworks' Freddy AI

#10: AI & Customer Support

This is pretty much an extension of #9, but AI revolutionizes the way businesses interact with their customers by providing rapid, consistent, and quality responses. You can turn this into a side hustle by building AI chatbots or training their responses based on specific companies and products.

Benefits of Using AI in Customer Support:

  • 24/7 Availability: AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants make sure customers can receive help anytime, eliminating wait times associated with human-only support.
  • Cost Efficiency: AI tools reduce operational costs by automating routine inquiries, allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues.
  • Scalability: AI tools can handle a much larger volume of queries without the need to increase staff, making it scalable during peak times or promotional periods.
  • Consistency: You can maintain a consistent level of service with AI, meaning all customers can receive the same quality of response.

Tool Recommendations for Customer Support:

  • Zendesk Chat
  • Intercom's Fin
  • Freshdesk
  • Zoho
  • Aisera

#11: Create Online Courses With AI

Another way to ethically make money online while using AI is by creating content for an online course. AI can significantly reduce your workload while making sure that your course content is engaging, informative, and customized to your learners.

Benefits of AI & Courses

  • Efficiency in Content Development: AI can automate parts of the content creation process, such as generating quizzes and summarizing key concepts, which significantly speeds up course development.
  • Personalized Learning Experiences: AI algorithms can analyze student performance and learning preferences to provide personalized recommendations, adapt the content in real-time, and create individual learning paths. This typically increases student engagement and improves learning outcomes.
  • Scalability: With AI, you can easily scale your courses to accommodate more students without sacrificing the quality of your lessons. AI tools can also provide students with timely feedback and support.
  • Data-Driven Insights: AI tools can be used to refine course content, adjust teaching strategies, and better understand student needs.

Tool Recommendations

  • Kajabi
  • LearnWorlds
  • Thinkific
  • Coursebox
  • CourseAI

#12: Build Websites With AI

Building your own website or a website for a client is much simpler than it used to be, thanks to artificial intelligence tools like Wix. You no longer need to be a pro to create sleek, functional websites with customizable templates and pre-set designs.

Benefits of Using AI to Build Websites:

  • Rapid Development: AI tools can significantly reduce the time it takes to go from concept to launch by automatically generating design elements and layouts that meet user specifications.
  • Customization at Scale: AI algorithms can analyze your preferences and brand identity to suggest web design elements that align with your branding vision.
  • No Advanced Skills Required: These platforms are extremely user-friendly, making web design accessible to people without technical backgrounds. Users can achieve professional results without needing to know coding or graphic design.
  • Cost Efficiency: By reducing the need for human designers for basic setups, AI web builders can lower the cost of website creation, making it affordable for small businesses and individuals on a budget.
  • Continuous Learning and Optimization: AI tools continuously learn from user interactions, which means they can suggest updates and optimizations to improve user engagement and SEO performance over time.

Tool Recommendations

  • Wix
  • Squarespace
  • Jimdo
  • Unbounce
  • Bookmark AI

#13: Generate Music & Background Tracks

Creating original music and background tracks is now more accessible than ever with AI-driven music generators. These tools allow anyone to produce high-quality audio content quickly and at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

Benefits of Using AI to Generate Music & Background Tracks:

  • Efficiency: AI music generators can produce music in minutes, saving you countless hours you would otherwise spend composing or searching for the right tunes for things like YouTube videos, courses, or ads.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: These AI-powered tools can eliminate the need for expensive studio time or professional composer fees.
  • Customization: AI's customization options allow you to easily tailor the music to fit the mood and tone of your projects, with adjustable genres, tempos, and instruments.
  • Scalability: With a single tool, you can generate a wide range of music styles and soundscapes to match various projects, from corporate videos to indie games.

Tool Recommendations

  • Amper Music
  • Udio
  • Soundtrap
  • Aiva
  • Jukedeck

Side note: We may or may not have spent an hour creating Udio tracks and sharing them in our work Slack channel just for fun. If that sounds like your type of team, you can check out our open positions here!

#14: Subscription-Based AI Services

Subscription-based AI services provide a recurring revenue model that's profitable and sustainable.

By offering specialized AI solutions, you can cater to the precise needs of various industries, from healthcare to graphic design and finance.

Benefits of Offering Subscription-Based AI Services:

  • Trend Forecasting: AI identifies patterns and analyzes vast data, predicting trends like upcoming spikes or slow periods.
  • Churn Reduction: AI analyzes customer behavior to forecast churn, enabling proactive customer retention strategies. It identifies when customers might switch due to competitors' deals, allowing businesses to offer timely counteroffers.
  • Enhanced Payment Management: AI can notify customers before payment methods expire and promote adding backup options, reducing payment failures.

Tool Recommendations

  • Tableau
  • OpenAI
  • IBM Watson
  • Google Cloud AI
  • Appy Pie

#15: AI-Generated Art

Generative AI has come a long way over the past year but still has a way to go. This includes generating things like cartoons, book covers, and photographs, which you can then sell for a profit.

This might be one of the more controversial income strategies out there, but there are ways to ethically use AI art. For example, you can create initial design compositions and share them with a freelance artist to build on, or you can touch up family photos.

Benefits of AI Art Generators:

  • Innovation: Generative AI lets us push the boundaries of traditional art forms to create unique styles and images.
  • Efficiency: AI-generated works can be produced much faster, which allows us to experiment and create even more.
  • Accessibility: AI-powered products make art creation more accessible to non-artists.

AI Tool Recommendations

  • DALL-E
  • Midjourney
  • Imagine.art
  • Artbreeder
  • DeepArt

Is AI Monetization Risky for Freelancers and Side Hustlers?

AI monetization isn't inherently risky as long as you remain intentional about how you're using the AI tools.

Here are some common concerns about using natural language processing and machine learning tools to generate income online and why they may not be as scary as you might think:

  • Data Privacy Concerns: While data breaches are a concern, using reputable AI tools with strong security measures can safeguard your data and enhance your credibility with clients.
  • Reliance on Technology: Although dependence on AI might seem risky, it also frees up your time to focus on more creative and high-value tasks, boosting your overall productivity and earning potential.
  • Market Saturation: The growing AI market means more tools and resources are at your disposal to stay competitive. By carving out a niche or specializing, you can set yourself apart even in a crowded market.
  • Cost of Errors: While AI isn't perfect, it often increases accuracy and efficiency in tasks like data analysis and customer service compared to manual methods.

Bloomberg estimates the AI market to grow from $40 billion in 2022 to $1.3 trillion by 2032, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42%.

You know what that means?

AI expertise will pay big bucks, so the time to get your slice of the AI pie is now!

What Are the Ongoing Costs Associated with AI for Freelancers and Side Hustlers?

The costs associated with AI tools can vary a lot, depending on whether you're looking for individual or enterprise use. If you're here reading this article, you're probably looking for an AI side hustle and will do just fine with the individual plans.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Subscription Fees: Most AI tools are available through subscription models. These fees are the primary ongoing cost for using AI in your projects.
    • Annual vs. Monthly: Opting for annual subscription plans can significantly reduce the overall cost compared to monthly payments. Many AI tool providers offer discounts for longer commitment periods, which can help you save money in the long run.
    • Free Tiers and Trials: Start with AI tools that offer free tiers or trial periods. This allows you to test the tool's effectiveness for your specific needs without any upfront investment.
    • Tailored Plans: Choose subscription plans that match your usage needs. Paying for unlimited features might not always be necessary if your usage is limited, so selecting a plan that fits your volume of work can also reduce costs.
  • Scaling with Demand: As your side hustle or freelance work grows, your use of AI software might increase. Some AI platforms offer scalable pricing models that adjust based on your usage level, ensuring you only pay for what you need.
  • Efficiency vs. Cost: The efficiency gains from using AI can often offset the subscription costs. By automating routine tasks, you can free up time to take on more client work or enhance the quality of your services, potentially increasing your income.

AI + Humans = A Publishing Match Made in Heaven

By now, you've read about over a dozen ways to start making money with AI.

Some people may argue that using AI for any content generation is unethical, but that's the same thing painters used to say about photographers and their cameras. The technology isn't what makes the art great—it's the artist. And in the same way, only a great publisher will go on to make a great book.

AI can generate all kinds of ideas, images, and words, but it ultimately can't think. That's why we've never advocated for publishing 100% AI-generated content (and never will).

In a perfect world, AI tools can help us all eliminate the monotonous tasks in our lives so we can focus more on the things that really matter, like spending time with our families, building communities, and creating great content that makes everyone's lives better. We just want to make it clear that that's the type of self-publishing and AI technology we advocate for.

If that sounds like it's up your alley and you're ready to make money with AI, there are three ways we can help:

  1. The Freebie Option: Our KDP Pro Webinar
  2. The AI Tool: Publishing.ai
  3. The All-Inclusive Option: AI Publishing Academy
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