5 offbeat ways to earn extra income
Many people go through periods when they need to make extra money, or they'd like to give it a shot, anyway. But how? What can you do to reel in a few more bucks?
Nobody needs to mention you could hold a garage sale, recycle cans or resell clothes to a consignment shop. No, what you need are some ideas that are a bit off the radar; legitimate but just crazy enough that they might work.
Consider traveling down these offbeat paths to profit the next time you're seeking ways to generate extra income.
Offer your opinion.
Yeah, your opinion is worth something, and you can get much more than a penny for your thoughts. Jennifer Martin, a San Francisco resident who owns Zest Business Consulting and specializes in work-life balance, recommends finding a focus group in your area and signing up. There are all sorts of companies that sell products and services, and they want opinions from the public, usually so they can figure out if they can sharpen their marketing message.
Martin suggests checking out craigslist.org. "Look in the jobs category and do a search for 'market research,' 'paid study' or 'surveys,' or search the community, gigs or events listing," she advises. Martin also recommends visiting findfocusgroups.com, where you'll likely find focus-group opportunities in major cities.
"I love being a part of focus groups," Martin says. "Last year, I was paid $200 for someone to come to my house, videotape my cupboard and ask me questions about cookies for an hour. At another private survey, someone came to my house and videotaped me talking about money, banks and investments to the tune of $350. Not bad for two hours of work from home when I would have been relaxing."
In most cases, you'll likely drive to a facility to with a group and offer opinions because it is fairly rare to find companies that will come to your home, though Martin seems to have a knack for that.
"A few months ago, I got paid $250 for three people to come to my house for an hour to talk about snack foods and taste some cookies," she says. "I will be doing the same again next week for some kind of financially related product."
Become an online juror.
Another suggestion from Martin. "Trial attorneys are frequently looking for people to weigh in on real cases that may not have gone to court yet," she says. "They rely upon online jurors to help them determine what an average group of people might think about the merits of the case or how they might respond to their tactics or concepts."
So as with a focus group, you're still offering your opinion, but you generally won't be leaving your home to do it, and the things you'll be offering your thoughts on will likely be far more interesting than providing feedback on how soap smells or why you prefer going to one restaurant over another.
Martin says there are several companies that offer compensation for your review or consideration of their case.
"On average, if you meet their criteria to qualify, most people earn between $10 to $60 for their time," Martin says.
For instance, according to OnlineVerdict.com, your juror payment would be anywhere from $20 to $60 for an estimated 20 to 60 minutes of reviewing a case and answering attorney-provided questions. Checks are mailed one to two weeks after you complete your case review, according to the website.
Take a picture.
Then sell it. If you're pretty good with a camera, and you have a lot of really appealing or impressive shots, you could apply to be a contributor at Shutterstock.com, a stock photography company. Ever see a photo of a family on a picnic on your bank's website, or a picture of, say, a dog on a brochure and wonder where it came from?
It may have come from somewhere like Shutterstock. Paul Brennan, the company's vice president of content operations, says photographers can open an account and submit a batch of their 10 best photos. If seven of the images are accepted, then you're officially a contributor at Shutterstock. This means that if any of those seven photos, or any future photo you submit, is sold, you might make money.
You probably won't make a fortune, especially if you're just doing this sporadically. "At the initial level, contributors would earn $0.25 per download for images," Brennan says, adding that at the higher end, a photograph might earn someone as much as $120.
If you have a special skill, you could possibly parlay that into cash. For instance, at Udemy.com, anyone can teach an online video class (which isn't to say that anyone will want to pay for your class). For instance, there's an entire course on cheese – how to make it, taste it, store it and so on. You could learn about dog CPR, or take a class on how to assemble a Rubik's cube. There are also more conventional classes on topics like art history.
So if you have some special skills, you could put together a course. You can set the price, which generally seems to range from $25 to $99. You can keep all the money, or half if you have Udemy.com promote it. You may make zero dollars for your work, of course, if you get no takers (and there are standards; Udemy.com may reject your course work), but according to Udemy.com, over 1,300 instructors have earned more than $5,000, and some instructors, much more.
But you never know what skill you might be able transfer into making money. For instance, if you're really skilled at playing League of Legends, an online battle arena video game, you could check out LoLBoost.net, where you can teach people how to play the game as well as you.
"These video game coaches make anywhere from $20 to $50 an hour," says Lani Gregory, a spokeswoman for the site.
Sell something in your house.
Sure, this sounds like the same stale advice everyone gets when they need to make extra money, like, hey, hold a garage sale. But those items you sell in a garage or yard sale are generally things you don't want any more. What about the belongings you do want? Or that you like but never really use?
In 2011, when Whitney Sparks, a third-grade teacher in Bryan, Texas, who has a savings website whitneysparks.net, learned she would need a $975 root canal, which she'd have to pay in full, she looked around her house for something to sell.
She and her husband, who don't use credit cards, had about half the money. So Sparks wound up selling their grand piano for $500. She admits she had some misgivings, but it is a solid example that your household might be wealthier than you think. You may have all sorts of treasures in your home that you've forgotten about or ignored.
"I once cleaned out our garage and found a silver coin worth $25," Sparks says.
Perhaps you have some expensive jewelry that an ex once gave you, and now it's languishing in a drawer? Andrea Woroch, a Santa Barbara-based shopping consultant, recommends that you "make money on those old jewels and engagement rings" and check out ExBoyfriendJewelry.com.
It's basically an online store where you can sell and buy jewelry – but each piece of jewelry comes with its own story, some boring and some quite colorful.
For instance, a custom-made engagement ring priced at $2,100 is being sold by a woman who claims her ex-husband left the 12-year-old marriage after her 26-year-old daughter came down with a rare brain disease and needed help from her mother in caring for her kids.
"[I] didn't sign up for this," the ex evidently said, in explaining why he was exiting the marriage.
Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report
Click through the slideshow below for some more easy ways to put extra money in your pocket:
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