While we all have some extra time, it often doesn't feel like it, does it? We're usually so busy and enthralled in whatever it is that we're doing that we forget to spend the time on navigating the murky online waters of money making. That's understandable. But it also doesn't take too much effort to make some extra dough on the side. We're not talking about millions upon millions here (well maybe for some). We're mostly talking about doing small, bite-sized projects to generate some fast cash.
You might be desperate for work, but don’t necessarily jump at an opportunity that sounds too good to be true. In my article about common Craigslist scams, I wrote about fake employers who “hire” new employees, then “accidentally” send them too much pay. They’ll ask their victims to wire back the difference, but a few weeks later, when the bank discovers that the initial check is a fraud, the “employee” is on the hook for hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars. If a job offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Tutor students. If you have an academic specialty and can squeeze in a couple of hours during the week while Junior is taking a nap or Janie is at gymnastics, share your knowledge with struggling students. Find students looking to improve their grades on your own through your kids' schools – check a site such as Craigslist.org to gauge hourly rates in your area – or sign on with an online tutoring company, such as Tutor.com. You must be available to tutor at least five hours a week and have a college degree to tutor certain subjects for Tutor.com. Tutoring is done virtually from home via a computer, not in person. Tutor.com tutors are paid an hourly rate based on the subject.
Sole proprietorships offer maximum control and are easy to set up, with low startup costs, but they come with some disadvantages too: the owner has full legal and financial liability, meaning if the worst happens and the business gets sued, the litigant can go after the owner’s personal assets. It’s also harder to raise capital from investors or to get business loans because this is the type of business that is built to remain small. It’s not built to last, either — since the business and the owner are the same entity, the life of the business is dependent on the working years of the proprietor.
Hold a yard sale. If you have a yard or garage and plenty of items to sell, you can have a yard sale as early as tomorrow. By advertising your sale on local Facebook pages and Craigslist, you can also skip the paid newspaper ad and keep all of the profits for yourself. If you don’t have time to price everything, try asking patrons to “make an offer” or grouping similar items on tables with an advertised price (e.g. everything on this table is $5).
Once you’ve gathered a list, put together a template outreach email (as you’ll be doing this over and over) that’s short and clear with expectations. Tell your potential interviewee who you are, what your podcast is about, and what you’re asking of them. Do a few test interviews with friends and family to make sure everything is being recorded at the quality you want and then book your first episode.
Once you’ve chosen a name and business structure, filed paperwork with the state and set up your website, you’re ready to get going with your online business. Remember that the Internet is a busy place and you can’t sit back and wait for customers to come to you. Look for ways to actively promote your business through online advertising, social media and old-fashioned word of mouth.
Do you have a big ticket item or two that you only use part-time? We are living in an age of “peer sharing” which has opened a door to earning income from renting everything from RVs (Outdoorsy) to sailboats (see Sailo). This works for smaller items, too. KitSplit lets you lend out professional cameras. If you have a desirable item that costs more than the average person can afford, someone out there may be willing to pay to borrow it.
Considering that you have a finite amount of time, passive income should make up a large part of your work. And if you're serious about generating any semblance of income online, then passive income should be one of your sole goals and ambitions. Why? Simply this. Wouldn't you prefer to do the work one time and get paid repeatedly as opposed to relying on your time to generate that income?
Rent out a room on Airbnb. Living near a tourist area has its perks, including the prospect of renting out a room for a profit. With home sharing sites like Airbnb, you can rent out a room in your home – or even the entire place – for a day, a week, or longer. If you have extra space and might enjoy the company of travelers, renting out a room is great way to earn some extra money with little effort on your part. See our post, “How to Make Money as an AirBNB Host.”
Run virtual errands. If you have a computer with Internet connection and are good at searching the Web and communicating with others, you can become a virtual personal assistant with Fancy Hands. The service hires assistants, who set their own hours, to help its users tackle tasks such as making calls to service providers, scheduling appointments, and finding the best prices for services and products. You get paid per task, starting at between $3 and $7.
You’ll also need to have some technical know-how if you want to be marketable as an online writer. You don’t need to be Bill Gates, but you should at least know how to add a link and crop a picture. You can practice some of these skills by playing around with a free WordPress site, experimenting with features and publishing a few stories. That way, you can gain experience and create a small portfolio of articles you can share with other businesses when you want to start applying to writing jobs. According to Payscale.com, the average annual salary for a writer in the U.S. is about $48,000.
Serve as an online juror. Some attorneys use large panels of online mock jurors to get feedback on their cases before they go to trial. However, the mock jurors must live in the county or federal district where the case will be tried. You can sign up at a couple of sites and receive e-mail notifications if a case is posted in your area. EJury.com pays $5 to $10 per case via the online payment system PayPal. You can't be an attorney, paralegal or legal assistant – or even related to an attorney – to participate. EJury says you're likely to have better luck getting picked if you live in a large metropolitan area, where more cases are tried, rather than a rural area. The average case takes about 35 minutes to review. At OnlineVerdict.com, where cases typically take between 20 minutes and one hour to review, fees range from $20 to $60. Payment is made by check.
If you have experience as a personal assistant, secretary, admin assistant, or something in a similar field, then becoming an online PA may be a great role for you. Many professionals want someone to help organize their business and personal affairs. Jobs could include sending emails, managing financial affairs, booking flights and arranging day-to-day activities. If you are interested in this line of work there are many PA agencies that are crying out for reliable assistants.
Research individual companies in your desired niche: If possible, it’s always better to become an affiliate directly with a company (if they have an internal affiliate program), as no one else will be dipping into your commission rate. This is the preferred route for most of the prominent affiliate marketers, including Pat Flynn. Unfortunately, it’s also the most work, as you’ll have to do the research yourself to see who offers programs (they’re usually listed in the website footer).
I know that in the ecommerce and physical product world, there are a lot of costs up front, which vary depending on the product. Sometimes you’re going to have to spend a significant amount of money up front to pay for a mold, like Bret Miller did with his product Brik Book, which is a physical product with a specific shape that needs to be reproduced on a large scale. The mold itself could cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. In this case, a crowdfunding campaign could be an excellent option to cover those costs. Listen to Bret talk about the story of Brik Book on SPI 217.
The larger the company, the more requirements and prerequisites they likely have in place. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even though you may need a newer computer, they may be offer health insurance and a full-time schedule. There’s always a trade-off. Know that more scheduling freedom and flexibility and less management oversight may mean lesser pay or no benefits.
Selection. One of the keys to success on Etsy is selection, according to industry insiders. In fact, the goal of most serious shop owners is to have at least 200 items for sale. If you’re creating all of those items yourself, that’s a pretty big time commitment. But the more options you give to your customers, the higher the chances that you’ll make a sale.
Advertise! Whether you pay for advertising or you trade advertising with related websites and blogs, or you use free search sites, the important thing to remember is to put in the time and keep track of what works. Search out other websites and blogs with similar content and leave comments with your contact info. There are services that will do all the marketing for you for a fee, but to start out, you can do the marketing yourself. Fiverr.com will advertise your website starting at $5.
OneOpinion— signing up is completely free, as it should be. This survey site, like many others, works on a points system: 1,000 points = $1. Once you reach 25,000 ($25), you can choose to cash out via PayPal or an Amazon gift card. OneOpinion also offers product testing, which means you have the opportunity to test new products at home before they hit the market.
It works essentially the same way as the phone apps do above. If you don’t care to let Google know what you do on a daily basis, you can make money from home by letting them monitor your Internet usage. They use the information they gather to help them market/increase the functionality of their advertising programs when targeting users that are similar to you.
GlobalTestMarket — They pay up to $5 per survey just for sharing your opinions. Joining is easy — just enter your email address, fill out some information about your household, and you’re in. GlobalTestMarket has paid out over $34 million to members worldwide since 2014, so needless to say they’re the real deal. When you sign up with GlobalTestMarket, you’ll be automatically entered into their sweepstakes to for a chance to win $2,000.
Upwork: This website offers a great marketplace for selling just about any professional service. You don't need a merchant account, website of your own or anything else for that matter. All you need to do is be able to provide a high-quality service at a reasonable price. But be informed, you will have to compete with many others that are constantly bidding on open jobs.
Whether you have a website or are still dreaming up ideas for a blog, you can also look into affiliate marketing. With affiliate marketing, you partner with brands and businesses within the content of your website. If you mention a product or service, you link to that produce or service using a unique affiliate code you received when you signed up for that particular affiliate program. From there, you’ll make money any time someone buys a product or service through your link.