If you're one of the millions of other Americans who are out of work right now, you may find yourself spending hour upon hour surfing the web. You search for job openings, catch up on the latest financial news, do a little Facebooking and earn a few bucks. Wait a second … what was that last part? You read that right: you can paid to surf the web. (Get on top of this week's most important financial news in minutes with Water Cooler Finance.)
In Pictures: Lazy Ways To Save Money
You've likely seen the overly-enthusiastic infomercials about how "you too can work from home in your pajamas!" Of course, you probably assumed it was too good to be true. While some of these work-from-home schemes are nothing but scams, it is possible to make money online. You won't get rich with these jobs, but they could be a quick and easy way to pad your pocket while you're out of work. (For more insight on some of these scams and how to spot them, see Recognize And Avoid "Work At Home" Scams.)
Amazon's Mechanical Turk
This "artificial artificial intelligence" program created by the ingenious Amazon Web Services offers up human intelligence tasks (HITs) for workers. MTurk allows businesses to hire people working from home to complete tasks that cannot be accomplished by computer programs. These tasks may include anything from writing product descriptions and transcribing podcasts to making posts in fan site forums or writing blog reviews.
As an MTurk worker, you can search through the list of available tasks and select the ones that interest you. You'll earn anywhere from 10 cents to $5 per task, and it may take anywhere between 60 seconds to a few days to complete each project. While you're probably not going to bring home enough bacon to make that down payment on your dream home, you might earn enough quick cash to pay off a few bills.
Read Email Offers
Some websites will pay consumers to read email offers from third-party companies. Most of these programs, or "clubs", will pay a few cents for each email you read. While that may seem like working for peanuts, you could make a few bucks if you read enough emails.
However, as with any other "get paid to work online" scheme, be sure to do your research before you start working for one of these sites. Search online for reviews of each club to figure out which ones are legit and which are not worth your time.
Take Online Surveys
Do you think this article is (a) Excellent; (b) Satisfactory; (c) Substandard; or (d) Absolutely Dreadful? Believe it or not, you can earn some quick cash answering simply survey questions just like this one. Some survey websites pay consumers up to $5 per survey.
Of course, you'll want to do your homework on this one, too. Search online for paid survey site reviews to find out which ones are worth joining. Some sites don't actually pay in cash - they simply offer prizes for people who complete a certain number of surveys. And while a miniature keychain flashlight may be appealing, it's certainly not going to pay the rent. Also, some survey sites require that you earn $50 or more before they'll cough up your cash. You should probably steer clear of these types of sites.
If you're interested in survey work, check out MySurvey.com and American Consumer Opinion Panel (acop.com). Both of these survey sites consistently earn high reviews.
Hook Your Friends Up With a Great Job
While you may be focused on landing a job for yourself these days, you could earn some major moolah by connecting your friend with the right career. There are many employer referral websites that will pay you to do just that.
Sites like ReferEarns.com and WiseStepp.com connect employers with qualified job candidates. If you refer a candidate who gets hired for the position, you could end up $50 to a few thousand dollars richer.
Advertise on Your Website or Blog
If you have your own website or blog, consider advertising other people's products on your page. Search for companies offering products that are somehow related to your website or blog, and find out if they have an affiliate program. If so, they may be willing to pay you to promote their products or services on your page.
However, it's important to realize that you won't make any money on these ads unless they prove to be successful. There are three primary types of affiliate ads: pay-per-click, pay-per-lead and pay-per-sale. They are all performance based, so you won't earn any dough until your website or blog readers start clicking the ad or purchasing the advertiser's products. (Find out what defines a great finance blog in 4 Traits Of A Top Financial Blog.)
The Bottom Line
It's clear that you can make money online, but be careful out there. Don't get sucked into one of the countless online scams that promise to pay big bucks but never deliver. If you do your homework, find the most legitimate work-online programs and really put your mind to it, you may be able to earn enough cash to carry you to your next job.