Strapped for cash? No worries. Pay off the bills or pay down your debts by taking on a little work on the side. It’s easy to get work these days, as long as you don’t want a full-time job with benefits. That’s a big problem, but that’s not what this story is about. This is about how to make some extra cash in your spare time. If you’re reading this, you have an Internet connection and a computing device, and that’s all you need to get going. Here are 10 ways to make extra cash now.
1. Be a Product Tester
Companies that create software and websites rely on consumer testing at every phase of development, to refine their product before it launches. A number of websites have emerged to fulfill their product testing needs economically, and they need people. UserTesting pays reviewers $10 for each 20-minute session. All you have to do is use the site as directed, while your comments and keystrokes are recorded.
2. Surf for Swag
Sites like Swagbucks pay users in gift cards and vouchers for future online purchases from their websites of choice. It’s not cash, but it’s almost as good, since the choices include sellers of absolutely everything, like Amazon and PayPal. Participants earn points for a variety of online activities including answering surveys, watching sponsored videos, playing games and using Swagbuck’s own search engine. When it comes time to shop, however, beware of retailers’ offers of gift cards in return for shopping. You could easily end up spending more than you earn.
3. Market Your Own Media
If you are very active on social media sites, or have your own website or blog, you might as well choose the advertising messages that appear on your pages, and get paid for them. Affiliate Window is among the sites that allow users to identify products and services that they think will appeal to the people in their online circles. Participants are paid based on clicks.
4. Join the Crowd.
The concept of “crowdsourcing” really grew up with the web. To crowdsource is to divide a big project into many small tasks to be completed by many individuals. Sites like Mechanical Turk, which is owned by Amazon, offer as little as a penny a task, with the option of completing as many tasks as the individual claims. Examples: find and record the home page address of a nonprofit organization, for 10 cents; categorize a real estate image as “indoor,” “outdoor” or “other,” for 2 cents; annotate a short basketball video, 10 cents. The way to make this pay is to pick a routine task, and repeat many times.
Whatever skills you have, they’re in demand somewhere. Join one of the many freelance sites like Upwork (formerly Elance) and get to work, as much or as little as your spare time permits. Or, join a site like Angie’s List or TaskRabbit to sell your services locally. (Also see: 6 Top-Paying Freelance Jobs and The Most Popular Jobs for People 65 and Older.)
6. Help Somebody.
Businesses like Care.com match up families that need loving care for children, seniors, shut-ins or pets, with people who can provide that care. Babysitters and companions, housekeepers, errand runners and party helpers all are in demand. Specialized services like tutors, pet trainers and groomers also find work here. Sittercity matches parents with sitters and nannies, say for after-school care. Skillshare looks for online tutors in many skills, and claims its teachers earn an average of $3,500 a year.
7. Find a Creative Niche.
Etsy is the best-known site for hand-crafted goods, selling an astonishing variety of clothing, jewelry, leather and wood crafts and more. And, in case you haven’t heard, behemoth Amazon.com is about to enter this space. That’s the big time for small artisans.
8. Bike for Fun and Profit.
You know you need to exercise. Why not make money at the same time? Through its app, Postmates supplies messengers for business deliveries in and around an expanding list of metro areas. Messengers can deliver on foot, by bike or by car. Postmates claims its delivery people can make up to $25 an hour.
9. Use Your Space.
Sites like Airbnb and VRBO are competing with hotel chains around the world by matching up homeowners with an empty nest and travelers who need one. You can rent a spare room, an empty house or even your living room couch. These sites are no longer just for backpackers. Accommodations range from crash pad to high style. (For further reading, see How To Make Money With Airbnb: Risks & Rewards.)
10. Sell Some Stuff.
eBay is practically a grande dame of the Internet now, having been founded in 1995. But don’t overlook its power to help you get rid of stuff, and make money in the process. Next time you clean out a closet or a china cabinet, make sure you check for similar items on eBay.com. You may be surprised at the value of the things you’re hoarding.
The Bottom Line
You’ve got to love the Internet, if only because it opens up such a wide variety of flexible side jobs. If you’re short on cash, find one or more that meet your interests and qualifications. Then go for it, in your own time.