Extra Income Online: 5 Websites That Can Seriously Pad Your Pockets
With the national unemployment rate creeping toward 10%, it’s fair to reason that some of us could use extra cash.
Frankly, even if you’ve still got a 9-to-5, more money in the bank is never a bad thing. Instead of taking on a second, or in some cases, third job to elevate your earnings, consider making use of these websites that can take you from rags to debatable riches. (See also: 9 Ways to Earn Extra Cash When Money Is Tight)
Craigslist has long been a freelancer’s dream, and there are always tons of projects listed in every region that are ripe for the picking. But the classifieds site isn’t just for scoping out potential work. Think about the converse, too — placing ads touting your services. For instance, I run a home-based copywriting and creative consulting business on a limited advertising budget. To expose myself to prospective clients who are seeking someone like me, I create posts in relevant sections describing my capabilities. As a result, I receive at least one inquiry a week, many of which have turned into steady work.
Otherwise, Craigslist is a great way to get rid of unwanted-but-still-valuable junk. Whenever my husband and I upgrade any device — like our iPhones — we list the old ones on Craigslist. They’ve sold quickly every time and at the listed price, which is set at what we paid for the new devices. To be honest, there’s a buyer for just about anything you list, so long as the item is desirable and in good-to-great condition. Best of all, you get the full amount of your proposed price (even if you have to negotiate here and there), whereas you’ll have to pay listing and other fees elsewhere.
Let me start by saying that I think Airbnb is one of the best new websites in recent years — and I’m not the only one: the San Francisco-based startup recently received $7.2 million in Series A funding from investors. The concept is so simple, too, that it makes you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
The concept is that if you have extra space in your home, you can turn it into guest quarters for tourists who will pay you to stay there. All you have to do is list your vacant room, add photos, and complete a profile. Airbnb does the rest, including blocking off reserved dates on your calendar to avoid double bookings and holding rental fees in escrow until guests arrive, at which time you can have the funds sent via check or direct deposit.
In the interest of full disclosure, we’ve been listing our guest bedroom on Airbnb since its launch in February 2009. To date, we’ve made more than $19,000 in extra income (that we duly pay taxes on, by the way. Don’t get all hot and bothered, IRS). It’s become such a success for us that my neighbors have hired me to manage their properties on the site, resulting in even more dough in my pocket because I charge them a percentage. Winner-winner, chicken dinner.
If you have ample space in your schedule (and if you’re unemployed, you do; playing Angry Birds is not your new job, just so ya know), check out Agent Anything, a service that allows any college student (verified by having a current dot edu college email account) to register to run “missions” that can include grocery shopping, pet sitting and walking, house cleaning, etc. As a mission runner, you can set your fee by making an offer on a listed task. If the mission poster thinks your fee is reasonable, you’ll be hired. Agent Anything currently only serves the New York City area, but it promises to expand soon.
When I saw RentAFriend posted on a friend’s Facebook page, I laughed. "Who rents friends?" I thought. As it turns out, plenty of people want a paid, platonic companion. According to Out of the Storm News (in which I was quoted about my participation on the site), 2,700 lonely folks are seeking play pals. Registering is a breeze and the site allows you to set your fee from $10 to $50 per hour of your time, depending on how much you think you’re worth. My fee is set middle of the road at $30 because I’m not greedy or an egomaniac, though some may beg to differ.
In addition, the renter is required to pay any other fees associated with the outing — bar tab, tickets, whatever. Although I haven’t had any confirmed bookings, I did have one inquiry from a guy who was coming to Manhattan on business and wanted someone to go to dinner and a movie with while he was in town. In the end he didn’t hire me, so I’m still looking forward to my first RentAFriend experience. Which means that you should pass me along.
Amazon.com & eBay
Much like Craigslist, Amazon.com and eBay can help you rid your home of unwanted clutter and get you paid for it. Still, there are differences between the former and the latter. Craigslist is great for selling electronics and furniture locally, while the other two sites are more conducive to shilling CDs, DVDs, books, and other shippable wares.
When my husband and I moved in together, I had rows of media that I no longer wanted. Hours after listing the items, they were flying off my shelves. I’ve been a consistent user of the sites for years now, and in the past 12 months alone I’ve pocketed about $500 in cash. In my opinion, that’s much better than $500 worth of dust collecting paraphernalia hiding around my house. Translated, the moolah I made paid my cell phone bill for six months. Not too shabby.