15 Crazy Money-Making Ideas That Actually Worked

By Mikey Rox, Wise Bread on 30 May 2018 0 comments
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15 Crazy Money-Making Ideas That Actually Worked

Lightning only needs to strike once in Idea Land to have a legitimate hit on your hands, but what you do with that flash of inventiveness could mean the difference between a lifetime of grind or an early retirement. Take these 15 brilliant business ideas, for instance. At first glance, they might seem absurd (and some of them are!) but not to the people from whose minds they came. To them, they represent dreams realized, risks taken, and sacrifices made that, in the end, resulted in cold-hard cash. From invisible boyfriends and glitter bombs to pet rocks and edible insects, check out these crazy money-making ideas that looked iffy on paper but downright spiffy at the bank. If you're also looking for a bit of extra cash, check out these 14 fast money jobs you can start today.

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1. Professional cuddling

After self-described "relationship coaches" Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski founded Cuddle Party in the mid-aughts — which launched in New York City to huge media fanfare — it was only a matter of time before the concept was gig-a-fied so future pro cuddlers could cash in on the trend. What started as platonic group events evolved into one-on-one arrangements costing the client between $80 to $100 for an hour of spooning affection through companies like Snuggle Buddies (which strictly hires female cuddlers and offers $330 overnight sessions), allowing its founder to rake in about $50,000 a year just for playing matchmaker.

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2. Excused absence note writing

We've all needed a believable doctor's note to excuse an absence from school or work — despite that we weren't sick at all — and finally along came the genius who recognized our plight and turned it into a business that for $1 per trial subscription allows customers to download more than 30 authentic-looking excuse notes that cover everything from the classic physician's note to notes from dentists, gynecologists, cardiologists, chiropractors, dermatologists and more.

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3. Fake wishbones

Most families serve one bird at holiday meals, like Thanksgiving dinner, and we all know what that means: Wishbone fight! To ward off post-food-binge brawls, however, Lucky Break Wishbone manufactures plastic wishbones (to the tune of $2.5 million a year) so everybody at the table has a chance to vie for the bigger half and inch one step closer to the total fulfillment of their deepest desires — like another slice of nana's from-scratch pumpkin pie.

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4. Cat cafes

Cat cafés, a novelty concept from Japan that made its way to America's shores a few years ago, initially had skeptics wondering if proprietors of these glorified adoptions facilities were sniffing a little too much 'nip. In fact, they've not only succeeded in their respective markets but thrived into expansion. The San Diego Cat Cafe pulls in $10 per customer to visit with adoptable felines after an iced latte, while Catsbury Park Cat Café & Tea Lounge in Asbury Park, N.J., charges between $5 and $9 for a 30-minute reservation, depending on the age of the visitor. If you can't make it to a cat café near you — Philadelphia; Denver; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Los Angeles; and Central Ohio all have their own versions — check in on the Cali-based crew via San Diego Cat Cafe's live feed.

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5. Toilet-odor sprays

You may not remember where you were back in 2013 when you saw Poo-Pourri's viral YouTube advertisement, "Girls Don't Poop," but it's highly likely you're one of the more than 40-million people who chuckled, shook your head in disbelief, and then went to the company's website to learn more about the bathroom-odor-preventing spray. Maybe you've even tried it yourself. It would make sense since the brand, developed by husband and wife inventors Hector and Suzi Batix, is now worth more than $300 million off an initial $25,000 investment.

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6. Edible bugs

Like most dads, Bill Broadbent fielded lots of off-the-wall questions from his son, Sam, like why humans don't eat insects. Broadbent fed the 13-year-old a requisite answer to fulfill his curiosity, but the teenager, not satisfied with the response, did a little digging of his own. Sam found that not only do humans consume insects regularly in other parts of the world, but bugs are also considered a superfood and a sustainable source of nutrition. After further research, the Broadbents went into full bugs-as-snacks production and now their business Entosense exists as the primary source for edible insects in North America. If you're feeling adventurous, try EdibleInsects.com's chupalines — toasted grasshoppers with lemon, salt, garlic, and chile.

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7. Invisible boyfriends

Don't have time for an in-person romantic relationship? No sweat. For $25 a month the Invisible Boyfriend app lets you give the impression that you're not a commitment-phobic hermit by providing a realistic digital boyfriend (or girlfriend) who will exchange 200 texts per billing cycle plus send one handwritten note that you can show all your friends. He'll never embarrass you, either: You choose his name, personality, and photo, so you can lie to your family in perpetuity (or as long as you have the disposable income) about how incredible figment-of-your-imagination adventurer Chase Atlas is despite that he's never available for holiday dinners.


8. Private-jet cards

If you can't afford a private jet of your own (or just don't want the responsibility of owning one), you can purchase flying time on a luxury airliner via a jet card that essentially acts as a debit card with increments on average of 25 to 100 hours. To capitalize on this niche but profitable market, Forbes.com contributor Doug Gollan created the website PrivateJetCardComparisons.com by using the information he compiled on an article he was writing on the trend. Access fee to the service is $250 a year (chump change for his target demographic), which saves subscribers dozens of hours of research and money in comparing the more than 65 variables on how jet-card programs differ. Fourteen months from launch, Gollan reports five-figure monthly sales that are growing steadily.

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9. Celeb-inspired rubber ducks

There's a buyer for everything so proves Craig Wolfe, founder of CelebriDucks.com, a rubber-duck manufacturer that designs floating fowl in the image of famous people and characters, like Harry Potter, KISS's Gene Simmons, and even President Trump. Voted as one of the Top 100 Gifts by Entertainment Weekly and featured on programs like The Tonight Show and Conan, CelebriDucks is now the top custom duck maker in the world with partnerships that include the New York Yakees, SeaWorld, Harley-Davidson, and The Jersey Boys on Broadway.

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10. Mystery box delivery service

The Sampler, an early subscription box filled with — what else? — samples of doodads and thingamajigs, helped kick off the now-saturated box-with-mystery-stuff delivery trend (there's an estimated 400 to 600 different kinds of boxes in the United States alone), but it wasn't until Birch Box's meteoric rise (it was valued at $485 million in 2014) that consumers started adopting the concept in droves. Today, there's a box for just about everyone, including amateur sleuths who enjoy solving monthly mysteries with the help of puzzles, documents, and online integration of the physical clues provided. Click here to read our review of the best meal subscription services.

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11. Post-party cleaning service

La di da di, you like to party, but you dread cleaning up the morning-after mess. Hangover Helpers feel your pain (well, maybe not your full pain), but they do have crews ready to whip your place back into shape while you recover. If you're in Australia, plan ahead or call for emergency services when you peel yourself off the floor and you'll be treated to a thorough scrubbing plus breakfast for two starting at $200 a pop for two rooms, one outdoor area, and one bathroom and toilet.

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12. Million-dollar homepage

Build it and they will come. That old adage has never been truer for anyone more than amateur website designer Alex Tew, the college-bound student who created the self-descriptive Million Dollar Homepage, dedicated to hosting image-based links (mostly companies' logos) that he sold for $1 per pixel. An Internet sensation from the get-go, Tew sold all one million pixels in less than six months, bringing his gross take to $1,037,100, and his college tuition paid in full.

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13. Rent a chicken

Raising backyard chickens is increasing in popularity across the United States — especially among city-dwellers — but unless you've done your research on how to raise egg-laying hens successfully, your efforts could be a flash in the pan. Rent The Chicken removes all that guesswork by delivering the proper tools to hitting the ground clucking, including a portable coop, chickens, food and instructions, for $400 to $1000 per season, and retrieving the components at the end of the period.

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14. Pet rocks

Perhaps the most famous of all the crazy money-making schemes that worked is advertising exec Gary Dahl's Pet Rock. After printing a punny "instruction manual" that treated the rock as a real pet and designing die-cut boxes to resemble live animal carriers, the then-39-year-old took a chance on his bar-napkin idea that eventually sold 1.5 million Rosarito Beach rocks at $4 a piece. Dahl cashed out as a multi-millionaire in early 1976 when the concept was discontinued, less than one year after hitting the market.

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15. Glitter bombs by mail

To put the sales-generating power of glitter bombs in perspective, a pound of the reflective plastic particles sells for around $7 on craft-supply site Paper Mart (the lowest we found it) while glitter-bomb purveyor and day-destroyer Glitter Grenade sends about an ounce of the sparkly stuff in a mailed envelope for nearly $10. Upgrade to a spring-loaded, glitter-filled tube like the ones offered by Ruin Days and you're in for about $20 plus tax. But that's all relative (a small price to pay, actually) when you're vying for Most Inconsiderate Person Alive.

This article by Mikey Rox was originally published by Wise Bread.