Earn Extra Income With These 15 Creative Side Gigs


Loving gives thrills, but doesn't pay the bills!

From making rent to saving for your daughter's college fund, there is always one more bill to take care of, so some people have to get really creative when it comes to making a buck. (See also: 10 Awesome Jobs You Didn't Know Existed)

Think your job is strange? Then check out these crazy careers.

1. Golf Ball Diver

Most golf driving ranges and clubs have attendants who are in charge of picking up golf balls around the property. However, there are some balls that are just too hard to recover. For example, what happens to all of those balls that end up in water hazards? Here is where golf ball divers come to the rescue. The reward for recovering professional golf balls is so hefty that some golf ball divers are willing to even chance swimming in gator infested waters for a pay day.

2. Bounty Hunter

There are fictional, intergalactic bounty hunters, such as Star Wars' Boba Fett, and there are real bounty hunters, such as Duane "Dog" Chapman and Ralph "Papa" Thorson. "Papa" Thorson had a career that spanned over four decades and according to a 1987 Los Angeles times article he caught over 12,000 fugitives. This industry makes money in two main ways. First, by taking around a 10% cut of the bond for services rendered. Second, by training security staff and newbies in skills, such as "psychologically overwhelming the weak," for a cool $427 per student.

3. Manager of an Internet Star Pet

Mackenzie Kosut was happily making a living as a Tumblr Web engineer when he unexpectedly landed on a great way to make some side cash. He started posting photos of Tommy, his 11 year-old Pomeranian, and people went nuts. With several hundreds of thousand of followers, Kosut was able to cash in on Tommy's popularity by selling stickers ($1), necklaces ($12), earrings ($12), and phone charms ($6). Other famous Internet pets, such as Grumpy Cat, Marutaro, and Menswear Dog have even been able to sell coffee drinks and model for magazines.

4. Viner

No pets? No problem! If you are funny and have a knack for entertainment, you can become the next Internet sensation through Vine, the six second selfie-video sharing service. Take for example, Lauren Giraldo (aka Princess Lauren), who gets a $2,000 check every time she promotes a good or service to her over 2.5 million followers on Vine. The more followers, the more cash. With over 5.4 million followers, Curtis Lepore makes about $8,000 per 6-second video and is able to sustain a six figure annual income.

5. Test Prep Master Teacher

There are teachers, and then there are master teachers. Companies, such as Manhattan Prep, recruit only teachers that are able to score in the 99th percentile on official standardized tests, such as the GMAT, LSAT, and GRE. On top of that, you need to survive a grueling application process that weeds out about 99% of applicants. But if you make it, then you'll be making $100 per hour. Rocket scientists, start your brains!

6. Crime Scene Cleaner

You can invest in becoming a certified crime scene cleaner. Why? Bio-technicians, that's the official title, have to meet such stringent requirements that they are able to charge up to $600 per hour, depending on the required level of decontamination (e.g. dealing with dried blood, removing brain tissue…).

7. Pedicab Driver

This job is great for those obsessed in keeping in shape and limiting their carbon footprint. In New York, you can register your pedicab (a bicycle-powered rickshaw-type vehicle) and carry tourists around Times Square and through Central Park. Pedicabs can also be found in San Diego and other cities across the U.S. Once you make enough money, you can invest in some extra pedicabs and build your own fleet of drivers.

8. "Premium" Pet Groomer

Some people figure that when it has been a hard day's night and your dog has been working… well… like a dog, it deserves some pampering. Entrepreneurs around the country are starting to provide pet grooming services that go the extra mile. With extras, such as plum facials, UVA/UVB leave-in conditioners, and blow dry de-shedding treatments, it is not a surprise that estimates value the pet grooming market at around $4.11 billion.

9. Sexy Coffee Shop Attendant

There's coffee time, and then there's sexy coffee time. Around the U.S. there are several coffee shops that are spicing up the coffee shop experience with bikini-clad baristas. One of the pioneers Cowgirls Expresso with over 15 locations in the Seattle and Tacoma region, but there are plenty more in other cities, including Santa Ana, Honolulu, Phoenix, El Paso, and Denver. Bikini-clad coffee shop attendants often claim that they make more in tips than their regular coffee shop counterparts.

10. Fireknife Dancer

As a Hawaii resident, I love events when the lights dim, the drums start beating fast, and the fireknife dancing master pops out in full blazing glory. These brave performers make a living by showcasing their art at major events and participating at major competitions such as the World Fireknife Championship. Don't think that this job is just for people living in Polynesia; the 2014 World Fireknife Champion is from Orlando, Florida.

11. Parking Spot Host

It was only a matter of time until somebody invented the Airbnb for cars. With JustPark you can rent out every single one of your parking spots. This is a very easy way to make some side money. Just imagine: Rent out your driveway from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. while at work, and then, if possible, rent out your office parking spot for the rest of the day when you head home. The best part? You don't have to meet or talk to absolutely anybody.

12. Hair "Retailer"

If you saw the Chris Rock documentary Good Hair, then you know about the billion dollar black hair industry. If you want a piece of that action, then start hitting the hair salons and stores offering your silky smooth locks. Heck, depending on your hair quality you might even score up to $4,000. Also, you can auction your hair from the convenience of your home at HairSellon.com and OnlineHairAffair.com.

13. American Ninja Warrior

This popular TV show is already on its sixth season gathering top athletes from all around the country. People compete for a chance at the coveted $500,000 prize. Even if you don't win, by making a big impression, you can still cash in your performance:

14. Billboard on Wheels

You can get paid up to $400 per month to drive your own car, as long as you're willing to let somebody "car wrap" your ride. A car wrap is a vinyl decal that fully covers your vehicle in an eye-catching design. If you are stuck in traffic often and don't mind being the center of attention of everywhere you drive, then you can submit your registration to car wrap programs around the country. Most companies require a minimum commitment ranging from 6 to 24 months, depending on advertiser.

15. Professional Cuddler

If you answer "Yes" to all of the following…

  • You are so good at hugging that people just linger in your hold for a tad longer.
  • You don't mind being affectionate with strangers.
  • You are cheerful and love hanging out with both guys and gals.
  • You believe in the power of the human touch.
  • You have a lifetime subscription of Purell.

…then you could be making about $60 per hour as a professional cuddler!

What are other unusual ways to make money? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture

I didn't know about the professional cuddlers. Another way of making money is participating in research experiments at local laboratories or universities. You get compensated for your time and contribute to science at the same time. I suggest people to go online and research for any experiments or go directly to the university and seek fliers looking for participants.

Damian Davila's picture

That's a great tip! I participated in several marketing and psychology experiments during my college days. My favorite experiment was one that involved measuring the effects of eating steak three days of the week. Getting paid to eat a free steak three times a week was one of my highlights of my university days!

Guest's picture

Wow I did not know that about Viner. It sounds really promising. And about Crime Scene Cleaner isn't it a little bit scary :D

Damian Davila's picture

Yup, first there was Instagram. It allowed people with several followers to cash in with advertisers to feature their products. Once Vine became popular, Instagram recognized the potential and that's why Instagram's developers added the video features. Ka-ching!

Guest's picture
Adam Rector

Haha, many of these were certainly eye-openers. Those top Viner salaries are staggering.

Damian Davila's picture

I know! Imagine that kind of cash for a 6-second video, crazy!