We all could do with a few extra dollars in our pocket, but unless your boss is a fan of giving you free money, you'll have to work for it. Thankfully, you can do a lot of that work in your spare time. Here are some of the best ways to make some extra money, ranging from the super-lazy to the intensely-engaged.
The amount of money you can make from a side gig depends on your skills and time commitment. Maybe you're just looking for some extra spending money, or maybe you have a specific goal. Here are some options to consider, sorted by how much effort you'll need to put in.
- Low-Effort, Passive Techniques
- Moderate Effort, After-Work And Weekends
- Techniques That Require Dedication Or Regular Attention
Low-Effort, Passive Techniques
The best money-making techniques are the ones that require the least effort, right? If you're super lazy or you're already tapped out, try these methods to make money in the little spare time you have.
Sell Your Unwanted Stuff
The fastest (and admittedly most obvious) way to make some extra money is sell stuff you don't want. Have a ton of books you've read or don't read? Try to sell them before you donate them. Old furniture you'd like to replace? Offload it to a neighbour or via eBay. We've shown you how to sell just about anything for the most possible money, and the beauty is that once you've done the legwork of taking pictures and writing a good description of your item, you're good to go.
Whether you're decluttering because you just have too much stuff, or you're downsizing for another reason, you can make a tidy sum from your old furniture, electronics, media, toys and other unwanted items. You may need to hang onto them until they sell, but once they do, you'll be happier with the cash than you were with the thing that was taking up space, we promise.
Rent Out Your House Or Car
If you don't mind dealing with people or you travel often, consider renting out a room in your home on AirBnb. If you live in a major city, renting your room can bring in a decent chunk of cash. Even if you're home, you can rent a spare room to passers-through, tourists or travelling students. In most cases they won't need anything from you but a bed to sleep in. If you're the hospitable type, you can be quite the local ambassador to your guests. Follow our tips to not get screwed.
If renting space in your home isn't your style, why not rent parking space if you have one? Parking spaces can rent for good money, especially if you live in a busy area or near public transport.
Monetise Something You Already Do for Fun
Perhaps the most low-effort way to make money is to monetise something you already do. That way you don't add more to your plate. If you enjoy shopping, for example, consider becoming a mystery shopper, or someone paid to shop in retail stores and report on the service you received and your experience in the store. It's an industry rife with scams, but real mystery shoppers do exist.
If you love photography, you can sell or license your photos.You can sign up with a stock photo site such as Shutterstock or iStockPhoto and sell your photos there. If you're the crafty type, Etsy is still a great place to set up shop and sell the things you make, whether you knit hats for cats or you have a special spice blend that all of your friends beg you to make. Competition on all of these services can be fierce, but once you're set up, you're good to go.
Moderate Effort, After-Work And Weekends
If you're willing to put in a bit more sustained effort, or do something you wouldn't normally do, there are some more time and energy-intensive options out there. Payouts vary depending on how much energy you really want to put into them:
Answer Questions, Do Research, Or Complete Simple Online Tasks
You might be surprised how much work and research there is for a real person to do on the internet. Even in the age of Google, there's plenty that teachers, journalists, students, and paralegals need actual human eyes on. Sign up for Amazon's Mechanical Turk, for example, to try your hand at some of those tasks that require human eyes and can't be done by a machine.
Sign Up for A 'Runner' Service Or Sell Your Expertise As A Freelancer
We've shown you how to fix irritating life problems with Fiverr, but have you considered signing up and offering your expertise? Services such as Airtasker are also a good option if you have spare time and are willing to perform general jobs.
Perhaps you'd rather become a freelancer. List your services on sites like Airtasker or Freelancer.com. They're not necessarily a great way to make a living long term, but they're good for people just starting out who need to find clients and build a portfolio. Plus, they avoid you having to work for free just to get started. Again, the competition can be ridiculous, and you may compete with someone from a country where the dollar goes much farther for the same job, but again, if you're in it for side income, money is money. Both sites have opportunities for writers, developers, designers, marketers, and many other categories. Once you have a body of work, start networking, get real clients and new ones through word of mouth, and you won't need the sites anymore. You may even be in a position to go full-time freelance, if you're ready for it.
Sell Your Services to Your Neighbourhood
Cut down on competition and offer your services to people in your neighbourhood — people you actually know and can interact with in person. Most people still want someone trustworthy to watch their kids while they slip away for dinner and a movie, or someone to feed their cats when they're on a business trip, or walk their dog while they're at work during the day. If you work from home, this can be even easier: It's not much to get up once or twice a day, visit a few friends in the neighbourhood, check on their pets, then go back home and go back to work.
Offer to rake leaves or mow lawns. You'll have to clean up your own yard, why not get a few bucks for doing your neighbour's too? Handy with computers? Offer to fix your neighbour's PC — for a fee, of course. It's an especially good option if you live in a neighbourhood with busy professionals, elderly neighbours, or anyone else without the desire or means to do the job themselves. Even if you donate your services a few times, it won't take long before they offer to pay you for the work, and you'll foster a friendship with your neighbours at the same time.
Techniques That Require Dedication Or Regular Attention
Finally, here are some money-making methods that will take some real effort and dedication. In return, they can pay back handsomely, but you have to put the energy into them to get the returns. Before you get started with some of these, make sure you have a bit of a passion for them:
Tutor Students Or Teach A Class
Everyone has something they can teach to someone else, and tutoring students or teaching your own class is a good way to make some extra money teaching someone something you love. Tutoring is especially great if you have a few hours a week to dedicate to a student and you're familiar with a subject area enough to help them with their curriculum. Take on multiple students and you have a pretty steady revenue stream. You can offer your services on community message boards or through Gumtree.
Start a Blog Or YouTube Channel
Starting a blog, by itself, is not a good way to make money. You don't just start typing and watch the money roll in. However, the keys to a successful blog have been the same for years: write in your own voice, cover things you're passionate about, use the right tool for the job, and get the word out by engaging the greater community. It will take time, but as you find your niche and stick to your guns, an audience will find you.
Don't be afraid to monetise your blog. Banner advertising and affiliate programs can bring in a good amount of money. Some of the web's most popular blogs rely on affiliate links, including the great guys at The Wirecutter and the style and design blog Notcot. Amazon's Affiliate Program is one of the web's biggest, but Commission Junction supports thousands of online retailers as well. Check with your favourite retailers and see if they have a program you can sign up for. Just make sure to steer clear of shadier advertising methods so you don't risk your site's credibility.
If you'd rather show than tell, consider a YouTube channel. Depending on what you want to do, that ship may have sailed and there will be way too much competition to get noticed (Let's Play videos, game tutorials, makeup and style guides, unboxing videos all fall into that category). However, if you have a good niche or a great angle for your videos, it won't take much to get noticed.
Build A Mobile App
You'll need the skills to write an app first (skills you can learn easily online — we've shown you Android development and iOS development classes in our Lifehacker U series). Developing a mobile app is a great way to spend a good, long amount of time doing one thing and then letting the money come later. If your app is good and fills a real need, it will get picked up by users, tech blogs, and if you're lucky, featured on the app store you publish it to.
If it's a free app that's ad-sponsored, you'll rely on those ads for income. If it's a paid app, you'll get a portion of every sale. Again, it may not be enough to live on, but a small stream of side income from an app you built is always welcome. However, building an app isn't a fire-and-forget operation. You'll have to return to it to fix bugs, re-submit updates, test, respond to comments and reviews, repair it when a new phone or mobile OS breaks it, and so on. It takes dedication and passion to be a mobile app developer, and in some cases it doesn't pay terribly well — but it can pay handsomely if you have a great tool that fills a real need (or a specifically fun game).
Depending on the amount of time and energy you have to put into some of these, you may be thinking you should just get a second job. Some of these very well may be more like second jobs than side-gigs that you can do in your spare time, but it's all about where your passion lies and what you do with that spare time now. If you already dabble in mobile development and want to learn how to build apps for iOS, Android, or any other mobile platform, going all out and bringing it to life wouldn't be a waste of your time, and you can get paid for it.
Whatever you choose, make sure you pick something that matches up with the amount of time and energy you have to offer, and maybe even lines up with your passions. You may find that your passion for writing, for example, leads to a lucrative career blogging on one of your favourite productivity sites (see what I did there?)
Photo by Cre8tive Images (Shutterstock)
This article has been updated since its original publication.