A get-less-poor-quick scheme?
June 5, 2012 4:54 PM   Subscribe

How can I make some extra money while working full time?

I work almost full time (my hours vary a little) but I'm not quite making enough to make ends meet. Because of my schedule it would be hard to find a second job. What are some other ways I could make a few extra bucks?

I'm thinking of maybe online stuff, or legitimate work from home jobs (if those exist.) At my current job I can spend a fair amount of time online doing something else unrelated to my job. I also could sell on eBay if I had something to sell...

I'm pretty artsy-crafty, I like to knit, I'm handy, and I love animals.

So, any ideas of ways to make some extra money that could work with my schedule?
posted by catatethebird to Work & Money (15 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Have you considered an Etsy store or something like selling knit goods or handicrafts at the flea market/craft fair/whatever thing of that sort exists in your area?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:03 PM on June 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

For a little while I had a freelance thing on the side where I did interview transcription for documentaries. It paid about $1 per minute of transcribed footage, a little more if they needed specific technical stuff or a quick turnaround time. It amounted to an extra $50 here and there, for an hour or so of work (I'm a quick typist).

I was working directly with some people making a documentary; I think it's possible to make more money at it if you go through a transcription service. (maybe google "film transcription service", "documentary transcription service", or even just "transcription service"?)

I found this gig via the craigslist TV/Film/Video job section. I have a little experience doing documentary research, and my regular job is in the film industry, but aside from fast typing and accuracy you don't really need any special skills.
posted by Sara C. at 5:13 PM on June 5, 2012

If you love animals, you could be a dog walker or petsitter! Especially if your less-than-full-time schedule leaves you out of work earlier than most people, so you can do afternoon walks to relieve a dog before the owner gets off work.

I started just dogsitting for friends and coworkers, and it's a nice extra $100 or so when they go out of town for a few days.
posted by shortyJBot at 5:27 PM on June 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I second the etsy shop!

Also perhaps teaching craft classes perhaps?
posted by xicana63 at 5:37 PM on June 5, 2012

Leapforce or Lionbridge. It's work from home, rating search engine results. Not difficult, and it pays in the $12/hr range.
posted by woodvine at 5:40 PM on June 5, 2012 [12 favorites]

You'll only make a little bit of money doing it, but you could fill out surveys like those from Angus Reid. They offer them via email to you after you sign up, and you can cash them in after accumulating $50. It's an easy thing to do while at your real job.
posted by barnoley at 5:43 PM on June 5, 2012

As someone who at one time made a pretty good side income via knitting, I do NOT recommend it.

It was only marginally feasible for me because I happened to hit on an item that only took 3 hours for me to knit, cost about 10 cents in yarn, and which I could turn around and sell to collectors for $30 - partly because at the time, I was the only one offering it.

This item worked out to about $8/hour in income for me, once I took into account all the listing fees and such. I was willing to do it for that, but after a year I got pretty sick of being a one-woman sweat shop.

With very few exceptions, the market is just not willing to pay a fair price for knitting. You would have to charge $200 for a pair of socks, or $400 for a scarf in order to make it worth your time.

One exception is very haute couture items, but you have to do a lot of legwork to build your business offline first.

The other exception is collectible/novelty items, things that appeal to a very specific sub-set of hobbyists. MANY OF THESE INVOLVE COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. For example, if you try to sell Dr. Who scarves, the BBC will be on you like crazy. But there is a market for these tchochkes - Angry Birds toys, the companion cube from Portal, that sort of thing. If you are involved in a fandom, keep an eye out for something like this.

The final exception is in selling knitting patterns. If you like to design, and can explain things well, there is a market for PDF knitting patterns. Ravelry is a great place to sell these.

My personal experience is that the market for knitting patterns has dwindled somewhat over the last few years. But on the up side, it's a great example of that fabled "passive income" that the scamsters are always talking about.
posted by ErikaB at 5:54 PM on June 5, 2012

Looking after pets while people are away is very lucrative. You should know how to care for pets, have reliable transport, love animals and know pet emergency care basics. You charge a daily fee for stopping by and spending an hour in the evening with their pet(s), replenishing water and food, and cleaning up and/or walking. A cute touch one pet sitter did was to send short emails from the pets to us while we were away, adorable! You should start advertising to friends and print a set of business cards to give out. The local pet sitters are booked up months in advance here and do it as a full time job.
posted by meepmeow at 6:24 PM on June 5, 2012

Etsy is kind of a shady company, so I would not recommend that route myself (I hate them).

I'd go with meepmeow; the pet-care angle can be shockingly lucrative; my uncle (high-level gov't administrator who really did not need money) took up dog walking in his retirement because he liked dogs, and found himself making a staggering amount of money (as in >$30K). Thirty grand, from dog walking!! No joke (actually, it was more like 36K).

So, IMHO, think seriously about the pet care angle and be prepared to be more monstrously dependable and reliable than you ever thought possible from a human being (e.g.: set the ringtone for any client to be the maximally irritating noise you can, so that you always pick up). An hour or two at night, set up a nice password-controlled site where people can see pics of their pets (snap a shot a day), maybe some additional "above and beyond" type of touches like that, and you can probably gather some reasonable pocket money at least.

Dog walking takes more time than you seem to have, but home-care at nights can still be profitable I think. Again, you must be massively responsible & also obviously massively responsible.
posted by aramaic at 7:05 PM on June 5, 2012

If you're willing to make your money in very small increments, check out Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Some of the tasks are really dumb but others actually contribute to research and innovation.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 9:14 PM on June 5, 2012

I've used Mechanical Turk a fair bit — both as a researcher and as a "worker" — and it's a good service but a lousy way to make money (unless you live someplace with a very favorable exchange rate with the US Dollar). It's really difficult to make even the equivalent of minimum wage there.

The people within the US who do a lot of work on that site do it with the attitude, "Hey, it's like I'm getting paid two bucks an hour to play minesweeper." Which is cool if you'd be spending that time playing minesweeper anyway, but not so cool if you'd be spending that time on some other money-earning activity that nets you more than two bucks an hour.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:27 AM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've made some money on the side the last few years with an art/craft side gig. I've got an etsy store and it makes some money, but the majority of my income comes from in person sales or from a local comic shop where they sell my stuff. I'd probably do really well at a craft faire or flea market stand, but I don't have the time to make enough stuff to make that worth while.

My general advice for anyone looking to start selling arts or crafts is this:

If you go down that path, don't forget to account for cost of materials, equipment, and time. If you decide to learn something new realize that will take some time and there will be a learning curve. Try to enjoy it, because like ErikaB said, it's no fun to work in your own sweatshop. Don't discount your time. Charge fairly. Look at all selling options and locations. I keep meaning to expand to other online venues, but time is an issue.

I love the idea of dog walking/animal babysitting. My friends are always traveling and always trying to get someone to watch/feed the animals. My other friends are always complaining when the get guilted into doing it for free. No idea if there is anything like a Vet First Aid class or cert that you could get, but I can see people really appreciating that.
posted by PlutoniumX at 8:53 AM on June 6, 2012

What about software usability studies? I work at a software company that pays test participants $100 for an hour-long session. We post on Craigslist in the jobs/etc. section but I've seen ads for similar studies in gigs/computer. You'll need to be comfortable with narrating your thought process and being recorded (screen and audio, sometimes video). These usually take place during business hours, but if you can swing a 9-10am session or find evening sessions, it might be worthwhile.

If you can't get away from work or shift your hours at all, UserTesting.com, Userlytics, and TryMyUI all pay $10 for a 15-20min session, and those can be done from home whenever you want. Only screen and audio are recorded there.
posted by kiripin at 11:48 AM on June 6, 2012

About Mechanical Turk... it can be a good way to make extra money, but you need to be careful. I made a little money no MTurk a while back, jumping around from job to job until I found a good, well-paying job no one else seemed to know about. At my peak, I was making about $13 an hour for a job (or HIT, in MTurk lingo) that I found enjoyable. Not bad for something with a completely flexible schedule that requires no real skills. One one-time survey assignment even paid me $8 for about 10 minutes of work!

There are a lot of potential downsides. Most of the work is tedious, and pays terribly. Jobs pay by the assignment, not the hour, so if you're slow, you might be making a few dollars an hour, or less. Even for the quick, it's hard to make more than $3-5 an hour on many assignments. And if your work is rejected, which can happen for little or no reason, you don't get paid for that job. Also, since many of the jobs consist of rapidly click-click-clicking on things as fast as possible like a crack addled Diablo player, carpal-tunnel is a very real concern. And it gets better... there's no workman's comp, so if you turn your tendons into useless, engorged meat-ribbons, you're on your own!

That said, if you want some extra money and you like computer-based work, you could do a lot worse than MTurk. The good jobs are out there, even if they tend to go fast. If you're the kind of person that can throw together a semi-coherent 500-word essay quickly, you can make $10-25 per hour. The trick is to work fast, to be smart about which jobs you choose, and to find the good jobs before they're gone. If you're getting started, Turkopticon is an incredible resource. It features tons of user-created reviews, so you can see which HITs pay well, and which ones you should avoid.
posted by Green Winnebago at 6:04 PM on June 6, 2012

OP, how are your writing skills? Since the introduction of electronic hand held readers, a lot of amateur writers are self-publishing through Amazon, Smashwords, etc.

For a 4000 word short story you should be charging $2.99 per download. And it has the bonus of doing the work once and then is a bit of 'set and forget'.

In particular, erotica for women seems to sell well. Though not sure if you want to be caught writing that at work!
posted by Cattaby at 6:24 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Where Do I Go?   |   Where can I watch Filipino news with English... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.