Legit making money from home?
October 26, 2015 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Short version: I can't leave my room, but I can type and mouse. How do I make money under these circumstances? Is Mechanical Turk still a thing? Do things like Hits4Dollars or InboxDollars still work? How else do I do this?

Long version: I'm currently experiencing severe neurological issues that have made things like walking and holding things extremely challenging. In a week with no doctor appointments, I might leave my room once for a shower, getting to the bathroom via wheelchair, and showering in a plastic chair with my carer doing most of the work of making me clean. Sitting upright and holding my head up are hard, but I can do them about 60% of the time. I may have a lot of typos due to muscle spasms in my fingers and forearms, but I'm still able to type. I have some brain fog, but my cognition, logic, and thinking are mostly unimpaired. Speaking is iffy; I often garble words or "lose" them entirely.

I have extremely minimal expenses. I moved in with my carer and his family last December. (He's my best friend, and he and his wife took me in when my health started going downhill.) They take care of food, don't charge me rent. I pay $5 monthly on my student loans. No cell phone payment, no utilities, and my friend puts gas in my car for the few times he drives me to doctor appointments.

However, I do like to have some money of my own for things like ordering a new pair of my favorite comfy shorts, or play-doh, or a hair wrap to dry my hair faster after my weekly showers. Perhaps a new e-book for my Kindle app.

I tried searching the Ask archives, but couldn't find anything recent. I don't want to google, due to the high level of spam I'd find. Hope me?
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess to Work & Money (28 answers total) 148 users marked this as a favorite
What are your skills/education/employment history/interests?
posted by halogen at 3:11 PM on October 26, 2015

Are you eligible for any kind of disability benefits?
posted by telegraph at 3:14 PM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

This might not be exactly what you're looking for (it's not a job), and I've never done this personally - but I've heard good/reasonable things about Swagbucks as a way to earn a few extra bucks each month. Basically you use their search engine (which has advertising) and can also take paid surveys, plays games on their site, some other things like that. This earns you "swag bucks" which you can convert into real life gift cards. I mostly hear of people exchanging their swag bucks for Amazon gift cards.

If you use just substitute Swagbucks for your current search engine, you'll earn a small amount of cashable income each month with essentially no extra work.

A couple reviews that talk about Swagbucks in a pretty balanced way:

Best of luck finding something!
posted by warble at 3:55 PM on October 26, 2015 [6 favorites]


in fact r/beermoney is a good resource overall!
posted by euphoria066 at 3:58 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

If you like reading and you have a college degree you might try scoring written tests for Pearson. (look at the Scoring from Home option)

I worked for them and enjoyed it. I scored mostly high school essays but I once did a test scoring 4th grade personal essays that bordered on fun. (Fun fact: every 4th graders "best day ever" involves either an amusement park or a sleep over.)
posted by Saminal at 4:04 PM on October 26, 2015 [32 favorites]

How long term are we talking? If you're going to be like this for years or a lifetime, it's totally possible to learn valuable skills like system administration or web development, and then build a career from home. Maybe not the most stable or the best paying career possible but a whole lot better than working for a few bucks an hour as a Mechanical Turk.
posted by miyabo at 4:32 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

FlexJobs is one that I was looking at. You have to pay to sign up but it's about $15/month and you can see what jobs are available before signing up to apply. I've searched but haven't signed up or applied there yet.

In general you may want to look into things like social media management and data entry. Lots of companies may need someone to do some odd hours managing their social media pages (responding to messages, etc.) You may also be able to do at-home help chat or help email stuff. Look also at the larger companies websites and see what they advertise for online or telecommute positions.

Good luck! (Also in the physically limited boat here, too.)
posted by Crystalinne at 4:45 PM on October 26, 2015

If you can attract lots of visitors to a webpage, you might be able to use Amazon Affiliate sales or Google Ads to make money. The increase in people using adblockers has made this a lot less lucrative than it used to be, but if you can get a LOT of people visiting your pages or links you might be able to make some spending money.

If you can learn to cold read, you can also do tarot or psychic readings online.
posted by Peregrine Pickle at 4:49 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Swagbucks is maybe a decent option for you to look into. I never did the surveys and whatnot but I bookmarked the search results for pages I visited often (think: metafilter) and clicked that bookmark every time I visited the site. I have obtained a reasonable number of $5 Amazon gift cards this way.

The $5 Amazon gift cards are generally the best deal in terms of cashing them in. You can use multiple gift cards on an Amazon purchase.
posted by telepanda at 5:25 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a friend who makes a reasonable living writing blog entries for corporate accounts. Seriously.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:36 PM on October 26, 2015 [8 favorites]

I used to do Mechanical Turk, during some desperate days. It probably boils down to about $2-3 per hour, working without any breaks and assuming you can find enough jobs to keep you busy for an hour. (That figure is based more on my vague memories than facts. I just remember doing a lot of jobs for a nickel or a dime, and thinking a lot of the jobs were worth a lot more than that.) I've heard of people making some real money doing it, but I sure tried to make it work and it always seemed to max out below $100 a month. That being said, it's worth trying. Maybe it will go better for you, and worst case scenario you'll still be compensated for your time. If you have lots of spare time and patience, it may turn into something for you.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:42 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you have the time to hone a skill, your hearing is good, and your typing is going to stay precise, becoming a transcriber can pay quite well if you are fast and accurate (and sometimes intuitive with thick accents or mumblers). It will start out very low paying but there will always be audio recordings being generated that need transcriptions, and working flexible hours is to your advantage to grab higher paying tasks with fast turnaround demands.
posted by Mizu at 7:01 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Textbroker and Blogmutt. A 250-word post on Blogmutt, for example, pays $8. Nothing that's going to set the world on fire, but it's a little extra spending money. Blogmutt will run your post through a spellchecker and grammar checker before you submit it to the client, so you will have a chance to fix any typos.
posted by Ostara at 7:24 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

I have a friend who makes a reasonable living writing blog entries for corporate accounts. Seriously.

My old roommate did this when she was in a similar situation(rent and food paid, no other money). It wasn't extravagant living, but it paid seriously several hundred dollars a month. That was split between many posts on many sites, but it was a couple hours a day not every single day sort of thing. Lets say you write 3 posts a day, 4 days a week on average on that blogmutt site mentioned above... Every week. that's ~$380 a month. That sounds about right for how much she worked at it and how much she made.

I wish i had some other specific links than what was mentioned in the thread already or site names to give, but i can confirm this is totally A Thing and legit.

Also, if you can end-run the matching site and submit directly to the company/blog you get a bigger cut of it. They're paying that service a lot more than $8. I think she was doing that for at least one "client" eventually.
posted by emptythought at 8:00 PM on October 26, 2015

What are your skills/education/employment history/interests?
posted by halogen at 3:11 PM on October 26 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

I've tutored in English, math, French, music (composition and theory), and history. I've taught piano, flute, and vocal performance, HTML version 1998, and a variety of levels of Bible stuff. (Think Sunday School and VBS.) I have some college, with a decent GPA, but no degree. Employment history is mostly fast food, retail, and private security, working my way into management in each. Interests are reading, music, history, Words With Friends (even though my 90 year old grandmother revels in cheating...), and the proliferation of the Oxford Comma.

Are you eligible for any kind of disability benefits?
posted by telegraph at 3:14 PM on October 26 [mark as best answer] [1 favorite +] [!]

My initial application was rejected last week. Since my therapist was the one who insisted I apply, and I'm seeing her tomorrow, I'm going to look to her for Next Best Steps. I'm assuming lawyer, but as health has taken a marked turn for the worse since my initial application, I'm not entirely sure what to do now.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 8:27 PM on October 26, 2015

My mother in law has slowly but surely built up a good business through Guru.com. Not a quick fix, but you you can edit, code, or write well, you can build up a client base pretty quickly. For a long time she was writing dust jacket blubs for some small romance press.
posted by anastasiav at 9:04 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

Mechanical Turk's still a thing - I do it right now to pay for my cat's ridiculous vet bills. I do it for about 3 hours a night after work, and Saturday mornings. If I don't let myself get sidetracked by Metafilter like I'm doing right now, I can make $70 - $150 a week.
posted by Recliner of Rage at 9:42 PM on October 26, 2015

Bing Rewards is similar to Swagbucks. No cash, but they do offer a $5 Amazon gift card and various fast food gift cards. I use to do surveys for Pinecone Research. It's usually takes a few months to get in though.
posted by 1smartcookie at 9:46 PM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sorry you're in this position right now. It may be a long shot, but you could try to sign up for Task Rabbit and offer to do data entry type tasks for people. I think most people use Task Rabbit for deliveries or, like, assembling Ikea furniture, but data entry is a service they list that you can choose to offer.
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:01 AM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mechanical Turk, in my opinion, doesn't pay enough. When i was playing around with it, I worked it out, and it was less than minimum wage. Also in my opinion - InboxDollars is just a spam generator.

Try MySurvey - You have the option to be paid directly by PayPal. Sure, you technically get more money if you opt to be paid in gift cards, but I prefer cash.
posted by tckma at 4:37 AM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

I believe Rat Race Rebellion is legit.
posted by getawaysticks at 5:55 AM on October 27, 2015

I make an extra $300/week captioning for Rev, which represents about 20 hours of work. If you meet their metrics and reach a certain number of minutes captioned in a month, you get Revver+ status. Meaning you get dibs on the better-paying, easier jobs. You get your payment via Paypal every Monday. It's pretty sweet.

Your English skills will come in handy, as will any skill with internet research (someone says "hadusilly," you use context clues to figure out that what you should really type is Ḫattušili, if someone says "javascript" you best be typing "JavaScript," etc etc). Typing speed isn't a huge deal, but the faster you type, the more money/hour you'll make.

They also offer transcriptionist and translator freelance work if that suits you better. Just as a data point, I applied for the transcriptionist work with a year of professional transcription under my belt and did not meet their standards. That one's notoriously rigorous!
posted by moons in june at 12:23 PM on October 27, 2015 [17 favorites]

I have a side business and use a site called Fiverr to find people to do all sorts of things like take backgrounds out of my photos, write or review copy, do various research tasks, make me explainer videos, graphic design bits and pieces, idiot (me) level seo advice and so on. While the site was originally intended to charge five bucks per job there are lots of people charging more as you can see browsing through the various categories and I am pretty sure I've never paid five dollars for anything. I have used Upwork too, for data entry and wrangling, although I think (possibly incorrectly) that most people there are non US. And have also used textbroker for blog posts and other writing and have paid anything from $50 to $100+ (I think don't quote me) dependent on word count, I guess a writer's rating and rate increases over there as your account matures and you get good feedback. The thing is on all of these sites if someone does a good job you can continue the relationship which I don't think is possible on mturk and the likes.

Also look into how you can get on the radar of the Amazon FBA sellers if you can, lots of them are looking for people to write basic press releases, post stuff to their social media, test sample products, etc.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

I don't have feedback about online jobs, but I just wanted to say that it's pretty common to have to use a lawyer to get disability benefits, even when you feel like it's a pretty clear cut case of qualifying. I used to be a social worker and tons of my clients had to go this route, even when it was clear to a non-medical-professional that an individual couldn't work/had limited ability to work.

It also might be worth looking into the closest Office of Vocational Rehabilitation in your area - they help folks with disabilities get or maintain jobs, and can often pay for adaptive technology that you need in order to work.
posted by nuclear_soup at 6:22 PM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]

My initial application was rejected last week

I don't want to derail since this is not directly answering your question, but I will say that I had a family member who did eventually get disability, but he ended up needing to use a lawyer, and it still required an appeal to get him accepted. I don't have any professional knowledge about any of this, but from what I've heard, it seems like it's pretty common to not get accepted the first time around. I would definitely encourage you not to give up on disability yet. (This is assuming you're in the US.)
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:57 PM on October 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Apparently some people are making a lot of money (and a lot of people are making some money) self-publishing erotica on Kindle. $2.99 seems to be the price point for short novels.

Source: I have personally bought and read an embarrassing number of these novellas and recently started looking into the field myself.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:42 PM on November 2, 2015

Please, please, please appeal the denial of your disability retirement. It is very common to be rejected the first time and then to get it on appeal. Get lots of medical documentation. This is not legal advice, but it is hard for me to fathom that you do not qualify. I realize this isn't answering your question, but you sound a bit defeated (understandably). However, it is absolutely worth your while to appeal. I cannot stress this enough. Get more medical documentation. Do whatever you need to do, but see the process through. Best of luck
posted by whoaali at 8:43 PM on November 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

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