From time to time, we all have to deal with our bank accounts looking a bit thin. When you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you have inconsistent hours, you’re building a business, or your work is seasonal, it can be hard to cover the gaps between steady influxes of cash. On the other side of the equation, you may be looking for extra ways to make money to pay off debt faster, save for retirement, or fund a vacation.
Whatever the reason, there are some pretty creative ways out there to make money and fill your wallet right up. From freelancing on the side to renting yourself out as a friend for the day, there are countless ways to make money outside of a traditional career path.
Many make it easy to earn extra income without requiring a degree, or special training or equipment. These are the ones that we focused on. They offer a low barrier to entry, zero or minimal costs, and you can choose as few or as many as you like.
Here are some of the most creative ways to make money that we’ve come across:
Play with Pups
If you’re an animal lover and you enjoy being outside, this is the perfect creative gig for you. Websites like Rover and Petsitter.com let you sign up to walk dogs or board them when their owners go out of town. Rover is essentially a social media platform that connects dog walkers to dog owners in their area.
You’ll create a profile, answer questions about your experience with animals (they like it if you have a dog or pet of your own), and provide your availability. Walking dogs can earn you some serious dough if you put in enough time, but offering boarding (at your home or theirs) will get you there even faster. Owners will reach out to ask you to walk, sit, or board their dog, and you can accept and decline requests as you please.
This one is bound to make a few people squeamish, but it’s an easy way to make some extra money while also helping other people in a really valuable way, too. It doesn’t get much better than that. If you’ve ever donated blood before, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect, but there are two notable differences: donating plasma takes about an hour and a half and you can expect to get paid between $20 and $50 for each donation.
Blood plasma is used in products that help individuals with blood-related diseases and clotting disorders, so you can feel good about this creative way to make money. Individual companies might have different requirements, but generally, you can donate if you’re between 18 and 69 years old and weigh more than 110 pounds. Depending on your size and the rules of your specific center, the number of donations you can make each month will vary, but you can make up to $300 each month in this category alone.
Take Polls and Surveys
Since the technology boom, dozens of sites have popped up that are willing to pay consumers for their thoughts. There are plenty to choose from, but which ones are worth your time? Some of them stand out among the crowd when it comes to ease of access, legitimate earnings, and customer support. They’re good for different things, so you can try each one and see what best fits your needs or choose based on their areas of expertise:
- M3 Global Research (great for individuals with health concerns like psoriasis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes)
- MyPoints (great for general and easy to answer polls and surveys)
- Swagbucks and Inbox Dollars (great for people who want a variety of options: points for downloading and using coupons, playing games, watching videos, and taking surveys)
- Survey Junkie (great for straightforward surveys and relatively quick accumulation)
The great thing about survey and poll sites is that you can do most of the tasks while you’re getting other things done. You can let videos play, play games, or answer easy surveys while you’re watching TV, on the phone, or cooking dinner. It may take a while to cash out on some of them, but it’ll add up with minimal effort if you do it right.
Sell Things Online
From the clothes taking up space in your closet and old books to items you found on Craigslist, you can make a lot of money selling goods online. If you’re creative enough, you can make jewelry, craft unique gifts, or stitch pillows out of nostalgic fabric items sent to you from your customers. Poshmark is great for selling clothes, and you can sell handmade items just about anywhere – Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Facebook’s marketplace, and more.
If you’re good with sandpaper and a paintbrush, you can snag free or cheap furniture off of websites like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook’s marketplace, or from tag sales or friends that are upgrading. Spruce up your finds and flip them to make a profit! You can sell them in all the same places or try local secondhand furniture stores.
Become a Mystery Shopper
If you have a good memory or you’re good at covertly taking notes, you can take advantage of these skills by mystery shopping. Companies like Market Force and Best Mark will let you sign up for free, choose your projects, go undercover, and report your experience. You’ll get a detailed list of things that you should be looking out for or marking down to send back later.
Mystery shops that require that you take a stealthy picture or two will often pay more. Don’t worry, you won’t be taking pictures of any other customers or employees, they’re mostly just checking to make sure signage is put up or certain items are stocked. Mystery shops at fast-food restaurants are a win-win; you’ll earn a fee for going and gathering information and they’ll typically also reimburse you for your meal, so you’ll get some extra cash and free breakfast or dinner when it’s all said and done.
Other Creative Ways to Make Money
The ones listed above are some of the easiest ways to earn, but they’re not the only ones. Everyone’s different and you might be looking for options that make more money, take less effort, or can be added to your routine on top of the other ones you’ve chosen to try out. Luckily, we’ve got some ideas:
- Sell the photos on your phone to companies like Shutterstock
- Rent out your extra room or in-law apartment through Airbnb
- Teach classes online with platforms like Udemy
- Work as a freelance writer, proofreader, or graphic designer on Upwork
- Sell your cleaning, painting, or building services on sites like Task Rabbit or Fiverr
- Offer babysitting services on Care.com
- Drive for Uber or Lyft
- Deliver food for Uber Eats, GrubHub, or Door Dasher
- Mystery shop at breweries with Secret Hopper
- Complete data entry and transcription jobs through sites like Clickworker, Upwork, and Smart Crowd
- Create your own blog
- Self-publish your book or short stories through Amazon’s KDP program
- Rent out your fancy clothes to borrowers on Style Lend
- Make money being a buddy on Rentafriend.com
- Participate in paid sleep studies
Which Creative Method is Best For You?
When you know your skills and interests right off the bat, it’s easy to determine what path to take. But some of us need a little bit of guidance in figuring out what will make us the most money or be the best fit. With so many different options to choose from, it can feel impossible to get started.
Our first tip: don’t get stuck caught up with analysis paralysis. Leaving all of your options open can make the process confusing and discouraging. Make or print out a list of all of your different options, and start by crossing off the ones that don’t appeal to you or don’t fit your skills. The process of elimination can be incredibly valuable here and you’ll feel less overwhelmed as your list shrinks down to a reasonable size.
If you love dogs, but you’re deathly allergic, you know you can cross Rover right off of your list. If you’re interested in donating plasma, but you’re terrified of needles or blood, you can cross that option off, too.
If you have a lot of new or gently used clothing or furniture or you’re great at searching free pages for things to flip, leave the idea of selling things online open on your list. Similarly, if you have a closet full of yarn or art supplies and you love creating things, you know you can use your creativity to sell items online, so leave that one open, too.
Once you’ve decided what you don’t want to do, you can take a look at what’s left. Try to organize your remaining options in an order that makes the most sense to you. You can highlight in different colors, use post-it flags, or stars. Whatever organizational method you choose, this step will make it easier to come back to your viable options and skip over all the rest.
Separate your creative ways to make money into different categories, like things you can do at the same time, “must explore” options, and backup options. Having your list broken down into categories will make it easier for you to prioritize. Now, all that’s left to do is get out there and start earning!