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10 Flexible Side Gigs to Bring in Extra Income

Nancy Mann Jackson

Because You Want More

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Making extra money is always a bonus. No contest.

Even better? When you can do it in your pajamas or while binge-watching Broad City. Whether it’s because you can’t currently expect to make more at your day job or need an extra few thousand to pay off debt (or make a splurge or invest!), there are some surprisingly easy ways to get paid.

Here are 10 simple side gigs to get you started.

Be a ‘Middleman’ on eBay

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“When people think of making money on eBay, they usually think about selling the junk in their garage and basement, which of course offer limited products,” says Nisa Schmitz, media relations manager at Doubledot Media, which offers drop-shipping on eBay. 

The genius behind drop-shipping: You never actually ship anything — or handle the product. Instead, as Schmitz explains, “After you make a sale, the company ships the product directly to your customer for you.” And you get a percentage of the sale.

SaleHoo, an online wholesale directory of more than 8,000 prescreened suppliers (such as Gap and Playskool), offers a marketplace for those interested in serving as the “middleman” on eBay, meaning you act as the storefront selling wholesale products. The site explains all the details.

Capitalize on Your Car

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If you own a car, you could be making money with it. As the concept of the sharing economy grows, more people are looking to rent other people’s cars rather than purchase their own. Sites like Relay Rides and GetAround can connect you with people who may be interested in renting your vehicle by the hour, day, week, or month. 

If you’d rather keep your own keys, consider offering rides to others for a fee. Drivers for Lyft earn up to $35 per hour and set their own hours, according to the company’s website. Lyft currently operates in about 20 cities throughout the United States.

Become a Mystery Shopper

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Sue De La Bruere started working as a mystery shopper with Jancyn to make extra money on a flexible schedule without committing to a regular job. Mystery shoppers frequent retail stores, restaurants, and other places of business and report on their experiences to help companies measure their customer service. 

“Shoppers make their own schedules and take as many or as few assignments as they would like,” De La Bruere says. “Some shoppers take just a few assignments per week and make perhaps $100. Others consider this their full-time job and make closer to $500 per week.” For De La Bruere, the side project turned into a full-time commitment. She now serves as a project manager for the mystery shopping firm.

Start Affiliate Marketing

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“Businesses are always looking for new customers, and some are happy to pay you for them,” says Jennifer Martin, a business coach and owner of Zest Business Consulting in San Francisco. “All kinds of companies, from Amazon to Starbucks to Weight Watchers, are looking for affiliates to help them reach out to new paying customers.” Many of these businesses will provide you with a unique URL (which includes a personal code) to share with potential customers. When a new customer uses that link to make a purchase, you make money.

For instance, Martin serves as an affiliate marketer for a Web hosting company. When people use her link and sign up for the company’s services, she earns a commission. You can find out about affiliate marketing opportunities through specific companies’ websites or affiliate consolidators such as Share a Sale or Rakuten Affiliate Network. To learn more about affiliate marketing, visit Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training portal.

Be a Direct Seller

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We’ve all been annoyed by an acquaintance who couldn’t stop themselves from contacting you about their direct selling opportunity du jour. But that doesn’t mean you should be turned off by the entire industry. Plenty of people make an enviable side (or full-time) income through direct sales for established companies, and these sales opportunities come with the resources and support of a large organization.

For instance, Haizel McIntyre, a 34-year-old mom in Bronx, NY, started selling Avon products in 2008 to help supplement household income during the economic downturn. Since then, Avon has allowed her to stay home with her three children, helped support her family, and enabled her to return to school and earn a master’s degree. Other cosmetics companies offer similar programs, including Mary Kay and BeautiControl.

But direct selling isn’t just about cosmetics. You can also work from home and set your own hours selling health and wellness products (such as Advocare), pet products (Pawtree), and accessories (Thirty-One Gifts).

Join Focus Groups

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Companies interested in improving their marketing efforts often conduct focus groups of potential customers. And if you’re willing to spend the time participating, you can earn extra money. “Companies are willing to pay you for your insight as a consumer and sometimes they’ll even arrange to come to your home,” Martin says.

For instance, a few months ago, a company paid Martin $250 for spending two hours talking with three people about snack foods and tasting some cookies. “Not bad for making money from 6 to 8 pm in my own home when the only thing I’d normally be doing is eating dinner,” she says.

To find companies looking for focus group participants, check out FindFocusGroups.com or search job postings on Craigslist with keywords such as “market research,” “paid study,” or “surveys.”

Rent Your Stuff

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You know all that stuff in your storage closet, garage, or basement that you know you’ll need someday? There are probably other people who need it for a day as well. And thanks to the Internet, you can connect with those people and rent your tools, party supplies, electronics, furniture, appliances, baby gear, and just about anything else you can think of. 

Through sites like Zilok, you can list tools, furniture, video game consoles, and other items. Then people can simply rent them for an agreed period of time — and you get paid. It’s an easy way to make money off items you already own.

Start Consulting

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Companies pay big bucks every year for outside consultants. But rather than working with large, expensive consulting firms, many are finding they can get the same skills by hiring individuals (like you). For instance, HourlyNerd links highly educated professionals with big and small companies that need consulting help to solve challenges. 

For instance, Christine Schuldt of Wellesley, MA, a former marketing executive who left her job to stay home with her young children, now earns significant side income through consulting. In the past year, she’s completed five projects, mostly in marketing, via HourlyNerd. “It’s a way to resume your career, reboot your skills, meet interesting people, do stimulating work, and make additional income,” Schuldt says.

Join an Online Jury

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“Trial attorneys are frequently looking for people to weigh in on real cases that may not have gone to court yet,” Martin says. “They rely upon online jurors to help them determine what an average group of people might think about the merits of the case or how they might respond to their tactics or concepts.” 

To help them prepare cases, attorneys may hire one of several companies that offer access to regular people who can serve as online jurors. Those companies, such as Online Verdict, will pay you for your review or consideration of the attorney’s case. “On average, if you meet their criteria to qualify, most people earn between $10 and $60 for their time,” Martin says.

Rent Your Spare Room

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To make ends meet while launching her mobile dating app business, Lori Cheek rented her New York apartment on Airbnb, a site that connects would-be travelers with locals willing to rent out rooms or their entire home. Now she makes extra money managing a friend’s apartment on Airbnb while her friend travels extensively. 

Sites like VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and HomeAway also offer marketplaces to advertise your home to potential paying guests while you’re away. Or if you have friends who will let you sleep on their sofas, you can make extra money renting your home without even leaving town — which is what Cheek did for almost 14 months.

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