If I tell you that you can make money using the Internet without leaving your PJs, you’d probably expect me to continue with a sob story about a Nigerian prince or sell you a training course to be a stay-at-home medical transcriptionist. While “get-rich-quick” schemes abound, there do exist some legitimate portals to make a small but potentially steady income online.
Unfortunately, there are far more scams than there are legitimate avenues of income. Beware of any offer that requires you to supply a credit card, pay for “training,” or fork over a membership fee. Avoid doing a Google search for “make money online,” unless you want to test your ability to sniff out a shyster.
If you’re crafty: Do you have a talent for crafting something beautiful, delicious or unique? Etsy (www.etsy.com) is one of the most well known sites for talented and creative folks to sell their handcrafted gems. While the pool of fellow crafty sellers is large and joining the fray may be intimidating, Etsy attracts a huge following of potential buyers who are in the market for handmade goodies. From clothing (sewn, knitted, etc) to stationary to art and much more, anything you lovingly create can find a buyer at Etsy. There’s no membership fee. It’s $.20 to list an item for four months or until it sells and a 3.5% fee charged on the sale price, but it’s hard to argue with the exposure you can gain from their community of 15 million users. It’s got a classier feel than eBay and users trust that the products will be as advertised so you don’t have to mess with bidding or micromanaging your reviews to create credibility – just produce a high quality product and get it to buyers in a timely manner.
If you’re a know-it-all: Whether it’s professional expertise or just that you just know a lot about a lot of things, you can get paid for answering questions submitted through Just Answer (www.justanswer.com). Simply complete an online application and online profile, take a test to qualify your skill set and verify your credentials. Categories range from those you’d expect (legal, medical, technology, relationships, etc) to more diverse (dream interpretation, clock repair, etc). You can even request that a new category be created to accommodate your special branch of knowledge. Users submit questions and offer a value for the answer. If you successfully answer the question, the money offered by the submitter is credited to your “Expert earnings account.” Once your account has more than $20 in it you can cash out via PayPal.
If you have a quirky talent: Can you draw quick cartoons from any joke? Make up catchy jingles on a whim? Speak fluent pig latin? Offer up your services on fiverr (www.fiverr.com) for – you guessed it – $5 a pop.
If you have more time than money: You can do a bunch of odd jobs paying a few cents to a few dollars per task through Amazon Mechanical Turk (www.mturk.com). They call it “Artificial Artificial Intelligence.” Some examples of available jobs are classifying or tagging images, translations, categorizing statements, reviewing and reporting how you feel about a web site or product, and basic data entry. The list of HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) is long though the rewards are small. The idea is that if you do enough small tasks it can add up to a more lucrative reward to offset your Amazon shopping habit. Do a good job and you can earn qualifications that will allow you to accept more advanced (and theoretically higher paying) jobs. Just browse their extensive library tasks that you think you can handle, submit your work and if the requestor approves your submission money is automatically deposited into your Amazon Payments account.
If you’re sure that your opinion matters: While taking online surveys certainly won’t make you rich, you can at least avoid the “secret shopper” scams via MindField Online (http://mindfieldonline.com). Their site doesn’t specify how much you should expect to earn per survey, only that once you’ve collected $5 you can request a payout via check, paypal or via Amazon Cashout. Members are invited to participate in surveys via email based on their qualifications so you have to wait for them to contact you with an offer. Survey participants are also automatically entered into drawings for cash and prizes.
Finally, if you have a skill, marketable service (pet sitting? Office organization?), or are available for rent (setting up for a party? Running errands?), consider listing yourself through a local online network such as Craigslist.