It can be hard to know where to begin when it comes to the ever-expanding world of side hustles and online sales. It might help to start with what and who you know, by providing a service you’re good at or selling goods you’re familiar with to friends, family members, and others who may be in the market for what you have to offer.
You could find you’re more prepared than you thought to branch out with your own business. Here are some potential opportunities.
Gigs for Go-Getters
Some of the go-to jobs for earning extra cash are bartenders, restaurant workers, ride-share drivers, delivery drivers, and personal shoppers, the demand for which ebbs and flows.
It may take some shoe leather and social networking skills, but there’s work out there for go-getters who know where to look—and how to spread the word that they’re available. Here are a few ideas.
Dog Walker and Pet Sitter
As long as Americans have pets—85 million U.S. families do—and take vacations and work trips, and generally work a lot, there will be a need for pet care.
There’s always a dog walking and pet sitting market for ambitious animal lovers with friends or acquaintances who need an occasional assist with their precious pets. And during any surge in animal adoptions, there are more families looking for help.
Using a well-known social networking site or a pet sitting site could help get attention and build the business. Cash payments can make this a good gig for those who don’t want to wait for their money.
Caregiver for Children and Adults
Not an animal lover? What about kids or the elderly? Good caregivers are still a necessity, and friends and neighbors may like the idea of hiring someone they know to be kind, fun, and careful.
Caregivers may have to go through a more in-depth vetting process than pet sitters do, so be prepared to answer lots of questions (Do you have experience? What would you do in an emergency? Will you cook and clean?).
There might even be a background check. Pay rates depend on the age and number of people being cared for, if transporting them will be part of the deal, if there are any special needs, and other factors. But this is another gig with quick-cash-payment potential.
Human Billboard/Sign Spinner
You’ve likely seen these folks on the side of busy roads, promoting local businesses by flipping a sign or prancing around in a costume. OK, it might not be the greatest job in the summer or dead of winter, but those who throw themselves into their work can have fun and could earn at least minimum wage.
(According to ZipRecruiter, the average wage for a human billboard in the United States is $24 per hour.) There are companies that provide these workers, but if you know a business owner, you might be able to talk your way into a job on your own.
There are companies that match up qualified, willing workers with people who need to have various chores done—everything from mounting a TV on the wall to assembling furniture to cleaning the gutters.
Errand runners can sign up with TaskRabbit, for example, and after going through a background check, they’ll be notified when there’s a suitable task available in their area. Thumbtack is another popular lead-generation site, but it focuses on home improvement.
But with word of mouth, and maybe some flyers, business cards, and/or social networking, it may be possible for people with the right skills to build their own clientele. (One of those skills might simply be the ability to patiently wait in line at the bank, post office, or car wash as part of the errand.)
Just as it would with a web-based service, the pay rate for self-employed errand runners can vary depending on the task. It may be necessary to get a business permit as well as property, liability, and other types of insurance protection.
Unemployed and underemployed writers, designers, artists, and other creative types may find that there are lots of businesses out there that would love to make use of their gifts without hiring them full time. Talents-for-hire can spread the word (creatively, of course!) on social media sites.
LinkedIn’s job search tool can help connect freelancers to companies and individuals looking for help. A growing number of other websites match freelancers with long- and short-term gigs.
Cashing In on Unwanted Stuff
The list of items an individual may be able to sell fast includes everything from inherited jewelry to plasma. Here are a few less-painful ideas to consider if you’re thinking about how to make cash quickly:
Designer Clothing, Shoes, and Bags
There are a few ways those who like high-end goods may be able to get back some of the bucks they spent for those brand names. Sellers can post their gently used items online through a specialty site like Poshmark or thredUP, or on eBay or Craigslist.
Or they can take their designer goods to a consignment shop that targets bargain shoppers who like exclusive labels. (The speed of both online and in-person consignment sales will, of course, depend on how long it takes for the right buyer to come along.)
For a quicker cash payment, sellers may want to take their on-trend items to a store like Plato’s Closet, Style Encore, or Once Upon a Child. The store staffers will review the goods and pay cash for items deemed worthy of resale.
Gift cards are great—unless you stick them in a drawer for safekeeping and forget to use them, or if the giver gets it wrong and picks a store or restaurant that isn’t one of your favorites. But if you can remember where you stashed them, those cards could hold some value.
You may have family members or friends who will buy a card at its full amount. And if that doesn’t pan out, a gift card exchange—a sort of online consignment shop for gift cards—may be an alternative worth checking out.
There are a few different formats and payment options at sites like GiftCash, CardPool, and CardCash. A little research may help with finding a site that’s safe and the right choice for your needs.
Here’s another gift that might be sitting in a drawer unused: Aunts and uncles, grandparents, and family friends love to give young children savings bonds. But parents and kids often forget about them by the time the bonds (and the kids) have matured.
Those who can put their hands on their old paper bonds can cash them at most local financial institutions. (The U.S. government’s Treasury Direct site has a calculator for determining how much paper bonds are worth.) Those with electronic bonds can log in to TreasuryDirect and follow the directions to have the amount due credited to a checking or savings account.
Items From an Old Hobby
Maybe you have an old guitar stashed in a closet, or some hockey equipment that’s in good shape but is no longer used. There are several websites and stores where musicians, athletes, and others can sell secondhand items and get some quick cash.
Stores like Play It Again Sports and Music Go Round will pay on the spot for sports and exercise equipment or musical instruments they want. Or sellers may be able to put their items on consignment at those locations.
Of course, there’s always Craigslist, eBay, or Amazon Marketplace. And, again, there may be the possibility of making a sale to a friend, family member, or acquaintance.
It can be tough to toss out or recycle old tech—who knows where it might end up? But those laptops, phones, and tablets have to go somewhere to die. And you might be surprised by how much your unloved iPhone is still worth.
Cash seekers may want to empty their junk drawers and closets and check out one of the many websites devoted to buying and selling used computer equipment, CDs, DVDS, video games, and more.
One of the best known is decluttr, which offers fast valuations on several types of tech, pays for shipping, removes personal data from the devices it buys, and pays by direct deposit or PayPal.
Gamers who prefer to sell in person can stop in at their local GameStop store—or they may want to start with the app to learn the current trade values on games, consoles, accessories, and electronics. Most trades are done for in-store credit, but stores may offer cash for select items.
Cashing in by Cutting Back
Another way to reinforce your financial picture may be to rework your budget and find ways to lower costs. Is it possible to delay a major expense, such as a big vacation or home renovation? Or would cutting a little from a few different categories (clothes, entertainment, food, or personal care) make more sense?
If sticking to a budget hasn’t been a priority until now, opening an online bank account like SoFi Checking and Savings® could help. The SoFi® app shows where a budgeter’s money is going, for easily tracking progress.
SoFi Checking and Savings® offers cash-back rewards—which means purchases from some pretty cool national and local brands might earn something back. Every little bit can help the bottom line—now and always.
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