Starting a Band to Make Extra Cash

Starting a band can earn you extra cash. Image by Ghost of Kuji
Starting a band can earn you extra cash. Image by Ghost of Kuji
Starting a band is one of those lifelong dream kinda things, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of your reach. In truth, the likelihood that you’ll hit it big and become the kind of international superstar who performs to sell-out crowds around the globe is really, really low. But if you’re simply looking for a way to get a little extra cash and have some fun, starting a band that plays at weddings, local events and small venues in your region is a real moneymaking possibility. Keep in mind that small bands playing a specific subset of music may end up in more demand than a generic band that tries to play everything- so try to keep a balance between being a generalist and specialist. Think outside the box to find your ideal band- it may be a small chamber music orchestra or a zydeco band or a mariachi band or a tribute band that focuses on music by a small subset of groups from the late 80s. There’s room for all kinds of bands out there, and your community may be particularly lacking in a specific type, leaving a niche you can profitably fill.
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Selling Your Old Stuff on Craigslist

Whether you’re looking to make some quick cash or trying to simplify your life (while trying to make quick cash)- Craigslist is a simple and lucrative way to turn the stuff you own into a bit of extra money. This isn’t a long-term gig (unless you want to turn it into a gig selling OTHER people’s stuff for money- but that’s a similar-yet-different kind of plan)…it IS a way to garner fast cash when you really, really need it, though.

The Practical Part of Selling on Craigslist

The process is pretty straightforward- you pull up your local Craigslist page, click on the category of item you’re selling and follow the directions to list it. It’s a good idea to create an account so you get alerts about your sales and can repost them easily if something doesn’t sell on the first try.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Craigslist

The big advantage is- duh- selling your stuff quickly and getting cash in hand when you need it most (along with getting rid of some clutter.) The disadvantages are that it can be inconvenient to make appointments for people to come pick up stuff and give you the cash, and some things may never sell at all.

Pricing Your Craigslist Items

Pricing might seem like a huge mystery when it comes to Craigslist, but it doesn’t have to be. Search for similar used items in your area or on sites like eBay and price yours about the same. Expect that people will bargain, and plan to get about 10-25% less than the price you ask for.

Finding Items to Sell

The biggest sellers on Craigslist tend to be things like electronics, baby accessories (such as baby swings, monitors, etc.) and camera gear. Things like clothing and books are unlikely to sell because people have plenty of options to get those on the cheap already. Specialty items, such as antiques and collectibles, might do better on a national or international site, such as eBay, because there may not be a huge pool of interested buyers in your town.

Tips for Selling Your Stuff on Craigslist

You’ll get more interest and have better chance of selling at or near your asking price if you make an ad that looks professional. Take a nice photo to post of your item and make sure grammar and spelling in your ad are perfect before you put the ad online. Communicate with potential buyers by email and phone before agreeing to meet them to exchange goods and money- and arrange to meet at a public location (like a coffee shop) if you don’t feel comfortable inviting them to your home.

Teach English in a Foreign Country

This post is a companion piece to the Tutoring for Money post earlier this month, but it describes a slightly different version of teaching and tutoring than your typical local neighborhood gig.

If you consider yourself an adventurous person, you might want to consider heading overseas to teach English in a foreign country. Obviously, this gig isn’t for everyone (people with a full-time job they need to keep, for example)- but if you can take time off from your normal life and want to experience a gig like no other- this could be your ticket to world travel.

How to Get Started

Teaching English overseas starts with finding a company to work with. In some countries, English teachers and tutors are in such high demand that companies advertise on expat sites looking for potential workers and pay for the one-way airfare ticket to get you there (you’ll either have to pay for your own ticket home or in some cases get the return ticket after you complete a 6-month or 1-year contract with the company.) Some well-known companies include English First and Wall Street English, which both have branches in many different countries around the globe. The highest demand will be in places where there are few English speakers, such as in Southeast Asia. If you get a certificate or degree in teaching English, your program may help you find a gig.

What You Need to Teach English Overseas

The main requirement to teaching English overseas is that you are a native speaker. A TEFL (Teacher of English as a Foreign Language) certificate will open up a lot more opportunities (and higher pay rates), but it isn’t an absolute necessity in some areas of the world. If you have any teaching or tutoring experience back home, that can help land a better teaching gig.

Things to Keep in Mind

Accept from the start that you’re not going to get a gig teaching English in Paris, Berlin or Rome. If that’s your goal, it’s just not going to happen. There are already plenty of English speakers with degrees in teaching and a passport or visa that lets them stay in western Europe indefinitely, and they’re already taking the jobs there. Eastern Europe might give you a better chance, and even more so if you’re willing to go teach in a rural or out-of-the-way area. Asia offers some of the best opportunities for English teaching- especially China, Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea. Japan has opportunities, but it’s somewhat saturated with applicants to teach, so you need to stand out from the crowd to get a gig there. South America is another option to consider, and English teachers are in demand in Saudia Arabia and other areas of the Middle East. African countries offer a growing opportunity for English teaching, although there are not as many programs available yet in Africa.

Tutoring for Cash

Photo by Prime Education
Photo by Prime Education

Take advantage of your expert status or your extensive knowledge about a subject, to make money teaching others one-on-one. Getting work as a private tutor is fairly easy, and there’s plenty of work to be had. Here’s the scoop on tutoring for cash.

What Tutoring Involves

Tutors teach a subject one-on-one to someone who wants to learn it. Tutors can make anywhere from $20 to $100 or more per hour, depending on the subject and local demand. High school or college math tutors are almost always in demand, while tutors for elementary school subjects are less needed because more people have the skills to teach those subjects. Tutoring is an especially lucrative side gig for teachers and for anyone with a college degree in an in-demand subject (such as math, computer science, chemistry, or a foreign language.)

Advantages of Getting Paid to Tutor Kids and Adults

One of the biggest advantages of tutoring as a side job is the flexibility. Tutors set their own hours, and you can schedule tutoring sessions whenever you want. You can also opt to tutor in your home or go to the client’s home- or even schedule a session at the school library or in a local coffeeshop. You can even find tutoring gigs on the web, through online tutoring agencies, or you can opt to tutor through a specialized tutoring center that finds clients for you.

Disadvantages of Tutoring as a Gig

The biggest disadvantage to tutoring as a gig is the lack of reliability (a common trait of side gigs in general.) Students might cancel a scheduled session without giving you advance warning, or they might suddenly quit altogether after months of reliable sessions. Holidays and summers are typically slow because students aren’t in school and spend time with their families instead of studying.  Another disadvantage is that you might have to spend time traveling to each student’s house, which cuts into your hourly rate.

Finding Tutoring Gigs

If you want to succeed at finding tutoring gigs on your own, you’ll need a professional-looking website. Use online sites like Craigslist to find potential clients, providing a link to your website in your ad so interested students can see you’re a professional. You can also bring an informational brochure about your services to local schools to let them spread the word among students who might need some extra help in the subject you tutor.

Tips for Making Money Tutoring

The best tutors- the ones who get recommended to friends of their students- are people who are really good at explaining their subject to people who just don’t get it. Try finding multiple ways to explain the same concept, and learn about the different kinds of learners and how to reach them. Someone who is an auditory learner might need to hear you repeat the concept multiple times, while a visual learner will do better if you write or sketch out the idea on paper for them.

Making Money by Hosting a Successful Yard Sale

With summer- and the warm weather that comes with it- in full swing, making some quick cash selling off your clutter is easier than ever. Holding  a yard sale, or garage sale, is an easy, popular way to make money off things you no longer need.

Preparing for a Yard Sale

Before having a yard sale, you’ll need to decide how big of a sale you want to have and whether you want to go it alone or with others. Yard sales can be held on your own or with a few neighbors, or you can gather a group of friends together to hold a themed yard sale (such as a sale of kids’ clothing, toys and furniture that your children have all outgrown.) If you plan to have your sale in your front yard, make sure you have a tent or garage available in case of rain.

Publicizing Your Garage Sale

Signs hung around your neighborhood, ads in your local newspaper or on Craigslist, and flyers handed out to people in the area are all good ways to let people know about your upcoming yard sale.

Preparing the Merchandise

  • Showcase your most valuable merchandise where people can easily see it, and label tables with special items clearly to make them stand out.
  • Make sure prices are on everything. Many people won’t bother asking for a price if it isn’t there, but will instead simply put the item back on the table and move on to someone else’s yard sale. Create groups of products for quicker sales. As an example, if you have 100 comic books, offer them all as a group or in groups of 10-20 instead of trying to sell each one individually.
  • Offer a testing station with an extension cord that lets potential buyers try out electronics before they commit to a purchase. You’ll make more sales and command higher prices when people know that the items actually work.

Closing Out Your Yard Sale

Items leftover toward the end of your yard sale can be discounted to try to get rid of them quickly. Putting up a sign that lets customers know everything will be half off during the last hour of your sale not only encourages people to come back again at the end, but it also encourages people to buy items they really want immediately because the item might be gone by sale time. Excess items after your sale ends can be donated to a local charity-run thrift store, and you can usually take a tax deduction for up to $500 worth of donated items at tax time.

Selling Crafts on Etsy

If you make crafts or other handmade goods, you’ve likely heard of Etsy. Opening an Etsy shop is simple, and extremely cheap. All you need are some good quality photos of your merchandise and a little cash to pay for the ultra-cheap listing fees (20 cents per item for a listing that stays up four months) to get started. If you sell something, Etsy takes 3.5 percent of the price as their fee. You can pay using a credit card or Paypal.

Some ideas of things you can sell on Etsy include:

  • Handmade jewelry
  • Homemade candy or other food items
  • Specialty clothing you’ve made at home
  • Craft supplies you’ve purchased wholesale elsewhere
  • Vintage clothing
  • Vintage collectible toys
  • Holiday decorations made by hand

As you might have noticed, having a crafty hobby can be a big help if you’re thinking of trying out Etsy as a way to make extra money. It’s also a great way to test whether your particular craft will appeal to a large audience. If you aren’t crafty, though, Etsy can still work for you. Vintage items are another huge category on Etsy, especially if you find a specific niche, such as vintage handbags, engagement rings, or kids clothing. Stock up on merchandise at local estate and garage sales, then sell your wares to people across the country who are searching for something that’s easy to find in your neighborhood but lacking in theirs.

If you decide to set up shop on Etsy, stand out from the crowd with a creative shop description, a wide selection of merchandise, and a personal story about your brand that makes potential customers comfortable shopping with you. Being social also seems to help with increasing your sales on Etsy, so join teams and share others’ hard work by creating Treasury lists and you just might find some new friends willing to share links to your shop and specific items in return.

Ten Gigs for People Who Love Kids

Top 10 Gigs for People Who Love KidsIf you’re looking to combine your love of kids with your love of moneymaking ventures- you’re in luck. There are plenty of ways you can blend the two- and most of these gigs are fairly easy and low-cost to begin.

Here are 10 of the most popular gigs for people who love kids:

1- Babysitting. Go it alone via recommendations from parents you know personally or sign up to be a sitter through an agency such as Sittercity.

2- Entertainer. If you’re a whiz at magic tricks or can sing silly songs that keep kids happy- channel your energies into entertaining at birthday parties, daycare centers or summer camps.

3- Tutor. Help kids reach their full potential by tutoring children in subjects you’re good at. Math, science and foreign language tutors (including English as a Second Language) are always in demand.

4-Teach a Skill. Set up cooking classes for kids, give piano lessons, or teach sewing to youngsters. Whatever skill you already have, you can earn extra cash teaching it to kids whose parents want them to learn.

5-Party Planner. If you can set up a party and keep it going smoothly, you’ll be in big demand as a party planner for children’s parties.

6-Childproofing Homes. Set your focus on keeping kids safe by serving as a childproofing consultant for new parents who need help making sure their home is safe for a new arrival.

7-Baby Spa. Open a baby spa where moms can come learn how to give a baby massage and infants with skin problems can get soothing treatments.

8-Home-based Child Care. Licensing and regulations vary by state and city, but if you have what it takes, taking care of other people’s kids in your home can be a fulfilling and lucrative business.

9-Child Photography. Parents love pictures of their kids, and if you can produce professional portrait or outdoor shots you can make money making kids smile

10- Youth Sports Coach. Use your love of kids and your sports knowledge to teach children the basics of your favorite sport.

Uber, Lyft, and Driving People Around for Money

You might have seen the commercials- or read articles about the controversies that driving services bring to many communities when they enter into a new local market. Ride sharing recently got approved by my local city council and there have definitely been some heated debates about the service around here. But have you considered actually driving people around for money yourself?
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How to Make Money Writing Magazine Articles

Writing magazine articles was one of my first gigs, and it remains one of my favorites. Like most gigs, it isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, and it isn’t really suited to people who don’t enjoy writing. If you’re an avid writer who can turn fascinating facts into a coherent article, though, it’s a fairly fun and lucrative side gig.

The key to making money writing magazine articles is persistence. You’ll send out a lot of queries before you get an actual assignment- and your first assignments will all be “on spec”- which means you only get paid if the magazine decides to actually use your article.

Choosing a Market

Let’s be honest- you aren’t going to get a cush assignment from a major newsstand magazine right off the bat. My first publication was in a small magazine aimed at employees of a corporation (I wrote about taming your inner critic.) No one I knew had ever heard of the magazine- but that didn’t really matter when I cashed the $20 check and took myself out for ice cream. After developing a portfolio of work- which shows both your writing skills AND your ability to work with editors- I started getting more lucrative magazine writing gigs. After a while, I built up a stable of regular gigs- magazines that would accept a pitch or even assign me articles every month or two. I made sure to also query markets I had some familiarity with- editors are often more impressed by real-world experiences than any specific credentials you have, and there are magazines focused on almost every interest and hobby under the sun. Trade magazines- aimed at business owners in a specific field instead of the general public-are a really good place to start and tend to pay well.

Query Before Writing

When you’ve got an idea you think would be perfect for a particular market- send a pitch query first before writing the whole thing. A pitch is simply a letter to the editor of the department you’re aiming for, and it should describe the who, what, and why of your idea. There are plenty of good books about writing queries- The Writers Digest Guide to Query Letters is a good place to start – and if you’re serious about writing for magazines, you should aim to perfect your query letter before trying a full article.

The Downside to Writing Magazine Articles

There are a few disadvantages to using magazine writing as a gig. There isn’t a great response rate to queries. Many writers- even great writers who do it for a living- only get a go-ahead on 10% or fewer of their queries. If you can build up to a hit rate of 1 go-ahead per 7 pitches, then you’re doing pretty much everything right.

Another disadvantage is the long wait between turning in the article and getting paid. Many magazines don’t pay until after the article appears in the magazine- and you’ll sometimes wait months after that point. This isn’t a quick-money gig…but if you can cover bills and necessities with your regular job, getting an occasional check for a few hundred dollars makes for a nice chunk of “fun money.”


Five of The Best Survey Money Making Sites

Following up on our last post about completing surveys for money– If you’re interested in paid surveys, here are five of the best survey money making sites to get you started.

1- Harris Polls

Earn points that you can trade in for gift cards and prizes. You also get a sweepstakes entry for each survey you complete. (The sweepstakes prize is cash) Gift card options include Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Groupon, Chilis, Applebees, Starbucks, and others. The surveys are in-depth but fun- as an example, you might need to read an ad about an upcoming product or service and answer questions about whether you’d buy it and what you think of the ad. Harris Poll Online typically sends 3-4 survey invites a month.

2- Survey Savvy

Earn points, which you turn in for cash paid directly into your Paypal account or for gift cards and prizes. Survey Savvy also has a sweepstakes component, giving you another way to score some extra cash. The surveys are easy to fill out, but there isn’t always one available. This is a good one to have in your stable of survey opps, but don’t rely on it for regular income.

3- Opinion Outpost

This paid survey company will inundate your inbox with survey offers, which makes it easy to cash out quickly as long as you grab the surveys as soon as they appear. Surveys fill up fast, so if you notice an offer dated a few hours ago, you probably don’t want to waste time because it’s likely to be over already. Check every few hours or once a day and complete the most recent survey offers to build up your points and get a Paypal payout or reward as soon as possible.

4- Paid Viewpoint

This survey company pays cash via Paypal. The amount you’ve earned is displayed on the site and you can cash out after you’ve made $15- so it’s easy to keep track. You’ll get notified about new surveys via email. Paid Viewpoint has a “Trait System” that tracks your reliability (consistently reporting the same demographic information, for example) and the higher your trait score, the more you can make.

Cash Crate

Cash Crate features surveys as well as other offers- such as accepting free product samples or watching videos- in exchange for cash. You get the money via Paypal and there is a $20 payout threshold. Lots of surveys are listed on the site itself- so you can get started right away without having to wait for an email alert.