We all love working in our area of talent and getting paid well for it. However, the current economy often calls for finding ways to fill the gaps. I’ve had quite a few of those during the economic downturn, and I found some creative ways to add a few dollars more to my wallet. I won’t get a two-week vacation, or even an expensive dinner out of these venues, but I earn enough to pay for a few groceries, a tank of gas, or a haircut.
First on my list is Swagbucks. That’s right. If you haven’t tried it, don’t run the other way yet. I don’t sign up for many of the ways people can earn points. Some are
too messy (spammy and annoying). Others are too time consuming for me. You can pick and choose what works. My favorite way to use Swagbucks is to use the search engine. As a writer, I do a lot of research. I’m also a person who doesn’t like to shop and prefers to order online. The simple practice of using the search engine, nets me a $5 Amazon Gift Card about once a month. I can get more when I’m doing a big project. When I was Christmas shopping and building a new website in December, I earned $15. It’s money for something I need to do anyway.
Next on my list is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. If you’ve never heard of it, you have a real education coming. Explore the jobs available, and you’ll get a whole new view of advertising and blogs when you understand how some of them get their posts–not to mention what they pay. On the other hand, there are quite a few simple surveys that really do take only a few minutes and pay you from $1-$3. I got a $10 bonus from one, as well as getting a notice from the survey company asking me to participate when another one came out. If you know anything about nursing homes or retirement communities in your area, there are regularly opportunities to post a review of 150-300 words that pay $3 each. Last December, I added $44 to my pocketbook this way.
As this CNET article shows, you need to pick and choose what you do on this site. Remember, that some workers in other countries can live on a few dollars a day. That’s where the competition comes in. Someone will do that job at that rate. As I said, it’s an education too. There are a number of other sites that operate in this manner and offer similar jobs. I found this one to be more transparent than most and easier to use.
If you’re adding this up, that’s $15 on Swagbucks, plus $44 on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for a total of $59 in December 2011. See, I told you it won’t pay for a vacation. However, truth-be-told I don’t work hard at it, and I have other paying projects, like writing resumes and a chapter on social media for a book. This is “gap” money, but it’s enough to be worthwhile. Frankly, when my brain goes dead, I enjoy the stimulation of doing the research surveys (most are by big universities). I’m getting paid, and it’s more interesting to me than video games or Farmville.
For people who are searching for a job, this is a great bonus too. You should be able to earn a ton of points doing those job searches, especially if you really look up the company websites and do your homework on each company. You might as well get some points that you can trade in for an Amazon Gift Card to save money on a new shirt or blouse for interviewing.
There’s another plus to this too. Turn the college kids on to using Swagbucks (most sites require being over 18) and let them earn some points to spend while doing their surfing and research. The same goes for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. They’ll spend hours online playing games anyway. Tell them to spend some of that time earning part of their spending money. It’s a drag, but they don’t even have to get off the couch to work for this money. It could be worse.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have a Swagbucks affiliate account because I really support what they offer, which are ways to save money and make money at home doing what most of us have to do anyway. Although I’m an Amazon affiliate, I only work on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. I’m not sure they even offer an affiliate account for that service.