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Working from home has become common. In fact, 24% of employed people now do some or all of their work from home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Then there are people who get to work at home because they’re self-employed. According to Forbes, 52% of small businesses are home-based.
Clearly there are a lot of people making money at home, and in many different ways. Some of these opportunities have been profiled here before, like low-startup-cost online businesses and renting out rooms to pay off your mortgage.
Now it’s time to look at some of the more interesting and unusual ways to make money at home. Here are seventeen of them.
1. Rent out a Shed as a Bedroom
I built a shed for $200 behind my first home, and then rented it out as a bedroom for $45 per week. It paid for itself in about five weeks. At some point I even lived in it myself, so I could collect more rent by renting out my bedroom inside the home.
For more about living with others in your home (or near it), how to find tenants, and how to determine what to charge, see my post on renting rooms.
2. Charge Strangers to Eat With You
Once Airbnb became so big helping you rent out spare bedrooms, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would develop a similar platform for selling space at your dinner table.
The idea is simple enough. Invite strangers to dine with you for a price. If you get enough takers EatWith says you can “earn up to $700 for hosting each event.”
There are a number of EWSAs (“eat with stranger apps”) out there now, but how much money you can make is debatable. In an article on Eater.com Tove Danovich says she signed up to go to a $57 dinner (which she calls a “steal” for New York City) and another for $67, but both were cancelled because the hosts did not get enough guests.
Still, if you love to cook and can get even a few dinner guests at those kind of prices, you might make some money without leaving home. But take advantage of these services while they last. The article also notes that GrubWithUs, one of the first such platforms, went out of business in 2013, and that was after raising more than $6 million in venture capital.
3. Become a Hair Farmer
The good news is that you can chop off that long hair and sell it online at HairSellon for $100 to $4,000. The bad news is that your hair grows less than 6 inches per year, so this won’t be a regular income.
On the other hand, if you have four children you could harvest their hair at staggered two-year intervals, so you’ll have a crop to sell every six months.
4. Be a Professional Cuddler
As a professional cuddler you snuggle up with people for money. Yes, that’s all you do. Sometimes people just need a little human contact.
Samantha Hess, who started her business, Cuddle Up to Me, in 2013, says “I have now completed over 120,000 paid professional cuddling minutes with clients.” She charges $1 per minute, and sessions last from 15 minutes to 5 hours.
Although some cuddlers work from a retail location or do house calls, you can choose to stay home and have customers come to you.
5. Sell Your Friendship
I first wrote about Rent a Friend years ago, and I’m happy to report it’s still around. The website claims you can earn up to $50 per hour by being a friend.
The friendship you offer can be in the form of going to events with someone, selling your service as a hiking partner, being a “wingman” for a night on the town, and so on. But if you want to stay home you just make that clear in your profile.
As a stay-at-home friend you might offer to play Scrabble or watch movies with someone. But you might have to charge a lot less than $50 per hour.
6. Give Away eBooks
How do you make money giving away ebooks? There are several ways. For example, some authors give away ebooks to build an audience and sell more books in the future.
To make money more directly, write an ebook with affiliate links in it. For example, I wrote a book about meditation. It took just a few days to research and write (it was only 11,000 words). In it I recommended a set of meditation CDs, and every time someone clicked a link and bought one I received a commission of $42.50.
Make the ebook a PDF for easy linking. For almost any subject you care to write about you can find a quality product or two for which you can earn a commission. Just browse an affiliate directory to locate them.
My own marketing skills are not great, so I only made a few hundred dollars on the book. But you may do better. Give the book to friends, put a download link on your blog, Facebook feed, and anywhere else you can think of. And list it on websites that offer free ebooks.
7. Rent Out Your Garage
There are a number of ways to make money from renting your garage. For example, you can convert it into living space and rent it out as a bedroom or efficiency apartment. If it’s large enough you can rent it to a mechanic who needs a place to work on cars.
8. Grow a Special Weed
No, not that weed! But there is a plant that grows as a weed all over the country, and it is used to get high — by cats.
Catnip is the plant I’m referring too, and I can tell you from experience that it’s easy to grow. And you can make money doing it right in your own yard. To get started, read a guide to growing catnip as a specialty crop.
It’s a cheap money-making hobby to start. You can buy catnip seeds for just $3.95.
9. Raise Bees
I have a friend who makes money raising bees at home. So far he just sells the honey, but it can be more profitable to rent out the hives for pollination purposes. See The Honey Ladies website for an example of this side of the business.
To learn more, check out the website of the Back Yard Beekeepers Association. You can also find bee renting tips online. Depending on the crop being pollinated, you can charge from $60 to $200 per hive per flowering season.
10. Become a Website Tester
As a website tester I went to a site, looked over the homepage and clicked through to a few interior pages. I used a microphone so I could record my impressions and answer a few questions on the evaluation form. Then I uploaded my recording.
The whole process took about fifteen minutes and paid $10. If there was more consistent work this would be a great gig, but in any case it is an interesting way to make some extra money without leaving the house.
11. Earn Bank Sign-Up Bonuses
Lay in bed and move money around to make money? You bet! I made $2,300 from bank signup bonuses last year, and more the year before.
I sometimes go in person to local banks, but I open most accounts online and using the phone, from the comfort of my bed at home (where I am lying right now).
To learn more about this see my previous post on how to make money from bank signup bonuses.
12. Join Class Action Settlements
I recently got a check for $5 from a class action settlement. All I had to do was fill out a simple form online saying that I had bought a certain brand of almonds in the past. The manufacturer had been accused of false advertising and settled.
It often takes only a minute or two to sign up online as a claimant in a class action settlement. Like everything else here, you can do this from the comfort of your home. Check a list of class action settlements to see if you qualify for any current ones.
13. Lay in Bed and Talk on the Phone
You can get paid to talk to people on the phone. And with Ether, nobody ever gets your real phone number. It takes no money to get set up — Ether just takes 15% of each charge.
Although this platform is used to offer expert advice and consultation, you don’t need to be a professional. The current listings include one gentleman who is just a good listener; he advertises, “You can talk to me about anything.”
That good listener charges 50 cents per minute, which means he makes $25.50 per hour after Ether’s cut. Others charge as much as $1 per minute (emotional support) and even $2.75 per minute (licensed psychotherapist).
14. Work in Politics From Home
Several companies hire people to work on political projects from home. For example, NextWave hires grassroot organizers as independent contractors, to work on their various projects.
Much of the time you’ll be talking on the phone, doing things like educating people on issues or identifying supporters of a cause or candidate. There is no sales work or fundraising involved, at least with NextWave.
15. Get Paid to Tweet
Yes, you can get paid to tweet, at least in theory. Advertisers pay for people to tweet about their products, and PaidPerTweet.com allows you to offer your services to them.
But can you actually make money doing this? Maybe. Kim Kardashian made $10,000 per tweet, but if you’re less famous and have only a few thousand followers, you aren’t likely to find many takers. Still, it might be fun to try.
16. Be an At-Home Juror
Law firms pay for “mock juries” to hear cases, in preparation for the real thing. For example, I was once paid $150 (along with 20 other people) to be a mock juror in person.
That was fun, but what if you want to stay home while you render your verdict? Fortunately there are several companies who hire home-based jurors. They don’t pay as much, but you do get to do the work from anywhere you have an internet connection.
For example, if you meet their requirements (at least 18, a citizen, no felonies) eJury pays you $5 or $10 per case. They say it takes jurors an average of 35 minutes to complete a case.
17. Rent Out a Tent in Your Backyard
What if you have no extra rooms to rent out on Airbnb, and not even a shed you can make into a bedroom? Go buy a $40 tent at Walmart and set it up in your backyard.
When John Potter listed a tent for rent on Airbnb, the demand was so high that he had to raise the price to $46 per night. But then again, he lives in Silicon Valley. You might have to lower your expectations if you live in places with lower rents.
If you know of some more unusual ways to make money at home, please tell us about them… and keep on frugaling!