Why Many “Alternative Income” Ideas Aren’t Worth It

And What You Might Do With It Instead

Quite often, I’ll get excited requests from readers who have stumbled upon some great idea for alternative income and want me to write about it. Here are a few of the suggestions I’ve heard.

+ Write for income at Squidoo or Associated Content.
+ Take online surveys at OpinionOutpost.
+ Try out websites through MyPoints.
+ Do freelancing work through Elance or Guru
+ Do menial tasks through Amazon Mechanical Turk.

In a nutshell, I view all of these ideas as a waste of time, and here’s why.

Reasons to Avoid “Alternative Income Ideas”

1. The pay for the time invested is very low

The best you can hope for with these sites is something approaching minimum wage – and that’s only on rare occasions when high-paying options come through. Mostly, you’re just loitering for a dollar or two an hour.

2. You’re not building anything

The first problem might be tolerable if you were building something for the long term that would earn you much more per hour, but with services like these, you’re not. You get paid per piece, with that piece being strictly independent of other work. You can’t earn a raise or a higher rate of return with sustained quality work. If you’re extremely lucky, you might happen to randomly attract someone through the freelancing sites (Squidoo, AC, Elance, Guru, etc.) who’s interested in your work individually for more tasks, but the odds are very low.

I understand that many people do such things during idle times
Especially when they are required to be in front of a computer for a period of time but don’t have any specific work requirements to be fulfilled (like a front desk receptionist, for instance).

I also know that many people do activities like this in the evening in the family room while the television is on as something to do to “earn a few bucks” while watching television.

In either case, why not invest that time doing something that produces more value – or at least has the potential to produce more value?

Valuable Ways to Spend Your Time

Get an education

Take online classes through a university, or even just do them yourself through OpenCourseWare.

Build up an online presence

This way, people can find good information when they Google you. One great place to do this is LinkedIn – build yourself a profile there. You might also want to just buy yourself a domain name and put up a simple website about yourself. The goal is that when people Google your name, they find positive information about you that reflects well on yourself – far better than finding nothing or finding potentially embarrassing stuff.

Start a blog

Sign up at Blogger, get yourself an AdSense account so you can earn some money, and start writing articles about the things you’re passionate about. Use online resources for your research materials. Find opportunities to build traffic, like blog carnivals and connecting with other bloggers on your topic. Done well, this can not only build you a positive online presence, but also earn you some side income that builds the more you write. This is how I started The Simple Dollar – I blogged in the lazy evenings on the couch after the kids were in bed and sometimes in the mornings as well.

Open an online savings account or an investment account

Put your money somewhere where you can earn some income with it instead of the piddly half a percent your local bank gives you. Sign up for an online savings account with a high interest rate (I use ING Direct) and transfer your savings there – moving $2,000 from a 0.5% account to a 3% account earns you an extra $50 a year, you only have to get it set up once, and you can do it from the convenience of your couch or your office chair.

Talk to your spouse about money

If you’re together and idle, take advantage of it to actually talk about your financial situation. Talk about your goals and what you can do every day to help you get there. Talk about the purchases you both want to make and be genuine about whether or not they’re in line with your big dreams. Support each other in making smart financial choices. $100 a month not spent and a stronger relationship is far more valuable than some online surveys.

Get up and do something that saves money

Make some homemade laundry detergent. Install some energy-efficient light bulbs. Prepare several batches of a casserole for tomorrow’s supper and freeze the extra batches. Install a programmable thermostat. Air-seal the drafty places in your home. Request an interest rate reduction on your high-balance credit card. All of these save money for you at a rate quite a bit higher than minimum wage, and some of them continue to save money over the long haul. Instead of languishing where you are, stand up and do something that’s actually worth your time.

In short, if you’re going to work, make it worthwhile. Make it at least earn enough income now to be worth your time, or have it be something that can continually earn over the long term. Make your time matter, even when it’s idle time, and you’ll find great success.

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  1. Ryan McLean says:

    I think doing things to earn money is just as good if not better than doing things to save money. I run an entrepreneurs blog to build a web presence and to make some money. I hope to go full time within the next couple of months as I continue to build it.
    I like your point that “it doesn’t build” a blog is definately something that builds over time.
    Great post

  2. Eden says:

    Great post. I’m happy to see someone stand up and say no to these low paying activities.

    I had signed on with Pinecone Research a while back because I heard about a lot of people doing that. I did a few surveys, but after one survey was still going after 20 minutes of work (for only $3 compensation) I closed the survey and closed my account. It simply wasn’t coming close to being worth my time and like you said, it wasn’t giving me anything of value for the future.

    What about blogging though? Most bloggers are earning less than minimum wage doing that, myself included. I decided to spend more time doing freelance work, which pays quite nicely and less time blogging- at least for now.

  3. hollie says:

    I agree with you for the most part, but I do participate in MyPoints. I’ve been a member since March and in only 6 months have already gotten a $25 gift card and am about to get another $25 gift card. I spend literally 5 minutes (usually less) a day clicking on emails and answering surveys, and for me it’s worth it.

    I don’t see it as a job or career opportunity, just an easy way to get a nice gift card a few times a year so I can splurge on a few pricey treats that I normally wouldn’t buy.

  4. Dadtopics says:

    Thanks for the idea about blog carnivals. I’ll try it out.

  5. Excellent post. There are so many things people need to filter through when looking for ways to earn money. Of course, most people with blogs don’t make money either, they need a long-term plan. There are also many legitimate ways for people to earn money from home – the key is finding a business and not a (low-paying) job.

  6. Solomon@ThingsI'mGratefulFor says:

    Having adverts on your blog doesn’t guarantee you any kind of income. I earned about $4 after 6 months of blogging with Adsense, even after doing some SEO work.

  7. Tabletoo says:

    More activities that will at least save money in the long run:

    >Repair clothes or other items

    >Sew or make crafty items for yourself or as gifts (or to sell!)

    >Cook foods in advance and freeze, preserve or refrigerate for future use

    OR learn to play a musical instrument, volunteer to teach something …

  8. Penelope says:

    Love the idea of lowering the interest rates on my credit cards!

  9. Grace says:

    There is an air of elitism when it comes to suggestions that those of us who take surveys for money are simply wasting our time. Perhaps your time is too valuable but, for me, earning points via My Points (it takes all of two seconds to click through their e-mails)or responding to occasional surveys while taking phone calls from clients who are going over their situation for the umpteenth time, has value. I do like the Starbucks cards I get from My Points. I do like the $10 checks I get from Lightspeed and My Survey. To the extent that earning them wastes my time, it is time that would otherwise be lost.
    I suppose suggestions like “take a class online” are OK, but are you under the impression online classes are free? And some of us blog to help ourselves, not make money at it, so we remain ad-free. (That’s not to knock bloggers who do carry ads–I may join that crowd one day!)

    Overall, I think anything we do to earn money that can be put toward debt is valuable. Putting us down for our efforts? Not so much.

  10. Catana says:

    I was anticipating something better than this. Way too many generalizations based on too many assumptions. When you criticize certain ways of earning money, you should first know more about them. I live alone on a fixed income, as do many people. I also write very well, and find that online writing does pay, even when the pay seems to be terribly low. Associated Content adds a bonus for views, which is in addition to the upfront payment. And every article you place on a site that pays for views is building something. “Evergreen” articles will earn income indefinitely, often without your having to give them any further attention. Contrast that with the time and effort of building a blog that may eventually earn some money — or may not.

    If you have plenty of time and are doing something you enjoy, then the issue of minimum wage may not be relevant. I wouldn’t try to earn a living with online writing, but some people do. Living a frugal life and moving money to a high-earning online account don’t amount to a living wage either, but I do both. Your implication that people are foolishly working for pennies instead of doing more practical things is both insulting and short-sighted.

  11. JReed says:

    Trent, your judgement is from someone who spends time and money playing video games? There is no reason to act superior to people who want to earn pin money by these methods in their free time. You make laundry detergent and beer and homemade wine; they take surveys…

  12. Rob in Madrid says:

    I second the survey option, several bloggers (can’t remember offhand) have found surveys a good way to earn a bit of extra cash while the kids are out. I don’t do simply becuase I don’t live in the states.

  13. marie says:

    Thank you so much for convincing me to read your newsletter Trent. This letter alone has solved a problem that I have been seething on for months. I bought a website to start some type of online business and it has set idle. I have considered all kinds of ideas but TODAY you sent me the answer. I won’t tell you which one yet, but when I finally get it going you will be one of the first to know and with thank yous. I have been balled up in moving for the last 3-4 weeks, am in my new place with boxes still piled everywhere. It won’t be long until I will sit down one morning about 3 a.m. and get started. Being disabled and relying on the government is a stranglehold. And the same government that keeps me starving and out of medicine doesn’t allow me to earn extra income. They say they do, but last time I earned $400 one year it took 13 months to get it straight. Do Not Believe The Government. I’d rather believe you. I have already nixed the top advertised moneymakers so you and I are at least on the same track. Thanks again, Lin Marie McAllister

  14. I have to say that I disagree a little with this post. I think that Elance can be a good use of time, but you have to position yourself correctly.

    First, when you bid for a job on Elance, it’s very important that you repeat the job back to the buyer as best you can. Ask questions about the project before you place a bid so you understand, then do your best to tell them why and how you will accomplish their project. This is often a good strategy for getting someone to select your bid even if you’re not the lowest bidder.

    Elance is a pain to use. I often use Elance to find someone to do work for me, but after I’ve found a good person/provider I tend to go back to them again and again (provided they do a good job the first time) because it’s easier than posting a new job on the site.

    Elance shouldn’t be your only strategy, however, and I like a lot of the ideas listed above. Still, it can and is a good way to find people and build long-term relationships.

  15. Robyn says:

    I think this conversation is telling of the trend that has been occuring for awhile now…people are getting more aware, savvy and creative with figuring out how to make a living in non-traditional ways. And we’re experimenting and trying different avenues. I think it is all good research. Not one method works for everyone. And good for us for taking some risks and looking at other options, whatever they are. I think this blog and other successful blogs show good examples of what is possible with planning, research and practice. And those things apply to any new venture.

  16. Hak says:

    You hit a home run with this one. I’ve been making money as a writer for nearly 20 years. While most of it has been in corporate communications (PR hack and advertising copywriter), I’ve also written a few books and some articles for national magazines.

    I’ve looked into most of the sources you’ve listed and found eLance to be a great service for BUYING writing talent. The pay is so piss poor that it’s not worth the time to do the work. People who are bottom feeding for talent have historically been the worst, and most demanding, clients.

    Rather than spend my time working for some schlock “associated”-type content site, I’d rather build my writing creds for publishers who will be here a year from now.

    Plus, I don’t think you were poo-poohing anyone’s choice to write for those online sites. There’s nothing wrong with doing so. The point is there are many better, more lucrative and reputation-enhancing options.

  17. Sara says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I have been doing online surveys for about 9 years (around the time I started college) and have accrued hundreds of dollars’ worth of cash and merchandise, not to mention the dozens of free products I’ve been sent to test. I think it was worthwhile when I was in college and had limited opportunities to earn money, but now I have a decent paying job, and the rewards I get from surveys are a drop in the bucket. Plus, these things don’t pay as well as they used to (during the dot-com bubble).

    Now that I’m working 40+ hours per week and manage my home and finances, etc., the tradeoff for my free time is beginning to seem less and less worthwhile. Still, like all the little things you do to save a few dollars, it adds up, so I’m hesitant to quit.

  18. Jin6655321 says:

    Mypoints isn’t bad if you regularly shop on-line. They only offer about 5 points per email and you have to have at least 5,000 to get anything decent but, they usually offer 2 points per dollar spent on their partner sites (they have a huge selection- Barnes and Noble, Old Navy, Target, itunes, etc.) if you click through them.

    It is, of course, a bad idea to spend just to get points (or let points justify your purchase) but, if you were going to buy it anyway, might as well get some points in the process. However, if you’re easily swayed by “good deals”, definitely don’t sign up. Your inbox will get flooded with emails offering up sales notices and you might end up buying things you don’t really need.

  19. SavvyFrugality says:

    I second your post, Trent. I, too, have found a lot of those sites to be a waste of time. I don’t say that to belittle those who have tried them. I have written a few articles for Associated Content myself. The best you can hope for with AC is to write an article which becomes very popular, gets lots of page views, and then continues to pay your for months or years down the road…passive income. I have an article on AC which has become somewhat popular, but it still only pays me a couple of bucks a month. At least I only expended about an hour’s worth of work at the outset.

    A far better idea is for people to develop their own business instead of trying to work for somebody else online. Write an eBook or set up your own freelance writing service. Create something that will generate its own income after you have created it, such as a blog or e-commerce site. Design web sites for others. Hire yourself out as a “virtual assistant”. I do some freelance writing and have made a decent amount of money doing so, and it requires only a little time. Also, those survey sites are usually set up to get somebody’s email address so they can be spammed into oblivion.

  20. Your Friendly Niehgborhood Computer Guy says:

    I used to some free surveys online while in college and in my first few years of military service. I don’t see the harm in doing them every now and then. They’re usually fun and I felt like my answers to the survey questions were helping my opinions get heard. Not every minute of your day needs to be filled with productive tasks. Though, if folks attempt to constantly do these change-making tasks for the majority of the their time, then I see it being a problem.

  21. Simple Sapien says:

    Trent,

    Great post. I got sucked into the whole get rich by taking online surveys craze. What a waste of time. Not only did I end up signing up for things I had no idea about, but also only made a small amount of money for many hours of surveys. I got billed for premium txt messages (I am dumb… never give out your real cell phone number online!) and I signed up for a book club that charged me $10 dollars. It was all in the fine print and screwed me over.

    Back to the subject, it is so true what you said about building something. It is so nice to have worked for hours and hours and actually have something to show for it!

    – Jack Rugile
    Simple Sapien

  22. Joan says:

    As for the surveys, if you are not in the exact demographic they need, they will not contact you to participate anyway.

  23. Sherrie St. Cyr says:

    Great food for thought. I think you hit the key in your point that most of the things you mentioned don’t build anything for the future. It is a little bit of income now, but there’s no seed planted for growth. Many times what will produce the largest income in the long run produces the least in the short term. “Dare to Dream and Work to Win” by Thomas Barrett explains this concept well with respect to network marketing, the vehicle I’ve chosen to build income for the long term. I too have looked at the options you mentioned in the beginning of your post, and found them not worth the investment of my time.

  24. harleyhasben says:

    Trent,

    Thank You for your opinions.

    I do not think you sounded like you thought you was superior.

    I do not understand how people can think you are judging them when you don’t even know them (I am guessing).

    I enjoy your view point and have filled my favorites with ideas from you.
    Thank You Again
    hhb

  25. Noadi says:

    Do you even know how Squidoo, Associated Content, and other site where you are paid to write work? The reason I ask is because you don’t seem to. I write for Squidoo (and AC but not as much so I’ll stick to Squidoo in this reply) and I made over $150 last month and this isn’t a one time thing either. Every page I make on Squidoo makes me money every single month whether I update it or not because the pay is based on performance not a one time payment. As an aside I also use Squidoo to generate traffic and customers for my webstore where I sell the sculpture and jewelry I make so the actual amount of money I make is probably higher but I’m not certain how many customers find me through Squidoo. That isn’t even factoring in if you include affiliate products on your lenses, one person on Squidoo actually made over $1000 in one month on a lens. Like everything it’s all about how you use a tool not the tool itself.

    I also have adsense on my main website and both of my blogs, I don’t make anywhere near $150 a month off the ads there. Only the top traffic generating blogs are going to make a significant amount of money from ads, I’m not saying blogs are useless but you will make pennies per hour writing a blog unless you are very popular.

  26. Joe says:

    Trent,

    It might be a little off base to lump Squidoo in with some of the other sites. Much like a blog, the pages you create earn recurring revenue over time (i.e. build).

    I know several people that make over $1,000 a month from Squidoo, nearly all of it from past work that continues to earn revenue. If that’s not alternative income, I’m not sure what is….

  27. Bay says:

    Hmm. I found this to be a bit of a rude post. “First, you’re not *building* anything”? How many people write garbage blogs that never take off, or worse yet, cultivate a good one, invest their time and then realize that writing the blog is consuming their life (ala More than Enough)?

    I have over 12,500 points on Mypoints which is going to fund some Christmas gifts (saving me money), I do surveys and enjoy free shower gels, snacks, diaper cream, etc. I JUST joined Opinion Outpost and cashed out $12 already…These websites obviously work for the “excited” readers who use them. I wouldn’t write them off as huge wastes of time. While watching sports on tv, they are easy ways to make a few bucks.

  28. James Morgan says:

    Trent, you don’t understand marketing enough to state that Squidoo, Elance, or Guru aren’t worth the time. I know people on all 3 sites who make far, far more than the per capita GDP (~$43k/year) in the US. They essentially set their own hours and work less than 40 hours/week. Hardly minimum wage.

    Just like most people don’t make a penny blogging (like you’re suggesting people do), some people make a living with it (like yourself). Same goes for Squidoo, Elance, and Guru.

    The other opportunities you mentioned I have no experience with so I can’t say whether they’re worth it or not.

  29. Jake says:

    I’d like to point out that this ‘building an online presence’ opens you up to identity theft.

    The chance is bigger than genuinely finding a job through ‘online presence’ (ie. that people see YOU and offer YOU a job, because of YOUR online presence. Headhunters haunting linkedIn looking for a random dude for a random position obviously don’t count, and are more of a bother than actually useful.)

    And if it’s not identity theft, and you DO find a nice job through online presence, it’s much easier for the opposition to smear you, be it Competitor Inc. or the jealous cubicle kobold next to you.

  30. Lindsay says:

    I mostly agree, but…

    Sites like Elance can be a good way for someone who is interested in freelancing to get a start.

    Also, I wouldn’t lump Squidoo in with Associated Content.

    I was already making a living from my sites when I started tinkering with Squidoo this summer, and I’ve found it to be a great way to identify potential niches for blogs. Just starting a blog on something you’re “passionate” about isn’t any kind of guarantee of income. You need to identify a niche that has profit-potential first (ideally it’s something you’re at least interested in) before wasting a lot of time promoting it and building up traffic.

    Also, with Squidoo, you’re building a page on what’s already an authority site, so you’ll start getting traffic and making money a lot sooner (if you take the time to learn *how* to build lenses that make money). I wouldn’t recommend it as a long-term plan, because ultimately the site itself is in someone else’s hands, but I think it makes a good sandbox for those who might be interested in profiting from blogging or building article sites but who don’t know where to start or aren’t having luck with their first niches.

  31. Retire at 40 says:

    I agree, it’s much better to do something to save money in the long haul than it is to get a few dollars extra.

    Of course, if those few dollars turn into a few more (usually with something that gets more skilled with time, not Mechanical Turk or surveys) then that’s even better :-)

  32. Sarah says:

    Taking surveys may not be perfect for someone who’s already entered the workforce, but they work great for college students. I take surveys in between classes – it’s better than selling blood or eggs or anything like that! Plus as an advertising/public relations/marketing major, I like to see how that sort of thing works – what companies are interested in knowing about my demographic.

  33. Frugal Dad says:

    Many commenters are hung up on the fact that Trent suggested surveys may be a waste of time. The most important idea in his post is that is you want to successfully create alternative income streams for the long-term, you must build something. Working surveys create income in the short-term, but you aren’t building anything (unless you are building a huge collection of referrals that earn you money–something that has worked for me at CashCrate).

    Instead, focus on activities that allow you to create something and monetize it. Blogging is a good example of that, as is developing a freelance portfolio in your chosen endeavor (web design, home repairs, etc.).

  34. Misty says:

    I do do the surveys, but it is because I am looking at a computer at work all day and have the time.
    I have been sent a free package of diapers to “test” (saving me about $10), stretch mark cream that sells for $50 and 5 perfume samples- one that I am wearing today! So, it may not be totally worth the time that it takes but I don’t mind being a guinea pig- in fact, I think it is kinda neat that I get to try things before other people do. In other words, there are some savings that go past the time vs money output.

  35. Kevin says:

    I agree some of those survey sites are a waste of time, I tried one a while back and got a ton of spam email. That was it for me, but I’m sure there are people out there that enjoy making a little extra $$ from it. I tend to disagree that this is a worse way to make money than blogging. Sure some bloggers are making a good income, but I bet 90% or higher are making much less than min. wage.

    I think another good idea for making extra money is turning a hobby into a small business. What if Trent made extra laundry detergent and sold it? The incremental cost and time probably wouldn’t be that high so it might be a viable enterprise.

  36. Lise says:

    Trent, I for one love this post. I have been enrolled in MyPoints, taken surveys for “cash” (hint: they RARELY epay cash), signed up to be a ChaCha guide, etc, etc. While it’s nice to occasionally get a $10 gift card or some such through these, I get the niggling feeling that it’s a waste of my time.

    And why? Because I’m not building anything, as you say. It’s not an investment in future success. Having taken 10,000 surveys doesn’t make me a credible source of information or an expert someone would want to hire; it doesn’t ensure that I’ll have more money in my pocket at the end of the day.

    Thanks for putting your finger on why these activities have bothered me for so long now.

  37. Amazonite says:

    I enjoy sites like MyPoints, as well as others like eRewards. I certainly don’t look on them as income-producing activities, though, and Trent is correct in pointing this out as the central pointi of this post.

    MyPoints gets me enough points for restaurant certificates a couple of times a year (and more if I actually make a purchase through them; this is just for clicking through). I just bought 5 or 6 magazine subscriptions from accrued points on eRewards – if you are considering joining up to this site, be aware that the points cannot be used for genuinely “free” items, with the exception of magazine subscriptions. Most rewards are more along the line of “take $25 off a $75 purchase”, which is fine if you were already going to purchase something, not so much if you just wanted a free gift.

    I tend to enjoy the survey sites that pay off in something I’ll actually use, such as $10 Amazon certificates.

  38. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    The people that make money with Squidoo aren’t people who just sit around making lenses on Squidoo. They’re people using the site to leverage their business that is entirely independent of Squidoo. They link out of Squidoo to their own resources, etc.

  39. Vicky says:

    The five minutes a week I spend on menial web tasks is entertaining and blissfully free of responsibility. I bought a book with my Mechanical Turk earnings a few weeks ago – it had taken something like 1 hour’s worth of completely idle, carefree time over the course of a year and a half, split among tasks that I found interesting or amusing. Stress and effort wise, it’s the same as though someone were keeping track of comments I’d left on this blog and after some point they gave me a gift certificate.

  40. I’ve yet to find a part time “bit on the side” money making opportunity that pays better than a simple second job. Pizza delivery beats surveys any day of the week.

  41. Dedicated says:

    What about those that save the money and create Residual Income Streams? Isn’t that building something? Doesn’t that carry with it a revolving and continuously growing income stream that can amount to something?

    Perspective my friend. Glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty. This is what makes the world go round.

  42. I actually agree that people are not really building future income streams with them ( unless they open a savings/investment account with the money they earned from these one time activities and earn off interest or dividends).

    However if you are a student at a university those sites could be a nice addition to your budget. If you are an international student who only works 20 hours/week on campus for minimum wage, those survey sites could definitely help you a lot.

    As for the blogging versus writing paid content, I would say that doing surveys and writing for others gives you money now, whereas blogging might give you some money in the future. Most people choose the money now as opposed to choosing a larger amount of money in the future. I see this on my blog on dividend investing – people want to get high yields NOW, and not in 10-20 years.

    Anyways, it’s always nice to challenge the status quo.

  43. Griffin says:

    I think it’s very interesting that there are dozens of people piping up to defend actual survey sites, when really what it boils down to is

    time invested vs reward

    If you have random spots of 30 mins throughout the day that you can’t do ANYTHING else with, then yes they can be a great source of income. In fact, if you do it right you can make about $250 a month with sites like SwatCash (or CashCrate, if you prefer). But if you’re not doing the major money-saving options like clothes mending, you are losing even more.

    I know sooooo many people who toss a shirt once a button pops off — what a waste! Just get a new button (most shirts come with extras sewn on the inside) and put it on. For $2 or less, you may have saved $30 on a business shirt.

  44. shannon says:

    I have mixed feelings too on this post. I’ve been doing surveys/product tests for almost 10 years and it’s really just a lot of fun! I’m single and have the spare time. I also have a full-time job and an active Linkedin profile. The extra survey cash (an no it’s not a ton of money but sometimes yields over a hundred dollars a month) goes straight to my ING account and earns great interest. The products often off set the costs of personal/pet products and groceries a bit too. I see it as being resourceful and at least paying the cost of internet access.

  45. Lynne says:

    I have a question about the ways that you recommend to save money, etc. Have you heard/tried of the “soap nut tree” nuts? I recently read about them, checked several websites, and it sounds great, both financially, and ecologolically. I just wondered if you had checked it out and your thoughts on using them. I was especially impressed with the fact that they could be used in the bath as well as in the laundry and safe for babies. Another plus is no fabric softener is needed either! (at least that is the claim.) I’m looking forward to a post about this product of nature. :)

  46. Michaela says:

    I may not have earned money doing surveys, but I have won many free tickets to theatrical plays, musical shows and movies by doing so. I have saved money by not having to pay admission prices. If there is something that one is passionate about, like photography or crafting, it can be used to generate a good amount of income. If you have a great deal of general knowledge about a subject, you can teach and get paid to do so.

  47. harleyhasben says:

    Sara #17

    I would LOVE to test free stuff and provide feedback.

    Would you be so kind and share who you test for with me? If so please email me at~
    harleyhasben@hotmail.com.
    (hasben, with one e)

    TIA
    hhb

  48. J says:

    Just do the surveys while you’re at work.

  49. Darla says:

    While I do agree that surveys and reading emails do not generate a healthy enough income to retire or live on alone, it is nice to have a little supplemental income that you can use towards a dinner out, a movie, etc. The nicest bonus I have found is that I often receive a LOT of samples to try for free and get paid for my opinion on it. I’m not talking cheap or small samples either. I was asked to complete a survey last year for a well-known women’s lingerie boutique on four samples (1 ounce each) of spray perfume that they sent me in the mail. Quality perfume that people would pay a substantial amount to purchase as a gift and I got to keep all the samples for free and was compensated for my time as well. It’s fun to actually have a voice in products that are being marketed and it’s nice to be compensated even if the compensation is considered to be small. I’m a single mom and I can’t leave my son home 16 or even 13 hours a day to work two jobs and can’t afford online courses. Besides, I use my small sources of revenue to fund my savings account and what may sound like only a few dollars here and there can add up to quite a substantial savings if you leave it IN your savings account. Plus, compensations, like in all jobs, start out small because these companies want to know who is dependable enough to stick around. If you stay involved for a fair amount of time then you will be granted more opportunities for bigger compensation. For instance, I have been asked to test 6 different varieties of soup for a well-known soup label and once I finish each 10 minute survey (6 cans, 6 surveys) I will receive a check for 50 dollars. Not bad for an hour’s worth of time AND I will eat for free for 6 meals. Every little bit helps. Besides, a wise man once said, “A penny saved is a penny earned” so have respect for the humble penny…they DO add up.

  50. russds says:

    I remember reading this post when it was first published, and I really appreciated it. I went back and read it again today. Still a great article. Trying to find some good resources for what to do during those idle times, this post has some good ideas.

  51. Allan says:

    I completely agree with reason #2 – “You’re not building anything.” I’ve been working as an IT employee/contractor for several years and just recently realized that there’s no residual income coming out of the past successes I may have had, other than the “hope” of having a little bit increase in salary in the future. This might not even be as sure as anyone thinks especially in times of recession. Having an insightful blog post like the one above has a lot of “future” residual value. A proof of this is the fact that even after more than a year since it was written, there are still some people finding value from it (like me) and trying to express this appreciation via a short comment. More power! =)

  52. Kaci says:

    Thank you. I’m so exhausted reading about those websites where you put in more effort than you’re making. Frankly, the extra work is not worth the few dollars I’ll get. Plus, it’s an inconvenience and a time consumer. I don’t believe in working hard, I believe in working smart.

  53. Chris says:

    I definitely agree that a lot of “make money online” methods, many of which I’ve tried, require a lot of work, often way more than they’re worth.

    eBay reselling is a really nice job, but only as long as you have a good product source. I’ve been making around $500/week by reselling stuff from yard and garage sales, and I’m really satisfied with the results – besides online poker, it’s the only other alternative income operation I’ve done which has been moderately successful. I blog about this now (you can check it on the link on my name) – I’m surprised that so few people write about doing this.

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