We’ve all been strapped for cash at some point (or a lot of points) in our lives. Unexpected expenses come up. A break between jobs, or just wanting to save more are some reasons we look to make extra money wherever we can. I’ve been there and done all of it. I’ve tried so many things to make extra money that my friends even come to me for suggestions of where to find easy side-gigs.
There are some methods that are totally worth it. And there are some “gigs” that are a complete waste of time (you’ll notice there are no survey-taking websites on my list). Below is a list of what I’ve found to be great and easy ways to make extra money in your free time.
- Also read: The 10 Best Platforms for Online Courses
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of my links, I may receive a commission or credit at no additional cost to you.
9 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money
1. Donate Plasma
This is without a doubt the best way to make real money fast. While finishing up college, I donated plasma twice a week for about a year. The money I made paid for my groceries and any extra, I used for weekend fun. Only consider donating plasma if you live near a plasma center and are not squemish when it comes to needles or blood.
What is plasma and how does the process work? “Plasma is the clear, straw-colored liquid portion of blood that remains after red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and other cellular components are removed.” (per DonatingPlasma). When you donate plasma, they take blood out of your veins, separate the blood cells and plasma, and then return the blood cells to your veins. This happens in cycles for about 45 minutes until the bag they use for donations is full of plasma. It might sound like a crazy and controversial way to make money, but plasma is used to treat people with rare, chronic diseases. Donating is a win-win for everyone involved.
You can donate plasma twice in any seven-day period, and different donation centers have different payment rates. I donated at BioLife, and they always provided excellent customer service. After verifying my identity and address, I signed up for appointment slots online. Payments were loaded onto my BioLife Visa debit card after every visit and the funds were available to use as soon as I walked out the door. For the 1st visit in a week (running Monday – Saturday), I earned $25.00. For the 2nd visit in a week, I earned $50.00.
So, for between 2-3 hours per week, I was making $75, equaling anywhere from $25 – $37 per hour. Not bad, right? It’s not for everyone, and they do have certain weight and blood iron level requirements that will get tested before each donation. But, if you think you can handle the process, it’s the best way to make extra money.
2. Open a Credit Card to Get Cash Back
So with this option, you have to spend money to get money back. But, if you put purchases you’re already making regularly on a credit card, you’re not spending any extra. Having a credit card involves self-control and keeping track of your finances. Always pay off your balance every month. Don’t spend more than you can afford. If you can do those things, you can make extra money in the process.
There are many options of how to earn rewards, and every card is different. Travel cards will reward you with a certain amount of points per every dollar you spend. These points can be redeemed for any purchase you make in the “travel” category – hotels, flights, transportation, museums, etc. Most airlines have their own cards where you earn miles instead of points, and can only use them to get money off of flights.
I personally like cash back credit cards the best because you can apply your cash back to any purchase you choose. You can certainly use it for travel, but you’re not limited to only travel purchases, like with the travel cards. Also, most cash back cards will give you a bonus if you spend a certain amount within the first 3 months. I use the Capital One Quicksilver Unlimited Cashback Card. I get 1.5% unlimited cash back on every purchase, and received a $150.00 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months. Additionally, there’s no annual fee.
Upwork is a platform that allows you to offer your services to businesses or people who post tasks/jobs they need completed. Everything from writing, coding, event planning, data entry, website testing, customer service, you name it and it’s probably somewhere on this website. I have a love/hate relationship with using Upwork. There are a lot of job postings, but there are also a lot of bidders. If selected to work, it can be very lucrative, but it can take a while and a lot of combing through postings before you get hired. Tip: don’t fall for the incredibly low-paying jobs. Make the work worth your time.
4. Field Agent
This app is similar to being a secret shopper, but not exactly. Stores and brands hire Field Agent to have its users go around to different locations and perform tasks to evaluate displays, customer service, etc. Tasks I’ve performed include taking pictures of displays or drive-thrus, testing Walmart’s grocery pickup service, and giving reviews on products. Once you accept a task, you have a set amount of time to complete it.
Tasks that require some kind of purchase include reimbursement for the purchase in addition to payment for completing the task. Tasks are usually between $3 and $10.00. This may not seem like much considering you don’t get any money for gas, but after making strategic plans, I’ve made up to $70 in just one hour. This app is best suited for people who live in a metropolitan area and have a car. Tip: avoid customer service audits – they take forever and involve way too many steps to be worth your time.
Sign up for Field Agent right here.
5. Start a Blog
This is precisely how Life Lived Curiously was born – I wanted to make some extra money. I’ve been slowing advancing toward that goal, and I think it will all pay off in the next few months. Blogging is certainly not a quick way to make extra money, like some other things I’ve mentioned here. However, if you stick with it, it can be an excellent stream of income in the long-term. Persistence is key. If you’re interested in starting a blog, take these steps:
- Decide what you want to write about. It could be something extremely specific. My other blog The Library Diary is all about libraries! Life Lived Curiously has a much wider range of topics. It all depends on what you enjoy and are knowledgeable about enough that you think you could continue coming up with content ideas.
- Pick a name for your blog. Also think about what you want your website domain to be! This website tells you if a domain name is already owned.
- Find a web hosting service for your website. This is what allows your website to be viewable on the internet. I use Bluehost, and have had nothing but good experiences with them. When you sign up, you get a free year of your domain name, and it’s only $3.95/month.
- Set up your website with WordPress. This is the platform that allows you to design your website.
- Start blogging!
6. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing means promoting someone else’s product and receiving compensation for any purchases made because of you. For example, say you really love Kitchen Aid products. When you sign up to be an affiliate, Kitchen Aid will pay you a cut of any purchases made through the personalized link you share with others. I recently started trying to incorporate affiliate marketing into my blogging. I haven’t been noticeably successful yet (it’s been a low priority), but there are countless bloggers who have perfected their craft.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner has turned her blog Making Sense of Cents into a million-dollar a year enterprise with affiliate marketing. She shares her methods and in-depth knowledge on her online course: Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. I learned an incredible amount from this course, and can’t wait to continue implementing her ways into my blog!
Affiliate marketing is a great way for bloggers to make money, however you don’t need a blog to do affiliate marketing. Affiliate links are acceptable on pretty much any social media. The only requirement is that you disclose the use of an affiliate link, usually by using #afflink, #affiliate, or saying “Here is my affiliate link for…”
7. Write on Medium
Medium is a platform for writers to share their writing. You’ve probably read some articles on their website and didn’t even realize it. Anyone can sign up, and anyone can put their articles behind the “metered paywall.” It basically means your articles are eligible to make money. Once you start writing, any paying member of Medium that engages with your article will have a portion of their monthly membership fee reallocated to you.
You can also submit to publications, and many of them will pay you to feature your article under their name. Recently, my article “Libraries Aren’t Going Extinct – They’re Evolving” was featured in the publication GEN, and they paid me $150 for it! I think it’s beginner’s luck, because I haven’t made any additional money on Medium yet. However, the more you write, the more opportunity there is to earn, and I’ve only put out 4 articles in the past couple months. If you enjoy writing, joining Medium is at least worth a try!
8. Sell Stuff
With all of the platforms out there to sell items now a days, this is a no brainer. If you have extra stuff lying around that you don’t need, try selling it! Facebook Marketplace is an incredibly easy place to make postings if you already have an account. There is, of course, still Craigslist. And now there are a whole bunch of apps for selling and buying things from one another, like Letgo, Offerup, Mercari, ThredUP, Poshmark, and more. Remember to always practice safe selling and buying practices when interacting with people you don’t know online.
9. Substitute Teach
If you have a full-time day job, skip over this one. Substitute teaching is certainly the most involved method of making extra money on this list. But, schools are in dire need of subs, so if you need extra money, there’s definitely opportunity with this option.
First, you should check the laws for the state you live in regarding the required minimum education level for substitute teachers. Most states have a minimum number of college credits needed to be eligible to sub, but some do require a college degree or higher. Additionally, each school district has their own requirements, so it’s best to look into those for the districts in your area before starting this process. Next, find out how the school districts near you hire their subs. Many use a third-party staffing agency, and some actually hire you as a district employee. You will need a background check, and you might have to attend some kind of training before beginning.
FYI, substitute teaching is not easy. It involves classroom management, being energetic, acting appropriately, and can be extremely exhausting. Kids love having a sub because it means they’re more likely to get away with goofing off, and they love to put that theory to test. However, it is a very flexible gig. You can choose what days to accept jobs, and don’t have to request time off. Sometimes, half-days are available as well. Substitute teaching is perfect for college students with 1 or 2 days off from classes, stay-at-home parents with kids in school, or retirees.