Freelance writing offers me ample opportunity to earn money while working from home. However, there are days when either business is slow, I’m at a loss for writing ideas, or I just want to do something else besides write. On such days, I earn additional income by doing tasks unrelated to freelance writing, tasks that provide me a much needed break from my regular job. Here are just 5 ways in which I make extra money from home:
MyPoints is a rewards program website that allows you to earn points that can be converted into cash desposits, gift cards, travel credits or merchandise. You can also donate your points to charitable organizations like the Red Cross. To earn points, you first need to create a MyPoints account. MyPoints then sends you point-earning merchant-sponsored emails to click and view. Most of these emails earn you 5 points a piece.
You may also go to the MyPoints website and earn points by viewing merchant ads and offers directly. Of course, should you purchase anything from these merchants, your account will also be credited; most online orders earn a minimum of 250 points, while bigger ones (e.g., obtaining a mortgage) can result in a credit of 5,000 points or more. Finally, if you want to have all of your purchases credited, you can sign up for a MyPoints Rewards Visa credit card.
I’ve been a member of the MyPoints program since late 2009 and have accumulated almost 30,000 points so far. I save my points for special occasions like birthdays and Christmas, at which time they are redeemed for gift cards and other presents. I’ve also redeemed a good number of these points for myself.
2. Peer-to-Peer Lending
Peer-to-peer (P2P) or social lending works on the premise that a group of ordinary individuals like you and me can collectively pool our money and loan it out to other ordinary individuals like you and me. Sites such as Prosper and LendingClub allow lenders to earn as much as 26% annually on their money. Borrowers, meanwhile, obtain far lower interest rates on their personal loans than they would with banks or payday loan stores.
To get started with P2P lending, you need an account with an online lending site like Prosper. You also need to have a banking or other account from which you can withdraw funds. Incidentally, regardless of whether you are a lender or borrower, a credit check will be run on you. Once you are approved, you can start looking at prospective loans (i.e., notes), the credit ratings of borrowers, and loan interest rates and repayment terms.
Currently, I have an account with Prosper and earn almost 10% annually on the 7 notes that I’ve purchased. I could’ve bought notes with higher interest rates, but that would also have entailed choosing borrowers with lower credit scores. Since there is a higher risk of default as borrowers’ credit scores decrease (thus the reason for the higher interest rates), I chose monetary safety over additional profit.
3. Online Tutoring
If you have at least a bachelor’s degree, you will easily qualify for most online tutoring jobs at sites like Tutor.com, Smarthinking, etc. These sites operate via online chat and virtual whiteboard, freeing you from having to use a phone or webcam while you tutor. Tutoring hours are flexible; you may schedule your hours ahead of time or log on as a “floating” tutor. The pay scale varies; new tutors earn roughly $10/hour, while seasoned tutors may earn as much as $14/hour. Additional compensation may be provided to tutors who specialize in difficult topics like physics or advanced chemistry (where there is also often a shortage of tutors).
To get started with most online tutoring services, you will need to fill out a detailed application, list your educational qualifications, and discuss your teaching style. If you apply to services that tutor grade and/or high school students, a criminal background check will be performed on you. Once you are accepted into the program, a set number of weekly tutoring hours is expected from you. You will also be periodically evaluated on your performance, subject matter expertise, and time use.
I started working with Tutor.com last year and found the challenge of tutoring young minds to be quite rewarding. What I didn’t like was the fact that I couldn’t schedule my required 5 hours in advance and thus had to always work as a floating tutor. Likewise, the suggested time for many of my tutoring sessions was only 20-25 minutes, a time span that I considered too short for many of the questions I received. I’ve since reduced the amount of time I spend with Tutor.com, although I still consider it a great way to earn additional income.
Humantic screens recorded business phone calls for potential sales leads that are then sent back to the corresponding business for follow-up. There are many software-based programs that automatically screen phone calls for potential sales opportunities; however, Humanatic is unique in that it employs actual humans to listen to and discern phone calls. Thus, you, as the human, are responsible for listening to actual phone calls made to and from various businesses and concluding if they present any sales opportunities for those business.
There isn’t much to applying for a job at Humanatic; you simply provide your name, geographic location, and a physical or Paypal payment address. If there is a demand for more humans to screen calls, you are hired. At this point, you can listen to recorded calls and select from a multiple choice panel on whether these calls are a sales lead, typical day-to-day business, spam, or unclear. You can also listen to outbound calls and determine if a new business opportunity was presented (or not). For each successfully judged incoming call, you make 3-4 cents; outbound calls earn 1-2 cents. Payout starts at $5.
I started working at Humanatic a month ago and have reached payout at least twice; the first time I received $5.03, and the second time I received $12.41. Humanatic occasionally lets your screened call win a monetary “lottery” of $4 or more, so, it’s not as hard to reach payout as you might suspect. However, because the service is just starting out, there is often a shortage of calls to screen. If you don’t log onto the site during business hours, you may not get any calls to screen for that day.
5. Mail Decoy Work
Companies that send paper catalogs and other mailings to their customers often hire mail decoy companies to report when and in what condition those mailings arrive. Mail decoy employees will receive company mailings and then either call or fill out a survey about their arrival date, condition, etc. For their efforts, these employees are usually compensated with cash.
You can sign up with several mail decoy (i.e., mail monitor) companies such as the Quad Readers Club, U.S. Monitor and Quotas. If there is a need for someone in your geographic area to receive and report on decoy mail, you’ll be hired. It is then expected that you check your mail daily and report on any decoy mail that arrives. The payment for your service varies with the company and may include a base rate, a base rate plus a given sum for each piece of mail received and reported, or other goods.
In my case, I’ve been receiving and reporting on decoy mail sent via the Quad Readers Club. On a weekly basis, I receive roughly 20 pieces of mail (mostly catalogs), with the majority of this mail arriving Monday. The Quad Readers Club pays its “volunteers”, as they are called, in 10 U.S. postage stamps/month. It’s not a lot of compensation, but those stamps sure come in handy during the holidays. Meanwhile, I’m also trying to qualify with other mail decoy companies.