10 Ways to Obtain Free Government Money in 2020

Ever wondered how you can get free government money?

Technically speaking, you can’t. Because the government doesn’t give away free money.

What it does offer to people are government grants and federal benefit programs to help individuals and families lower their expenses and eventually become self-sufficient.

Such government assistance is funded every tax season, so if you’ve been paying taxes your whole life, consider these “free government money” benefits of religiously doing your responsibility every tax season.

10 Kinds of Free Government Money Available

All types of free government money programs will check your credit and finances (the government serves the most in-need first).

1. Money for Childcare

Childcare is expensive, from paying daycare so you can earn a living to buying supplies like milk and baby food, the expenses will continue until a child becomes a teen.

Fortunately, you can get government assistance for childcare typically for children 13 years old or under.

The Child Care and Development Fund, which operates under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides assistance for daycare funding, pediatrics and nutrition.

Know that this program is income-based and will be offered by your state CCDF.

2. Free Government Money for Groceries and Free Food

If feeding your family becomes a struggle, you can check out three government assistance programs developed to help those with financial hardship well-fed (at least until they could support themselves).

  • SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, aka “food stamps”) – This is income-based, so you’ll need to apply and send proof that your household cannot afford enough food for everyone. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive SNAP benefits from a monthly Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card, which works exactly like a debit card and used to buy groceries. You can go to your local grocery store and hunt for “SNAP eligible” tags to see which items are covered by your card.
  • WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) – As its name suggest, this free government money is exclusive to low-income women who are either pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking care of her child 5 years old or younger. It covers fund for food and health care.
  • School Lunch for Kids 18 and below – School-aged kids can get free (or discounted) lunches every school day. The National School Lunch Program (under the US Dept. of Agriculture) has fed over 4.8 billion nutritional lunches to children nationwide in 2018. To qualify, the child should be part of a household under other Federal Assistance Programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or based on their status as a homeless, migrant, runaway, or foster child.

3. Home Repair and Winterizing Assistance

If you live in an urban area and are 62 years old (or up), you could be eligible for a government grant amounting to up to $7,500 to repair your home, or remove hazards such as weak structures, mold, or lead paint.

The Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program offers loans (20-year-terms at 1% interest) and grants (free government money you don’t need to repay) exclusively to homeowners in rural areas.

Those who are interested in winterizing their homes in hopes of reducing electricity consumption could seek government assistance through the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center (WAPTAC) program.

While this program prioritizes households with children or a family member with disability, you still have a chance since about 30 million homes are reportedly eligible for winterizing grants.

4. Utility Bills Government Grants

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program has been helping people who are struggling to pay for heating and cooling costs for years.

This grant, which is under the U.S. Department of Health, is issued via states, which is why eligibility and income levels may vary between states.

5. Free Phone Service

If you need a phone plan, but your income does not let you have one, apply to the Lifeline program.

This assistance program helps qualifying, low-income individuals stay connected to family, emergency services and jobs right at the comfort of their fingertips.

You do have to meet eligibility requirements (mostly income-based).

6. Mortgage Payment Assistance

If you are struggling with mortgage payment and at risk of foreclosure, you can seek the help of Homeownership Preservation Foundation’s HOPE program.

Call 888-995-HOPE or visit 995hope.org and you’ll be greeted by someone willing to help you not only settle your backlog, but work with you to come up with a plan to suit your current income level, or modify your mortgage for those who got victimized by a mortgage scam.

7. Free College Education

A college grant is probably one of the most significant free government money you can receive.

Some students are lucky to land a scholarship, but most people who finish university end up with a massive student loan that they’ll pay for majority of their adult lives.

Fortunately, college grants give students a chance at paying for college without getting drowned in debt.

The federal Pell Grant, for example, can provide up to $6,000/year/student, but the amount would depend on factors such as financial need, enrollment status or total tuition fees.

In most cases, the student has to shoulder some of the fees.

8. Free Health Insurance for Kids

This isn’t free government money, but you can’t really put a price tag on your kid’s health, so having the chance to get insurance for them is absolutely priceless.

Visit InsureKidsNow.gov if you and your kids are eligible, so you wouldn’t have to worry about paying for doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, and so on.

9. Government Assistance for Unemployment

If you’ve recently been laid off and is struggling to settle financial responsibilities or buy basic necessities like food, you can apply for unemployment assistance with the Department of Labor.

The help could be enough to get you through this rough patch until you find replacement employment.

Not everyone is eligible though, so make sure to check first.

10. Free Government Money for Veterans and Senior Citizens

Veterans can obtain free government money from various departments.

For example, if you’re sick and need medical assistance, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can find you a suitable grant for this particular requirement.

This is also the case for senior citizens.

In fact, the National Council on Aging has made it easier for our older citizens to find over 2,500 federal and state benefits (as well as some from private companies) with the BenefitsCheckUp tool.

With this site, senior citizens can find benefits from food to hospital stays to prescription meds, and so on.

Collecting Unclaimed Money

If you aren’t qualified to get free government money from the options above, maybe you’re forgetting some unclaimed money years or decades ago.

People or companies can owe you money from past deposits, refunds, and other similar payments that they were unable to send your way due to various reasons. Maybe you moved to another state, or changed contact numbers.

Good news for you is that you can still claim these funds even years later by going to unclaimed.org.

You can also check if you have unclaimed back wages or unclaimed life insurance funds (for veterans).

Here are 5 other types of unclaimed money:

  1. Pension – If you were once employed by a company that went bankrupt, or moved to another company without claiming money from a pension plan, you’d be surprised that you can still receive this money. Go to Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) and search for your name if you’re included in the “Unclaimed Pensions” page.
  2. Bank or Credit Union Failures – Everyone knows that banks insure depositors for up to $250,000 per account, right? If you were a depositor of a failed bank, you can still claim your money back by visiting the FDIC website. It is the same process with failed credit unions and the money you invested at the time they were active. Visit National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) for possible unclaimed deposits.
  3. Tax Return – You can receive state or federal tax refunds that you weren’t able to receive in the past. Just check with the IRS or your state revenue department to see if you have unclaimed tax refunds left to collect.
  4. United States Savings Bonds – You can recover any savings bond you have that has been damaged or stolen, as long as you still have the bond serial number. The U.S. Treasury will help you even if you don’t have the serial number anymore, but remember date of purchase.
  5. Refunds for Past FHA Mortgage – If you got FHA-insured mortgage in the past, you can check the U.S. Housing and Urban Development database to see if you are owed a refund.

These aren’t technically ways of finding “free” money, since they are actually owed to you.

However, it can help you collect on funds you didn’t even know you were missing.

A Note about Free Government Money Scams

Make a quick Google search about “free government money” and you’ll discover several grant scams luring you in.

While they’re very easy to spot, some people might still prefer to play with their luck and hand over their hard-earned money in exchange for longer, more stable government assistance.

Unfortunately, once scammers have gotten your money, they would most likely leave you hanging with about $20, $50, or $100 less from your savings.

And if the scammers don’t collect fees, it may just be that they’re trying to steal your information (which can lead to something as serious as hacking your online accounts, to worst-case-scenarios like identity theft).

Combine two or more of the government grants and free government money you’ve forgotten I’ve listed above, so you can relax a little if you’re struggling to make ends meet.

If it’s your birthday, make sure to check this big list of birthday freebies (or this list if you hate giving away personal info).

Got kids in your household? You can also get a ton of free baby samples, free books for kids, and other samples that you can receive by mail.

Get Paid to Rent Your Stuff: 50 Ideas to Try

If you’re not ready to sell items for cash and say goodbye to your pre-loved things permanently, you can get paid to rent your stuff out instead.

And like a match made in heaven, there’s a huge market looking to rent your stuff online, too!

In the past, there were only apps exclusive for the buy-and-sell crowd. But more and more apps dedicated for transacting things to rent have been popping out in the last few years.

50 Things You Can Rent Out for Extra Cash

RENT OUT YOUR REAL ESTATE

1. House

This is the most common of all rentals, and I talked about quite a bit about the AirBnb era and how to rent your house out either on a short-term or long-term basis.

2. Extra room

Don’t waste that real estate you got lying around.

If you’re willing to rearrange your living arrangements, rent out your extra room to people who might need a place temporarily.

3. Garage

Sometimes, people need an extra garage to park their cars less expensively than city or condo rates.

You can also rent out your garage for those who need extra space for storing stuff.

In this case, you can list your garage on websites like Stow It!

4. Garden, Yard or Other Outdoor Spaces

If you’re lucky to have a massive backyard or garden, you can have it rented for events like weddings.

Those who are willing to commit more to this rental can even turn the outdoor space into “glamping” (glamorous camping).

Check out this site if you’d like to add tree houses, yurts, tents, or tee-pees on your outdoor spaces.

5. Piano room

Professional piano retailers often have a program that allow clients to rent out the piano first, so they’d discover if the piano student can last longer than a couple of months of practicing.

If you have a grand piano or keyboard lying around, copy this genius marketing trick and offer your piano room for rent.

6. Recording studio

Follows the same concept as the piano room, except your music room is complete with more instruments and recording equipment.

If you don’t know how to price this room, check with local recording studios and price your listing cheaper than “market” prices.

7. Portable playground

Did your kids graduate from their inflatable playgrounds or giant Little Tikes toys?

If so, you can make a new generation of kids happy by renting these out to other families.

8. Parking space, empty lot, boat slip

Sometimes, people need an extra parking space or empty lot to park their cars less expensively than city or condo rates.

This also goes for boat slips (the parking counterpart for boats).

If you’re renting out your space, there’s no app/company better to mediate better than CurbFlip.

9. Office Space

Do you have an office you don’t use anymore?

If you’re right smack in the middle of a major city, check out the Desktime App, ShareDesk or 42floors for possibly renting out your table or room to someone who needs it temporarily.

RENT OUT YOUR VEHICLES

10. Car

If you don’t want to drive your own car and earn the Uber way, you can always do it old school by renting out your car directly to people.

The rates of car rentals can be hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly, and you can control pricing 100%.

If you prefer not to do the marketing, check out Turo and list your car with them.

11. Seat in your car

Those who ride their cars to and from work daily can use apps like Zimride to rent out a seat in your car (or all seats) to other people who have the same office area as you.

It is basically like carpooling, except the people riding with you are strangers.

12. Pickup truck

From hauling to delivery service, pick-up trucks are versatile because of their size and possibility to carry heavy-duty items.

You can also rent out your pickup truck and earn up to $600 a month.

13. Bicycles

If you have a perfectly-working bike lying around and you live in a bicycle-friendly city like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, you can make extra cash by sharing your bikes with travelers, racers, and enthusiasts via Spinlister.

14. Motorcycles

Bike lovers may doubt renting out their beloved motorcycles, but the process becomes easy with services like Riders-Share.com – a site that background-checks people who are after riding your motorcycle for a day or two.

15. Boat

People with boats, but have no time to sail, but do not want to sell either, can rent out their boats, with the peace of mind of a hull and liability insurance policy all included in deals offered by Boatsetter.

16. Moving Equipment

Help people who might need to haul heavy stuff from point A to B.

Rent out your furniture, appliance or utility dolly, if you have one lying around.

These dollies can be rented out for $5 to $20 a day.

17. Mobility Equipment

Do you have a wheelchair, mobility scooter, knee walkers, or rollators you no longer use?

Many people need these to move around temporarily (after a surgery, during an injury, or to support them when they’re in pain).

Not only are you helping people when you rent these out, you also earn cash that you wouldn’t have earned if you just left the wheelchair or scooter to get dusty in the garage.

RENT OUT YOUR STUFF

18. Furniture and appliance

Perhaps you have an extra couch, dining set, oven, freezer, and any other furniture or appliance you’re not using.

Make them work for you too!

Check out what items you have that Loanables.com accept.

19. Sewing machine

Sewing machines are very popular to rent out, especially to people who need to do occasional projects such as Halloween costumes and do not find a need to buy their own machines.

When it comes to sewing machines, go to peer-to-peer renting site Zilok to rent out your equipment, so you’ll be safe with a security deposit every time it gets rented out.

20. Home Improvement tools

Like sewing machines, there’s also a demand for power tools, carpentry equipment, ladders and cutting tables, and other home improvement equipment.

Your best bet is to go to Loanables.com and list your stuff for rent.

21. Snow plow attachment

If you live in cities that suffer from snow storms each year, share your snow plow attachment to other locals by renting it out after using it.

While this may only work every winter, it’s still good money if you fill-up your calendar with rentals upfront from sites like Federent.

22. Lawn Mower

There are local companies that offer rent-to-own schemes for lawn mowers, but if you have one left unused at the garage, you can have it leased at a cheaper rate than these lawn mower clubs.

List your lawn mower on Craigslist and other peer-to-peer rental sites.

SPORTING EQUIPMENT

Whether you began sports while attending school or later in life, but have less time to actually hike, play golf, surf, go kayaking, ski and do other activities.

Here are some samples of sports gear you can rent out:

23. Golf clubs

24. Volleyball set-up

25. Kayak

26. Camping tents

27. Hiking gears

28. Surfboard boogie board, wet-suit

29. Ski and snowboard

30. gym equipment

Try to list them on Craigslist, RentNotBuy.com, SpinLister, TheQuiver, and Expeerent, among others.

TRAVEL

If you have a collection of luggage, travel bags, baby car seat, strollers, and other equipment you’d think travelers may need while visiting your town, list them on services like Omni Network, or go the old-fashioned way with Craigslist.

31. Luggage

32. Car Seat

33. Baby Stroller

Zilok, for example, lets you list suitcase sets for $12/day.

34. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

This is perfect whether you’re a musician looking to earn extra bucks for instruments you no longer use, or a hobbyist who can’t let go of their piano, guitar, saxophone, DJ equipment, or any other instrument, but will happily lease it off to other people.

You can list your instruments on general peer-to-peer rental sites like Fat Llama, or instrument-specific rental marketplace like Fretish (for guitars), or general-music sites like SparkPlug.

GADGETS

If you love electronics, photography and the newest gadgets in the market, you can rent out your stuff for a daily rate ranging from $20/day to thousands of dollars daily for professional gear.

35. Cameras

36. Projector

37. Sound system

38. Drone

39. GoPro

40. GPS Receivers

41. Dashcam

42. Video Game Consoles

43. Video Karaoke Machine

Depending on which of the gadgets above you have, there’s plenty of peer-to-peer rental sites where you can rent your stuff out. These include: ShareGrid, LensRentals.com, KitSplit, BorrowLenses, Parachut, FatLlama, and LensProToGo, among others.

44. MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

When it comes to medical equipment, the only ones who rent out hospital beds, oxygen, and other hospital-grade medical equipment are the manufacturers.

Unfortunately, there’s no peer-to-peer rental marketplace for medical equipment just yet. However, there will always be a need wherever city you are, so you can either start your own rental business, or list the items on Craigslist or Zilok.

EVENT RENTALS

If you’ve collected many event equipment, such as party tents, chairs, fondue maker, and catering equipment during annual parties, your wedding, and so on, you don’t have to hide them in drawers for the next big event to happen.

You can rent your stuff out for other people to use while you don’t need them.

45. Formal Wear

You spent $5,000 on your wedding gown? Why not share it to other bride-to-be and earn back some of that cash?

Preownedweddingdresses.com, Style Lend, Nearlynewlywed.com, Bravobride.com, and other sites like them let you list your pre-loved wedding dresses, party dresses, suits, and other formal wear and earn from these pieces of clothing.

46. Tents

47. Party Chairs

48. Popcorn maker

49. Fondue maker

50. Catering equipment

Websites like Tradesy are perfect for leasing any item related to events, including decor, dresses, cutlery, table centerpieces, and more.

3 Big Tips Before You Rent Your Stuff Out

Before you rent your stuff out, make sure to follow these reminders:

  1. Protect your stuff with deposit fee and insurance – This is very important, especially for high-priced items like cars, musical instruments, boats, and so on. Most peer-to-peer rental sites include the deposit fee with every listing, but insurance may vary from site to site. Double-check before listing your items for rent.
  2. Commissions – The peer-to-peer rental sites come with commission fees because (some) validate the users who will rent your stuff out, others go as far as doing background checks for you. If you’re leasing cars or homes, this commission fee is very well worth the trouble.
  3. Taxes – You won’t probably need to pay taxes for renting out stuff, unless of course you’ve earned several hundred dollars annually. To be sure, get legal advice.

If you have plenty of stuff you want to lease, you can open up a rental business locally.

However, before you plan to expand (buy more catering supplies, drones, etc.), make sure you do your research first.

How to Be a Movie Extra: 7 Extra Casting Calls to Use

Ever wondered how to be an extra in a movie, TV show, commercials, music videos, theater production and other cool gigs that would put you in the limelight?

Want to be the next Andrew McClay, who most Game Of Thrones fans would call the “Best Stark Solider” or “best extra of all time”?

Will there be a movie crew filming in your town soon and is already calling for extras to sign up?

Or are you planning to move out of your city and brave Los Angeles as many big-named Hollywood have done in the past?

If you love everything about the entertainment industry and want to try your luck with movie extra jobs, you’ll definitely enjoy this post…

How to be an Extra in a Movie

Known as “atmosphere,” or “background actor,” an extra is someone who adds to a scene (whether in a movie, TV show, or any production). These extras often have non-speaking characters and just pass by main characters, stay in the background, or serve as one person in a crowd (army scene, basketball game crowd, etc.).

Extras are hired because it wouldn’t look realistic for an NBA game to have just the players filmed. Extras make every scene a bit more lively and believable.

Acting Experience

The best thing about movie extra jobs is that you wouldn’t really have to audition for a role.

As such, regular folk like you and I can become an extra in a movie, as long as the casting director thinks we have the right look, hair color, height, size, and other physical characteristics they might need.

Heck, if you’re being hired as part of a crowd, these physical requirements may not even be needed.

Requirements: Things You Need before Hunting Movie Extra Jobs

Before you find movie extra jobs, here are several things you should prepare (and don’t need to prepare):

  1. Paperwork: Like most jobs, you’ll need to fill up an application to become a movie extra. You’ll need proof of citizenship, IDs, filled-up tax forms, union details (if you’re a member), and so on.
  2. Background check: In super-secret productions, background-checks may be part of the application process.
  3. Headshots: Most of the time, the photos you bring won’t be needed because agencies and productions use Polaroids to document movie extras. So if you’re thinking of investing on your headshots, you can skip it for now (do it when you decide to become a professional actor).

Get an agent vs. DIY job-hunt

In the past, the norm was to go to a casting agency, pay money upfront (about $20 to start), then wait for the agency to notify you about movie extra jobs.

Note that this practice is now illegal, so you shouldn’t pay for registration fees to these agencies anymore, no matter how popular or distinguished the agencies are known to be.

As a rule, if you want to join a casting agency, go for those that do not charge a dime.

They may ask for a lot of requirements (ID, work permit, resume, etc.), but as long as no upfront fees are requirement, then go for it!

With the internet and social media providing a venue for movie extra job hunters, it’s possible to find extra casting calls directly from casting directors and production companies looking to hire extras.

Most of the time, these production companies would e-mail job details to casting agencies, or post directly on online job boards.

7 Extra Casting Calls Sites to Check out

  1. Actors Access – Free to create an account with 2 profile photos and resume. If you want to add more elements, you have to pay up. $10/photo, $22/minute of video, $11/minute of audio, or $5/seven-second video clip.
  2. Playbill – Love the theater? Check if you can become an extra on any theater productions near you.
  3. Central Casting – Only available for New York, Los Angeles, Louisiana and Georgia productions, so you might need to travel if you get a job from these locations)
  4. Casting Frontier – Free to join, but offers premium account (about $100/year) for those who want extra features.
  5. Sylvia Fay/Lee Genick & Associates Casting – Known for 30 years of experience casting background actors
  6. Casting Networks Inc.– There’s $25 annual fee for movie extras who don’t have agency representation, but free to everyone else.  
  7. Mandy.com – Probably has the most number of jobs posted daily (3000+/day) out of all free casting agency websites.

Depending on which casting site you joined, the application process may vary a bit. Most of these sites have a job board in place for you to check out current extra casting calls.

Sometimes, you can just follow their Facebook page, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other social media accounts and see extra casting calls posted there.

Apply and wait. If you receive a phone call, text message, or any communication from casting directors, then you’ve tackled the first phase.

What Extras Should Expect on Set

So let’s say you got the job.

What happens next?

If you’re lucky to receive a booking notice, this would detail everything from wardrobe to call time, makeup requirements, hairstyle, etc.

You’re probably going to be responsible for your hair and makeup, unless you’re working on a set like The Walking Dead (where extras require plenty of makeup/prosthetic work done), or Game of Thrones (where extras have to do costume and makeup first).

  • Be ready to kill time – If you had a job as a movie extra today, make sure you’re free the whole day. Production usually takes several hours, but it could get longer for any number of reasons (wrong lines from the actor, the director says so, errors in the background, wardrobe malfunction, and so on).
  • No phones allowed – Don’t bring your phones anymore, since they’ll most likely be put in a locker on closed sets, or kept turned off for security reasons.
  • Bring IDs and paperwork – Be sure to keep your IDs or other documentation ready to show when casting crews ask for them.
  • Don’t disturb actors or other people – Even if you’re a huge fan of the main actor on a movie you’re assigned to, don’t disturb them (unless they start the conversation first). This is a job, so they’re there to work just as you are.

Take the job seriously.

If you’re lucky, the casting director may take notice of your work ethic and hire you there on the spot for future work.

How Much Do Extras Get Paid?

Half of the people who work as extras to do for fun and see how it feels like to be on “the big screen.” Half of the people who work as extras do it for extra cash. Regardless of which group you belong, extras get paid an average $100 to $150 per day as an extra on a movie.

However, there are things you should know about income of movie extras:

  • Earn $800 or more if you land a speaking part
  • First 2 overtime hours are usually paid 1 1/2 x the hourly rate, while the next 6 hours after this are paid double time
  • If you’re still working at the 16th hour, you’ll receive your daily rate per hour.
  • Some productions offer bonuses for extras who don’t use their lunch breaks. (It’s illegal not to feed movie extras after working 6 hours straight since call time. Productions may pay penalty if they won’t follow this)
  • You’ll get paid mileage (around 50 centers per mile for driving your car to the set. Your car can be turned into an extra too! And you’ll be paid additional for it!
  • Working as an extra in unfavorable environments (smoke-filled locations, submerged in water, muddy, etc.) can give you additional take-home cash

Most of the time, you’ll be given income vouchers (for you to collect once your scene is finished).

If you have costume on or holding props for the scene, the crew might get this voucher from you as collateral, then give back your income voucher after returning the props.

Some productions give away SAG vouchers.

Collect three of these vouchers from the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and you’ll become a SAG-AFTRA union member and skip the annual membership fee. As a SAG-AFTRA union member, you are paid higher and earn better deals across-the-board.

Can a Movie Extra Job Lead to Other Acting Gigs Down the Road?

If you’re looking for information how to be an extra in a movie because you’re planning to become a professional actor, being an extra shouldn’t be your first step. Instead, go find agency representation, which would work in finding you real acting jobs, voice acting jobs, brand ambassadorship gigs, and other jobs you have in mind.

In fact, many casting companies specializing in background actors remind these extras to lower their expectations. You hunted for movie extra jobs, you applied and got the job. As far as being seen, extras are literally background for a movie, TV show, or any other production.

Forget about being discovered because the golden age of Hollywood has passed. Your chances of becoming a professional actor from your gig as an extra is super-slim.

Your next best bet is to land the job of a stand-in, or the person used as a substitute for the actor before the actual shoot.

Stand-ins are important since they help lighting, camera set-up, and other technicalities of a typical production and make it perfect for filming.

If you do love the scene and want to do more stable work as an extra, make sure to network (meet the PAs, crew, and other people) with every job you take.

Be professional about it, don’t disturb then when they’re working.

Absorb everything you can about the production while you’re on set.

Here’s How to Sell an Idea to a Company

Since this blog’s “birth,” I’ve been sharing plenty of traditional and crazy things that people sell online.

From craft projects that you can lovingly create by hand then sell, to cutting off inches from your hair for selling, there will always be more things to add on our list.

But have you ever considered that you can sell an idea?

If you’ve ever had a light-bulb moment about a product, service, invention, apps that you think hasn’t been done before, but you didn’t have the time or resources to turn this idea into reality, don’t you regret letting your great-idea go to waste just like that?

Well, this post will give you real-world options on how to sell an idea to a company, if you ever experience that awe-inspiring light bulb moment again

Protecting Your Ideas: How to Prevent Your Idea from Being Stolen

How can you sell your ideas, and protect it from being stolen at the same time?

How can you sell your ideas, if you’re not telling anybody about it?

It’s a tricky tricky thing… which is why most people who have awesome ideas back out of patenting, copyrighting, and securing ownership of their ideas once they hear of the complicate process.

However, it shouldn’t be as complex as experts make selling ideas seem. Here’s what you need to know:

A Quick Lesson about Patents

A patent is a “government authority or license conferring a right or title for a set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention.”

For idea-makers like yourself, patents are important because they grant you exclusive rights to sell an idea or invention, essentially keeping copycats from bringing the same idea into the market.

If you believe on this idea 100% and you can afford paying for the entire patent process ($900 if you do all the legwork yourself or up to $10,000 if you’re hiring a lawyer to do it for you).

However, if you can’t shoulder patenting yet, your next best choice is to get a provisional patent.

What is a Provisional patent? Where can you get one?

A provisional patent covers the same legalities as the real patent, but it only gives you 12 months of legal protection and rights to sell your ideas.

Benefits of provisional patent:

  • Cheaper application fees. This can be submitted for as low as $65.
  • Earn money without shelling out huge upfront cost. Because you didn’t spend over $5k in patent fees, you can enjoy the earnings of your idea
  • Easy to file. You can just file a provisional patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The problem with provisional patent is that after the 12-month period, you should convert this patent to a non-provisional patent.

Non-Provisional (or “Utility”) Patent

This is a full patent, but will only protect your idea or intellectual property for as long as the patent is in effect.

It’s more expensive than provisional patent with fees ranging from $900 to over $15,000 depending on several factors, including:

  • the type of invention or intellectual property – Is it a software-related invention? app invention? complex science invention? or so on…
  • Size of business – If you’re just an individual filing a patent, you’d likely spend less than as an owner of a small business.
  • Your location – Some states/countries have more expensive patent applications than the rest.

Of course, utility patent cost will increase depending on the legal team you hire.

Another Way to Protect Your Idea is through Licensing

Licensing isn’t selling an idea – it is more like renting it out.

If you have an idea without a full patent, a company can license your idea.

With licensing, it benefits you and the company equally because you get to earn money, while the company advances its products or services thanks to your idea.

Do note that this route requires you’re a top-notch communicator, since you’ll be pitching and selling your idea to numerous boardrooms. If you can’t communicate your ideas properly, it’s impossible to impress a company into licensing your idea.

How Can You Approach A Company and Sell Your Idea?

Now that you know your options of protecting your idea, it’s about time to pitch it to companies.

This next step is what separates those with big ideas and those who have turned these ideas into a successful businesses.

So how do you do it?

Here are several considerations to arm you before finding companies and presenting your idea to them:

One-off Payday vs. Recurring Revenue

If your idea is definitely one-of-a-kind and valuable to a specific industry, the first company you pitch to would likely offer you a massive payoff.

While this is a good thing, especially if this is your first big idea, make sure you’ve considered this beforehand.

Are you really willing to let go 100% of this idea to the first company that offered a buyout?

If not, licensing your idea is perhaps a better option. With this route, you will work with a company to bring your idea to reality, but with full knowledge that the company will brand it, manufacture it, promote it and control many functions of that product or service.

You may have some control throughout the process, but it depends largely on your licensing contract. When it comes to revenue, you will be given somewhere between 5% and 15% commission from every sale of the product.

Sign-away 100% vs. Licensing

This is directly connected to the payout of your choice.

  • One-off payday = you’re signing off 100% of your idea to a company
  • Recurring revenue = licensing your idea to a company means you’ll be receiving income for as long as the company’s product is being sold in the market and as long as they continue to uphold your licensing agreement

Negotiating your role within the company will be on a case-to-case basis.

As such, you should be prepared to sell what you can bring to the table as well.

3 Sites that Could Help You Connect with Companies

1. IdeaBuyer

This site has been around for over a decade and has helped made ideas of individuals and small companies into a real, functional business.

They do not guarantee million-dollar deals for you, but prefer a partnership with idea-makers in working hard to meet specific goals, whether this goal is a successful retail outreach or help with patents.

Simply put, “Idea Buyer does not buy ideas. Idea Buyer does, however, provide opportunities for an idea to be bought.”

2. InventRight

This site has partnered with over 1,000 companies that are actively looking for bright ideas.

Although this site is focused more on invention ideas for fields like sports, kitchen, hardware and toys, you should definitely look around and check what companies are look for.

You might be surprised that your kept-secret idea has been waiting to find its perfect company to adopt it.

3. InnoCentive.com

Maybe you don’t have just one idea to sell, but dozens and dozens of ideas.

If this is the case, take on the challenges from government agencies, non-profit orgs or private corporations and get a chance to win up to $1 million.

The ideas needed here range from math to engineering, sciences to design, and so much more.

4. Launching your own startup

This is the long haul – and it would take a lot of hard work, business meetings, prototypes, presentations, research, and day-to-day office operations.

However, if your goal is to become a company where innovative ideas are born, this is the perfect time to do it.

With sites like Kickstarter, which promote smart, unique and interesting ideas, crowd-fund the idea, and actually bring your idea into fruition, your capital can be kept to a minimum.

The Bottom Line

If I could sell my idea for a million dollars days after my lightbulb moment, I would.

Realistically, it is best to sell your ideas through a reputable, already-existing company before launching your own company. This route gives you hands-on experience of everything from applying patents to dealing with copycats and eventually selling your ideas to the right buyer.

Once you’re armed with the knowledge, experience and capital to launch your own startup, don’t let anything stop you from sharing your ideas to the world.

How to Become a Local Tour Guide & 5 Companies Currently Hiring

The local tour guide job isn’t for everyone.

Tour guides are not the same as travel agents, whose jobs are to arrange travel plans and communicate with clients from the comforts of their own homes.

Local tour guides come face-to-face with tourists. They know all head-turning destinations to the cringe-worthy spots around town (and still find something to love about them).

They are up-to-date with new places to see, things to do, food to eat, and adventures to face, so that they can create unique experiences for tourists from all walks of life.

The job is for people who love their community, and passionate enough to give guests the same magic he/she sees from his/her own town.

Do you think you’re cut out to be a tour guide?

Local Tour Guide Job

A local tour guide isn’t a formal job – there’s no educational requirements to land this job.

(There are some good training materials out there though.)

There is an exception to this though: government, non-profit environmental organizations, and private companies with any nature-based industry usually require tour guides to have some college credits taken.

The main requirement is that your heart is in the right place, and you’re 100% in love with traveling and spreading the love of travel.

You should also:

  • Be Responsible – You are practically leading people to different destinations, so these tourists will be under your care
  • Knowledgeable about different cultures – It doesn’t matter if you’re only touring locally. People with different cultures may be part of your tour, so it’s ideal to know as many as you can about.,
  • Have superb communication skills – Ultimately, leading local tours mean you’re going to be talking to people every day. Having the skills to do so will make the job a lot easier.
  • Have extraordinary storytelling capabilities – You’ll need to catch the attention of your group while discussing a destination’s history, facts, myths, and so on.
  • Have problem-solving skills – You should be able to think logically and quickly, especially when faced with emergencies

Understand that a local tour guide job is a physical one.

You should be able to withstand long walks, running, and other physical activities.

If you’re going to be working for other companies, you may be required to know CPR and other life-saving First Aid techniques.

Local Tour Guide Requirements

Here are some guidelines how you can become a local tour guide:

1. Know how to teach a new skill

Consider what kind of information that visitors to your town or city would be happy to learn and which isn’t readily available.

For example, if you live by a body of water, you could create a tour that teaches visitors where to fish for a certain type of fish.

If you live by a state park or preserve, you might offer tours that teach people how to spot and pick edible wild mushrooms. If you’re into archery, offer several hours of bow and arrow instruction at local ranges.

2. Focus on your hobbies

Instead of imitating other tour companies, focus on your own hobbies and pursuits.

If you’re an avid kayaker, create a tour that takes people from point A to B in kayaks across a lake or stream.

If you like camping, create a ready-made experience for potential area campers that includes a tent, sleeping bags, and anything else that they would need to take a 3-4 day camping trip.

3. Generate an interesting itinerary

You’ll see far more interest in your tour if you provide potential clients with an itinerary of planned stops, lessons and/or demonstrations.

You might also provide different itinerary options, with portions that swap out for others in case the client wishes to create his own customized experience.

Team up with area businesses.

It may also be a good idea to team up with some local businesses, where you might grab a discount or incentive in exchange for bringing in tourists.

These businesses can also advertise your tours to their own clients, thus expanding your reach.

How much do Tour Guides make?

If you offer a tour that is a good value for the tourist and takes her places where traditional tours don’t go, you can easily charge $200 for 2 hours. Add in a few incentives like a guide book or complimentary appetizers and drinks, and you can charge even more.

When it comes to tours, you’re better off creating a quality tour that costs more money than a “value priced” one that just about anyone can complete on his own.

You can easily earn more money, if you are fluent in languages other than English (Spanish, Japanese, French, Mandarin, Korean and Italian are the top in-demand languages).

Tourists have dispensable income and are looking more for an incredible experience that they can brag about back home than for a way to save money. So, create some amazing experiences and don’t be afraid to charge premium prices.

If you already have a touring business setup and you’re looking to make more money from it Matthew Newton’s Sell More Tours is a must-read.

Start your own or join a tour guide company?

Those who are hoping to become a local tour guide can do this as part of a team, or as their own bosses.

You can land a local tour guide position, tour manager, itinerary maker, tour guide supervisor, and so on with traditional travel agencies. These jobs are also available at theme parks, museums, cultural centers, and other similar facilities.

Do note that except for managerial positions, most tour guides are only hired during certain seasons.

The main benefit of being employed to a company is that you won’t have to worry about your schedules, finding clients, and marketing your services.

If you start your own practice, you will be in total control of everything, from the packages and itineraries, themes and gimmicks, etc.

All of the income will be yours as well. However, you’re going to be wearing more hats as an owner and local tour guide, since you’d have to continuously network and market your business to fill in your calendar.

I recommend you begin as a contractor or employee for another company to dip your toes into the industry, then launch your own practice on when you’re experienced enough to tackle all facets.

5 Companies Hiring Local Tour Guides

The following companies will help you kick-start your local tour guide gig, whether you plan to do this on the side, or set-up a full-scale tour guide business:

1. Rent a Local Friend

Rent A Local Friend

This website describes itself as “a community of people who love to travel and be in touch with different cultures.” You’ll need to send an application to join, but once you’re in, you’re automatically known as a “local friend.” Fill in your profile completely.

For $100/year membership fee, this company provides you with a personal web page and marketing help in exchange for signing up.

As a local friend, you can accept or reject a request from a client. If you do accept the gig, the clients pay Rent a Local Friend 30% of your fee, then receive the rest after successfully completing the scheduled tour.

2. ToursByLocals

Tours by Locals

To join ToursByLocals, you’ll need to pass two phone interviews, pass a background check and provide local legal requirements.

Once you’ve been accepted, you can create your services page and begin marketing your business.

This company doesn’t require upfront fees to join, even if they provide free training, marketing, payment processing, and a $3 million in liability insurance.

However, you will need to share 20% of your fee with them every time you complete a successful gig.

3. Context

Context Tours

Context provides private tours or small group tours with a maximum of 6 people in every major city across the globe.

Extensive knowledge of your city, local hot spots, and the biggest attractions are a must.

Most tours fetch between $100-$200 per hour, and that’s not including any tips you may receive from your group for doing an exemplary job.

Context’s dedication to sustainable tourism and making a minimal impact on local culture make them one of the most premiere touring companies out there.

4. Withlocals

WithLocals

Withlocals works with individual freelancers who want to show their city and share their passions.

This Netherlands-based company follows the same process as Vayable and ToursByLocals – you post an “experience” or customized tour, wait for clients, do the job, and then wait for your income.

Withlocals deduct their 10 to 20% fee from you every time you complete a job.

5. Shiroube

Shiroube

Shiroube (pronounced shi-ru-bé) is an international company boasting 5,000+ tour guides in over 3,000 cities.

This is a bit different than other companies.

Shiroube does not charge upfront fees, nor does it collect commissions for every job. Shiroube also doesn’t charge travelers any fees.

So how does Shiroube earn money? Apparently, the company worked out sponsorship plans with corporations to avoid charging people fees.

Everyone gets a free account by default. With this free account, you can create 3 ads to promote your local tour guide services.

The Bottom Line

Becoming a local tour guide is easy as long as you have the heart and right skills to do the job. However, like many freelancing gigs, the challenging part is marketing your service to your target audience.

With these 5 companies hiring local tour guides, you’ll receive free training on how to network, market and expand your business.

And when you’re ready to scale up, I’d recommend you build your own website, so you’ll have your own, safe online space if any of these 5 decide to close shop in the future.

You can also consider planning travel itineraries for other people or landing a work at home travel agent job.

How to Self Publish a Book in 5 Easy Steps

Contrary to popular belief that self-publishing is only exclusive to mediocre authors whose works no respectable literary agent or publisher will touch, learning how to self-publish a book is actually a lucrative way of bringing your literary work to the masses.

“Fifty Shades of Grey”…”Switched”….”Diary of a Mad Fat Girl”…”No Thanks”…”A Time to Kill”…”Still Alice”…”Leaves of Grass”…”The Martian”…”Eragon”…”A Room of One’s Own”…”The Wake”…”Huckleberry Finn”…”Double Persephone”…”Spartacus”…”A Naked Singularity”…”Ulysses”

Would you believe that all these books were self-published?

Now have I piqued your interest?

Below you’ll find the exact steps you need to take to self-publish a book and the 12 best self-publishing companies for authors.

2 Major Reasons to Go the Self-Publishing Route

Want to learn more about self-publishing and why it is the better choice than partnering with publishers?

Here are the two best reasons:

1. You can earn more money with self-published books

In traditional publishing, new authors often have no choice but to sign away rights to his/her book for x number of years.

In exchange of this deal, the author earns a book advance of about $5K and around 5% to 8% royalties on all book sales.

Bigger publishing companies do this and continue supporting the author with marketing, book tours, promotions, and follow-up possibilities.

Unfortunately, this is rare. Authors usually have to deal with their book’s own marketing and shoulder PR campaigns themselves, which can cost anywhere from $5k to $10k per campaign.

In contrast, a self-publishing author pays for the printing costs up-front. With options like print-on-demand (POD), this isn’t such a burden even for first-time authors.

You may pay as little as a few bucks for each printed book (and far less for an ebook), which in turn, allows you to price your book fairly and to keep more money for yourself.

2. Keep 100% publishing rights with you

Traditional publishers shoulder initial costs of your book production, but get most of the control over the rights of the book for up to 5 years.

For some unlucky authors who didn’t know better, they may have unknowingly signed away all their rights to their book(s) forever.

The one with bigger percentage of publishing rights can control many details of the book, including retail price, ebook promotions, potential follow-ups of the book, and so on.

As such, giving away your publishing rights will tie your hands regarding the success/failure of your book.

You simply can’t decide on anything major about the book’s production, promotion or sales.

Meanwhile, self-publishing your book removes all clauses, rules, and contracts, leaving you total control of everything from printing to marketing to expansion of the book as a series, or into an ebook or audiobook.

How to Self Publish a Book in 5 Steps

The steps to self-publishing a book may be slightly different between personal situations, locations, budgets, and whatnots, but most authors follow either of these two paths:

  1. Authors become their own publisher – With this route, you’ll will become the author and publishing house in one.
  2. Authors join Self-Publishing Companies – With this route, the author will decide everything from editors, book art, book format, pricing, and then upload the complete book on his/her chosen self-publishing website. As the author, potential buyers buy your book from the website, which then prints the book and ships it straight to the buyer. You then receive royalties of your book at a scheduled payout, or if earnings are allowed to be withdrawn at any time.

For those wishing to be their own publisher, here are the steps you need to take:

1. Pick a publisher name and incorporate

Take inspiration from big publishing houses like HarperCollins or Random House. Choose a catchy name you’ll be proud of, but don’t use your real name.

Make sure you incorporate your publishing business into an LCC.

This will protect you from potentially losing personal assets if your business is being sued by employees, consultants, freelancers and even other people your company didn’t hire. Click here for more information on why you should form an LLC.

2. Buy a block of ISBNs

The International Standard Barcode Number (ISBN) is a 13 digit number that identifies a book as well as different versions of that book (e.g., edition, audiobook, ebook).

Most booksellers and distributors require an ISBN before they will list a book.

Libraries also use ISBNs to locate book titles.

3. Copyright your book

If you want to protect your book from being re-published as someone else’s “original” material, you’ll need to copyright it.

You also can’t sue anybody for copyright infringement of your book unless you first register that book with the US Copyright Office (assuming you live in the U.S.).

An electronic copyright filing for a book is just $35.

4. Print your book

There are many book printers out there and, as a new publisher, you are going to be best served by a printer that is linked to Ingram Content Group, a large, U.S.-based distributor of books, music and other media.

Currently, Ingram distributes to over 38,000 retailers, libraries, schools in 195 countries.

If you’d rather stick with just one distribution channel such as Amazon, you could print your book through CreateSpace, which is a subsidiary of Amazon.

The main benefit to setting Amazon as an exclusive distributor is that you get a higher profit margin on your book. And because Amazon has no rights to the book, you can switch your distributor at any time.

5. Market your book

Create a website for your publishing company as well as your book(s).

Work the social network circuit and post your business as well as its product(s) on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Talk with other small publishers and find out how they are promoting their products and through which channels.

Try different marketing strategies; for example, offer 100 copies of your book for free in exchange for a review on Amazon, Facebook, etc.

12 Best Self-Publishing Companies

If you choose to self-publish, you will likely work with a self-publisher that will provide you with a set of services including formatting, cover design, copyright registration, distributor listing, etc. in exchange for a set fee.

The cost of printing is fairly even across the board with most self-publishers- or at least it should be- because most self-publishing companies use either an in-house or third-party print-on-demand service provider of their choice.

For those looking to work with the best self-publishing companies, here are your top choices:

1. Kindle Direct Publishing

The most popular of all self-publishing companies simply because it is directly from retail giant Amazon, so your book will be included in the Kindle store.

KDP has its own platform to layout your book, if you haven’t done so.

Uploaded books will be reviewed under 10 minutes, so if your book passes, it can go live on the Amazon marketplace hours after being accepted.

There’s no fee to self-publish with Kindle Direct Publishing, plus you earn 70% of book royalties.

2. Smash Words

Many “indie authors” feel right at home here, since Smash Words isn’t like traditional publishing companies.

Authors receive up to 80% royalties and receive monthly PayPal payments (with only a penny payment threshold).

It partners with Findaway Voices for audiobook production and distribution.

3. Kobo

Kobo (yeah the ebook reader brand) followed the footsteps of Kindle Direct Publishing with its own Kobo Writing Life service.

There does seem to be a huge difference.

Kobo lets authors keep their downloaded ePub file after the conversion, which means you’d be able to share a digital copy of your book to your friends and family instead of asking them to pay.

Authors keep 60% of royalties, but you are in control of prices and promotions.

You also own the rights to your books completely and you’re allowed to publish elsewhere too.

4. Blurb

Although this UK-based company became famous for printing photography books, Blurb also has a platform for authors to layout their work, promote and distribute the books through its own Blurb store, Amazon, Ingram, and other self-publishing sites.

5. Outskirts Press

Probably one of the lowest-rates in the self-publishing industry, Outskirts Press has been a favorite among authors for years now.

This Colorado-based company makes it homey for authors, giving out prizes to “Best Book of the Year” with a $1,500 price annually, promoting books day in day out, and millions of dollars in royalties since it launched in 2002.

6. Lulu

This site offers the same self-publishing options as the rest of this list, but they’ve been known to have superb editorial and marketing add-on services.

7. Xlibris

Known for professional customer support and an easy-to-use interface, Xlibris gives its authors royalties ranging from 10% to 50%, depending on factors such as when you joined Xlibris, type of book (printed vs. digital), and so on. X

libris is popular for its author events, which definitely provide a much-needed push especially for new authors.

8. BookBaby

Don’t underestimate the cuteness of its name.

Greeting authors with the phrase, “Ready, Set, Publish,” this company provides a complete self-publishing experience (if you need to) and mix-and-match self-publishing services if you just need help with printing, or distribution, or ebook conversion, and so on.

9. Barnes & Noble Nook Press

Barnes & Noble has a pretty strong ebook sales record, even if it doesn’t go outside the United States.

This company is a solid publishing house with a massive collection of books, so it is definitely worthy of a spot while you’re considering which of the best self-publishing companies to go for.

10. IngramSpark

Ingram Book Company is the largest distributors and wholesaler of books in the US.

It is also one of the best self-publishing companies around the world with its 50+ years of history in the field.

BONUSIf you haven’t thought about ebooks (YOU SHOULD, though), there are two resources that you should never skip:

11. Apple iBooks

Apple sells majority of the world’s ebooks, after Amazon of course. As an author, you can join iTunes Connect and spread your book digitally from here.

12. Google Play’s Book Partner Center

Of course, if you’re taking on Apple, make sure you cover the Android crowd as well.

How much money can you earn from a self-published book?

For every book sold, the self-publisher and you will split the profit- also known as the royalty- in some way.

Hopefully, the split is at least 50/50. There is also the book printing cost to consider, as well as any discount rates offered by a retailer like Amazon.

In the end, your profit margin might look like this:

  • Retail price of your book ($14.95) – printing cost ($5.00) – discount rate ($2) = profit ($7.95)
  • profit x (0.50 publisher royalty) = $3.98 royalty for you, $3.98 royalty for self-publisher
  • A hypothetical $3.98 from a book that costs $14.95 is not very much profit for you; however, this is at least a healthy 26.5% royalty. By comparison, consider how traditional publishers often give authors only a 5-8% royalty, meaning a profit of just $0.74 – $1.20 per book sold.

However, even if a self-publisher states that it takes only 50% of the profit, there are ways that it can pad its bottom line.

That padding is typically done by pumping up printing costs.

As a result, it’s imperative that you know the expected price of printing a book.

7 Must-Follow Tips on Self-Publishing a Book

Want to know how to self publish a book successfully?

The answer all boils down to marketing.

Here are 7 book marketing tips you can do, even without experience or tons of funds:

1. Learn about your audience

How can you promote to a group of people if you’re not sure who the book is for?

This might sound a little strange, but let’s face it we don’t all like the same things, so narrowing down your audience early on will not only help you focus your book for the right people but allow you to focus your later marketing directly to this group.

2. Brainstorm heavily for your title and cover

First impressions last, so it’s best that your book title catches a person’s intrigue the right way.

Both the book cover and title should be interesting, professional, and invoke something in the reader that grabs their attention.

3. Pick the right author bio and picture

This is particularly important for new authors, since the author bio introduces you to the world.

Remember that your bio is there so that readers can get a bit more of a feel for who you are, because they are not just buying a story or a self-help book, but instead investing in a person: you. In the same vein, you have to pick your author photo carefully as well.

4. Prepare your synopsis

Your synopsis will affect sales quite dramatically.

If the synopsis makes the story sound dull or the contents sound uninspiring then the potential purchaser will move onto the next one.

Consider the synopsis to be your initial sales pitch: it has to grab the user, based on the genre and suck them in.

5. Join or build a community

Self-published authors are generally lone writers, and marketing your book is hard work.

It might then be worthwhile to join a “tribe” (I recommend Self-Publishing School) of your fellow authors to help spread the load a bit.

This can be as little as just chatting with people online to share tips and advice, or you could go a similar route as Discover Sci-Fi. This group is a bunch of Sci-Fi authors who have self-published on Amazon and have banded together to help promote each other’s books and sales.

This method allows for a greater reach, especially if each author promotes the group to their own audience.

If done correctly, it becomes a win-win situation: authors gain a wider reach and readers gain access to perhaps unknown authors.

6. Maintain a website and build a mailing list

There is zero excuse for an author to not have a website.

A website is a focal point for the author to sell or presell books, as well as a way for your readers to gain better insight into the your mind.

A website can be as basic as a single page with a blurb and link to Amazon etc., or it can be more fully fledged. From a marketing point of view, a site with a blog is an absolute minimum.

A blog allows you to gain SEO advantages and also to give a glimpse into your life, connect with your readership and promote sales, new book releases etc.

And while you’re at it, consider building a mailing list. This is where you’d be sending freebies, news about your books, and other ways of promoting your book.

Make it count.

7. Make your online presence felt

There are so many social networks out there that using social media as a method of marketing can be daunting.

My advice here is to pick one or two (say Twitter and Facebook) and focus purely on them.

Social media should be considered as a way to promote you as an author rather than for a specific book. That’s not to say that you can’t let your followers know about your books and any offers etc. but it should not be the main focus.

Use these networks instead to connect with people, to discuss topics in your preferred genre and to give shout outs for other authors and books that your respect or enjoy.

How To Self Publish A Book Successfully

I hope this comprehensive guide can help you self publish a book successfully.

Know that book publishing is both a personal and professional decision that is not undertaken lightly.

There is a ton of work involved in just completing the manuscript, then having it ripped up (I mean, edited) and finally in promoting the book via social media and other methods.

But for some professionals, having a book helps promote their careers and give them legitimacy. For others, a book is a chance to leave some kind of legacy.

And for still others, a book can be a means to eventual fame and fortune- not to mention a career in itself.

5 Sites to Find Online Consulting Jobs in 2020

Online consulting jobs exist and the pay is just as high as traditional consulting jobs.

In the real world, consulting is a senior position that attracts a bigger paycheck for one reason: companies and individuals trust a consultant’s expertise and are willing to pay to “pick his/her brain” to improve a product, service, process of a company.

These jobs were traditionally conducted face-to-face, since the selling point of consultancy is meeting these experts in person.

Today, your name is enough to “sell” your expertise, and modern tools are in place to consult people from the comforts of your own home, or from anywhere in the world.

If you’ve conducted research, taught in a specific field, built a successful company from scratch, or just have an extensive experience in a certain trade, this can pave the way for high-paying online consulting jobs.

Here’s how you can be your own boss with online consulting jobs.

How to Build an Online Consulting Business

By definition, a consultant is “a person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field.”

It is as general as it sounds, which is both an advantage (anyone can be an expert) and a disadvantage (there will be competition).

To navigate your way around this new path and become the authority in your chosen field, here’s how to build an online consulting business from scratch:

1. Identify your niche and prove your worth

You can be good at two or more things, but find something that you’re exceptional at, then prove it with real-world examples (case studies, portfolio, certification, awards, and other credentials that would sell your talent to clients).

Building expertise in one niche takes time. Sometimes, consultants spend their entire careers mastering their craft.

Open up to the idea that although you’re superior at what you do, you still have to hone your craft continuously.

2. Keep an online portfolio

You have two choices – maintain a LinkedIn account and keep it up-to-date, or build a portfolio website that would serve as your modern “calling card.”

Whenever people Google your name, the main search result should land them either on your LinkedIn profile or your website.

This is so you have total control over the information you put online about yourself, career and consulting business.

Aside from your resume (please leave out your home address and other high-security info out), your website or LinkedIn profile should have a list of services, credentials, and awards.

If you can collect client testimonials, make sure to showcase them too!

3. Find Online Consulting Jobs

Here’s where it would get interesting:

When you begin your consultancy business, you’re lucky to get more than two clients at a time.

It is totally OK.

Many consultants begin with no client at all.

But you shouldn’t just wait for people to go your way. You must actively find projects, at least in the beginning of your career.

To find consulting jobs online, you must join websites (see below) that help connect clients and consultants for a particular job, campaign, or project.

You don’t have to pay membership fees for most of the sites, but you do need to fill-up a form and register as a member.

Make your profile interesting and include as many information about your specialization as you can since clients will be the ones sending you a message based on this profile.

Note that depending on the site you joined, some inquiries may not be forwarded to your registered e-mail address, so check the sites regularly.

4. Price your skill appropriately

Consulting rates vary significantly depending on factors like field, size of project, company size of client, your own expertise, and even the platform where you found your client.

Because of the uniqueness of each job, many consultants do not publish a rate card on their websites or job board profiles.

However, it’s important that you have a fee already set-up for specific tasks.

For example, if you’re a personal finance consultant and a client needs help in dividing his income into investment and savings, you should be able to give this potential client a quote for this service.

You should price your services appropriately based on your skill set and how much value you can bring to the table.

5. Market your Services

Proactively spreading the word about your online consultancy service helps you turn this freelance gig into a full-pledged business.

If you’re confident that your expertise is sellable, invest in yourself through marketing. You don’t even have to leave your home to do this.

Networking and marketing can also be done online these days. Take advantage of it.

Create e-mail campaigns and send them to your friends, family, colleagues, and other contacts.

Know your way around social media marketing? Add Twitter and Facebook (on top of your LinkedIn account), then engage with other people within your field.

6. Know when to expand and when to say no

Saying “no” to jobs can be hard, especially if you’re new to freelancing because the anxiety of having nothing to work on the next day or week can lead to committing to projects you don’t have the heart or time doing.

Learn how to stick up for yourself. Be prepared for clients asking discounts – these things happen all the time.

If your calendar is getting too cramped, try upping your rates. It only means that people are flocking your way for your advice and you’re worth the consultancy fees (even if it means they’ll pay higher).

How Much Do Online Consultants Make?

On average, those new to online consulting jobs charge around $175 per hour. Some consultants charge as low as $50 an hour, while others have $500/hour or higher rates. As you might guess, online consulting jobs do not have uniform rates.

Consultants compute their fees by doubling hourly wage, using daily rate, quoting per-project, quoting per-performance, going by industry rates, and so on.

5 Sites to Find Online Consulting Jobs

Now that you know how to start freelancing as a consultant, here are 5 legitimate websites that either list online consulting jobs or connect clients to providers.

1. Clarity

Clarity.fm

Launched in 2012, this website focuses on start-ups, so the experts they need must have knowledge in entrepreneurship, start-ups, business processes, and so on. Here’s how Clarity works:

  • Experts create a profile with a per-minute and hourly rate included ($60/hour is the minimum hourly rate and experts can control this rate)
  • Clients find an expert and set-up 3 calls (specifying 3 different date/time when they’re available)
  • If an expert thinks he/she can handle the question/inquiry, the expert chooses a meeting schedule ideal for him/her and accepts the job
  • Client confirms the conference schedule, connects and pays the expert’s per-minute rate

Clarity charges the expert a 15% fee for successful jobs.

2. ExpertConnect

Expert Connect

This New York-based company is always looking for experts in the fields of healthcare, life sciences, technology, media, telecommunications, industrials, policymaking, legal affairs, accounting, business services, finance, real estate, consumer goods and retail.

  • Experts join (for free) and fill-up their profile, attach resume, and other credentials. As an expert, you can also import your LinkedIn profile instead and set you hourly rate.
  • ExpertConnect will contact you (or other experts) when a client requests a consultation. You will be notified via e-mail.
  • The “job” details the project, compensation, and other information.
  • Experts have last say – they can accept or decline the consultation.

Your compensation will be based on the hourly rate you set and the projects you accepted. Experts have to send ExpertConnect an invoice to receive consultation fees incurred.

3. Maven

Maven

Maven calls itself the “Global Knowledge Marketplace” because it has compiled hundreds of experts (they call them mavens here) from all walks of life and fields.

From scientists and doctors to farmers, barbers, auto mechanics and truck drivers, there’s a home here to become a Maven as long as you know a lot about a subject.

To become a Maven:

  • Sign-up using LinkedIn, Google, or Facebook
  • Fill-up a profile and set your hourly rate. (Note that Maven accepts $25/hour as the lowest possible rate you can set). If you’re unsure, you can check the rate calculator to see potential rates for your field and experience.
  • Wait for clients to contact you for projects. If you receive an invitation to a phone consultation via e-mail, you can either accept or decline the job.

Maven’s consultations are not just limited to phone. Aside from online consulting jobs, you can also be invited to face-to-face time or a more permanent consulting position (that may last weeks or months-long). Note that these extended consultations require pre-screening and extra interviews.

If you want to earn more, refer people to Maven and earn 10% from all your referral’s earnings.

4. GLG

GLG

GLG is more on the tech-side and has been around since 1998. It boasts of a 1,400-strong client base that has successfully been supported by over 650,000 GLG experts from around the world.

It has a network of academics, CEOs, subject-matter experts on every topic imaginable, policymakers, and more.

GLG experts can set their own rates, depending on their experience, designation, and practice area. On average, GLG experts of a non-tech field can charge somewhere between $200 and $1000 an hour to talk to clients.

5. Zintro

Zintro

Zintro is the only one on this list that requires payment from experts.

While the actual membership fee of Zintro is free, you (or a client) must pay $99.95 for the first time you connect via the Zintro platform.

The consulting requests are not pushed to your e-mail. Instead, you have to check the site inbox regularly, if you’re waiting for clients here.

Experts and clients can also pay for premium membership ($149.95 for 1-month, $239.70 for 6-month, or $359.40 for 1-year membership) to skip worrying about the first-connect fee.

The Bottom Line

Online consulting jobs offer some of the best paying work from home jobs we’ve ever seen.

If you have extra funds and want to kickstart your business by landing more online consulting jobs, you can also purchase a spot (pay for a listing fee) to be featured as an expert on one of the sites above.

You don’t have to be an inspirational speaker, CEO or successful entrepreneur to share your knowledge.

If you have extensive experience in writing, business, finance, advertising, human resources, computer science, counseling, sewing, teaching, driving or other specific jobs, you can land online consulting jobs as long as you’re willing to help and assist individuals and companies with their problems.

How to Start an Investment Club: What You Need to Know

Investment clubs are popping up all over the country and little wonder: Investing as a group is much more easy and fun than investing alone and this is leading to more and more people wanting to learn how to start an investment club.

Whether you’re just starting out as an investor or have been investing for years, investment clubs provide the following advantages:

  • Risk is spread throughout the group. By diversifying your investments, you minimize your risk of losing all your money on just one or two investment vehicles. By investing at regular intervals throughout the year (i.e., dollar cost averaging), you reduce your chance of buying an overpriced stock, property or other commodity.
  • Members are better informed. As evidenced in the past stock investment article series, sound investments take a long time to fully research. Having extra members to assess financial documents such as the income statement and balance sheet can save time and result in everyone having more information about a company, franchise, etc.
  • Emotional investing is minimized. You won’t be able to justify your investment choice to other club members      by simply stating “I have a good feeling about this one.” As a result, you’ll also minimize making impulsive investment decisions.
  • Investing discipline is maintained. Most investment clubs require that their members make a monthly contribution. This forces you to regularly set aside and save some money every month.

How to Start an Investment Club

While this isn’t a comprehensive guide, these are the first basic steps you need to take:

1. Select your members.

Do you know several (online or other) friends or relatives who have mentioned investing and who are responsible with their money?

If yes, then these individuals could be valuable members in your investment club.

Try to pick individuals who would be willing to dedicate their time and their money to an investment-focused group and meet their commitments faithfully month-to-month.

Otherwise, your investment club will simply become a social club (and probably serve beverages of a refreshing nature, à la Homer’s Hunting Club).

2. Decide on your club’s size and geographic range.

Investment clubs can be small (fewer than 15 members) or large (more than 15 members) and local or online.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each club type. For example, a small local club can get business done quickly and easily and have lots of face-to-face contact.

The disadvantage of this approach is that every member may have the same, narrow investment viewpoint.

Alternately, a large online club offers its members many different investment viewpoints and a wide range of experiences.

The disadvantages with this type of club are that virtual meetings may seem impersonal and full member attendance will almost never occur.

3. Decide your club’s investment vehicles.

Your club could focus solely on stock investments or diversify with real estate, person-to-person loans, mutual funds or some other investment vehicle.

Deciding on your choice of investment now will determine if your club needs to open a brokerage or other account type later.

4. Name your investment club.

Giving your club a name should take some time and effort and be agreed upon by all its members.

The name of your investment club will also be used on its bank account, member statements and tax reports, so make sure it’s a name that you and your club members can all agree on.

5. Draft and sign a partnership agreement.

For business as well as federal taxation purposes, you will need to draft a partnership agreement and have all club members sign and date it.

The partnership agreement should contain the club’s formation date, fiscal year and profit/loss sharing structure.

Member initiation and termination rules should also be included here. A sample partnership agreement is located at iClub.com and can be used as a template when creating your own club partnership agreement.

6. Draft your club’s constitution and rules.

Your investment club’s constitution and rules need to be carefully considered and stated in order to protect it from being audited by the IRS or even sued by a disgruntled member.

Be sure to include the following items in your club’s constitution and rules and have all members sign and date the document:

  • Number of allowed members, including new member initiation procedures and requirements.
  • Number of officers, election rules and service terms.
  • Required monthly contributions from all members.
  • Bank account details such as the account’s purpose (e.g., to collect member dues and club income) and signatories (i.e., who can write and cash checks).
  • Brokerage account details such as the authorized investor/trader and investment/trading rules.
  • Member voting powers and expectations as well as what voting percentage constitutes passage of a motion.
  • Grounds for member expulsion.
  • Monetary procedures following member expulsion, resignation or death.
  • Tax collection and procedures.

A more complete guide to generating your club’s constitution and rules is located at TimetoTrade. You can also use this guide as a template for your own documents.

7. Elect club officers.

Decide who will fulfill the roles of president, vice president, treasurer, secretary and designated investor/broker.

Typically, the president or vice-president calls the club to order and makes announcements.

The treasurer is in charge of collecting member contributions and filing forms with the IRS.

The secretary records meeting minutes and attendees and later distributes this information to all members via mail or email.

The designated investor/broker holds the account in the club’s name and makes the actual investments/trades. 

Additionally, there may be a designated auditor who is not an officer and audits the club’s accounts.

Requirements to Running an Investment Club

These items exist because anytime you have a business entity that is making money, the law and (especially) the IRS will be very interested in your club’s dealings.

This is NOT a comprehensive list.

Please check with your local and state laws to make sure your investment club is in full compliance. This list is just an idea of some things you may need.

1. Investment Club Tax ID or EIN

Once you have named your investment club and its officers, you will need to obtain an employer identification number (EIN), which will be used when you file the club’s tax return.

The EIN is, in essence, like a social security number that identifies your club as a unique entity to the IRS. 

Despite its official sounding jargon, the EIN can be obtained in a matter of minutes by going to  the IRS website and filling out Form SS-4.

You can also call 1-800-tax-form (1-800-829-3676) for help.

2. Club Accounts

It is imperative that you open one or several bank accounts in the investment club’s name and use them solely for the purposes of club business.

Unless your investment club forms an LLC, you will first need to obtain a “doing business as” or DBA (i.e., Registration of Firm Names) document from your local city hall.

If your club starts investing in equities (e.g., stocks), you will also need to open one or more brokerage accounts also in the club’s name.

Some brokerages may charge significant fees to facilitate equity transactions like stock purchases.

To this end, you and your club partners may want to look into becoming members of the National Association of Investors Corporation (a.k.a. Better Investing), a non-profit organization which provides its members with discounts on stock trades.

The NAIC also offers a wealth of educational materials, accounting software and legal forms.

And now for the not-so-fun stuff…

3. Filing Tax Returns as a Club

Filing club taxes is usually the duty of the club’s treasurer and can be a stressful task for him or her; however, by following these guidelines, the process should become simpler with time (and more rewarding if followed by several gifts of beer from other club members).

To begin with, the investment club, if formed as a “pass-through entity” (e.g., partnership), is not required to pay federal or state taxes.

Instead, all club partners are expected to report their investment profits (or losses) on their personal tax returns.

Still, just because the club itself is exempt from paying taxes doesn’t mean it gets off scot-free; investment club treasurers must file an information return, called Form 1065 (U.S. Return of Partnership Income), each year by the April 15th deadline.

Furthermore, if even one of the club’s partners resides in a state other than that of the investment club, the treasurer should contact that state to find out if it requires its own return (e.g., IL-1065 for Illinois) as well.

Keep in mind that Form 1065 is applicable to all kinds of partnerships and not just investment clubs.

In fact, the majority of Form 1065 has nothing to do with investment clubs. Thus, especially if this is your first year gathering partner data and filing out the form, it may be better to utilize the services of a tax professional or accountant.

Alternately, the NAIC provides tax software that can easily track club investments, profits and forms for each partner.

Each club partner must be provided with a Schedule K-1 which details that partner’s investment profits, costs and transactions.

As such, the K-1 is akin to Form 1099 which brokerages and other financial institutions send to their clients each year. Unlike the Form 1099, though, which has a “send-by” deadline of February 15th, the K-1’s “send-by” deadline is actually April 15th- yes, April 15th.

This is because the IRS realizes that investment clubs may need extra time to gather up investment materials as well as all the 1099 forms from their brokers (at which point they can file for an extension).

However, if you, as the club treasurer, decide to wait until the morning of April 15th to notify fellow club members about how much they owe the IRS on their personal returns, you may end up with several of those members never speaking to you again. So, DON’T wait until April 15th.

Ideally, given that all the 1099 forms should be received by February 15th, your investment club should shoot for a K-1 “send-by” deadline of late February.

4. Club Partner Expectations

Once all the legal and tax obligations are settled, your investment club’s success will depend on each partner fulfilling his or her obligations to the club.

In most cases, those obligations are as follows:

1. Attend all club meetings.
2. Pay club dues.
3. Research current and pending club investments.

Each club partner should understand that the investment club is a business and, like any business, will probably not see a profit in its first few years of operation.

Thus, any partner who decides to “cash out” of the club cannot expect to get back all the money that he or she originally invested. 

There is also the matter of trust in the formation of an investment club:

Since you are going into business with 15 or so other individuals, you should be able to trust those individuals (and vice versa).

Hopefully, you will also like your partners and enjoy their company as you consider your mutual investments and learn from one another. After all, these are the end purposes of forming an investment club.

The Investment Club Bottom Line

Starting an investment club is a little more complicated than just asking a few friends to pool some money. You are taking risks with your money, and more importantly, other people’s money.

Take the proper steps in making sure your investment club is legally compliant and talk with a local accountant to make sure everything is being done above board.

How to Find Paying Online Proctor Jobs in 2020

As education goes virtual, there is an increased need for online courses, online instructors and online proctor jobs.

While the first two items take a while to delve into and master, being an online proctor is relatively straightforward. And even better- you can earn extra money as an online proctor.

If you’re a teacher looking for an online job, this is definitely one possibility to consider.

What is an online proctor?

In brief, an online proctor is a hired “test giver” who checks in and verifies the online students, delivers and collects the online exam, and assists is the event that there are technical difficulties during the exam.

The online proctor is also responsible for maintaining academic integrity during the exam; usually, the proctor connects to the student’s computer and observes the examination process via screen sharing.

Online proctors also verify student identities using a webcam and by checking their school IDs. In most cases, students are also asked to answer some personal questions (e.g., age, major).

You might be wondering how an online proctor can really prevent cheating; students might have notes tucked away on their desk or cheat sheets taped to their monitor.

Thorough online proctors, however, will ask for students to use their webcam to scan around the room and show their desk, chair, etc.

Proctors can request that students use a mirror or smartphone to show the computer itself.

Finally, proctors are trained to watch student eye and other movements and to listen in for possible “helpers” during the exam.

Key strokes and speed of typing may also be recorded and analyzed to determine if the student is who she says she really.

Such biometric analysis also helps determine if the tough questions are being answered as quickly as the easy ones- if they are, there may be cheating involved.

If any suspicions are raised, the online proctor can pause or stop the exam.

How much do test proctors make?

Online test proctors typically make between $9 an hour and $25 an hour, depending on the company hiring and the experience of the proctor.

Because online proctor jobs typically hire from verified off-site testing centers, the good news is that no actual computer or webcam equipment is required. However, because of this fact, proctors do need to travel to their local testing location.

Online testing centers require on-location work because of concerns over possible collusion between test takers and online proctors.

How to Become a Test Proctor

I’ve rounded up a few sites that are always hiring online proctors to administer tests.

Make your way through this list to find something that works for you.

1. Kryterion

Kryterion

Launched in 1999, this Arizona-based online testing company periodically offers part-time gigs to individuals who are computer literate and can devote 15-25 hours/week to online proctoring.

Much of the work is completed in the early mornings or evenings or during weekends.

Proctors are required to learn and know Kryterion’s online test taking software system, Webassessor, and must also pass a background check.

Lots of schools and colleges use Kryterion for online testing, including Penn State, Western Governors University, etc.

Corporations, trade associations and government agencies also use Kryterion for administering tests and conducting interviews. While this means that there are many different types of customers you can work with, it also means that the sheer number of different clients will require that you work with more than one test-taker at a time.

Luckily, your pay per hour is also better than that of most other online proctoring companies; online proctors with Kryterion report earning $15-$25/hour. There is also the opportunity to get promoted and advance within the company.

2. ProctorU

ProctorU

This Alabama-based company has been around since 2008 and is always looking for new online proctors- in fact, there’s an online application provided right on the ProctorU website.

Pay starts at $9/hour after the initial 30 days of training are complete, and online proctors can make up to $9.75 after 90 days.

ProctorU proctors are expected to connect with the students, verify their identity, enter an exam password for the students and then monitor them during the exam.

Because students can register to take exams at almost any time of the day, online proctors must have a flexible schedule and be able to work in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. Working one day each weekend is also required.

There are’t too many proctor complaints about ProctorU; however, because most exams occur during the day, online proctors who are only able to work in the evenings may not be able to schedule in too many work hours.

3. PSI Online

PSI Online

PSI Online covers basically anything you could possibly imagine when it comes to testing.

They hire for proctoring jobs all across the country and offer benefits as well. You would be surprised at just how many different jobs and job openings there are. So click through to their careers page and find one that works for you.

Other Online Proctor Jobs

There are many other online proctor companies popping up, including B Virtual, Loyalist, ProctorCam, and ProctorFree.

All of these companies offer online proctor gigs from time to time, although quite often these opportunities are listed through job sites like Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn rather than on the company site itself.

Starting pay is typically just above minimum wage at $9-$10/hour, but the rate easily increases if the proctor can also troubleshoot through technical support issues and/or handle multiple test takers at the same time.

While this report by Caveon Test Security does not report on the pay rates of individual proctoring sites, it does list a wealth of information on the software and verification systems that many of these companies use.

There is also ample information about how rigorous each company’s processes are and what actions the online proctor is allowed to take.

Such information gives you a glimpse into which company is easier or more challenging to work with.

The Bottom Line

Online proctoring is an excellent way to pick up some extra cash in your spare time from home.

While it doesn’t pay as well as some other work from home jobs I’ve found, the requirements are low and it’s fairly easy work.

6 Jobs for Pickup Trucks: Make Money with Your Ride

Yes, there are a couple of jobs for pickup trucks, from hauling bulky items to delivering orders to clients.

If you’re looking for a way to earn extra cash and you have a pickup truck tucked safely in your garage, it’s about time to turn it into a money-making machine.

In fact, you can choose from these two paths:

  • Independent Contractor Pickup Truck Jobs –  Choose this route if you’re not looking for a full-time job driving other people’s pickup trucks. Instead, you’ll be an independent contractor with your own pickup truck working for you.
  • Business – You can buy a pickup truck to use mainly for a small business you plan to build. Or make use of pickup truck that you already own.

How to Make Money with a Pickup Truck

Perfect for pickup truck owners who are looking for extra cash, but cannot commit to full-time jobs or launch a business.

I recommend checking out these side cash opportunities, particularly if you’re still paying for the pickup truck through your local dealer:

1. Hauling Service

The most popular independent contractor pickup truck jobs involve hauling stuff away.

For example, picking up old furniture, mattresses, office file cabinets, outdated gadgets, or even bulky trash from customer houses and bringing them to charity or at recycling centers.

In some cases, you might even get a deal with a construction company and help with moving materials from one location to the next.

Or look around your neighborhood and watch out for home renovations – some folks may be DIY-ing their home and would need help hauling before the construction or even during cleanup.

How Much Can You Earn?

In exchange, you’ll be paid for each “haul” or for every hour you spend moving stuff around.

Generally, movers charge around $30/hour.

And since you’re the boss, you get to control pricing, depending on location of items to haul, number of hauls, number of crew members you hired for the job, and other factors.

2. Delivery Service

Picking stuff from one location and delivering it to another can be a hassle to many people, especially if they don’t have a car that would fit a broken refrigerator.

You can offer a delivery service in your city. For example:

  • Hang out at garage sales – Become active in Facebook groups near you, or check out Craigslist for garage sales in your area. Talk to the garage sale hosts about you offering delivery services to buyers in need of help (ask for the host’s permission and referral). Make sure you have a poster, business cards, or fliers with you on the day of the garage sale. This is particularly useful for people interested in buying sofa sets, huge cabinets, and other bulky second-hand items that they wouldn’t have had any option of hauling home themselves.
  • Create a Pickup-Delivery Appliance Repair service – Partner up with appliance repair shops and advertise your service in your area. When a large appliance gets damaged, a customer can contact you to have the washer picked up in his/her home, brought to the repair shop, and then delivered back to the customer’s house.
  • Find Delivery Gigs on TaskRabbitTaskRabbit is a cool app that notifies you of jobs that you’re interested in that’s near your location. So if you’re interested in delivery services, choose that category and wait for a “task” to complete. Once the job is done, you submit invoice and you’ll be paid via the TaskRabbit app directly.
  • Join Amazon FlexWork with the retail giant in making deliveries using your own pick-up truck. If you’re lucky to be living in a city with a lot of Amazon shoppers, you can fill up your vehicle with more packages compared to sedan drivers. (Check more ways to earn with Amazon here.
  • Shipperoo and GoShare are companies similar to Amazon Flex that you can check out.

How Much Can You Earn?

The garage sale route is definitely more informal than partnering up with an appliance repair store.

As such, you’d have more flexibility if ever your clients bargain delivery fees.

It is your business after all, so you decide on service fees.

When it comes to pickup-delivery appliance repair services, it depends if the repair shop wants to keep you as an on-call delivery guy and offer you a monthly fee for 1-2 deliveries a day. You can offer this service to multiple repair shops, too!

Amazon Flex claims its drivers can earn from $18 to $25 an hour.

3. Turn Your Pickup into a Moving Billboard

If you’re willing to turn your pickup truck into a moving billboard, then you’ll be earning a stable income for the next couple of months.

This gig is similar to taxis sporting ads of a product or service on top of their vehicles while they cruise around the city.

One example of a company that offers this is Carvertise.

If you’re interested in doing this, you’ll have to register with Carvertise, send copies of your license, answer a few questions, and if you’re qualified, wait for an advertiser to choose you for a campaign. If you’re chosen, you can get $300 to $1,200 per campaign.

Common requirements for Carvertise and similar companies include a minimum of 30 miles/day of driving (so the ads can be seen by as much people), clean driver’s history, 2008 or newer pickup trucks, and factory-finish paint job.

How Much Can You Earn?

Note that a campaign can last several months.

Carvertise states that its average payout is $100/month for drivers, but those driving around high-traffic areas can earn more.

In some cases, you can even just park at Carvertise-assigned spots to get an extra $30/hour.

Driver payment will be sent at the beginning of each month through direct deposit.

Make sure you double-check the company, before signing any contract.

In 2018, car wrap advertising scam exploded and many people were victimized (you can check out my post here for some tips how to prevent getting duped).

4. Offer Landscaping and Snow Plowing Services

This can be a seasonal side gig, but it can also be a full-time business if you want to.

Your pickup truck has the muscle to handle strenuous landscaping tasks, such as mowing, weeding, mulching, transferring tons of fall leaves, hauling rocks or dirt, delivering plants, plowing snow and so on.  

However, you’re going to have to invest in all-terrain tires and heavy equipment (such as a snow plow attachment or salt spreader), which costs about $500 to $5,000 for every tool you decide to buy.

How Much Can You Earn?

If you’re planning to focus on just one season (for snow plowing), you can earn a good chunk particularly if you live in a city that faces annual snow storms.

This guy shares that he earns about $36k from November to March for 20 snow-plowing contracts.

You could probably earn more money if you offer more services all throughout the year.

Clearing leaves during fall, landscaping in the summer, and so on.

5. Become a Towing Provider

If your pickup truck is big enough and has the capability of towing other vehicles, you can do this gig professionally and earn a substantial amount.

Towing vehicles doesn’t just involve hauling off vehicles parked in towing zones.

Towing can also mean moving a damaged car or vehicles that are not yet allowed for road use.

It could also mean transporting new vehicles from one state to the next.

How Much Can You Earn?

Local towing jobs can get you around $70 per tow.

Interstate jobs pay higher, of course, but it will also mean the hours will be longer, mileage considerations will be higher, and finding a vehicle to tow on your way back can be challenging to do (but very lucrative if you’re lucky to land one).

6. Rent Out Your Pickup Truck

You’re not going to be paid to drive with this one, but you’ll still be earning some cash regularly (or as much as you’re willing to “share” your pick-up truck with the world.

A service like Turo (where would-be renters find vehicles to rent out) can be a huge help to you because you don’t need to advertise your pickup truck anywhere else.

How Much Can You Earn?

Turo has an estimator tool that lets you play around with possible income you can earn by renting out your pickup truck.

On average, vehicle owners earn around $600 a month if they lease their vehicles half of the month.

Business Ideas for Pickup Truck Owners

Note that everything I listed above can be scaled up and turned into a full-blown business.

The work you’ll offer is the same as the jobs above, but with slight differences.

These include:

Competition

Some pickup truck services, such as hauling or delivery, have a ton of competition.

However, the demand for them is always high, which what makes them enticing for entrepreneurs.

To compete against more popular companies in the same field, it’s important to promote your services in a way you’ll stand out.

This is particularly important if your business is just starting out and can’t rely on word-of-mouth just yet.

Permits and license

Local and state laws vary.

In most cases, if you’re running a business, you’re required to obtain a business permit and commercial insurance.

This is important since you’re going to be shuttling people around, or hauling things in your pickup truck.

You have to be protected in case you get into an accident with a client at the back seat, or with valuable items in your care.

If you’re going to be driving your own pick-up truck (and not renting it out), you’d have to have a valid driver’s license with clean records as well.

Employees

Depending on the type of job you choose, you might need to hire people to help your business, especially if the job requires carrying heavy items.

If you’re planning to scale up a snow plowing business, then drivers for two or more pickup trucks may be needed, as well as extra people to complete your crew.

Of course, this will totally depend on factors like your fund availability, location, and commitment level.

The Best Jobs for Pickup Trucks

You might notice that I didn’t include Uber in this post. There’s a valid reason for that: Uber-driving can only bring home about $16 to $20 per hour.

Compute the gas mileage of your pick-up truck (especially in city-driving), and you’d probably be at a loss.

On the other hand, hauling, delivery services, and other gigs listed here don’t require you to drive around the entire day.

Let your pickup truck work for you. Explore these money-making opportunities available for pickup truck owners. If you’re committed enough, this side cash gig can even be the ticket to pay off your vehicle early.

Here Are 11 Ways to Get Free Google Play Credit

The internet is an amazing space where you can earn money (in either cash or gift cards) by doing the simplest to the weirdest of things and free Google Play credit is no exception.

Did you know that you can earn free gift cards simply by downloading some apps?

You can even single out Amazon gift cards specifically and save as many gift cards your heart desires for your annual Christmas online shopping.

If you’re interested in earning free Google Play credit to pay for a movie, music, books, premium apps, or Google products, you can do it without paying a cent.

Even buying lives for Candy Crush, or any other in-app purchases of third-party apps can be bought using Google Play credits.

11 Ways to Get Free Google Play Credit

1. Google Opinion Rewards

The official way of earning free Google Play credits is by downloading Google Opinion Rewards.

Opinion Rewards Logo

Developed by Google, the Google Opinion Rewards is a rewards-based program initially launched as a survey app for Android and iOS. It is available for download in 22 countries, including the US, UK, some parts of Europe and Asia (Check if your area is allowed – there’s a full list here).

The idea behind this involves users answering surveys and earning rewards.

Android-based users can earn Google Play credits and redeem them by buying paid apps on the Google Play Store.

Meanwhile, iOS-based users receive actual payment via PayPal.

Google Opinion Rewards Survey

Google says these surveys help other companies improve their services and products by letting regular people like you and I share our opinions.

You won’t get rich answering these surveys, since they pay somewhere from a couple of cents to $1 for every survey fulfilled.

The Google Opinion Rewards app is available either at the Play Store or Apple Store.

Aside from Google’s own survey app, you can also check out these other methods (a mix of websites and apps) that would allow you to earn free Google Play credits:

2. GPlayReward

This get-paid-to website lets anyone earn free Google Play gift cards by downloading apps, or completing simple tasks such as watching a video, checking out ads, or browsing the site for bonuses.

These tasks are rewarded with points, which you can use to redeem $10, $25 or $50 Google play gift cards.

You’ll need 1,000 points to exchange it for $10 Google Play gift card.

3. AppNana

AppNana is available for both iPhone and Android users.

With the app, you can earn “nanas” (points) for playing featured games or downloading apps.

Every time you download a featured app, you earn points that you can redeem as Amazon, Xbox, iTunes or Google Play gift cards.

Heck, you don’t even need to do something to earn points here. AppNana gives 400 points daily, if you log into your account each day.

You receive 10,000 nanas once you register.

It would take you a while since $10 Google Play gift card is equal to about 160,000 nanas.

4. InstaGC

Short for “Instant Gift Cards,” InstaGC gives you plenty of tasks to do to earn points, including completing surveys, shopping online, browsing the web, watching videos, visiting sponsor sites, listening to music, or even joining product trials.

100 points convert to $1 in gift cards.

As an example, you get to earn 10 points for signing up and 110 points for referring a friend. Google Play gift cards are available in $10 (1,000 points), $15 (1,500 points) and $25 (2500 points).

5. FreeMyApps

FreeMyApps is an app that rewards you for referring friends to download and join. watching YouTube videos, joining social media contests, playing games, and more.

This app has paid out over $27 million worth of gift cards, so you’re guaranteed to be “paid.”

Aside from Google Play credits, you can also exchange your points to Amazon, CVS and in-app purchases, and so on. There are plenty of gift card options once you decide to payout. And if you’ve got change, you can even donate to charity straight off the app.

6. Gift Card Granny

Gift Card Granny is a cashback website, which is also available as an app for iOs and Android devices.

You need to register to access contests, giveaways, and other activities that will lead you to earning rewards points.

Once you’ve saved enough points, you can exchange these for Google Play store credits and other types of gift cards.

7. Gift Box

Gift Box is an app that pushes advertisements to your device, then gives your points once you view the ads.

You can also perform other tasks like watching sponsored videos, downloading third-party apps, referring friends, playing online games, and so on.

You’ll need a minimum of 1,500 coins to be able to redeem them as gift cards.

Note that 500 coins is equivalent to $1.

8. FeaturePoints

FeaturePoints boasts of rewarding over $5,600,000 since 2012.

It is available at the App Store and Google Play store.

With FeaturePoints, you are rewarded with points if you play games, read books, listen to music, download featured apps, watch videos, and other tasks.

The minimum payout should be at least $10 to $15. You can exchange your points into Google Play credits, online gift cards or paid apps.

Probably the coolest thing about FeaturePoints is their unique referral system. Whenever you refer a friend over, you earn 50% of the total points he/she earns as well.

9. Survey Junkie

This site has been around since 2005 and is one of the most trusted survey sites.

With a user-friendly system and a whopping 3 million users, you’ll quickly see how easy it is to earn credits here. Plus, it’s available on site and both as iOs or Google Play app.

Just register at Survey Junkie and you can begin answering surveys or joining focus groups in exchange for points. You’d have to earn at least 1,000 (equals $10) before you can exchange it to cash via PayPal, e-Giftcards like Google Play or direct bank transfers.

10. Swagbucks

With Swagbucks, you can earn points from various tasks, such as completing surveys, using specific search engines, trying out a shopping site, viewing sponsored ads, watching videos, playing games, and more.

Get $5 once you open an account.

You’ll need 1,000 Swagbucks points to receive a $10 Google Play gift card or other e-gift cards.

Swagbucks sometimes host sales, so make sure to check it out regularly.

11. PrizeRebel

PrizeRebel boasts of a massive list of rewards, from Amazon gift cards to Google Play gift codes, and everything in between.

There are even game-specific credits, such as “Clash of Clans” rewards.

PrizeRebel keeps answering surveys simple – it takes surveys from nine different survey networks, so you wouldn’t have to log into all of them daily. You can earn points from various other tasks like signing up for offers, referring friends, playing games, watching videos, and more.

Like FeaturePoints, PrizeRebel gives you 20% of all the points your referred friends earn for life, so spreading this site lets you earn points quicker. Once you saved up 1,000 points, you can exchange it for $10 Google Play gift code.

Register Your Gadgets for Free Google Play Credits

Maybe you wouldn’t need to answer surveys, download apps, or any other online tasks.

If you just need a one-time deal on Google Play credits, then registering your gadgets could be your solution.

  • Chromecast – If you have a Chromecast device, you’ll have to install it on your Android device, which will then prompt current offers. Most of the time, you can earn somewhere from $6 and $20. Double your earnings by registering two or more devices.
  • Samsung – Those who have a Samsung phone can easily register their device online, activate the device, then check your credit. If you’re lucky, you can get a free $25 Google Play credit right off the bat. If not, don’t worry, some people report receiving credits via e-mail.

Once you have your Google Play codes ready, you have to visit play.google.com and find the app you want to purchase. Just “but” and hit continue up to the payment method (FYI, you’d have to choose “Google Play” when choosing from the options.)

A Warning about Free Google Play Code Scams

You see how easy it is to receive Free Google Play codes, right?

Well, some bad guys take advantage of this by offering a “credit generator” for a small fee.

Unfortunately, none of these Google Play credit tools will work to generate you credits.

Others won’t require payment, but they might attack your PC or device with a virus. Others would phish you via email, then wait for you to share passwords, bank accounts, and other personal details. Getting Google Play credits this way definitely isn’t worth the risk.

Now if you think Google Play credits have very little value and you’d rather earn real money via Google, you have to check out this guide I wrote on how to make money online with Google.

16+ High Paying Entry Level Jobs Both Online and Off

If you’re weighing career options after finishing high school, or deciding to switch courses, this list of high paying entry level jobs should give you an idea of which route to take.

Some of these jobs come from Glassdoor’s latest Economic Research, while others come from polls directly answered by entry-level workers.

Note that I divided this list two-ways

  • For the work-at-home crowd
  • For office-based, traditional jobs

Work-from-Home, High Paying Entry Level Jobs

1. Applications Developers

Average Starting Salary: $65,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

If you love everything about modern apps and have coding experience, you can be an application developer straight from the comfort of your own home.

The only downside to working from home as an app developer is the lack of colleagues helping you out, but hey, that’s where Google is for, right? You can find dozens of forums specific to app development.

2. Actuarial Analysts

Average Starting Salary: $66,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

Those who are knowledgeable about the insurance industry and business can make a living quantifying risk with statistics, probabilities and financial concepts to define a monetary value on an event that may or may not occur in the future.

Actuarial analysts are actuary-in-training. And you can be a freelancer with insurance providers calculating premiums.

Having a degree in business, statistics, finance or economics can help you navigate this job.

3. Financial Analyst

Average Starting Salary: $58,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

As an independent contractor financial analyst, you examine financial data to help companies and individuals make business decisions, such as investing, profit/loss, and so on.

You should complete a degree in economics, statistics or finance, before beginning career as a financial analyst. You also must have exceptional quantitative and problem-solving skills.

The profession is also expected to grow about 11% between 2016 and 2026, so if you’re just starting out now, there’s hope to bring in more money once you go past entry-level.

4. Real Estate Broker

Average Starting Salary: $57,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

If you’re good with words and persuasive communication, and love talking to people, you can become a real estate broken even without a degree. College degrees are preferred, but definitely not required. You do need to take state license and certification, or other local permits to buy/sell property for other people, so there’s that.

Even if you’ll need to invest in your licensure, this job is definitely fulfilling to those who excel in sales. Plus, the demand for brokers are always high.

5. Bookkeeper

Average Starting Salary: $57,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

For some people, keeping the books of their family business is how they began learning the trade. Interestingly, you don’t even need to become a CPA to become a professional bookkeeper.

You just need to learn the basics (for some structure) on online courses, or short courses at the community college.

As a work-from-home bookkeeper, you can target fellow online entrepreneurs, small business owners, and other non-traditional individuals as clients. Even freelancers need their books done each year, so it’s up to you to market and earn from $34k to $70k a year.

6. Animator

Average Starting Salary: $35,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

The starting salary of animators depend largely on two things: the artist’s skill and the industry he/she decides to work in.

The highest paid animators work in the movie industry, followed by advertising, and tech companies. Most animator jobs are self-employed and work on a per-project basis.

Note that your skill in 2D/3D animation, as well as how your work reflect the chosen niche will reflect your entry-level salary as well. If you create one-of-a-kind special effects for a TV show, then you’d most likely take home a higher pay.

Runner-Ups

The following work-from-home jobs can’t be considered as “high-paying” for entry level, since it would depend largely on the skill of an individual. However, if you’re at the top of your game,

  • Event Planner – You don’t need to have a degree to plan events, but if you make it big and put your name out there, you can earn big bucks. You can stick with a single specialization (like children’s parties), or go with everything from corporate events to weddings. Event planning isn’t 100% done from home, since you do have to be at the events you’ve planned, but your office could very well manage the daily operations of an event planning business.
  • Copywriting – Writing spans across various industries (check these weird, but legit writing jobs) and the need for copy is high for web development, advertising, and other creative industries. You can have no degree and still land high-paying writing jobs, even if you’re a beginner. You just have to know where to look.
  • Photography – You must have the eye and skills to succeed in photography as you enter the industry, but you can earn significantly even without formal education. Your salary would also depend on the kind of photos you prefer to focus on – events (wedding photography), magazines, advertising, and so on.
  • Consulting – Those who are extremely knowledgeable with a specific area, consulting is big business wherever you go. Guide someone make it big at affiliate marketing, or become the advisor for someone planning to invest money at the stock market. Whatever your expertise may be, there is a huge chance someone is looking exactly for what you’re offering. And they’re willing to pay to pick your brain for it.

Good Paying Entry Level Jobs Office-Based

1. Data Scientist

Average Starting Salary: $95,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

I wrote in 2018 how being a data scientist is the hottest career (since 2012), and based on the 2019 lists I’ve checked out, it continues to rank #1.

While some companies are offering this position with flexible remote/work-from-home options, your work station at home must be fully equipped to handle sensitive information. Crunching numbers and data requires secured networks.

2. Software Engineer

Average Starting Salary: $90,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

Software engineers build games, programs and operating data that you use on your computer. Armed with programming languages and engineering principles, software engineers are very in-demand talent in the tech world.

You need a ton of educational training and skills to perform the job of a software engineer. You must be an expert in software design, software testing, software debugging, software documentation, and so on.

Aside from having a high starting salary for entry-level positions, the job outlook for software engineers continue to be high, with a 22% expected increase from 2012 to 2022.

3. Investment Banking Analyst

Average Starting Salary: $85,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

As an investment banking analyst, you are consulted by individuals and companies whenever they plan to invest in specific firms. Investment banking analysts can specialize in industries like tech, healthcare, finance, or manufacturing. They are up-to-date with market trends, since they study, develop and maintain investments in behalf of their clients.

While “investment banking analyst” is considered an entry-level position, the compensation doesn’t reflect it. You also don’t stay in this position longer than 3 years, especially if you’re good at your job, since you can easily go up the ladder and land senior roles in this profession.

4. UX Designer

Average Starting Salary: $73,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

I talked about the importance of user experience (UX) in web design and SEO in the past, but being a UX designer is definitely a lot more complicated.

Simply put, UX involves research, A/B testing, design, mapping, and various processes to improve a user’s experience on a website, within an app, while using a computer program, or other processes.

It may sound simple, but aside from having the technical skills to understand the design of a computer program, UX designers should also have the creative eye, and strong research skills to find out what users think of the project.

This is probably the reason why UX designers have high salaries, even for entry-level positions. Plus, the addition of phone apps to this industry means that the demand for UX designers will continue for years to come.

5. Java Developer

Average Starting Salary: $72,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

Those who have programming backgrounds with expertise in Java, data structures, computer architecture, etc. will have a fruitful career as a Java developer.

Traditionally, you’ll need to get a degree and specialize in Java, but with all the online resources available today, you can self-study and become an expert in programming with Java.

6. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

Average Starting Salary: $71,000 a year.
Degree Required: No.

This is a bit different to the tech jobs listed here, but if you’re near a nuclear power plant and is interested in working there, you may try your luck at the nuclear power reactor operator job.

You don’t need a college degree, but you do have to pass a certification test so you’re guaranteed to handle nuclear reactors, perform routine maintenance and manage nuclear power production processes.

The high entry-level salary is most likely due to the risk involved in this job.

7. Systems Engineer

Average Starting Salary: $70,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

There will be a wide-ranging number of industries that could hire you as a systems engineer. From software development to civil engineering, robotics, and even newer niches like nanotechnology requires system engineers to develop and monitor system performance.

“Systems” is a very broad term and can mean anything from bridges to computer chips, spaceships, and so on.

As you guessed, you need a degree (preferably in computer science or software engineering) to land an entry-level systems engineer position.

8. Software Developer

Average Starting Salary: $68,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

Software developers are the backbone of the tech world and most businesses. These programmers are responsible for designing, installing, testing, re-writing, maintaining, documenting, and troubleshooting software systems.

Software developers ensure online shops are fully functional and secure for our credit cards to process. They build POS systems, transportation systems, and many more. As such, they are employed in IT, corporations, public organizations, start-ups, and every other industry sector you can think of.

Entry-level software developers can land a job right after completing a degree. They just need to be proficient with Java, C++, Linux, .NET, Visual Basic, Oracle and PHP.

9. Physical Therapist

Average Starting Salary: $64,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

You’ll need several years to complete physical therapy coursework and on-the-job training, but once you’re certified to work as a physical therapist, the salary isn’t too bad for an entry-level position.

This job can be physically taxing with most hours of the shift on your feet, so be prepared. Many physical therapists do find the job fulfilling, since they help patients recover from surgery, injuries, and illnesses.

10. Business Analyst

Average Starting Salary: $63,000 a year.
Degree Required: Yes.

Business analysts are leaders – they help businesses in researching, planning, developing and assisting in the implementation of tech solutions within the company. Specific tasks vary between jobs and the industry.

If you’re interested in this job, you can become a business analyst even with a two-year degree in any business-related course.

High Paying Entry Level Jobs Aren’t Hard to Find

Starting a career is one of the hardest things you’ll ever decide on.

Mostly because we spend most of our lives in that same profession that we’ve chosen early on. If you’re on the fence, maybe the salary can change your mind (or persuade you to follow your dream career).

If you’re still in college and just trying to figure out what highest paying profession your degree can lead you, I hope this list helps you get some clarity.

While you complete your degree, you might want to check out this list of online jobs for college students, or this compilation of jobs that pay weekly for some extra cash.