True friends are priceless, and yet we live in a time when people can get paid to be a friend for companionship, conversation, or coffee.
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Would you ever consider getting paid to be a friend to some stranger?
If you’d like to help out people who don’t like going solo when exploring a new city, attending events, watching movie premieres, visiting art galleries, and so on, you can earn some money doing so by joining a site called RentAFriend.com.
Before I explain how this works, here’s the most important thing you need to know: RentAFriend isn’t an escort service and since the “friend” part means strictly platonic, it isn’t a dating site either.
How Does RentAFriend.com Work?
Those who join RentAFriend fall into one of two categories:
- Members are those looking for friends. They need to pay $25 to RentAFriend.com to get access to all the “friends” who are willing to get hired.
- Friends are those looking to get paid to be a friend. They can register for free, work on their profile,s and wait for people to contact them.
In most cases, hobbies, interests, profession, or even age can be the reason why people choose you as a friend, so include as many personal tidbits as possible.
Of course, don’t pretend to like hobbies or interests you don’t really care about just to entice a certain group of people.
For instance, it’s tempting to list down opera as an interest to attract the richer, opera-going set, but if you’re not truly interested in opera, and they invite you to go with them, you’ll get found out pretty quickly.
If a Member sees your Friend profile and is interested, they’ll contact you via RentAFriend.com’s anonymous messaging system.
When you reach this stage, you and your client would be making the arrangements yourselves; from the hourly price, the number of hours, and the details of activities, such as date, time, place, and so on.
Pros of RentAFriend.com: Get Paid to Attend Parties and Other Events
Here are the reasons RentAFriend can be an interesting side gig:
- You are in control – RentAFriend doesn’t have a pricing table assigned to Friends. You can price your friendship services from $10 an hour to up to $100 per hour or more. Since prices are negotiable, you won’t be forced into a transaction that you didn’t approve of.
- Paying members only – Not everyone can send you a message. RentAFriend makes sure that only paying members contact you.
- Choice of communication method – You can choose to be sent a message, called up, or texted instead. You can control this setting on your profile.
- You can approve or deny any “friendship” as you see fit – As a friend, you are not obligated to accept everybody’s request for companionship. You can reject anyone, or agree to meet with everyone. It’s totally up to you.
- You keep 100% of payment – RentAFriend doesn’t take a cut from your hourly earnings.
If you’re comfortable meeting new people and socializing, this job wouldn’t feel like a job at all.
And if you were honest about the activities you listed on your profile and attracted members seeking companions for those activities, then there’s a huge chance you’ll have a blast while completing a task.
Cons of RentAFriend
A disadvantage (or injustice) in RentAFriend is that people may hire you (or not) based on your looks.
This can be a blessing to attractive members wanting to get paid to be a friend but might mean quite the opposite for members who aren’t as attractive.
Another factor that RentAFriend is unable to control is the degree that Members get attached to their Friends. Because the meet-up is transactional and involves money, feelings might get hurt when clients expect real, lasting friendships.
I read about a member who was frustrated that her new friend doesn’t text her back without payment being sent first.
Whether you’re a RentAFriend Member or Friend, you should join this community only if you understand that your responsibility with each other starts and ends only within the time discussed.
Other Sites Where You Can Get Paid To Be A Friend
RentAFriend isn’t the only website where you can get paid to be a friend. They work pretty much the same way, but you’re allowed to browse through the member profiles and decide which website to sign up for (or if you’re an independent contractor, maybe you’ll want to sign up for all of them).
Here are four more websites you can get hired to be a friend.
As the name implies, this site connects users with other users who are looking for virtual friends.
You can sign up as a Cyber-Friend and make yourself available for other people to hire you for a service or services that you’re offering.
As a Cyber-Friend, you get to decide what services you want to offer and the hourly rate you expect to be paid for such services.
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Examples of services you can offer include teaching someone how to cook, introducing your city (e.g., best places to eat, what to see, where to go, etc.) to someone who’s planning to visit, or simply hanging out and chatting.
You can also offer gigs, which are specific tasks that have a fixed rate, separate from the hourly rate of your friendship services.
Visitors of this site can browse profiles of Cyber-Friends and rent the services of a virtual friend at their hourly rate. Users can also browse Gigs or profiles of Cyber Friends to request a Gig.
A downside to signing up for this site is that they charge membership fees, so you need to factor this in your hourly rates.
FriendPC allows their Members to connect to Virtual Friends who offer various services, mainly offering virtual conversations and emotional support through text messages, phone calls, or chat messages on different platforms.
You can also be a virtual gaming partner and play a few sessions with them online, or even be a fake virtual girlfriend/boyfriend to make someone jealous.
FriendPC also allows friendships to go from virtual to real-life, provided of course you follow their safety tips.
If you apply to be a Virtual Friend on their site, you get to set your own pay rates and schedule.
However, you may be charged a small fee to cover your listings. Also, you get to take home 90% to 95% of your earnings from each booking.
Rent a Local Friend provides two types of experiences: Virtual Experiences, where friends provide local advice, “tips and traps” of their local city, and activities related to their local talent and culture, all on a virtual platform.
Local Experiences, on the other hand, involve meeting a Local Friend in person and going through a journey to places where the Local Friend is an expert and the visitor is interested in.
This site works similarly to RentAFriend, but there seems to be more emphasis on promoting local culture to visitors. They often partner with travel bloggers, travel agents, and tourism boards.
The best thing about signing up as a Local Friend member is that you get access to a huge network of other Local Friends in more than 300 cities, and you can get the best local information when you’re traveling.
Note that joining entails paying a contribution fee to be verified.
Having Fiverr on this list may be pretty surprising, but this online freelance marketplace offers more than 300 services or gigs on their site, and one of them is a virtual freelance friendship service.
Sign up to Fiverr, create a detailed gig for being a virtual friend, set your price, and start getting offers.
A downside is that it’s a highly competitive platform; the hourly rate starts at $5 (the site is called Fiverr, after all). Your profile needs to stand out so you can get higher rates.
How Much Can You Make?
Because RentAFriend lets you dictate your own hourly price, you can set it for as low as $10 per hour to as high as $50 or $100 per hour.
Of course, your clients will justify your pricing based on what you could offer.
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For example, if you’re a fluent English speaker and Chinese-to-English translator based in a hard-to-reach China province and your client is going there, if your company can significantly help the client go about day-to-day tasks, then they would probably be glad to pay you $50 per hour for your service.
The amount you make also depends on how many hours a week you can devote to being a friend.
Some “friends” work only 3 times a week and earn between $500 and $1200 a week, while those who work full time earn as much as $2000 weekly.
Tips to Earn More as a Friend for Hire
Here are some tips to be a great friend, get recurring clients, and get paid more.
- Include as many details in your profile as you can. If you like music, include specific genres and artists. If you like video games, include which games you’re playing and what platform.
- Get as much experience as you can. If you can, sign up on different websites and talk to many different people so you can improve your conversational skills.
- Read up on different things, take up different hobbies, watch recent and popular releases on streaming platforms. You never know what will get someone excited to talk.
- Listen with genuine interest and empathy. Believe me, your clients will sense if you’re just in this for the money.
- Learn what makes them laugh. Laughter is a great icebreaker and paves the way for them to be relaxed around you.
Safety Tips When Meeting a Virtual Friend
As you might imagine, talking to someone online carries some risk.
Everyone is a stranger on the site after all.
Remember to not give out your personal information, such as your complete home address, bank information, even your full birth date.
And if you start feeling uncomfortable at any point in your conversations, feel free to block that member and report it to the site owner’s admin.
Some users of these types of sites use different names on the site from their actual name. So if you encounter this, just know that this is a safety precaution and not meant to deceive or defraud anyone.
If you decide to meet someone in person, know that you’re susceptible to danger. The person you meet may end up being a scammer, thief, stalker, or even a serial killer.
There are things you can do to ensure your safety.
- Set boundaries and expectations before the meet-up.
- Only meet in public places with plenty of people and exits.
- Have a friend, loved one, or someone else you trust know where you’re going, what time you’re supposed to be there, and who you’re meeting.
- Always have a backup plan and a person to call to pick you up in case you feel uncomfortable or something goes wrong.
- Learn self-defense as a last resort.
Would You Want to Get Paid to be a Friend?
Online companionship jobs like these are not for the faint of heart. They’re not like work-from-home chat jobs either.
As someone who will be selling their time to a stranger, the entire concept can be scary, but if you like meeting other people, there’s a big chance you’d have a blast with the experience.
Although some find this business model questionable and categorize it as escort services in disguise, these sites maintain that they don’t offer escort services or dating sites.
Of course, they can’t really control what their members would do once they’re messaging each other outside of their platform or meet in real life.
But we shouldn’t make sweeping generalizations of people who look for friends on these sites.
Many of them simply have problems making friends with other people; they may be physically disabled, or have social anxiety that prevents them from socializing in the usual settings, or maybe they’re busy with work and have difficulty meeting other people because of lack of time.
Having this mindset should remove the stigma and hesitation about getting paid to be a friend.
Also, be aware that this wouldn’t work as your main income, but a fun gig for raising extra cash on the side.
Would you be okay with getting paid to be a friend? How about your thoughts on people paying strangers to be a friend? Share your insights with us in the comments!