From the Work from Home Email Bag – Get Paid to Tweet

By Mike Haaren

Dec. 14, 2011

Dear Rat Race Rebellion: Are there any websites that pay people for their ideas? I’m the person everybody comes to when they want a catchy name for their home-made jewelry line or their recipe blog. I don’t charge for my suggestions, but it would be nice to get paid! – Carla in Rapid City, S.D.

Dear Carla: In a word, yes. The spread of the Internet has also brought us “crowdsourcing” – businesses tapping into the online population for ideas, small tasks, etc. You won’t get rich, and sometimes you’ll have to compete with many other contributors (that’s the “crowd” part of crowdsourcing). But some sites pay $500 for slogans, for example, while others pay modest sums for domain-name suggestions, tweets and brief blog posts.

Here are a few to get you started:

• This site pays an average of $25-$35 for domain names and slogans. Many contributors participate, but the fees can add up if you have a creative flair.

• This popular tee-shirt site pays $500 for slogans chosen for its “TypeTee” line. It also pays $2,000 cash and makes recurring payments of $500 for designs chosen for its other shirts. Even if slogans and designs are not your forte, the shirts alone are well worth viewing, as this site brims with creativity.

• This new site, which just received venture funding, pays contributors for tweets, blog posts and other communications made on behalf of its customers. The number of projects isn’t large yet, but it’s well worth monitoring if you like to write.

Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I’ve just started looking at freelance jobs at Elance and oDesk. Are those trustworthy places to find work? – Steve in Denver, Colo.

Dear Steve: As a rule, yes. Unlike Craigslist and other open marketplaces, both sites offer feedback on hirers, so you can get a sense of who you’d be working for. The sites also offer payment protection for contractors.

On the minus side, you’ll have to compete with freelancers from all over the world, which can drive down rates. But if your credentials are strong and you focus on more specialized projects and keep your ratings up, you can mitigate the competitive effects.

Dear Rat Race Rebellion: I found a website that lists hundreds of work from home data entry jobs. They pay $20 an hour and up for part-time work. Some of the jobs pay much more, for just a few hours a day. Registration is free. Do you think I should sign up? – Margaret in Fayetteville, N.C.

Dear Margaret: Probably not. Legitimate data entry jobs are extremely scarce, with most of the work going to India, the Philippines and other offshore locales. The demand for the jobs is high, however, which makes a “perfect storm” for scammers.

When you register for such job lists, your own data is often sold to affiliate marketers and boiler rooms. Your inbox will soon fill with spam, and salespeople will call and pressure you to buy into get-rich-quick schemes.

A more reliable way to find legitimate data entry work is to apply directly to growing young companies. These often outrun their small administrative staffs, and they need help handling the data generated by their expanding sales, but don’t have time to set up offshore support. To find these “young tigers,” see Inc. magazine’s annual “5,000” list.