Range of Home-Based Mini-Gigs Expands

By Mike Haaren

March 14, 2012

As the web continues to redefine the way we work and live, we’re seeing a steady expansion in small or short-term gigs as a way to make money from home. Apart from the home-based jobs you can now find with Amazon, American Express and many other companies, these mini-gigs range from getting paid to write handwritten notes to renting out your car.

They may not make you rich, but they can certainly help pay the bills at the end of the month. And with gas edging up to $4 per gallon, not only are expenses increasing, but anything home-based is looking better and better.

The Net is like a vast hand with myriad fingers, steadily unlocking unexpected ways we can repurpose a skill or something we own, and turn a dollar. Here are just a few of the many options we’ve seen in our research. (For a much longer list, see our Miscellaneous Ways to Make Money from Home page.)

1. Get paid to be an expert. JustAnswer.com pays people to answer questions. Per the website, there are over 150 categories of expertise, and you can qualify if you have “any license or certification, or 2+ years of research-related employment (e.g. librarian, analyst), or a Bachelor’s or higher degree.”

2. Rent your spare bedroom short-term for extra cash. Got an extra room now that a child has gone off to college? Or are you just the flexible type? Either way, Airbnb.com lets you make some money from a travelling guest. According to the website, 90,000 “hosts” from over 19,000 cities have opted in, and signup is free.

3. Get paid to critique websites. StartUpLift.com pays you to give your feedback on websites and/or startups. UserTesting.com also pays people for similar work.

4. Rent your car for extra cash. You’ll want to check out the insurance aspects (according to the site, insurance is included), but Turo.com lets you rent out your car by the hour or longer. “You’re notified of, and get to approve, any reservation requests. You’re in charge of who can drive your car.”

5. Earn money as a mock juror. Lawyers want to know before they go to trial how their case might fare. That’s where mock jurors come in. TrialJuries.com pays you to look over the lawyers’ evidence and theories and tell them what you think.

As the cloud continues to soak up people, businesses and processes around the globe, the ways to earn money from home will steadily expand.

To put it in perspective, just before the Net, if you lived in the suburbs, there was only a handful of ways to make money from home. You could take in typing, be a seamstress or crafter, or perhaps give child care. If you knew a musical instrument, you could teach music. Most gigs fell into these categories.

Now, the home typist is a Virtual Assistant (see IVAA.org) and the seamstress or crafter can sell things on Etsy or eBay. The child-care giver has a blog, website and/or Facebook page (or has become an online homework tutor), and a YouTube clip of a violin lesson can capture endless views.

As high-speed Internet access continues to spread, get ready for much more of this brave (or strange) new world of work and commerce.

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