If you don’t live in a bottle deposit state, you can still cash in on recyclables by selling scrap metal. You may not have enough soda or beer cans lying around to make this worthwhile — and steel prices are so low right now, it’s not really worth the bother to go collecting them. But if you do have a lot of aluminum cans on hand, or if you have any scrap metal with copper in it, find a local recycling center and see what you’ll get (prices vary wildly by market). Still, unless you have a lot of copper pipes lying around the garage, or bags and bags and bags of old soda cans, realistically, we’re probably talking about getting $5 to $20 back.
If you have an idea worth pursuing, crowdfunding can be a helpful way to find the money you need to get your idea off and running. For example, you can run a Kickstarter campaign. On SPI 223, I covered this with John Lee Dumas who launched a super successful campaign. Besides John, I know a lot of companies who have started on Kickstarter. I’ve been a backer of dozens of different projects, and a lot of those projects were just ideas when the campaign started. There are ways to get paid for your ideas up front. Using Kickstarter, you can validate those ideas and start to build community at the same time, which is a great way to get a boost at the beginning stages of your online business, especially if what you’re creating takes some money to get started.
What will also help your earning potential is to specialize in one style of writing, and maybe even one particular subject. You see, writing on the same subject for hundreds of hours each year makes you an expert on it. To paraphrase Cal Newport, “…you'll build up a lot of career capital through deliberate practice.” It’s how you become so good that clients can’t ignore you.
Be a private cab driver. Companies such as Uber and Lyft have set up services that connect drivers with people who need a ride and are willing to pay for it. In order to take advantage of this opportunity quickly, you must own a car, have a valid driver’s license, and meet other qualifications. It might take a little bit of time to get registered as a driver with the service, but once you are, there are opportunities to make money fast because these services are in high demand.
If your business idea requires a shopping cart service, I’d recommend SamCart as a great, inexpensive option. It’s also super user-friendly. If you just want to offer an ebook, they give you the ability to do that. They handle all the credit card processing, payments, and delivery. It’s pretty sweet. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]
The number of websites and blogs operating online demand a constant stream of high-quality, beautiful photographs that can help businesses attract and convert more customers. Setting up a stock photo library is a great business idea as it targets virtually every industry regardless of a company’s size. Check out sites like SmugMug, Photoshelter and iStockPhoto for more information.
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While most of these companies advertise that you can earn upwards of $18 or so an hour, the reality is that you're not going to make that much once you figure in your gas expenses and wear and tear on your car. Also, work may not always come in consistently. I would recommend doing more than one of these if you really want to make it worth your while.