4 real ways to make money when your career stalls

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Could professional snuggling be for you?The time between school and “adulthood” can be full of ambivalence and regrets for career gadabouts, but it need not be entirely unfunded.

For lots of people, the time after college is all about “personal exploration” (should they have the luxury). This is the time to finally make the exodus to Burning Man or to spend your days repeatedly hurling your paint-drenched body at the canvases blanketing your apartment walls.

If that describes you, as you flutter from one unsatisfying job to another growing disillusioned with nonprofit mismanagement, trying with mounting franticness to figure out what your “successful” peers somehow knew all along, you may find yourself suddenly strapped for cash and living in a van.

Fortunately, with a little legwork, the Internet — should you be able to access it — can be your ally here. While none of these endeavors will build you anything akin to a nest egg, they could help you get you make money and some of them may even look good on a resume when you’re ready to start sending those out again.

Become a TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit, launched in 2008 and available in most major cities, is good for energetic types who thrive on unpredictability, flexibility and eclecticism. To become a TaskRabbit, you merely create an account, get background checked and then start  bidding on tasks, from tending bar at events to bringing someone a latte at work. The more tasks you complete and the better your reviews (for timeliness, friendliness, etc.), the more appealing options you may find opening up for you. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk functions similarly, but allows you to complete tasks from home.

Kickstart your way to a career by creatively begging for money

Kickstarter is the largest crowd-funding platform on the Internet and it’s available to anyone with a project that meets the platform’s guidelines. Once you have a cohesive idea for a project you want funded (a gallery full of paint-covered canvases?), you present it to the public along with a funding goal and deadline for meeting this goal. The downside to Kickstarter is its all-or-nothing policy — you either reach your goal through pledges from others, or you walk away empty-handed. According to the official website, however, an astounding 44 percent of projects have thus far been funded on Kickstarter.

Use your unique skills to your advantage

Everyone and their mother can be a dog-walker or barista, which means if you want to set yourself apart, you must do some soul-searching for skills that are yours and yours alone. Here’s an example: professional snuggling is a trend on the rise. Professional snuggling is a purely platonic way of using one’s particular gift to reach a certain niche market and make bank in the process. (As with any service that involves engaging privately with a stranger, use your best judgment in where and how you advertise your services and always put your own safety first.)

Write about what you know

Sites like eHow, and many more are always looking for knowledgeable people to write about what they know. Do you have an extensive knowledge of something that is essentially useless elsewhere (e.g. basket weaving, how to burn five calories, the ins and outs of typography) and a basic ability to write? It turns out other people out there want to know about these things too! One place to get started on this journey is Demand Media Studios, or what is known by some in the business as a “content mill.” You churn out the content the people want at your own pace, and reap the modest rewards.

Can you actually make money doing this stuff?

OK, these ideas sound nice, but how well do they work? As with pretty much anything, you get out what you put in, and that includes a modicum of patience. Everyone has heard by now of a Kickstarter campaign that went off without a hitch, but I spoke with an individual who gave some of these, and similar cash-making methods, a whirl.

John C., 29, currently based in New York, was looking for a way to make a little cash after graduating college when getting a steady job was not an option. He got a gig answering basic questions for the website ChaCha, which he says, “bred a host of other gigs.”

“The pay was 20 cents per answer, and if you typed quickly you could make $10 to $15 per hour,” says John, who prefers his last name not be published. “You just had to log in and start answering questions, mostly about French kissing and To Kill a Mockingbird.”

When John was “phased out” by ChaCha (replaced by software that could do his job more efficiently), he began working the NYC 311 texting service, answering questions on his own time about parking tickets, welfare and public housing.

“Most interestingly, I made about $2,000 off of 311 the week of the hurricane that didn’t actually happen in 2011,” John says. He made $3,000 the week of Hurricane Sandy.

John also had a brief stint with Demand Media Studios, writing content for their various partner sites. John had written a couple hundred articles when he was abruptly let go after a particularly heated disagreement with a copy editor over eco-friendly products.

What ways have you used to earn extra cash when you were between jobs?

(Photo: Jeremy Keith)

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3 Responses to “4 real ways to make money when your career stalls”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’ll give them a try sounds interesting

  2. Mitra says:

    I’ve made about $90 off of just from opening emails and taking surveys. It takes a while to earn money but they really do pay and it is not a scam.

  3. Alissa says:

    can’t hurt to try (except maybe your dignity in some instances)!

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