Ten More Quick Ways to Make Money
So many of you loved Ten Quick Ways to Make Money that I thought I should give you Ten More Ways. This one is much more comprehensive than the last, and in addition to giving you ten ways to do it, I'll also explain the larger situation that's creating the problem - and I'll give you strategies that will allow you to move past it effectively. I'll also be sharing information on some of the major forces that have been shaping the market - and turning it against you - and give you some bleeding-edge insight into strategies and trends that are just starting to emerge, and how you can take advantage of them quickly and easily.
This is a lot of information for one humble Hub, and you may need to set aside some time to read it. But the strategies themselves are quick, devastatingly effective, and just about anyone can do them. Read on and enjoy. I can't wait to hear your feedback on this one.
Take to the streets
I know this might sound odd when you're trying to raise money, but have you considered taking up a musical instrument? You may already play one, or you may have always wanted to play the harp. There are even many exotic instruments out there that you've probably never heard of, because while they're very beautiful they're also very obscure.
A few months ago I was coming out of a bookstore on Pacific Avenue, the main thoroughfare in scenic downtown Santa Cruz. It was a slightly chilly night, probably November, but through the crowd I could make out the faint but unmistakable melody of a harp being played somewhere nearby. I followed the sound, and just outside the Irish bar next door I saw an angel playing traditional ballads on a small harp. She was beautiful, and the music was beautiful too - nobody plays the harp anymore these days - and there she was, sitting on the pavement, braced against a concrete planter box, a pair of beautiful white feathered wings fanning out behind her. It was truly enchanting to discover right in the middle of such a commercial modern world, and I stood rapt as she sang one traditional Irish ballad after another, a few modern "filk songs" (updated parodies of folk songs) and even one or two of her own compositions. I would have given her money if I hadn't literally had no cash on me at the time, but I stood there among the crowd, absorbing her graceful lilting music as people kept coming forward momentarily to make offerings of ones, fives and the occasional ten into her hat. We spoke afterwards, and I helped her with local parking concerns and so forth. It turned out that we had a lot in common. She was a Pagan who travelled from party to party, gathering to gathering, attending Burning Man and Rainbow Gatherings and Renaissance fairs all across the country in her old reliable VW van, singing and strumming for gas and food money as she went. She was disarming and candid. The wings were costume. And the money was fantastic.
She knew how to take the aspects of her life that were rare and uncommon and pursue them even though they weren't what most people do. And she knew how to apply those parts of her life in ideal ways, introducing average people who were leading average lives to a unique experience that few would ever have encountered without her. Entwined within her lilting melody, her harpistry, and her deft but honest showmanship was the knowledge of how to celebrate her own unique qualities, build upon them and give them back to the world in ways it hadn't even realized it was missing. It bespoke something other than the tedious, mundane experience of day-to-day living, and inspired something profound within the crowd of onlookers. It showed them that there was something more, something greater than all of this, and beckoned them to learn who they were themselves and celebrate it just as she was doing. It gave them courage, strength, and hope by setting an example for discovering and choosing who they truly are. And they were only too willing to pay her for that, whether or not they fully understood why.
I've seen the travellers come and go, year after year in Santa Cruz, a progressive hippie city on the coast of California with a booming tourist trade. Out of those who solicit money from the tourists, by far the most successful are those who do it by offering something in return, usually a performing skill such as music or juggling. Out of those, the ones who fare best offer something unique and interesting, like steel drum playing or unheard-of instruments from Russia or India. And of those, the ones who fare the best of all are those that know where those tourists are coming from mentally and provide them with not just music or performance, but A Life Experience. It involves a certain amount of showmanship to be sure, because it requires considering an onlookers point of view and being accomodating to it. But it goes far beyond that, basing ones' whole approach upon certain basic truths in life that aren't often expressed today by either words or actions, and so it becomes a proof-of-concept demonstration of a whole philosophy of life, embodied in a performance. People need that; people today seem to lack basic life-skills and philosophy. They don't know where they're going, but they're all trying to get there. And so the world today is mostly like bumper-to-bumper traffic - stopping and starting, not doing much of anything, and not being very worthwhile in the process.
So, music. With most people thinking alike, living alike, watching the same mainstream television shows, and doing things that just plain don't work, they're used to the same old thing. If you live near a tourist town, or essentially any urban environment, you can make a tidy sum by taking up an instrument (preferably an exotic, obscure one), considering your presentation (such as your manner of dress, props and possibly face paint), and going off to play it in public areas. The money varies from hour to hour obviously, but depending upon the crowd, your musical talent and proficiency, and their response, you can usually make between ten and twenty dollars an hour, particularly in the summer. Some of you may note that this is more than a minimum-wage job pays... just so. What's more, it isn't subject to income tax, and most Americans pay one third of what they make just to pay their taxes.
So you may want to check eBay for an exotic instrument, or check online for something extremely obscure and buy it used. Often music stores will have one or two really obscure instruments there in the back that someone ordered a long time ago, and never picked up. They'll often sell it to you cheap to get rid of it, because who's going to want something that exotic? That's how we just picked up a small harp that had been sitting in the back for about two years. You don't have to be good at playing it right away; one of the great things about performing is that you'll have plenty of time in which to practice. As you improve, so will your tips. Once you get good, you can even record CDs and MP3s and sell them online - and sell the CDs wherever you perform, as well. It's a job that you can do when you'd like, where you'd like, as much or as little as you choose, and it's one that will never fire you.
If you don't want to take the time to learn an instrument - even just well enough to play it in public without embarrasing yourself - you can still consider street performing in general. While peoples' reactions to street performances tend to be more varied - especially older people and more financially well-off people - it can be an easy and fun way to interact with the public and make some cash. It can even be a short-cut to a career in mainstream media - the Naked Cowboy for example, a prominent Times Square street performer, has been asked to appear on several different television shows and was even given a spot in Cake's "Short Skirt Long Jacket" music video. You'll need an inventive idea that grabs people's attention in a positive way, a performing skill or routine, and some kind of costuming (which you can build at thrift stores, design yourself, and enhance with makeup and body paint). Keep the premise for the whole thing respectful and in good taste, and the reaction should generally be positive. Rest assured that it doesn't have to be the best concept in the world... it just has to be better than the godawful reality shows people are stuck watching at home, and that will be enough. Think for a few days about what really matters to you in the world, and what kind of a statement you can use your dramatic flair to make, perhaps a good insight or humorously-pointed social commentary. Consider bringing a friend in on the act if they'd like. And check your performance area ahead of time for panhandling regulations and restrictions by calling city hall first... police officers have a nasty tendancy to come up onstage without being invited, and nobody who's trying to raise money needs a hefty fine and a court date to go with it. So always check with city hall in your new intended venue first. Bring a container for your donations, and you're ready to go off into public to make someone's day a little more surreal.
Build something to sell
One of the problems we have in a society that has become increasingly untethered from serving direct, tangible needs is that although we all need things, real physical, tangible things like food, furniture and electronics, and tangible services like water and telecommunications, most of what we do professionally is intangible and abstract, like accounting and marketing, or superfluous and menial, like low-paying retail jobs that anyone could do and which can be easily replaced with online purchasing. We need solid, tangible stuff - good luck producing a bag of groceries all on your own if you needed to - and what we're supplying is usually frivolous or in low demand. For everything we actually need, we must go through a corporation and abide by its system and rules, but for nearly everything we provide in trade with society we're offering intangible services that lots of people could do and which are usually somewhat avoidable anyway. So we lose a lot in this trade with society, and have difficulty finding ways to make money at it that people really want. Trying to apply our job skills on our own, without these corporate structures, is often difficult or impossible, and leaves us in a difficult bargaining position from which to make money.
One of the ways we can overcome this is to actually produce something ourselves. This is hardly ever done anymore. As a result, corporations manufacture stuff that will cater to the largest segments of demand in the marketplace - that is, they create the things most people will want - and the other stuff is either created by smaller companies or independant artisans (and costs a whole lot more because almost nobody makes whatever it is any more) or it isn't available at all. As a result, a lot of niche markets either go unserved, or there are a few people serving them and making a whole lot of money at it because there is so little competition.
If we invest the effort necessary to actually build, create, or produce these niche market tangible items, we can sell them easily on the internet, through places like eBay. In fact, most sellers on eBay right now are selling stuff they didn't manufacture, produce, or make themselves. They're resellers, and this dependance upon available supplies of their products, and upon the going rates they must pay for them, is one of the major problems right now for eBay resellers and resellers all over the internet. We have everybody being the middle-man, marking up prices to get their share, and few people really making the actual products anymore - it's almost all large corporations. This means that currently, it's the people who actually make products that can be sold or resold are the ones with all of the control. When you have a case of "too many chiefs and not enough Indians", an Indian is worth more than a chief, because Indians are desperately needed. We can be those Indians.
We can use Google to locate schematics for electronic devices that are interesting and nearly nobody's making these days, such as a mood-altering ELF generator that alters emotions by interacting with the nervous system through extra-low frequency electromagnetics... how many people would pay to have a device in their home that radiates peace and tranquility? We can learn from the internet how to build rare or hard-to-find musical instruments, and make a lot of money serving that niche market. We can design our own clothing lines, creating patterns and sizing them to fit individual measurements, and selling creative clothing (or clothing for niche markets like Renaissance period clothing for Renaissance festival-goers, which always goes for quite a lot) to individuals through the internet. We can even create our own offline (or even online) games that we developed and that only we can provide, and sell them online. By having a tangible, material product, we place ourselves in a better bargaining position with the world once again, because we're able to provide something that actually delivers tangible value. And few people are willing to take the time and effort to begin to do so for themselves whenever they need a niche market item. There are all kinds of things that can be created using this approach; once you have electronics tools and components, you can sell all sorts of different gadgets and devices just by using different schematics. Home automation systems, for example, are reaching a point where they're feasible, and because it's currently a niche market with very little competition, profit margins on the parts for them are absurdly high. There's plenty of room for competition there, and in lots of other places as well. But these needs currently go unserved, because most people don't think to do it, most people are basically unskilled or don't think to apply their skills on their own behalf rather than their employer's behalf, and because of another mentality that has become commonplace.
In the States (and in many developed countries the world over) by and large the majority of citizens are end-users - people who must consume, but although they have money, these people are at the mercy of whatever terms their suppliers set. This accounts for the increasingly harsh terms of EULAs, the end-user licensing agreements that large software firms like Microsoft create for those using their products. People are hooked - and it's very disempowering. Society was created to serve the needs of citizens, but as power and control become consolidated, citizens find themselves increasingly serving the agendas of those running the system instead. People have little leverage anymore, or at least keep themselves in situations that prevent them from using that leverage. Breaking away from such systems to some extent or another is the solution - routing around monopolistic systems of politics and production, and going back to doing it themselves. The people who are ahead of the curve in doing this will find themselves in a financially advantageous position, because everyone around them is still at the mercy of the system to a greater extent than they are, and so their own level of disposable income is that much greater by comparison. This means that they will have more purchasing power than their neighbors do.
It used to be, say in the 1950's, that "keeping up with the Joneses" (maintaining a standard of living that matched or exceeded that of their neighbors) meant buying more stuff. Today, our standard of living is most detrimented not by the stuff we haven't yet bought, but by the systems that maintain the status quo and the terms of control those systems have: the government with its outrageous taxation, and gigantic consolidated corporations with their strict control over manufacturing and media, the enormous profit margins that that brings with it, and the outlandish terms of sale and licensing that they can demand because there isn't enough competition. So getting ahead today means not buying more consumer items, but freeing yourself from those less-than-fair conditions as much as possible. It means finding alternate sources of the goods you buy on fairer terms, and producing goods and services that you can sell to others on fair terms as well, without getting short-changed by accepting whatever large corporate entities will pay you for them. Soon (and increasingly) that's going to mean forming business relationships and supplying market needs as a group of individuals working together over the internet, bypassing large monolithic corporate structures as much as possible - self-organizing collectives of people with skills and abilities who collaborate through the internet. This is where it's all headed, and it's already starting. But for the moment at least, it means individuals like yourself creating tangible goods and marketing them to others over the internet. People are just starting to hear about this Do It Yourself Manufacturing concept, and it's beginning to take off. As a result there isn't a whole lot of support for it yet, and people are figuring it out together as they go. People are starting to use social bookmarking and social networking sites to find other people with the skills needed to collaborate and produce products together, and in time new sites will be created specifically to serve this purpose. The practical upshot of all of this is that being among the first people to hear about it, you're already ahead of the curve on this trend. Like a runner in a race who gets to start early, you now have about a year or two of lead-time before everybody else is competing against you to do it too. Don't waste it.
Take a moment to think about your interests. Try to think of the more obscure stuff. Is there anything involved with those interests that nobody's doing or making anymore? Might there be demand for that somewhere in the world? The internet will allow you to market things anywhere, after all. The niche market for handcrafted 18th century Peruvian weaving patterns may be small, but if it's out there and nobody's serving it, it's really your game to lose, isn't it?
Start your own website and offer affiliate commission for referrals
Sites like HubPages, Helium and Triond are great. They allow you to create content, post ads, and gain revenue when people click on them and when they purchase goods through them. These sites are easy to use, and they're designed to be. They're created with end-users in mind, so that anyone can create content, and with readers who are also end-users in mind, so that a large group of people can read them. Because these sites have done the work of creating the system, they can charge what they like for using them. HubPages takes 40% of reader impressions for doing what it does, and other similar sites typically take 50%. They can do this because there are lots of people who will use their services, and they can essentially name their price.
Authors on these sites find their options somewhat limited. When they use these sites, they must accept the terms that site uses. They are also limited in how many people will read the content they've written, and how many of those readers will actually click on their ads or buy the products featured on their content pages. They are limited by the amount of ad revenue AdSense takes away from the deal (30%), and by the structure Google has created and maintains for the AdSense system itself. Google could pay more for clicks. Google could pay less for clicks. It's up to Google.
It's essentially the same with any site on the 'net. He who designs, builds, and maintains the system gets to make the rules. Most sites are created for end-users. Affiliate sites, for example, allow end-users to join, and then earn a commission from sales they generate promoting the products, sites and services their advertisers offer. And the affiliate site gets to decide what percentage of the money their advertisers pay them goes to their users for commission. The affiliate site is designed to be a middle-man, introducing people who want their goods, websites and services promoted to people who want to be paid for promoting them. It works out for everyone.
In these kinds of situations, the end-users who promote affiliate sales usually don't get a large chunk of the money that promoters give out. Why should they? Sure, they're doing more of the work of promoting stuff, but end-users are a dime a dozen, and affiliate sites are relatively few and in great demand. The proportion of end-users, who are plentiful, to affiliate sites, which are not as plentiful, works out well for affiliate sites. After all, most people are end-users. And end-users are dependant on the systems that have been built. So they get what they can take, and accept whatever's on offer.
But almost anyone can design and build their own affiliate site. It's an easy process now. If you were to create your own affiliate site, you would then have the control that they do. You would set the prices. You would determine how much commission you get when end-users generate sales through your site, and you would determine how much you got to keep for yourself. With lots of people on the internet seeking ways to make money, there are plenty of end-users who would want to earn money by promoting businesses and making sales through your site. This would continue as long as you had people who were willing to promote their stuff through your site, and that's where the primary difficulty is here. How can you be sure you would get enough deals with businesses to do their advertising with you? You'd have droves of end-users wanting to promote, and nothing to actually promote.
It's easy, actually. Not only could you contact businesses yourself and offer to promote them through your new site, but you could let your end-users do the majority of the work for you. After all, there are more of them than you; you're just one person. You could give your end-users incentive to find promoters for you by offering them a percentage of the revenue from every sale they generated for you. They would promote your site, send potential promoters your way, and when one of them bought advertising from you, that user would get a certain percentage of it. Now you suddenly have lots and lots of end-users working for you, and you're only paying them when you actually make money yourself. You're paying them a small amount of that money, so you now have a system that is making you money without you having to do anything, by letting others take care of it for you. They're glad to do it, because they're making money too. And so are your advertisers, since they're only paying for sales that have actually been generated. Everybody wins this way.
The way to do this of course is to build your own website, and make it an affiliate website. Set it up, then make your offer of a percentage of profits for an end-user of your site for any deal they land with an advertiser. These people will go out of their way to find potential advertisers for you and send them over to your website with an affiliate link that identifies the sale as one they generated, so your end-user gets their share of the profit. Your users will e-mail. Your users will post in forums. Your users will pass out their referral link to your website in internet chat. They'll post on usenet, and they'll write about your site in articles. It's publicity that you only pay for when you actually get an advertiser who buys from you - and you get to keep most of the profits from it, by a wide margin.
Another nifty aspect of this is what happens when you want to promote your own stuff through your site. Because you would ordinarily take a large chunk of a sponsor's money, and in this case you are the sponsor, in this case you're advertising for a lot less money than your other sponsors are... and less than most people on the internet are advertising for. So if you write a book, create a poster, clip paperclips together into a necklace and decide to sell it, whatever... you are advertising for next to nothing, with a whole bunch of users just waiting to advertise it on your behalf. Because they're end-users, there are plenty of them out there, and you made the system so you get to decide the rules. In a rigged game like the modern economy, it's the only way to win.
Congratulations. At that point you have a machine that makes you money round-the-clock, works essentially on its own, and also allows you to find buyers for just about anything you decide to put on the market, whether it's a new website, a book, a new startup that needs to find ready investors, a house you want to put up for sale and want to find buyers for... anything. For you, the sky is now the limit.
I have a Hub that gives you simple, step-by-step instructions on how to create your own website and get it going on the internet. I offer phone consultations for people who'd like personalized advice with how to do this, and also do freelance website-building for people who aren't ready to do it themselves. If you're interested, feel free to leave me an e-mail requesting my services. Be sure to put "Website Building" in the title, and to tell me as specifically as you can what you need done.
Start your own online webcomic
Another way to get around the end-user trap is to start your own online comic strip. If you have a fresh take on the world around you, or even your own small area of it, consider that many internet users would probably enjoy reading a daily comic strip about it. You can create a website for it, draw a comic strip each day, scan it into a computer, and post it online for people to read. If you put banner ads on it, you will get ad revenue just like you do on HubPages. And day by day, you will gain more revenue because you'll have a growing number of users reading your comic strip. You can even easily create merchandise with characters from your new comic strip - and from the comics themselves - and sell coffee mugs, postcards, greeting cards, keychains, t-shirts, baseball caps and more to your users from your website, all with your creations on them and with all sales creating revenue for you.
You don't have to know how to draw to do this, although it's a plus. xkcd is a smash hit comic strip for those who are technically-oriented, written for their situations and interests, and the drawing isn't exactly professional. But it succeeds because it's terrific. It's hilarious! And lots of people read it because it is.
This is a commonly-used approach these days for webcomics. You pick something you're interested in, create a niche webcomic for others who also enjoy it, and as they discover your comic, you get a steady base of users. Penny Arcade is a wonderful example of this niche webcomic strategy and the success it can bring. It's a great webcomic for gamers, provides humor, a sense of subculture and society to what might otherwise be just a market demographic, and it introduces gamers to new releases - mainstream and obscure - that they might not have heard about for years, if ever.
You also don't have to be very good at writing comic strips, if you can draw. Someone else who can could write them, and you could do the drawing. You can find writers who are interested in collaborating with you on Craigslist, for example. And if you can write them but not draw them, the same applies. You can advertise for an artist. All you need is a website and an idea.
And a scanner. You need to have some way to get the comics into your computer, either rough sketches that you can polish and perfect in a graphics suite like Photoshop, or fully-drawn strips that are ready to be given to the world. Get a few comics done, get your website up and running to post them online at, and then take out banner ads. If you have a good concept that people will want to read, you're all set. You now have a creation that people will want to consume, and you are the only source of that. People will discover that they very much want what you do. And basically, that's business.
If you go this route, consider that you'll be at the helm of something that many people will read. You will have an opportunity to express yourself, to introduce your readers to new concepts, and inspire them to change their lives in ways that can positively affect themselves, those around them, and the world at large. Keep in mind that this is a significant responsibility, and that there are many problems in the world that are waiting on someone to provide constructive solutions for them. You can be that someone. Wouldn't that be amazing? Consider it a gift you can give back to the world, in thanks for your success.
Become - or find - an artist, and sell your designs
Sites like Zazzle are transforming the face of art today. They were among the first sites to deliberately create a way for artists to get around the end-user trap, by allowing anyone to upload images and artwork, design products like t-shirts with those images on them that people could buy, and allowing artists to sell them online and make commission from every single product with their images on it. They're basically a way of offering manufacturing on demand, and they were one of the first to do it. As a result Zazzle is going strong, and always adding more products that can be customized and sold this way - the latest is an economically-sustainable line of clothing, by partnering with a company called edun.
If you're a graphic artist, you're probably getting a head full of ideas from all this by now. Go with it! Get on Zazzle, create products with your artwork on them, and sell them both online and offline. You may even want to chat with owners of independant retail outlets in your area - and outside of it - about carrying your products. Perhaps you'd like to offer those products for sale on your own website, or introduce people to your art (and your merchandise) here on Hubpages by creating a Hub about your art. And perhaps you'd like to collaborate with other artists; telling them about Zazzle, building a website, online store, or offline co-op that sells all of your products in one place and finds more artists to work with to do the same thing with them. These are all excellent ideas for graphic artists, and you should do it. If you're a photographer, the same applies. Get your work out there! Sell it! There's no point in letting it sit neglected with nobody to appreciate it, especially when it costs you nothing whatsoever to do this.
And if you're not an artist or photographer... do you know any? Have you asked? Have you looked? Have you sent out ads on Craigslist seeking them for a co-op you have in mind? What about forums and websites like DeviantArt that are created with graphic artists in mind, and have a ton of them on there? Check out their artists and invite them; you'll have your pick of the litter and you can put out some excellent merchandise.
The term "starving artist" is about to become obsolete.
Do pet tricks for your government
I know I'm going to sound like that Matthew Lesko guy on those late-night television infomercials for a second here, but... the government is giving away free money!
Man, I am serious. Americans give away one third of their money to their government, and it does all it can to get into stuff that it has no lawful authority doing. It's not all torture and warrantless wiretapping either, fortunately. Some of that money they give right back to the public... provided the public does something they want. It's their way of encouraging certain social agendas that they want to see happen, and that isn't what government is for.
And they have all kinds of paid social agendas. Stuff for parents. Stuff for artists. Stuff for women to start a business. A bazzillion different grants for people who want to buy real estate, fix it up nice, and then rent it out to people on government disability. (Imagine, getting real estate for cheap at a foreclosure auction with the government's money, paying homeless people on the cheap to fix it up with the government's money, and either selling it or renting it out to people who will pay their rent directly to you every month with the government's money. Do that a few times and you're not only fixing society, you're generating steady monthly income you can use to live on or to create a few small businesses. Or use it to start a real estate empire and play with the houses in your neighborhood like you were living on a Monopoly board; they don't care. You'll be set for life, or at least until the banks collapse and they declare martial law. But until then, set for life.)
Matthew Lesko's books have a ton of government grant offers that are out there. I used to sit in my local bookstore going through them, seeing what I could do that they'd give me money to do, and how I could best make it benefit me and everybody else at the same time. In fact, try going through them and forget for a moment that they're grant offers. Pretend that someone's given you a book full of business ideas. Which ones would work for you, and what could you also do along with those ideas that they don't even mention, that would make your project tremendously successful? Writers get writer's block, and freelancers and entrepreneurs get their own equivalent - going through government grant offers will give you a ton of ideas, and they're ones that people will actually pay you to do.
Matthew Lesko is just one person who's compiled all of these grants. There are others out there on the internet. Check out what's out there, particularly if you're not living in the States. Try to build an idea based on those grants that are available to you that would qualify you for three or four different grants at the same time. Because then, you'll be sure to have enough money to get it going without paying for it yourself. And then everybody's happy.
Tutor people locally to use their computers and the internet
I've been using computers ever since I was ten years old, when I taught myself how to program one from a book. We were in Taiwan at the time, so there weren't many English-speaking friends for me to make, there was one English radio station, and three TV channels there... one of which spoke English. Some of the time. Growing up using computers and technology, it's always been very easy for me to do. So I never thought anything of it.
It wasn't until a year or two ago when I was volunteering at a local church that I realized how many people lacked this much-needed skill. Particularly seniors, but even the staff there had trouble with basic e-mail, CD writing, and other simple stuff. And it was only then that I realized how much of what I knew was greatly in demand - and desperately needed.
There are still people who don't know how to use the internet. Lots of them still have a VCR, and it's still blinking 12:00 on the display. We had an older couple at my church who had a computer, a huge brand-new LCD flat-screen television, and all kinds of nifty stuff to display content on it... but neither of them knew how to use it all. They had money but not the best domestic interaction in the world, so the husband would buy his wife all kinds of fancy expensive tech stuff to show her he loved her... and it would sit there, looking fancy and being utterly useless. People started paying me by the hour to show them how to use their fancy toys that I could never have afforded; I answered specific questions they had about how to do certain things on their computer, what they could do with all of their devices, and basically showed them how they could use it in their lives. I'll never forget the amazed look on the wife's face when I showed her how she could take her pictures of the flowers she grew in her garden (and they were certainly dazzling pictures), put them onto a memory stick, insert it into the side of their huge flat-screen television and display them as a jaw-dropping slideshow.
We may have made it onto the internet, but a lot of people still don't seem to know how. And they can't exactly post an ad on Craigslist for someone to teach them how, either. It's up to us to share our experience and skills with others who need it, so that we can both be happier. We can share what we know with others by creating flyers advertising ourselves as Tech Tutors, and leaving a phone number (not e-mail) that they can use to reach us. If we post these flyers in our area where a lot of people can see them - retirement homes and nursing homes are the best, as these people need something to do with their time and active minds - we can be paid by the hour to share with people what many of us have come to take for granted: basic technology skills. They're worth something to a lot of people, especially when they don't have them.
This makes a convenient side business. You can share your knowledge after work by scheduling a few hours to come by when it's convenient, and share specific information and answers to questions that people need. You can make $10 to $15 an hour doing this, and it adds up well. And you can take people who had the opportunity to reach out into the wide world and find exactly what they needed and were interested in, but just couldn't do it on their own. You're enriching lives, providing a valuable service, and getting compensated nicely for something that isn't difficult at all. And if you're ever asked a question that you don't know the answer to, you know where to find that answer. Google is your friend.
Follow the money
In an economic sense, times are tough and will only get tougher until people start getting out of the end-user trap. Particularly in the States, politicians and large corporations squeeze everything they can to increase their own profits, and for now at least they just keep squeezing. It'll get better down the road, when people work their way out of the end-user trap. But in the meantime - and while you are working your way out of it - consider that whatever you're doing could only be more successful in a country that's not going through such a hard time. Some of the European countries for example, and most of Asia.
In Japan right now, they're doing so well and the yen is so comparatively strong that they have entire libraries devoted simply to overseas catalogs. Japanese citizens will go to one of these, look through catalogs in their area of interest, and buy stuff from everywhere else in the world. Sure they do; they can afford to! Their infrastructure is better. So if you're going to promote something that costs money... wouldn't it be easier to do in Japan?
Of course it would. And it would be great to be able to do it, too... except they seem to have their own words for everything. The language barrier is costing people money, because few people will make the effort to cross it. Most won't think to; we've been doing alright for decades, and now things are getting tighter and tighter. We have old strategies, and they don't work. But as things are getting more dire, we need to keep an eye out for new opportunities. Crossing the language barrier is one of them.
If you know a language that's spoken in more affluent countries, prepare to be desperately needed and paid for your services. And if you don't, prepare to make a bundle by translating your website, service, advertising, or anything else that's relevant into some of the more affluent languages. Because it's online and translated, you can reach people in better financial situations and not only have an easier sale, but make more money from it too. It's time to seek out and hire translators, and go where the water's warmer. It's time to use or create extremely cost-effective services like Live Translation to find and offer translation services, and pay them by the hour to translate the wording of your site and advertising into other languages. It won't be much - translating the words on a website doesn't take very long, and you can have someone here who speaks English perform the actual website re-engineering itself. And then you have your translator publicize your site in the appropriate foreign equivalents to the internet search engines we use ourselves, so they can find us.
You can set different prices for overseas purchasers if you like, or simply keep the price the same and let them be amazed at the apparent value, since the same kind of thing in their country would cost significantly more. That will often encourage them to snap up what you're promoting, right there. You can also keep your newfound translator on hand for occasional freelance work, and promote your new services as a website translator to various small and mid-sized businesses, paying your translator whenever you have work for them. If you can see the value in this concept, so can any business that you will market your translation services to. It just makes sense. And so you will find your sideline in great demand. You can start an affiliate website for this, as mentioned above, and pay users on commission to locate a) small and mid-sized businesses who buy your translation package, and b) people to translate for you on an ongoing freelance basis. Now you'll have plenty of work, and plenty of business coming in. And all from starting up a website. For a devastatingly successful startup company, that's almost no initial startup capital, and you can pay for it by skipping going to the movie theater on just one occasion. This kind of startup opportunity is unheard of.
And while you're at it, you can use your translation services and affiliate marketing to locate and seal deals with individual foreigners overseas who want to invest in startup businesses where you live, and be able to make profits without paying what, to them, would be an unwieldy startup cost to invest in in their own country. Now you can locate rich investors overseas who want to invest in startups in your country. You can make a percentage off of each deal you create between the foreign investors and your nearby startup businesses, and everyone succeeds - particularly you.
Now that you can tap into foreign investment money, you can pour it into something you know is going to take the domestic marketplace by storm. It's that Do It Yourself Manufacturing I mentioned earlier on. You can use that money to develop DIY Manufacturing businesses, paying for workspace, startup costs and manufacturing facilities. And you won't have to pay the workers much if you give them a share of the profits of the stuff they manufacture instead. With profit-sharing, everyone has a reason to care about what they do again, and everyone's happy - because finally, the financial compensation they get is directly connected to how well they do do their jobs once again. You're making a ton of money getting these DIY Manufacturing businesses going, and each one that blooms is that much more of the market that the gigantic corporations aren't getting. Everyone comes out ahead, except the monopolies who were taking advantage of the situation anyway. And none of it requires any huge startup costs on your part. The website is almost free to create, and everything you pay for - like sales commission and translator compensation - is pay-as-you-go out of money you've just made anyway.
Publish or perish
If you've stuck with me through this Hub so far, you already know all about the end-user trap and Do It Yourself Manufacturing, and you know what Zazzle can do for artists. Now I'm going to introduce you to its literary cousin, internet publishing, and show you how you can use it effectively to make money by the bucketful.
If you write articles on sites like HubPages, Helium and Triond, have you ever wanted to get published? Now you can, and you can do it without the end-user trap of major publishers, rejection letters and literary agents hounding you over deadlines. You can skip right ahead to the important parts, and go directly from writing, to getting published, to selling your new books.
As the internet starts to work its way out of the end-user trap, sites with ideas like Zazzle's are already catching on. Many internet publishing sites will accept your writing and publish your books for you immediately. Unlike traditional vanity publishers, you don't pay an exorbitant amount for them to publish a crate of your books, send them to you, and let you hope you can sell them to make that money back. In fact, you can easily publish online for free. Let me say that again for those of you in the back row: for free. Like Zazzle, you use online applications at sites like Lulu (known for being the best in the business at the moment) or CreateSpace (a division of Amazon) to upload your work, edit it around, and get it just exactly how you'd like it. Nothing's actually printed yet, so they don't charge you a thing. Then, you market your new book online. When people buy it, Lulu will publish it and give you your commission for the sale. As far as the reader is concerned, they've just bought a real book. And they are correct.
The implications here are staggering. You can write a lot of Hubs about what you know, publish them on HubPages as Hubs, and when you're ready, upload it to Lulu's and you'll have a book you can sell copies of online. HubPages agrees that the work you upload belongs to you; it merely provides its services to make your work accessible online. For example, this series of Hubs you're reading will probably eventually be enough to comprise a book - consider yourselves as readers getting a free read-through of a twenty dollar book right now.
But it doesn't stop there, oh no no. You can connect with authors of other Hubs in your areas of interest using the Contact [User] link beneath their picture, and invite them to collaborate with you by sharing their Hubs with you to create a compilation book. You can do this a hundred different times on a hundred different topics, and sell a hundred different books online. You don't even have to stop with HubPages - you can connect with the artists over on sites like DeviantArt and hand-pick artists and content for a glossy hardcover coffee-table book you can create with Lulu and sell on eBay... and you can do it over and over and over again. I've created Publishing Writers, a shared space where writers can collaborate on projects like these. Contact me if you'd like to be a part of it.
You can create your own website, put all of these books there, then go to Zazzle and create associated merchandise - and then sell that through your site as well. You can, in short, create a whole new cultural sensation or phenomenon and, if it's any good, people will love it. And you'll make a fortune. You may even decide to minimize the time you spend authoring Hubs, and spend that time connecting and co-ordinating with people who still do - and you'll both make a profit from it. The authors and artists, because they're providing content, and you, because you're compiling and selling it all. If you have a great idea or concept, it will reign supreme. And if you don't... make room for those who do, because they're coming through.
Wash and work
By now you must have a hundred different ideas of ways to make money whirling through your head. My tenth way to make money is something you can do while you're getting the rest of it together. It's a way to get paid while you write Hubs, create websites, organize social networking for a new project, compile new books, or create your new startup company. And it's very simple.
Lots of laundromats these days have free wireless internet access, for the people who do their laundry there - or more precisely, for the people they wish would do their laundry there - and have laptops. It's time to assist them to recoup some of their investment in WiFi.
Many households don't have washers and driers at home. This is especially true with lower-income families. They must haul their washing to the nearest neighborhood laundromat, and sit there with their screaming children while their loads are going. But here you are, just needing a place where you can sit and work online. I see a win-win situation here. Can you spot it?
Yep. You create flyers for a low-cost laundry service. You put them up, especially around lower-class neighborhoods and in laundromats. Make sure you have the owner's permission. (It should be easy, if he doesn't already offer such a service - you're bringing him business.) Have the flyers translated into Spanish if you think it would be more effective. Post on Craigslist about it too for good measure. And have them call you. You can set a day and time, pick up several peoples' laundry, get it going and sit there working online while their wash is going. When it's done, deliver their laundry and collect your fee. The fee shouldn't be very much - these are lower-class people and they don't make that much - but from doing several families' washing, you should be able to make a tidy sum one night a week. And you've just saved them all about an hour or two's worth of hassle in an already harried life.
If the laundromat doesn't offer a snack and refreshment cafe, be sure to bring something to nosh on. And for about $20 at Radio Shack, you can pick up a pair of rugged, durable headphones that will wrap around your ears and block out the noise there while you work and listen to music - you can boost it up rather loud, since nobody will be able to hear it over the noise of the machines. And take my advice, go with Radio Shack's cheap replacement plan when you buy them. You'll usually use it, and it's nice to know when your headphones break you can replace them for free, plus the small fee to purchase the replacement plan again for next time.
And then you can get paid while you put your new plans into action.
Bonus Tip: Combinations
You can also combine these methods. For example, you can compile several books through online authors and artists, publish them through Lulu and then set up your own website, market through other users who are getting commission from the referrals, and also use paid posting and banner ads to deliver your message. Work with a translator to also translate the books and website into other languages. This will expand your market enormously - be sure to also use affiliate advertising in those non-English-speaking communities. They will buy through your site, you will generate sales revenue, and basically there you go.
You can promote your site on your Hubs, and where appropriate add merchandising using Zazzle.com to go with your books.
You can use translation and affiliate referral to seal deals with investors in weathier countries, and use this private access to a network of foreign investors to build Do It Yourself Manufacturing businesses ahead of everyone else. (You can buy manufacturing facilities on the cheap at auctions because with the economy the way it is, lots of places are going under.) You can also use that investment money to hire new staff for your rapidly-growing business, or simply pay them on commission and profit-sharing (and profit-sharing is the name of the game when it comes to paying staff with DIY Manufacturing... whether it's the production people or the administrative people). Or you can use the investment money to invest in businesses in your own country as if you were a bank unto yourself, and collect your percentage of interest on the business loans. You could use the investment money and government grants to buy real estate at bankruptcy auctions, fix it up using primarily homeless workers for the painting and upgrades (providing free rent and profit-sharing as your main form of payment), and then rent the houses to people on government disability (collecting regular paychecks from the government and collecting yet another government grant for doing another of their social pet tricks)... you'd be solving the housing shortage and homelessness problem, using everybody else's resources and your own good sense to do it.
You could use translation and the foreign investment money to buy manufacturing equipment at bankruptcy auctions, set it up as an internet-based Do It Yourself Manufacturing business, staff it with primarily homeless workers, count yourself in on a percentage of the profits it generates, and then go to another industrial foreclosure auction to do the whole thing again in another area of interest, creating one DIY Manufacturing business after another after another, and creating for yourself residual income while building a huge, fair empire of DIY Manufacturing businesses. (They'd have to be fair, because people will be coming into this market soon after you and will be able to compete with any unfair pricing structure if you create one.)
The possibilities are limitless. And there's plenty of room for collaboration and working on different areas with all this, that there shouldn't be any fierce competition right away. In fact, the whole market and everyone in it is currently suffering from a lack of business competition. So you have absolutely no reason not to get a bunch of your closest friends together, have them read through this Hub so that you're all on the same page, and then work together on building wonderful, constructive money-making plans that work for everyone involved... including society as a whole.
I hope you've found the information in this Hub worthwhile, and will make good use of it. See you at the laundromat. =)