With lay-offs and dropped benefits causing more workers to get nervous about the security of their next paycheck, some people are hustling up extra cash on the side. Through websites, handcrafted products, and other creative endeavors, anyone with a few spare hours a week can give their bank account a boost.
Here are seven ways to generate additional dough:
Launch a brand. When Kimberly Seals-Allers, former senior editor at Essence magazine, was expecting her first child, she discovered that black women face higher risks during childbirth and pregnancy. "I realized we were a special group, and I wanted to write a book about everything in black women's lives. Not just pregnancy, but money, men, and myths in our community… [I wanted] to create a new way forward."
Her first book, The Mocha Manual to a Fabulous Pregnancy, turned into a series (the next book, The Mocha Manual to Turning Your Passion Into Profit, is out this month) as well as an online magazine, maternity line, and consultancy. Seals-Allers also licensed use of the Mocha Manual name to create an instructional DVD that's sold at Walmart and supermarkets.
Seals-Allers, who started working on the Mocha Manual concept before leaving her full-time magazine job, says one of the hardest parts was giving up that regular paycheck. "I had a great job, but I wanted something more for my life," she says. One of the biggest misconceptions about going solo, she says, is that it provides more leisure time. "You will work harder than ever before, but it's more rewarding because it's for yourself," she says.
Start a blog. Barbara Saylor, 37, started her blog, Capitol B, after working in communications to give herself another outlet for writing. "I always wanted to share things with my friends and the DC community," she says. She uses Wordpress.com, the free blogging site, so her costs are minimal, and she partners with local businesses and charities to give them publicity. While she's still in the beginning stages, she plans to eventually make money through those partnerships. While she doesn't want to run banner or pop-up ads on her site, companies may pay for the publicity of being listed as partners, for example.
The key, Saylor says, is to find a niche. "How are you going to do something that's different from the millions of blogs out there?"
Create a website. Building up content and an audience are the two keys to making money from a website, says Paul McFedries, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Website. Then, there are three ways to make money off of it: First, by running advertisements through a program such as Google AdSense, which matches up ads with the content on your site. A website about dogs, for example, might feature ads for shelters and dog food. Second, through affiliate programs such as Amazon.com, which share book sale profits with websites that refer customers. Third, by selling products related to the website, such as a T-shirt designs or arts and crafts. By using third-party sites including Amazon Marketplace or Etsy.com, you don't even have to run the e-commerce side of things yourself.
Write for another website. Maria O'Brien, 27, earns about $1,500 a month by writing articles for eHow.com, a site that posts contributions and then shares revenues from online ads with the writers. O'Brien, who writes about personal finance, nutrition, and careers, says, "If you can string together coherent sentences, you can write for eHow." Building up enough traffic to earn as much as O'Brien can take time; some newcomers earn just a few dollars a month when they start out.