The easiest ways to make money are often not very lucrative, and the most lucrative gigs usually aren’t very easy. Hark, a middle ground: getting paid for everyday activities.
Walking, eating, watching TV and even sleeping can be monetized. Individually, the apps or side jobs that pay you to do these things may not pay much, but we are complex creatures capable of pairing up these tasks — and gaming the system.
That’s right. You can be getting paid to walk your neighbor’s dog while racking up miles for a step-counter app and getting paid for listening to a podcast, all at the same time.
9 of the Easiest Ways to Make Money
Below is a primer on the easiest ways to make money, which include leisure activities that are doable on even the laziest of Sundays.
Walking may arguably be the hardest way to make money on this list, as it’s a physical activity many of us Americans seem to dread. The upside is that this activity is ripe for pairing with other apps or services.
- People Walker: This is a side gig app that will pay you to walk and talk with people in your area. There are a few different categories applicants can choose, including teaching someone about a certain topic during your walk or simply going out and exploring the town or a nature trail.
- Sweatcoin: Using GPS location data on your smartphone, Sweatcoins can track every step you take. Each step earns — wait for it — Sweatcoins, which can be donated or redeemed for money, prizes or even a trip to Borneo.
- Rover: Animal lover? Rover is the side gig app for you. Dog walking is among several pet-themed services available on the app. Be sure to log your steps to double up on earnings.
Browsing the Internet
It’s no surprise that most people use Google to search the web, but Microsoft’s Bing comes in second place. To get more users onboard, the company pays people to search with Bing through the Microsoft Rewards program.
Bing users enrolled in the program earn five points per search, and the points can be redeemed for gift cards, movies or games, or donated to charities.
Another more lucrative way to earn cash as you browse is through side gigs that test the effectiveness of social media ads and search engines.
Listening to Podcasts
Thanks to Serial, we’re in the golden age of podcasts. This engaging storytelling can be implemented into our everyday lives — during commutes, chores and work-out sessions.
There’s a lot of money to be made making podcasts, but it’s also possible to earn a little listening to them.
Podcoin is an app that rewards its listeners one Podcoin per 10 minutes. Listeners can choose from a huge catalog of podcasts (more than 500,000) and start earning. Daily streaks can double the amount of Podcoins earned, and users can then trade those Podcoins for electronics or gift cards.
Alone, this method isn’t very fruitful, but for podcast addicts, it’s a seamless way to get something in return for dedicated listening. Other than all that knowledge, obviously.
Listening to Music
You’ve probably experienced something similar: You’re driving around when a Pearl Jam song comes on. You pretend to know the lyrics and mumble along. After the song is over, everyone has their own theory as to what Eddie Vedder is actually mumbling. A 20-minute debate ensues.
How do you settle that debate? You Google the lyrics and boom, the mystery is solved. (And everyone in the car is probably wrong.)
But who are the people solving all those mysteries? Lyric transcriptionists — people whose job it is to listen to the latest songs and transcribe the lyrics.
Genius (formerly Rap Genius) is one of the largest websites to actually hire lyric transcriptionists, dubbed Lyrics Associates, as a remote part-time job. Another option is WeLocalize, a transcription company that pays freelancers $4 per song.
Earn money in your sleep? It’s possible.
Large mattress companies conduct market research and pay people to test their products. Recurring opportunities are available through Mattress Firm during the summer, as the company hires “Snoozeterns” — interns who have snooze-related responsibilities 30 hours a week at the company’s headquarters in Houston, Texas.
Sleep studies are another method to turn your Zs into Gs. In our sleep study guide, contributor Jillian Shea documented how she got paid $12,000 for 11 days of snoring.
Forewarning about sleep studies: While you can earn quite a lot of money, the studies involve some — let’s say invasive — procedures involving thermometers and places the average person doesn’t want thermometers to go.
Mystery shopping is in The Penny Hoarder’s DNA.
Fun fact: It was a source of side money back in the day for CEO Kyle Taylor, and he used to write about his mystery shopping experiences when The Penny Hoarder was still his personal blog.
But what is mystery shopping, exactly? Basically, it’s a job where a company pays you to pose like a regular customer and then provide feedback about things such as how clean the store was or how well the employees interacted with you.
In most cases they’ll ask you to make a purchase, too. In exchange for your feedback, they will pay you a small amount plus reimburse your purchase.
Our guide outlines the best mystery shopping companies to work for and gives other tips and tricks of the trade.
Never pay to join a mystery shopping “network.” And check to see if the company is a member of the MSPA — the official organization in charge of regulating mystery shopping companies.
Whether you’re on a mystery-shopping assignment or just running errands, the app ShopKick can enhance your earnings. You can earn gift cards by scanning barcodes, snapping pictures of your receipts, or by shopping through the app itself.
You may have heard stories of internet celebrities gorging themselves on YouTube for their vicarious fans. But that’s not sustainable (for health and monetary reasons). There is, however, a more modest way to cash in on dining out. It’s called mystery dining, a subset of mystery shopping.
The premise is simple: Go into a restaurant on assignment, order a meal and take notes about the experience. The mystery dining company will reimburse you for your meal, and usually pay you a little extra for your time. At the very least, it’s free food.
With Restaurant Cops, mystery diners are sent on assignment to nationwide food chains in the U.S. Depending on the complexity of the assignment, diners earn can between $5 and $15, plus full meal reimbursement.
Basic requirements include:
- 21 years or older.
- Fluency in English.
- Internet access with smartphone or PC.
Ah, the motherlode of leisure activities: watching TV.
Sometimes, the act of sitting down and turning your brain off for an hour or so is reward enough. But, if you’re like me, after the finale of Game of Thrones, you may have the lingering sense that someone should’ve paid you to watch it.
That’s not too far fetched an idea. For example, HowToWatch hires people to watch 100 hours of TV for $2,000. It requires some intense focus and note-taking, but hey, it’s money. For watching TV.
To snag this dream job, apply during an open application period. If you’re accepted, you’ll have about a month to binge on 100 hours of TV and keep a scorecard that tracks buffer speeds, load times and picture quality.
If that sounds like too much for you, the app Swagbucks also pays you to watch videos and TV from your smartphone. For each task completed, you’ll earn points, aka Swagbucks, which you can cash out for gift cards between $5 and $25.
Playing Video Games
Video games were once decried as one of the biggest time-wasters out there, but the narrative is changing as the hobby is on a fast track to becoming a legitimate career path.
And even if you’re not a master of video games, you can still get paid for video-game related services through Gameflip Gigs. The platform works much like other freelance marketplaces, the main difference is that every service revolves around video gaming.
Through Gigs, you can create your own online shop, set your own rates and start making money.
Though the biggest payout of all is finally being able to say: See, Mom? It does pay to play video games.
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.