1. Freelance write your heart out.
Ever since I figured out I could type on the computer while nursing my newborn son as he rested on a couple of breastfeeding pillows encircling my waist, I’ve literally balanced motherhood and writing.
If you too have a hankering for creating pleasant prose, considered yourself blessed! What better time to be a writer than during the Information Age? Put your gift to work by supplying words wherever they are needed – especially in print and online magazines.
A good place to start is Associated Content, a site where writers (called content producers or “CP” for short) sign up for free and submit non-previously copyrighted works for possible publication. Each article sold nets the writer anywhere from $3 – $40, with the average being around $10. Payments are made via PayPal.
2. Unveil the mystery behind secret shopping
Remember that rude salesgirl that made you so mad that you stormed out the store without buying anything? Workers like her are the bane of a company’s existence, so many service-heavy firms hire inconspicuous shoppers to pose as normal customers and report back to a third-party regarding the type of customer service experience they enjoyed – or suffered through, as the case may be.
Apply to become a mystery shopper with companies like iMyst, Beyond Hello, and ICC Decision Services (all reputable companies that have actually paid me moola in the past to shop for their clients) or seek out other above board firms through search engines. Don’t fall for over-hyped and -exclamation-pointed claims that you’ll get rich by secret shopping; many gigs only pay around $10 per shop. And don’t buy expensive books claiming they contain “everything you need to know about mystery shopping.” Stick with reputable sites that allow you to sign up for free.
3. Focus on focus groups
One fun and interesting way to spend an evening away from the kids, garner some much-needed and stimulation-heavy adult conversation AND get paid to boot is to join a focus group.
I’ve gotten paid $50 cash to participate in a 2-hour discussion about a compelling topic that interested me. Another focus group paid $25 to discuss a controversial new product on the market. Both provided food – the former, a lovely spread of fresh fruits, sandwich wraps, deserts and drinks.
During the latter I met another mom who gave me a great lead on a different focus group that paid her around $300 to participant in a mock trial. She got to meet a local celebrity and was treated to dinner during the 3 – 4 hour evening experience.
Check out Volition to find a focus group in your area and get started, or use Google to search the term “focus groups” coupled with a nearby major city in your locale.
4. Turn stray coins into cash
You’d be surprised how much spare change can collect about us and add up to serious money. Scour your closets, the bottom of your purse and your car’s cubby holes for those piles of pennies, errant nickels, all the way up to the occasional one dollar coins and cart them down to your local CoinStar machine.
There you’ll not only be given the option of receiving cash, but also free giftcards from various retailers like Amazon.comÃ?Â®, StarbucksÃ?Â®, BordersÃ?Â® and more. Check out CoinStar to find a machine nearest you.
5. Transform old bills into new money
Remember that pile of $2 bills your grandma passed down to you for a rainy day that you thought you couldn’t do anything with? Well, break out the bank envelopes, because it’s stormin’, baby! Still in circulation and accepted by most banks (check with your favorite one with the highest yield and no fees), these old bills are a great way to let hidden cash increase your account balance.
6. Sell stuff on e-Bay
Plenty of moms have perfected the art of selling stuff electronically using eBay. Whether it’s that specific printer cartridge or unused videotape you bought in error and never used, or that knock-out designer LA dress that you know would make killing in Poughkeepsie, items laying about your own home can make great grist for the online selling mill.
Visit eBay to set up your account a pay a small fee to list one or hundreds of items, then watch the bidding war begin! Who knows, you may be on your way to becoming a power seller.
7. Get a night job
When you need a more dependable stream of income but still want to be available to your brood during the day, consider taking on employment during the hours opposite of your mates’ job. Whether it’s a “Mommy job” at the local mall or night-shift work for your local newspaper, off-hour careers can provide a steady source of funds in your own name.
8. Create an online business
Take advantage of free offers to obtain your own website, such as Microsoft Office Live, which offers free domain names and additional options during its beta testing period.
I set up a website for free called Real Moms magazine, linked it through to both my Real Moms‘ and personal blogs using the free Blogger website and linked that to PayPal to take subscription orders.
No matter what you’ve created – be it an eBook, painting, or event-planning service – in this computer-driven world you can find a plethora of ways to set up and promote your business online and begin taking orders right away!
9. Open a “Mommy Daycare”
If you have the patience of Mother Teresa and can stand having additional children in your home, by all means offer to watch someone else’s child for money. With the great demand for quality childcare, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a mom-in-need through word of mouth.
If it is, you can always place an ad in your local paper for childcare situations wanted. Ensure that the terms are spelled out clearly beforehand, and don’t overwhelm yourself with a houseful of kids that you can’t handle.
10. Follow your bliss and the money will come.
All in all, if you pursue your passion, you will find prosperity. Sell your talents and don’t sell yourself short. Get moving in the direction of your dreams. If you’re a singer, create brochures and book some shows. A seamstress? Create your best work and offer to sell it in local boutiques on consignment. Do anything smart to get your name out there and your talent seen. Then you’ll not only be rich in dollars, but in spirit, too.
Paula Mooney is the editor-in-chief of Real Momsmagazine.