I have a bit of a conundrum here. At the same time, I like to write about ways to increase my alternative income. Although I often think about ways to make an alternative income, I rarely come up with anything that I can implement.
A newer site, Alternative Income Quest, is focusing on alternative income as well. Jon, the author, has come up with a list of alternative income ideas. I’d like to take a couple of the ideas and go into why I do them and why I don’t.While he mentions Adsense specifically, I’d prefer to group that into the bigger bucket of all blogging income. I don’t much like to write about the business of blogging, but I’ll have to in order to explain my alternative income sources. One thing that I like about blogging is that if I miss a day, I can still earn money. While blogging is anything but passive (link?), it can earn money residually. The scale with blogging seems to be (in my limited experience thus far) is that the more you do it, the more profitable it is AND the easier it becomes. In short, it’s what us software engineers call “relatively scalable.” I’ve been doing it a little over a year and while it has become easier, if I look at my last month, per hour spent, I’m way under minimum wage. Others that do it professionally, like ProBlogger, surely make far more than minimum wage per hour spent.
It’s this residual aspect of alternative income that gets my interest. This is why I like stocks (which can earn me dividends), and earnings from Prosper.com. The problem with those two later investments is that they require a fair amount of principle. It takes quite some time to save and build up the kind of principle that can earn you a decent income. It’s something that people save their whole lives for. In case that is taken the wrong way, I’d be one of those people saving and investing and can’t recommend it highly enough.
Another example of this kind of residual income would be to earn royalties from creative works. I’m thinking that I should look into photography, but that would probably be the extent of my creative talents (outside of writing, and I’m stretching the definition of “talent” quite a bit with that). The other thing about photography is that I’m not sure how much it scales. I figure the pictures are always going to be worth a fixed price. However, if I get better and better, I could probably take more quality photos in smaller amounts of time. This would allow me to have more photos out there for purchase. I can imagine having something like 10,000 photos available one day. The commissions from people reusing them could add up to a nice residual income.
Now you know what I’m looking for, let’s go through the rest of Jon’s list:
- Completing online surveys – This may be fun for some could earn some income, but once you stop doing it, it’s over. It’s also not likely that the online surveys will get that much easier to take (maybe a little bit, but they more or less require a fixed amount of time to take), and I’m guessing that payments, per survey, are not going to rise for each survey you do. It’s not scalable at all.
- Finding bargains and selling on Ebay – This is much like completing online surveys – you need to keep on doing it to earn money. It also doesn’t scale.
- Credit Card Arbitrage – I looked into this (link) and was going to use it to earn interest, which I mentioned above, fits the mold. It didn’t work out for me, just more work for my personal situation (having just moved and requiring lots of extra documentation) than it was worth. It doesn’t scale, but for some people this could be an easy to add to alternative income.
- Associated Content – I simple have been too Lazy to look into this thus far. It could be a good source of income.
- Cafe Press – This is one idea that I’d love to implement. I have to ask The Digerati Life, how her Cafe Press sales have been. This requires a little artistic creativity, which as mentioned, I’m a little deficient in.
- Ticket Brokering – Basically the same idea as the above “finding bargains and selling on Ebay.” You could lose money with this. I think the law is tricky here. Lastly, it doesn’t really scale.
- Poker Bonuses – I wouldn’t even begin to imagine how this is done, so I can’t really comment on the opportunity here. About ten years ago I had the plan of betting on both the Pass and Don’t Pass lines in craps. My plan was to break even on every bet and collect Foxwoods’ Wampum points (the casino reward program). Everything was good until I realized that when a 12 is rolled, the Pass line loses, but the Don’t Pass doesn’t win. Thus it’s not the infinite “break even”, collect the rewards, opportunity that I thought it was. Perhaps this is different, but it seems similar.
So let me know what I should try to augment my alternative income.
Jon @ The Money Mythos says
Poker bonuses used to be incredible. You would sign up at a poker site, deposit something like $50 or $100, and then play a certain number of hands. By “play” it just means being in games where people put money towards the ante, so in essence you never really had to play if you didn’t want to. After you met the required number of hands, you would be given anywhere from $100-$1000, depending on your initial deposit.
In a few months I made a very nice amount of money from the bonuses (not even including the poker winnings). Unfortunately, I don’t see how this is remotely possible now after the U.S. passed that law a few months ago pretty much banning online poker.
Ive done a few of the things you mentioned above. Here are my thoughts:
1) Selling on Ebay – Ive done it successfully. To maximize your opportunity for success, you have to be “at the right place at the right time.” For example, the US Mint just came out with some gold coins called the “First Spouse” series. They sold out within 2 hours. I made about 75% return in less than a week. Basically, find out whats hot and be there when it goes on sale.
2) Credit card arbitrage – Something ive been looking to get into but have been “lazy.” The only way you can successfully pull this off is to BE ON TOP OF IT! Miss one payment, and it will wipe out any gains you will make.
3) Ticket brokering – Ive done this as well. Like #1 above, you gotta be at the right place at the right time. That right place is ticketmaster and the right time is PRESALES and initial sales. For example, a couple years ago, during Prince’s comeback tour at the staples center, I made it my business to be online at 12:00 pm with ticketmaster.com loaded and ready to go. As soon as they went on sale I bought 8 tickets before they sold out (in under an hour). I immediately went on ebay and made 100% on my money.
4) Poker bonuses – You can make money but its risky. When they give the bonuses, most places have required amount of “raked hands” that must be played in order to cash out. During this time of “forced play” you can not only lose your bonus but also your initial investment. I’m not sure i would recommend this avenue unless you actually want to play poker.
Hope this helps someone!
I not into online surveys because so many requires a credit cards to sign up to get the money. In the end, you have be sure to cancel the membership. I want my money up front with no strings attached. Affliates and ticket brokering and cc arbitrage takes time again it is not my cup of tea.
Amber Yount says
Not all survey sites require credit cards, in fact many are free…i do them dailey, but your still not looking at very much money, even after signing up for about 20 sites.
Royalties and other rents are the way to go if you can produce them. Too bad, I never made it as a rock star.
Blogging is hard work! It is something we are passionate about though so that makes up for it. You might want to link to Digerati’s site (you wrote in your article about the link) since I’m sure she would love the link back!
Back in the day, I made a couple thousand bucks in poker bonuses. They made you play 4-5 hands for every $1 in bonus. At the time, you could play very conservatively at the cheapest table and get it done really easily.
More recently (before it became illegal) they changed it to having to play 10-20 hands per $1 of bonus. For this, there was a more complicated way to win. Deposite $100, get $100 bonus. Play a little and withdrawal the original $100. Now you are just playing with their money. Then, either play at the casino part of their site (bet $100 on black and repeat) or use the $100 as entry to a single table tournement (where first place is $500. Once you get $400 – $500, then it is worth it to play all the hands to get it out. If you bust, leave the site havign lost nothing.
Customers Revenge says
I like how you focus on the alternate streams, especially your repeated mention of Prosper. We don’t have that in Canada, but I suspect that it will come soon. I wrote a little article about it called Peer-to-Peer Lending: Bankers Take Notice! because the way you and others use Prosper is basically cutting out how banks make a lot of their cash. I think there is a lot of wealth potential, for society in general, from opening up the business of lending to the common person. Before this they had to gamble on stocks or really needed a lot of cash to buy things like real estate or business. But Prosper lets people run a little lending business with as little as they may have.
Ticket brokering, aka SCALPING, is despicable. All you are doing is making it more difficult for people who legitimately want to see their favorite musical act. Its true that its the unfortunate natural side-effect of a broken distribution monopoly, but its despicable none-the-less.
The focus on residuals brings up something I’ve observed. I had a few websites that I ran for fun, and put ads on them just to see what happened. I stopped working on them when I had my first kid. They weren’t blog-type sites, and the material on them ages well. Low and behold, there’s still a (small) but steady ad stream from the sites. A surprise to me.
So far I’ve made a fair bit of extra income problogging, and I recently started doing surveys and signed up for Inbox Dollars. It’s too soon yet to tell whether those will really be worth my time. I’ve also got an Etsy shop to sell handknit good and handmade knitting supplies, but so far I’ve made a whopping ONE sale. I’ve also submitted a few Associated Content articles. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to “publishing” anything with my name on it, so I think I tend to spend a lot more time on my articles than is necessary to meet their standards. I keep intending to submit articles to real publications instead, but then I get lazy.
You’ve got me seriously considering putting some funds into Prosper, but I’ve still got quite a bit of debt, and I tend to think I’d be better off putting all my extra money toward paying off the credit cards before I worry about investing it.
Neely O'Hara says
Filling out surveys is a joke. Like Amber said, you have to sign up for a LOT before you can make any money — and you have to factor in the value of your time. Not a winning proposition….
And a lot of them bait you with “free points” or “$250 of free groceries,” but you do have to sign up for credit cards or enter your credit card no. for product “trials” before you get your so-called reward. Too risky — I don’t want to have to remember to cancel all that crap in time. I’ll pass, thanks.
conrad pringle says
Hello lazy man!I am 54 working for 20yrs and raising my son and my daughter by myself. my wife left for greener pastures and i am trying to make sure my kids can earn a decent living. as for me i was born in jamaica and due to working and not having enough money. i cant even to visit once in a while. how do i make some residual income to do so
Lazy Man says
Conrad… It’s not easy. If it were, everyone would do it and everyone would be rich. I found that starting this website and other websites helped me accomplish the goal to some extent. Other people might find that they are able to repair cars and other things in their spare time. Still others invest the money they currently have to make money. There’s no one-size-fits all.