Bullish: How to Make an Extra $100 a Month, Part I

I once considered writing a book entitled “How to Make $30,000 a Year and Sleep as Late as You Want.” Small, quantified claims are so much more credible than “Make a Million Dollars While You Sleep!”, “The Ten- Minute Workweek,” “7-Minute Abs,” etc.

(Now, I’m thinking about “How to Make Six Figures While Loitering in Foreign Coffee Shops.”)

So, while it would certainly be fun to make an extra $10,000 per month, that’s pretty difficult to do, even with a sex tape. But $100 a month? Here are some ideas.

Thinking Beyond EtsyEtsy is preternaturally hip, but it’s probably going to make you less than $5 an hour for your efforts, so we’ll cover this first and move on. Brokelyn has some good coverage of the topic in “How to Make Money on Etsy“, including practical tips (“choosing a username is the single most important decision you can make—it becomes your shop name when you open a seller account.”) Beware, though — one Etsy seller who works more than full-time, employs three staff, and has made over 30,000 sales, only makes about $35,000 a year for herself.

So, if you love making stuff so much that you don’t mind working 20+ hours per month for that extra $100, go for it. A caveat: I think a lot of people who shop on Etsy are the kind of people who know how to make a lot of the stuff on Etsy. I am a big fan of selling expensive things to rich people, rather than small adorable things to non-rich people. (If you have Etsy success stories, please do share in the comments).

Cafepress in a Non-Lame Way — Anyone can create a storefront on Cafepress, which is why you can’t look lazy about it. If you have an idea, hire a professional designer on Craigslist or Elance or somewhere. No one wants to buy something she feels like she could easily make herself by signing up for a free Cafepress account.

I started a Cafepress store in 2001 that initially made $50-70 a month, and now surprises me with a $70 check once or twice a year. In my hometown of Virginia Beach, there was a controversy over the jet noise coming from the Navy base (it was lowering property values, scaring children, and possibly damaging people’s hearing; on the other hand, we need jets, and certainly it’s well-known that this is where they’ll be practicing). Some people started the catchphrase “I Love Jet Noise,” so I purchased ILoveJetNoise.com, hooked it up to a Cafepress store, and sat back. (Later I made some Christmas-themed items.)

It’s best if you can do this for a group of people who aren’t meme- followers — while there were a million competing Obama shirts in 2008, you might have done better financially making stuff for people who don’t have the wherewithal to use Photoshop on their own.

Affiliate Programs in a Non-Lame Way — At various points, I’ve put Amazon affiliate links on my websites, but I’ve never made enough to reach the minimum payout amount. I once made $100 from Google AdWords — after pennies accumulated for five years. But there’s more money to be had in accepting ads from online casinos, pharmacies focusing in erectile medication, and the sex industry. The Sarcastic Sex Toy Blog, in which I made fun of all the sex toys in the online store I set up. I just made fun of them on the internet (I certainly didn’t try them, nor would that have been physically possible in the case of the many disembodied plasticized ladyparts that were the subject of my lampooning). Because I was creating unique content (not keyword-spamming the search engines), I did pretty well (without any search engine marketing at all), and started receiving $50-$150 a month right away.

I stopped maintaining the site some time ago, but there’s no reason I couldn’t get it started again anytime. People apparently like to read about how things are stupid, and then buy those things to stimulate their sex organs.

“Modeling” — That’s in quotes. I once made about $800 a month as a “model.” You do need to be at least some niche version of attractive for this one, but not necessarily tall, thin, or conventional-looking. (Half-shaved head? Tattoos? There’s plenty of love to go around).

Obviously, there is a world of high-fashion modeling that functions through recognized agencies. There is also a world of glamour modeling (Maxim/Playboy type work), fetish modeling (often requires serious investment in equipment), promotional modeling (anything from touting a liquor brand at a party to handing out Midol samples on the street), and art modeling (standing very still in the nude for a very long time — one form of modeling where pretty girls are most in demand, but wrinkly old men and many other types of people also make appearances).

Among the pseudo-modeling jobs I once had: stand-in for one of Jennifer Lopez’s backup dancers (so the photographer could get the lighting right before the real subject arrived), body double for an actress in a poster for an independent film (she didn’t like her butt), body double for a rich woman in her fifties who wanted to be painted as the Venus de Milo (the painter put her head on my body), and a million gigs as the girl who gets paid $40-60 for a photoshoot by a photographer who is still developing his portfolio.

To get started, you’ll need some decent pictures of yourself, and then just put a free profile on Model Mayhem. Prepare for an onslaught of terrible spelling and grammar.

It goes without saying that, if you’re willing to do photographic nudes, you’ll make much more money (NSFW — here’s a friend of mine, Theda B ,who’s been successful for years as an independent model). If you’re not willing to do nudes, lingerie, etc., say that upfront.

It’s very hard to make a full-time living at (clothed) modeling through online forums, but it’s not hard to make a few bucks here and there. Plenty of photographers need models on a regular schedule for their projects, so you just have to be new and look like someone who will show up on time.

One Model Place is another popular modeling site, and the Artists section on Craigslist is a fine place to seek out art modeling gigs. Of course, be concerned for your safety and always tell someone exactly where you’re going.

Ironic Tupperware — “All-American Jewish lesbian folk singer” Phranc has been selling Tupperware for years, moving up to $2,000 in merchandise per party. She is even the subject of a 2001 documentary called “Lifetime in Plastic.”

I first heard of Phranc when her cover of Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter appeared on the album Lesbian Favorites. With her crew cut and men’s suits, Phranc is sometimes mistaken for a man. Phranc’s non-typical profile for a Tupperware representative created an opportunity to open new markets for Tupperware, as well as to ironically re-brand the product among those she encounters.

Maybe there’s also an ironic way to sell Mary Kay? Who knows? But you can check out Tupperware’s opportunity here.

Of course, Avon’s “mark” line is intended to be sold by young women. I think there might be more opportunity in doing something counterintuitive, though.

Commenting about women whose self-esteem has been raised by Tupperware, Phranc told the San Francisco Chronicle: “They’ve been nipped by the Tupper spirit.”

Next week we’ll continue with “How to Make an Extra $100 a Month, Part II,” in which we’ll cover focus groups, micro-real estate, exploiting special offers from banks and credit card companies, and making bearskin rugs from bears you kill with your own hands (okay, not that one).

More ideas? Better ideas? Are you an Etsy millionaire? Tell us in the comments.

originally published on The Gloss