Creative ways to earn extra income

With the unemployment rate at 10 percent as cited by the U.S. Department of Labor, you may be looking for ways to earn any income, much less an extra paycheck. Whether you are looking to supplement your current income or looking for ways to make up for a paycheck you are no longer receiving, keeping your mind and eyes open for extra income opportunities can help you earn more. Following are nine creative solutions to the lack of funds conundrum.

  1. Participate in survey research. Survey research and data collection companies look for participants to conduct their research. The hours are flexible and the qualifications to participate are minimal. 
  2. Donate plasma. Because of the time commitment involved with being a regular plasma donor (up to two hours and sometimes longer per donation), donors are compensated for their time. Plasma donors can earn between $20-$35 dollars per donation. Check out for a list of donation centers in your area. 
  3. Sell your photos. Stock agencies look for photographs to sell online. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to sell your pictures, so if you have some skill with a camera, why not give it a shot? Some sites to peddle your wares include and
  4. Turn handmade into profit. If you stitch, build, bedazzle, or paint for fun, why not try to turn a profit on your unique goods?, the place to buy and sell all things handmade, is a great market place for the crafty type. Alternatively, craft fairs and niche stores may be good places to earn some extra coin. 
  5. Participate in a clinical trial. No, this is not advice to be a guinea pig for some mad scientist’s experiment! This is an opportunity to help forward scientific research, plus, participation offers a few perks for you. While some studies do pay, others offer access to new research treatments and free expert medical care at leading health care facilities. offers a list of federally regulated trials with built in safeguards to protect participants. While some trials are for more serious medical issues, some are not. A friend of mine participated in an acne study in college that earned her $400 dollars for applying a topical acne treatment to her face twice a day and keeping a written record of how her skin reacted. Be sure to talk with your primary care physician before participating in a clinical trial. 
  6. Join a focus group. A focus group is a type of research method involving an interactive round-table discussion, usually made up of a small group of people with shared interests who come together to evaluate a product or service. Incentives for focus group participation usually include savings coupons, product samples, or cash. Some companies, like Saurage Strategic Marketing Research, even offer online focus groups so you can earn more from the comfort of your computer. 
  7. Mystery shop. Mystery shoppers or secret shoppers are paid to shop and report back with an evaluation of their experience. While this gig won’t earn you much money, the hours are flexible and the longer you stick with it, the bigger the perks. 
  8. Freelance writing. Word wizards can earn more money by using their talents to score side gigs. Have a portfolio ready to show prospective clients and set your rates with help from a handy resource like Writer’s Market. 
  9. Go green, get green. Recycling may not earn you a ton of money, but you will be doing your part to help the environment. Also, recycling aluminum cans or newspapers can be a great way for your kids to earn their allowance. Visit to find recycling centers in your area.

These are just a handful of ideas on supplementing your income. While many of these gigs won’t earn you a fulltime salary, the extra money can be a great asset if you put it towards an emergency savings account or use it to save for a big purchase, vacation, or retirement. Can you think of any more creative ways to earn extra income? Leave a comment – we’d love for you to share your ideas with us!

Alexis Holloway is a former copywriter and e-Commerce Coordinator for MMI.

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