I saw an interesting article last week about a UK-based blogger called Emma Drew who is making an impressive income working from home on the Internet.
A little surprisingly, the article was on the Daily Mail (UK) website. It opens as follows:
A blogger who turned to online money-making schemes to make ends meet while unemployed has been able to quit her job after earning £100,000.
Emma Drew, 28, from Littleforth, Cambridgeshire now makes around £3000 a month from activities such as mystery shopping, risk-free betting and online lotteries, which she documents on her blog From Aldi to Harrods
Her husband Tony has also been able to given up his job to work alongside Emma, and the couple were able to splash out almost £30,000 on their dream wedding and honeymoon last year without a second thought.
Working from home is a particular interest of mine, and of course I write about such opportunities for my clients at More Money Review.
Quite a few of the money-making opportunities Emma pursues I also do myself, or at least I have some knowledge of.
I thought it might therefore be of interest to add my own thoughts, and also include hyperlinks where appropriate (for the most part these are not included in the Mail Online article). I have adapted the list of headings below from Emma’s Top Tips list in the article. Note that not all of these may be suitable for people living outside the UK.
Like Emma, I make money from my blogs in various ways. The most important is affiliate marketing. I do this in (I hope) a fairly low-key way, with occasional banner ads and affiliate links to products I recommend.
I don’t make a fortune from this, but some reviews have undoubtedly been remunerative. One review on my old blog (for the Brain Evolution System by Inspire3, if you’re interested) has made me over £5000 in commission since it was written.
I also have Google AdSense ads on my blog, although as they aren’t very prominent you would have to look quite hard to find them! Nonetheless, they earn me a few pounds a month as well.
I notice that Emma has about six different blogs, all targeted at extra income seekers. That seems a good way to boost your earnings, although of course it does involve a lot of extra work.
2. Matched Betting
This is one of those methods you can only apply if you live in a country where online gambling is legal. The idea is to make use of bookmakers’ special offers to generate a guaranteed profit. This is tax free in the UK.
To give you an example, a bookmaker might offer a £20 free bet as an incentive to sign up for an account on their website. Using the matched betting method, you bet on the opposite outcome as well on a different website, adjusting the stakes so that whatever happens you are guaranteed an overall profit. Emma has a more in-depth explanation of how the method works on her blog, incidentally.
I have only ever used this method in a small way myself, but it is perfectly do-able, and gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that you can’t take money from the bookmakers. You do need to be well organised and resist the temptation to place any speculative bets, however. In addition, over time the number of opportunities may diminish as you use up more and more of the bookies’ introductory offers.
Nonetheless, Emma seems to be making this method work for her. As well as the service she mentions, many members of the More Money Review website recommend another well-established advisory service called Bonus Bagging.
3. Complete Online Surveys
This is another genuine online moneymaking opportunity, but the rates of return vary considerably. In some cases you can end up being paid as little as 50p for a survey that takes over an hour to complete.
As I value my time more highly than that, I don’t generally do online surveys now. Still, if you have the time to spare, they can certainly provide a bit of pocket money. Here are links to Prolific Academic and MintVine, two survey sites recommended by Emma in the article.
4. Mystery Shopping and Research
This is a money-making method I haven’t tried, but the opportunities are certainly there for those who are interested. Nowadays they are typically based on smartphone apps, so if you don’t have one of these your options may be limited.
There are various apps you can download free of charge to help you make money. You are unlikely to make a fortune from any of these, but they can generate a useful sideline income for you.
Yoobic is one of a number of apps that pay smartphone users for performing simple research tasks in shops and other retail outlets. For example, you might be asked to take photos of products or rank a store’s marketing displays.
Missions (as Yoobic refer to them) typically pay between £4 and £8 for 10 minutes’ work, with payments via PayPal. If this prospect appeals, download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play, create an account, and search for missions near you. You can reserve up to ten jobs at a time, and must complete them by the stated deadline.
Streetspotr is another app for both iOS and Android that connects market research clients with users who carry out small tasks. Most tasks pay about £5, though some offer as much as £15. Jobs can involve anything from photographing supermarket product displays or checking restaurant menus to ordering a hot drink in a muffin shop!
Some apps are for iPhone users only. One such is Field Agent. Missions are sent via the app, and can include checking product prices in stores, taking photos, writing reviews, and so on. The company typically pays £4.50 per task, but it can be between £2 and £10.
Task 360, another iPhone app from the same firm, offers a wider range of tasks, and typically pays £5 to £10 for 15 minutes’ work. To download Field Agent and/or Task 360, just search for them in the iTunes store.
If you enjoy sharing your opinions, VoxPopMe could be for you. They will pay you for recording short (15–60 second) video clips on set topics on your smartphone. Payment is via Paypal once you reach £10. Both Android and iOS versions are available. One possible downside to VoxPopMe is that they say that they may use your video for their clients or themselves, and that they own the intellectual property in your video the moment you upload it.
Finally, Quostodian pays you to read offers and occasionally download an app onto your phone. You can earn extra by referring your friends and family too. The minimum payout is £10 via Paypal or BACS, with payments processed weekly. Unusually, in addition to iOS and Android, this app is available for Windows phones and Blackberries too.
- Emma’s number one recommendation for mystery shopping gigs is Market Force. She also recommends the website usability testing service What Users Do.
5. Write an E-book for Sale on Amazon
Clearly this is something that I do and recommend myself. You are unlikely to make a fortune publishing Kindle e-books (though it’s been known), but even a moderately successful title can generate a useful sideline income for you for years to come.
Two of my own Kindle e-books you might like to check out are my humorous sci-fi novella “The Festival on Lyris Five” and my guide for writers “Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay“.
6. Free Lottery Websites
A growing number of websites offer the opportunity to enter free daily or weekly prize draws, with the prizes financed by advertising. You simply register for each site and enter the details required, whether it’s your postcode, your birthdate, your phone number, or whatever. Then all you have to do is check them every day to see if you have won. Here are some of the top such websites:
Note that these lottery sites are generally open to UK residents only, but if you live elsewhere a search for “free online lottery” may prove productive.
The main site Emma refers to in this category is RateSetter. This is a person-to-person (P2P) or crowdlending service. In the case of RateSetter, you will be lending money to businesses rather than individuals (as with Zopa).
With all such services, your money is lent to a number of borrowers, and you receive interest plus return of your capital as the loan is repaid. Lending to businesses is arguably riskier than lending to individuals, but the potential returns are greater.
I don’t actually use RateSetter, but I do belong to a similar service called The Lending Crowd. I currently have around £1000 lent out to about 40 businesses, at an average interest rate of around 11%. So far there have been no defaults, but if this did happen I would still be doing a lot better than with a bank savings account.
Of course, the drawback of this type of service is that if you need all your money back quickly, it won’t be as straightforward as with an ordinary savings account. Nonetheless, in my view (and experience) if you have a bit of money you can afford to lock away for a while, this type of service can offer much better returns than a standard bank account.
- As mentioned, my own experience is with The Lending Crowd, and I am therefore happy to recommend them. However, RateSetter (as mentioned in the article) are a well-established company and currently offering a bonus of £100 with investments of £1000 and over, so they are definitely worth considering as well.
8. Buying and Selling
Although this is referred to in the article, it doesn’t say very much about it. But of course buying and selling, typically using online auction sites such as eBay, is a very popular way of making money from home.
Many people (including myself) start by selling things from around their home that they no longer require. If you want to turn this into a sideline business, of course, you will need to buy products cheaply (e.g. from a wholesaler) and sell them on for profit.
An excellent resource I recommend for online auction traders is Salehoo. This is both a directory of suppliers and a comprehensive training programme. You can read my full blog review of Salehoo here.
I’ve already mentioned that I make some money publishing reviews on this blog. In addition, I am paid by my clients at More Money Review to review home business opportunities.
Additionally, I am an Amazon Vine reviewer. That means Amazon offer me a wide range of products to review. In exchange for doing this, I get to keep the product in question. Over the years I have received some quite valuable products, including a lawnmower, a vacuum cleaner, and a £1000 mattress.
Unfortunately you can’t just apply to become an Amazon Vine reviewer. You have to wait for the call! However, if you regularly post product reviews on Amazon, there is a good chance you may be asked.
One thing I discovered from the Mail Online article is that there is a growing number of websites where you may be able to get free or heavily discounted goods in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon. The site mentioned in the article is AmzReviews. This is only open to UK residents, but you can find a long list of sites seeking reviewers for Amazon on this webpage.
10. Freelance Writing
Finally in the article Emma mentions freelance writing. This is obviously something I do as well, and it is still by a distance my largest source of income. I have a small number of regular clients, and others I work for occasionally when required.
I can’t really go into detail here about how to get freelance writing work, but one tip would be to apply proactively to any publishers or other potential clients you think you could provide a service to. To sustain a career as a freelance writer you really need a few clients who will keep you going with regular work rather than an endless stream of one-off projects. Any of the latter that arise will then be icing on the cake for you.
This post has gone on rather longer than I anticipated, but I hope you found it interesting. In addition, I do recommend reading the Mail Online article that inspired it, and also clicking through to read Emma Drew’s blog.
If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.