How to Make Money

Who Knew You Could Make Money Doing THAT? 52 Super Weird Ideas to Inspire You

Updated March 28, 2016
by Steve Gillman
Contributor

I’ve written about hundreds of interesting and strange ways to make money.

Previous TPH posts have covered starting a headstone cleaning business, working as a restaurant cliff diver, and strange jewelry you can sell (like bird poop earrings!).

Our posts also include lists of the strangest things ever sold and bizarre businesses (with more here and here).

As we start a new year and consider how to bring in extra cash, it’s time once more to look at weird ways to make money.

Some of the following ideas might be worth trying if you’re looking for another source of income. Others, well, let’s just say they make for interesting reading.

So for entertainment or entrepreneurial inspiration, here are some weird ways to make money you might want to consider…

1. Sell Jellyfish

Jellyfish may not be the cuddliest pets, but there is a market for them, and they’re not cheap.

In fact, the least-expensive kit on JellyFishArt.com costs $330. For that, a customer gets one jellyfish, a small tank, and enough food to last for three months.

What other aquatic life could you sell? If you’re thinking of being the first to sell pet oysters, you’re too late.

2. Communicate With Dead Pets

As a medium, you help clients connect with people who have passed away.

But psychic Lisa Miller says, “Animals, both living and deceased, are eager to connect also!” An hour-long phone consultation costs $125, but Miller offers clients a $25 discount if they submit a testimonial to BestPsychicDirectory.com.

If you’re already considering our first money-maker and you’re psychic, you could offer afterlife communication with deceased jellyfish for owners who buy from you.

3. Win Cash as a Professional Eater

If you’ve seen eating contests on TV, you may have wondered if you could make a living with this “sport.”

Maybe. Just look at the list of upcoming events on MajorLeagueEating.com, and check out the list of competitive eaters on Wikipedia. Several have won more than $100,000 in prize money.

Boil 50 eggs or hotdogs and start practicing (on second thought, that sounds too dangerous).

4. Become a Professional Weight Loser

After you end your competitive eating career, you can win big money betting on your weight loss with Healthy Wage.

Your potential prize money depends on how much you bet and your personal data. Healthy Wage explains, “We give bigger prizes to people who statistically have a harder time losing weight.” At the moment, the maximum prize is $10,000.

5. Paint Dumpsters

There are two kinds of dumpster painters. Industrial painters like Noll’s Dumpster Painting in Pennsylvania and Container Painting Repair in Maryland show up on business data sites like Buzzfile.com and Manta.com.

But maybe you prefer to join the ranks of “true” artists, who are sometimes paid to paint murals on dumpsters.

6. Review “Sensitive Content” for Google

Somebody has to check out questionable YouTube videos. One man, profiled on BuzzFeed, had to watch “sensitive content,” videos which included pornography, suicide and bestiality. He worked alone — and eventually needed therapy.

After a year as a contractor for Google, he had to either be let go or hired full-time. They let him go and suggested he get further therapy. On second thought, maybe you’ll want to pass on this one.

7. Become a Lice Removal Technician

As a lice removal technician, you can make $30 per hour plus travel expenses, according to a Craigslist posting by LiceDoctors.

You’ll be an independent contractor, but Lice Doctors will train you in how to use their “all-natural 100-percent-effective” methods. You’ll need to make house calls, and you’ll spend up to five hours on each one.

8. Get Paid for Your Sperm

A recent posting for a sperm donor on Simply Hired had these very specific requirements:

  • GPA of at least 3.4
  • Considered very attractive and athletic
  • 5’10 or greater
  • Have blood type: A+, A-, O+ or O-
  • Attend a 4 year college or hold Bachelor’s degree (or greater)
  • At least 50% Italian (Southern Italian/Sicilian a plus)
  • Have had only female sexual partners
  • Be able to substantiate the above
  • Interest in football, mathematics and history added plus

If you met the requirements, you could have received $6,000 and a promise that, “there would be complete confidentiality involved and you would be legally absolved of any on-going responsibilities.”

9. Get Paid to Wear T-Shirts

Jason Zook (formerly Jason Sadler, Jason Headsetsdotcom, and Jason SurfrApp) made money wearing promotional T-shirts for clients. On his website, IWearYourShirt.com, he says he worked with over 1,600 companies and organizations.

He has since moved on to other marketing projects, so maybe there’s room for someone to start another T-shirt-wearing service.

10. Trade Your Way to Riches

Montreal resident Kyle MacDonald turned a paperclip into a house through a series of trades.

The basic idea was to keep trading up for something of more value. MacDonald traded his red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, which he traded for a fancy doorknob, which he traded for a camping stove, and so on, until, less than a year later, he had traded up to a house.

Do you have a paperclip?

11. Give Away a Book

After buying a beautiful house for $17,500, I wrote an ebook on how to buy cheap homes. Sales were almost non-existent, so I put the chapters on a website and gave the book away by email, with a link to a new chapter each week. The website made over $100 monthly from Google AdSense for years.

That’s just one way you can make money giving away books.

12. Sell Your Friendship

I previously reported on how to rent your friendship, and RentAFriend.com still claims you can make up to $50 per hour on their platform, plus get free meals, concert tickets and more.

And don’t worry; RentAFriend.com says it’s “solely a platonic friendship website only.”

13. Sell Pet Rocks

The pet rock is back!

Of course, you might be infringing on a trademark if you try to sell your own, so invent the next best-selling gimmicky gift. For example, a “pet hat” might be more cuddly and functional.

14. Sell Effigies

In Ecuador, people celebrate New Year’s Eve by burning effigies. Street vendors sell thousands of effigies of politicians and cartoon characters; my wife and I bought a Bart Simpson to burn when we were there.

The burning of effigies has more negative connotations in the U.S., which is why there might be a market for political effigies any time of the year.

15. Sell Weird Toilet Paper

The weirdest toilet papers include rolls printed with games, camouflage designs and bright colors.

Maybe there’s room in this market for more products, like toilet paper printed with household tips and other reading material.

16. Be a Muppet Social Media Manager

As previously reported on The Penny Hoarder, someone gets paid to tweet for Miss Piggy and post on Facebook for Kermit the Frog.

Which other fictional characters might need you as a social media manager?

17. Manage Facebook Pages for the Dead

Now that Facebook allows users to designate a “legacy contact” to manage their pages after they die, there might be a market for providing this service.

There’s no sign of these businesses popping up yet, but if you’re already a social media manager, you could add this service to your offerings.

18. Rent Your Shed

I once built a shed for $200 and rented it out as a bedroom for $200 per month. It’s not that unusual; I lived in it for a while so I could collect more rent from the rooms inside the house, and The Tiny Life has discussed living in a shed as a housing alternative.

Of course, you can also rent out your shed as storage space.

19. Be a Human Guinea Pig

The Penny Hoarder has reported on how to make money as a test subject more than once. Most of the time the pay is low, but at one time you could get paid $5,000 per month to stay in bed. Let’s hope that opportunity comes up again.

20. Run a Dog-Kissing Booth

An article on the Huffington Post on this strange way to make money includes a collection of photos of dogs in kissing booths.

Selling dog kisses is typically done to raise money for animal rescue groups, but who knows? Maybe your dog’s slobbery kisses could make you some serious cash.

21. Be a Train Pusher

If you have the job of “oshiya,” or “train pusher” in Tokyo, you use brute force to push people into the subway and train cars, to squeeze in as many as possible. But watching oshiya in action is a bit disturbing to those of us who don’t like crowds.

22. Sell Your Hair

Yes, you really can sell your hair, and sometimes for big money. HairWork.com claims one woman sold her hair on their site for $4,000!

TPH contributor Crystal Koenig reports she made a more modest $80 selling her hair on eBay.

23. Make a Million-Dollar Website

Alex Tew created the Million Dollar Homepage in 2005 and sold space on it for $1 per pixel. News coverage brought advertisers and others who wanted their piece of fame.

In five months, he made over $1 million, having spent less than $100 on the website. The site is still there, but to replicate its success you’ll probably have to come up with something new.

Maybe you can start the first invisible link site, where users click randomly on a blank-looking screen to see where they go (OK, I’ll stick to writing).

24. Play Video Games for Prizes

Kurtis Ling, also known as Aui_2000, makes a living by playing video games competitively. He was rated the 13th highest-paid gamer worldwide, but his recent $6.6 million prize in the International Dota 2 Championships may have bumped him up the list.

A look at a list of games that award prize money shows that there are still millions to be made. Plus, professional gamers often enjoy perks like free accommodation and gaming systems.

25. Collect Dog Poop

Yeah, nobody really wants the work, but numerous businesses come to people’s homes to clean up dog poop in the yard.

If you aren’t sure you’re ready for a business, Doody Calls is looking for workers at the moment. Hiring help as soon as possible would be my primary goal if I owned one of these businesses.

26. Be a Professional Sleeper

CBS News and others reported a couple years ago that Hotel Finn in Helsinki was hiring a professional sleeper to test and review their rooms.

There haven’t been many reports of hiring for this position since then, but perhaps you could approach hotels and offer your services.

27. Spiritually Cleanse Houses

Spiritual house cleansing seems to be catching on, given the many examples of the service I found online.

If you want to make money doing this, it might help to have the name “Lisa.” The first four examples of spiritual house cleansers I found were Lisa Schell, Lisa Norton, Lisa Marie Rosati and Lisa Williams.

28. Test Condoms

Steve Abbott is a full-time condom tester, but his is a laboratory-based position.

A few years ago, Durex recruited 5,000 condom testers to “try Durex condoms, have sex and then give us feedback about their experiences.” But all those testers got were free condoms and a chance to win £500 cash.

Anyhow, professional condom tester David Wynter says “sometimes it feels like too much work and too little play.”

29. Repurpose Things

Project Repat, a company started by Ross Lohr and Nathan Rothstein, brought in over $1 million in 2013, according to Inc. The company sells products made from “upcycled” T-shirts, like quilts.

Hmm… What could you upcycle or repurpose to make money?

30. Provide Laughter Therapy

Enda Junkins founded LaughterTherapy.com, where she offers services as the “Laughing Psychotherapist.” She sells DVDs, videos and books, gives speeches, does workshops and provides therapy.

She has a master’s degree in social work and is a licensed clinical social worker. If you’re simply an un-degreed comedian, you might sell similar services, but talk to a lawyer about where the regulatory line is.

31. Take Selfies to Sell Clothes

On Stylinity, you can download an app, upload photos of yourself and tag the clothes you’re wearing. When users like what they see and buy the clothes, you get a commission of up to 20% in the form of points you can redeem for cash and various products.

At least, that’s how CNBC explains it. It’s difficult to find any information on payment on Stylinity’s website.

32. Be a Professional Whistler

If you can you whistle well, you might make money with your skill. For example, Whistling Tom performs at events and has had his whistling featured in television commercials.

To prepare for your new career, you can watch a professional whistler workout on YouTube and listen to professional whistler Robert Stemmons on NPR.

33. Clean IMAX Screens

Working on a large-format movie screen is not your typical cleaning assignment. In fact, not many cleaning companies can handle an IMAX dome.

That’s why Michael Quaranto and Andrew Brown started 1570 Cleaning Services. As Quaranto explains, cleaning an eight-story screen involves special patented equipment and can take up to eight hours. You also have to travel quite a bit if you do this work.

34. Try Virtual Gold Farming

Some people earn their own gold in World of Warcraft, while others just buy it. Buyers are supplied by virtual gold farmers in China, according to the Guardian.

Hundreds of thousands of workers may be playing various games to earn virtual gold and other items that are sold by their employers to gamers in other countries.

Interested? A documentary on Chinese gold farmers suggests that although some workers enjoy playing, the pay is low and the hours long.

35. Sing Strange Songs

Matt Farley has produced 14,000 songs, according to Business Insider, singing about anything from news headlines to songs about going to the bathroom. He fills Spotify and iTunes with songs containing popular keywords, and makes money when people listen.

He recorded his song “________, Will You Go to the Prom with Me?” 500 times, with a different name each time. It wasn’t fun, he said, but he made $23,000 last year from his songs. Start singing!

36. Be a Hangover Helper

Hangover Helpers cleans houses (mostly for college students) and provides Gatorade and breakfast burritos the morning after parties. They say, “Your house will look cleaner than it has all semester.”

They charge $20 per roommate, which seems too cheap for putting up with hungover people in a party disaster zone. Maybe there’s a market for a similar, but more expensive service.

37. Be an Ice Sculptor

You’ve seen those fancy ice sculptures at events, and maybe you’ve wondered if you could make them too.

But how much can you sell them for?

Most ice sculptors don’t publish prices online, because each job is different. But the price list for Sculpted Ice Works starts at $425 to $475 for a single block sculpture and goes up from there.

38. Test Ice Cream

Professional ice-cream-tasting jobs are not an urban myth. In fact, Dreyer’s official ice-cream taster, John Harrison, samples 60 packages of ice cream daily.

He grew up in a family that worked in the ice cream industry, though; it’s not clear how an outsider would go about getting hired for one of these jobs.

39. Provide Strange Subscriptions

I covered sock subscriptions on my post about weird businesses, but there are many more strange subscription possibilities.

For example, the Dive Bar Shirt Club sends members a limited-edition T-shirt “from the best of America’s most interesting and unusual dive bars” each month. The subscription costs $22 monthly.

Think of some other odd thing people will subscribe to (apples, underwear?) and you might have a business!

40. Provide Services to Pot Smokers

Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington, there are opportunities to make money offering new services.

For example, Forbes magazine recently reported on the rise of pot-friendly hotels and marijuana tourism companies.

A simpler way to tap into the market is to provide information online, which is what ColoradoPotGuide.com does.

41. Be a Restaurant Cliff Diver

Casa Bonita is a real restaurant, not just an invention of South Park, and yes, there are people diving off cliffs inside.

If you’re willing to scramble up and jump off artificial cliffs into a small pond, you too can be a restaurant cliff diver.

42. Sell Your Future

Mike Merrill “divided himself into 100,000 shares and set an initial public offering price of $1 a share,” reports Wired. He sold close to 4,000 shares and kept the rest as non-voting stock. Investors decide his future and make a percentage of whatever profits he makes apart from his day job.

But Merrill’s girlfriend was furious when investors got to decide whether he got a vasectomy, since children might negatively impact future money-making projects, so there are some negatives to selling your life.

43. Provide Doggie Daycare

TPH has reported on the business of pet siting, and most of the work involves visiting animals in their homes.

But there is also a demand for drop-off pet daycare. Even PetSmart has doggie day camp, so owners can leave their pets somewhere safe while at work.

For about $100 you can get certified in dog daycare and start offering your own service.

44. Be a T-Rex Puppeteer

If you’ve ever seen the Tyrannosaurus Rex or Triceratops come to life at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, you may have wondered how those giant “puppets” work.

The museum employs more than a dozen puppeteers who operate the animals, sometimes from inside. Now you know what to do with that master’s degree in puppetry.

45. Pretend to Be a Patient

Fake patients, more formally known as “standardized patients,” are used to train new doctors. It’s essentially an acting job, as explained in NPR’s profile of Gabrielle Nuki. The 16-year-old is paid $15 to $20 per hour to play different roles while medical students examine her.

If you can act and don’t mind being poked and prodded by aspiring doctors, you can look for this work at a number of medical schools.

46. Be a Snake Milker

Venom “milked” from snakes is sold to labs where it’s used to make antivenin, and to develop new drugs for treating various heart problems.

Snake milker Ken Darnell works with about 200 deadly snakes and hopes to keep milking snakes the rest of his life.

But before you go apply for the job, keep in mind how dangerous it is. Jim Harrison, a snake milker at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, has been put on life support four times from snake bites.

47. Paint the Mackinac Bridge

Are you comfortable working hundreds of feet in the air? If so, you might qualify to be a painter on the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan.

This is probably steady work, considering it’s taking 20 years to paint the bridge. But it’s also dangerous; at leas one painter has fallen to his death.

48. Make Your Pet a Supermodel

If your dog or cat is as cute as you think, it may be time to cash in. Winning competitions is one way to make money with Kitty or Fido, but making your pet a YouTube or Instagram star may be an easier route.

Some pet owners have made as much as $100,000 doing this, and their pets sometimes get advertising deals with major brands.

49. Cuddle With Strangers

You can make $60 per hour as a professional cuddler. Portland-based cuddler Samantha Hess limits her workday to five clients, making $300 per day when her schedule is full.

Holding hands, snuggling in bed, and cuddling on the couch are allowed, but no hanky-panky — Hess taps clients two times to indicate they are doing something that makes her uncomfortable.

50. Sell Deer Pee

Sam Collora is a pee farmer. He has a herd of more than 100 deer (and a few elk), from which he collects urine. He sells the urine for $15.50 for a two-ounce bottle. It’s bought by hunters to attract deer.

Not sure you have room for a herd of deer? You could sell other animals’ urine. For example, Predator Pee sells everything from bear to coyote urine. If your dog is part wolf, you might be ready to go.

51. Sell Your Coffee Mugs

The Penny Hoarder recently covered selling your coffee mugs on eBay, and you might be surprised by how much they go for.

A coffee mug from Disney World can sell for $50 or more, and some collectors pay more than $250 for specific mugs. Check those cupboards!

52. Get Paid to Cry

Professional mourning “is a mostly historical occupation,” according to Wikipedia.

But Rent a Mourner, in the UK, currently supplies “professional, discreet people to attend funerals and wakes,” and my wife tells me it is still a common practice in her native Ecuador. So maybe it’s time to start crying all the way to the bank.

Your Turn: What’s the weirdest way you’ve made money?

Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).

by Steve Gillman
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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