Pokemon Go is Free — But We Found 9 Smart Ways to Make Money Off It
This post has been updated to reflect that a Lure can only be placed near a Pokestop.
I confess: I don’t know what a Pokemon is, exactly. I also don’t want anyone to explain it to me, but thank you, anyway.
But I do know that where there’s a craze attracting thousands of people of all ages, creeds, shapes and sizes, there’s money to be made.
So if you’re wondering what to do this weekend while everyone you know chases video game monsters around town on their smartphones, here are some clever ways to make money off Pokemon Go and join the fun -- even if you’re not playing it.
1. Drop a Lure or Incense at Your Garage Sale or Lemonade Stand
Local retail businesses, bars and restaurants have caught on fast.
They’re placing Pokemon Go Lures at their shops to attract players (dubbed “trainers,” because they’re catching, caring for and training Pokemon for battle).
Even if you don’t run a business, you and your family can attract some patrons to your weekend side hustle by placing a Lure if you’re near a PokeStop, or using Incense anywhere. These attract Pokemon to your location.
Those Pokemon, in turn, will attract trainers, who may want a break or a quick refreshment to refuel for the day’s hunt.
If you rent a stand at a local farmers market or flea market, you could attract some extra business the same way. Just be mindful your stop doesn’t encourage eager trainers to gather in the way of shoppers who want to enjoy the rest of the market!
2. Run a Refreshment and Recharging Station
If you don’t want to lure players to you, go to them!
Running around parks and neighborhoods all day with an augmented reality game running full blast isn’t kind to a phone’s battery.
Help keep the game Go-ing by setting up a recharging station at a popular park or other hotspot.
Set up a table with a portable power bank (or a few), and charge a few bucks to allow players to recharge their phone’s batteries. You could even run an extension cord to your house or garage, or set up a generator outside if the space allows it.
While you’re there, help the players recharge, too!
Offer refreshments like bottled water, granola bars, trail mix and other snacks. Stock up in bulk at Sam’s Club or Costco, and you could a make a profit reselling them.
Without a permit, you may have to rely on donations to earn money instead of direct sales. Be sure to check the rules in your area before setting up shop.
3. Sell Photos and Videos of the Action
Have you seen blogs, news stories and social media covering Pokemon Go over the past few weeks?
They need unique photos of the action!
Enjoy an afternoon at your local parks, and snap photos of players gathering -- I promise you’ll see them. Contact the photo or images editor at your local news outlets to sell them, or upload them to the live news marketplace at Alamy.
The craze isn’t going away anytime soon, either, so consider selling some photos through stock photography sites for evergreen use, as well.
But make sure when you’re taking pictures of people -- even in public -- that you know whether your intended use will require a model or property release. Come prepared with your documents in a model release app.
4. Coach Local Businesses on How to Make Money
Are businesses in your town lagging behind this trend? Offer to catch them up.
For a small fee, you can explain the phenomenon to local business owners and teach them how -- and why -- to place a Lure to attract trainers. If you’re teaching them well, they’ll understand how quickly they can make their money back.
Help groups of local businesses work together with pub crawls or scavenger hunts to attract patrons all over town.
The fee is up to you. Depending on your relationship with the business owner, you could ask for around $25-$100 for 30-60 minutes of your time. Or take a free meal or a few drinks.
5. Offer to Watch Kids or Pets
You could also offer to watch kids, or walk or feed dogs for your friends who want a few free hours to hunt Pokemon.
Earn $20-$40 for an afternoon of hanging out with another soul who doesn’t care about the game. If you don’t know anyone with children or dog-children at home, try DogVacay to find pet-sitting jobs in your area.
On the flip side, you could chaperone groups of younger players, so reluctant parents don’t have to spend Saturday afternoon hunting Pika-whatevers when they could probably use some rest.
6. Make Money Off Your Pokemon-Hunting Prowess
Whatever the game, you’ll always find players who want to get ahead as fast as possible, without concern for the journey. And they’re willing to pay for it.
If you happen to be a top-notch Pokemon trainer, you could sell your services to others who don’t have the time or energy to hunt on their own.
Or you could give up your account altogether for a pretty penny. One Pokemon-loaded account sold for $1,500 on eBay, Gizmodo reported. But they had Magikarps, so, you know. You’ve gotta be good.
7. Drive Players Around
Sure, fresh air and exercise are great incidental benefits of a video game that incorporates your real-life surroundings.
But some players aren’t able to walk for extended periods due to injury, disability or other factors -- and you can help!
Offer your driving services via gig sites like Craigslist, TaskRabbit or Fiverr -- or just post it on Facebook. Drivers in major cities are charging around $20-$30 per hour, according to Gizmodo.
8. Get the Best Gigs
The work is different between these sites, but the strategy for earning money is the same: Find well-paying gigs you can complete quickly.
The more work you can turn around, the more money you’ll make for your time.
While other Taskers and Turkers are occupied with Pokemon Go, take the opportunity to claim some of the best gigs and earn extra money this weekend.
9. Sell Custom Walking Sticks
Remember all the walking I mentioned? Add to it that being rustic and artisanal is so in right now, and you’ve got a prime market for walking sticks!
Harvest free wood from your own or a friend’s property or public land, and whittle one-of-a-kind designs to appeal to Pokemon Go players.
Offer them for sale at a recharging station, or take custom orders to match each trainer’s character. Depending on the skill involved, your sticks could go from anywhere between $8-$10, or up to $60 if you find a real die-hard fan of the craft.
Your Turn: How are you getting involved in the Pokemon Go craze?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).