Nine Realistic Ways to Make Money While Unemployed


cash in hand

(This is a guest post by Michael Bock, staff writer for Lifed. There he writes about life hacks, health, finance and productivity tips.)

Chances are, if you’re reading this, that you are either unemployed or woefully underemployed. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate (at the time of this publishing) holds stubborn at 9.1%—and that’s not even accounting for those working only part-time and those who’ve all but quit looking.

Becoming a millionaire with any of the following propositions is very unlikely, but once you find the right niche, you can substantially bolster what you’re already making (or not making).

1. Freelance Writing

Got a good grasp on proper spelling, grammar, and style? Consider working for a number of online entities that are willing to shell out some green for your knack. Clients typically pay per word; a 400-500 word document (e.g. blog posts, press releases, product reviews/summaries, how-to’s and so forth) may fetch anywhere from $4 to $18, depending on the buyer and/or the quality of your work.

TextBroker, Demand Studios, Helium (to an extent), and are great examples of the organizational type;, I’ve found, is home to a virtual gold-mine of ‘independent’ clients.

2. Write Your Own eBook

Granted that you possess exceptional English grammar skills, an interesting, unique style (enough so to hook, bait, and sink readers/customers), and sufficient knowledge and/or expertise on the topic, writing and selling e-books may be your forte.

  • Determine your strengths and related experiences: Choose a topic.
  • Crucial to marketing an e-book is demand: Are there people that have the need and want to invest time and money into acquiring and reading your material?
  • Is it fiction or non-fiction?
  • Determine your book’s overall tone, diction, length, and style.
  • Craft a title and opening. This is a critical task, as it serves as the familiar bait & hook for readers. Rosy bait entices readers and the hook effectively gets him/or her to want to read the book; the remainder of the book (the guts) is the sinker.
  • Your first e-book will allow readers to become acclimated to your style and determine if they find your info worth their time: Specifically, is it engaging, addictive, and purposeful? If not, change the topic, your style, marketing technique, or a combination of, therein.
  • Consider your target audience before writing an e-book; carefully select demographical targets based on criteria such as: age bracket, gender, socioeconomic background, reading habits, personality and so forth.

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. As you research e-book publishers (you can also learn to do it yourself, cutting out the middle man), you will find an abundance of other relevant information. Riches won’t be had overnight, but with dedicated persistence, you can easily turn a five-figure residual income writing E-books.

3. Consider Becoming a Power Seller on Ebay

Ebay’s one of the web’s oldest, largest websites; it practically invented the idea of online auctioning. And today, around four million people make a regular or supplemental living off buying and selling on Ebay. You could even do some wholesale business with online goods supply to find products to sell. Just be aware: As such, the competition is pretty fierce.

4. Flipping Web Sites

And no, this hasn’t a thing in common with flipping greasy burgers. This strategy, already employed by thousands of successful (and some, well, not so much) people, involves creating quality, engaging, functional websites and then selling them for a profit.

First, find a suitable host—free ones like Doteasy or Angelfire are great for beginners who’re starting from scratch. For more media-intensive sites (e.g. HD photos/videos), upgrade to a paid hosting service (e.g. GoDaddy). Second, begin creating a site (or network of sites, depending on your time requirements and resources) that’s centered on around a ‘high-demand’ topic.

Additionally, it’ll prove extremely valuable to have a good working-knowledge of the following:

  • HTML, although having HTML 5 experience is becoming increasingly more valuable.
  • CSS (‘Cascading Style Sheets’, a language very akin to but slightly higher-level than HTML).
  • JavasScript
  • SEO (‘Search Engine Optimization’, which is a set of techniques that helps your site become more prominent in search engine results.

5. Similarly, Monetize Your Current or Future Website/Blog

In light of a treasure trove of profitable advertising options—e.g. Google AdSense, Adbrite, ClickBank—and exponentially more ways to drive traffic to your site, collecting payments every month is practically effortless once you maximize the site’s traffic potential, which is (essentially) inextricably linked to ad value. The more traffic and overall higher net worth of your site, the more dough advertisers will shell out for space.

6. What’s Your Forte? What Can you do Better Than Most Others?

Face it: People with solid, in-demand marketing skills (be them social-, product-, or service-based) typically find it a helluva lot easier to find gainful work—either “official”- or, cough cough, under the table, hidin’ from Uncle Sam-style—than those with naught.

7. Become a Human Guinea Pig

Okay, so this doesn’t sound particularly flattering, right? Allegory aside, though, think about participating in medical research. Depending on your location, age, health status and other factors, you may be able to:

  • Donate plasma up to twice per week for cold, hard cash. (Check here for availability).
  • Participate in clinical trials of pharmaceuticals; often, these are listed in venues like the paper and Craigslist.
  • Take part in medical studies on the human body; weight loss trials tend to be more lucrative.
  • Become a test-and-research subject if you suffer from any type of ailments e.g. arthritis, depression, insomnia, or even the common cold.

8. Rent Stuff

This may be one of the more unconventional methods of earning residual income, but it works if you have the right resources. Have a spare room in your house or apartment? Rent it out: Even share household expenses. Just make sure you draft a written lease that’s signed by both parties that includes the rent amount, duration of stay, security deposit (if applicable), and all other stipulations.

9. Carpe Diem: Steer Clear of Scammers and Don’t Get Hoodwinked into Believing Unrealistic Claims

This concept won’t make you money, per se, but it’ll likely save you from losing it.

Google the phrase “how to make money” in a different window or tab: Go ahead, try it. Out of the 900 million websites that Google spits out, 99.9988% of them are guaranteed to be: A. flat-out scams B. include popular get-rich-quick schemes like MLM (multi-level marketing) or PPC (pay-per-click) marketing C. “guarantees” of X-of-thousands of dollars in extra income—provided that you first send them money or buy something , or D. include many sites that simply regurgitate the same old ambiguous, cliched knowledge that’s been floating around the web forever.

The Bottom Line

Think practically. Realize that you aren’t gonna rake in millions or even hundreds-of-thousands of dollars a day. By the same token, though, aim high. While some skills will always prove more invaluable and lucrative than others, there are always ton of (often unseen or unheard of) ways to make more money.

For more practical tips on dealing with unemployment check out our other postings on this topic:

Getting unemployment insurance
Helpful Tips For Dealing With Unemployment
Actions To Take When your Unemployment Check Runs Out

Photo by stevendepolo

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10 Responses
  1. I think some of these are good options even if you just want to make money on the side, but they aren’t super easy to start. For instance, monetizing a blog to get a decent income can certainly take awhile. But they are good options.

  2. I used to donate plasma for the cash. The plasma donation place was in a bad neighborhood, and most of the people there looked pretty rough. It’s also fairly time-consuming; it wasn’t uncommon for me to have to wait 2 hours just for my turn to donate.

    1. Fin Engr


      One thing you can do is sell your body to science. So for example you can participate in studies or research in return for extra money.

  3. alex

    – Making Money: be willing to move out of state or country for a few years or longer if a job opportunity presents itself.
    – Saving Money: it’s a ton easier to spend money than it is to make it. Always use or fix what you have first, and buy only as a last resort.
    – Prices: pay attention to prices and how they differ my location and time. Buy low.

  4. […] When you are broke and unemployed, nearly any legal means of making money is better than not having any money at all. Embracing part time jobs and gigs allows you to put more money in your pocket while still having time to pursue and apply for jobs in your field. People are always looking for others that can help watch their children, fix things around their home, or help with a home improvement project for a nominal charge. Many small businesses have been created because a person found a market for a task that others were willing to pay them to do. in fact, here are nine more ideas if you want to make some extra money while you are unemployed. […]

  5. So how do you know which tools to use and how to use them.
    Use those keywords in the title and body of your articles around 1-2% (1-2
    times per 100 words). The internet is packed full of ways to make money online but you can easily find
    yourself drowning in the sea of information that is out there about all the different methods that are available to make
    your mullah.

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