25. Make music
You're not going to pay the bills playing all those open-mike nights, but musicians who put their talents to use during daylight hours as a teacher just may be onto something. "On average I spend about 20 hours a week teaching," says songwriter-producer Joe Hanley (joehanleymusic.com), who has been promoting his piano-teaching skills for five years through music-matching service encoremusiclessons.com While a mastery of your chosen instrument is a given requirement, a knack for working with various personality types is essential. "A good teacher is a good psychologist," says Hanley, who charges $35 to $60 per session, depending on lesson length and location (Hanley holds sessions in students' homes as well as his own UES apartment). Music teachers across the state can advertise their services for free for one year on musiclessonsnewyork.com, a new site created by piano and guitar teacher Francis Hurley to help musicians build a client base. "Potential students contact teachers directly through the website via the secure e-mail service," notes Hurley, who says that most teachers earn between $25 and $40 an hour. "This allows students and teachers to negotiate their own conditions without the interference of a third party."
26. Write what you know
Spend your days as a mechanic? Lived your life in Astoria? Have a passion for Native American history? If you've got writing chops, 10 to 15 hours a week to spare, and you consider yourself a true "expert" on some topic, you can make more than $675 per month as a guide or $500 as a contributing writer to About.com. "Good writing and research skills are important, but really being excited and interested in your topic is critical," says Heather Cross, About.com's NYC travel guide since 2002. "Otherwise, there's no way to sustain the long-term passion it takes to keep at it long enough to make the work-reward balance pan out." Visit beaguide.about.com to determine available topics and submit your rsum. But remember: "The more general interest a topic is, the more competitive it will be," says Caryn Solly, About.com's training and guide operations manager. "The writing positions we have available for more niche subjects, like Argentina travel and 3-D technology, are less competitive because fewer people are qualified to write about those subjects."
27. Help a brother out
With few traditional bank investments offering yields of much more than a measly one percent, earning income on your savings is a thing of the past. Until now. Platforms like LendingClub.com and peer-to-peer lending site Prosper.com cut out the middleman (read: the bank), allowing you to invest in your fellow Americans (loaning money for small business start-ups, debt consolidations or just about anything else for which a consumer might be seeking cash). Though the premise of these two sites is similar, the difference is in the details: Borrowers receive an initial outlay of $2,000 to $25,000 over a period of one, three or five years, with investors contributing as little as $25 per loan. Most Lending Club investors begin with $2,500, but can also start with as little as $25. Since Jason Lampert started investing with Prosper in December of 2009, "I've been netting (with default losses and fees) about 12 percent," says the Sunnyside, Queens, resident, though he does note that that return is taxable. Perhaps that's why at LendingClub.com, tax-deferred IRAs are a popular option. Both sites give investors the choice of playing loan officer to individual loan-seekers or rolling all their dough into an automated plan (the most popular choice) in order to diversify. Though stock market volatility and low interest rates on traditional banking investments are what pushed freelance software designer Jack Krupansky in the direction of peer-to-peer lending two years ago, he also relishes the opportunity to "stick it" to the big banks that caused the current financial crisis. Krupansky, who lives in Manhattan, suggests starting out conservatively: "Remember that there are real people taking out these loans. Yes, do your best at due diligence, but even if somebody has a great job and decent credit score, they could lose their job at any moment and quickly start defaulting on all of their debts."
28. Rent—or sell—an apartment
"It's always a good time to get into real estate, particularly in the New York metro area," says New York Real Estate Institute managing director Eric Barron (nyrei.com). "Someone is always buying, selling or renting." But making the transition from renter to rental agent requires a license. That's where NYREI comes in: Licensing courses range between $395 and $540 and can be completed in as little as 10 days, with night and weekend classes available to fit every schedule. And once you've earned your license? More than 100 of the top real estate firms recruit from the NYREI talent pool. "There is a huge range as to what people earn their first year," says Barron. "A person focusing strictly on rentals and working their butt off should earn in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 the first year. A person who brings a little more business experience to the table and is able to work on a few sales can push the six-figure mark."
29. Show off your green thumb
If you know how to wield a watering can and can rattle off the lighting needs of a ficus, spend your day among some greenery. "Horticultural knowledge and great desire" are the keys to success in this industry, says Eve Luppino, partner and sales-and-design director of Manhattan Plant Design Experts, which provides installation and care services to more than 200 commercial clients, including the Mets, Duane Reade and Bobby Van's Steakhouse. The company is currently hiring—and willing to train the right person—for an estimated $20,000-to-$25,000-a-year paycheck for full-timers; apply online at manhattanplant.com.
30. Show off your trivia prowess
Bragging rights aren't all that are at stake when you enter into the cutthroat world of trivia competitions. There's cash to be won too. One of the city's toughest competitions, the Big Quiz Thing, is also one of the most lucrative, with a grand prize of $200 and $100 for the runners-up (it's also hosted by TONY's copy chief, Noah Tarnow). Idiots have a chance too: You can earn Smart-Ass Points for your totally incorrect (but absolutely funny) answers. Visit bigquizthing.com for upcoming events and registration details. On Mondays, head uptown to Trinity Pub's weekly trivia event that culminates in a $50 prize (9pm; trinitypubnyc.com).