15 ways to make extra cash fast

Underemployed and looking for a solid side gig? Our siblings at Time Out New York have rounded up a dozens of options worth exploring. Many are NYC-specific (and don't worry--we'll be putting together a similar package especially for Chicago readers soon), but some are opportunities we can take advantage of here, including the following 15: BABYSIT. SERIOUSLY. Parents used to trust nearly any teenager to look after their kids (we know, they hired us). But these days many prefer college-educated tot-watchers and will pay as much as $35 an hour. To get in on it, upload a profile to babysitters4hire.com. If local parents like what they read, they’ll contact you with jobs. Just leave your boyfriend at home this time. Prerequisites: Patience, clean background check DOG-, CAT- OR HOUSE-SIT. Members of Sitter City (sittercity.com) pay for access to a database of baby, pet and house sitters. Create a profile billing yourself as the outlandishly responsible angel that you are, and those in need will come to you. House-sitting tends not to pay, but you’ll get a free place to stay, so see “Rent your apartment.” You’ll make $10 to $20 a day cat-watching; doggy-care wages can reach $25 to $50. Prerequisites: Accountability, love for animals BE A PHONE-SEX OPERATOR. Dirty talkers typically earn 50 cents per minute of talk time, or a flat fee of $16 to $20 per hour. Requirements include a landline (no cell phones), a computer with Internet access and the ability to not giggle uncontrollably at unusual requests. Start your new career by looking into options at phonesexprofessionals.com or sexyjobline.com. Foreign accents are in demand, so let a company know if you have—or do—a good one. Prerequisites: Sexy voice, no qualms USE AMAZON’S MECHANICAL TURK. Named after an 18th-century chess-playing device, this service (mturk.com) lets companies pay people to do simple tasks—like judging if two items in a search engine are the same, or coding a subject category for websites. Each listing has a reward amount from a penny to $5. Have your earnings transferred to an account, or redeem them on Amazon.com. Prerequisites: Time, immunity to boredom SCALP TICKETS. No need to lurk outside concerts and games: Sell tickets through StubHub (stubhub.com), a site that lets you charge whatever price you want (legally) for in-demand tickets. The site e-mails you when a buyer bites. You’ll get 85 percent of the total sale. Prerequisites: A good nose for what’s gonna sell out TUTOR FOR STANDARDIZED TESTS. You have to be committed for this one because the application and training take quite a while. To teach for Kaplan Test Prep (kaptest.com), you need to have scored in the 90th percentile on the test you want to teach. After you attend the required 20 hours of training, you’ll start at $20 bucks an hour. That’s the same fee you’ll earn with the Princeton Review (princetonreview.com), where you have to take a 30-minute test and give a five-minute lesson audition. If you pass, you begin a 30-to-60-hour training program. Prerequisites: good test-taking skills, teaching skills, humility WRITE OTHER PEOPLE'S ONLINE DATING PROFILES. Believe it or not, there’s an actual business, Profile Helper (profilehelper.com), that interviews clueless daters and charges them $69.95 to revamp their dating profiles. Your four-year-old could do that! Okay, so maybe she couldn’t, but you certainly could. Clever up your Facebook page to advertise your profile prowess; post info about your service on OKCupid (okcupid.com), MySpace and Craigslist. Charge $30 a pop and tell your successful clients to pass the word along. Bonus: For more money, offer to snap flattering photos. Prerequisites: good grammar, thoughts beyond “walks on the beach” PLAY ONLINE POKER. At any given time, there are a gazillion players looking for a game of Texas Hold ’Em on sites like Poker Stars (pokerstars.com) and Poker Room (pokerroom.com). One player who asked to remain anonymous tells us he made more than $65,000 playing in his spare time over the course of the past three years. “The key to making money is playing multiple games at once. Sometimes I play eight games at a time,” he says. “I like to play in the evening—more people are on their computers, so you have a better chance of matching up with less experienced players.” Prerequisites: poker skills; luck BE A PART-TIME PERSONAL CHEF. By day, Molly Kincaid is the editor of an online magazine. But because the 28-year-old loves cooking, by night she’s started working as a personal chef. “I’m always buying expensive ingredients and then inviting friends over to eat,” she says. “So I figured I should be doing this for a living.” She posted an ad on Craigslist in late December and has already lined up two regular clients. She charges $50 an hour—less than the going rates for chefs with culinary degrees—and works two to three hours a night. Her advice: Offer to grocery shop, since that can be intimidating to the culinarily challenged. And avoid dishes that involve kitchen gadgets, because if a client is so pressed for time that they’re hiring a personal chef, chances are their utensil drawer will be bare. Prerequisites: Knowing “White Castle” is not a food group SPOT TRENDS. Trend Hunter (trendhunter.com), a website used by bloggers, marketers and journalists to tap into fashion, tech, business and social spheres, employs thousands of trend-spotters to create its content. Join for free by writing a profile with info about your professional background and personal interests; then, when you come across new trends (off-the-shoulder dresses; urban farming), upload photos, videos and descriptions. The site shares ad revenue with its finders, so people who post frequently can make $200 monthly. Prerequisites: Internet access, time to spend trolling the Internet TRANSCRIBE INTERVIEWS. Most writers—especially Ph.D. students and all those newly freelance reporters without interns—will give their souls to have someone else type out their interviews. Transcribers advertising online charge by the hour (from $12 to $25) or by the minute of recorded conversation (around $1). List on Craigslist or mediabistro.com. Prerequisites: Typing skills SELL YOUR PHOTOS TO STOCK AGENCIES. Corbis and Getty Images are the biggest, but if you’re not an established pro it’s hard to break in. Instead, try Shutterstock (submit.shutterstock.com), for which magazine editors and graphic designers pay a monthly fee to download images. Each time a subscriber downloads one, you get 25¢. Prerequisites: Photography background BE A CHACHA GUIDE. ChaCha (chacha.com), the service that responds to random questions via phone calls or texts, hires guides to send out answers from home. To apply, take a quick test on the website to determine your research prowess. We got info about becoming a guide via text, of course: “I was lucky enough to make Top Guide and now make 20¢ a text. Thanks for asking!” Prerequisites: Google-ish speed in finding answers to weird questions CREATE AN ONLINE STORE. At CafePress (cafepress.com), you can create shirts, posters and bumper stickers and sell them to the site’s 11 million users. Each item has a base price; you decide the markup. When someone buys a product, CafePress prints it and ships it, and you get a check for your total markups once a month. Tamara Remedios, whose day job is running Restaurant Week in Hoboken and Jersey City, started a popular customized T-shirt store on CafePress called Wear My Name in 2001, on which she spends about 25 hours a month. Her average markup is $6, and her busiest months net about and about 300 sales. “I put everything I make in a bank account and go on two to three vacations a year,” she says. Prerequisites: creativity SELL YOUR HAIR. Okay, so it’s a Les Miz–style desperate measure. But if you’ve got the tresses and the desire to chop ’em off, why not make a little cash while you’re at it? You post photos and a description on The Hair Trader (thehairtrader.com), then wig and extensions makers bid on your locks. Recent sales include 25 inches of black hair that went for $800 and 16 inches of never-dyed blond hair that went for $600. Cosette never had it that good. Prerequisites: Good health, drug-free lifestyle (for serious!), long hair

Follow us

Time Out Chicago on Facebook   Time Out Chicago on Twitter   Time Out Chicago on Instagram   Time Out Chicago on Pinterest   Time Out Chicago on Google Plus   Time Out Chicago on Foursquare   Time Out Chicago on Spotify

Send tips to:

Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)