These side gigs might not pay your tuition, but they're better than begging Mom and Dad for cash.
By Christina Couch and Jake Malooley|
FAKE AILMENTS It’s not exactly a Steppenwolf-caliber role, but out-of-work actors can put their chops to good use by playing “standardized patients” for University of Illinois at Chicago docs in training. Pay ranges from $14 an hour for a part like sprained-ankle sufferer to $25 an hour to front a more extensive medical history and undergo invasive procedures like a pelvic exam. Apply at chicago.medicine.uic.edu/grahamcpc/standardized_patients. Prerequisites: Have you ever faked a sick day for school or work?
SERVE UP YOUR EGGS The green may be sizable, ladies—$7,000 to $10,000—but so is the two- to four-month process to become an egg donor. At Alternative Reproductive Resources(2000 N Racine Ave, 773-327-7315), Chicago’s premier baby-making lab, that includes a 90-minute interview, a battery of physical and psychological exams, medication that stimulates egg production and, finally, the harvesting of your huevos with a fine needle. Prerequisites: Fertility, time, ID stating you’re age 21 to 28
BE A GUINEA PIG Want $75 to react to beer ads for 30 minutes? How about $150 to test drive a flashy new cell phone for an hour? Yeah, we thought so. Big companies throw around lots of cash to gauge consumer sentiment on everything from video games to Internet apps, and it’s time you got on the receiving end. Register your demographic information directly with market-research companies such as Schlesinger Associates(625 N Michigan Ave, 312-529-2131) or do the hunting yourself on findfocusgroups.com. “We’re not just looking for yes men,” says a Schlesinger rep. “If you hate Diet Coke, they want to know why, too. Honest, articulate answers are the key to best results.” Prerequisites: Authoritative opinions, consumerist proclivity
PAWN YOUR PANTIESEbanned is a kinkified eBay where people auction every fetishized object under the sun, from defiled marshmallows ($5 for one) to a few ounces of breast milk ($19). Recently, a local gal we spoke to made $30 after posting two pairs of old underwear on the site. Did she feel degraded? “No! It’s a service,” she says. “If a guy’s willing to pay to sniff my panties, I’ll make some money off it.” Prerequisites: Internet connection, no qualms
GO TO THE DOGS On weekdays, busy 9-to-5ers don’t have time to pamper their pups (and pick up their poo). Agencies such as Chicago Dog Walkers(2215 W Cortland St, 773-394-9961) assign employees regular routes that usually include seven to ten dogs. Most of the 20- to 40-minute walks take place between 10am and 3pm, and compensation varies from $200 to $300 a week (plus tips), for as little as 20 hours of work. Prerequisites: Must love dogs (and their doo, too)
BUSK, BABY The city’s vampiric fee-and-fine policy also applies to street performers—a $100 license is required to take your show onto sidewalks and El platforms. More unique or conceptual acts draw larger crowds and bring in more bucks, so don’t think you’re gonna get rich strumming Dave Matthews covers. On average, busker Jason Trusty’s traveling menagerie, Puppet Bike, brings in $75 in an evening, and a bucket-drumming brigade camped out along State Street or Michigan Avenue pulls down $150 to $200 a day. Plus, that Tin Man–Michael Jackson dude on the Mag Mile always seems to be raking in cash. Prerequisites: Showmanship, license to rock
SPILL SEED To be blunt: You’re gonna yank your crank anyway, so better your little soldiers end up in a lab cup than on your girlfriend’s good towels. After passing an exam that tests for infectious diseases and drugs, donors at Midwest Cryobank(4333 Main St, Downers Grove, 630-810-1201) squeeze out a couple dozen deposits—$25 each—over several months. Each donation room has extensive “inspirational” reading material (sorry, no vids). Prerequisites: Healthy sperm count, willingness to whack
PUMP OUT PLASMA You can’t spend a sugar cookie, so skip regular blood drives and donate plasma, the yellowy stuff blood cells are suspended in. To donate, bring a photo ID, Social Security card and a piece of mail to Interstate Blood Bank(3324 W Lawrence Ave, 773-478-2989). After a series of blood tests, you’ll get $20 to $30 for a single two- to three-hour session. Prerequisites: Healthy lifestyle, love of needles
TREND SPOT Thanks to trendhunter.com, making money is as easy (or as hard) as being on the cutting edge of culture. Just create a profile (it’s free), then start blogging (with pics and videos, of course) about any trend you come across. Blog posts range from roundups on sexy bike helmets to photo-essays on morbid secondhand-smoke billboards. Frequent posters can earn up to $200 monthly. Prerequisites: Peeled eyes, passion for blogging
TEST YOUR HAIR METTLE If you’re still maintaining that Tawny Kitaen-in-a-Whitesnake-video ’do, why not profit from a long-overdue haircut? Post pics and a description on sites like thehairtrader.com and hairwork.com, and wigmakers may bid on your mop. The longer and more exotic your mane, the better. Twenty-one inches of never-dyed red hair recently fetched $1,000. Prerequisites: Long locks, willingness to part with them