These side gigs will help you pay for beer, chips-and maybe even rent.
BOOK BIG PROFITS. For one Chicago-based deal-making dynamo, his side job’s appeal is in the thrill of the deal. The 29-year-old scavenges books at thrift stores or used-book sales for little or no money and resells them on amazon.com and half.com. The zealous bookseller will clear about $4,000 this year, which hardly eclipses his day-job income as an attorney. Still, he’s seeing dividends: “[My wife] and I went to Montreal,” our anonymous entrepreneur says. “I was able to make enough over four or five months [selling books] to pay for our entire trip.” He spends “shockingly little” time on his minibusiness; an hour and a half a week. “Hourly, I don’t know that I make any less than I do at my regular job,” he boasts. Finally, a way to make lawyer money without going to law school! —Ruth Welte
Prerequisites: Scavenger mentality
GIVE STYLE LESSONS. Heather Kenny (773-898-3131) makes $100 to $150 an hour helping clients look sharp. As a personal stylist, Kenny finds out what makes customers look and feel good, then shows them how to achieve that look themselves. “Education is a big part of my job,” Kenny says. “I go through their closet and find out what looks best on their body, then show them what they should look for, how to find quality basic items, how to save money on trendy items.”
Prerequisites: Fashion consciousness
CUT THE CLUTTER. Type As with an eye for organization can make $40 to $125 an hour sorting through other people’s messes. Erin Kelly, head of Arranged by Erin (773-490-3760), offers closet- and paper-management services as well as education programs designed to help clients with ADD and ADHD stay organized. “Working with another professional organizer is a good way to learn the basics,” but you can also take classes through the National Association of Professional Organizers Chicago (312-409-5523).
Prerequisites: Aversion to filth
WALK IT OFF. Terry Sullivan, owner of Walk Chicago Tours (708-557-5400), says guides earn $20 per person for a walking tour of the city. While newbies can get certification through the Chicago Tour-Guides Professionals Association (2993 Old Tavern Rd, Lisle, 630-717-9004), the only things necessary to get your tour off the ground are a $250 business license and passion for the work. “You have to feel it in your soul,” Sullivan says. “That’s going to separate you from the other antiseptic guides that are speaking from a script.”
Prerequisites: Ra-ra attitude, business license
JOIN AMWAY. Amway sellers earn money by selling the company’s cleaning, skin-care and nutrition products but rake in even more by recruiting friends as sellers. The process is simple—Amway reps purchase any of the company’s 450 products, sell them off at about a 30 percent markup and bank an average $115 a month. Sellers also earn a cut (anywhere from three to 25 percent) of sales made by their recruits.
Prerequisites: $59 start-up fee, salesmanship, suggestible friends
OPEN A VIRTUAL BOUTIQUE. If you can make it, they will buy it. Thanks to sites like CafePress.com and Etsy.com, designers and crafters can hawk their goods to shoppers across the globe. Since 2006, Andy Witt and Nancy Pizarro, owners of Circa Ceramics porcelain shop, have made more than 1,800 sales through their Etsy store, with most items going for $13 to $350.
Prerequisites: Originality, craftsmanship
SCOUT FOR HOTTIES. Find the next Naomi Campbell and live off the proceeds. Newbies can break in by signing up to scout models through sites like newfaces.com (though the per-model commission is a laughable $15), or take the riskier DIY approach and try to peddle high-res shots of your wannabe models to firms like Chicago Top Models (180 N Stetson St, 312-268-5673)—which pay whatever amount you can finagle.
Prerequisites: Freakishly tall and waify friends, negotiating skills
HOCK OTHER PEOPLE’S STUFF ONLINE. It doesn’t seem like there should be a market for selling other people’s used crap online, and yet there is. Those with the patience to collect and list items on online auction sites can land a 10- to 50-percent commission. Cary Pfeffer, owner of I-Net Sales Partners (1953 N Clybourn Ave, 773-327-4900), says sellers are more likely to land a sale by listing across multiple venues. “We sell on eBay.com, Amazon.com and Overstock.com, which means higher fees (six to 15 percent of listing price) but bigger sales,” he notes.
Prerequisites: Storage space, patience
PIMP OUT YOUR APARTMENT AS A VACATION CONDO. A $249 fee gets you listed on vrbo.com—yes, it’s a chunk of change, but you might earn it back in a jiff. The site helps users rent their homes to tourists: While prices per night vary significantly from renter to renter, a two-bedroom, one-bath place in Lincoln Park will bring in $250 per night, and a high-rise two-bedroom penthouse downtown brings in about $300. If you can’t afford the listing fee, there’s always Craigslist.
Prerequisites: A sweet pad, $249, faith in mankind