Unproven Ideas and Proven Businesses and Jobs
By Steve Gillman - January 18, 2013
This page is a collection of interesting ideas for ways to
generate income. Some of them have been successful businesses
and some are just speculation at this point. Feel free to prove
the viability of the latter, or follow in the steps of those
who did the former. Or just enjoy reading about the odd ideas
and unusual jobs explained here.
I was interviewed by a former radio DJ who had lost his radio
program after twenty years. Now he is doing interviews and distributing
them online as MP3 downloads or "podcasts." Of course
there is all sorts of content you can make into a podcast, from
poetry readings to political ponderings to motivational speeches.
You can sell podcasts (it has been done), particularly if
they are "how to" guides of some sort, like an interview
with a successful stock investor on how to use options. But usually
you make money by advertising products in the audio itself or
on the website where it is given away.
When we were in Ecuador visiting family a few years back my
wife and I took a bicycle taxi from the bus station where we
arrived in Bahia to the docks a mile away, where we would take
a boat to San Vicente (there is a bridge now). It cost one dollar
for the mile-long trip. Of course the advantage of this kind
of taxi business is very low overhead and operating costs. It
also would keep you in shape.
Bicycle taxis are nothing new here. I even have a chapter
on them in my book, "101 Weird Ways to Make Money."
You can charge quite a bit more here in the states too. But in
case the bike taxi drivers here haven't yet gotten as creative,
I want to mention some of the things they were doing in Ecuador.
For starters they typically had a nice carriage cover so two
or three passengers could stay out of the sun and rain. Having
a radio or CD player was common, and we enjoyed the music. Later
we took a thirty-minute tour of the town for a few bucks. I imagine
you could charge $30 here. The drivers were willing to go pick
things up for you for a charge, or bring you to and from grocery
stores (you might have to lower the rates for these more practical
uses). In general they dressed up their bike taxis more elaborately
than the ones I've seen here.
A subscriber to my Unusual Ways Newsletter, who worked at
McDonald's, said he collects an extra fifty cents to a dollar
in change each shift from the ground around the drive-through
window. People drop change when paying and don't bother to get
out of the car to get it. More than twenty-five years ago I also
used to collect those coins when I worked in fast food. Not sure
if it would ever be worth going from restaurant to restaurant
to do so, although I have seen homeless people doing just that
to get enough together for their morning coffee.
Another subscriber read about my magazine recycling as a kid
and applied what he learned. As a child I took dirty magazines
from a newspaper recycling bin and sold them in school. After
reading about my experience this subscriber found a stack of
collectable magazines in a dumpster and quietly removed them.
He later sold them on eBay for a total of $150.
I've had a dozen or so radio interviews about my sites, and
the DJs have sometimes suggested ways they or people they know
have made money. I won't include a few of them, since these morning
"shock jock" shows can be crude to say the least. But
after one DJ mentioned a friend who made money as a sperm donor
I did some quick research online and found that donors are paid
anywhere from $40 to $200 or so, depending on several factors.
I put together a page with more information on this, which you
can find here:
Another of the DJs who interviewed me said his friend used
to work for a turkey processor. His job was to give each turkey
an enema before it was processed. This apparently prevents any
contamination of the meat. It's an unusual way to make money,
to say the least, and awful for the turkey too.
Ticket Vending Idea
Here's an unproven idea waiting for someone to give it a try
(who knows, maybe it has been tried, but I haven't heard of it).
In many small and medium-sized towns small bands play at bars
for the door receipts. In other words, the cover charge is theirs,
so they make a lot or a little depending on the turnout. If you
can recognize a group which is growing more popular, you might
arrange to buy tickets to their shows from them in advance and
then resell them.
The idea here is that since they never know if they'll make
much, you can guarantee them a certain amount by buying a certain
number of tickets cheap. You take the risk of selling them. For
example, if the cover charge for a show will be $10, and the
band gets to keep that cover charge, you might buy 50 tickets
for $4 each. The band knows from the start that they'll make
at least $200. You might sell your tickets for $8 each, saving
customers $2, and you only need to sell half to break even. After
that the rest are pure profit.
You want a band that is getting popular, and will give you
some kind of agreement. For example, with that first purchase,
they might agree to give you the option to buy the first 100
tickets for any show, at 40% of retail. The bar and the band
may like this arrangement, since you are now motivated to promote
Magic Show Business
There was a magician who performed on Friday nights at a popular
pizza parlor where we used to live in Colorado. He went from
table-to-table doing a few amazing tricks and making tips. I'm
not sure if he was paid anything by the restaurant, and the tips
probably weren't great, but that wasn't the point.
The idea of performing at places like this is to generate
business. He regularly had people asking him how much he charges
for a birthday or office party, and he always had a business
card ready for that moment. Doing magic tricks for money is a
fairly low-investment business to start. Of course, the time
invested to become good at it can be substantial.
Car Buying Consultant
A while back I read about a man who helped people buy cars.
He did this primarily for busy executives and those with handicaps.
First he talked to the client to determine what he or she needed.
Then, from a database of hundreds of models, he narrowed the
options down to a few which were most appropriate. At this point
he hunted down the best deals at the various dealerships and
either brought the cars to the client for a test drive (if the
dealership allowed this), or took the client to the sales lot.
He negotiated the best price he could for his customer, and said,
due to his experience, that he saved them much more than the
$200 fee he was paid.
As I recall, he claimed to have as many as 40 clients per
month (generating $8,000 in fees), but you would have to lower
that target for a smaller town. At some point I'll investigate
this further and do a page on the businesses if it still seems
viable. Watch the homepage of this site regularly or subscribe
to my Unusual Ways Newsletter if you don't want to miss that.