Getting paid to draw pictures in the sand.

Becky Blanton wrote introductory letters to women who answered a dating ad. Kerri Hopkins analyzes names. Dimitri LaBarge shoots videos with titles like “How to Start a Glee Club” and “How to Play Bingo.” Stefanie Strobel will sells personalized messages drawn on the beach.

The one thing they have in common: All four found and/or deliver these gigs online.

Selling yourself on the Internet is the topic of my most recent Living With Less column on MSN Money. “Need cash? Make extra money online” is a peek at some, uh, unusual jobs as well as the usual writing and editing freelance gigs.

“Freelance” is often construed to mean “writing,” but it ain’t necessarily so. For example, Web design is a very hot skill right now. But you probably have something to offer even if you’re not familiar with Strunk & White or HTML. Somebody will pay you to translate a document from Danish to English, knit a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, act as a virtual assistant or roll around in public screaming his name.

That last one was actually a service offered, on Fiverr. The point is that you likely have a skill – including the ability to embarrass yourself cheerfully – that someone will pay to obtain.

But can you live on it?

The freelance life has its drawbacks. Ask me how I know this. But it may be just the ticket for:

  • Those whose options are limited by personal circumstances (family, health, location)
  • Those living in areas already overstocked with their particular skill set
  • Those with a specialized product in a small or economically depressed region
  • Those who want to appeal to the widest potential marketplace (especially true for crafters)

Can you support yourself through online gigs? Maybe. Becky Blanton does; so did a young designer I interviewed who’s made $170,000 in two years working from his Los Angeles apartment.

What’s more likely, though, is that the income will get you through a rough patch, bring in some extra cash or augment your family’s income if you choose to be an at-home parent.

One woman I interviewed works full-time and saves what she earns selling custom handbags on Etsy to augment retirement funds. Her husband’s company no longer matches the 401(k) and her job provides has no retirement planning at all.

Anyone else out there freelancing part- or full-time, in any profession? If so, please offer any suggestions you have for those who might be considering it.

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5 Comments

  1. Wow, I love this. And I was just about to blog on Making Income, Anyway You Can, lol……………Now if only I were more tech savvy.

  2. I agree. You don’t have to be tech savvy. I answered a Craigslist ad for a businessman who was too busy to find dates and too busy to keep up with dating online. He needed someone to write all those “Hi, I like your smile,” introductory letters to women he was interested in. On eHarmony and Match.com etc. you might write 100 letters before getting 10 answers. It’s time consuming work – especially for someone who is not a writer! Being a former journalist (and cop), I checked him out, found out he was legit and agreed to the arrangement. It paid well and benefited us both. Once women responded to the intro ad I was off to the next photo. He had a lot of dates and I had a lot of income!

  3. I have not sold blood or watched porn. But, I am open to income-making opportunities.

    I actually wrote for a guy on a dating site. He was a friend and would not have paid me or anyone else. That is one reason he is over 50 and never married–cheapskate of highest order. And wealthy.

    Right now, I am editing two books for two different people who cannot afford to pay me. I know, but I like them both.

    One good friend who promised to pay me has stiffed me for $750 and threatened to have me arrested for asking for money I am owed!

    I helped translate original Romanian fairy tales in 2002 and have not seen a dime so far. And, the guy has not published anything!

    Writing for an online magazine is a present project. However, I only get an advance and the owner of the yet-to-be-published mag is not paying me, except for the first month. This will probably be the only writing I have done so far that will actually pay. I trust her.

    I have no problem finding writing work. I just have trouble finding writing work that pays!

    At this point, I will embarrass myself if it pays…LOL.

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  1. A Ton Of Ideas For Making More Money | Minting Nickels - [...] Getting Paid to Draw Pictures in the Sand from Donna Freedman.  And see also her expanded article on MSN …

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