Help! I Can’t Write and I’m Still Broke!

So you’ve read up on freelance writing and maybe you’ve even tried it a little – or a lot – and determined it just isn’t for you. However, you still need a work-at-home style job that can be used as a resource, is flexible, and doesn’t require frequent travel, consistent hours, etc. That’s okay! There’s still a lot you can do to round up some cash in a pinch or a second income on the regular.

Sell Stuff: eBay

eBay.com is only one way of making stuff turn into money, though it’s admittedly one of the most popular. The few tips I can give you from years of being a Powerseller are these:

Research to see if your stuff is worth anything. Look for similar products on eBay and bear in mind that people can ask whatever price they want, it’s the items that have *bids* on them that you should be paying attention to.

Take good pictures. Wipe off your cameraphone lens, set two pieces of 8×11 white printer paper in an “L” shape to make a faux backdrop and crop any non-item stuff out of the picture before posting. I recommend MS Office Picture Manager, go into edit, reduce size to “Web Large”, crop the sucker, and hit “auto correct” under coloring. Save, and you’ve got yourself an eBay-ready photo or photos (3-4 per item is good)

Don’t screw yourself on shipping. Pack up your item beforehand and weigh it (if you don’t have a postal scale, weigh yourself with and without the box on a bathroom scale, wii Fit board, etc and figure out the difference), eBay has a built-in page that lets you print your shipping label out on your home printer and leave it out for your carrier – no trip to the PO required. Pad your item with enough lightweight material – leftover packing peanuts, crumpled paper, etc – that nothing moves or makes noise if you shake it firmly back and forth, as that will protect it during shipping. Put all liquids/powders in a sealed ziploc bag to keep spillage and package issues at bay.

Sell Stuff: Phone-based Apps

If you have an android phone, good news! You’ve got yourself a little money-making machine.

Neilsen mobile app – get this sucker installed on your phone – it will rack up points, little by little, and in a couple of months you’ll have enough for a gift card. It’s not a scam, both my husband and I have gotten gas cards several times.

Bookscouter – this is my big go-to for selling stuff book-related. Essentially, the app uses the phone’s camera to scan barcodes of books, giving you a list of the top 40 buyback sites and how much they’ll pay you for them. This is best reserved for books in very good condition (no weird smells, worn pages, torn covers etc) and while the book buying companies will typically give you a pre-paid label to print out, you’ll still need to snag a box and tape to get it in the mail to them. Textbooks, naturally, pay the most but they aren’t the only books that are valuable!

GigWalk – this is an app that uses your geolocation to find “mini jobs” – things like going to a local store and taking a picture of a certain display – and pays out via Paypal as soon as the client approves the results, usually within a few days. Be sure to balance the cost of gas money/distance against the payout, and follow the steps exactly for the most success. Gigwalk is also available on iOs, as are apps called Easy Shift and Field Agent, which are very similar.

FieldAgent – Essentially the same thing as GigWalk.

Music Magpie – have CDs you don’t need? Use this app to sell them to a company that will give you between .50-$2 and up, depending on if they have a case and artwork with them.

Shopkick – this app gives you “kicks” or points for walking in certain stores, and scanning barcodes on particular items. It can be very lucrative as far as cashing out for gift cards to places like CVS, Walmart and Target, with low-end point turn-ins for $1 and $2 amounts so you won’t have to wait long.

iBotta – This program gives you money back for buying certain items – stack this with store sales and Sunday paper coupons and you’re looking at very discounted or FREE stuff sometimes. If you’re on public assistance for food, you can use this program to get (admittedly limited by brand) food for your household and a few bucks of gas money in the process. iBotta also has things like shampoo and conditioner and cleaning products, a handful of new things cycles in about every two weeks.

Do Stuff: Hijack the Writing Sites

Not all “writing sites” are strictly writing. Odesk and Freelancer, for example, frequently have jobs for data entry, assisting, etc. Do exercise caution, however, using the tips I covered in my Craigslist Scams post. If they ask you to put out money, free work, give them logins or passwords or use your logins or passwords to do reviews or post sales items on their behalf, the answer is NO. Mturk.com is another site that can be used to do small tasks like clicking certain types of pictures in a set for a few cents apiece, the result being that you build up credit that can be extracted to your checking account (you’ll need to get a free Amazon Payments account for this) or used to buy things on Amazon.com.

In addition to these resources, silverware and dishes can be looked up and potentially sold at Replacements.com, and large items like furniture can be sold on Craigslist.com. Quick money can be snagged through selling plasma, gold jewelry (sell at a gold jewelry seller, not a pawn shop), physical day labor at organizations like LaborReady and Manpower, and small jobs on Craigslist. If you don’t have items to sell or can’t physically work or give blood, even things as small as coca-cola points and Box Tops for Education on some food products can be gathered and sold.

I will add to this post as more opportunities arise, stay tuned!

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