Who needs a part-time job when you can get paid for seeking out smut, selling your hair, or sending text messages? Here are five ways to earn money online. They're all English-language services based in the US, and they allow you to earn money as often as you like, any time, any place.
There's something inexplicably appealing about earning an honest quid (or more usually dollar) without putting on trousers. (Why do you think I became a writer?) It's no surprise, then, that more and more people are happily moving toward the telecommuting - aka the "honestly dear, I was going to shower this morning" - approach.
Of course, the web's workforce isn't all business as usual; there are plenty of odd jobs filling the world's cyber-offices, too.
I tracked down five such money-making endeavours. Some of them are simply unconventional; others are downright bizarre. But all of them are perfectly legitimate, and all of them are things you could be doing this very minute.
1. Looking for rude pictures
Yep, looking up smut can make you cash. But not in the way you might expect.
Let's just get this out of the way now: You can't earn cash by clicking over to whatever sort of weird stuff you're into. You can, however, make a few quid by directing your prurient interests to a more productive place.
Meet CrowdFlower. Founded in 2007, the agency works with online businesses to help them handle random jobs - you know, like looking for nudie pics.
"Sites that allow user-generated content uploads often contract us to make sure porn doesn't get uploaded," explains Lukas Biewald, CrowdFlower's founder and CEO.
So how does it work? A business reaches out to Biewald and explains what kind of work it needs done. Biewald then turns to his workforce - driven by online staffing agencies such as Amazon's Mechanical Turk and LiveWork - to find the right people for the job.
Paula Harrell is one of those people.
"I've seen some funny pictures," Harrell says. "Some you had to zoom to see if they were revealing."
Another CrowdFlower regular, Andrew Engle, is a bit less coy about what he's encountered.
"It's nuts, man!" Engle laughs. "You'll see some dude in the background with his pants down or something. Sometimes I don't want to tell anybody what I saw!"
CrowdFlower's tasks pay anywhere from $1 to $40, depending on their complexity and how urgently they're needed. They aren't limited only to porn surfing, either: the agency also handles numerous other tasks such as address verification, data sorting, and social media analysis.
But those make for far less impressive pub conversations.
2. Hawking Your Hair
Darling, your locks are worth a million. It may sound strange, but people are actually making decent money by selling the strands right off their pretty little heads.
Sites such as TheHairTrader.com specialise in online hair sales. Anyone can post a listing for free, then potential hair-buyers - a title I'm guessing people don't proudly display on their business cards - bid on the soon-to-be-chopped tresses. (Most use the hair for wigs, extensions, and dolls.) An average bundle brings in around $500, while the really impressive manes go for thousands.
The site's current sales record? A healthy $3,600 for 27 inches of "thick, gorgeously long, body-filled" hair.
It wasn't just length or body that made the $3,600 hair so special, though: According to its former owner, the fibers had never been dyed, permed, or mechanically dried. That's what people in the biz call "virgin hair" - yes, seriously - and hair-buyers are willing to pay a pretty penny for it.
Jamie Benzies is a proud hair virgin who's hoping to cash in. His 15-inches of curls are described on the site as "beautiful and thick tawny brown."
While Benzies says he's gotten a fair amount of spammy responses to his ad, he's also attracted some genuine interest - and he's optimistic he'll end up walking away with his wallet well-filled.
"I'm effectively making money for something that I was otherwise going to throw away," Benzies says.
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