Like any legit financial genius would do, I’m always evaluating and re-evaluating my money situation. A few months back I took a look at my cash flow and realized there was no actual flow, just a rapid bloody hemorrhaging. After calculation upon calculation, I finally figured out what was happening. I hadn’t been on the receiving end of “income” in about 10 months. Apparently money only flows one way when you don’t have any coming in.
After squeezing every penny out of my stock market plays, my online gambling website and any family members who were dumb enough to believe that I was self-producing a movie and needed donations, I did what any person would do as his last resort for income: I got a job.
Over the past four months I’ve been making lead generation cold calls for a software company from my couch. It’s part-time work that nearly covers my monthly living expenses. When I agreed to this job (which is way, waaaaaay below my qualifications as a former sales wunderkind, but that’s another discussion for another day), I liked the plan. Work about 20 hours per week, have enough time to continue pursuing my writing, and make enough money that my savings account status goes from “rapid hemorrhaging” to “controlled bleed.”
And so far it’s pretty much worked out how I expected. But soon enough there will come a time when I probably want to make more money than “just enough to come up short of my living costs.” Isn’t that every American’s dream?
Here are some of the supplemental job opportunities that I’d be willing to consider to bring me from “voluntary poverty” to “upper lower class”:
- Los Angeles Apartment Hunter: This isn’t an actual title of an actual job, but I bet there are people out there willing to pay good money to have someone go to an apartment they’re potentially looking to rent and check it out for them. Let’s say you’re relocating from the East Coast but won’t have a chance to come look at apartments yourself. You could pay a stranger to visit the apartment, ask questions, take pictures, survey the safety of the neighborhood and haggle with the landlord about the security deposit. It wouldn’t surprise me if this type of job already exists. And I’d totally do it, but I’d get fired almost immediately. You know how I know that? Because last week a friend who is coming to LA for two months asked me to look at an apartment in West Hollywood that she might rent. And like any good friend, I helped her out. She asked for pictures and a general sense of the safety of the complex and surrounding neighborhood. I ended up getting about 14 good pictures of the living room, all from the same angle. No pictures of the bedroom or bathroom. One picture of the roof deck, but somehow I missed the pool and hot tub setup. I essentially asked zero questions to the woman who rents the place. And I spent the whole time thinking about how much it sucks that a five-mile drive home from this apartment might take 45 minutes. So while I think this could be a good part-time job, I just don’t think I have the eye for detail that’s needed for success.
- TaskRabbit Task Master: Are you familiar with this company, TaskRabbit? Probably only if you live in one of the nine cities they currently serve. It’s basically a forum where people who need a task done for them post a request, and then someone agrees to do that odd job for a certain amount of money (grocery shopping, yard work, delivery of 50 buffalo wings to a group of drunk poker-playing guys). So if you’re feeling lazy, you can post on the website that you want someone to buy your groceries and deliver them to you. And for about $40 (plus the cost of the groceries, obviously) someone will arrive at your house a few hours later with your grocery list fulfilled. The randomness of these jobs is endless. And if you spend some time on the site, you’ll see that there is quite the range when it comes to making money. I could make $300 one day by helping someone move out of his apartment, and then $15 the next day by delivering cupcakes to some unemployed weirdo who’s too lazy to get off his couch (though seeing someone who is an exact replica of me might be a mind-numbing experience). This idea has some potential, except for the fact that I don’t have a car most days, and I’m a little concerned I’d be the unlucky person who goes to clean someone’s gutters and it turns out he’s a psychopath who wants me to give him a handjob instead. Let’s move on.
- ChaCha Answer Master: The lazy man’s version of TaskRabbit. Instead of getting paid to perform odd jobs that may take you out of your house, you get paid to find answers to random questions people have while sitting on your couch. So if you’re at a bar arguing with a friend about how Grady Little should have never gotten another managing job in Major League Baseball after his 2003 meltdown with the Red Sox, and the friend says Grady Little never did get another job in baseball, you can text your question to ChaCha (242-242) and some fat slob will research the correct answer and send it to you within minutes. Why you wouldn’t just google the answer from the bar is beyond me, but this company exists so plenty of people must be going to it for answers. You may be surprised to know that I actually was a ChaCha answer person for a little while in 2010. But after spending about seven hours spread out over three days answering questions for all the idiots who use the service, I found out I had only made like $3.10 total. I decided it probably wasn’t the most lucrative job I could find at that time. I don’t think I’d consider this again unless I suffer a terrible injury and literally cannot leave my apartment.
- Company Name Thinker-Upper (aka “I Steal Your Money Right From Under Your Nose”): I stumbled upon this industry when I was researching a company for my current part-time job the other day. The company is Namella, and their value prop is that they’ll come up with the perfect name for your new company in 72 hours for only $97!!! It immediately struck me as a bold business venture, mostly because I think it’s absolute bullshit to pay someone to come up with your company name. You’re an entrepreneur, right? A creative, think-outside-the-box type of person? And you can’t even think of a good name for your company? On Namella’s customer success stories page, they give examples of the great names they’ve come up with for existing businesses. “John wanted a name that reflected his company being a real estate company but that it was a professional one that you would be glad to seek out. 72 long hours later, we came up with ‘ProSeek Properties’.” Or… “Janet wanted people to know that her technology services really are unlimited, so after a few all-nighters with the creative team here at Namella, we came up with ‘Limitless Tech Solutions’.” Brilliant! Hey, if people are dumb enough to pay you hundreds of dollars for you to not add any value to their company, by all means you should take it. That’s why I’m happy to announce my new business venture. It’s called “Ross Names Your Company Because You’re Too Stupid To Name Your Own Company.” Fortunately for my new customers, I only charge $96 and promise to give you the new name within 71 hours of your payment (*71 hour commitment not guaranteed if an important Boston sporting event is happening within that time period).
- Online Gambling Addict: On the one hand, I did make over $1,500 last year during football season on a combination of fantasy leagues, elimination pools and yes, online gambling. But on the other hand, it took five months to make that money, and football is the only sport that I know well enough to consistently make a profit. So the next step would be playing online poker all day long for money. Tempting, no doubt about it. I knew some guys in college who would constantly have four separate poker games going at once, and they made thousands of dollars by basically being patient and playing the odds. Unfortunately I don’t know the odds, don’t have the patience, and I’d feel like such a loser when my girlfriend came home from work every day to find me on my 11th straight hour of poker, hoping and praying that I make $100 before the night’s over. College Ross should have done this instead of going to those useless journalism classes.
- VOLCANOOO!!: OK, the name of the job isn’t volcano. But whenever I think about waiting tables one more time, the first thing I think of is my interview at RainForest Cafe in San Francisco eight years ago. Since I worked at Pizzeria Uno (or Uno Chicago Grill, whatever the fuck they call it) for three years, I thought I knew what I was getting into with working at another chain restaurant. But RainForest Cafe went to the next level. Any time it was someone’s birthday, you’d have to bring out the volcano dessert and scream “VOLCANOOO” at the top of your lungs until all the other servers joined you to sing the cheesy birthday song to the kid. And don’t get me started on their forest ranger uniforms. If I had taken that job, I would have absolutely stabbed myself in the neck with one of those sparklers that sits on top of the volcano. I’m pretty sure this guy wants to do the same thing:
So there you have it. My six best job opportunities right now, and they range from “undesirable” to “doesn’t actually exist as a job.” Perfect. I should have the cash needed for the tropical vacation I promised my girlfriend in no time.