The National Center for Education Statistics noted that in the fall of 2012 just over a quarter of all post-secondary students were enrolled in some kind of distance education course, whether in conjunction with a campus-based class or exclusively online. It therefore seems only natural that earning money over the internet could be the next logical step. Jobs such as writing, design, data entry and teaching appear to be more obvious fits in an online environment, but what happens when a potential web-based worker doesn’t fit into those particular boxes? Well, the internet is vast, and there is room enough for everyone. The following list features ten moneymaking opportunities that might not initially spring to mind when considering an online job.
10. Virtual Juror
Picture a jury and perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is a panel of individuals inside a large courtroom, complete with judge, defendant, plaintiff and lawyers. But before those lawyers even set foot inside a courtroom, they may now have the option of having their case reviewed by virtual jurors, or “mock juries,” over the internet. A virtual juror need only be a U.S. citizen over 18 years old, and they essentially read through a given case summary and offer their opinion to the relevant attorney online. Based on the size of the documents involved – and the website they’re serving – virtual jurors might spend 20 minutes to an hour reviewing a given case and get paid anywhere from $5 to $60 for their input on it. Attorney Harold English believes that “no significant settlement decisions should be made without [an eJury].”
9. Rented Friend
“I now have an endless supply of people to contact to go with me to the movies,” says Steve from Arizona, a happy customer of the website RentAFriend.com. Indeed, the site boasts over 200,000 potential friends from which to choose, with each one charging between $10 and $50 an hour for the pleasure of their company. And it’s not just the movie theater, either. Rented friends can be hired for anything from a local shopping trip or a session at the gym, to going to a family wedding or even writing thank you notes. No qualifications are needed, and rest assured that this is a purely “platonic friendship” service, with buddies only available for “friendly activities.”
8. Golf Instructor
Job search databases such as Flexjobs.com will track down accommodating opportunities for any prospective online job seeker, but few could be expecting to become a work-from-home golf instructor. Surprisingly, it’s actually quite simple: golfers – from beginners to veterans – looking to better their game can use a website like FixYourGame.com to upload a video recording of a particular aspect of their game for analysis by a remote instructor. Feedback is delivered swiftly and can take the form of video commentary as well as emailed tips and advice. FixYourGame.com charges $19.95 per video lesson and $29.95 for a half-hour Skype session.
7. eMystery Shopper
Since the 1940s, watchdog groups and businesses have hired mystery shoppers to gauge caliber of service and adherence to regulations and protocol, among other things. Nowadays, industry leader Marketforce.com has access to some 300,000 U.S. agents alone. Moreover, although this general phenomenon is itself nothing especially new, it seems to work well in today’s partially anonymous world of e-commerce. Set-ups like eMysteryShopper – which only employs U.K. residents as its “secret agents” – have taken the tried and true mystery shopper concept online. Paid shoppers assist in observing and evaluating websites and submitting accounts of their browsing experiences, the returns procedures, general user-friendliness and the strength of the customer service. How? Via online surveys and videos. Plus, it’s not just shops; participants are compensated for contributing to forums and focus groups, too. Shoppers can expect to be paid at month’s end for any amount they earn above the minimum $25.
6. Virtual Nurse
According to a 2013 study published in science journal PLOS ONE, patients spend a staggering $2,168 on an average trip to the emergency room. However, virtual nursing services can provide an alternative to the traditional ER – and one that may not only end up being more cost-effective, but also open up a raft of new online jobs. Services like Carenet offer around-the-clock remote nursing support for healthcare organizations, boasting a staff of qualified nurses available over the internet as well as by SMS and voice call. Virtual nurses can expect to make around $30 an hour working full-time and are required to perform tasks such as diagnoses, triage and medical support. Carenet’s official website claims that only 35 percent of its customers end up in ER.
5. Personal Stylist
In April 2013 Forbes claimed that Keaton Row, an internet-based platform for personal stylist entrepreneurs, would “change the way you buy clothes online.” The company only asks that rookie stylists secure a professional network before gaining access to its roster of clients. Then it’s up to these new fashion advisers to set their own working hours and earn a monthly commission. Entirely online, the role involves creating unique “Lookbooks” from a selection of over 5,000 items and presenting them to clients. Keaton Row stylists hail from diverse backgrounds, and new employees even receive training and a mentor on their journeys to becoming full-time stylists – all without ever leaving their computer screens.
4. Vocal Coach
Richard Fink IV describes himself as a “celebrity vocal coach,” and he can boast having worked with clients who’ve performed on stages across the globe and been on national TV. Since 2008 he has been instructing the general public using online communication technology such as Skype and iChat, enabling him to reach clients just about anywhere. But voice training is not just the domain of more high-profile instructors like Fink. Vocal Coach websites are getting in on the act and earning money through PayPal with the help of little more than a webcam and a microphone.
3. Hair Seller
It’s a strange concept, but it’s oh so simple. Hair for sale. Sellers usually fasten their still-attached tresses into a tight ponytail, snip that off, slip it inside a plastic bag and then send it to a company that will make them an offer for it. With human hair coming in handy for fixing and constructing wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions, there are plenty of eager buyers, too. Naturally, it’s more of an occasional gig. However, it’s still possible to earn close to $350 a go selling human hair that’s 19 inches in length or longer to traditional companies like London, England-based Bloomsbury Wigs – via its hairharvest.co.uk website. On auction-style sites such as BuyandSellHair.com, hair traders can even set their own prices. And aside from such hair-for-cash schemes, there’s also a philanthropic possibility: donating hair to cancer patients.
2. Virtual Concierge
“Tracy is my angel,” beamed satisfied customer Claire Haas, following her experiences using myvirtualconcierge.co.uk. Such online remote concierges can find themselves doing anything from larger tasks, like bookkeeping or event-planning, for time-strapped businesses, to running smaller errands for individuals, such as watching the house or collecting the kids. The work is diverse, and social networking tools like Twitter are said to be helpful for gaining clients. Platforms including Skype and Google Talk are used for communications, while PayPal facilitates online payments. Usually, there are no specific qualifications needed to be an effective concierge; just good organizational skills and a host of more general relatable qualities. Virtual concierges may charge by the hour – earning anywhere from $20 to $75.
1. Fitness Coach
Web-based personal trainers are quietly becoming the next big thing, so now could be the perfect time for coaches slogging away in a hot gym to make the leap online. Earning potential depends on the trainer and can also range dramatically subject to the length and nature of the programs. Communication takes place predominantly via email, initial assessments are usually carried out in the form of online questionnaires, and the coaching itself may include videos and phone advice. There are, however, drawbacks for clients – the obvious one being that their trainer is not physically present – but it does work, with one woman claiming to have lost 87 pounds thanks to guidance from FitOrbit. The virtual experience is closer to traditional methods than one might assume, so an experienced coach should find it easy to transfer their skills online. That said, it is suggested that would-be digital trainers complete 12 to 24 months of face-to-face coaching prior to making the move into virtual.