Quirky

Quirky

Got an idea but don't know how to get it off the drawing board? That's what Quirky is for.

The site helps nurture inventions from initial concept through to manufacturing and sale. Not all ideas make it through - but Quirky aims to bring two new products to market every week.

In some ways, the process is similar to open source software design. Your idea is mooted to a community of users, and if it's successful they help with research, design and testing. Once the product goes to market, everyone gets paid.

Inventors get a little more than influencers - the community of users who develop the design.

Fiverr

Fiverr

What would you do for five dollars? The micro-working concept is stretched to silly extremes with Fiverr, a site that enables people to post ads that offer any service. The rule is that it should cost five dollars.

You'll find folks making Kermit the Frog birthday videos, creating one-minute voice-overs - even doing dream interpretation. This is the fun side of the Mechanical Turk concept. Users of the site can post their own requests for tasks too.

It's fascinating to see the gulf between what people are prepared to offer for $5 and what others expect to receive for that amount.

Elance

Elance

Elance is the most prominent of a new breed of sites that help prospective employers find freelance workers for creative projects. Designers, illustrators, copywriters, ghost writers, coders and developers all ply their trade here.

Companies and individuals place job listings on the site, soliciting bids from members of the community. Again, there's that competitive element, but it's not quite the scramble to the bottom that it might sound.

Good freelancers who use the service build a reputation on the site, using a system similar to eBay's star ratings, so employers can make an informed choice.

Videojug

Videojug

You could make kitten juggling clips for YouTube and hope they go viral, or you could set up a profile on Videojug and make videos that people want to see. The site specialises in video tutorials.

Although plenty are also on YouTube, Videojug automatically cuts contributors in on a share of the advertising revenue they attract. The more viewers you get, the more you'll get paid.

A feature recently introduced enables you to set up your own tutorial sites on Videojug too. So, if you have elite skills you can demonstrate in front of your camcorder, Videojug helps you turn it into cash.

Etsy

Etsy

If you've never visited Etsy, imagine a craft fair packed full of stalls run by hipsters. Etsy is a virtual version of that.

Sellers who sign up to the service build their own online shops full of handmade jewellery, knitted monkeys, repurposed knick knacks and art prints. For buyers it represents a way to find unique and quirky items. For sellers it's a distinct step up from marketing their wares on eBay; a specialist outlet with its own identity and branding that transfers onto its users.

Get on there while it's still cool, because it won't take long for Etsy to be trumped by the next trend in online arts and crafts.

Threadless

Threadless

If we won the lottery, it's quite possible we'd spend all the money on Threadless T-shirts. For designers, it's a superb showcase for wit and skills.

Again, there's competitive edge. You submit your designs and the community votes for its favourites. The most popular designs are made into T-shirts.

Why put yourself through all that when there are sites such as CafePress that enable you to start your own shop? Threadless gives you better exposure. It's like putting your video on YouTube instead of Daily Motion - you'll get more traffic, more hits, more kudos and more money. If your design is successful, you'll get $2,500.

Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Kickstarter is like an online equivalent of Dragon's Den, specialising in creative, entrepreneurial projects. It's a way to connect people with big, potentially commercial ideas, with real investment.

Every project comes with its own page where creators have the opportunity to sell the benefit of their idea, whether it's an ice-cream business, an exhibition of paintings or a creative web service. Money is crowdsourced from Kickstarter's community.

Successful examples include Julia Nagle, a comedian with a YouTube following who's had nearly $60,000 pledged towards her new album.

Google Affiliate Network

Google affiliate network

Like a mix of Google AdSense and Amazon Associates, the Google Affiliate Network aggregates the programs of online services and retailers. Like other affiliate schemes, you earn money when visitors buy products from sites you advertise.

The selling point is that there's only one signup. You still have to apply for approval from advertisers, but it's a streamlined experience compared to trawling individual sites. You also get tracking tools, similar to AdSense, that help you decide which affiliates are more profitable for you.

Prizes.org

Prizes

Prizes.org is essentially a cross between Elance and Fiverr. The community posts creative or unusual tasks, with a cash prize for successful completion.

Some recent jobs have included a request for a poem about otters, a plea for a new living room design and a honeymoon holiday plan. One couple even offered to put the naming of their unborn child out to tender.

The dosh on offer is usually much more than a fiver, with some contests offering hundreds of dollars. And that's the key word on Prizes.org - 'contest'. There can only be one winner so everyone else has done the job for free.

Lulu

Lulu

Kindle, iBooks and Smashwords are brilliant for wordy projects, but we're still a couple of years away from the viable coffee table eBook.

With Lulu you can turn your eBooks into real volumes. It's ideal for image-rich tomes, and on-demand publishing enables you to take a cut of every copy sold after Lulu has absorbed production expenses and taken its share of profit.

Using the service takes a little more savviness than Kindle publishing. You'll need to create a PDF with a fixed layout, but Lulu provides templates and guides for all its most popular book sizes.

Varolo

Varolo

Advertisers have a problem with engaging users. Varolo's solution is to pay you and your friends to look at ads.

The site pays in two ways. Every time you watch adverts, your account is entered into a draw for a cash prize. If gambling isn't your thing, the Varolo Village may be more attractive. This lets you invite friends to your network on the site, who in turn can invite other friends.

Every time someone you've invited watches an advert, you get a micropayment. It's a form of pyramid scheme. The site tailors its content to your preferences, so it's a fairly painless way to earn a bit of pocket money.

Pay Per Post

Pay per post

If you're already blogging, why not get paid to write about advertisers' products? Some may argue that reviewing products and services favourably, in exchange for money, is unethical. Others would counter that there's not a great deal of difference between what Pay Per Post does and what affiliate services provide.

As a blogger, you can choose to just write about products you personally like - write posts that you would have written in any case. With an account on Pay Per Post, you're just adding to the ways you can make money from your blog and, as payments are small, you need to use as many methods as possible.

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First published in PC Plus Issue 312. Read PC Plus on PC, Mac and iPad

Liked this? Then check out How to make money from app development

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