That computer on your desk isn’t just for browsing the internet or doing your banking. It’s a tool that could make you richer. In some cases, you may even be able to supplement your income without doing anything bar leaving your machine on. Sounds good, right?
In this article, we’ve picked out our top six ways to make a bit of extra cash with your PC. Some are more involved than others – and none, unless you’re very lucky, are going to make you rich overnight – but a little motivation and spare time can go a long way.
You might even change the way you think about saving and investing, particularly considering making a low-risk loan could offer you returns far beyond those of a regular savings account. Read on, and enjoy the extra change in your pocket.
1. Share your resources
Got a bit of spare hard disk space, a modern CPU and a decent broadband connection? Why not rent out a little bit of your computer’s resources so that others can make use of it? Gomez PEER, for example, is a lightweight application that runs in the background while your computer is on. Head over here to check it out.
Once you’re signed up, developers can use your machine’s resources to test websites or software. It’s invisible to you, won’t track any of your computer usage, and you’ll get a small PayPal payment – your slice of a $40,000 (around £33,000, AU$55,000) monthly outlay – at the end of the month.
Don’t rely on PEER (or cloud.mql5.com, or any number of shady-looking Bitcoin-mining operations) to provide you with anything close to a salary. But if your machine is efficient enough, you should at least break even on your electricity costs.
2. Sell your skills
Got a talent? Get it out there. Whether you’re a dab hand at tech support, an expert designer, a skilled writer or anything in between, social media and online classifieds are a great way to get yourself noticed, and your PC will often be everything you need for the job. With the aid of software like TeamViewer, many tech support tasks are trivial – obviously, basically every creative pursuit has moved towards the computer desktop.
Taking tech support as an example, start by putting your name out on localised sites like Gumtree or Craigslist to potentially attract geographically reasonable clients; it’s the modern equivalent of putting a card in the newsagent’s window.
Then set yourself up with a page on Facebook – professionalism is key here – and make sure your friends, family and colleagues like and share your presence. Word of mouth still has a vast amount of value, particularly when it comes to trust.
When you’re established, there are plenty of ways to get paid, from a PayPal account to services like Square which also deal with invoices and receipts for you. Whatever you choose, bear in mind you’ll be liable for tax on anything you earn.
3. Lend to others
You have to spend money to make money, they say, so why not invest your excess funds to help people who need it? Peer-to-peer lending is a great way to grow your cash with minimal risk. Head over to Zopa to find out exactly how you can invest, and to check out your options, which range from a low-return scheme which will release your funds whenever you need them, to a scheme with much higher interest but a greater risk of your borrower defaulting.
If you’re saving anyway, putting your money with Zopa (with a low-end 3.1% yearly return for minimal risk) is not a bad choice. If you’d rather not lend to individuals, Funding Circle allows you to put spare cash into businesses instead, and there’s a higher predicted yearly return (7.1%) although a fair amount more risk.
If you need a little reassurance, the UK government has put a cool £20 million (around $24 million, AU$33 million) into Funding Circle to help growing companies, and you can too. Although you don’t have to invest quite that much…
4. Flip websites
What was once known as cybersquatting has a new face today in the form of flipping. Think of it in the sense of flipping a house – buying it and selling it on for a profit – and you’re going along the right lines.
Flipping domains is going to require some savvy thinking and even savvier marketing on your part. You’ll need to start by scouring the web for potential bankable URLs.
It pays to have a bit of insight (or just foresight) into your specialist subjects for this part. Find a growing industry or business, and pick names which will be memorable and, most importantly, valuable to someone. When the time is right, head over to flippa.com and put them up for auction – you could, with a bit of luck, bag a decent profit.
If you have a lot of time on your hands, there’s money to be made flipping whole sites. But this does, of course, involve building, marketing, and running a website for a length of time, attracting an audience, and then finding a willing buyer. That’s much easier said than done.
5. Take surveys
Marketers, advertisers and creators know there’s nothing more valuable than an honest opinion, which is why you’ll often get paid for taking surveys. There are tons of options, although none will really pay you more than a little change on the side so this can’t be relied upon for any sort of income.
Google Opinion Rewards, one of the most popular choices, only offers Play Store credit – great for picking up paid apps for nothing, at least – while MySurvey issues vouchers for some bigger online retailers. It’s probably the most well-compensated survey site, and one of the largest, meaning you’ll get more boxes to tick and more (virtual) money in your pocket.
Bear in mind that you’re likely to get more surveys to fill in if you fall into a less-represented category. 30-something males may be less attractive to those issuing the surveys than 50-something females. Indeed, they may not want your opinion at all if they’re looking to do market research on something that’s absolutely not targeted in your direction.
6. Become a virtual assistant
Can you lend yourself to any task? Are you a dab hand at admin work? Do you not mind a little drudgery? Then you may be a perfect virtual assistant, doing temp jobs from the comfort of your laptop. A huge number of companies are looking for help with data entry, filing, analysis and more – you could even land yourself full-time work if you’re good enough.
US readers will want to look at Virtualassistantjobs.com, a marketplace for workers and employers that’ll match you up with tasks which suit you. In the UK, TimeEtc leads the way for this kind of work. You will likely need to have proven admin or secretarial skills beforehand, but it’s a great way to add flexibility to your lifestyle and keep you on your toes.