Let's face it: Jobs aren't easy to come by, which often means that we have to resort to some rather "creative" means to make ends meet. I know a little something about this, personally. After completing one too many offbeat tasks to get by in college, I began writing a running list of all the weird things I did for money in my Notes app, many of which took place while I was working in our beloved service industries. Desperate times call for desperate measures, sure, but I'm a hustler, and rent isn't cheap.
Now that I've exposed myself, I'm glad to have your attention. My running list is all fun and games, but I KNEW there'd be even wackier tasks people have done out there for money in this big, big world. So, I asked the BuzzFeed Community the unusual and completely unconventional ways they've made their coins and BOY, DID THEY DELIVER.
Whether they were refurbishing calculators, scraping gum off school desks, or performing extreme ~personal favors~ for others, I learned there's a whole array of creative ways people get their payday. So without further ado, let's get into it:
1. "I make paid appearances on 'reality' shows. The pay is decent — usually a minimum $500 appearance fee. Plus, the shows pay for your flight, hotel, money for food, and limos for transportation. My kids' dad and I have done two shows together; the first was Divorce Court. We’ve never been married, but I found an ad on Craigslist (every show I’ve been on, I’ve found on Craigslist) that was looking for 'big personalities.' We made enough to pay our entire rent that month, and the whole process, from the time I applied to the end of filming, took less than a week."
"We also filmed an episode of Breakthrough With Dr. Steve Perry, which never aired, but we still got paid (and they let me keep the outfit from wardrobe!). And a relative and I did a show called Family Court With Judge Penny. Plus, I was a contestant on The Price Is Right — the audition process for that is a little different and more competitive, but that’s where I’ve made the most money (over $20,000 playing Plinko...Drew Carey was so nice!)."
2. "I wasn’t allowed to have a car on campus in the city when I was in college, so to get some money for the train ride home, I took my saxophone to the metro stop and played improv for the riders. I made enough for the train ride, and I had a lot of fun with the other musicians. They treated me like one of their group, and it is still my favorite college memory."
3. "One summer in college (early 2000s), I stayed in the beach town where I was going to school and got a job on the wharf at a shop that sold tacky sterling silver jewelry and fish bait. About a month in, one of the 'regular' customers asked if I might be available to do some side work on his boat. He seemed nice enough and I needed cash, so I said sure. His only instruction was to dress nice. I was surprised to meet him at his yacht — he did not seem like the type to own a yacht — where he had set a table for six people. I thought he wanted me to be a server or something, but no: I was his date, and the event was the celebration of his divorce three years ago and his coming out as a gay man."
"The whole event was a little awkward. The four other people were nice, but you could tell they looked at me strangely as a 20-year-old with a man in his late 50s. After everyone left, he apologized and told me he couldn't bring himself to actually ask me out. I felt bad for him having been closeted for so many years, so I didn't put too much blame on him. He gave me an envelope with $2,000 in cash and I left. When I got to the shop the next afternoon, I found out he'd dropped off another envelope with an additional $1,500 in cash. I never saw him again, but that money paid for a big chunk of the costs for school that financial aid didn't cover the following year."
4. "I started a side hustle that has become my full-time hustle: making Swedish torches. A few things...holy shit, so many weird things: 1) Sawdust can get into places you can't imagine. 2) The bugs you encounter with logs and wood are insane, and as the weather gets colder, they want to get really close to you because you're warm. 3) People don't understand the fundamentals of fire AT ALL. 4) If I had $5 for everyone who mentioned Shark Tank to me, I wouldn't need to be on Shark Tank. 5) Sometimes old country dudes will stop by to watch me work — seriously, WTF? The list is long and strange."
5. "I perform specific sexual acts for money, but no full-out sex. I am good at it (well, better than 'good,' according to my customers). I enjoy it, and my customers enjoy it and make me feel appreciated as well. I've had worse jobs for less money, and less feelings of appreciation. With my money, I have been able to purchase a Cricut with all the awesome bells and whistles, and now I have my own shop on Etsy selling my Cricut creations as well! Some of my customers have, in turn, hired me to make their Christmas cards, event invitations, business cards, etc. So business is good on both sides!"
7. "I worked as a lei greeter for the arrival flights at the airport in Honolulu. I greeted families getting off the flights with leis, took them to pick up their luggage, and put them on buses to their hotels. Eventually I moved into ticketing for SunTrips (a travel booking company). The flights were between San Francisco and Hawaii or LA and Hawaii. I could take the flight for $15 one way as long as there were seats available."
"After 9/11, we had the first domestic flight leave out of Honolulu. After the passengers boarded, there were only three of us standing in the terminal. It's really creepy being in a major airport that's empty. Walking back to the office was bizarre. The next day, all hell broke loose. People showed up five hours early still missing their flights because TSA lines were six hours long. Flights left on time with luggage, but people were stranded at the airport. It was an interesting time."
8. "I tutor in Hebrew and bat/bar mitzvah prep. My minimum fee is $25 per tutoring session. The kids are sweethearts, I enjoy working with them, and it is easy money."
9. "By day I worked at a law firm as a legal assistant. By night I worked at an adult store as a cashier assisting people with adult toys, DVDs, lingerie, and lubricant purchases. The back of the place was the worst in the 'movie viewing' booths. Quite disgusting what the cameras in the hallways would show..."
10. "When I was in college, I was a referee for high school sports. It was great money and only required two hours of my evenings...it only got weird when I became the highest-ranked referee in the area and parents would scream at me over calls like it was the Super Bowl."
11. "I recorded TV on VHS tapes for a marketing company. They provided the tapes and paid for them to be mailed back to the company. They also reimbursed me for a TV stand, and I think they provided a VCR (or two?). I had to have the TV already. They gave me a schedule of what to record, and twice a week I would mail the tapes in. Paid $100 a month. I was married and in college, so it was a nice extra boost in 2002. When I left the area, I passed the job to my sister-in-law, and when her husband graduated, they passed it on to a friend. I bet it circulated around that housing complex (all married college students) until the company went out of business."
12. "My summer job as a teen was to clean elementary schools in preparation for the next school year. Basically, janitorial work. Cleaning SO MUCH glue and dried bodily fluids off desks/tables, stripping and waxing floors, cleaning windows, dusting. I made minimum wage, about $8.25 an hour, and it was hot, dirty, and gross. BUT I was guaranteed 40 hours a week and never had to work weekends or evenings — my hours were 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m."
13. "I translate information into plain language (English, generally). While plain language itself isn’t a new concept, translating the preexisting text into its plain equivalent is definitely emerging."
14. "I was a private tutor for high school and college students, which isn't really all that weird, but from time to time, I'd be asked to advise a student who needed a résumé to apply to Greek organizations. You would not believe how much money some rich parents will spend to get their kid into the 'right' fraternity or sorority."
15. "I was a dog sitter, and a family asked me to take photos of their dog's poop while they were away because the dog had some gastrointestinal issues they wanted to monitor. Needless to say, I had an interesting camera roll for a week."
16. "I used to sell custom songs online through Fiverr. People would release the songs under their name; I would be the ghostwriter and get a fee. I would do those from midnight to around 3 a.m. every day because at the time, I was also working as an assistant at a very high-end recording studio that barely paid its employees. I also started flipping NFTs for a profit, which did make me some quick cash."
17. "I am a flight dispatcher for a major airline...it’s one of the best airline jobs you’ve never heard of. Every flight has a dispatcher planning the route and monitoring it as it flies. I make around $150,000 before overtime. Lots of time off and also flight benefits. Lots of great stories to share too, of what happens behind the scenes of making your flight get from point A to B."
18. "I've worked for a toy warehouse, cleaned hair salons and schools part time, and worked in a PPE shack. Even my job now feels very...niche? I distribute and service confection/concession equipment and supplies. We're talking popcorn-makers, slush machines, pizza ovens, you name it! Currently glad our local hockey team is out of the playoffs 'cause, dang, do they order a lot."
19. "I had a summer job 'sexing' chickens, which means I had to sort through LITERALLY thousands of baby chicks to determine which were male and female. The pay was GREAT, but as a nonbinary, genderqueer person, the constant demand to adhere to the binary was really hard on me. I decided after that summer that I wouldn't do it again. Oh, I became a vegan after that summer too, natch."
20. "When I was little, my grandpa needed help putting labels on coffee bags for a local coffee brand. I got paid pretty well, and I would sit with a big box with tons of coffee bags watching Harry Potter at their house/RV, sticking the labels as straight and centered as I could for hours. I had fun doing it, and it was easy cash."
Alright, alright, alright, now it's your turn. Do you have an odd job or creative business venture not listed? I am itching to hear about it — let me know in the comments below!
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.