I recently gave some marketing tips to a bunch of local professional photographers who formed a company about 3 years ago. There are 7 of them and they were making around £400 a month (collectively). So I advised them to create a website, show their individual skills on the site, and start promoting themselves. (No no no, not the way you are already thinking!) The skills about their technical know-how, courses they can offer, and (very importantly) reviews of the latest equipment on the market.
Once you have that problem or need nailed, the next step is to validate that idea and make sure you’ve actually got customers who will pay for it. This means building a minimum viable product, getting objective feedback from real customers, incorporating updates, testing the market for demand, and getting pricing feedback to ensure there’s enough of a margin between your costs and what consumers are willing to pay.
Better yet, you can even upload your own book to one of the world’s largest book sellers: Amazon. With Amazon self-publishing, you set the price, retain the rights to your book, and get access to Amazon’s massive audience. For every sale, you keep 70% with Amazon taking the remainder as a fee. If you want to get started, check out Tara Gentile on CreativeLive as she shows you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week. Who knows, you might just write one of the best business books of this year!
The second (and cheaper) path assumes that you have the design and dev chops yourself to build your dream software. Naturally, it’ll take more time to get your product off the ground, but being able to bootstrap the development of your software lets you retain more ownership in your business and be more in control of your path, making this a lower-cost, but higher time investment to make money selling apps.
But don't make the mistake of thinking this will be a passive source of income—you're on call whenever you have a guest and you'll always need to keep the place clean for incoming visitors. On top of just renting on Airbnb, consider offering your guests paid add-ons, like Lauren Gheysens', Royal Day Out in London, England—where she gives visitors a local's only tour of the city, complete with bespoke 18th century costumes.
Mechanical Turk is a great way to make some extra cash. You probably won’t make much more than a few dollars an hour, but it’s also dead simple to complete many of the tasks. Most tasks take less than a minute to complete and pay a few pennies. If you do a lot of MTurk, it could add up to at least some fun spending money. Sign up for free, then complete qualifications to earn access to higher-paying tasks.
Companies like Uber and Lyft offer a great opportunity to make some quick cash. You'll need a clean driving record, a fairly new car and the authorization to work wherever it is that you live. If you have all of those things, you can work when it's feasible for you, whether that's in the middle of the day during rush hour, or in the wee hours of the night on a weekend. The choice is yours.
Also, some of them are deceptively simple. For instance, let’s say you spend 40 hours this month learning keyword research and posting 30 how to articles on eHow. And you make $20. You may think, “Wow, fifty cents an hour. What a waste of my time.” Except, next month, after the articles settle higher in Google, you make $40. A year from now, having done nothing else, you are making $100-$150/month. And assuming Google doesn’t change their rules, you should continue receiving checks for years with no additional work.