10 ways to Make $500 (Nov, 1953)

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10 ways to Make $500

A little time on your hands can be a lot of cash in the bank—and with no strain at all on your natural talents.


COULD you use an extra $500 to get that new car, television or power equipment you’ve always dreamed about? And would you like to do it without robbing your bank or someone else’s cash register? A miracle is your easiest answer. But failing a miracle, you can get that extra cash—and without too much difficulty—if you’re willing to put your brain, and some of your spare time, to purposeful use.

You don’t need capital—although a little may help. Exceptional skills, specialized training and long-shot risks aren’t required. What is necessary, however, is to turn the abilities and interests you already have into easy after-hours channels that pay off with real folding money. Most important, you’ve got to use ways a little off the beaten track— yet proven and adaptable to your own time and effort.

Use Your Fix-it Talents The very fact you’re reading this magazine indicates you’re interested in things mechanical. Probably you own, or have use of, a good home or plant workshop. But far more people than you imagine lack your skill. And when they’ve got some job too small or too expensive for a professional, they usually just don’t know where to turn. My friend, Jerry D., suddenly realized this while chatting with a few neighbors. Each had something around his place that needed skilled fixing. Jerry narrowed their needs down to ten major items, then mailed out 100 postcards he had mimeographed for $2.50, simply stating: “You need somebody to do these things? Call me.” He listed the approximate time and price he figured for each job. The answers came fast. Twenty produced 10 jobs that paid him more than $300. Then Jerry repeated, sending out a two-part card—one side to be mailed to him, the other kept as a reminder. Replies were even better. Jerry spaced his work to two evenings a week and Saturdays; in two months hired an assistant.

In many cases he found what you’ll undoubtedly discover—that people have end- less things to be fixed which they never get around to. Jerry couldn’t do all these jobs himself. Nor did he want to get involved. So he located several professionals, advised them of his own Fix-it Service, and became their agent. They paid 10% to 25% commission for his picking up and delivering jobs without himself having to set up a shop. In six months he made just about five times $500.

If you’ve a talent for fixing things, here are some tips on using your skill to make extra cash: Start on simple jobs you can complete with equipment you have. You’d be surprised at how many easy things householders or apartment dwellers can’t do themselves or get done by their building superintendents. To mail out cards, simply address Occupant with street number and address. Saves time and effort.

Keep your eyes open for other fix-it jobs. Henry B., a friend of Jerry’s, starting with home repairs, often found neglected children’s furniture. He offered to pay a dollar or so for certain pieces. In many cases householders were happy he took things away. Henry fixed them up, repainted in gay colors and sold them at a handsome profit.

Stuart F., of Knoxville, Tenn., expanded from amateur operation to a small truck lettered: “If your home is sick, call Stuart, the House Doctor—All kinds of home repairs.” Working only on weekends, he averages $10 to $15 a job and is considering a full-time assistant to run the house doctor truck during the week.

Use Your Favorite Handicraft Your skills in woodworking, ceramics, plastics, leather, or any one of a dozen other fields, can be turned into extra cash. And even if you don’t have home production facilities, schools in many communities allow use of their adult workshop classes. For today the out-of-the-ordinary handmade market is growing. If you can put a saleable twist on hand crafted useful or decorative items, you’ll find it profitable fun.

The American Craftsmen’s Cooperative Council (485 Madison Avenue, New York, N. Y.), a non-profit organization which helps many turn handicrafts into cash, recommends simultaneously making one-of-a-kind pieces and popular items in quantity on wholesale order from established outlets.

Walter M. demonstrated what can be done. He mounted interesting driftwood on solid bases, dried pieces in his kitchen oven, purchased shades, and made decorative lamps. First he sought out individual customers to keep his investment small. Then , a chain of gift shops in his area saw his work, now takes everything he can produce.

A Boston woman cut down old tables to coffee table size, covered them with pictures and travel labels, then waterproofed tops. Now she’s applied the idea to trays, waste-baskets, picture frames and children’s items —and has as much demand as she can handle.

Handcrafted metal items are another hot selling item, Mrs. Clare J. learned. She makes candy compotes, salt cellars, spoons, dishes and bowls. Others I know have worked with enameled copper medallions, jewel boxes and dishware. In the ceramics field, you can choose between making free-form modern and conventional gift shop items. The former sell best in big-city areas, the latter in neighborhoods and smaller communities. One couple out in Idaho produced some unusual pieces, first sold them through their local drugstore, now have orders from some of New York’s and Chicago’s fanciest shops.

Here are some tips: Weaving has become an increasingly popular handicraft. Many men are able to produce excellent rugs, blankets, tweeds and specialized fabrics. Often they start with school looms; then acquire their own for as little as $18.75. Or perhaps you like printing. As little as $50 can get you a small hand press, a few cases of type and some basic equipment. You can produce business cards, stationery, invitations and so on. Expand as you pick up orders. Leathercraft is another field worth looking into. And plastics offer amazing opportunities. There are now many safe, easy-to-use home plastics from which you can make boxes, bowls, .containers, frames, jewelry and other forms.

Use Your Camera There are ‘dozens of ways in which you can use your camera to make money.

Herb and Shelley G. had been house hunting, hearing descriptions from real estate people and then spending fruitless hours driving around to places they realized were hopeless the moment they saw them. Suddenly Herb had an idea. Why not take photos for realtors to show home seekers? By specializing they could charge far less than commercial photogs. With sample shots of the house they finally chose for themselves, Herb and Shelley called on several dealers, got trial orders. Working on pleasant weekends and holidays with evenings for finishing, they developed a list of six agents. At $5 to $10 a house, $1 extra for each print, they now clear $100 a month.

Sid L. concentrated on informal pictures of neighborhood youngsters. His big seller shows what imagination can do. Sid created a picture story album: “A day in the life of Bobby”—or it could be Jane or Charlie— taking youngsters from wake-up time through breakfast, play, lunch, television, dinner and bed. He never mentions total prices—that scares off many mothers. But when pictures are shown in an album, Sid finds parents are usually so intrigued they ‘ order ten or twelve.

Here are some tips to help you get started making extra cash with your camera: Concentrate on a specialty that interests you, bearing in mind things people want to permanently record. Look for fields where professionals aren’t already too abundant. Prepare a book of samples and have cards made up indicating your specialty. If you have to start on speculation, make an agreement for your expenses.

One lucrative field is making pictures of attractive store windows. Don’t ask for per7 mission. Most storekeepers will say no. Take your shots and offer prints—$3.50 for an 8 x 10 and you’ll find sales good. Trade publications also buy many such shots.

Pick a small airport, snap first-flighters, give out cards with your name and address and take down customer’s name. You’ll pick up many orders. Start a season ahead with Christmas snow shots. They’re surefire. Or concentrate on church, school and organization pictures—committees, activities and personalities. You’ll find officials glad to cooperate. Many factories welcome pictures of workers on the job for house organs and trade magazines. Or try local construction projects. You may not get big, glossy architect’s shots, but you’ll find officials and men ready purchasers. For only your inventiveness and the time available will limit how far you can go using your camera Community Research Door to door selling’s no push-over, as I and anyone else who’s ever tried it, can assure you. Yet there is a field in which you can go out, make calls, talk to people, nothing to sell—and still make good returns. The field is market research and polling.

Like many others, Bill S. thought such polls were run only for presidential elections. But he found the basic purpose is trying to find out what products and services people will buy. Often, Bill discovered, research organizations need spare-time interviewers for specific jobs. You make calls, get answers to their specific lists of questions, and report accurately and speedily. Pay is generally by number of interviews.

If research work interests you, here are some tips: Register with your local Chamber of Commerce. Many out-of-town organizations seek its help when running polls and surveys. The promotion director of your local newspaper may also have good leads. Many leading advertising agencies listed in the Yearbook of Editor and Publisher in your local library will put you on their researcher’s list if you tell them of your own background and time available. Leading organizations in the field, all in New York: Crossley, Inc., 330 West 42nd St.; C. E. Hooper, Inc., 10 East 40th St.; Elmo Roper, 30 Rockefeller Plaza; and American Institute of Public Opinion. (Gallup), 110 East 42nd St.

When gathering information, you have to make it convincingly clear you’re only polling, not selling something. Many door-to-door salesmen have been posing as research interviewers. But if you learn the techniques, you may be able to become a local expert on your own, able to devise and conduct special research assignments for local stores, factories, newspaper;.

Use Your Newspapers Your newspaper can be a real moneymaker for you—if, like Mort W., you know how to use it most effectively. Idling through the classified section one day, Mort found 15 items for sale and on another page, six of the same items being sought. A series of telephone calls in which he represented himself merely as an agent resulted in three sales. Each produced a nice profit. So Mort began looking for “wanted” and “for sale” items in several papers. Mort found, as you’ll discover, that often buyers and sellers are lazy about looking up things. If you’re alert and have a good trading instinct, you can, without risking anything, serve in the same way as any business man who brings together buyer and seller.

Bob F. varied this idea by watching big city newspapers, cutting out all specialized ads and features on fashions, furniture, shoes, etc., then offered these to merchants in his own small community as a source of successful styles and sales. He dressed up his service by clipping and mounting ads and articles on large sheets of paper. Merchants found Bob saved them time and trouble. As he got to know their needs, Bob simply marked the papers, hired a girl to do the clipping, mounting and mailing— and cleared himself $200 a month extra.

If you like following newspapers, consider these other ways of using them for extra cash: Compile specialized lists of births, weddings and deaths to sell regularly to neighborhood shops, florists, photographers, furniture and other stores.

Watch for items about persons in other communities and then offer to send them clippings for $1 each. By using regular form cards, intriguing enough to interest recipients, yet not giving away details, you’ll make frequent sales.

Work the same idea locating missing heirs and unfound bank depositors. Such lists are frequently printed in state capital newspapers by law, yet are rarely seen by residents of other communities.

Watch legal newspapers published in larger cities containing similar notices of bankruptcies, announcements by husbands that they will refuse to pay wives’ debts, etc. Merchants and potential creditors will pay for such data they often don’t receive from other sources.

Provide A Service Many people think the only way to make money is to Sell some kind of product. But offering one of scores of services—in which you need little or no investment—is often far more lucrative, as Harry R. discovered. One day a friend asked him to look over his family bus which the garage said needed $300 worth of repairs. Harry, who knew cars, spent two hours checking the motor and transmission, spotted exactly what was needed and wrote out a report. With this his friend found another garage to do the job for $100. Enthused, he told others, and Harry was in business. He began a repair analysis service in his spare time, examining cars with the owners, giving them a written report, but never recommending any particular garage. That’s his secret. His customers know he’s got nothing to sell but information. Though Harry gets a minimum of $10 for a job, averages about $7 an hour, his customers figure it’s a bargain because of what they save.

Carl P. makes extra money offering a similar service to potential used car buyers. Most know little about what’s under the hood of the shiny vehicles they see on the lot. Carl gets $10 to $15 for an impartial bumper-to-bumper check. And his growing list of customers consider they’re getting a bargain.

Here are some other good service ideas: Wendell T. organized a method for reminding people to send cards on birthdays, wedding anniversaries, special occasions. Charging $10 a year and working from a daily file, he sent out postcard reminders, then added services by providing remembrance cards, gift suggestions. He was even able to earn commissions purchasing items and mailing them with his subscriber’s card enclosed.

You’ll find another good service business making up lists of families who move in or out of the neighborhood. Laundries, dairies, gift shops, drugstores, beauty parlors, shoe makers and others are all prospects. If you’ve a flair for writing, you can use the same lists to develop special direct mail campaigns for busy local merchants.

Rental services are becoming increasingly popular. I know many men who’ve set up small sideline businesses in garages or cellars. They get sanding, painting and other machines and power tools on commission from local shops, rent at specified prices per hour with pick-up and delivery extra. Because such machines are expensive and used for only a short time, there’s plenty of seasonal and year-round business.

Joe P. built himself a sizable extra income, starting with folding chairs and bridge tables, then adding punch bowls, lawn mowers, paint sprayers, floor polishers’ tools and almost anything you can think of. Many people with only limited use for a machine they own, leave it with Joe who gets a fee both from rentals and keeping the item in good repair.

A Georgia man, Harrison A., does the same thing with shoes. Many people bring in partially-worn shoes which he disinfects, then swaps or sells. And down in Texas, I located Dean H. who organized the barter and exchange bureau, issues a weekly typewritten circular offering a banjo for a rug, homemade jam for a chair. He charges $1 a year subscription and a commission of 15% on all sales made through his columns.

Use Your Typewriter If you’re a good typist, able to turn out fast, accurate work, you can start a profitable sideline business with your machine right at home with a minimum of capital and effort. Many smaller businesses, as well as professional men, can’t afford full time secretaries. Lon K. put his typing ability to good use by calling 25 doctors listed in his phone book. Ten asked him to drop in, dictated letters or gave him rough pencil drafts. Over one weekend, he finished 40 letters on their stationery and made $35. His lists of doctors increasing, he learned to take notes over the phone, complete the job and deliver the next day for signature, averaging $50 extra a week.

Paul D. did even better, specializing in legal typing for younger lawyers in his community. Because such work is more complicated, legal typing rates are usually higher. Norman W. extended his typing services by writing collection and sales letters for local business men. He worked up samples from books devoted to business correspondence, got $5 to $10 for his basic form letter, plus per letter payment for .each individualized variation.

Here are some good ways to type your way into extra money: Many organizations need extra temporary secretarial help. A postcard mailing will bring plenty of inquiries.

Your local Dictaphone office often knows people who have machines and no one to transcribe their work, might rent you a transcriber so that you can pick up work for transcription and completion.

Two good sideline businesses are mimeographing and photo-prints. Start with a rented machine and you’ll find plenty of jobs for merchants, realtors, civic groups, clubs and professionals. Other frequent users are draftsmen, real estate people, lawyers, and architects.

Use Your Telephone If you’ve a telephone at home—especially one with unlimited service—and have or can develop a good personality, speaking well, clearly and to the point, you can make Mr. Bell’s invention earn dollars for you. Consider Willard N. Renting a “backwards” directory which lists phones by street numbers. Willard called on a regular schedule, seeking home owners interested in buying or selling. He then sold relevant data to local real estate dealers who found his lists cheaper than assigning their own staff to make direct calls.

Larry E. discovered many merchants will pay by call or hour to someone able to telephone their customers or prospects about specials on such items as rug cleaning, fur storage, floor waxing, lawn reconditioning, screen and storm door installation, and other services.

Edgar C. found many other items can be sold over the telephone with a send-no-money-but-pay-the-postman guarantee. Most people, he found, don’t order things unless they intend to buy. And selling by ‘phone eliminates the hard physical Job of door-to-door selling.

Here are some other good leads on using your telephone: Many fraternities, business associations, and service clubs will pay to have you call members, delivering a message like this: “I’m Mr. So-and-So. The secretary of Rotary asked me to be sure to tell you to come to the meeting Wednesday at 8:00. Our speaker will talk on such-and-such,” etc.

Many smaller communities need answering services. This calls for an interceptor and other equipment which you can often buy on good credit terms if you can show evidence of reliability. Your local ‘phone company can give you leads.

Do You Like Animals?

If you like to play and work with animals, remember that the affection most Americans have for their dogs, cats and other pets, and the need for breeding animals for specialized purposes, can be your key to extra currency.

Increasingly popular now are parakeets because of their ability to learn how to talk, do tricks and provide a constant source of amusement. Ellery J. found birds cost about $10 to $15 a pair, more for fancy plumage varieties, could be bred two or three times a year and produced four or five young each time. He made sales through local ads and displays in pet shows and store windows, got good leads from Canary World, Valley Stream, N.Y., and All Pets Magazine, Fond-du-Lac, Wise.

George T. noted many people enjoy joking about rabbits’ ability to multiply. But he got the last laugh with a three-way profit—selling fur, meat and breeding stock. Since rabbits supply 90% of the total fur coat industry, demand is constant. George found concentration on one breed best; used specialized book published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a guide. You’ll also get help from a publication called The Rabbit Raiser, 1151 S. Broadway, Los Angeles.

Here are some other tips: Small scale breeders do extremely well with guinea pigs, also known as cavies. Available at about $2 each, they require little space, thrive on simple inexpensive cabbage, lettuce and carrots. Small, clean and odorless, they can be raised in an apartment, cellar or attic. Mrs. Laura D. has averaged $100 a month, starting with three males and 18 females. You’ll find the American Cavies Breeders’ Association, Kansas City, Kan., and American Rabbit & Cavies Association, Colorado Springs, Col., Consider a professional dog-sitter service. Several have ‘been successfully operated with rates similar to baby-sitting. A food shop for pets located in a neighborhood of people able and willing to buy, and backed by your skill in showing them how to feed pets better with more variety at lower cost, can be a real extra money maker. Adding accessories, animal remedies and pet supplies and toys can also pay off.

Use Your Car If you’ve an automobile, or a driver’s license, you’ll find it can make you extra cash—if you put it to effective use. Max L., for example, didn’t even do the driving himself. He just set up a special delivery service, offering aid to mothers unable to leave their children during the day. Each evening he telephoned homes in his suburban neighborhood, lined up next day assignments at $1 or $2 each and then passed them along to his six young assistants who got 50tf an hour. With an hour’s calling each night, Max made himself an extra $35 to $50 weekly.

In another community, Herbert L. got leads from local garages about folks who had lengthy or difficult trips to make. He figured the cost of his time at $4 an hour, proved his experience and reliablity, and within two months had more weekend and holiday jobs than he could handle from rest homes, hospitals, etc.

Richard C, an army veteran, used his car to set up a special private patrol service for emergency and protection. He guaranteed householders he would pass their places at least once hourly between 7:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., investigate suspicious characters and immediately notify the police who had permitted him to install a two-way mobile radio. He has a growing list of subscribers at $15 yearly. Several assistants do the actual patrolling leaving Dick’s own evenings free to handle the business.

Here are some other tips on using your car: Pick convenient area and send out postcards to community organizations that often need extra driver aid. Don’t overlook schools, parent teacher organizations, commuters all of whom can be developed into regular customers. Your charges must be less than cab fares, but you’ll find a good deal of your business will come from taking trips to distances beyond regular cab routes.

It’s important to have standard fees determined in advance, whether your job is to shop for bed-ridden persons, get books from libraries, or make pick-ups and deliveries. ?

  1. Stephen Edwards says: May 5, 20109:29 am

    “Pick a small airport, snap first-flighters, give out cards with your name and address and take down customer’s name. You’ll pick up many orders.”

    If you actually were able to find such people, it’s more likely you’ll pick up a visit from law enforcement, not orders.

  2. Toronto says: May 5, 20103:19 pm

    “Hang out at the arrivals level, look for solo first class travellers, offer to accompany them to their hotel.”

  3. StanFlouride says: May 5, 20107:40 pm

    “There are ‘dozens of ways in which you can use your camera to make money”
    “Sid L. concentrated on informal pictures of neighborhood youngsters.”

    Ditto on the law enforcement visit.

  4. Stacy says: July 27, 20106:26 am

    “There are ‘dozens of ways in which you can use your camera to make money”
    “Sid L. concentrated on informal pictures of neighborhood youngsters.”

    Um, yeah. You’d definitely be hauled off in cuffs for that. It’s creepy, an invasion of privacy and just plain stupid.

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