4 min read
One of my favorite subreddits on Reddit is r/Entrepreneur. I always find interesting posts on there about people earning money in unique ways and I find that the more I hang out on that page, the more I feel the urge to experiment with different tactics with my own side hustles.
Here are three of my favorite stories from r/Entrepreneur about people earning money in truly unique ways.
Earning $2k in One Day by Leasing a Valet Company
5 years ago I was bored at work (tech sales) and was browsing craigslist for services needed and came across a post about needing a valet company for a private party. I thought to myself, I could do that! So I replied and said I had a valet company (I did not know the first thing about valet companies) and soon after I was heading to their house to have a meeting about logistics.
It was a huge house in a very wealthy neighborhood ($4M+ house), and this very nice husband and wife greeted me and said they were planning a graduation party for their son and parking was limited (house on a hill) and would need valet. I asked how many cars were expected, where we could park, times, etc and said i’d check with my “team” and get right back to them.
I then called a few valet companies and told them I was a party planner for a wealthy family and needed a valet service. I explained that I would be their main point of contact and to please ask their staff not to speak to the owner. I provided the details and decided on the one that had the most reasonable prices and seemed legit (had insurance etc) and they sent me an invoice.
The total for this service was $1,000 for 5 hours and 7 guys. So I created my own invoice, fake letter head, etc for $3,000. I sent it to the “client” and had no idea how they would respond to the price and not a few minutes later he said “perfect!” and I was stoked. I took a deposit (personal check made out to me) to pay the valet deposit, etc.
The day of the event was stressful. The owner of the house thought I owned this valet company and the valet company thought I was a party planner! I kept going between the two to make sure that the right hand never talked to the left. At one point the actual owner of the valet company stopped by and I told him his guys were rockstars and got him out of there as quickly as possible.
The event was a huge success. The valet guys were awesome to hang out with. I basically just hung out, ran a few cars myself and gave them all the tips. The plan was executed perfectly.
After the event I came back to get my check and the wife had made me a huuuge goodie bag of food from the party (indian familu and Indian food i’d never had before. Was amazing). Told me how great we did, and all the compliments from their guests, etc.
After that day I did a lot of research on valet companies, the market, the margins, and almost started a business but ultimately decided not to pursue it.
Anyways, that’s how you make $2k in a day. Always remember kids, there is money to be made a million different ways if you get a little creative and put your mind to it.
Earning $10k in One Weekend As a College Student with no Cash
It was about 8 weeks before graduation weekend in my college town in 2012. I was a senior about to graduate. My mother was bugging me to help her find a hotel near campus for graduation weekend. For her, my father, my grandparents and my sister. Three rooms.
I called about 10 hotels around campus. Checked Priceline. There was nothing available at all. AirBNB was the same.
The closest city with availability was about 30 minutes away. They only had 3 rooms left in the entire hotel and they were $350 per night plus fees, each, with a three night minimum. Even they were cashing in on graduation. Thats $3,150 + fees. I refused. I’d rather them stay home and miss graduation.
The closest hotels with normal pricing and availability were over an hour away.
I thought about my friends who were sophomores and juniors renting apartments in the area. Classes ended about 10 days before graduation. They all were gone for the summer working internships or back home. Their apartments were empty. I texted a group of three friends living in a three bedroom apartment. I offered them $500 if they let my parents stay there over the weekend. They quickly agreed. All set with my family and we saved about $3,200.
My college had recently added a feature to the email (Google powered email). If you started typing someone’s name it would autofill and provide you with their email address.
My school had about 4,000 students in each class and the facebook group had about 3,000 each. I joined each group.
I then went through using one screen on the facebook group members page and one screen on the gmail page typing in names and mining email addresses. About 20 hours later I had a list with the email addresses of 3000 juniors and 3000 seniors.
I typed out a nice email to the Juniors:
My family and a few of my classmates’ families are looking for a place to stay on graduation weekend. If you will be gone that weekend and would be interested in renting out your apartment to them let me know.
I then typed out this email to my fellow seniors:
A few of my undergraduate classmates are offering to rent their rooms to the families of seniors during graduation weekend. If your family needs a place to stay right near campus during that weekend let me know!
I sent both emails and then headed out to track practice.
When I got home 4 hours later I had over 400 emails in my inbox.
I ended up tiering the pricing based on location, cleanliness, ability to provide linens and amount of rooms. I paid out about $35 per room per night on average and I did a three night minimum for everyone. Graduation weekend is quite an ordeal so that was pretty standard anyway.
I rented the rooms at about $100 per room per night. This was a big savings over hotels but the guests had to be okay with a dirty apartment and bringing their own linens for the most part. But they got to stay in the heart of the action and save a lot of money.
I set low expectations for the renters. I told them it would be dirty. I told them it would be sweaty. I told them to bring linens and cleaning supplies if they wanted to.
I strictly told all of the underclassmen to clean their apartments very well. I sent them detailed checklists. I did the best I could to make sure it would be presentable.
As soon as I collected payment from the senior I would pay the underclassman and connect them on email telling them to organize the key hiding and check out stuff. I kept a few apartments extra in case of emergency and ended up using one of them so I’m glad I did that.
Overall I brokered about 60 rooms and cleared about $10,000.
Earning a Full-time Income Smearing Sealer on Driveways & Only Working 6 Months Per Year
TLDR: I smear sealer over driveways and parking lots on hot, sunny days. It’s the definition of “un-sexy” and “non-glamorous”. It pays very, very well and I’m able to shut down and hibernate for (6) months during the winter to hang with my wife, family, friends & dogs. Wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Extended version: Graduated high school and opted to go the no college route. Pals went off to college and I ended up getting a job at a paving company in their lot marking division, (putting all the white ,yellow fire lanes, handicap stencils, signage) after their paving or sealing division paved or sealed parking lots.
Ended up really enjoying the work and made small improvements to help save time energy and money on each jobsite. Owner liked what I was doing and sorta took me under his wing for the next few years and had me bounce around to the different crews to help with workflow / organization / executions and what not.
Learned a METRIC ton about management, people, machinery, sales, dealing with property managers, HOA’s etc. Around 23’ish? I had an opportunity to join a startup logistics / trucking company and did that till 30ish?
At 30 I realized I was tired trying to build someone else’s dream / vision / lifestyle and sorta tapped in to my life experience bank and set off to get back into the asphalt maintenance industry on my own terms.
I’ve seen the kind of life it’s able to provide from my previous experience working with the paving company and seeing him and his family vacation all damn winter long while I was making him money. 34 now and no plans of stopping anytime soon.
It’s fascinating to me just how many ways there are to make money once you start looking. If you’re on the hunt for some ideas on how to earn income in unique ways, I recommend checking out r/Entrepreneur.
Zach is the author behind Four Pillar Freedom, a blog that teaches you how to build wealth and gain freedom in life.
Zach's favorite free financial tool he's been using since 2015 to manage his net worth is Personal Capital. Each month he uses their free Investment Checkup tool and Retirement Planner to track his investments and ensure that he's on the fast track to financial freedom.
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