Can You Make Money Doing Anything?

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by Ryan

Is there anything in the world you can’t do to make money? Since money is simply the exchange of value do you think that people are willing to pay you for almost anything? Do people value everything? I’d argue that you can make money doing nearly anything since there’s such a vast array of personal preferences and tastes along with a huge amount of disposable income. With the creation of the internet the world has literally become the marketplace so you can become super specialized. Your imagination is the limit on how you can make money.

The Basics

For the basics… Can you get paid to eat and sleep? I don’t see why not… you can get into competitive eating. Did you ever see the skinny Japanese dude who holds the world record for 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes? If you don’t want to stuff your face you could become a food critic or start your own niche website about a particular type of food, kinda like this site. Or maybe you could become a food critic and even start your own online cooking show.

Sleeping may be a bit harder, but I’ve heard that researchers are willing to pay you for sleeping experiments. In fact, there are examples of it here and here of people making thousands of dollars… you guessed it… to sleep!

Why You Can Make Money Doing Anything

If you’re a modern day Tom Sawyer, instead of selling your friends to paint a fence you could tell them that a pet rock might be a cool gift idea. If someone can make money selling rocks with eyeballs glued to them, you can make money following your passion! You could talk about your hobby, you could cry about Britney Spears, or you could maybe jump out of planes for a living. The reason you can making money doing anything is because people have disposable income. Therefore people who have disposable income will spend it on anything above and beyond their basic necessities. As long as it entertains them or makes them feel good they’ll spend it on your business or you specifically.

There’s only a handful of things you probably couldn’t make money doing, however I can’t think of any. As I was thinking about things you couldn’t make money doing killing people came to mind, but oh wait… you could become a professional hit man or join the military. I’m stumped and can’t think of anything really that you couldn’t find a way to make money doing it. With enough creativity and a desire to take a chance you could be making money doing the things you enjoy as well. However, I advise against being a hit man.

Things I’d Like to Make Money Doing

There are a couple unconventional things I’d like to get paid to do which include: playing the piano, scuba diving, and talking to people about achieving their dreams… oh wait… that already happens via this site 😉 For piano I could create and sell MP3’s, I could perform on the street here in Waikiki (which I actually plan on doing within the next year for fun), or I could try to book gigs. For scuba diving I could become an instructor, create a chartering business for rich clientele, go into photography, sell scuba related products, or create websites about scuba information and sell affiliate products. One person who has my dream scuba job is the editor of Scuba Magazine. He gets paid to dive and write about diving… how sweet is that!

Degree Sold Separately

My point is… you don’t need a standard career to make money, you simply have to find something related to what you enjoy doing and find a way to provide for people who enjoy the service or product you enjoy. This is the way entrepreneurs think, and this is the way I recommend looking at the world. A degree and career is not required to make this possible. Only the choice to mix what you enjoy with a way to make money doing it.

What kind of things do you want to get paid to do?

What’s the strangest thing you’ve heard someone get paid to do?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Simple in France April 20, 2010 at 1:07 am

I like the way you mention that a degree is not always necessary (or even helpful) for doing what you want.

I also like the (unspoken) way you think–while anyone can make some money doing almost anything, you, Ryan, have low living expenses–which allows you substantially more freedom to chose how you make money.

Moon Hussain April 20, 2010 at 3:41 am

There’s a lot you can do to earn money. I don’t think having a degree is a bad thing–it teaches you a lot and helps you learn a focus.

I think to make it big, you have to think different. You’re right–you can earn money any way you want these days.
.-= Moon Hussain´s last blog ..Fun Friday Round-Up: Delish Posts to Savour =-.

Budgeting in the Fun Stuff April 20, 2010 at 5:25 am

I would love to get paid to talk to people. I’ve made about $200 from my blog so far, so yay! I’d also love to get paid to sell things on Craigslist for people, but I gave up when the second flaky person cancelled at the last minute. So I Craigslist stuff for family and am happy to help them reclaim their garages…

My husband would love to get paid to Curl (yes, the ice sport). Since we live in Houston and the closest Curling club is the one he’s joined in Friendswood an hour away, I don’t know how he could go about pursuing this dream. He’d also love to get paid to board game and play Magic: The Gathering…I don’t have any great ideas about that either.

He does get paid for sports officiating, which he loves.

Oh, and the strangest thing to get paid for question is tough. I guess I’d pick one of the jobs I’ve seen Mike Rowe do on Dirty Jobs, collect fishing worms to sell. I used to do that for my uncles when I was a kid all the time, and I never got paid…

LivingOurWay April 20, 2010 at 5:26 am

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I would love to build an income making money in untraditional ways rather than being tied to a 9-5 job. We currently telecommute but I’m ready for more freedom than even that offers. I’ve always been vocal about not needing a college degree even though I have one.
.-= LivingOurWay´s last blog ..News From the Garden =-.

Ryan April 20, 2010 at 6:11 am

You can make money doing anything. If you’re not making money, YOU are not making money. It has nothing to do with your job and everything to do with your creativity.

Money is just an idea. Shortage of money = shortage of lucrative ideas.
.-= Ryan´s last blog ..The Top 7 Cash Gifting Questions Of All Time Answered Today! =-.

LenciB: Falling Into favor April 20, 2010 at 8:38 am

Interesting. Very timely post…especially since I’m looking for a part time job. I’d like to be doing something that I enjoy so that I don’t hate life because of it.

If you like making things – cards, photo albums, shirts – you can sell it on I like to work with kids, so I’m thinking about something part time at a day care or school. Or maybe as a tutor, which I’ve done before.
.-= LenciB: Falling Into favor´s last blog ..Stop & Listen =-.

Roshawn @ Watson Inc April 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

I certainly get your point. I guess it is such unconventional thinking that some truly capitalize on and make big financial gains anyway, not just picking up another job. Thanks for the post.
.-= Roshawn @ Watson Inc´s last blog ..It’s Tax Time, Are You Ready? =-.

Arlene April 20, 2010 at 10:20 am

Interesting post and one that gives you many different ideas, My husband and I went back to teaching ballroom dancing just a month ago and we’re in our fifties! A lot people that we knew saw how we were still dancing the ballroom and ask if we could teach them. So now we are earning money doing something we enjoy together.

Scott Barron April 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I thought of a few more odd-balls.

Donna Simpson, from New Jersey, weighs 273kg but told the Daily Mail newspaper she had her heart set on reaching her goal weight of 1000lb (450kg) in two years.

To put on enough weight, Ms Simpson will need to eat 12,000 calories a day, which is six times the recommended daily intake for women.

In order to pay for the enormous amounts of food she is eating — her weekly grocery bill is $815 — Ms Simpson makes money by running a website where men pay to watch her consume fast food.

And don’t forget these 3:
Kate Gosselin. Yes, Kate + 8. Making money as a “Reality TV Star”.
Nadya Denise Doud-Suleman Gutierrez. Otherwise known as b>“Octomom”.
Paris Hilton…just being born rich and people obsess over.

**Scratching forehead**
.-= Scott Barron´s last blog ..My First Guest Post: Please Read! =-.

kt April 21, 2010 at 6:14 am

i would love to make a living travelling the world and from my blog or from mountain biking or hiking. the strangest things that i have ever heard anyone been paid to do is being a hotel critic- i mean you get to stay in hotels all over the world and get paid for bashing the service there??
.-= kt´s last blog ..what is the “bull market”?? =-.

Kristine April 21, 2010 at 7:54 am

I think the only limits we impose on earning money are the limits we impose on ourselves. Esther and Jerry Hicks said in their book, Ask and it is Given, “If you have the ability to imagine it, or even think about it, this Universe has the ability and the resources to deliver it fully unto you.”

Awesome post. Great examples.

Kate April 21, 2010 at 10:10 am

Great ideas, I would love to figure out how I can make some supplemental income! I have often thought about starting a personal website and seeing what happens.

Awesome post!

Jaime April 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

@Scott – Wow thanks for that info, you really CAN make money doing anything! That is crazy.

My husband is a performing artist and juggler professionally and makes an excellent income. ( Most people don’t believe that you can actually make a decent living throwing stuff, but it can be done!

That being said they are very good with marketing and sales. I feel like you can make money doing anything, you just need to know how to sell it! 🙂
.-= Jaime´s last blog ..What I Did With a $10,000 Refund =-.

Kevin@Invest It Wisely April 21, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Don’t forget that there are many forms of “payment” that are not in forms of cash, but still contain value. Reputation, for instance. It’s one reason why people do altruistic acts such as volunteering or helping other people with seemingly no benefit in return. Although no cash changes hand, there is still value being exchanged!

That said, a few extra bucks never hurts 🙂
.-= Kevin@Invest It Wisely´s last blog ..Fixed Rate and Variable Rate Mortgages: Which is Better? =-.

James April 23, 2010 at 10:53 am

I love Basketball and I train kids as an extra source of income.

Brandon Schmid April 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

I know how to get paid while I sleep, but not necessarily for sleeping lol.

So long as there is a market for what you do I think it is quite possible to get paid for doing anything.

Think of it. There are people out there that get paid to play video games. How cool is that?


.-= Brandon Schmid´s last blog ..Tips on Budgeting– A dollar saved is 2 dollars earned =-.

Running Bear April 24, 2010 at 5:43 am

Hi Ryan,
Great article. Great way of looking at things. I never thought of getting paid for eating and sleeping before, but I can see that with persistence, it is certainly possible. I am still working towards my dream job, but what I currently do comes pretty close.
.-= Running Bear´s last blog ..The importance of having a success only mindset =-.

Monevator April 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm

I think you can make money doing anything.

I’m not sure you can make *enough* money doing anything, or even close, unless you’re very talented, lucky, or clever about your positioning.

The danger is when you make *a little* money doing something, then try for years to blow that coal into a fire. I’ve seen people waste years and years on it.
.-= Monevator´s last blog ..Weekend reading: Current asset valuations =-.

Mike April 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm

I remember back in the late 70’s or early 80’s there was a novelty toy called “The Pet Rock” Somebody went out and got a bunch of rounded stones, and packaged them as a pet along with a ‘training manual”. Put it on a hill and it will roll over… Tell it to stay and it does… So yes, I guess you can make money doing just about anything.
.-= Mike´s last blog ..1Cover =-.

Daniel Johnston April 25, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Certainly almost anything you can be paid to do because nearly anything will be of value to someone, and people will give money in exchange for value. It is very possible to earn money doing what you love for that very reason. Entertainment is one of the most lucrative industries, because people like to be entertained more than they want services from a skill such as doctoring or lawyering, and can be done to masses instead of a small group of people or even only a single person at one time.

I have been racking my brain for possibilities on different things that could be done that would not pay back money. I think I may have found one in the opposite of your possible idea as a hit man. I was considering hurting yourself as a possibility, however, sadists may pay for that. But for killing yourself, I doubt people would pay you money. Still, I don’t know whether sadists get joy over other’s killing themselves or not. Either way, that money is not going to do much good if you’re dead, and obviously they probably wouldn’t give it to your family, either, for multiple reasons, which I assume are obvious to everyone reading this.

The kinds of things I’d like to make money doing are many and several. Chess is one; the prize fund for doing well contains a large amount of money. Also, the stock market, and writing. Blogging, social networking, and website building, video creation.

However, I am not paid to do the following things which I would like to be: Sleeping, eating, playing sports, videogames (I don’t really like videogames as I think they’re a waste of time, but if I get paid enough, then I might reconsider), watching TV (I also view watching TV as a waste of time, but doing it in exchange for money would make it painless unless the TV on is less than stellar), relaxing, going on vacation is a quick list. Most of the things that I thought about putting above I actually do get paid for. For example, buying a computer or book can be turned into profit by reviewing it on a website, so very little I do is done without gaining a return

It is hard for me to say some of the oddest things I have ever heard people getting paid for because I don’t really find it odd to get paid for anything. However, I would have to say all the banks, financial instituions and advisors, and brokers getting paid to lose your money, which we all know about. Also, the celebraties from reality TV, and people doing stupid, ridiculous things such as jumping out of planes, etc.

Getting a degree is not necessarily bad, and it depends on the person and their personal, special interests. If one has no hobbies that pay well, than it pay be a very unsavory move depending the persons expenses. If the person has low expenes, though, then it may be a possible and life-improving move. Obviously the latter counterpart to that would be in the occasion that the pay is not good enough. Also if one wants to be a lawyer, doctor, or even corporate worker, then getting a degree would be a smart move. Getting a degree may be valuable in some cases, however, for budding entreprenuers such as you, it is definitely not necessary to make a living, because, as you say, you can make a living doing almost anything.

RJ Weiss April 26, 2010 at 5:31 am


Another big fan of basketball. I got paid, although very little, to coach a high school sophomore team. The memories and relationships were amazing just from one season. I plan to do it again in the future.
.-= RJ Weiss´s last blog ..25 Ways You Can Improve Your Finances Now =-.

Joe Plemon April 27, 2010 at 6:42 am

I love the way this post challenges our conventional thinking. Most people (myself included) just don’t expand our thinking to include doing “anything” to make money. The Job Monkey web site lists actual job openings that are off the radar for many of us. For example, if you like blowing things up, you can get paid for it by becoming a licensed commercial pyrotechnician.

Ben April 27, 2010 at 7:03 pm

The one reinvented the circle and sold it as a hola-hoop was a genius 🙂

Aury (Thunderdrake) April 28, 2010 at 8:41 am

Blogging is a great example of making money for being an internet addict. *cackles.*

But between that and investing, I’m also looking to explore some other literary mediums!
.-= Aury (Thunderdrake)´s last blog ..The Hoarding Dragon – The difference between knowledge and experience =-.

James April 29, 2010 at 9:24 am

i would love to get paid to be a personal assistant that didn’t really assist at anything but just hung out and went to nice lunches, hit golf balls at the range, test drove cars, went on month long yachting trips.

or it would be cool to be a hotel, car or resort critic. you would get the best service and have the opportunity to see and doing amazing things.

Personal Finance May 3, 2010 at 11:44 pm

A degree does not necessarily help you in your career except that it can get you in better than no degree. The rest is your experience in life. You can surely make money doing anything for folks. But the thing that comes back to you is how much you can be contented with. And that creates a problem as we see it everyday.
.-= Personal Finance´s last blog ..Sincere Millions Caused To Suffer Needlessly – A Naive Look =-.

Noah Rainey May 11, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Haha, great analogy Ryan (Tomy Sawyer). I think your right. It’s possible to make money following you passion/hobby. In fact thousands of bloggers are doing this around the web (obviously). Thanks for this inspiring post Ryan :)!
.-= Noah Rainey´s last blog ..ThemeSheep – 3 New Upcoming Themes – Sunday May 9-10, 2010 =-.

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