1. Mystery Shopper
It’s actually a legit business and can bring in real money with a minimum of up-front effort if you enjoy shopping and have lots of time to kill. The important part is doing it right. Do your research to avoid the perception that you are a scammer, and don’t expect to make a ton of cash straight off the mark.
2. Travel/Tour Guide
What better way to turn a lifetime of living in the same town into pocket money than by becoming a tour guide? Get the word out by building a website and offering commentary online to promote yourself as a local expert. Services such as Genbook can help you manage appointments and scheduling, and any Android phone can download a multi-waypoint map from Google Maps to help you plan your tour route. During your downtime, write a tour guidebook and sell it as a print-on-demand book as well as an e-book and smartphone app.
3. Cab Service
Provided you have a car with a spacious back seat — and you’re good at keeping it clean and tidy — you can start a cab service without much effort. The biggest hurdle is getting the appropriate driver’s licence for your province and/or city. Then, put up a simple website and offer a phone number for customers to schedule pickups. Your phone can double as a calendar and address book to keep track of appointments, and it can work as a GPS device. Check out UberCab, which lets passengers book directly from their iPhone.
In the old days, video production professionals had a van filled with expensive equipment and hauled it (and its crew) from location to location to get a day’s worth of shots. Now, pocket video cameras have reached HD quality and you can even shoot with high-end smartphones that include basic video editing features. If you’re shooting custom video for clients, you can distribute footage directly to them while you’re still on location, or upload it to YouTube with little more than a click and a swipe.
Resource: www.play.google.com – Magisto video editor and maker
5. Life Coach
Life coaching is a fast-growing market in South Africa as people want and need direction on how to live and work to their full potential. With the right credentials and testimonials, you need minimal infrastructure to get started. Put up a website and when clients come calling, book face-to-face meetings at their location. You can charge premium rates or monthly retainers for folks who’d like 24/7 attention.
Resource: The South African Institute for Life Coach Training – www.lifecoachtraining.co.za, and www.coachdirectory.co.za/coaching_schools_southafrica.asp
It may seem crazy to start a writing career from a smartphone, but it’s been done before and blogging is a good place to start. A variety of iPhone apps exist for the major blog platforms, including WordPress and Tumblr, and many other platforms such as TypePad have mobile services built in. But why stop at blogging? In Japan it’s becoming popular to write and distribute entire novels via cell phone, specifically text message. In 2007, five of the top ten bestselling novels in Japan were ‘cellphone novels’ written specifically for the medium.
Resource: www.typepad.com, iBlogger from iTunes App Store
7. Virtual Assistant
Who doesn’t need a little helping hand from time to time? Virtual assistants let people with too much on their plate outsource the most menial tasks to a minion. That’s you! Exactly what you do is up to you and your client, but the most successful virtual assistants are the ones who will do just about anything that falls even remotely within the law. Realistically you’ll be buying event tickets, researching holiday spots and accommodation, fetching dry cleaning, and even pet-sitting from time to time, but requests can run the gamut from the mundane to the extravagant. Be clear about your fee structure – most assistants bill hourly plus expenses, or offer pre-packaged monthly deals for a set number of tasks – then promote the hell out of yourself.
Resource: Check out www.freelancer.com to see what the most successful personal assistants are offering and how they promote themselves.
8. ‘Personal’ Phone Service Operator
When all else fails, you can always talk to people on the phone. This doesn’t take a lot of skill or much in the way of set-up beyond getting an 0800, 0860 or 0861 number (plus a mechanism to accept credit card payments). Want to give out recipe advice, sports-betting picks, or psychic readings? Whatever floats your boat, chances are good that someone out there is willing to pay to listen to you say it.
Resource: www.telkom.co.za for business lines and smart services
9. Tech Support
Are you the one everyone calls when their computer bottoms out? Why not get paid for it by fixing the computers and answering the technical questions of helpless strangers?
A good web page touting your services is critical here. Use keywords and make sure you’re specific about the local boundaries of any on-site service. Most people looking for help will Google ‘city name + tech support’, so use your mad SEO skills to design a page that beginners will understand and search engines will love — remember, these are frustrated people who can’t figure out why the fonts are so small on their new monitor, so simple and clear language is key.
Resource: www.wordpress.com to get your website up and running.
eBay may have been the hottest tech company of the last millennium but there are plenty of new auction sites (and local ones at that) giving you business opportunities in the auction field. Rummage through garage sales, storage centre forfeiture sales and community markets for buried treasure, and then relist the items at auction. Make your own items and offer them up online, or set up shop helping people who want to sell online but don’t know how or don’t have the inclination to deal with buyers.