12 Weird, Ridiculous, Creepy, and Gross Ways to Make Money in 2019
Make Change Staff
How far would you go to make a few extra bucks? Sure, you could pick up a gig as an Uber or Lyft driver, or spend your weekends running errands for strangers, but did you know you could pick up a thousand dollars each month selling your poop? The truly innovative amongst us have found all sorts of ways to boost their rainy-day funds, including snuggling strangers, harvesting roadkill, and taste-testing dog food. Here's a roundup of some of the most ridiculous, gross, and creepy (but still legal) ways you can make money in 2019.
To put it simply, professional cuddlers are people who get paid to snuggle up with strangers in need of some (platonic) love. In the last few years, companies like Snuggle Buddies, the Snuggery, and Cuddle Comfort have popped up to connect cuddlers with cuddlees. Like Uber, cuddlers choose when and where they work, but it pays much better—cuddlers can make up to $80 bucks an hour.
In 2015, CNN wrote about an MIT research assistant who made $1,000 dollars a month selling his poop to labs to use in fecal transplants. Poop transplants are exactly what they sound like: it involves taking one person’s poop and putting it inside someone else’s colon, usually because the recipient is missing a crucial gut bacterium and getting sick as a result. It sounds like the nastiest thing ever, but it saves lives—more than 250,000 people get sick with Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, each year, and 14,000 of them die—and you can pretty much make your rent doing something you’re going to do regardless.
Note, this isn’t for everyone—only 3 percent of people have the “perfect poop” required for fecal transplants. But hey, worth looking into, right?
Be a friend
I know what you’re thinking: back in my day you had to go out and find these things on your own. But it’s 2019, and there’s a huge market for friendship. It’s so huge, in fact, that you can rent a friend for just about anything: in a new city and want a tour guide? Rent a friend. Want to learn to surf but don’t want to pay for lessons? Rent a friend. Want to try a new restaurant but don’t want to eat alone? You get the idea. And you can be that friend. Chances are you’re not going to meet your new BFF, but you can make $50 an hour, so there’s that.
Sell your used underwear
Yeah, it’s a real thing. Apparently, there’s a huge demand out there for used women’s underwear, and it can be a pretty lucrative business. It doesn’t even matter why you’re throwing them out: weird stain? Too small? Holes in them? Those likely sell for a premium (we know, gross). But one person’s disgust is another’s fetish, and there’s a high demand. In the subreddit "/r/pantyselling” men and women tell their stories of both selling and buying panties, and they seem to be positive experiences on both sides. Once you get over the whole creepiness factor, you can make around $50 bucks a pair.
Keep in mind: this isn’t a new business. In Japan, vending machines selling used panties were a thing for years, until they got shut down because the government got worried that men were wearing the panties, not women. Yeah, that was the only reason. Ponder that.
Collect dog poop
If you’ve aspired to own your own business, but worry about the startup costs, perhaps it’s time to consider the dog-waste industry. It’s not glamorous, but hey, you can make $45 bucks an hour with a startup costs as low as $150. In his book, “The Professional Pooper-Scooper: How to Start Your Own Low-Cost, High Profit Dog Waste Removal Service,” Matthew Osborn outlines everything you need to plan, start, market, and manage a poop-picker-upper business. Osborn talks about his own 10-year journey to success as the founder of Pet Butler Dog Waste Removal Service in Columbus, Ohio, where he grew his business to revenues more than $20,000 per month. And then he wrote a book about it.
Be really good at crying
Professional mourners—people paid to cry at funerals—have been common in Asian and Hispanic countries for decades, but have recently started to take off in America and Europe. Now this gig isn’t as easy as showing up, shedding a few tears, and collecting cash—professional mourners essentially assume fake identities and convince attendees they’re part of the family or friend group. Not only do you have to be able to cry on demand—which isn’t easy—prepping for a funeral demands extensive research into the lives of the deceased. After all, you have to pretend you knew them well enough to care. But if you’re good at it, you can charge premiums that make spending a few hours of your week crying seem like the best financial decision out there. In a viral Facebook post, a professional mourner posted his rates ranging from $50 for a “normal cry” to $1,000 to be so upset he’ll actually jump into the grave. Talk about a send-off.
Remove head lice
If you're not easily grossed out (or if you've watched National Geographic videos of animals grooming each other and thought, "Right on!") then starting a side hustle as a head lice technician may be the right call for you. Apply at LiceDoctors, where you can make up to $30 per hour for providing home service lice removal. You have to have a car, but you'll be reimbursed for your gas mileage. Granted, picking nits out of strangers’ heads may not be your dream job, but the procedure gives you plenty of time to bond with your newfound comrades and helping people in need.
Sure, the infamous NASA sleep study offered the chance to ruin your body by remaining vertical for months at a time for the tempting sum of $18,000, but you don’t have to go that far to still rack up cash in your sleep. For clinical sleep trials, you can expect to make up to $100 for tasks completed in the application stage, and up to $6,000 for a week-long study, if you qualify. But if you’d rather not be a human lab rat, you can also earn money as a bed tester for mattress and duvet companies. Pay varies, but Mattress Firm offers their Snoozetern an hourly rate for 20 hours per week for testing out new mattresses and blogging about the experience. It’s literally a dream job.
Depending on the state in which you live, it might be legal for you to harvest roadkill, that you can then turn into ... gustatory delicacies. We’re not suggesting you scrape up Sparkles the Wonder Kitty (RIP) and turn her into a burger, but State Farm reported that in 2018, drivers in the U.S. had approximately 1.3 million collisions with deer, elk, moose, or caribou. That’s a lot of antibiotic-, hormone-, and growth stimulant-free venison left on the road. PETA suggests eating roadkill can even be healthier (and more humane) than other sources of meat. And with elk meat fetching up to $18.90 per pound, it might just be worth your time to grab a shovel and hit the road.
Eat dog food
Dogs won’t eat just anything, and they’re really more interested in what’s on your dinner plate instead of the biscuit box. But dog food companies want your pup to get really excited when you break out their brands—which is why some dog food companies pay for human taste-testers. The job is exactly like it sounds: you eat dog food—wet, dry, and fancy “homemade” varieties—and you get paid. Butternut Box in the UK paid testers £600 for a single taste test, while full time taste testers (at least in the UK) can make £20,000 to £50,000 a year.
Be a matchmaker
Love that beginning-of-a-romance feeling? Now you can experience it vicariously through the couples you connect—and get paid to do it. Sites like Tawkify pay people in their spare time to play virtual matchmaker—or as they put it “interactive dating concierge.” Your job is to take on a “client,” learning their likes, dislikes, and dating history, and then screen potential matches from the “database.” From there you work behind the scenes to set up first dates and collect feedback (that’s right, feedback) to see if your client wants to pursue a relationship. Tawkify doesn’t publish pay rates, but some people reported making thousands of dollars as an interactive dating concierge.
Sell your virtual world
In-game purchases are here to stay, and many players have made money on the side by selling their virtual in-game goods. Steam, a platform for indie and mainstream video games, has a virtual marketplace where buyers can haggle over everything from rare weapon drops to character clothing. Can you leave the real world behind and work entirely in your virtual one? Probably not, but some players have made thousands (if not millions), selling in-game. Ailin Graef reportedly made millions, starting by creating and selling character clothing before transitioning into virtual real estate in games like Second Life.
None of these side hustles sound glamorous, but when you’re talking earning up to an extra $1,000 a month you could put toward that crazy-high rent, student loans, or credit debt, we’re not here to judge. You do your dog food testing, poop selling, matchmaking, roadkill harvesting, thing.