How to Make Money Doing Odd Jobs

If you've ever wanted to fill in spare time by picking up a few dollars, why not consider the world of odd jobs, the tasks people are willing to pay others small sums to complete? These are traditional summer fillers for teenagers, simple household chores like mowing lawns, weeding flower beds, or babysitting.

If that type of pleasant, profitable activity sounds appealing, you're in luck. The internet has made it easier than ever to pick up odd jobs, and the numbers of busy people who just can't spare a few hours to finish their own to-do lists have never been greater. Some of the listings you find will also be short-term part-time work like handing out flyers in a neighborhood for an afternoon, so you can choose to do odd job work for an individual or a business.

Where To Find Them

The web provides an entire universe of odd job listings, suited to every taste and talent. The websites carrying listings (which look rather like person-to-person classified ads, and often appear commingled with standard classifieds) are usually national ones, with regional listings for every locality. Just search for the name of your hometown plus "odd jobs" to find pages of opportunities.

Craigslist is the standard community bulletin board for the U.S., and a site called OddJobNation also contains solid leads by geographic area. The latter is less well known, but increasingly popular, and it permits both employers to post small job requests and those seeking employment to post their qualifications and pitches for jobs.

Don't overlook the online employment ads in your hometown's news outlet, because many of them have a specific category named "odd jobs," with a wide range of choices. You will never have heard of some of the activities for which workers are needed, for example "snaking a line" (which refers to a plumbing repair). Do not try to fake it: if a customer expects you to snake a line, or jack a sill, you must know what is wanted and how to do it safely.

Here are actual recent examples of odd job listings from a city of 300,000 people: lawn clean-up, opera singers for flash mob, moving help, and an offer to trade daycare for electric work. Some of the listings are for odd jobs at someone's house, some look like regular employment, but many are for brief periods like special events (perhaps a stagehand or banquet server on a big convention weekend). As you see, the variety is impressive, and you're sure to find some congenial task.

Types of Odd Jobs

Here are some categories of work that appear frequently on the listings pages. You may choose between work done indoors in a home or office, or work done outside, work that requires some technical skill and work anyone can do.

  • Assemble or paint furniture. Householders will often attempt to do a chore, then discover they don't have the ability to finish. One sample listing indicated a person was stymied in putting together a bed, and offered fifty dollars for an hour's labor to complete the job.
  • Babysitting. This work can cover a few hours, but extended engagements are possible. One listing sought a companion to take an 11-year-old girl to various activities (museums, batting cages) every weekday during the summer.
  • Car repairs. This can be simple maintenance (changing oil or adding brake fluid), or cosmetic fixes. One listing requested a person who could repair a nonfunctional inner door handle and paint a small section of the exterior of the car.
  • Residential or commercial cleaning. This work can be for special projects, or recurring jobs. Frequently when people who move want to recover a security deposit, they'll hire someone to clean and repaint an apartment for less than the landlord would deduct for the same service from their deposit money.
  • Computer repair. You may wish to make yourself an expert on startup for Windows systems, for example, and advertise yourself as such, refusing payment unless you succeed. Or you can put old computers sold for a song into operation again.
  • Hand out flyers or product samples. Local businesses hire people to do these jobs on weekends, and householders having garage sales or trying to sell their houses sometimes hire.
  • Gardening. You can mow lawns, rake leaves, weed flower and vegetable beds, and fertilize. Small tasks pay less than landscaping projects (planting one tree or an entire garden's worth of shrubbery), but they're easier to find.
  • Move furniture. If you have a vehicle, you can advertise as a moving and clean-up service, doubling your earnings.
  • Move, install, or repair major appliances. There are instructions available on the web for repairs like changing a refrigerator's defrost and timer units, or replacing a washer's agitator, and you can order parts online.
  • Residential or commercial painting. A typical listing might seek a person willing to paint a few rooms plus a stairwell in a commercial building. The employer should specify whether he has painting supplies, including dropcloths and ladder, or expects you to bring your own.
  • Pet care. These jobs can cover short periods of time (dog walking or trips to the vet), or last a week or more if the owner wants you to stay in the house with the pets.
  • Household repairs. A real-world example might be to pull up and reseat a leaking toilet, replacing the wax ring and flapper valve and applying new sealant around the base.
  • Renovation projects. Expect to perform chores like installing tile or laying carpet.
  • Run errands, perhaps to pick up groceries or dry cleaning, or do business at the post office.
  • Set up for and clean up after parties, or do some entertaining. One listing wanted an attendant for a photo booth rented out for parties, to take the pictures and interact with the guests.
  • Collect scrap metal or aluminum cans.
  • Wash or detail cars and boats.