Unproven Ideas and Proven Businesses and Jobs

By - January 18, 2013

This page is a collection of interesting ideas for ways to generate income. Some of them have been successful businesses and some are just speculation at this point. Feel free to prove the viability of the latter, or follow in the steps of those who did the former. Or just enjoy reading about the odd ideas and unusual jobs explained here.


I was interviewed by a former radio DJ who had lost his radio program after twenty years. Now he is doing interviews and distributing them online as MP3 downloads or "podcasts." Of course there is all sorts of content you can make into a podcast, from poetry readings to political ponderings to motivational speeches.

You can sell podcasts (it has been done), particularly if they are "how to" guides of some sort, like an interview with a successful stock investor on how to use options. But usually you make money by advertising products in the audio itself or on the website where it is given away.

Bicycle Taxi

When we were in Ecuador visiting family a few years back my wife and I took a bicycle taxi from the bus station where we arrived in Bahia to the docks a mile away, where we would take a boat to San Vicente (there is a bridge now). It cost one dollar for the mile-long trip. Of course the advantage of this kind of taxi business is very low overhead and operating costs. It also would keep you in shape.

Bicycle taxis are nothing new here. I even have a chapter on them in my book, "101 Weird Ways to Make Money." You can charge quite a bit more here in the states too. But in case the bike taxi drivers here haven't yet gotten as creative, I want to mention some of the things they were doing in Ecuador.

For starters they typically had a nice carriage cover so two or three passengers could stay out of the sun and rain. Having a radio or CD player was common, and we enjoyed the music. Later we took a thirty-minute tour of the town for a few bucks. I imagine you could charge $30 here. The drivers were willing to go pick things up for you for a charge, or bring you to and from grocery stores (you might have to lower the rates for these more practical uses). In general they dressed up their bike taxis more elaborately than the ones I've seen here.

Subscribers Suggestions

A subscriber to my Unusual Ways Newsletter, who worked at McDonald's, said he collects an extra fifty cents to a dollar in change each shift from the ground around the drive-through window. People drop change when paying and don't bother to get out of the car to get it. More than twenty-five years ago I also used to collect those coins when I worked in fast food. Not sure if it would ever be worth going from restaurant to restaurant to do so, although I have seen homeless people doing just that to get enough together for their morning coffee.

Another subscriber read about my magazine recycling as a kid and applied what he learned. As a child I took dirty magazines from a newspaper recycling bin and sold them in school. After reading about my experience this subscriber found a stack of collectable magazines in a dumpster and quietly removed them. He later sold them on eBay for a total of $150.

DJ Suggestions

I've had a dozen or so radio interviews about my sites, and the DJs have sometimes suggested ways they or people they know have made money. I won't include a few of them, since these morning "shock jock" shows can be crude to say the least. But after one DJ mentioned a friend who made money as a sperm donor I did some quick research online and found that donors are paid anywhere from $40 to $200 or so, depending on several factors. I put together a page with more information on this, which you can find here:


Another of the DJs who interviewed me said his friend used to work for a turkey processor. His job was to give each turkey an enema before it was processed. This apparently prevents any contamination of the meat. It's an unusual way to make money, to say the least, and awful for the turkey too.

Ticket Vending Idea

Here's an unproven idea waiting for someone to give it a try (who knows, maybe it has been tried, but I haven't heard of it).

In many small and medium-sized towns small bands play at bars for the door receipts. In other words, the cover charge is theirs, so they make a lot or a little depending on the turnout. If you can recognize a group which is growing more popular, you might arrange to buy tickets to their shows from them in advance and then resell them.

The idea here is that since they never know if they'll make much, you can guarantee them a certain amount by buying a certain number of tickets cheap. You take the risk of selling them. For example, if the cover charge for a show will be $10, and the band gets to keep that cover charge, you might buy 50 tickets for $4 each. The band knows from the start that they'll make at least $200. You might sell your tickets for $8 each, saving customers $2, and you only need to sell half to break even. After that the rest are pure profit.

You want a band that is getting popular, and will give you some kind of agreement. For example, with that first purchase, they might agree to give you the option to buy the first 100 tickets for any show, at 40% of retail. The bar and the band may like this arrangement, since you are now motivated to promote them both.

Magic Show Business

There was a magician who performed on Friday nights at a popular pizza parlor where we used to live in Colorado. He went from table-to-table doing a few amazing tricks and making tips. I'm not sure if he was paid anything by the restaurant, and the tips probably weren't great, but that wasn't the point.

The idea of performing at places like this is to generate business. He regularly had people asking him how much he charges for a birthday or office party, and he always had a business card ready for that moment. Doing magic tricks for money is a fairly low-investment business to start. Of course, the time invested to become good at it can be substantial.

Car Buying Consultant

A while back I read about a man who helped people buy cars. He did this primarily for busy executives and those with handicaps. First he talked to the client to determine what he or she needed. Then, from a database of hundreds of models, he narrowed the options down to a few which were most appropriate. At this point he hunted down the best deals at the various dealerships and either brought the cars to the client for a test drive (if the dealership allowed this), or took the client to the sales lot. He negotiated the best price he could for his customer, and said, due to his experience, that he saved them much more than the $200 fee he was paid.

As I recall, he claimed to have as many as 40 clients per month (generating $8,000 in fees), but you would have to lower that target for a smaller town. At some point I'll investigate this further and do a page on the businesses if it still seems viable. Watch the homepage of this site regularly or subscribe to my Unusual Ways Newsletter if you don't want to miss that.

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