Like it or not, one way to support yourself while you're otherwise unemployed is to take on "odd jobs." Whether you were laid off, or you left your nine-to-five to follow your dreams, most people can't last long on zero income.
There's certainly a pride-hurdle many have to get over to work these jobs, but there are also benefits: You're self-employed, hours are often flexible, and if you find you actually like the work, you can try to make a life of it. A dog walker, for instance, can start a dog walking company, employ an army of dog walkers, and take a cut of their fees.
But first you have to decide which odd jobs you're willing to do. For most, the pros and cons are both obvious and subjective (babysitting has zero pros if you don't like kids), so we've compiled the hidden perks and drags for a few popular odd jobs, as well as what you can expect in compensation for each.
Hidden perk: Dog walkers may have to handle a lot more poop than those with office jobs, but you can bet they're in a lot better shape, as well. One New York dog walker told told NPR he racks up 10 miles a day. That's about a thousand calories for a medium-sized man.
Hidden drag: If you're the type of person who loses their keys often, you might want to skip ahead. A career dog walker can be responsible for "the keys to 200 apartments," says NPR.
Income: Depending on where they live, dog walkers can make anywhere from $10 for a short walk to $30 for an hour-long one. And some charge an extra $5 for off-hours (6p.m. to 9a.m.). So, say you charge $15, and you can walk 10 dogs a day, five days a week, says DogWalker.com. That's $39,000 a year, excluding variables like vacation time and tips. On top of that, a lot of dog-walkers do extra services, like cat visits, or overnight stays, which they charge in the $50 range for.
One woman, who started a company that employed two other dog walkers, reportedly makes $100,000.
Hidden perk: Sometimes kids take naps, which means you get paid to watch TV for an hour or so. That's a perk for everyone, no matter how much you like kids or enjoy finger painting time.
Hidden drag: You get sick a lot. Kids are like Petri dishes — their immune systems are still building up anti-bodies and learning how to fight off germs. That means they're often filled to the brim with bacteria, and they don't yet have the good manners to cover their mouths when they sneeze. Frequent babysitters need to take tons of Emergen-C.
Income: Babysitting rates vary across the country, but the average is around $12 an hour (notice that's far less than what an accomplished dog-walker makes). If you're working full-time as a babysitter, you're actually a nanny, and the median pay for that job is in the $23,000 range.
Nude art modeling:
Hidden perk: Some nude models — the men and women who pose for artists during sketch classes or private drawing sessions — have reported that the work helps them feel more comfortable with their bodies, and generally improves their self-esteem.
Hidden drag: Assuming you're comfortable with the nudity part, the greatest challenge of nude art modeling is posing as still as a statue for 45 minutes or more. That means no itching, slouching, wiping the sweat from your forehead — nothing. If you get restless or itchy easily, this probably isn't for you.
Pay: This varies a lot. Nude models make anywhere between $15 and $50 an hour. On the high end of that, a few gigs a week can really add up. But chances are slim you'll ever foray this into full-time employment.
Hidden perk: The idea of fathering 150 children you'll never meet may be kind of irksome. But, from an evolutionary standpoint, you're certainly beating the rest of us at getting your genes out there.
Hidden drag: If you make it through the elimination process (only about five percent of guys do), you'll have to contend with another awkward issue. Here's Cracked writer Sean Berkley on the downside of regularly donating sperm:
Sperm donation, as it turns out, has a pretty significant impact on your personal life, far beyond just having to take some time out each week to make your deposits. As mentioned above, you have to have an above-average sperm count for the whole process to be viable, so as such, you're required to be abstinent two to three days before making a deposit. So if you're trying to maximize your profits by donating twice a week, that leaves one day per week that you can do with your genitals as you please.
If you're in a relationship, this limits your sex life pretty considerably, so you and your significant other have to plan no-pants time around your donation schedule. [Cracked]
Pay: According to AskMen, you'll earn between $50 and $200 a specimen, and you can only do it a couple times a week, if that. So even guys with premium sperm who follow a very consistent schedule of donating it won't make more than $20,000 a year.