Making a ton of money often requires years of hard work and toil. For others, it just comes from a spark of inspiration and they’re making lots of money the very next day. Here are some of the creative ways in which people made a lot of money by going down a less traditional route.
1. Selling Snow
You might think that selling snow would never work because there are so many places in the world where you can get it for free. One man from Massachusetts completely turned this on its head by opening up a store and selling snow for $89. Each package includes one-day shipping to anywhere in the US and contains enough snow to make about a dozen snowballs.
The containers are not temperature-controlled, so buyers in places like California and Nevada will receive a cup of water. The idea came after Boston’s brutal winter, and since then many American entrepreneurs have replicated the idea, but ShipSnowYo has been the archetype of this idea.
2. Sending Glitter to Your Enemies
Why glitter? Why did this idea work? What does it accomplish?
This is purely a novelty business, but Ship Your Enemies Glitter has evolved into a thriving business. They sell glitter bombs for just $9.99 anywhere in the world. Essentially it’s just an envelope filled to the brim with glitter.
When the person opens it, they get glitter everywhere and it takes them forever to clean up. It’s a childish prank that the makers of the website have managed to turn into a thriving business.
3. Sending People a Big Bag of Dicks Candies
What started out as a childish prank quickly turned into an idea that had real business potential. It’s not just for your enemies, it can also make your friends smile. The business that pioneered this idea was Dicks By Mail.
The concept is a simple one. These are just gummy candies that have been fashioned into penis shapes. Each product costs about $15 plus shipping. The company makes an enormous margin on this novelty product. It’s become such a hit that the business has been featured on both Vice and the Huffington Post.
4. Playing Video Games on Live Streaming Site Twitch
Playing video games online for money has been a viable way to make money for years. It’s also evolved in many different directions. One of those evolutions is the introduction of live streaming. Twitch is perhaps the most well-known platform where gamers can play and earn money through becoming a partner with the service.
Bonnell is one of the most popular streamers on the platform, with well over 60 million viewers. He streams the MMO game Starcraft. The key to his success isn’t just using Twitch to make money. He makes much of his income through building up his brand through his website.
For many gamers on Twitch, this is just their main promotion vehicle. Once they grab fans they use other outlets to sell products, including exclusive access to them. Bonnell has been one of the champions of this diversification strategy.
5. Selling Online Pixels
Alex Tew was a student in England in 2005 when he opened up a site called The Million Dollar Homepage. This site consisted of a homepage where thousands of pixels were available. People could click on the pixels to make them exclusive to them. The tagline ‘Own a piece of Internet history’ stuck and it became a business with a huge amount of publicity.
Today the idea has largely fallen by the wayside. A visit to the site today will reveal a site that’s practically drained of activity. The march of technology has eliminated the need for pixels and there’s now no chance of copying this idea. Tew has since moved onto other business ventures.
However, the concept of selling online pixels made Tew a wealthy man and the site remains online for future generations.
6. Selling Pet Rocks
The pet rock idea has frequently come about over the years. There have been many pretenders, but the original man behind the idea was Gary Dahl. Entrepreneur Gary Dahl originally played with the idea as a joke among friends. Only when his friends said it was a clever idea did he launch this business idea into action.
One of the most common gag gifts in the world was born in 1975 when Dahl grabbed a bunch of rocks and combined it with an instruction manual. The manual itself was essentially a joke book filled with puns and other jokes created by Dahl.
The pet rock became one of the icons of that year. The fad only lasted for about six months, but it’s been imitated frequently over the years, showing how lucrative a simple idea like this can be.
7. Playing Virtual Reality Games Like Second Life
Second Life is exactly what you would expect it to be. You play as a virtual avatar and you play your way through a world that’s extremely similar to the real world. At face value this is nothing more than a conventional game that people play to get away from the rigors of life.
But Jenna Bagwell has turned it into a full-time career. She works from home and logs on each day to sell virtual goods. These goods can be converted into real money through online payment platforms like PayPal. She also sells virtual Linden Dollars through PayPal.
Within the game her avatar sells plots of virtual land for in-game currency, which she then sells for real money. It’s an elaborate scheme that has been replicated in other video games. However, it has never been replicated on this scale. Bagwell claims to make over $100,000 every year from her efforts.
8. Making Blankets from Animal Fur
Thousands of animals are killed every year for food and other uses. It’s important to use as much of the animal as possible to prevent anything from going to waste. Making blankets from animal fur is a practice that dates back to the beginning of humanity.
Morris Kaye is one entrepreneur who has made a living out of showing people how to make blankets out of animal fur. Most of her guides involve making blankets from conventional animals, but her principles can be applied to practically any animal. Her business is all about selling these blankets for a profit.
9. Creating Sunglasses for Dogs
Sunglasses for dogs are usually something you only expect to see in comedy sketches. One couple transformed this concept into a money-making opportunity through the invention of Doggles.
The couple from California originally decided to invent a pair of sunglasses for their dog after seeing it squint during a game of Frisbee. Only when other owners started coming up to them and asking where they got the glasses from did they decide to transform their sunglasses into a business.
Doggles have become so popular that it has made the couple into millionaires. This is despite the fact that many publications named Doggles to be one of the most useless inventions ever.
10. Selling Dirt to People
To many people, dirt from a certain location reminds them of that location. Pat Burke kept getting asked by friends and family in the US to bring back dirt from Ireland to sprinkle on the caskets of departed Irish-Americans.
This is where the idea came from and he opened his own business selling dirt abroad. He ran into problems when the United States began blocking shipments because of potentially dangerous microbes in the soil.
Burke got around this through coming up with a cleaning method for the soil, which was authenticated by the Irish Department of Agriculture. Today the dirt is sprinkled on caskets, at weddings, and on the front porches of new homes for Irish-Americans.
11. Writing Absence Letters
Getting out of work has never been more difficult. Corporations have rigorous procedures for ensuring that workers are unable to take unauthorized absences from work. In 2007, the business MyExcusedAbsence.com came into being.
The owner of the website, who has remained quiet, created the letters for people who wanted to get out of work. Some of the letters he wrote included notes from the doctor, jury duty letters, and countless others.
The letters were so good that the site quickly caught fire and people started using it all over the country. The problem was that it became too popular and the site had to close because employers caught wind of it and were able to identify the letters.
But that wasn’t before the owner of the website earned $25 per excuse letter.
12. Selling T-Shirt Space for Money
Jason Sadler decided to turn to corporate sponsorship in order to make some extra money. The problem was he wasn’t a big name, so nobody was going to pay for him to do this.
That all changed when he created a website and offered to sell t-shirt space every day. He would wear a company’s logo once a day when he was out and about. The price went up over time, but his very first sale was on January 1st for just a single dollar.
In three months he earned about $66,000. This led to Sadler hiring more people to manage the demand. This flourishing business plays on the art of selling absolutely any visible space for advertising.
13. Changing the Shape of the Sponge
Aaron Krause arguably had the most difficult time getting starter ever. He first appeared with his idea of Scrub Daddy on the TV show Shark Tank. He gained investment on that show for his sponges.
His retake on the classic sponge involves cutting them into smiley faces and slightly improving on the characteristics of the basic sponge. This idea was laughed at when he mentioned it, but in its first year it earned $15 million.
The reason for his success was he dared to attempt to revolutionize an existing product that has remained relatively unchanged for decades. It worked because of the novelty value and it continues to sell today.
14. Selling Your Life
Selling your life to 100,000 investors sounds like a crazy idea. This is exactly what Mike Merrill did, and it made him about $100,000. The catch was that he had to entrust major life decisions to a group of anonymous investors.
Everything he did had to be put to a vote by shareholders, including his long-term prospects. These major life decisions include getting a vasectomy, changing his hair color, and breaking up with his life partner.
Mike holds regular meetings and always sides with the majority vote, even when he’s not actually behind the decision himself. For example, he’s a vegetarian despite loving meat. It’s an interesting social experiment and shares in his life are still available today.
15. Send Mail from Santa
Writing a letter to Santa has been a Christmas condition for as long as most people can remember. This was turned into big business by a company called Santa Mail.
For as little as $10 people can order a personalized letter to their child from Santa. There are over 14 different types of letters to kids that you can choose from, including ones in Spanish.
This simple idea has managed to net the business millions of dollars in its twelve years of operation. It demonstrates that you don’t have to do something crazy or wacky to make money in an interesting way.
These 15 ideas and stories demonstrate that sometimes you have to defy belief in order to land a big salary. Most people would never have predicted that these ideas would work. It required persistence from these entrepreneurs to try them out anyway to see if they would work regardless.
Do you have any ideas in mind that people said would never work? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!