You could start your own business, either as a full-time career or a side job. Jeff Neal started an online business that he runs in his spare time.
Neal is a resident of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and is a project manager for a commercial painting company. He and his wife, a stay-at-home mom, have three kids, and like just about everyone, their household can always use some extra money.
So a couple years ago, he started an online business selling crickets. The website is called TheCritterDepot.com.
If you're thinking of starting an online business, you don't have to sell crickets, of course, and since that would mean more competition, Neal would probably prefer that you don't. But if you can find a niche product to sell, it can bring in a tidy sum. Neal says that every month, his cricket side business earns him about $700 profit a month, on $2,500 in sales. Who buys crickets? Anyone with a pet, like a lizard or iguana, that eats crickets.
Neal says that he was helped by the fact that his first job out of college was working with an e-commerce company.
"I learned a lot about shipping options, customer service, SEO, website maintenance and drop shipping," he says, adding that he left after four years when he felt he had outgrown his position.
So it certainly helps to have experience with the internet, if you're going to start an online business, but it may cheer you up to know that Neal knew nothing about crickets. He was simply looking for a niche product to sell.
That can take a lot of time, Neal says. He recommends using Google Trends and Google keyword research, to see what types of niche products you should offer.
As for the crickets, Neal found a breeder to supply him, although later he began breeding his own, converting an outdoor shed into a cricket incubator.
"For financial gain," he says. "And because my kids think crickets are neat."
And there's another lesson there. If you do try to earn extra money, whether it's running your own business or hosting dogs, you want to make sure your work-from-home job doesn't bug your family. Of course, in Neal's case, bugging your family may be exactly the way to go.
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This article originally appeared on U.S. News & World Report.