The Internet, plus the ingenuity of entrepreneurs, can put you in touch with thousands of people who want to pay you for stuff you're not using -- things you thought were of no value.
No, I'm not talking about eBay, Craigslist or other old-school auction or classified ads sites. Those are too much work. I'm talking about very new, Web 2.0 sites that let you put your stuff up for sale or rent with zero investment on your part, and almost no time.
In less than one hour, you can sign up to all the sites below, enter your information and forget about it. When someone wants to pay you, you'll be notified.
It's not like free money -- it IS free money. Here's what you can sell or rent:
Sell Your Camera Phone Pictures
Have you ever taken an interesting picture with your camera phone? Celebrity sighting? Crime in progress? UFO abduction? A site called Scoopt will shop it around to newspapers and magazines, then pay you 40% of whatever they can get for it. Spy Media is an alternative that gives you more control over the price, allowing you to charge whatever you want.
Sell Your Camera Phone
Cell For Cash is a great way to sell your old phone when you buy a new one. You get the price before you sell, and they'll even send you the packaging materials. Sometimes they'll pay more than $100 for a phone that's more than a year old. Second thoughts on that iPhone? They'll give you $420 for it.
Sell Your Other Gadgets
Rent Your DVDs
Those DVDs and DVD-based video games you paid good money for are sitting there collecting dust. Why not rent them out? A site called iLetYou gives you a page to list all your DVDs, and the prices you're willing to charge for renting them. When people search their site and pick one of your movies, you use one of their disk mailers and ship the DVD to the renter. It's like a peer-to-peer version of NetFlix.
Rent Your Driveway
ParkWhiz connects people with parking spaces to people who need a place to park. You can sell or rent your unused parking space -- especially valuable if you live in an area near public transportation, or venues like sports stadiums. You can put your driveway up for rent, and it doesn't cost you anything. If you get lucky and someone wants to park there, you'll make free money.
Rent Your Passenger Seat
Ridester arranges carpooling for pay. By offering your existing route, you can pretty much make the same commute as you currently do, but have someone else pay for your gas.
Sell Your Attention
The most valuable commodity in this age of information overload is attention, yet you give it away all day by looking at thousands of advertisements. A site called MyMindshare lets you sell the attention you had been giving away. Advertisers on MyMindshare will pay you to look at their marketing, based on whether you meet their criteria (for example, if you're a parent, a sports fan, a pet owner -- that kind of thing). The amounts aren't much -- for example, they'll pay you a quarter for looking at something for 20 seconds. But it adds up, and you could end up making hundreds of extra dollars per year.
These are my favorite sites for making free money. Did I miss any? Please use the e-mail address below to tell me about your favorite Web 2.0 sites that let you sell or rent things you've got lying around the house. Mike.Elgan+Datamation@gmail.com