How Much Do You Get Paid to Donate Sperm? Here’s the Full Process

Let’s talk about how to make money by selling your sperm. Like, how this actually works.

Popular media sends a strong message: Selling your sperm is a lucrative and simple way to make money when you’re low on cash. And it’s not short on gags about the subject to make sure you feel totally weird about the whole thing.

No need to feel weird. Sperm banks support thousands of families who struggle with infertility and parents who want to conceive without a partner.

In a span of 30 years, an estimated 120,000 to 150,000 babies were born of anonymous donor insemination, according to an unpublished study by the American Association of Tissue Banks, reported by Cryogenic Laboratories. That’s 4,000 to 5,000 births per year that happened because of sperm donors.

But the process isn’t nearly as simple or fun as the gags might imply.

Don’t expect to pop into your local sperm bank, make a contribution and walk out with a check that afternoon.

Here’s everything you need to know about the process and requirements to donate sperm to figure out whether it’s the right move for you.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Donate Sperm?

The phrase is a little confusing — sperm donation isn’t a charitable act.

You do, in fact, earn money. (Not nearly as much as its counterpart, egg donation, but it won’t take nearly the toll on your body, either.)

Like everything else about becoming a sperm donor, the amount of money you make varies depending on the sperm bank or donation center you work with.

Here are some examples of compensation models:

  • Donors through the Seattle Sperm Bank can earn up to $1,000 per month at $70 per approved donation —  $50 when you deliver and $20 when it’s approved.
  • Donors through the Sperm Bank of California earn $125 per approved sample, with most donors earning between $400 and $600 per month.
  • Donors through the international sperm bank chain Cryos earn up to $40 per donation — $20 for every ejaculate delivered, plus another $20 if it’s approved.

Sperm banks also offer free fertility test results, physical exams and blood testing as long as you remain a donor, and some even provide a free annual physical after you stop donating.

Some clinics have more complicated contracts that require you to keep up steady visits and provide regular donations if a recipient chooses you as their donor. That arrangement could affect when you’re paid.

“Just to make sure you follow through [with your visits], your paychecks are kept in escrow by the sperm bank until the end of the contract,” Cracked contributor Sean Berkley wrote about his sperm donation experience in 2011.

Many sperm banks now pay monthly or per visit, however. Like any other side hustle, get details on compensation before you sign any contracts or make any commitments.

3 Things to Consider Before Selling Your Sperm

Take some time to understand all the information before you set your sights on sperm donation as your next side hustle. You might be surprised by some of these details.

Do You Qualify for Sperm Donation?

Each sperm bank has its own list of physical requirements for donors, but they’re all fairly similar.

Most donation centers require donors to be:

  • At least 5’7” tall and up to 6’6”.
  • Between 18 and 40 years old (none accept donations from minors).
  • Height and weight proportional.
  • In good overall health, based on general physical health screenings and fertility tests.
  • College graduates, enrolled in college or military veterans. Some banks pay more if you have a Ph.D. or attended an Ivy League school (because recipients pay more for those donor qualities).
  • A non-smoker and non–drug user.
  • Able to provide a biological family medical history.

Even if you meet a clinic’s basic requirements, you’re not guaranteed to be accepted.

Sperm banks are for-profit organizations, and like any business, they aim to provide what the market demands.

That means your sperm might be subject to the same kinds of biases you encounter among people face-to-face. In addition to the explicit requirements listed above, you could be denied because of supply and demand at a clinic based on things like your skin color, hair color and eye color.

Based on FDA regulation, potential donors are denied if they’ve ever had sex with “another man.” (The regulation doesn’t address potential nonbinary or transgender women donors.)

You could also be denied for genetic health issues, such as blood clotting disorders.

Some sperm banks will tell you why your application is denied, but some might not. You might want to know that information before you apply, so you’re not left wondering.

Donor Offspring Limits

Donation centers are regularly updating policies and practices to address ethical questions that come up about sperm donation and assisted reproduction.

Every few years, it seems, a news story reveals another serial sperm donor with hundreds of offspring. Check the details, though — in many of these cases, the donor worked with the recipient privately (a.k.a. a “known donor”), not through a donation center.

Most donation centers set a limit on the number of births or recipients per donor.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates sperm donation (and other organ and tissue donation), doesn’t set a legal offspring limit. Instead, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) sets guidelines for the industry and recommends a limit of 10 births per population of 850,000 (roughly the size of Seattle).

Many donation centers set limits well below the ASRM guideline — around 25 families in the U.S. per donor is a common maximum.

Anonymous vs. Open Identity Donation

The FDA requires clinics to keep some donor information for medical purposes, but it doesn’t regulate anonymity. You’ll make that choice based on the clinic you choose.

Ask the donation center about its policies, and be crystal clear about your options and long-term obligations before you donate. Donor arrangements include:

  • Anonymous: Neither the donor nor the recipient get identifying information about each other. You likely won’t even know whether a recipient conceived using your sperm.
  • Semi-open: You and the recipient get some information about each other, but not identifying details or contact information. The clinic is usually a go-between to pass correspondence between you and the recipient. You might learn whether the recipient had a baby using your sperm and even get baby photos. Or you might just stay open to possible contact in the future from the child once they’re an adult.
  • Open: You and the recipient have each other’s contact information and communicate directly, maybe even meeting in person. Ideally, you and the recipient determine together how much ongoing communication you’ll have and whether or not you’ll have contact with the child. But the child could always decide to contact you on their own sometime in the future.

Here’s the catch: Technology, as it often does without trying, has thrown a bit of a wrench in this situation.

Increasingly accessible family-tree DNA testing has made some curious (or unsuspecting!) donor-conceived children privy to their genetic roots — even when donors and recipients agreed to anonymity.

Many countries, including the U.K., have removed the option for anonymity in recent years by legislating a donor-born child’s right to find their biological father (i.e. the source of their donor sperm) after they turn 18.

The Sperm Donation Process

Every donation center dictates its own process for sperm donors, but they’re pretty similar and many parts of the process are regulated by the FDA. Here’s what you can generally expect.

1. Find a Sperm Bank

Track down a sperm bank that’s close to you through this National Directory of Sperm Cryobanks.

Most centers require donors to live within 25 miles or about an hour of the clinic, because if you’re chosen to be a donor, you’ll be visiting the facility regularly.

A legitimate organization will be registered with the FDA. Enter the clinic’s name in this FDA directory to make sure it’s registered.

2. Get Pre-Screened

All applicants start by going through a pre-screening over the phone or through an online application. Here’s an example application for Cryos.

The pre-screening confirms:

  • Your eligibility to work (and be paid) in the U.S.
  • Some medical history, including potential sexually transmitted infections, mental illness, allergies and drug use.
  • Your height, hair color, eye color and ethnicity.

3. Provide Detailed Family History & Get a Physical Exam

If you pass the initial screening, you’ll be invited in for a thorough interview that takes a deep dive into your family tree.

Berkley says you should be prepared to provide “a detailed medical history for every parent, sibling, aunt, uncle, cousin and grandparent you have, as well as any children your siblings or cousins may have, going back four generations.”

That sounds like hyperbole, but this overview of the process from Phoenix Sperm Bank confirms the information you can expect to provide.

You’ll also get a physical exam that includes a blood test, urine test and DNA analysis, and screening for STIs including HIV. You won’t pay anything for this exam, and most clinics provide regular physicals as long as you’re a donor and possibly after.

4. Provide a Sample

If you pass the first two levels of the screening process, you’ll provide a semen sample for the clinic to test.

It’ll go through a fertility test for the kinds of things you’ve probably heard joked about on TV: sperm count and motility, and the overall health of the sperm.

In other words, what’s the likelihood this sperm can help conceive a baby?

Depending on the company, you might have to wait up to six months to find out whether your sperm passes this test. Semen samples are frozen and tested again after several months to make sure they can hold up in storage waiting for a buyer.

You don’t usually get paid for providing this sample, and the sperm bank won’t save it to sell to a recipient in the future.

5. Sign a Contract to Become a Sperm Donor

Eligible donor? Check. Healthy genetics? Check. Hearty sperm? Check!

You’ll be invited to become a sperm donor once you pass the full screening process, and you have to sign a contract with the donation center.

Depending on the clinic, the contract might include things like:

  • How often you’re expected to donate. Sperm banks prefer frequent donors, so your contract might require you to donate several times per month or even multiple times per week.
  • A requirement to abstain from sexual intercourse before donation. Presumably to ensure strong sperm samples, you could be asked not to have sex within a few days before donating sperm.
  • Payment terms. Your contract should spell out how much you’ll earn, and when and how you’ll be paid, plus any stipulations you have to meet.

6. Donate Regularly

You might be surprised to learn how often you’ll be expected to donate — but the rest of this part of the process is pretty much what all the TV and movies have prepared you to expect.

You can’t collect your semen from home and deliver it to the clinic. You have to visit the clinic and deposit your sample on site, in a private room and with access to pornography.

You’ll deposit the sample itself into a sterile container, and the sperm bank will freeze it until a recipient chooses your profile. Then it’s thawed and used for the artificial insemination process.

Are You Ready to Be a Sperm Donor?

Infertility isn’t an uncommon circumstance in the U.S. About 6% of married women, and 12% of women overall, between 15 and 44 years old have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term, according to the CDC.

Sperm donation is one way to help them start the families they want, and the sperm banks all say the need for donors is high and growing.

The onboarding process is quite a bit more involved than most side gigs you’ll encounter, but the payoff is fair. If you’re accepted as a sperm donor, you could earn upward of $1,000 a month for a quick trip to the clinic about once a week.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Here’s How 3 Vintage Clothing Businesses Built Their Brands

It’s tempting to think that selling your old clothes on sites like Poshmark or ThredUp will immediately generate passive income that supports your brunch habit and annual rent increase.

But if you want long-term success and a recognizable brand that people return to, running a vintage resale business is anything but easy. It takes work, say small business owners who have done it. But it is possible.

We talked with three vintage clothing business owners about how they got their start, crafted their aesthetic and built their brand.

3 Sellers Making a Go in the Vintage Clothing Business

Sara DiNatale of Lucky 727 Vintage

Sara DiNatale has always loved secondhand clothing, so it makes sense that she spent a lot of time in thrift stores.

At first, she shopped for herself and bought items tailored to her tastes. But over time, she started to recognize what items were popular and trendy, even if she didn’t like them, like a Harley Davidson T-shirt.

“Maybe it wasn’t my aesthetic, but I knew that someone would totally die for this,” said DiNatale, who lives in St. Petersburg, Fla. “I did it enough times that I was like: ‘Why don’t I try this?’”

One of her first sales was a Dooney & Bourke vintage belt that she purchased on a bidding website for herself. When it arrived, she discovered that it didn’t fit. She resold the piece for more than double what she paid.

That was a teaching moment for DiNatale: She realized that there was money to be made in vintage. So she took the profits and invested them back into more vintage purchases that she would then sell.

For those starting out, she says, don’t take money straight out of your pocket. Either sell what you already own or invest what you’ve already earned into something else.

DiNatale partnered with a friend when she decided to officially start a vintage side-hustle. They chose clothing resale app Depop to start because DiNatale felt she knew their market and had a similar style.

A woman wearing vintage coveralls shows off other vintage items she sells on Depop and Etsy. The second photo is vintage shoes.
DiNatale loves secondhand clothing, so she started a side business selling vintage pieces with a friend in January 2020. Her biggest piece of advice: Know what sells. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

If she could do it over, she might not make the same choice. Depop’s audience skews young, she says, and doesn’t always see the value of spending a high price on an item, even if it’s a high-quality vintage piece. On Etsy, DiNatale has found she has a better chance at getting a buyer who understands the quality of the garment, but there is also more work involved with the platform.

DiNatale’s colleague came up with the name Lucky 727 Vintage, a play off of St. Petersburg’s area code. She and her partner chose to make a business name, partially because Depop requires it and partially because they wanted to interact online with customers as a single entity. They also made an Instagram page at Depop’s suggestion, although the Instagram account ended up working out as a separate revenue stream for local customers.

The vintage business is what you make of it, DiNatale said. Since starting in January 2020, Lucky 727 Vintage has sold 200 items, about evenly split between the two co-owners. On average, DiNatale makes about $100 a month in profit, although some months it comes out to much more than that.

DiNatale has learned some tricks:

  • First, make sure your product descriptions have appropriate information, like measurements and garment details. If someone has to message you to ask a question, they may no longer be interested by the time you respond.
  • Keep apprised of any changes to Depop’s interface through a sub-Reddit and watch for algorithm changes that could affect how your merchandise is promoted.
  • Most importantly: Know what sells. DiNatale is an avid Dr. Martens fan, and she knows that vintage Docs go quick and at a high cost. They are the rare item she will shell out for in advance, because she knows she’ll make a return.

Jenna Wu of Nanena Vintage

Jenna Wu didn’t always appreciate her love of thrifting. In fact, as a child, she was ashamed that she had to shop at thrift stores, a necessity in her low-income family.

It wasn’t until she got older that she realized thrifting could be cool. She was inspired by a friend who had an unconventional style but always looked amazing, and almost all of her clothes were thrifted. That turned Wu’s thinking, at the same time she started to look into the dangers of fast fashion and waste.

Now, Wu has come full circle. She runs a full-time business based in Portland, Ore., called Nanena Vintage, a play on her nickname of “Nena.” The perks of running a vintage clothing business are the flexibility — you set your own schedule — and the creativity of presenting and packaging the clothes to make them look as desirable as possible.

When Wu started thrifting for money, she was working in customer service and felt drained by her 9-to-5. Running a thrifting business was an artistic outlet that she actually enjoyed. Her partner encouraged her to pursue it full-time.

Jenna Wu, a vintage clothing entrepreneur, shows off some of her vintage clothing on a rack.
In 2019, Wu’s entire income from vintage was $5,000. It has increased since then, but she’s still unable to live independently off the money she makes from Nanena Vintage. Photo courtesy of Jenna Wu

Wu’s style gravitates toward feminine and classic pieces, but she tries to intersperse styles that are popular and trendy as well. She’s always keeping an eye on what people want to buy, but she’s also focused on the quality of the material and the uniqueness of the design. And there’s one thing she absolutely doesn’t do — streetwear.

When pricing, she takes into consideration how much time it takes to find what she calls a “gem” in a sea of mediocre items. All that time spent goes into the price a reseller will charge for a garment.

Wu started by selling her items on Depop and found success. She was selling at least one item a day. But a year in, she saw her sales drop off. She wasn’t sure why — had the algorithm changed? As sales continued to dwindle, she decided to switch to Instagram.

It was a learning curve at first.

“You just have to keep at it and keep going and then eventually people will find you,” she said.

Wu has a money-saving tip for anyone starting out: Create your own shipping labels rather than going to the post office.

And if you do want to go out on your own and make vintage a full-time business, be prepared for it to take time before becoming financially viable. When Wu first started, in 2019, her entire income from vintage for the year was $5,000. It has increased since then, but she’s still unable to live independently off the money she makes from Nanena Vintage. In December 2020, she made $1,200 in profit.

Lesson learned: If you want to transform your vintage clothing business from your side hustle to a full-time gig, save up in advance.

Esmeralda Castañeda of Esme Vintage Shop

For Esmeralda Castañeda, selling vintage clothes was initially a way to make money while in graduate school.

She learned the tricks of the trade by watching Youtube videos from longtime vintage sellers who had gotten their start on eBay. But she wanted to sell on a more aesthetic-driven forum — that’s why she initially chose Depop.

Like DiNatale, Castañeda recommends starting with selling your own clothes rather than buying clothes to sell. The first six months of her business were a lot of experimentation with where to shoot photos, how to style them and what backgrounds were best. But it’s harder to experiment if you’re depending on a return from your investment.

Castañeda doesn’t take her vintage reselling lightly — she recommends looking into when things were made and what to expect in material and fit based on the decade, because fakes do happen. Understanding the history behind the clothing helps to make your products better.

Castañeda doesn’t really have a defined style for the clothes she sells — instead, she tries to do a little bit of everything. Her website has designations for mod fashion, minimalist, romantic and classic. She says she skews more toward the romantic and minimalist side, but that’s largely because of what she finds in her local Indio, Calif., thrift stores.

“That’s the thing with vintage,” she says. “You really can’t dictate too much unless you are going to be exclusive. You’re not going to find enough to make a really good income. You really need to have a broader reach.”

Although Castañeda got her start on Depop, where she has almost 10,000 followers, she’s actually seen more of what she calls “influence” on Instagram. For those starting out, Castañeda recommends starting on Instagram and building a brand there. If you’re not finding success, Depop is a good way to have a built-in audience, but she finds Instagram better for building something long-term.

All three vintage business owners agree that making money with your vintage clothing business is totally dependent on how much you work. Some months, Castañeda says, she brings in as little as $500, while others can be as high as $3,000.

“A lot of people assume for some reason that this is passive income, but it’s not,” she says. “You do have to do something to get the income going.”

Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

These Throwback Hobbies Now Make Money as Side Gigs

The gig economy, supercharged by a pandemic, is breathing new life into some bygone hobbies, ones associated more with retirees than entrepreneurs.

Life indoors drove many folks to experiment with tactile hobbies like bread baking and quilting. What started as a way to pass the time could blossom into a side hustle with a little know-how.

Online platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Etsy and Instagram as well as the revival of flea markets – often with a trendy, indie twist – offer novel ways to make money on those age-old crafts and activities.

Here’s a look at six trending hobbies that could make you serious money. These are not your grandma’s side gigs.

6 Throwback Hobbies That Make Money as Trendy Side Gigs

1. Antiquing

Buy old furniture and/or tchotchkes, then resell them for a profit. The concept is straightforward, and it’s sometimes referred to as upscaling or upcycling when you work a little magic on the item to bump up the price tag.

The Penny Hoarder spoke to Sara Chen, a master of upcycling. She focuses her efforts on flipping furniture, hunting for antique, mid-century modern dressers online via Facebook Marketplace.

When she finds a good deal, she buys it, sands it, paints it, primes it and resells it — usually for triple or quadruple the purchase price. She’s able to make $3,000 a month consistently.

Her secret (besides serious painting skills)?

“Post as many pictures from different angles as you can,” she told The Penny Hoarder, noting that taking photos is her favorite part of the flip. “It’s also probably the most important part.”

Make sure they’re high quality and in good lighting. The more the better.

2. Baking

It takes time for dough to rise.

Baking, because of the equipment required, is a hobby that can be difficult to scale into a side gig or a business. But over the years, The Penny Hoarder has talked with several bakers who made it work and a few who started during the pandemic. You can lean on their advice no matter what stage you’re at.

Sarah Tennant started baking as a hobby when she was 14 years old. She decided to try to earn a profit from her skills by taking ad hoc requests from friends, family and referrals.

In her guide for The Penny Hoarder, she outlined how her cakes, which she priced much lower than professionals, still brought her in $400 a month.

College roommates Sarah Chappell and Julia Finfrock found success with their sourdough side hustle called EarlyRisers. In October 2020, the duo started out selling plain sourdough for $7 a loaf. As orders increased, they started experimenting with flavors, adding chocolate-chip, rosemary, garlic and other flavors to the menu. These speciality loaves sell for up to $11.

“It was a lot of trial and error,” Finfrock told The Penny Hoarder.

3. Crafting

Thanks to online marketplaces like Etsy and Amazon Handmade, crafting is seeing a huge comeback. And we have plenty of ideas for you to cash in on its popularity.

Local fairs and online marketplaces are ideal places to sell easy-to-make holiday decorations.

Some examples of low-cost decorations include:

  • Scrap wood stocking hangers
  • Sock snowmen
  • Pumpkin spice soap

Of course, you’re not limited to holiday decor. You could also try your hand at DIY greeting cards or handmade wedding invitations. When you’ve decided exactly what you want to make and sell, keep costs low by finding cheap crafting supplies. Dollar stores are a good place to start.

Pro Tip

To find a nearby market or fair to hawk your creations, search Festivalnet.

Two women plant potted plants.
Getty Images

4. Gardening

Millennials love plants, according to Money, the Huffington Post, CNBC, Business Insider, the New Yorker and apparently the entire internet.

Further proof: A plant aesthetic has blossomed on social media, especially Instagram. The hashtags #Plants and #PlantsofInstagram have tens of millions of posts. Outside of the local market scene, a lot of small-scale operations use Instagram to sell their plants.

Selling succulents probably isn’t going to allow you to quit your day job, but it may pad your savings or help you pay down debt.

One gardener, Stephanie Spicer, made $1,200 in a single season. In her guide to selling plants, she outlines exactly how to choose, fertilize, present, price, advertise and sell them.

5. Knitting, Sewing, Quilting

Boo, fast fashion trends. Yay, making and altering your own clothes. As sustainability becomes more of a conscious decision for many consumers, skills like knitting, sewing and quilting are seeing renewed demand.

Pro Tip

If you want to start out small with handmade clothing, blankets or accessories, Amazon Handmade or Etsy are two of the best places to sell online.

If you want to lean into the gig – beyond a few online sales – there’s some money to be made. The Penny Hoarder spoke with retired geologist Pat Martinek, who found a way to monetize her weaving and spinning skills through her side business The Fyber Cafe. Martinek raked in $10,000 a year by using chiengora, aka recycled dog fur, to create garments and keepsakes.

“It is warmer than other fibers, so a scarf or sweater made with chiengora can help you withstand the most brutal temperatures,” she said.

Ella Trout, a college student at the University of Vermont, is another example of how to cash in on the handmade trend. She founded puppycatco, her sustainable fashion side hustle, a couple years ago.

She started by screenprinting her dog and cat designs onto T-shirts, but changed her business model over the years. Now, she sews and alters clothes to be more environmentally sustainable. Trout uses Instagram to sell her creations, and she told The Penny Hoarder that her handmade clothing and accessories earn her up to $1,500 per month.

A woman looks through the book collection at a library.
M.K. Williams looks for books to check out at Town ‘N Country Regional Public Library in Tampa, Fla. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

6. Using the Library

Libraries are one of the only remaining places where you can just exist. For free. There’s no expectation to spend money. That alone should be reason enough to visit.

As an additional incentive, libraries offer access to a bunch of interesting things beside books that can help you launch a side gig or business. Tools, baking equipment, seeds and even high-tech are often available at no cost through a process called intra-library loans.

“Maybe you want to make a cow-shaped cake. You don’t have to buy that cake pan,” said Bob Anstett, of Broward County, Florida’s library system. “You can check it out from a library.”

In addition to the fun stuff you can rent for free at your local library, Anstett explained that libraries have expanded to home community workshops called makerspaces. Makerspaces offer up all kinds of equipment for locals to tinker with and use to hone new skills.

“You can come in and take a basic class at [our makerspace] and use our sewing machines,” Anstett said. “Used to be that you were called a knitter or a carpenter or a woodworker. Now, you’re a maker.”

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Dumpling Shopper: Launch Your Own Grocery Delivery Business

Grocery delivery startup Dumpling is taking on Instacart and Shipt — and the whole gig economy — by offering grocery delivery drivers an entirely new moneymaking model.

Thanks to a surge in demand as a result of the pandemic, grocery delivery apps are more popular than ever. Since last March, Instacart and Shipt have hired more than half a million gig workers to shop and deliver food to customers who’d rather stay at home and order online.

Those hordes of gig workers, who are independent contractors, rely on grocery delivery to supplement their earnings or make up their income entirely. While this arrangement is a welcome and fast form of cash for some folks, others are finding that the income from Instacart and Shipt is unsustainable.

That’s where Dumpling comes in: capitalizing on the growing trend of grocery delivery as well as the rising concerns of delivery workers who want more control over their income by allowing them to choose who to work with and how much to charge.

Here’s a look at one of the newest grocery delivery apps on the block, and how you could use it to launch your own grocery delivery business.

Dumpling founders pose for a photograph against a red brick wall.
Tom Schoelhammer, left, Joel Shapiro and Nate D’Anna are the founders of Dumpling. Photo courtesy of Dumpling

What Is Dumpling?

Dumpling is a grocery delivery service founded in 2017 by Tom Schoelhammer, Nate D’Anna and Joel Shapiro, who all left corporate tech jobs to try their hands as entrepreneurs.

On the customer side, Dumpling operates much like other grocery shopping apps: You download the app, select a nearby grocery store, choose what items you want to buy, place your order and voila, a nearby personal shopper will deliver the items to your doorstep.

Where Dumpling differentiates itself is in how it’s used by delivery workers. It is essentially a suite of software and coaching services for those looking to launch their own small grocery-delivery business.

Pro Tip

As a shopper for Dumpling, you’re considered a small business owner, not a gig worker.

According to the company, more than 2,000 small business owners from all 50 states use Dumpling to deliver groceries locally.

Dumpling markets itself aggressively as a “personal, ethical and local” alternative to Instacart and Shipt, which rely on an army of gig workers to do the shopping.

Since its launch and especially during the pandemic, Dumpling and its co-founders have become increasingly outspoken about the downsides of the gig economy.

“What can we do to help more people gain greater control, autonomy, and flexibility over the way they work?” Dumpling’s website states. “When we set out to find an answer, we didn’t know we’d eventually be taking on the gig economy.”

But does the company provide a meaningful alternative?

How It Works for Dumpling Shoppers (aka Business Owners)

As a grocery shopper for Dumpling, you’ll have more autonomy than with typical gig apps.

In a training video for new Dumpling shoppers, Bree Crawford, director of coaching at Dumpling, contrasts the company with other shopping gigs.

“As a prior Instacart shopper, I have a pretty good idea of some of the questions you’re going to run into,” she said. “With Instacart, we’re used to just sitting around waiting for batches, and it’s just stupid.”

With Dumpling, you can choose who you want to deliver to, set how much you want to charge per delivery, select the stores where you want to shop, schedule deliveries in advance and more.

But that autonomy comes at a cost.

Dumpling Shopper Fees

To start your shopping business, you need to pay a one-time fee, currently $19.99, for an activation kit. The activation kit includes:

  • A Dumpling business credit card that you’ll use for your orders.
  • Access to a personal shopper website hosted by Dumpling.
  • 100 business cards.
  • Access to the “Boss” version of the Dumpling app, which you’ll need to connect with clients.

“The Dumpling credit card works as a micro loan to business owners. When the client places an order, the credit card is funded for the business owner to shop and pay for the order,” Shapiro told The Penny Hoarder. “This system allows Dumpling business owners to shop all orders without fronting any funds themselves.”

The company also offers Pro and Tycoon monthly membership plans for business owners, which give you access to better credit-card and business-profile perks. Pro costs $49 per month, and Tycoon costs $99 per month. A standard plan is free.

You can expect the activation process to take about a week.

In addition to the activation fees, you pay two fees per grocery order: a credit card processing fee and a “platform” fee. The credit card fees are tiered based on your membership category.

Under the standard plan, you pay 3.9% of the order total, including gratuity, plus 30 cents. If you’re Pro, you pay 3.2% plus 30 cents. Tycoons pay 2.8% plus 30 cents. The platform fee is a flat 5% of the cost of groceries sans delivery and gratuity for all membership levels.

For example, if you have a $100 grocery order, plus your delivery charge of $10 (which you can customize) and a $20 tip, here’s how your earnings would break down under the free standard plan.

  • Gross order earnings: $30 ($10 order charge plus $20 tip).
  • Credit card processing fee: $5.26 (3.9% of $135 plus 30 cents).
  • Platform fee: $5.00 (5% of $100 worth of groceries).
  • Net order earnings: $19.74.

According to Shapiro, the average earnings per order are $40, “which is significantly higher than traditional gig work platforms for grocery delivery.”

Previously, you could set a fixed minimum gratuity percentage up front for every order, but Dumpling recently removed that feature, according to app store reviews.

To prevent tip baiting, a practice where some Instacart customers lure shoppers in with big tips up front only to zero them out after the order, Dumpling does not allow your customers to reduce their tips after the delivery. They can only increase it.

The trick is to find the right delivery charge. Too high, and you risk driving your customers to Instacart, Shipt or another Dumpling deliverer. Too low, and those fees eat away at your tip.

Free Coaching

Once you set up your Dumpling account and receive your activation kit, you’re eligible for free coaching. The initial coaching session is a basic onboarding call in which a Dumpling coach will show you the ropes.

After that, you can receive additional coaching free of charge. The program includes three calls with one of Dumpling’s staff coaches, “all of whom have backgrounds in grocery delivery gig work and run successful businesses on Dumpling themselves,” Shapiro said.

The coaching program can start at any time so long as your account is active, with each session spaced out “a few weeks apart.”

Coaches can help you with a range of things like utilizing your business website, app functionality and marketing tips. Between sessions, coaches can help with smaller questions, too.

After the three coaching sessions, you may be able to get more assistance if needed.

“Dumpling business owners never have to pay money to access this program,” Shapiro said. “However the coaches do ask for their undivided attention and that they continue putting in the effort on their own business to remain in the program.”

Finding Your Own Customers

Perhaps the most notable difference between Dumpling and other grocery shopping gig apps is that, as a business owner, you’re responsible for finding your own customers.

There are several ways to connect with them, and Dumpling does assist you with this, but the process is not automatic.

For example, with Shipt or Instacart, you log on and wait for an order to pop up on your app. Then you can choose to accept or decline, knowing little to nothing about the customer. Or it’s possible that an order will be claimed by competing shoppers in your area before you have a chance to act.

At Dumpling, you’ll need to interact much more with customers — with the ultimate goal of scheduling them on a recurring basis. And the initial order could take some leg work.

Since Dumpling is a relatively new company with fewer customers than competitor grocery delivery apps, you may find yourself giving a sales pitch: first to explain what Dumpling is, and second, to convince the customer to schedule you for grocery orders through the app.

Customers may also find you through a ZIP code search function on the Dumpling website and app or directly from your personal Dumpling business site. But that’s assuming that one of your neighbors is already familiar with the company.

Dumpling is not for every gig worker. It takes a certain amount of risk tolerance. Given the activation and processing fees, there is a chance you could go in the red on some orders, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll get any orders in the first place.

What Dumpling does offer you is more autonomy and control over your grocery-delivery enterprise — something many gig workers, whose earnings are based on ever-changing algorithms, are craving.

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

5 Unique Ways College Entrepreneurs Can Earn a Great Side Income

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As demand increased, Chappell and Finfrock compared their class schedules and came up with a set work schedule. They take orders throughout the week, but bake only on Monday and Wednesday, and weekends if needed. Customers pick up their own orders from a box outside their house.

Early Risers Sourdough Bread Business

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
“I sit down and cut all the pieces and put them in a stack. Then if I get two shirts sewn per day it doesn’t end up being a ton of work at once,” she said.
They used their savings to buy ingredients and a few pans, then landed a big order. A friend’s father ordered 50 loaves to give to his employees at a technology consulting business.
Chappell and her dad made a few loaves over the summer while she was home in Atlanta, then she and Finfrock worked on perfecting it.

Two girls photograph freshly baked bread they made.
Finfrock, left, and Chappell have sold 308 loaves of homemade sourdough bread since they started Early Risers Sourdough in October 2020. Photo courtesy of Julia Finfrock

The uniform design allows for more mass production because she has focused work sessions for cutting and others for sewing.
The company’s “Lift and Tell” program encourages “outgoing students interested in marketing” to spread the word about the moving services available year-round by handing out flyers or posting on social media. These marketers make per referral, capped at ,000.
Though Knack is based on one-on-one help, tutors may lead small group sessions. In these cases, their rate goes up 50% for two students, 80% for three and 100% for four. For example, if a tutor makes an hour for one student, they make an hour for two, an hour for three and an hour for four.
“We really had to think about what people were willing to pay and consider how much time it took to make and the cost of our ingredients,” Finfrock said.
At first, she charged each for the shirts, but they sold out in minutes. She raised the price to and they sell well.
“My grandmother taught me how to sew on my Barbie sewing machine probably when I was 7,” Trout recalled. “Then in eighth grade I nannied for a family in return for sewing lessons from the mom.”

JannyTans Spray Tans

“We kept reading about it and changing things and eventually we perfected it,” said Chappell. “We kept trying different amounts of salt. And we had to get the temperature of the oven right. We had to get it brown enough without burning the outside but cook it through.”
College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving also hires college students as well as other people who can lift 50 pounds. According to Indeed.com, the pay ranges from .63 per hour for a manager on duty to .73 per hour for a higher-level consultant.
Then the quarantine and a realization about textile waste changed her business model.
Sarah Chappell and Julia Finfrock have sold 308 loaves of homemade sourdough bread since they started Early Risers Sourdough in October 2020. What started as a distraction borne out of the pandemic surge in sourdough popularity has become a thriving business for the two seniors and roommates at Vanderbilt University.

A college student stands with her sunless spray tan kit in her backyard.
Skidmore, 21, a senior at Vanderbilt University, made extra money by selling sunless spray tans for $15 to friends. Skidmore was photographed at her family’s St. Petersburg, Fla., home with the machine and popup tent she uses. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

There is a learning curve. (Remember the mistakes Ross Geller made on “Friends” when they asked if he got his spray tan on the sun?)
So she started buying clothes made of fabric with interesting designs that she could cut and use as “raw” fabric. She used a pattern for a sleeveless shirt with four different pieces that could be cut from various clothing articles she bought. Now she could buy something that was priced really low because maybe it had a stain, or wasn’t stylish, yet it still supplied fabric for individual pieces of the shirts.
An estimated 11 million tons of textiles ending up in landfills each year, plenty of it from unsold thrift store clothing.

Knack Tutoring 

But traditional jobs have become scarcer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are five less obvious ways college entrepreneurs are earning money, gaining experience and setting themselves up for impressive resumes.
She’d been working as a lifeguard at the university pool when it was shut down in August because of COVID-19. Then she remembered having met someone with a spray tanning business, who shared the secrets of the trade.
So, with an average of 10 to 20 tans a week at each, she’s making 0 to 0 weekly minus the cost of the solution. Skidmore created an Instagram for her business, JannyTans, and taught herself about spray tanning.
“It was a lot of trial and error,” Finfrock said.

A woman models overalls made. In the other two photos, pants and a long sleeve shirt are shown. All items of clothing were made from thrift store fabrics.
Christie Gillies models an outfit made by Trout, not pictured, founder of PuppyCatCo. Trout makes $700 to $1,500 a month selling pants and sleeveless tops she sews out of fabric from thrift store clothing. Photos courtesy of Ella Trout

PuppyCatCo

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance reporter and editor in St. Petersburg, Fla., and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned.
Along with making money while in college, a key part of Knack is the connections it offers for tutors and employers. Businesses that sponsor and supplement the cost of tutoring review tutors for job opportunities. On campuses where there are sponsorships or the university pays for the tutoring (so that it’s free to students), tutors’ rates are set and average an hour. Because Knack has been paid by the university or a sponsor, tutors collect their payment in full.  In cases when tutors set their own rate, Knack collects a fee of 2.9 percent plus .30 per transaction.
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“I got into all of these YouTube videos of people upcycling their clothing during quarantine. It made me think I should start making my products out of thrift store clothes instead of adding more new clothing. It would actually save me money (on supplies) and be better for the environment,” she said.
“I started sewing just for fun during the quarantine because I had so much more time on my hands,” Trout said. “Around that time, it dawned on me that I was not being very environmentally conscious with the T-shirts I was importing for screen printing.” She bought T-shirts made overseas in bulk for .99 each and sold them for and up after screen-printing them by hand.
“We knew we had a guaranteed source of revenue coming in the next few days, so it forced us to use the money we had made so far and buy more supplies,” Finfrock said. They bought proofing baskets to help shape the dough and two more Dutch ovens. The baskets made the bread look and taste better, and boosted sales on campus. Her on-the-job learning has taught her a few things about running her tanning business. Skidmore uses baby wipes to clean up drips and wipe off the solution that sticks to polished nails. A towel is also a must, for clients to stand on while they are in the tent, which comes with the machine. A tan usually lasts about 10 days if clients don’t exfoliate too much.
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At first, Trout bought dresses, shirts and pants then upcycled them by adding patches she designed or drawing original art on the clothes. They sold well on her Instagram, puppycatco, but it was hard to predict costs and the time it would take to create since each product was a new endeavor.
“It’s definitely more reliable to be able to produce more of the same design,” Trout explained. “Every product will be unique because it’s made from different material, but the pattern remains the same.”
Ella Trout, a student at the University of Vermont, makes 0 to ,500 a month selling pants and sleeveless tops she sews out of fabric from thrift store clothing. The 20-year-old college entrepreneur started her business, PuppyCatCo, selling T-shirts she screen-printed with her original designs of dogs and cats a couple years earlier.
Trout has sewn since she was a child.
“We hear tutors saying ‘I was able to pay my rent because of Knack’ and ‘this gave me the flexibility to earn extra money because I have a kid at home or I have another full-time job,’ said Samyr Qureshi, Knack CEO and co-founder. “We’ve also heard students say they wouldn’t have walked across the stage to graduate without their tutor.”

Moving Means Money

Friends doubled as taste testers and declared the bread good enough to sell. So they came up with the name EarlyRisers, started an Instagram account and priced the bread at a loaf.
“It definitely took a little bit of practice. I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials,” Skidmore said.  “My roommates were kind enough to be the first guinea pigs. But they looked a lot better than I thought they were going to look.”
College kids wanting to make extra money can always drive for Uber or deliver food for DoorDash, Grubhub or similar apps. They can also bus tables, wait tables, work in commercial kitchens or provide childcare, of course.
Knack is an app that matches students and tutors within the same college. The tutors have taken the courses students need help in and proven they were successful. Tutors make an average of an hour, and in most cases, that’s paid by the university.
The entrepreneurs recently added new flavors, such as chocolate chip, sundried tomato and basil, rosemary and garlic, that sell for and .
Skidmore ordered the 0 Aura Allure Spray Tan Machine that came with three trial sizes of different toned solutions. Each full-sized bottle of solution is . “Normally I can get about 35 to 40 tans out of one of those bottles,” she said. <!–

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It gives students boxes, then they pack up the contents of their dorm rooms or apartments when they are moving. College Truckers employees take the boxes to a storage unit near campus for up to three months. When the next term starts, the boxes are delivered to wherever the student is living. Pricing is based on the number and size of boxes and starts at a minimum of 5 for about 60 cubic feet of packing and storage space.

Here’s How to Get Started With Comic Book Investing

You may have heard stories of people cleaning out attics to find older comic books they then sold at a hefty profit.

That does happen — but it’s not just older books that are becoming valuable. Even comic books from the last 20 years are becoming more collectible. Some have jumped in value from just a few dollars five years ago to over $2,000 today.

Smart investors are finding they can make money off of this trend, but only if they treat it like they would any serious investment.

I started investing in comics in the mid-1970s with the change I could find in the cushions of our couch. Through careful savings and picking the right comics, I invested and parlayed my profits into bigger and bigger purchases. Here’s my advice for anyone looking to get started.

How to Get Started With Comic Book Investing

The idea of comic books as an investment first picked up steam during the 2008 recession. Between the turbulent stock and real estate markets and next-to-nothing interest rates offered by banks, people had to come up with creative ways to invest and make money.

Many people did, and continue to do, well by investing in comic books, but it’s not like throwing a dart at a dartboard and hoping for the best. To make a profit on what some still think of as “kiddie fare,” you have to act like a kid in school and do your homework.

1. Learn Everything You Can About Comic Books

The first step is to learn everything you can. Talk to experts. Follow auctions on sites like ebay and ComicConnect to see what’s selling and for how much. [Editor’s note: The author is the owner of ComicConnect.] Study the trends, such as a surge in popularity due to a character being featured in a new movie or TV show.

And, most importantly, know your superheroes. Comic books are about more than the “blue chip” superheroes: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the like. Expanding your knowledge beyond the big names can make you a savvier investor. For example, some heroes from the Golden Age (1930s-1950s), such as Catman, Black Terror, The Destroyer and Phantom Lady are very popular, despite the fact that they’re no longer in publication.

2. Decide Your Budget

The next step in investing is to decide on your budget. There’s room in the market for small and large investors alike, and that can mean anything from $10 to $3 million.

When figuring out your budget, determine how many comic books you want to buy per year, and how long you want to hold onto them. I recommend putting together a “want list” of the comics you want to buy and grades you want them in. You can then look at current market prices by using the Overstreet Price Guide, gpanalysis.com and gocollect.com.

I also like to leave about 10% of my budget for something that catches my eye — and something always catches my eye!

3. Start Buying — But Do Your Due Diligence

Before the pandemic, I would have suggested attending comic conventions to find comics for your collection, but now your best option is to check out dealer and auction sites.

For instance, my company ComicConnect holds four event auctions a year, featuring a wide range of vintage comics, original art and other collectibles. We also host monthly auctions, where you can find more great comics.

Many other sites sell comics,  but it’s important to find reputable sources that will stand behind what they are selling. Accurate grading and a return policy are important.

And if you’re considering getting into selling your comic books, be prepared to answer a lot of questions from seasoned collectors.

Is This a Long-Term vs. Short-Term Investment?

Consider whether you want to invest for the long or short-term. Long-term investors should select comics that have traditionally shown slow, steady growth. For example, people who bought a copy of “Amazing Fantasy 15” (the first appearance of Spider-Man) for $3,000 in 2010 own a comic book that’s worth $10,000 today.

For long-term investors, pre-1985 books are the best choice. These comics have shown they have legs to them, and by the time they’ve been around that long, they’ll have hit vintage status. There are plenty of modern comics from the last 20 years to read, collect and invest in, but the market for those books can be a bit more volatile.

For short-term investors, it’s all about timing. Try to buy books when they just start to get hot with the intention of selling them quickly before interest wanes. There are comics that have only been out for a few months that are selling for anywhere from $50 to $100.

But remember, the short-term market can be very volatile. For example, investors who bought “Green Lantern 7” a year before the “Green Lantern” movie came out saw huge profits if they sold within a few months. But if they waited until too close to the premiere of the movie — which totally flopped — they probably lost money.

Nobody wins all the time, not even experts like me. I was one of the guys who bought a high-grade “Green Lantern 7” the week the movie came out. I ended up taking a small hit when I was eventually able to sell it a few years later.

A man looks at a Superman comic at his comic book store in NYC.
Vincent Zurzolo, COO of Metropolis Collectibiles Inc., looks at a copy of the first Superman comic book he’s offering for sale at the Big Apple Comic Con, in New York Friday Oct. 16, 2009. Richard Drew/AP Photo

Some Tips for Identifying Potentially Valuable Comics

Whether investing in new or older comics, there are a few general rules you can follow to help determine whether a comic will increase in value.

Issues that feature a character’s first appearance or death, or an artist or writer’s first professional publication, are more likely to be good investments down the road. Individual pages from Action Comics 1 (Superman’s first appearance, in 1938) have sold for tens of thousands of dollars.

But it’s not just the big names that can prove valuable. It’s just as possible that the first appearance of a character in a low-grade comic can provide substantial returns one day. It’s a gamble, but one that could potentially pay off.

Remember, though, it’s not just a comic book’s significance that determines its value. Condition and rarity also have an impact. But nothing is set in stone. If there’s one copy of a book in near-mint condition but five more are found a year later, the value of that issue could drop.

Once you jump into the comic book market, remember to protect your investment. Store books in a cool, dry place, such as a safe deposit box.

Finally, use professional appraisers and consider purchasing insurance for your collection. A quick search of your comic’s name and issue on reputable auction sites can help you gauge your comic’s value.

Vincent Zurzolo is co-owner of the New York-based Metropolis Collectibles, the world’s largest vintage comic book dealership, and ComicConnect.com, the largest online vintage comic auction house. He and his partner, Stephen Fishler, hold five Guinness World Records for the most expensive comics and related collectibles ever sold. Contact him at [email protected].

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Make a Side Income Running a Vending Machine Business

“We’re in a tough, tough industry right now with COVID-19. A lot of stores don’t want the machines there, they don’t want the kids congregating, they don’t want people touching them,” said Scott Ausmus, director of manufacturing for National Entertainment Network, Inc. and president of the National Bulk Vendors Association.
That data came from the Automatic Merchandiser’s Annual State of the Industry Survey — before the full impact of COVID-19 hit.
Places with lots of foot traffic are good. Before COVID-19, that meant schools and universities, malls, office parks, etc.
When looking for locations, be prepared to approach the owner or landlord with a business plan for the machine.

The Vending Machine Business During COVID-19

“One of the hardest things to do is to locate a location,” he said.
Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.
There were 2,175,756 vending machines in service in 2019 in a variety of locations including:

  • Manufacturing areas
  • Offices
  • Retail spaces
  • Hotels/motels
  • Schools
  • Hospitals and nursing homes
  • Universities/colleges
  • Correctional facilities
  • Military bases
  • Restaurants, bars and clubs

The more perishable the product and the busier the area, the more of your time the machine will take.
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Ready to stop worrying about money?
“Then you only work probably three days a month, basically on the whole gig,” said Ausmus. “Three four days a month can make somebody a good little extra income.”
Think about where people need to wait. While waiting, they may get hungry or thirsty. Ausmus’ novelty machines need kids around.
You will need inventory and someone to keep the machine stocked and maintained. This may require a van or truck.
While the startup costs are low and the income is often passive, owning vending machines is not without risk. You must be able to understand your own financial situation and how much you can afford to invest.
Vending machine businesses are scalable, meaning it’s possible to start small and expand. You don’t have to wait for payments because customers pay when they purchase an item.
Vending machines serve that purpose — and make money for the machine’s owner.

Starting a Vending Machine Business

He grew up in the vending business. The machines he sells and operates are the novelty kind, offering things like stuffed animals, toys and gumballs. Many are in restaurants and entertainment venues like bowling centers.
Then you will need an actual vending machine. There are several types, and prices vary depending on what is in the machine, whether it needs refrigeration or heating, and the interactivity.
As we continue to make our way through COVID-19, many people are still looking for ways to get items they need without physical contact with another person.
One of the first steps in starting a vending machine business is finding your niche and deciding what to sell. That takes a bit of research and knowing who your customer is.
Also be prepared to:
Perishables need to be stocked more often than other items. Learning some basic maintenance skills could keep you from having to hire someone if there is a problem with the machine.
There is the cost of the machine, the cost of inventory, personnel to keep it stocked, maintenance and more.

Location, Location, Location

Machines range from about ,500 for a used or refurbished machine to several thousands for a new, high-end machine with many technical features.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
“It’s really not a bad risk to put it in a location and find out that it’s not making enough money. … You can remove it and move it to the next one until you find that right location,” Ausmus said.
With many offices, businesses and other public spaces closed or restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic, the vending industry is certainly taking a hit.
Buying directly from a manufacturer or supplier is one option, as is purchasing on a secondary market. Some companies also rent machines. Ausmus cautioned to make sure there are spare parts and support available for what you buy.
There are also machines for bulk vending like gumballs, stickers, toys, novelties and more. During COVID-19, machines popped up selling masks and hand sanitizer.
“Make sure that you have your phone number on the machine, and that the store location knows your phone number,” said Ausmus. “If somebody didn’t get what they wanted, make sure the store can give them a refund and you pay the refund back to that store. Then get out there as soon as you can to fix the machine so that you can continue to make money.”
Automatic merchandising isn’t for everyone, but owning and operating a vending machine can be a good business. Being able to retrieve the money you make and restock your machines easily is the key.

  • Pay a percentage of sales or other fee for having your machine in their location.
  • Pay for the electricity the machine uses.
  • Ensure the security of the machine. There is money inside a machine as well as inventory. Theft and vandalism are always possible.
  • Research state and local laws and regulations.
  • Pay sales tax on the revenue the machine generates.

Key Purchase: Your Vending Machine

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Many factors make owning a vending machine an attractive business venture.
While owning vending machines does not require any special skills, it is a business.
To put yourself in the best position to be profitable means finding the right location.

  • Remote monitoring software: This helps keep track of how the machine is working and notifies the operator if something is wrong.
  • Low stock alerts: Notify the operator when items needs replacing.
  • Vending management systems (VMS): Tracks sales and other data to help owners make better business decisions.

Running a Vending Machine Business

“There’s a higher profit in the gumball then there is anything else,” Ausmus said. “The cost of goods is low on the gumballs and everybody likes gum, so everybody still purchases a gumball and so that is a winner for a lot of people.”
“If (your machine location has) a big break room and a lot of employees, you would have to be there once a day to fill your machines up because that’s how busy they are,” Ausmus said. Other machines like toys and candy don’t require as much restocking.
Different types of machines have different capabilities. Some take only cash while others will process credit or debit cards. Some models have touch screens or voice capabilities.
Some machines have:
Revenue for the vending machine industry was .2 billion in 2019, up 3% from the year before.
At places like airports, vending machines often sell tech accessories and travel essentials like neck pillows, blankets and eye masks. Laundry rooms in residential buildings often have machines with detergent and fabric softener.
The startup costs are relatively low, sometimes around ,000. The work is flexible and often doesn’t require much day-to-day involvement. The risk is comparatively low and there is growth potential.
“You gotta buy the right product. If you buy the wrong product, it won’t move and you won’t make any money and you certainly don’t want to throw [product] away,” Ausmus said. “You’ve got to have the variety for people and find out which ones they want and that’s what you restock with, what sells.” <!–

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Basically, all you need to get started is some startup money to buy a machine, a good location and the right products.

7 Employers That Offer Part-Time Jobs With Health Insurance

Employers of a certain size, by law, have to offer health insurance to full-time workers. But some employers extend coverage to part-timers, too.

The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, defines “full time” as 30 hours or more per week. That’s right — 30, not 40.

“That definitely doesn’t sync up with common usage,” David Frazzini, a partner and health benefits expert at the HR consulting firm Mercer.

If you regularly clock 30 hours a week, and if your employer is large enough, they should be providing health insurance, according to the ACA.

Some employers market this as a perk but, really, they’re obligated to give it to you. Or they may offer some health benefits to part-timers, but the perks aren’t robust enough to qualify as health insurance.

Other companies really do go above and beyond what is required by law. Here are seven big employers that offer part-time jobs with health insurance.

7 Places to Find Part-Time Jobs With Health Insurance

These companies offer health insurance to part-timers working less than 30 hours per week.

1. Chipotle

All hourly workers at Chipotle restaurants are eligible for a suite of health insurance plans. The fast-casual burrito chain provides medical, dental and vision insurance with dependent coverage.

Medical plans are available through Anthem, according to the company’s latest benefits handbook. The vision plan is through EyeMed, and dental is through Delta Dental. Through a separate employee assistance plan, you can also receive mental health counseling for you and your dependents for free — face-to-face, over the phone or through teleconferencing.

Health plans are just some of the perks available to part-timers. The company has been beefing up its benefits package for years. Chipotle also offers accrued paid time off, sick leave, stock options, a 401(k) plan and tuition reimbursement to part-time staff.

Chipotle operates in 48 states and Washington, D.C. Find a job near you on Chipotle’s career page.

2. Costco

Costco, the membership-based wholesale retail chain, is known for providing comprehensive benefits and fair wages. And if you work at least 24 hours per week regularly, you’ll be able to enroll in a health insurance plan from Aetna.

The plan for part-timers has a $550 individual deductible, and you’ll be charged a copay for most doctor’s visits and prescription drugs. The company shares its health-care benefits summary publically.

According to Costco’s benefits website, the benefits begin the “first day of the second month following 450 eligible paid hours.” For example, if you’re working 24 hours a week, it will take you about four months to accrue 450 working hours. Your benefits would start after that, on the first day of the following month.

Costco stores are located in 45 states and Washington, D.C. Look for jobs near you on the company’s career page.

3. The Federal Government

No matter how few hours you work for the federal government, you’ll be eligible for the same health insurance benefits as full-time employees — as long as your position is permanent.

What varies is how much comes out of your paycheck, according to the Office of Personnel Management, the agency that manages the federal government’s civilian workforce.

“Part-time employees… receive the same coverage as full-time employees but pay a greater percentage of the premium,” the website states. “For example, an employee on a 20-hour-per-week schedule receives one-half the Government contribution towards the premium.”

You can find federal government jobs at agencies such as the Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Department of Veterans Affairs on the USA Jobs website.

4. Lowe’s

The home-improvement retailer offers regular, part-time workers a variety of benefits at most locations. You can enroll in medical, dental, vision and pharmacy plans upon hiring, and benefits will kick in after a full month of employment.

Depending on your area, you may have several tiers of medical coverage options.

The tool will also help you estimate how much money is deducted from your paycheck based on your selected plan. In many cases, medical plans have no deductibles or copays, and there’s no minimum amount of hours you need to work to become eligible.

Lowe’s operates in all 50 states. Check its career webpage to find jobs nearby.

5. REI

REI, which stands for Recreational Equipment, Inc., is a membership cooperative that provides outdoors equipment and apparel for sale and for rent. Co-ops aren’t like traditional businesses. They’re run more democratically and are focused on the needs of their members and workers rather than consumers or investors.

So it makes sense that they offer a generous benefits package. Several health care plans are available to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week.

The company operates in 39 states and in Washington, D.C. and employs more than 13,000 workers. Use REI’s job board to see if they’re hiring near you.

6. Starbucks

A Starbucks employees gives an order to a customer in the drive-thru.
In addition to health insurance for part-timers, Starbucks also pays toward their college education costs. Photo courtesy of Starbucks

Starbucks provides five tiers of medical plans for eligible hourly workers, and eligibility is based on a work week of about 20 hours. The exact number is a little more complex and is based on 240 hours worked over a three month period.

“For example, if you are hired on May 2, we would measure for 240 paid hours in June, July and August. If you meet the requirement over that time, you would receive your enrollment kit in September and become benefits eligible effective October 1,” according to an employee benefits packet.

Starbucks is also one of the few major employers that will pay for your college education as a part-time worker.

Starbucks’ latest medical insurance package includes Bronze, Bronze Plus, Silver, Gold and Platinum coverage options. Depending on the plan, individual deductibles range from zero to $3,300. And copays run from zero to $30 for doctor’s visits.

Starbucks operates about 15,000 stores across all states in the U.S. Find a gig nearby through its online career board.

7. UPS

UPS has one of the most comprehensive benefits packages for part-time employees. It includes medical, dental, vision and pharmacy programs.

Plans may vary by location. According to the TeamstersCare benefits page, you’ll need to work at least 225 hours over any three month period to qualify. That’s roughly 18 hours per week. If you work 400 hours over three months, you’ll gain access to full-time benefits over that time period.

UPS operates about 5,000 stores nationwide. You can look for jobs online using UPS’s career portal.

What Else to Consider About Health Insurance as a Part Timer

Many reasons may drive you to look for health insurance through a part-time job. Maybe your partner has a full-time job and you don’t need to work as much. You might have child or elder care responsibilities. Or perhaps you’re looking to “retire” early as part of the FIRE movement.

Whatever the case, Frazzini of Mercer says to consider your options on the ACA health-care exchange website.

“For low-income people, the subsidies on the ACA exchanges are pretty generous,” he said, noting that subsidized health plans through the exchange may be cheaper than ones provided by an employer if you’re a part-timer.

In some cases, being eligible for an employer-sponsored plan as a part-time worker might not be a good thing.

“If you are offered coverage by your employer, you actually become ineligible for those subsidies — regardless of whether you take it,” he said.

Also be aware that some employers offer health benefits but not health insurance. For example, Target this year started offering its part-timers a certain number of free telehealth visits with doctors and therapists. And some companies offer cost-share perks for hospitalizations.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Become a Career Coach: 3 Success Stories

When you hear the term “coaching,” it’s easy to think of the whistle-blowing leader of your child’s little league team or a motivational life coach who pens self-help books.

Yet a stream of young professionals are now giving that term new meaning. They are spinning off parts of their businesses — and even creating whole new businesses — on the idea of coaching a specific skill, tool or industry.

How did they get started? Where did they find clients? And, perhaps the most perplexing question in the work-for-yourself world, how did they decide what to charge?

We talked to three pioneers in the career coaching world about how they got to where they are and what they want to do next.

Coaching the Business of Freelance Writing

Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan, The Writers’ Co-op

Freelance writers Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan both got into coaching after a continued flurry of requests for advice. Both have a presence on social media and had written viral articles about their professional experiences.

For Gritters, it was a piece she wrote on Medium in June 2019 with an eminently clickable headline: “How I made $120,000 in my first year as a freelance writer.” For Yan, it was a piece published around the same time about her saga of successfully extracting late fees from publications that were late paying her. In both cases, Yan and Gritters found themselves inundated with requests from people who wanted to “pick their brains” and ask for career advice.

At some point, they both decided that offering their time for free was not financially sustainable.

To streamline their advice in one place, Yan and Gritters decided to start a podcast, The Writers’ Co-op, which has since become a guidebook for freelancers with worksheets, webinars and even coaching. They also started their own individual coaching businesses, offering one-hour sessions with prospective and experienced freelancers.

A woman smiles outside while sitting next to a flower bush with white flowers on it.
Jenni Gritters started her own coaching business where she offers one-hour sessions on the business of freelancing. Photo courtesy of Jenni Gritters

Finding clients was never too much of an issue. Yan’s and Gritters’ relative internet fame assured some level of success. But deciding what to focus on and how much to charge posed bigger problems. Both Yan and Gritters lowballed their rates at first — Yan was charging $35 a session while Gritters was charging $50. Both have since raised their fees: Gritters is at $150 while Yan is at $200.

They advise being realistic about how much work coaching will take and charge accordingly. Remember that a one-hour coaching session does not just take one hour: It takes time to schedule the session, prepare for it and send a follow-up email with tangible guidance, as Yan and Gritters do.

Remember, also, to be thoughtful about what topics you choose to coach. Although Gritters was a longtime editor and once taught high school journalism, she knew she did not want to teach the creative elements of writing. She wanted to save her creative energy for her own work. Instead, she focuses her coaching on the business of freelancing.

Coaching Social Media for Nonprofits

Dana Snyder, Positive Equation

When Dana Snyder initially started her own social media marketing business for nonprofits four years ago, she wanted to emulate an agency. Her plan was to be on monthly retainers with nonprofits managing their social media.

But once those contracts ended, she quickly saw that her clients went back to their previous practices. She wanted to help them long-term.

Much like Gritters and Yan, it was a sort of serendipity that pushed Snyder into coaching. In the first year of her business, a nonprofit reached out asking if she would be willing to work with an internal employee. The leaders knew enough to know what they didn’t know — and that was social media and the digital world.

The coaching paid off. At the end of the year, the nonprofit’s CEO reached out to Snyder to tell her that they had had unprecedented success on social media channels.

Since then, Snyder has made the pivot from the agency model to business coaching and speaking engagements. In a twist of fate, 2020 was the first year Snyder decided to focus 100 percent of her business on online courses, coaching and speaking engagements.When COVID-19 hit, she saw a rush of demand for virtual professional development sessions and planning virtual events.

She offers pre-recorded online courses for purchase on topics like Facebook and Instagram, planning a virtual event and reaching ideal donors. Those range from about $39 to $70 per course. She also offers social media audits to nonprofits, which function as a one-time coaching session. Snyder asks about an organization’s business goals, researches their competitors and the nonprofit’s own content before presenting them with digital strategies for the future. Those start at $1,000.

But in the age of COVID-19, Snyder has found real success in webinars. She offers professional development series for nonprofits that can book her as a speaker. She also received the unique opportunity to become an approved speaker through CharityHowTo, a site that connects nonprofits with relevant webinars. That has both increased her presence in the community and taught her more about how to make an engaging presentation.

Snyder is an example of the power of having a diversified revenue stream — audits, online courses and speaking engagements — at a variety of price ranges.

Coaching How to Pitch to News Outlets and Brands

Austen Tosone, Keep Calm and Chiffon

Austen Tosone did not initially become a full-time freelancer by choice. After getting laid off from two different magazine jobs, Tosone decided to pursue her blog, Keep Calm and Chiffon, and while writing freelance full-time.

As her work was getting published in publications like Refinery29, Teen Vogue, Bustle and The Zoe Report, she started receiving messages from people wondering how she got there.

“I really want to get into pitching magazines,” they would say, “and I would love any advice.”

But Tosone didn’t have the time to answer every one-off message. She decided to compile a resource that she could hand off to anyone with questions — for a price. That’s how she created her e-book, “Right On Pitch.”

The e-book focuses on the making of a successful pitch and looks at pitching brands and publications. She also has a section on negotiating rates. The book is priced at $9, which Tosone reasoned would be the cost of an actual coffee date, if each person who messaged her were actually able to take her out for coffee.

A woman sits at her home desk.
Austen Tosone created an e-book, Right on Pitch, that explores how to make a successful pitch to brands and publications. Photo courtesy of Austen Tosone

Tosone also learned the power of sharing your work with a small group before releasing it out into the world. Before launching her e-book, she shared it with about 12 beta-testers of freelance writers and influencers to get feedback. That helped her tweak the product to be ready to go.

The bulk of Tosone’s marketing for the e-book occurs on her own social media platforms, but she has paid to advertise in freelance writer Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter. She continues to do that, because she’s seen a good return from that $25 investment.

On top of her freelance writing career, Tosone now works full-time as a beauty content director at Jumprope, a company that helps users create how-to videos. But she’s still managed to find time to grow her e-book sales. In 2019, the e-book made up nine percent of her total freelance income. In 2020, it grew to 16 percent.

Tosone found success by compiling all of her advice in one place and marketing it as a low-cost product. Her decision to use beta-testers shows how fine-tuning a product with potential clients can help identify issues on the front end.

Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Instacart Layoffs: Here’s What the Cuts Mean for Your Side Gig

An Instacart worker shops for corn inside a grocery store.


Instacart worker Saori Okawa shops for produce for a delivery in San Leandro, Calif. Instacart plans to lay off nearly 2,000 employees as it shifts away from having shoppers inside grocery stores. Ben Margot/AP Photo

Grocery delivery service Instacart is laying off nearly 2,000 employees in the coming months as it shifts away from having shoppers embedded in stores.

Instacart unveiled the shift to a new “Partner Pick” model in a post on Medium. Under that model, Instacart will rely more on grocery store employees to fulfill orders. The announcement didn’t say how many in-store shoppers are being laid off, but CBS News reported that 1,877 Instacart employees who work embedded in grocery stores across the country will lose their jobs by March.

Going forward, grocery store employees will play a larger role in preparing pickup orders that customers place through the Instacart app. The result is that the current in-store Instacart employees will no longer be needed at many locations.

What Do the Instacart Layoffs and Changing Services Mean for Your Side Gig?

The March 2021 wave of layoffs is primarily focused on one of the two major side gigs Instacart offers: in-store shoppers. The other major side gig, full-service shopping, is indirectly affected.

In-store shoppers are W-2 employees of Instacart, and they work embedded in partner grocery stores around the country. Typically, they shop and prepare orders for pickup — either by a customer or an Instacart delivery driver who then takes the order directly to the customer’s doorstep.

As of March 2020, Supermarket News reported the company employs about 12,000 in-store shoppers. The layoffs mark an estimated 15% reduction in these types of jobs.

“We know this is an incredibly challenging time for many as we move through the COVID-19 crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to support in-store shoppers through this transition,” Instacart said in an emailed statement to The Penny Hoarder. “We’re also providing all impacted shoppers with separation packages based on their tenure with Instacart.”

Instacart did not clarify whether it plans to cut more in-store shopper positions in the future as the company continues to implement its new Partner Pick model.

The cuts have a rippling effect on the more popular grocery-delivery gigs, known as full-service shoppers. These positions are 1099 independently contracted roles. The folks who work these app-based gigs are not employees of Instacart, technically speaking. The “full-service” part generally refers to the grocery shopping and delivery responsibilities.

Pro Tip

1099 independent contractors aren’t eligible for standard W-2 employee benefits or workplace protections, including health insurance, workers compensation, paid time off and more.

Throughout the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people have supplemented their income with Instacart’s flexible delivery gigs.

Soon, full-service gig workers will start taking over the new shopping-only orders that will become available on the Instacart worker app.

“As part of this pilot, full-service shoppers at select retailer locations will be able to choose orders to pick, pack and stage — no delivery required,” Instacart said in an announcement.

The company did not share when the new type of orders will go into effect for gig workers.

In an announcement following the news of the Instacart layoffs, Kroger — a grocery chain that partners with Instacart — said it had no part in the decision to cut the in-store shoppers working at its locations. The grocer welcomed affected shoppers to apply to a host of job openings.

In a statement to CBS, Kroger said: “For those who are looking for a career opportunity, we have thousands of retail roles available on jobs.kroger.com.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, remote work and other unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.



Source: thepennyhoarder.com