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Successful Moonlighting For Geeks? 448

Posted by kdawson
from the oh-and-it's-gotta-be-legal dept.
Lawksamussy writes "Having just bought a really old house that's on the verge of falling down, I'm now trying to find a way to pay to fix it up. I have a great job in software development that pays the bills, but I'm looking to earn some extra cash in my spare time. Whatever I end up doing has to be reasonably lucrative (or at least have the potential to be so), not require any specific time commitment, and be doable equally well from home or from a hotel room. I'm also keen that it should be sufficiently different to my day job to keep my interest up, so the most obvious things like bidding for programming projects on Rentacoder.com, or fixing up neighbors' PCs, aren't really on. Above all, it should appeal to my inner geek, otherwise my low boredom threshold will doom it to failure before I even start! So, I wonder if any of my fellow Slashdotters run little part-time ventures that they find more of an inspiration than a chore... and if they are willing to share what they do and perhaps even how much money they make doing it?"
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Successful Moonlighting For Geeks?

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  • Exposure. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Don't read the title too fast. "Mooning" isn't what's being asked.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ozphx (1061292)

      Oh.... Successful MoonLIGHTing for Greeks!

      My bad... so what did the Greeks invent again? Surely we can find SOMETHING hes naturally good at? ;)

      • by Deekin_Scalesinger (755062) on Monday September 15, 2008 @01:38AM (#25005733)

        Whatever I end up doing has to be reasonably lucrative (or at least have the potential to be so), not require any specific time commitment, and be doable equally well from home or from a hotel room. I'm also keen that it should be sufficiently different to my day job to keep my interest up, so the most obvious things like bidding for programming projects on Rentacoder.com, or fixing up neighbors' PCs, aren't really on.

        Based on your stated goals and desires, allow me to be the first to welcome you to the exciting and lucrative world of drug dealing!

    • Re:Exposure. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by smilindog2000 (907665) <bill@billrocks.org> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @10:17PM (#25004523) Homepage

      This guy poses a legit question, and one that often poses ethical issues. Not only have I done a bit of moonlighting in my past, but I've always encouraged my best programmers to do a bit on the side. Without sampling that grass on the other side of the fence, those talented programmers I train are likely to hop over.

      As an old programmer (I'm 44), I've got a few stories. When I worked for David Burns at HP, my previous company, National Semiconductor, needed my help badly. The work David assigned was mind-numbingly boring, and the LM628/LM629 (motor controllers) I'd worked on at National were in serious trouble without me, and frankly they were fun (my old boss, David Squires, was about the best ever). I asked Mr Burns if I could do the project as a favor to old friends at National, and he said it was up for the HP *Board of Directors* to decide! So, if HP/Burns was going to be a PITA, without any pangs of lack of integrity, I stopped asking Burns what I could or could not do.

      I helped National push the LM628/LM629 into the market. Then, I quit working for Burns. As a consultant for a while, I wrote the original Simple Switcher design code (National did most of the work - bench validation). If you haven't heard of this line of products, you obviously aren't in power electronics. I enjoyed the consulting, but basically I sucked. I have this terrible desire to call stupid people stupid. It's *really* bad for consultants. So, now I'm CTO of a small company I founded, and I can't complain. Again, when my programmers feel the need for some moonlighting, I'm fully supportive. I've never lost a good one because of it.

  • by chill (34294) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:36PM (#25002989) Journal

    Reasonably lucrative, no major time commitment, can be done at home or a hotel room. Hmmmm...think, think, think.

    Have you tried an ad on Craigslist? Make sure to post a picture of yourself, along with your "rates". Good luck!

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:37PM (#25003001)

    They all seem to be selling the get rich quick without spending any time and from any where you want using the Internet plans.

    The secret however is not to buy them, its to sell them.

    • Fortune-telling (Score:5, Interesting)

      by zobier (585066) <zobier AT zobier DOT net> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @09:08PM (#25003955)

      Consider astrology/divination/psychic readings sort of thing.
      Minimal learning required, reasonable money.
      Can be done online too.

    • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Monday September 15, 2008 @12:11AM (#25005187) Homepage Journal
      For a few years I made my living doing a very geeky sort of eldercare. There are an awful lot of people, mostly women over the age of seventy-five, who need a hell of a lot of skilled help that a broadly skilled geek can provide. They are usually still managing three or four bank accounts, two to ten investment accounts, about twenty to fifty annual contributions, and various other expenses. And usually dealing with one or more personal aides, who almost never speak good English and even if they do, do a lot better with somebody young, firm, and capable who keeps them on target. And they are usually slowing dispersing their possessions, which frequently involves psychologically complex claims of interest in donating things but with dozens of conditions, most of which they can't even articulate. And all with families who want all of this dealt with but aren't going to make the time to be there enough to do this and would be hobbled by family dynamics if they even tried.

      Once you learn to see it that way, almost all of it is systems problems. Things that can be hacked.

      Add all of this up, and, especially when you added in the families who were in the process of moving from standalone homes to senior residences, I had far more work than I was willing to take on. And since I underpriced the market by charging thirty to fifty dollars an hour, I really got to pick and choose. Flexibility mattered far more to me than the marginal income. Just think of it as consulting work. The kind where the ability to keep a good timesheet is crucial, as is the ability to bill regularly, and then get the client to pay, which, when it goes wrong, is usually just another problem you can, ironically, bill to fix.

      The trick to all of this? Being capable enough that whether the problem is about bookkeeping or logistics or finding and managing a contractor, your answer can be "don't worry; I'll take care of it." If you can make that promise and keep it, you're golden. You'll probably, like me, end up needing to find one or more assistants to help out if you're not willing to commit to doing this full time. I tried to keep it all at about fifteen hours a week and while peak load (say, moves of large houses or medical crises) was quite a bit higher, on average I did just fine. Fwiw, I peaked at five assistants on a couple of big jobs. Finding and managing them was, of course, much of what I was being paid for.
      There are hundreds of thousands of affluent households who are just now moving from private homes into senior residences of one sort or another and the bottom line is that these residences are institutions. And from the food to the visual esthetics to the available services and schedules, these places are just not up to the job of satisfying these people who have had decades to get used to a higher standard. The person who can fill in that gap can write their own ticket.

      What I'm describing is a boom industry and will be for years to come and it uses most of the skills I learned as an IT director and consultant. Financial management, crisis management, learning to live the "pager lifestyle", handling subcontractors, and so on. Things like explaining the limitations of servers to PHBs and routing installs around union b.s. apply, too. Not to mention being able to switch from being "a suit" talking to a lawyer (or a doctor, or both at once) to climbing under a desk to see if a new outlet was done properly. But since you're working for a family, you've got waaay more flexibility than you do at a corporate job. And if you're good the word of mouth will get you as many clients as you're willing to take on.

      As for the "work from home" issue, like many kinds of consulting, for every hour you spend onsite, you spend half an hour to three hours offsite. Doing research, coordinating subcontractors, and so on. If you are online and can be on the phone for a while now and then, it doesn't matter if you're home, at work, or in the middle of a bro
      • by Raenex (947668) on Monday September 15, 2008 @12:59AM (#25005489)

        What I'm describing is a boom industry

        I am intrigued and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:38PM (#25003013)

    I've been doing this for a while and I've managed to release a fair bit of cash.

  • by catchy_handle (705154) * <sandbox.kaccardi@net> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:39PM (#25003031) Journal
    Have you considered doing work on the house yourself? The money you save may make the second job unnecessary.

    My wife & I remodeled our previous house: tore off plaster, moved walls, rewired, tiled, etc. We hired out the roof tear off, rough plumbing work and some of the drywalling. Saved a ton of money. Eventually, it made more sense for me quit my low-paying job and become the full-time house repair dude while she worked her good job.

    It's not that hard, you learn new skills, have an excuse to aquire tools, and have something to be proud of. It did take seven years, though. YMMV

    This time around, we are paying others as much as we can, but we'll probably be left with a weathered-in shell.

    It's also a good way to find out you your friends really are. Forget moving day, real friends help you demo and haul.

    Good luck.

    • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:45PM (#25003129)
      Or investing in a bit aftershave, a bath, some flowers, and marrying a carpenter?
    • by martinQblank (1138267) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:54PM (#25003227)
      I have to second this. Hire out the big jobs -- anything foundation-related/structural especially -- but otherwise learn to do it yourself. Yes, it will take longer but there is really a sense of accomplishment at the end. Presumably you bought the house because it either really appealed to you; you saw it as a great investment or whatever. If you feel strongly enough about it, you'll learn to do the job right. FWIW - I've owned seven -- and lived in five -- houses so far. Most have been fixer-uppers and I've enjoyed making each of them better than before. WARNING -- it can get addictive.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by AmaDaden (794446)

        it can get addictive.

        In my family when my father ran out of things to fix on a house it was time to move. But to be fair he is a civil engineer so he spends his days telling people how to build buildings but is not allowed to actually touch the tools him self. We have done massive renovations over the years some of them just to see if we could. For example our pool has both a solar heater and a connection to the heat in the house. We hardly use either.

        With some work you can do almost any fairly large pro

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geoskd (321194)

        I have to second this. Hire out the big jobs -- anything foundation-related/structural especially -- but otherwise learn to do it yourself. Yes, it will take longer but there is really a sense of accomplishment at the end.

        I have to disagree, structural work is the best kind of fun. There is nothing more exciting and geeky than figuring out which supports you can afford to pull out, and then testing it on the real thing...

        Foundation work is even more involved, and can be daunting to the first timer, but isn't really any harder than structural. Keep in mind that people have been building houses for thousands of years, and a disturbingly large percentage of them couldn't even count to 20, but their houses didn't fall down.

    • by frission (676318) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:03PM (#25003333) Homepage
      if you decide to do this, know your limitations, and the permit laws in your state. Here in NC, you need a permit for any new framing/walls, electric, plumbing, etc. If you don't get the proper permits, you may have a hard time selling your house down the road.
      • by morari (1080535) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @09:40PM (#25004229) Journal

        Or you could ignore the permits as no one will ever know anyway. It's not really any of their business to begin with. American cities are epicenters of totalitarianism when it comes to wanting to charge you to install door frames or repaint your kitchen!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mr. Slippery (47854)

          Or you could ignore the permits as no one will ever know anyway. It's not really any of their business to begin with. American cities are epicenters of totalitarianism when it comes to wanting to charge you to install door frames or repaint your kitchen!

          Hmm. I've never heard of any place where you needed a permit to repaint your kitchen. Where would that be?

          It depends on what sort of work and what sort of building. If it won't burn down the house, make it collapse, or flood the neighborhood if you mess

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by corbettw (214229)

          Or you could ignore the permits as no one will ever know anyway.

          As long as you don't try to sell your home, no one will know. But I guarantee you, a decent home inspector will discover it, and will determine that it wasn't done to "code". Which could mean that other corners were cut, which will almost certainly discourage buyers (not to mention you can't transfer title until everything is brought up to code, anyway). So now you're stuck with a house you can't sell. How's that gonna work out for you?

          I'll happily concede that building codes are entirely too onerous in mos

    • by hbackert (45117) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:10PM (#25003401) Homepage

      I second this. Instead of working to earn money to pay someone, you can do it yourself in the first place.

      Back in my home country it is (in the country side) common to let someone (AKA people who know what they are doing) build the outer part of a house (basement, cellar, walls, roof) and some other important or safety-critical parts like heating system, staircases, electric wiring (not allowed to do without proper qualification) and water pipes (you don't want them to leak in 5 years), and maybe finish enough rooms to live inside the house (kitchen, bathroom, one bedroom, living room), and then do the rest yourself.

      There are enough books to read about the needed tools and skills.

      The best part about this is when later something breaks, you have the tools and knowledge to fix many problems yourself.

      And carpenters and related jobs are unpopular enough (no one wants to learn this type of work any more) that there is enough shortage of those people so that their hourly rates are surprisingly high and they get away with it. So it's a nice "Plan B" in case your current computer related job no longer earns you enough.

      • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @09:40PM (#25004225) Journal

        I'll be flamed for this, but: I think it's better to just do it yourself.

        I've owned two houses, both of them ancient. The first, which was small, appeared to be done; new flooring throughout, new paint inside, good siding outside, all new plumbing, new exterior doors, some new windows, mostly new wiring... Everything looked good. So we bought it and moved in.

        The drain for the kitchen sink ran uphill. The water heater (complete with recent inspection sticker) was plumbed backward. There was no attempt at plumbing venting. The office had 3-prong outlets, which lead to 2-conductor wire. The living room also had 3-prong outlets, which did appear to be actually grounded, but which were miswired somewhere, such that 60-cycle hum would emanate from the stereo -unless- the clothes drier was running, which I still haven't figured out. The new vinyl windows in the kitchen were overstuffed with insulation, such that the frame bowed to such an extent that it was nearly impossible to fully close and latch the things.

        This was all done, supposedly, by professionals.

        The second house is a bit different. About the same price, about the same age, the same quality of neighborhood, much larger (used to be a triplex), and totally trashed inside. Scary wiring, bad plumbing (every single pipe leaked, every single one), no heat upstairs, tired floor coverings, lousy exterior doors, etc. So we bought it, and began work. Once we had a functional bathroom and shower, we moved in.

        It's been an adventure, but at least I have an opportunity to do everything right the first time, instead of finding and fixing a million things that were done wrong. Including, of course, wiring, basement stairs, plumbing, flooring, kitchen cabinets, plaster where needed, drywall where practical...

        Plumbing is easy. I ripped out all of the old copper, galvanized, and black iron drain pipe, since it was all shit. Running new pressure lines is bloody easy these days thanks to the virtue of snap-on PEX fittings and manifolds with individual outlets for each room or fixture -- it's pretty hard to fuck up a line to a sink if it only has two connections. The drain lines are also pretty easy to figure out (shit goes downhill). Venting is harder to get right, but still not bad.

        Electrical wiring is easy. Drill up from below, or down from above, into the stud cavity. Pull the romex in. Black wire to the little side of the outlet, white to the big, and copper to the ground screw. Give the fridge and the sump pump their own circuits, so that something else in the house failing short and blowing a breaker doesn't result in a freezer full of spoiled food or a flood. Permanent lighting gets its own circuits, so that tripping a breaker doesn't result in darkness. Don't daisy-chain too many outlets, don't send too many wires into a single junction box, and always use a GFCI wherever there might ever be water, always ground metal boxes... So on, so forth. It's easy to overbuild with lots of independent circuits, and so one might as well do so.

        Even cutting in a 36" (up from 30") front door was easy.

        And real, honest-to-God 3/4"-thick solid oak flooring is both cheap to buy and easy (even fun) to install and finish, and truly wonderful when done.

        I've run ductwork professionally in the past, which is about the most braindead task in the world even with correct size reductions and consideration for laminar flow, and will probably tackle installing a high-efficiency gas furnace upstairs in the next month or two (before it gets really cold out).

        There's no way I'd have been able to hire someone else to do all of this work. And, given the quality of the "improvements" at the last last house, there's still no way I'd have hired any of it done even if I could afford to.

        Now, I didn't go about any of this lightly. I spent a long time studying plumbing before I even considered doing it myself, but it's not at all rocket science. I also spent some time brushing up on the NEC bef

      • by Slugster (635830) on Monday September 15, 2008 @12:02AM (#25005125)
        I'd agree that doing it yourself would be a lot cheaper (as well as cure the problem of all that annoying free time you have) but I also agree that you need to find out what you can do yourself first--without a permit, and that doesn't require a licensed professional to do.
        ....

        And carpenters and related jobs are unpopular enough (no one wants to learn this type of work any more) that there is enough shortage of those people so that their hourly rates are surprisingly high and they get away with it. So it's a nice "Plan B" in case your current computer related job no longer earns you enough.

        I don't know what country you are in... but in the US, the areas where carpenters, plumbers and electricians are highest paid--are the same places that require a permit/licensed professional to do most things. The code inspectors know the difference between the job done properly and well, the job done properly and poorly, or the job done incorrectly by somebody who thought they knew what they were doing. In the more union-heavy regions, if they see something that wasn't done properly and you can't provide proof of who did it, they will require all the work be re-done, and that you show proof of the [union] laborer that you hired to do it.

        And how will they find out, you ask? Well, somebody might inform them about you--but even if that doesn't occur....-many places, whenever a house changes ownership, the code inspector will go over it before the transfer is approved. And so when you're trying to sell the house is when you're going to get hit with all this trouble, if it happens.

        It sucks and it's a crock of bullshit, but in some places, it is the law. And it is cheaper to find out before you do anything yourself than it is to find out after.
        ~

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:15PM (#25003449)

      As a former reno-carpenter, I'd have to suggest doing it yourself too. You're not going to make enough money moonlighting to pay for the kind of work that needs doing in anything like equal hours.

      That said... I don't know you, & thus how well you'll learn what needs to be done. You could take to this like a duck to water and have an excellent balance for your keyboard day job. And you could have a relationship-breaking disaster.

      And this just gives me chills: "Having just bought a really old house that's on the verge of falling down".

      You have no idea how big the hole is you're looking at. A moderately old house that seems pretty good to the amateur can be an enormous money pit. Gear up your humour and character, because you've bought yourself a gelatinous cube. (And I /do/ love the old houses. There's been a lot of hard lessons on the way to being the sort of guy who'll tell you to just knock it down and start over. But it's your adventure -- just realize it is an adventure, and it's going to be for the next several years. Good luck.)

    • by couchslug (175151) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:50PM (#25003823)

      Worked for me, three times!

      Buy COMMERCIAL quality basic power tools. The insane money you will save more than pays for them and they are a joy to use.

      Buy tools as you need them for a given task, and check prices/vendors on the net just as you would for computer parts.

      28-volt Milwaukee cordless tools are excellent. Set prices are much cheaper than "one at a time".

      Use a digital camera to take MANY before/during/after photos so you KNOW where the stuff you cover up in the walls is located! You'll have an owners manual for your home.

      Screws are usually better than nails, because you can (drumroll) UNscrew them and they hold much better. I don't use drywall screws even for drywall because they are brittle. Deck screws are rustproofed, tough, and trivially more expensive.

    • by mkcmkc (197982)

      I don't know that you really save money by doing it yourself, and it may actually end up costing you more when you figure in the price of your time and other non-obvious costs, but there is still one killer advantage to doing it yourself, which is that nobody will care as much as you do about getting it done right.

      Over the years, I'd say 20% of the tradesmen I've hired have done a great job, 40% are mediocre, doing almost as good as I might do if I was in a hurry. The other 40% are chimpanzees, and it can

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TapeCutter (624760)
      "Have you considered doing work on the house yourself?"

      This is a great advice! The first 10yrs of my working life were spent as a day labourer in various places mainly the building industry. I bought a second hand Apple IIe as a hobby in the mid-eighties, a few years later I found I could make money from my hobby and decided to educate myself properly. I have been a well paid geek now for almost 20yrs.

      The wife and I got sick of the sight of each other about 8yrs ago and I ended up in a flat near the b
  • grow pot? (Score:3, Funny)

    by SirLars (871223) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:40PM (#25003039)
    I hear that pays well
  • Gee.. uh.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by houbou (1097327) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:40PM (#25003041) Journal

    and be doable equally well from home or from a hotel room

    Amateur porn site project perhaps? :P

    should appeal to my inner geek

    If "inner geek" is its nickname, he should definitively find some appeal to this project.

  • by lsommerer (89441) <lsommerer@sewardweb.com> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:41PM (#25003061)

    Have you considered getting into home renovation? Granted, you won't be able to do it from most hotel rooms, but I understand there is a growing market for those services in your immediate area. It would certainly be different from your day job.

  • by Bicx (1042846) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:41PM (#25003073)
    I'm not sure what you do for your main job, but personally I would suggest learning some web technologies like PHP, MySQL, and possibly something like Flash. Maybe throw in some graphic design to exercise your creative side. Web programming and web development can, in my experience, be more enjoyable than other types of programming jobs due to the relative simplicity and "instant" results. It is relatively easy to get web development gigs (after you start building up contacts), and it can be done from anywhere. Personally, I may try part-time web development myself after getting my day job settled.
  • PC Building (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KGIII (973947) * on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:43PM (#25003097) Journal

    Build and sell PCs. Not just normal PCs but ones with nifty cut-outs (you DO have a Dremel tool, right) and flashy lights. Call them by some nifty name. When you're not home you can be working on the designs or maybe building some of the smaller bits. As this is "free time" it won't really be that unprofitable if you can build a name and find the market.

    Me? I'd like to build some out of exotic woods.

    • Nah, get ahead of the bleeding edge, and make them out of cake!

      Bill shook his a55 [youtube.com] in Seinfeld/MS Ad I, so we know they're on the way...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Heembo (916647)

      Me? I'd like to build some out of exotic woods.

      There is already a niche market for PC's made from high-end hard woods - I saw one advertised in a catalog on a commercial airplane that cost upwards around 3-4k with crappy innards. Go for it man....

  • by TeknoHog (164938) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:44PM (#25003117) Homepage Journal

    a really old house that's on the verge of falling down

    Soap. Make and sell soap. Sell rich women their own fat asses back to them.

    • Mod parent up,

      most of us geeks wish we could fight.

      (This coming from a geek who fights rattan with armor and boffer without.)

    • by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @09:37PM (#25004193)

      Soap. Make and sell soap.

      Actually this is a very good suggestion. A friend of mine recently opened her own soap business and she is making money hand over fist. She mostly sells soap at trade shows, fairs, etc, but I helped her set up her e-commerce site and business is really picking up for her. Soap is relatively easy to make, and creating large batches of it at a time can lead to great economies of scale. You could do worse as far as side-businesses go.

  • OnForce.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by RiffRafff (234408) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:46PM (#25003137) Homepage

    Check out OnForce.com. They look for people in your area to do one-off installs, change out UPS batteries, run cable, update virus programs; all kinds of things that make more sense to hire someone knowledgeable one time than to keep people on staff "just in case."

    I used these folks in my last gig to do field work all over the country...cheaper than flying someone out to do it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by squarefish (561836) *
      OnForce is awesome and easy to work with- the platform allows providers a lot of flexibility on what types of jobs they want, for how much, and easily allows you to set multiple parameters for how far you are willing to travel including zip codes, mileage rages, and area codes. I completed 29 jobs for them a few years ago when I was between jobs and I still keep an active profile in case I end up in that situation again. They are a great organization and they do a great job. I would highly recommend them to
  • lol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:50PM (#25003179)

    Dear Slashdot,

    I consider myself fairly well off but just spent beyond my means, making me like most of middle class America. I'm now looking for a get-richer-quick scheme, preferably that can be done at home sitting on my ass, and whenever I want. It must also appeal to the inner sense of superiority I give myself at my day job... but it must NOT be like my day job.

    Sincerely,

    R.A. Tracer, Jr.

  • Congress (Score:4, Funny)

    by Arterion (941661) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:52PM (#25003199)

    Sounds like you should run for Congress.

    • Congressmen aren't allowed to understand technology. For more information, Ted Stevens will be reachable at a federal penitentiary near you sometime soon.
  • Barter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:54PM (#25003229) Homepage Journal
    A second job probably isn't a good idea because it could very easily interfere with your first and you may end up losing that. I would try bartering instead. Seriously, somewhere in your network of friends you have to know people who can help you fix up their house and may have a kid that needs help with math or want a web site for their business etc. Not only is this probably more efficient(no need to earn money, get it taxed, then go find people who are also getting paid taxable income to do the work), the overall commitment is probably smaller as well so you don't have to worry about your second job becoming your first.
  • by PaganRitual (551879) <splaga&internode,on,net> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:54PM (#25003235)
    ... so can someone please create a idalsolikeapony tag and place it on this please.
  • by fredmosby (545378) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:55PM (#25003237)
    I know the iPhone's not popular here right now. But it has a very low barrier to entry compared to writing a program for any other platform. Internet hosting, collecting payments, and to a certain extent marketing is already handled for you. All you would have to do is the actual programming work.
  • Drug Dealer (Score:5, Funny)

    by gyrogeerloose (849181) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @07:58PM (#25003283) Journal

    Reasonably lucrative, no major time commitment, can be done at home or a hotel room.

    Seriously--there are not many legal options that meet your requirements.

    I'd suggest you take a little trip down to the "bad" part of your town and start talking to the guys you see standing around on the street corners. I'm sure one of them would be more than happy to help you set up a franchise of your own.

  • by nawcom (941663) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:00PM (#25003307) Homepage
    How big is your wang? (If the rumor that nerd cock is huge is true) then swing it around like a helicopter at after-hours bars for some cash.

    Or, start up some web servers at your place and host content for some twisted yet legal sexual fetish. Or sell autographed pictures of your mom.

    Okay, so I'm really not helping at all. I myself have earned extra cash repairing laptop hardware, cleaning up horrid computers running windows, and the occasional assisting of installing legal copies of OS X on the purchaser's PC. Mostly connected through word of mouth, so I don't advertise or anything like that.

    If you have well built software programming skills (with your previous code as proof) you would be surprised about the people who want a program to do x, y, and z and will give you a nice check to do so. I've done that 4 times in my free time, all with lawyers who a relative knew of.

    If you still have your foreskin, you can play "guess what's in the foreskin pouch" where you hide a random item by enclosing it with your foreskin. Not sure how much cash you can get from that - betting perhaps.

  • Trade (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a video game developer by day, and a trader/investor by night. I don't intraday trade, so I guess that makes me an investor.

    Typically with 10% of my cash invested in the market, I can make about 3% return (about 30% ROI) monthly *if* I do proper research, pretty consistently.

    If you don't mind risk, this is a nice way to make cash as it requires only a minimal time investment and can be done from anywhere in the world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by paulthomas (685756)

      Caveat Investor. Parent is likely a lucky and/or foolish speculator rather than an investor.

      Practically no one earns 30% annually with consistency, especially not people for whom it is a hobby. Many people remember the good bets and forget the bad ones. The only way you should be tracking returns is by measuring the net value of the account/s from period to period.

      Ten years ago, people "invested" in their homes with leverage (debt) when everyone was saying that you'd be insane not to and that renters were t

    • Right... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana (662181)
      ...and with zero minutes a month, my money is earning more than 3% in a savings account.

      You do realize that you're not even beating inflation, right?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rk (6314) *
        Please tell me what bank you are using that pays 3% interest per month. I'll switch tomorrow.
  • tutor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by story645 (1278106) <story645@gmail.com> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:02PM (#25003331) Journal

    You've got a college degree in math/science, right? Tutoring hopeless college kids or high school kids from middle class families can net something like $50-75 an hour, more depending on your qualifications and neighborhood. Hours are totally flexible. Hell, if ethics aren't a problem, sell term papers and coding assignments while you're at it.

    • Re:tutor (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:38PM (#25003681) Homepage
      I've been a tutor before and am still one but it's harder than you would think. It's not so much knowing the material as it is explaining to the student that's difficult. A lot of times I find myself explain things in an abstract way that only confuses the hell out of my students. It's so obvious to me but it makes no sense to them, which is of course why they need help in the first place. My point is that a good teacher/tutor isn't always one who knows the material the best but one who is the best at explaining it to someone. I'm not saying that the OP isn't good at this but it tends to be that nerds/engineers aren't very good with communications.
  • by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:05PM (#25003345) Homepage Journal

    I've been an entrepreneur since the age of 12, running a variety of geeky businesses from BBSes in the 80s, to 3D design studios and rendering farms in the 90s. I've had my consulting business since I incorporated it when I was 15 (with an adult business partner who I bought out at 18).

    I still moonlight through a variety of ventures, none of them geek oriented. EVERY moonlighting gig I did that was geek-oriented made my life miserable. Too much geekiness can really break you, honestly.

    I run a Christian Printing [vipministry.com] business that accounts for about 25% of my income, and I run it on the side, maybe 1-2 hours a day. I blog [unanimocracy.com], which accounts for 10% of my income, also very part time. I've owned retail stores which became too full time to manage. I'm starting a digg-like print magazine focused on Chicago (details to come).

    Everything I do moonlighting-wise is anti-geek. Much of it is hands on, without programming or thinking about technology or electronics. It keeps me fulfilled.

    Stay away from moonlighting in what you do for a living. Find a hobby you can profit from. There's a billion ways to make money, but the most fun ones are the ones that don't cross into the market you're in for a living.

  • DIY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by farnsworth (558449) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:07PM (#25003367)

    it should be sufficiently different to my day job to keep my interest up [...]. Above all, it should appeal to my inner geek

    Why not do the majority of the work yourself? There is nothing more geeky or interesting than learning something new, from basic carpentry, to plumbing, to design work.

    With my first house, I did the vast majority of the work myself, simply because cash was scarce. As time went on and I was able to save up some cash for expected work, I sometimes just hired the work out because it was something I tried and failed at, or was something that didn't interest me at all. But mostly I still do a lot of the projects myself.

    Financially, you should try to compare the earnings that might be available to you to the cost of laborers and craftsmen. I live in the Bay Area, I can earn $80/hr for side projects easily (I could earn way more if I could pick and choose, but if I'm just trying to fill my free time, $80/hr seems to be the sweet spot). Craftsmen charge pretty close to that. So, depending on the specifics of the work on my home needs to happen, I'll either do it myself or try to raise the money with side jobs. It also depends upon what I want to learn.

    For example, electrical work doesn't interest me at all, plus it scares me, so I always hire that out. But anything else I'll spend at least some time trying to figure out if I can learn how to do it myself.

    As for moonlighting, you'll find the best work through people you know and who trust you. The best advice is to let everyone you know know 1) that you are looking for work 2) what you are great at 3) what your availability is. Eg, "I'm looking for work, I've used X technology to build web sites for Y years, and I'm available Z weekends per month.

    Also, don't overextend yourself. Fixing up a house can take years. Don't get impatient, enjoy the process, and don't sacrifice your happiness for the sake of a faster schedule.

  • by SupplyMission (1005737) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:44PM (#25003749)

    Geophysical data processing may be what you are looking for. It fits what you are looking for, because you can do it from anywhere you have internet access, and the money is good. I have a few friends doing this kind of work from home during nights and weekends, while working full-time at their day jobs.

    Typical work situation: there will be a field crew somewhere in the world, acquiring geophysical measurements from an aircraft-based sensor platform, usually for the purpose of mineral exploration. Every night, they'll FTP the day's data to you. You do the bulk of the quality control, data reduction and processing work, and then upload the processed data back to the FTP. You'd also notify the field guys about any potential problems in the data. After that, the in-house specialists will do any final processing (leveling magnetic grids, fine drift corrections, etc.) and when the fieldwork is completed, they'll also prepare the client deliverables (maps, reports, interpretations, etc.).

    Hourly rates for this kind of work range anywhere from $25/hr to $80/hr ($200/day to $500/day). If there are no serious glitches in the data that need troubleshooting, a data processor with some computer skills can usually rip through a day's worth of data in 3 or 4 hours. So if you get your data at 7pm, you can be done before midnight and still get a good night's sleep and be ready for your "real" job the next day. (On the other hand, if you have a girlfriend or wife, you may get into some time sharing conflicts, because the production schedules usually don't tolerate much latency.)

    Educational requirements are typically a 4-year university/college Geophysics degree, or something somewhat related, such as Physics, Engineering, Math, etc. In any case, if you have a degree, your chances are good.

    Training will probably take a few weeks, for you to get some experience and develop a feel for what good and bad data look like. Essentially you are the first line of quality control, so it's up to you to quickly flag any problems that could be due to operator error, sensor malfunction, or other factors.

    You may or may not have to do some selling to potential employers to get them to let you work entirely from home. However, the way the mineral exploration market is these days (base metals such as copper and nickel are expensive [basemetals.com]), this shouldn't be difficult as there is too much data to process and not enough people.

    A few geophysics companies are always hiring data processors:

  • by stevegee58 (1179505) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:49PM (#25003809) Journal
    I'm shocked no one suggested trading. I've been teaching myself trading for a few years now. Engineers are analytical by nature and trading is absolutely perfect. Backtesting systems and analyzing data for patterns are a yin-yang fit for techies. It's potentially lucrative and can be done from home or a hotel room, as the OP specified.
  • Espionage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @08:55PM (#25003865) Homepage Journal

    Just sell off some of your daytime data to the highest bidder.

  • Take a welding class (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday September 14, 2008 @09:27PM (#25004091) Homepage

    You won't be able to do this from a hotel room but I took a welding class and everyone that passed their test had a chance to meet with local companies looking for welders. Most of them were willing to consider part-timers, especially if you were TIG certified. If you can weld aluminum or do food grade work, you're golden.

    One guy in our class got a job at an Antarctic research station.

    I ended up getting an exec job before the class was over, so it never turned into a part-time gig. But I still have people who want me to weld stuff for them. And if you have a plasma cutter besides the welding gear, you'll have lots of friends and plenty of part-time work. Even my buddies will slip me a couple bucks, it's enough to pay for my welding supplies. You can usually find classes at a local community college, I'd stay away from the trade schools.

    The only problem with getting certified in stick welding is you'll never be able to look at big pipes or structural welds without inspecting the beads. Checking for splatter, bad puddles and spots where they missed flux. You can get to be a seam snob.

    If you're artistic metal art is really popular. There was a guy who come in once in a while to buy our class scrap. He made metal art little things and made quite a lot of money selling them. I used the plasma cutter to make a name plate for a friend and I bet I've had five of her friends call and ask if I would make them one. And, I have to say, a plasma cutter is not only a cool tool to use, it sounds totally bad ass. Like a jet engine that blasts a spray of molten metal. Imagine being able to cut in 1/4 steel as easy as writing with a big Sharpie.

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