Jan 04

How to make money when you’re unemployed

Reading Time: 7 mins

Searching for a job and being offered work can take time and with bills piling up, being unemployed is far from ideal. The good news is there are ways to make money whilst unemployed, biding you a bit more time to search and land a role suited to your background, experience and career aspirations rather than, out of desperation, taking the first job that’s offered to you.

If this situation sounds familiar and you are in desperate need for a quick cash fix as the job search continues, take a look at the following ways to make money when you’re unemployed.


Sell items online

girl using laptop surrounded by clothes to sell
Selling unwanted items on the likes of eBay and Amazon is a great way to earn some money whilst you’re out of work. You need not be a technical whizz or a digital maestro either, as selling on ecommerce sites is pretty straightforward.

Simply set up an account, take some photos of the items you want to sell, then list them on sites like eBay and let the cash roll in!

If you don’t have any items to sell, visiting local charity shops or car boot sales and purchasing some bargain items that are likely to go for more on auction sites like eBay, can be a fun, rewarding and easy way to generate an income whilst you’re looking for work.

Before you take the plunge and start selling online, carry out some research by looking at what sells well online and how much profit is in different items. If, for example, second-hand designer clothes and accessories tend to sell for substantial price tags, you’ll know what to look out for as you browse the car boot sales on a Sunday morning.

Find out more about making money selling online.


Do a car boot sale

Car boot sale
If selling online doesn’t tickle your fancy you could always join the sellers who congregate at car boot sales across the country at some ungodly hour on a Saturday or Sunday morning.

Get up in the attic, dust down those trinkets that haven’t seen the light of day in years and display them with pride at a forthcoming car boot sale. You never know, the money you generate from items that were merely gathering dust at home could be enough to take care of your groceries for the whole month.

Read our whole article about car boot sales here.


Rent things out

Room for rent sign
You might not have a property portfolio to enjoy the lifestyle of a landlord with multiple properties, but you might be sitting on something that will generate some revenue in rent. A spare room, for example, in your home could potentially be turned into a monthly source of income.

Though it’s not just property that you can rent out and the more creative you are with prospective rentable items, the better. You may have read about the lady who utilised her designer handbag addiction into a lucrative business by renting her Prada, Burberry and the rest of a £40,000 designer handbag collection to punters keen to be seen with a designer handbag by their side for a night – take note and be inspired folks!

There really are all kinds of things you can rent out including your driveway, your home as a film set and many more things.


Participate in surveys

Online Survey
Granted, there are surveys in circulation on the internet that claim to offer rewards for participants but in reality provide a pittance for your time and effort. Despite the scams, it is possible to make money, or at the very least earn vouchers, completing online surveys, the trick is knowing where to go.

Some of the best survey sites that offer cash incentives are Crowdology, which pays hard cash via PayPal as soon as you reach the £4 withdrawal threshold, MySurvey, which has an abundance of surveys and enables participants to withdraw funds when their balance reaches £3, and Inbox Pounds, which pays £1 just for signing up.

Read our full article about online surveys here. 


Be a mystery shopper

Mystery Shopper
Being unemployed and a self-confessed shopaholic doesn’t bode too well, unless you’re a mystery shopper! We’ve all heard of the term ‘mystery shoppers’, but is there really any money to be made through disguising yourself as a shopper and ghosting round supermarkets and department stores?

According to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), every month, approximately 50,000 mystery shopping trips take place round the UK. Many of the big UK retailers, including John Lewis and the Post Office, use mystery shoppers in their stores for purposes related to aspects such as identifying training issues or determining staff bonuses.

Mystery shoppers can be compensated by as much as £155 per day, for spending eight hours visiting different stores and making reports about their findings – Not a bad daily income when you’re looking for a ‘real’ job!

Find out more about becoming a mystery shopper here. 


Be a human guinea pig

Docotor giving young woman medication
If spending hours upon hours in busy stores and supermarkets doesn’t fill you with enthusiasm, you could always put your body forward to be involved in medical research.

Depending on where you live, your general health, your age and other factors, you may be able to make money participating in clinical trials, medical studies and test-and-research projects.

Find out more about how you could make money taking part in paid clinical trials. 


Give blood

Man giving blood
Again, depending on your age, location and health, you may be able to earn some money by giving blood. Some plasma banks offer a fixed rate per pint of blood.

Discover more ways you can make money with your body.


Start your own blog

Woman sat on the sofa by a gas fire
The internet is awash with blogs devoted to all kinds of topics. Most don’t make any money, some make a pittance, others drawn in a lucrative regular income. Take the ultra-popular genre off fashion blogs as an example. Research suggests that a typical fashion blogger earns £1,116 a year. Whilst not a liveable amount, making over a grand a year from blogging could certainly be useful, especially when you’re unemployed.

If you’re passionate or have buckets of knowledge about a subject others would be interested in learning, reading and being updated about, you may be able to earn some extra pennies by setting up a blog and generating revenue from the likes of having sponsored posts on the blog or from affiliate marketing, sales and commission.

Find out more about making money blogging here.


Walk dogs

Beagle on lead
Why not turn your love for dogs into hard cash? As many dog owners simply don’t have the time to take their furry friends on walks during the day, money is there to be made by walking dogs. In fact walking neighbours’ dogs is a great way of making money and getting exercise when you’re unemployed.

As you can see from the above, there are plenty of fun, inventive, creative and rewarding ways to make money in between job hunting and applying for jobs. And with some much-needed cash in your pocket, you can breathe a sigh of relief and bide your time in taking a job that is right for you.

Find out more about making money dog walking here. 


How earning money might affect unemployment benefits

Of course earning any kind of income whilst unemployed may affect any unemployment benefits you might be receiving and should be taken into consideration.

Permitted Work

Mother holding baby working at a desk

For example, whilst claiming Employment and Support Allowance you may be allowed to do some limited work, which is known as ‘Permitted Work.’ Permitted Work is geared towards enabling claimants to maybe gain new skills and test your own capacity for certain types of work.

You should talk to your local Jobs and Benefits office or with your Employment Service Adviser to discuss Permitted Work legislation and allowances.

Job Seeker’s Allowance

Job Centre Plus Sign
Job Seeker’s Allowance is available for those who are available to work but work on average less than 16 hours per week. The amount of Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance is affected once a household earns an income of more than £6,000 a year, including money from earnings, savings and pensions.

In order to be eligible for Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, you must work less than 16 hours per week on average, if you have a partner, he/she must work less than 24 hours per week on average. If you have savings they must be no more than £16,000.

Visit the Government website to see how any money you earn whilst you are unemployed my affect the benefits you might be receiving.

Registering as self-employed

Home Office

When earning an income independently, it is important that you register with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as self-employed. You will then need to fill out an annual self-assessment form, which will determine how much tax and national insurance contributions you may owe. The current threshold that you can earn and not pay any tax is £10,600 per year.

For more information about working for yourself and registering for self-employment visit the website.


This blog post was written by Gabrielle Pickard Whitehead, founder of PW Copy, specialists in copywriting, content, press releases and social media marketing in the North West.  Get in touch with PW Copy for all your copywriting and content writing requirements.




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great article, personally, i was unemployed but i must say that there are so many opportunities today with this online network, im for example found my self consistently through koocam website. and there are more sites like this. your article helped me, thank u


Yes it’s helpful to learn new skills. We have an article here on how to learn new skills for free

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