How To Make More Money: 44 Strategies
We all get too many emails.
They take valuable time away from our real work. They represent a to-do list that others impose on us. They’ve gotten us addicted to our devices.
But what if we could earn money answering our emails?
Startup 21 announced just such a service today.
If it sounds to good to be true, there is one catch: You earn the money in bitcoin.
However, the app integrates with Coinbase, one of the most well-capitalized Silicon Valley cryptocurrency startups, which will easily and safely help you cash out your earnings.
With the 21 app, you can make money in more ways than just answering emails. Even just for setting up a public profile, I picked up $0.25 cents. I boosted my stash to $1 answering a survey about which venture capitalists’ names and which VC firms I recognized, and I collected another quarter just for downloading the iOS app.
“There’s huge demand for people around the world who want to convert their time and information into money,” says Nick Tomaino, tech investor at Runa Capital, who writes about blockchain technology in The Control. “I’m excited about it because a lot of people in the world need it and can be helped by it, and I also think it’s going to bring bitcoin to a lot more people in the world.”
Tomaino beta tested the service for about a month, earning $70 doing things like reviewing Uber’s latest release for $10 and doing a product review for $20. He also completed various surveys for fees ranging from $0.25 to $2 apiece. (In my spin around the app, I wasn’t being offered enough gigs to earn anything more than $2, though that’s perhaps to be expected from a service in beta. In response to my queries, 21 would only refer me to its Medium blog post announcing the release.)
The 21 app could someday encroach on the territory of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a marketplace where people around the world with free time connect with developers and companies who need small tasks to be completed. It could even become more popular, since currently, Mechanical Turk only pays out in either U.S. dollars, Indian rupees or Amazon gift cards, the last of which isn’t as fungible as fiat currency. There are, however, cryptocurrency exchanges in many parts of the globe.
However, to start, the email-for-a-fee service appears to be the main focus of the app. For people short on time, “a minimum price [ensures] that inbound messages are serious,” 21 said its announcement. It gave examples of how certain professions could use the feature to vet emails: Engineers and designers for messages from recruiters; VCs and angel investors for pitches from entrepreneurs; journalists for public relations releases.
But the feature could even enable new business models. For instance, consultants could bill per emailed question.
Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz, who advertised his 21 profile on Twitter, announced that within a couple days of changing his public email address to a 21.co profile, he had raised $1,360 for Black Girls Code. The app allows you to donate your earnings to one of three non-profit organizations; the other two are cryptocurrency advocacy and research center CoinCenter (which I interviewed on my podcast) or Folding@Home, a Stanford initiative in which everyday people can lend their computer power to help scientists studying Alzheimer’s Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s and cancers.
Horowitz eventually tweeted, “Bad news is that I got so many emails, that I need to raise the price [of emails to him] to $100 so that I could get some of my regular work done.” (The other reply price options available are $1, $5 and $20.)
The 21 app will likely generate excitement among the cryptocurrency community. For a long while, bitcoin adherents have said the technology needs a killer app to fuel widespread adoption. Since financial services already function pretty well in developed economies, the only use of bitcoin that has taken off in the developed world is speculation — basic buy-and-hold behavior. A recent study found that among users of Coinbase, the most popular U.S.-based wallet and exchange, the percentage who strictly interact with bitcoin as an investment was 64% in 2015, though it dropped to 54% in 2016.
But some services expected to become killer apps, such as internet tipping or making micropayments instead of watching ads to consume content, have so far fizzled or not caught on. Tomaino believes the 21 app will be different.
“The reason I like this app is it’s not dependent on people owning bitcoin, and that’s the biggest problem that needs to be solved in the blockchain space generally — getting people tokens,” he says. “It’s ‘Convert your time into money.’ It’s not like, ‘Here’s something you can do with bitcoin.’”
21, whose name derives from the fact that the bitcoin software will cease to release new coins once it’s minted 21 million, is one of the most well-funded companies in the space. It has garnered $121 million in investment from the likes of Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, “Paypal mafia” members Peter Thiel and Max Levchin and AngelList’s Naval Ravikant, among others.
But so far its product releases have been more developer-focused, enabling programmers, for instance, to post apps to the 21 marketplace that allow them to earn bitcoin each time their software gets used. This is in contrast to more traditional models in which the developer would either have to offer the service for free or charge a monthly subscription fee.
The new 21 web and mobile apps represent the company’s first consumer-facing services in its quest to build the “machine-payable web,” in which our gadgets send each other payments behind the scenes as they use services online. It would be nice if, along the way, 21 also solved our problem with crushing avalanches of emails.