While all of those are good options, there are plenty of other possibilities that don’t get as much attention. I love to find unusual and interesting side hustles, and one of the most interesting that I have come across involves getting paid to be a friend.
I know it sounds a little creepy or bizarre at first, but it’s a legit opportunity that a growing number of people are pursuing.
RentAFriend.com is essentially a marketplace of friends. People who are looking for a friend (and willing to pay) can browse the site and find people that are available to be a friend for hire. Those who are looking to hire friends will need to pay $24.95 to get access to the directory of friends.
Jackie Lam is a personal finance writer and blogger at Hey Freelancer. She experimented with RentAFriend.com (and made some money) and answered some of my questions about the process, so you’ll see some quotes from Jackie throughout the article.
When I asked Jackie about her experience with RentAFriend.com, she said “I was hired once to accompany a 40-year-old male high school teacher who was visiting from out of town. There was another time when a twenty-something female said she was new to Los Angeles and wanted to throw a Halloween party. We negotiated on $25/hour, and I asked for $30/hour if I brought a homemade dish to the party. She asked me if she could invite me on Facebook. I said that was fine, and never heard back.”
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What’s Involved with Being a Friend for Rent?
If you decide you want to make some money by being a friend, here are the basic steps.
1. Create a Profile
People who are looking to make some extra money, or simply want to meet others, can create a profile to be found in the directory. Your profile will include your photo, location, as well as some details like activities that you enjoy.
Your profile can include more than simply the things you enjoy. You can also list what you have to offer as a friend. For example, you can offer to give tours of your city, which may be of interest to people who are passing through the area. You could also offer to teach something specific during your time together.
When users are looking for friends they can search by location to see who is available in their area (or where they will be traveling to).
2. Communicate with People Who Want to Hire You
When a member finds your profile and has an interest in hiring you, he or she will contact you through the website. Jackie said, “There was an initial negotiation phase (i.e., texting, chatting on the phone) to talk about common interests and logistics. My profile has basic info in regards to what activities I enjoyed. We decided to go see an IMAX movie, the California Science Museum, and then lunch.”
The member will tell you details like what activities they would like to do and when, and you will name your price. If the member agrees, it’s up to the two of you to handle the arrangements from there (meeting and handling payment). As Jackie points out, “The Rent a Friend site doesn’t handle payment or transactions, so you have to come up with an arrangement on your own.”
3. Have Fun
Once the date of your meeting comes, you’ll get together with your new friend.
There are a lot of different reasons why a person would be willing to pay a stranger to spend time with them. Some of the common activities (according to RentAFriend.com) include:
- Attending a wedding
- Attending a work event or party
- A tour of a new city
- Going to a movie
- Going to a sporting event or concert
- Exercising together
When you think about it, there are a lot of reasons and scenarios where it makes a lot of sense.
4. Get Paid
Of course, if your primary motivation is to make money, the most important part is getting paid. You’re able to determine your own rates and you have the flexibility to negotiate. Generally, the person who is hiring you will be responsible for the expenses related to the activity (like a ticket to the movie) but those are details that you should clarify when you are negotiating.
Common Questions About Getting Paid to Be a Friend
You probably have several questions, so let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
What Do I Have to Do?
As a friend, you have full control over which opportunities you accept. In your profile, you can list the activities that you enjoy or what you are willing to do. When the other person contacts you, the two of you can decide on the details of what you are going to do. There is nothing that you have to do. It is up to you.
In general, most people who are hiring friends are just looking for a companion. Maybe they’re new in town and don’t want to go to an event alone. Or maybe they are traveling for work and don’t know anyone in the area.
Is it Sexual?
No, and RentAFriend.com is very clear about this. The text on their website says “RentAFriend.com is strictly a platonic Friendship website. RentAFriend.com is NOT a dating website, and NOT an Escort agency. Services on RentAFriend.com are strictly for FRIENDSHIP purposes only.”
Is it Legal?
Yes, it is legal.
Is it Safe?
The safety aspect is really your own responsibility. RentAFriend.com does not perform background checks on friends or members. You should take general safety precautions like meeting in public places, tell someone you trust where you will be going and leave contact info, and leave the situation if something seems off.
How Much Money Can You Make?
You will be able to set your own rates. RentAFriend.com says that rates start at $10 per hour “but almost all of them are willing to negotiate or even waive their fees depending on the activity you are planning with them.” Of course, if your goal is to make money, you don’t want to waive your fees.
Jackie’s rate was $40 per hour, although she wound up charging less than the agreed rate because she felt bad. She told me, “We decided to go see an IMAX movie, the California Science Museum, and then lunch. We agreed that he would pay for all activities, and settled on $40/hour. I made $80. Although we spent 3 hours total, and he was willing to shell out $120 in cash, I felt very uncomfortable taking someone’s money for just hanging out and said $80 was fine. In retrospect, to avoid any complications I should’ve just taken the money.”
In Jackie’s case, her profile was online for about a week before she had her first paying gig. Earning $80 (should have been $120) for the first week of a side hustle with only a few hours invested is really impressive!
For more ways to make money, please see:
- How to Make Money on Pinterest
- Get Paid to Donate Plasma
- How to Sell on eBay for Beginners
- Get Paid to Surf the Web
Why You Might Want to Consider This Side Hustle
If you’re looking for a way to make money outside of a job, there are some very compelling reasons why you might want to give this opportunity a chance.
1. Potential for Good Hourly Income
RentAFriend.com says that rates start at $10 per hour and that top earners are making $2,000 per week full-time. They also say that others are earning $300 – $500 per week just by working on the weekends. Jackie charged $40 per hour and was hired about a week after creating her profile.
Although it’s not a side hustle that gets a lot of attention, people are making real money.
The income potential of side hustles can vary drastically, but there are a lot of options that will only allow you to earn a limited amount per hour. Being a friend has the potential to bring a decent hourly rate.
2. Flexible Schedule
Your schedule is totally up to you. If you have a traditional job Monday through Friday, you could make yourself available as a friend on weekends. It’s up to you when you will be available or accept requests, so you can work around your existing schedule.
3. No Skills or Experience Needed
4. Free Admission (Maybe)
Some of your outings may involve going to concerts, watching a movie, seeing a play, or attending a sporting event. In many cases, the person hiring you will pay for your ticket. If the activity is something that you would enjoy, you may get a free ticket to something you would do anyway.
Why You Might Not Want to Do It
Although there is a lot to like about this side hustle, there are also some downsides to consider.
1. It’s Potentially Awkward
Being paid to be a friend is something that is not normal for most of us. There is a chance that it could create some awkwardness that you would rather avoid.
When I asked Jackie about the situation with the man who hired her, she told me, “It was a bit awkward because I was paid to be myself, but also had to set limits and boundaries. For instance, at one point he asked if he could take a photo of us and post it on social media, and if it was okay to add me on Instagram. In a normal friendship, you wouldn’t be so formal. Later he asked if we could talk on the phone every week, which is something I don’t do for anyone except my mom. I wasn’t sure that was a paid arrangement? That made me uncomfortable so I had to stop contact.”
2. Safety Concerns
As was mentioned earlier, RentAFriend.com does not do any background checks and you’ll need to be responsible for your own safety and security precautions. If that’s not something that you want to deal with, this may not be the best opportunity for you.
Is it Right for You?
After reading the details of what’s involved with making money as a friend, hopefully, you have have been able to form an opinion about whether this may be a good opportunity for you, or if you should do something else to make money.
When I asked Jackie about her thoughts on this unique money-making opportunity, she said, “I think it could be a fun way to earn extra money. Just keep in mind formalities, safety, and that payment is handled on your own. You are abiding by the same rules as a therapist or counselor. So you might want to do Venmo, PayPal, and ask for a deposit upfront if you’re nervous about getting stiffed.”
If you’re interested in being paid to be a friend, you can get started by creating a profile at RentAFriend.com.
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