Websites that can help you make extra cash on the side

It's all we've been hearing about: February will go down as the worst month for layoffs in as far back as most of us can remember, especially in the private sector. With companies scrambling to cut costs in the face of an economic tidal wave, unemployment has catapulted to a staggering 8.1% (from January's 7.6%). Positions once deemed essential are suddenly written off as unhealthy excess. Businesses tighten their belts, axing everyone from executives to mail-room personnel in a frantic effort to stay afloat.

So what are millions of jobless Americans to do (aside from claiming their unemployment benefits)? Use their talents to make money on the side!

It works, too, says David Huebner, co-founder of myJambi.com, a social networking site that offers cash-strapped individuals the opportunity to turn their passions into money-making gigs. Speak another language? Try tutoring. Perfect at organizing your life? Get your hands dirty in someone else's!

MyJambi couldn't have launched at a better time. Despite minimal marketing efforts, the site grew to 17,000 users in just eight months, most of which came to myJambi organically. Although the site's average user demographic ranges from 22-24 year olds, Huebner says that as the economy falters, the user age group increases. Yes, college students aren't the only ones interested in making some extra cash on the side, unemployed (and still working) professionals are getting in line as well.

Huebner says the site has received a lot of positive feedback from many users affected by the deteriorating economy. One user writes, " I like your Web site very much and during this time of crisis, I think this type of Web site that combines proximity and [the] Internet will develop very well." Huebner adds that currently, myJambi's most successful member is a housekeeper in New York City who has found approximately eight different jobs since the site's inception. The housekeeper asks her clients to endorse her on her myJambi page, which in turn improves her chances of finding more work.

MyJambi is free and easy to use. Once you sign up, identify your skill(s) and pick a desired title for your chosen field: furniture mover, chef, music-guru -- don't hesitate to get creative. Just add a price tag to your service and let potential "buyers" find you on the site. Not sure what services to offer? Don't fret. Simply click the "What People Want" feature and browse listings for sought-after services in your area.

Later this spring, myJambi plans to roll out a slew of new features, which "will really allow people to make the most of myJambi in this down economy," Huebner states. Starting in April, users can opt to receive a daily morning e-mail with fresh leads on available part-time work. Users will also be able to negotiate directly with prospective employers, rather than working out terms through the site.

MyJambi is not the only income-oriented site that has been gaining momentum as of late. In just the last year, eBay -- the pioneer of online auctions -- has seen its number of active users increase by 3.1 million, according to eBay's Evonne Gomez. Likewise, Craigslist has seen diversification in its user activity, which has been attributed to the declining economic climate.

While sites like eBay and myJambi may seem like a novelty to some, their income-generating potential cannot be overlooked, especially in times when conventional opportunities are increasingly scarce. These sites offer a degree of control over your financial prospects without impeding your ability to pursue other leads. So while you're nervously waiting for a drastic shift in the job market, try these sites out instead and earn an extra buck...or 50.


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