Page last updated at 23:37 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 00:37 UK

Unusual ways to make money

By Shanaz Musafer
Business reporter, BBC News

Landlady Dawn Kolpin behind the bar
The Marksman pub offers beer in exchange for useful items or services

"Barter for a beer," reads the advert on the classified site Craigslist. Click on the link and you will be guided to "the Landlady's Fancy" - a list of items that pub owner Dawn Kolpin would like to acquire. If you can provide one of them, you'll get a beer on the house.

Dawn is one of a growing number of people who are increasingly turning to the age-old art of bartering - the exchange of goods or services for other goods or services.

"With the economy the way it is at the moment, I thought that bartering could be a new way to bring people into the pub," she says.

With bartering, there's just a human element and an experience element that's not always possible with pure money exchange
Dawn Kolpin

With the UK now in recession, more and more people are looking for ways to earn extra money or to pay less for things that they need.

That has led to a growing "informal" economy.

Craigslist says it has seen a doubling in the number of adverts offering items to barter in the last year, Dawn's being one of them.

Wish list

Dawn and her husband bought the Marksman pub in Shoreditch, east London, four years ago.

"We had a wish list for some things to do with the pub and thought bartering would be a good way of getting them done."

Graphic illustration
Drawing of the Marksman pub, bartered for a meal and drink for the illustrator

The idea started, she says, when they were looking for some CDs to replenish the jukebox.

"I initially put out an ad saying, 'Barter your old CDs for a pub meal,' and I got a couple of responses."

Now her wish list includes things as wide-ranging as vases and screwdrivers (in exchange for a beer) to a call for someone to tune "Joanna the Piano" (in exchange for a meal).

Of course, the increased volume of bartering seen on Craigslist and sites like it has led to some more unusual trading offers.

"My wife's loud parrot for your Vespa," says one advert. Perhaps not quite an equal exchange.

But people are turning to more varied ways of making money.

Drivers wanted

Motorists who want to earn while they drive can go to

The website lets ordinary car drivers register as "couriers". Whenever their journeys coincide with parcel deliveries, they can get in touch with the sender and arrange a fee.

It's essentially about thrift and common sense
Colin Hay, Stuff2Send

Alan Kornbluth, a 20-year-old student from London, says it's a top way of making money.

"It's such an obvious thing. Personally I've done it before. I think it will definitely take off."

The beauty of it, he says, is that you hardly have to go out of your way.

"I put an offer in to carry something to Newcastle, where I was going anyway."

However, to join as a carrier, you do have to pay an annual fee of a minimum of £11 before you can get going.

The service will also appeal to environmentalists, as it will help reduce emissions on the road.

Cashing in

The website launched in December and founder Colin Hay is confident it will grow, even in a recession.
Drivers can sign up as "couriers" on

"It's a recession-type business," he says. "It's essentially about thrift and common sense."

Websites such as Jobsgrapevine offer to link people who need odd jobs doing with people who can do them.

Categories include babysitting, cooking and dog walking, and you can even get paid to wait in for the gasman on behalf of someone else.

It seems there is a growing market out there for people with time on their hands to cash in on things that other people simply don't have the time for.


However, while people may be looking for alternative forms of income, there is one area that consumer groups urge people to treat with extreme caution - offers to work from home.

We've all seen the adverts in newspapers or posters stuck to lamp posts offering a large income for work, such as envelope-stuffing or craft assembly, that can be done from the comfort of your own home.

What they don't tell you, according to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), is that you might have to pay up front for supplies or equipment to do the job. And once you have done, your promoters may refuse to pay you, claiming that your work is not up to their "standards".

The OFT has seen a recent rise in complaints about work-at-home scams and has issued a warning for people to be wary.

Citizens Advice also offers guidelines, which advise people to avoid advertisements or firms that ask for a payment before work starts.

But as people turn their attention more to the "informal" economy, there does seem to be a growing number of innovative ways to earn a bit of extra cash or save some of what's already in your pocket.

And according to Dawn Kolpin, there's an often-forgotten social side to these informal exchanges.

"With bartering, there's just a human element and an experience element that's not always possible with pure money exchange."

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