Part Timers

Two simple, part-time ideas especially for students and the report on dryer vent cleaning.

Sorry this episode is a bit belated, the weekend held more than expected and I needed an extra day or two to finish up some projects.

First, the results of the Dryer Vent Cleaners experiment. I started with basic flyers to get an idea of what kind of return I would get on was poor to say the least. I got two calls from 500 flyers. That was expected, now I tried something new to compare to that. I made a flyer that offered "free dryer vent safety checks" and then the option, if THEY felt it was necessary to have them cleaned for $35. I checked lots of vents and got a lot of sales! About 1 in 4 vents I checked let me clean them, 1 in 4 doors let me check, and half the people answered.
100 flyers, 50 doors answered, 14 let me check thier vents, 4 let me clean them. Over all I spent 1 hour passing out flyers and 3 hours knocking doors making a total of $140 in 4 hours.

A few more tips on advertising that I want to stress after the dryer vent cleaning project. Offer something free! People like free stuff like a free vent safety check. Show them what is in it for them. Show them that this vent check could be what protects their family from a devastating fire, no obligation, no reason not to.

If you any more information on this project just post a comment to this blog entry.

The two ideas that any student can do.
First, funeral housesitting. This is the easiest job to complete and easiest to advertise for in the world. You open up the newspaper each day, check the obituaries, look up who each deceased person was "survived by," call them and say "I was wondering if you would be interested in having someone housesit your home during the funeral to prevent buglaries from taking advantage of your situation," charge a modest fee, and then go sit and do your homework for 5 hours while the family is gone. The only trick is working around your schedule so try to keep a couple mornings a week open to do this.
Second, vacation housesitting. This is not a live-in job but just a checkup job. During the early weeks of summer when everyone goes on big family trips and around the holidays when everyone departs once again, offer a housesitting/watching service for the neighborhood. Tell them you will feed their pets, bring in their mail/newspaper, water inside plants, and do a nightly patrol through the neighborhood twice each night to watch for suspicious activity. Charge them $20 a day, get 10 homes to do it and you are making $200 a day for as long as they are on vacation.

I am going to keep this entry a bit short because I want to share an idea I did this last month to earn some extra cash around the other jobs I was trying. It's not for the germophobics out there and takes a little more capital to start but I will share some ways around the latter and talk about the ways I got people to buy in.

Web Designer Guy

Pros and cons of web design as a business and a discussion on small business advertising.

Dryer vent cleaning service is going well, there will be a full update on Saturday when I give the final results.

There was a comment posted on the web site about doing web design. I have done in the past, a total of probably12 sites, it’s a good idea but let me do tell you some quick pros and cons…

-High demand, everyone needs a webpage because consumers expect it
-High pay, updates go for at least $25/hr aside from initial setup fee

-Still competition, lots of low cost companies
-Once you start, you gotta stick with it, each organization may need updates indefinitely

-Go local, get to the businesses that know they need it but haven’t started looking yet
-They will like dealing with someone locally
-Build a portfolio of pages that you can show off

What I Might Try
-Do things simply in HTML, use tags to identify beginnings and ends of things that would need updating, create an html handbook and train them to do updates themselves to save money

Ok on to advertising…
Start with the basics.
-Be unique and original, find examples and see what catches your eye and try it
-Color vs. Black and White, color is best but most expensive
-Size, half of an 8.5” x 11” seems to be a very efficient size
-Put flyers everywhere; grocery store lines, bulletin boards, post office box sets, get out as many as you can but also try to get them to a target audience as much as possible
Door to Door
-In my opinion, it won’t take long before door to door sales are almost non existent
-People don’t like to be sold to
-Make them trust you, don’t sound corporate, sound like their helpful neighbor
-Announce your visit with flyers so they know who you are and when you are coming
-Keep your approach fresh, don’t let it get stale
Flyers and Door to Door is not a permanent advertising solution it’s a step towards someone else doing it for you
ValPak and Money Mailer
-30,000 color flyers for $500 and you don’t have to pass out a thing!
-Newspaper ads, do your prospective customers read the newspaper
-Car Decals, advertise wherever you drive
-T-shirts, advertise wherever you walk
-Stickers, think of places you can tag
Leave Something behind if you want to return
-At-home car washing service, leave an air freshener with your contact info on it
Walk a day in your customers’ shoes think of what they will see and where you can put your ads and flyers along their way
Be creative, try new things, have fun, keep a record or what works and what doesn’t!

That’s all for today, post comments, questions or remarks about this episode on the blog page at and we’ll see you in a few days!

Dryer Vent Cleaner


I have realized that all we have talked about as far as advertising goes is flyers, valpak, and door-to-door. So in the next blog and podcast we are going to have a whole episode about different advertising ideas. For today though, we have a great idea to talk about.

Every year there are 15,500 house fires cause by lint build-up in dryer vents. The problem is no one thinks of lint build-up as a problem. The trick to this idea is to first of all create the need for the potential customer and second, present a price for a service to solve this problem that matches the need created. The bigger the need is that you create, the more you can charge for this service.

In total dryer vent cleaning takes about 15-30 minutes. I would recommend the LintEater system because it is inexpensive, works like a charm, and is very easy to use. The downside to this idea is the cost to get started. Compared to other ideas the $100 required to get this business of the ground is miniscule: but it is required. Here is a simple way to try this idea out without startup money.

First, read all you can about dryer fires on the internet. Become an expert in the field, even a small amount of knowledge will put you lightyears ahead of the general population. Go door to door with the pitch that you will be in their neighborhood next week cleaning dryer vents and schedule a time for them at least a week in advance. Once you have 5 or so appointments this will guarantee that your investment in the equipment will be covered once you get started. Buy the items on a credit card and then use your first day’s earnings to pay it off.

I have not worked with this idea much but here are a few things I have discovered…
1) Use the term “dryer and vent servicing” or something similar when you pitch your idea door to door. This sounds much more extensive than just cleaning a vent. To service a dryer just use the horse hair brush that comes with the LintEater system to pull out as much lint as you can, it takes only a few extra minutes.
2) Stress the benefits; protection from house fire, faster drying times, and a smaller electric bill.
3) Look professional at the door when going door to door; when discussing servicing expensive appliances they need to trust you.

This will actually be a real-time case study because this week I am going to spend 5-10 hours trying out this business idea and will report on my further findings in the next blog and podcast.

Tipset #1


(podcast notes)


Be ready to work hard…
All day passing out flyers at first
Unless you have an amazing product or service you will need to work hard to make your business work…

Don’t be afraid to fail
Some will find their niche on the first try, most will not..
Take each failure as a chance to learn, sit down and review everything you did

Commit 100%, don’t just try to do it casually
This will make you want to make it work
One summer I tried half and half with another job, not until I put all my time into one thing did I succeed.

Take it in steps, don’t expect to start working on Monday and be making hundreds of dollars a day by Friday
-Door to door, no equipment
-Flyers, door to door, no equipment
-Flyers, door to door , equipment
-Money Mailer, Valpak, equipment
-MM VP efficient equipment, more income
-Return customers, Referrals

Test test test
When advertising try everything to see what works best
-Time of day you put out flyers
-Color of flyers
-Door approaches
-What you wear
-Formal vs Casual approaches

Like I said this is the first of many tipsets so take this list, let it sink in try to apply them and get ready for the next idea coming up later this week.

Small Business Ad-Man


A good way to get business ideas is to take any old idea and then think of what you might need help with to get it started. Everyone that starts a business needs help advertising. If no one knows about your business then how in the world are they going to make any money? In this episode we are going to talk about three easy ways to make money by helping small, local business in their advertising efforts.

First we are going to talk about flyers. Small businesses like dance studios, dentists, or window washers use flyers very very often. A fee of $0.10 per flyer is not unreasonable because the only other way to get the flyer to the customer in that manner would be to send it through the mail which costs quite a bit. In fact, if they want only a certain area, type of home, or home with certain features like a pool for a pool cleaning company or missing shingles for a roofing business, you can charge even more per flyer because it will take you longer to get them out and there will be no wasted time or flyers. On average you will be able to get out 80-100 flyers and hour.

You can also pass out flyers in high foot-traffic areas. If you plan on doing this make sure you negotiate a fair price with the business you are advertising for because you can get out as many as 1000 an hour this way.

The second method is bulletin boards. Many businesses including copy shops and grocery stores already have a community boards that people and businesses can post short flyers on. Make a list of all the places in the community that offer these bulletin boards, if you find some business that don't have them talk to the manager about getting one put up. Once you have your list start heading to all the local businesses (especially smaller ones like piano lessons, window washers, or other specialty services) and make them your offer. "I can get an 8.5"x11" poster about your business hung in 25 stores throughout the city. Its $50 and I will make all the copies, just provide an original. " You go make some $0.50 color copies and end up making more than $35 for each business owner that agrees.

The final way to make money with local advertising is similar to the second. Business card stands only cost a few dollars and are available at stores like OfficeMax, Office Depot or even Wal-Mart. Approach managers and ask them if you can place a card stand on their front desk with business cards for related companies (not competitors but other businesses that could compliment theirs) . You may need to agree to a monthly fee for them to agree. For an example of how this works, you could approach hotel owners to see if you can put the stand in their lobby and then approach local restaurants that hotel guests might want to dine at. Tell these restaurants you can get their business cards on the desks of 10 local hotels for $20 a month. Each rack holds 10 cards so each set of racks will be worth $200 a month. Find a few complimentary businesses to do this with and you are set.

These ideas can be used separately or together with each other and are not only very simple, but require little or no money to start.

Solicit No Soliciting


Door-to-door sales are a great way to quickly make money but the problem is people get sick of these salesmen really really quickly...especially during summer! Here's a tip for you entrepreneurs our there, whenever you see that phrase, "but the problem is..." take notes. Someone is telling you something that could easily be turned into a business idea. In this case, sell no soliciting sign door-to-door.

People will find this so ironic they usually just smile and if you can make your sales pitch light and friendly many people will buy. This business idea is great for many reasons.

First, it requires literally no startup money. Find $10 and go buy three signs at the local hardware store. If they don't sell or if you decide after a few doors that this idea is not for you just take them back for a refund. Or sell the signs door to door with just the pictures and say they will be delivered that night, you just need to know how many to get. You won't sell as many because people are leery you are going to take the money and run but it is an option if you want to get the ball rolling without spending cash.

Find a small shoulder bag and carry the signs in that. It will look much more professional than a backpack or carrying them in your hand. Try to find a few varieties of signs so that your customers can have a choice of which ones they like the best. Have a few that you use as examples, you can even stick them right on the strap of your shoulder bag so they can see what you are up to right away and can laugh at the irony of it all.

Once you build a few hundred dollars of capital and you can see this may go somewhere, buy your signs on the internet. Some retailers will sell you signs for only a dollar a piece which means you make more money per sale or you sell more because you can lower your price a bit.

Decide on a good price that isn't too high. With door-to-door selling if you can make the same amount selling many at a lower price as you can selling only a few at a higher price I would recommend sticking with a lower price. Making lots of sales will keep your spirits up and give you a sense of accomplishment. If you are buying the signs for $3.50 try selling them for $10. If you sell one an hour you make $6.50 an hour whenever you need money. The funny thing is though, you can easily sell 3-4 an hour in the evenings.

Don't forget to have fun. If you have have any questions about this plog just post it as a comment to this blog entry. Don't forget to stopby next week for more new TeenBiz ideas.

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