More Mailbox Notes

By - October 26, 2013

Once again I have been perusing my emails from subscribers to the Unusual Ways Newsletter, and have found some interesting stories and comments. Jess, for example, who is 13-years-old, read something I wrote about unusual treasure hunting techniques, and liked the part on "snow dumps" in parking lots. You might recall that I wrote about how when the snow piled up by plows melts away, there are often little treasures which appear, having been scooped up and piled together there with the snow. Jess wrote:

My friend and I had recently checked out your website and it had been a long winter. I mentioned your article and we walked over to a melting snow dump. It was pretty dark but there were street lights. We didn't have much time to search but I found a dime and my friend found a Cadillac hood ornament.

These are not big finds, but it is always fun to discover things of value anyhow. And who knows, rings and currency have been found by others. And some of you probably recall that I once reported on a couple who could spot the sparkle of a loose diamond in a parking lot, and regularly found them. The receding edge of a snow dump might be a good place to look for these, and more gems pop out of their settings in the winter, due to temperature changes as people move from cars or stores to the outside air.

It seems that younger people are more likely to experiment with new ways to make a buck. Jess, a 15-year-old, wrote to tell me that he bought a used "tennis tutor machine" for $5 and later sold it for $660 on eBay. Then he bought a headlight assembly on eBay and disassembled it to sell the parts for a profit. He told me:

Wii's are also a great way to make money, at least for now. I bought one at target on Sunday then sold it on craigslist the next day for a $100 profit.

One request I get fairly often from subscribers is to provide more information on legitimate online jobs. I received this email last year, for example:

Newsletter looks great - I like the way it is set up, I so enjoy your suggestions. I only wish I could find a legitimate online true job, have you ever thought of having like two or three special newsletters only about legitimate web sites and jobs that are available for people with different skill levels.

I really wish I had a good response for this type of email, but honestly, for all the different ways there are to make money online, few of the "jobs" or packaged "opportunities" offered are anything but scams, in my opinion. I did try doing online surveys for money, and it didn't cost me anything to try. I even made $40 or $50. But it took me something like twelve hours spread out over weeks to do that, and I am pretty fast at completing the surveys. You can read about my experience on my blog:

Places that claim they'll pay you "x" amount of dollars for each email you send are all scams. Just like the mail order scams that came before the internet was here, they'll feed you a line like this: Send our email out to 1,000 people per week and if "just 5%" buy the product, you'll make $40 for each sale or $2,000 every week! That's $2 for every email you send!" Of course nobody gets a 5% conversion rate from unsolicited emails. More likely your efforts at spamming people will net you less than one sale per week.

If you want to make money online you can start a business or do contract work for others. The best place to do the latter is perhaps, where you can bid on projects that range from writing articles to creating software. There are sites like where you can offer services of all sorts -- making $4 of each five after the site takes its cut. This could be fun, but minimally profitable for your time. As a user of the site I've paid for articles, a short video, and to promote my site on a Facebook page. These are very ordinary services compared to some of the stuff that is sold there.

In another email, Shane F. wrote:

I am creating an information package on marketing carnivorous plants. My problem is I don't know how to create a website and there is so much info out there I don't know where to start. I am looking for a simple way to build one so I can go in and make changes when I want. Would you please advise me where I can learn to do this?

Here's my response:

You'll need a page maker of some sort or you can use one that comes with hosting. We use Hostgator, for example, and I think they have packages that start at less than $10 per month, and they have tools for building a site. We use an old page maker that is no longer sold, and we use a $25 plan because we have fifty websites.

Here's an alternative: You can start a free blog at, and then buy a domain name at Godaddy or somewhere for about $12 per year and redirect it to the blog for now. This is usually a free service of the domain host -- at least it is at, where our domains are hosted. Your total cost to get started will be about $12. Then, once you have gotten used to working online and working with Wordpress you can pay for hosting and move everything to your own domain. In the meantime, promote your site using the domain name, and let visitors get forwarded to the Wordpress site, so when you make the move all of the existing links are already pointing directly to your site.

The reason for the free blog is to play around with everything until you are comfortable with how to create pages and get links, etc. Provide some free information at first, learn how to be an expert, and when you are ready you can create your ebook and sell it using Clickbank or Paypal so you don't have to personally process credit cards.

Nick, a long-time subscriber, wrote a while back to tell me how he made $150 from dumpster-diving. I had written about my own experience pulling Playboy magazines out of recycling bins when I was young, and selling them in school (yes, I guess I was a teenage porno dealer). That reminded him of his own more recent experience (and at age 59). He wrote:

I recently checked the city dumpster's near the public works building and found about 60 adult sex letters magazines and hauled them home in a box. I broke them down in groups of ten and listed them on eBay and sold them for $150 total.

Make $150 from things found in a dumpster? Not bad. By the way, if you have your own story to tell or question to ask, just hit "reply" to any newsletter mailing. If you are not subscribed you can do so using the form on the homepage or in the side bar to the right.

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