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Forget the suited-up banker cliché – you can make serious money in non-traditional ways. Susan Burchill finds stories to inspire you.

Re-think it again

Inspired by Alex Tew below, Jason Sadler started by essentially selling his torso, wearing a different corporate logo on it each day and calling it I Wear Your Shirt. In five years he created 3,132 videos, 12,000 photos, was covered by all kinds of media outlets – and made more than $1,000,000 in revenue.

Trade up like a Trojan

Over the course of a year, 26-year-old Kyle MacDonald from Montreal started with a paperclip and traded up until he finally got a house. It took a lot of imagination and a sense of fun to get people to play along; (he built his own website and called it ‘OneRedPaperclip.com’), but you’ll be amazed at how the paper clip turned into a generator, a snowmobile and eventually a house. And along the way, Kyle became a celebrity, appearing on TV and radio shows.

Re-think advertising

Englishman Alex Tew created the Million Dollar Homepage in 2005 and sold space on it for $1 per pixel in bundles of 100. Again, the appeal was the cheekiness of his idea and the up-front way he sold it. Oh, and the support of global media who pulled in advertisers. In five months he made more than US$1M.

Run with wolves

Seattle resident Dave Coleburn takes people hiking with wolves in the woods which helps fund his nonprofit refuge Predators of the Heart. He’s earning $200,000 a year, as part of airbnb’s lesser-known, more exclusive ‘experiences’ service. Airbnb says a number of their ‘experience’ tour guides are earning between $100,000 and $200,000 a year. You do have to apply and meet criteria though, unlike the homes business; and they take a 20% cut of your earnings.

Sell the moon

This is actually true. In 1980, an enterprising American, Dennis M Hope, read the UN’s 1968 Outer Space Treaty which specified “no country” could own the moon. So he wrote a letter to the UN saying he was an individual not a country, and that he owned the moon and was going to sell it off. When they didn’t reply, he started flogging acreage, and by 2013 had sold over 611 million acres of land on the moon, for $19.95 per acre, with discounts for larger plots. As an example, Hope sold one property of 2.66 million acres for $250,000.

While Hope’s scheme is possibly not legal and not advisable, it does raise the question: what could you sell that would make a great story, and turn a profit?