How to earn money from walking
Whether you strut your stuff or barely break snail's pace, if you’ve got the steps you can convert them into cash, a career or freebies. Here’s how!
Can you make money from walking? Surprisingly, you can – and we’re not talking anything dodgy! As well as revealing the freebies you can snag just by slapping on a pair of trainers, we’ve gone the extra mile to reveal the bona fide business ideas you can get off the ground just by treading the pavement.
As with anything, the more time or effort you put in, the better the rewards. Either way, if you’re looking for unusual earners, fun jobs or smart student start-ups, you’ve come to the right place. Walk this way...
What's on this page?
If you already walk a lot – or want to be motivated to move more – there are a couple of free apps that will allow you to earn some pretty decent rewards for your steps:
Sweatcoin (Apple and Android)
This app allows you to collect 'Sweatcoins' that can then be exchanged for real-life rewards in the app.
You earn 0.95 sweatcoins for every 1,000 outdoor steps you take - that’s roughly half a mile. You can then use your coins to get discounts and sometimes free stuff from the app’s store. Right now that includes things like a free personal training session (5 sweatcoins), a free coffee (5 sweatcoins) or a £2 restaurant pizza (30 sweatcoins).
While 30 sweatcoins is the equivalent of around 15 miles, you won’t need to cover it in one go! The key is to save up coins using the steps you’d be taking anyway.
We asked members of our Facebook group, and they reported that they'd nabbed everything from Now TV passes and virtual personal trainer sessions, to tailor-made dog food and protein shakers by using the app. But there are some downsides too.
I used it for a Now TV pass. The daily offers are usually discounts, subscription services or paying postage for a 'free' item. However, it was eating my battery and data so I just deleted it.
Members also reported that Sweatcoin may be introducing the ability for users to turn their sweatcoins into actual cash soon.
In America sweatcoins can be converted into real currency (a PayPal payment made to you) and they’re aiming to bring that out here too at some point. I’m holding on to my sweatcoins until then!
BetterPoints (Apple and Android)
This app is similar to Sweatcoins in that you collect points for exercising - in this case it's walking, running or cycling.
You can earn both BetterPoints and BetterTickets. BetterPoints can be collected and redeemed for vouchers at various high street stores. BetterTickets enter you into a draw to win a bumper amount of BetterPoints.
To start earning you simply head to the app and sign up to a programme. For instance, the current 'SummerTime Challenge' programme will reward you for 15 minutes of continuous activity - you'll get 15 BetterPoints and two BetterTickets (up to two times a day). This means you could earn 210 BetterPoints a week for just 30 minutes of activity a day.
Reach 150 minutes of activity in a week and you'll win a BetterTicket for the big draw, where you could win 100,000 BetterPoints worth £100 for yourself, and 100,000 for your favourite charity.
You can exchange your BetterPoints for rewards including a £2 Tesco giftcard for 2,000 BetterPoints, a £5 Argos giftcard for 5,000 BetterPoints and a £10 Arcadia group voucher (to be used in stores like Topshop and Miss Selfridge) for 10,950 BetterPoints.
Another great feature of the BetterPoints app is that you can opt for it to automatically detect your activity, or you can manually set it to start and stop recording when you need it to - preventing it from draining your phone battery.
I’ve earned over £40 worth of vouchers for various stores in the past five months!
Charity Miles (Apple and Android)
Charity Miles isn't an app for making money for yourself, but raising money for your favourite charities by moving - whether that's walking, running, dancing, cycling or something else.
Simply select your charity when you sign up to the app, and for every mile you move, the app's corporate sponsorship pool will donate some cash - your friends and family can sponsor you too.
You might not be making money for yourself, but you can feel good about the fact that your exercise is helping those in need.
What you need to know
• Building rewards can take time as well as shoe leather, but if you’re already reasonably active you could brew points for no extra effort. It might even motivate you to walk more, which is no bad thing (especially if it saves you a gym membership).
• Unfortunately, few apps are geared up for less mobile users – get on to them and exert some pressure if you think they should be!
People are willing to willing to pay for anything nowadays and that includes random errands and deliveries. If you live in an urban area where you can easily get around without a car, then this is the perfect way to earn some spare cash by walking - although you'll have to be prepared to go out of you way to get the job done.
From late night chocolate runs to helping people move boxes into their new flat, you'll have to be up for anything, but you can pick jobs that fit around your schedule, and are useful if you need an extra £30 to tide you over at the end of term.
Unfortunately apps advertising these kind of jobs aren't available everywhere yet, but there are a couple of big ones that are growing rapidly:
TaskRabbit (London, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham)
Simply head to the website to register as a 'Tasker', and choose which types of task you'd like to do. Errands includes things like shopping and going to the post office, organising paperwork, posting packages and gift wrapping, while deliveries involves being able to transport food, clothing, documents and other items quickly.
Be aware that registering does cost £20 - and you're not guaranteed to be selected for work.
If you complete enough tasks, and receive lots of good feedback, you could become an 'Elite Tasker', meaning you're more likely to be chosen for work.
You can set your own rates, and make sure you set them high as TaskRabbit will take a cut of whatever you earn.
Airtasker (London only)
Airtasker is exactly the same concept - unlike the US TaskRabbit, it's an Australian firm and has only recently made it's UK debut, hence why it's still London-based.
You register as a Tasker, and can do anything from cooking and photography, to removals and furniture assembly. Unlike TaskRabbit, it's free to sign up.
Again, make sure you're getting paid a decent amount of money for your work - ensure you know exactly how much time a task will take before you sign up for it.
Airtasker has come under fire back in Australia for allowing people to work for crazy low wages, and effectively driving wages down. Make sure you know your worth!
What you need to know
• These sites do offer some basic insurance, but it's usually to cover the the person posting the task, rather than the Tasker (you). You might want to think about taking out your own insurance, in case you're injured while carrying out any tasks
• Make sure you stay safe, and don't do anything you're uncomfortable with! You are essentially helping out strangers, and while it's likely everything will be fine, it's best to stay on the safe side. Make sure a friend or family member knows where you are and what task you're carrying out at all times.
We may be living in a digital age, but we reckon you’re only ever two streets away from a guy wearing an ‘all-u-can-eat buffet’ sign.
There are lots of rules and regulations on placing adverts on streets in the UK, so companies often choose to hire someone to display a sign for them - human directionals is the official job title.
It's easy money and involves a lot of standing around, but don't expect to get paid much more than the minimum wage.
It's a pretty low-skill job after all - all you need is a high threshold for standing around dressed as a bowling pin or a horse’s head (both real student money spinners!). If you fancy it, contact some local businesses or keep you eyes peeled for job adverts, and grab any opportunities that come up.
What you need to know
• You'll probably need a license before you can get out there, but this should be organised by the business you're advertising for.
• You won't be able to stand on your phone all day as it looks unprofessional - but you should be able to plug your headphones in and listen to an audiobook or music.
• There’s more on offer than buffet boards and fancy dress. Using online marketplace Fiverr you can get paid for wearing promo clothes or branded gear while you're out and about.
Knowing an area well and spouting off about it isn’t just for cabbies! If you live somewhere packed with landmarks, beauty spots or layers of history, you could get on the tour guide circuit.
Tour guiding involves leading folk around a town, city or wilderness route and pointing out hidden gems or points of interest along the way. You’re not stuck with the great outdoors, either – you could arrange guided tours of public museums or art galleries.
While it is often seasonal work, you can do it on your own time and schedule, and you can charge what you like!
What you need to know
• Tour guiding is one of the few gigs that doesn’t require certificates, insurance or experience (although they can help if you want get into it for a living).
• It can be competitive, so you’ll need a compelling angle and lots of advertising. Do your research and look for hidden histories or a twist to give you an edge. You could do the ‘serial killer’ circuit, the city at night, urban exploration or famous people (dead or alive).
• It helps to be a good speaker, confident and amusing or memorable. Having a good spiel will help you get more tips! Speaking a couple of languages can pay off, too.
• Some museums and galleries may expect you to apply in advance (or pay) to lead a guided tour on their premises: check this out before you commit to it!
Most student digs won't even let you house a goldfish, never mind a golden retriever, so if dogs are your type of people, becoming a dog walker can be a win-win. There are loads of potential clients, from pensioners to working folk or anyone else who can’t manage two or more walks a day.
Typically, with sites like Tailster, you’ll pick up/drop off dogs and walk them for an agreed amount of time or distance, one or more times a day. Always keep your pooches on a lead for more security and less stress!
What you need to know
• It helps to be confident with dogs, patient and able to scoop poop without panicking. You’ll also need to be reliable and stick to your schedule whatever the weather.
• Dog walking takes minimal kit, but ask the owner to supply it so you’re not out of pocket: think leads or harnesses, treats, poop bags/gloves and favourite toys. It’s also worth getting to know the dog's personality or medical history before agreeing to anything.
• If you’re doing more than an occasional favour for neighbours or pensioners, you’ll need Pet Business Insurance to start a dog walking business. Plus, while not essential, pet first aid (yes, it’s a thing) and a basic DBS (criminal record) check can help you get more punters.
If you’re motivated, lively and can maintain a cracking pace, leading a fitness walk could be up your street (or hill, if you’re feeling hardcore). You don’t have to stick to walking, either: running and parkour – where the city streets becomes your gym – are pretty much always on trend.
Getting a successful group going can mean regular income and a chance to meet new people, plus you’ll have zero excuses for skipping your own workout!
What you need to know
• You'll need to be good at getting people to stick to a schedule and helping them reach their goals. An angle is also handy: beginners, new mums, older people or an unusual location, for example.
• Advertise your start time, location and cost well in advance. A website or flyers around uni are handy for adding info about the route or fitness requirements, and give you space to pitch yourself.
• Make sure your walk is tailored to your crowd and check everyone’s managing okay or that they're motivated to keep up - don’t just take off and expect to see everyone at the finish line!
• Dealing with people who could stub a toe, trip up or otherwise do themselves an injury means public liability insurance is a good idea. Cover starts from around £50/yr and up, so get some cash bookings in place before you cough up.
• A first-aid certificate is a brilliant investment – check if your uni runs any free or subsidised courses. Or, if you think a career in fitness could be for you, look into a group exercise or personal training certificate, or another coaching qualification.
• If you’ve got bigger boots in mind, you could consider making a full day of it – think sponsored walks, entertainment en route or an Iron Man-style event.
Once you’ve got a decent collection of routes, you’ll need to type them up and either publish yourself (in eBook or print) or pitch it to an agent. It’s not a fast route to big money, but it is the kind of project you can do at low cost and then leave to generate passive income for years to come.
What you need to know
• You’ll need to spend some time sourcing your own routes – ideally with a strong theme or angle, i.e., countryside walks, a city guide, art and culture sites, or something else popular or quirky. Check the best-sellers in your local bookshop and see if you can beat ‘em!
• It takes discipline to get words on paper – but if you can manage 2,000 words on Quantum Entanglement, you’re already up to the job. Yeah ... it’ll still take discipline, though.
• Ideally, you’ll also want to get someone else to proofread and test out your routes before you launch them into world.
• An eBook is the fastest and cheapest way to get your words on to the market. You’ll have to convert your content to an appropriate format, but outfits like Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing can covert a simple Word document for free. You can then use them to submit your book which will then show up in stores.
Be a leaflet distributor
junkleaflets through letter boxes isn't going to win you any friends, but it can keep you fit and in the green. There's no shortage of companies that will pay for your services: try Gumtree for local leads or simply pop into local stores to ask managers.
Expect to be handed a bundle of leaflets and a route - and try to plan ahead for the weather! Leaflet dropping is typically flexible work, but check for any bum notes (limits on how long you take or how far you go).
Final top tips
- It doesn’t matter how skint you think you are: if you earn more than the personal allowance (currently £11,850/year not including your Student Loan), HRMC gets a cut! Find out how tax works in five mins flat.
- If you register as self employed (it’s easy – do it here), you can use legitimate business costs, including a DBS check, insurance, advertising or web hosting, to reduce the amount of tax you owe. Keep detailed records, receipts and paperwork!
- That said, don’t pile cash into your business unless it's essential and you're sure it's a goer. Make use of free advertising online (social media) or barter for swaps before cracking open your wallet.
- Only employers and licensing bodies can apply for a full DBS check – individuals can apply for a Basic DBS check instead. You’ll need to supply ID documents and pay £25 to apply, and it can take up to 14 days for your certificate to arrive .