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?
Make money walking
Apps that pay you to walk
If you already walk a lot — or want to be motivated to move more — there are a few free apps that will allow you to earn some pretty decent rewards for your steps.
You earn 0.95 Sweatcoins for every 1,000 outdoor steps you take (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 shaving set (14 Sweatcoins), an iPhone case (9.99 Sweatcoins) and even an iPhone XS (20,000 Sweatcoins), but it changes every day!
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.
Crucially, you can now also withdraw Sweatcoins as money (albeit as PayPal or Amazon credits).
You can only 'buy' set amounts of money, like a £100 PayPal credit, and you can only do this once you've accumulated a ton of coins and referred a whole host of mates to the app. But hey, it's a step in the right direction!
You can earn both BetterPoints and BetterTickets. BetterPoints can be collected and redeemed for vouchers at various high street stores, while 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, their National Rewards Winter Challenge programme rewarded users with one BetterTicket for every mile completed, with the prize draw offering 5,000 BetterPoints every week.
They also donated 25,000 BetterPoints to the charity Shelter every time users collectively completed 24,902 miles (the circumference of the Earth)!
At the time of writing, you can exchange your BetterPoints for rewards including a £3 Hotel Chocolat giftcard for 3,000 BetterPoints, a £5 Currys PC World 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.
I’ve earned over £40 worth of vouchers for various stores in the past five months!
You'll earn one winwalk coin for every 100 steps you take, up to 10,000 steps per day (100 coins). These coins can be used to redeem gift cards, like £10 at Costa (18,630 coins), £10 at Nike (18,630 coins) or £15 at Netflix (27,900 coins).
That sounds like a lot of steps, and to be honest, it is. But unlike the other paid walking apps, where you also need to walk a long, long way to earn money, winwalk has a lottery feature.
You can also complete 'missions' which can earn you well over 1,000 coins a pop for taking surveys, downloading apps and doing other similarly simple tasks.
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. Better still, 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!
Should you use apps that pay you to walk?
Building rewards can take time, as well as several pairs of shoes, but if you’re already reasonably active you could earn points for no extra effort.
It might even motivate you to walk more, which is no bad thing (especially if it saves you paying for a gym membership).
Get paid to do tasks
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 your 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 that you're comfortable doing), and it's a useful way to earn an extra £30 to tide you over at the end of term.
Unfortunately, apps advertising these kinds 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)
Errands include things like shopping and going to the post office, organising paperwork, posting packages and gift wrapping, while deliveries involve being able to transport food, clothing, documents and other items quickly.
Be aware that registering costs £20 – and there's no guarantee that you'll ever be selected for work.
That said, 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 – TaskRabbit will take a cut of whatever you earn, so you'll want to keep your share as high as possible.
Airtasker (mostly London)
Airtasker is exactly the same concept as TaskRabbit, but as it's only recently launched in the UK, it's still (mostly) London-based. We found a few tasks in the North West, around Liverpool and Manchester, and some elsewhere in the country, but this is broadly a London affair.
Once you've registered as Tasker, you can do anything from cooking and photography, to removals and furniture assembly. And unlike TaskRabbit, it's free to sign up.
Again, you should make sure you're getting paid a decent amount of money for your work, and ensure you know exactly how much time a task will take before you sign up for it. A fee is agreed in advance, so a big fee could quickly seem tiny if the job takes days!
Airtasker has come under fire back in its native Australia for allowing people to work for crazy low wages, effectively driving wages down. Make sure you know your worth!
Should you become a tasker?
These sites do offer some basic insurance, but it's usually to cover 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
Also make sure you stay safe, and don't do anything you're uncomfortable with! You're 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.
Become a human billboard
We may be living in the 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, in case you were wondering).
It's easy money and involves a lot of standing around, but don't expect to get paid much more than the minimum wage.
After all, it's pretty low-skilled work – all you need is a high threshold for standing around dressed as a bowling pin or a horse’s head (both real student money makers!).
If you fancy it, contact some local businesses or keep your eyes peeled for job adverts and grab any opportunities that come up.
How to become a human billboard
Note that you'll probably need a license before you can get out there, but this should be organised by the business you're advertising for.
Sadly you won't be allowed to be 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.
And if you don't fancy boiling to death, there’s more on offer than buffet boards and fancy dress. Using the online marketplace Fiverr you can get paid for wearing promo clothes or branded gear while you're out and about, which saves having to walk around as a hotdog in the height of summer.
Become a tour guide
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 people 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.
Although it's often seasonal work, you can do it on your own time and schedule, and charge what you like!
How to become a tour guide
Tour guiding is one of the few gigs that doesn’t require certificates, insurance or experience – although all of these can help if you want to get into it for a living.
That said, it can be competitive, so you’ll need a compelling angle and to do lots of advertising. Do your research and look for hidden histories or a twist to give you an edge. Popular ideas include the ‘serial killer’ circuit, the city at night, urban exploration or famous people (dead or alive).
Also bear in mind that it helps to be a good speaker – that means confident, as well as amusing or memorable. Having a good spiel will help you get more tips! Speaking a couple of languages can pay off, too.
And if you're considering tour guiding at a museum, gallery or other attraction, remember that they may expect you to apply in advance (or pay) to lead a guided tour on their premises. Check this out before you start advertising your services!
Get paid to walk dogs
Most student houses 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 people with a 9–5 job — or pretty much 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!
How to become a dog walker
Unsurprisingly, as a dog walker, it helps to be confident with dogs, as well as patient and able to scoop poop without panicking. You’ll also need to be reliable and stick to your schedule whatever the weather.
You won't need much (if any!) equipment to become a dog walker, but you should ask the owner to supply anything you will need so that you’re not out of pocket. We're talking leads or harnesses, treats, poop bags/gloves and some of their favourite toys.
It’s also worth getting to know the dog's personality or medical history before agreeing to anything.
Check out our guide to becoming a pet sitter for more info on what it's like to be a dog walker, including how much money you'll make and what insurance and certificates you may need before getting started.
Start a fitness trail
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 are usually pretty popular too!
Getting a successful group going can generate a regular income for you, as well as a chance to meet new people. Plus you’ll have zero excuses for skipping your own workout!
How to start a fitness trail or running group
You'll need to be good at getting people to stick to a schedule and helping them reach their goals. With that in mind, it's good to have an angle for your sessions, be that beginners, new mums, older people or an unusual location, for example.
Make sure your walk is tailored to your crowd and check everyone’s managing okay, and that they're motivated to keep up — don’t just take off and expect to see everyone at the finish line!
You should advertise your start time, location and costs well in advance. A website, Facebook group or flyers around uni are handy for adding info about the route or fitness requirements, and give you space to pitch yourself.
It's probably a good idea to get some public liability insurance too, as you'll be dealing with people who could stub a toe, trip up or otherwise do themselves an injury. Cover starts from around £50 per year, so get some cash bookings in place before you cough up.
A first-aid certificate is also a brilliant investment, so 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.
Finally, if you’ve got grander plans in mind, you could consider making a full day of it — sponsored walks, entertainment en route or an Iron Man-style event are all achievable and will attract more people!
Write a book for walkers
Once you’ve got a decent collection of routes, you’ll need to type them up and either publish yourself (as an eBook or in print) or pitch it to an agent. It’s not a fast route to big money, but it's the kind of project you can do at low cost and then leave to generate passive income for years to come.
How to write a walking book
First and foremost, 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 them!
As for writing the book itself, it takes discipline to get words on paper – but if you can write mammoth essays for your degree, you’re already up to the job.
Ideally you’ll also want to get someone else to proofread the book and test out your routes before you launch them into the world. You can ask your friends and family to help here, or head to Fiverr and hire a proofreader.
An eBook is the fastest and cheapest way to get your words on to the market, and luckily for you we have a whole guide to publishing an eBook!
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 also use them to submit your book, which will then show up in stores.
Get paid to hand out leaflets
How to get paid to hand out leaflets
There are no shortage of companies that will pay for your services, but it's best to try Gumtree for local leads or simply pop into local stores to ask managers.
You'll be handed a bundle of leaflets and a route, so the only thing left for you to do is plan ahead for the weather!
Become a model
Ok, so perhaps we're being a bit liberal with the definition of 'getting paid to walk' here. But then again, what is modelling if it isn’t walking up and down a runway?
Before you switch off and decide you're not attractive enough to be a model (not that you should be thinking that, obv), here's some good news: you don’t always need to be ridiculously good looking to be a model!
What you do need is to be ok with having people do your hair and make-up and being papped on demand, as well as wearing, eating or pointing at stuff on camera that you wouldn’t normally touch with a barge pole.
But ultimately you don’t need any experience or training to get into it and you'll (sometimes) get paid to travel. Plus, few things beat the ego boost!
How to get paid as a model
As we've touched on already, you don’t have to be a Kate Moss lookalike to get booked as a model (although we won't deny that it probably helps).
The candidly named UGLY Models Agency say they’re looking for men and women of all shapes and sizes because they’re about character, not airbrushing. Sign us up!
If you reckon you could be Ryan Gosling's body-double, or could give Margot Robbie a run for her money, there is no shortage of casting agencies out there. Head to Google to find them, or just go on Instagram and pout like your life depends on it.
A word to the wise: don’t expect overnight success, celeb hi-jinks or your face on the cover of Vogue. Modelling can be hard work, cut-throat and not always well paid or regular work — and there can be a lot of traipsing around to auditions and waiting for call backs.
Final top tips for earning money walking
- It doesn’t matter how skint you think you are: if you earn more than the personal allowance (currently £11,850 per year not including your Student Loan), HRMC gets a cut! For a little help, find out how tax works in five mins flat with our guide
- If you register as self employed (it’s easy – do it here), you can reduce your tax bill with legitimate business costs, including a DBS check, insurance, advertising or web hosting. Just remember to keep detailed records, receipts and paperwork!
- 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, basically) or haggle 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.