How to earn money from walking
Whether you strut your stuff or barely break a 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 by walking? Surprisingly, yes – in quite a lot of ways.
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 walking.
As with anything, the more time or effort you put in, the better the rewards. Either way, if you're looking for unusual jobs, fun earners or smart student start-up ideas, you've come to the right place. Walk this way...
What's in this guide?
Make money walking
These are the best ways to get paid to walk:
Apps that pay you to walk
A super easy way to walk and earn money is to get one of the below free apps – they'll let earn some pretty decent rewards for your steps.
This app lets you 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 (roughly half a mile). You can then use your coins to get discounts and sometimes free stuff from the app's store.
At the time of writing, that includes things like anti-bacterial hand sanitiser (4.99 Sweatcoins), 50% off a portable blender (9.99 Sweatcoins) and even a £1,000 holiday in the South of France (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!
BetterPoints is similar to Sweatcoin in that you collect points for exercising – in this case, walking, running or cycling.
You can earn both BetterPoints and BetterTickets. BetterPoints can be collected and redeemed as 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 for 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 £2 Argos giftcard for 2,000 BetterPoints, a £5 New Look giftcard for 5,000 BetterPoints, and a £5 voucher for 5,950 BetterPoints.
I’ve earned over £40 worth of vouchers for various stores in the past five months!
winwalk is a little newer to the paid walking app scene but, with a slick design and rewards on a par with many of the competitors, there's no reason not to give it a go.
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 (20,000 coins), £10 at Nike (20,000 coins) or £25 at Netflix (49,000 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.
Charity Miles isn't an app for making money for yourself, but it instead lets you raise money for your favourite charities by moving – whether that's walking, running, dancing, riding your bike 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. 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 pay for just about 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, tasking apps advertising these kinds of jobs aren't available everywhere yet, but there are a couple of big ones that are growing rapidly.
Simply head to the website to register as a 'Tasker', and choose which types of tasks you'd like to do.
Errands include things like going shopping, 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.
It's free to register on TaskRabbit in the UK and, 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.
And, as a Tasker, you can take home 100% of your hourly earnings and tips for each task without having to pay a fee to TaskRabbit.
The UK cities where TaskRabbit is available can be found here.
Airtasker is exactly the same concept as TaskRabbit, but as it's newer 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 a Tasker, you can make money from doing anything from photography and cooking, to removals and furniture assembly. And like 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. Fees are agreed in advance, so a fee that initially sounds good could quickly seem tiny if the job ends up taking 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.
And, you can discover other great tasking services in our guide to money-making apps.
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 you 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. By 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.
Note: we'd suggest avoiding third-party sites and instead create your own website or social media accounts to drum up clients. Don't forget to approach local bars, restaurants and clubs, as well as bigger brands who want to get their message in front of students!
Become a tour guide
If you live somewhere busy with loads of landmarks, beauty spots or layers of history, you could become a tour guide to make money.
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.
Once you've started tour guiding, you can make extra money from it by converting your routes into audio or printable guides to sell from your own website. Why stop earning just because you're asleep or in lectures, hey?
How to become a tour guide
Tour guiding is one of the few gigs where you can get paid to walk without certificates, insurance or experience – although all of these can help if you want to make a living from it.
That said, it can be competitive, so you'll need a compelling angle and a knack for self-promotion. Do your research and look for hidden histories or a twist to give you an edge. Popular themes for tours include the 'serial killer' circuit, the city at night, urban exploration or sights related to famous people (dead or alive).
Also bear in mind that it helps to be a good public speaker – that means being confident, as well as amusing, engaging and 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 giving tours in 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 you're a dog person, 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 Care Pets, 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 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 looking to get paid to walk and you're motivated, lively and can maintain a cracking pace, leading a fitness trail 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 keep 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 great investment, so check if your uni runs any free or subsidised first-aid 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 like 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 out there, and luckily for you, we have a whole guide to publishing an eBook.
You'll need 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 nearby 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
Perhaps we're being a teeny bit liberal with the definition of 'getting paid to walk' here. But then again, as a model, you can literally earn money by 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 getting papped on-demand, as well as wearing, eating or pointing at stuff on camera that you wouldn't usually 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 go travelling. 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, though: don't expect overnight success, celeb hijinks 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 callbacks.
Extra tips for earning money walking
To make more money from walking, remember these key tips:
- It doesn't matter how skint you think you are: if you earn more than the personal allowance (currently £12,570 per year, not including your Maintenance Loan), HRMC gets a cut! For a little help, find out how tax works in five minutes 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 £23 to apply and it can take up to 14 days for your certificate to arrive.
If you're not much of a walker, we've got a whole load of quick cash fixes to get you through a tight spot. Take your pick!