If you have some spare time, enjoy being with people, and want to make some extra money, you can get paid to be someone’s friend by renting out your companionship.
There are several online “rent-a-friend” platforms out there that specialize in connecting people who want a friend with people willing to rent out their friendship services. I know it sounds weird, but this is a thing.
It seems like the perfect side gig (other than the safety issues, which we'll cover later). You don't need any money, resources, special skills, or expertise to get started – just a willingness to spend time with someone who wants to spend time with you.
So what’s involved in being a rent-a-friend? First off, the whole thing is supposed to be 100% platonic. You are signing up to be a friend, nothing more. No sex, touching, or other romantic advances are allowed.
What you are supposed to do is what any friend would do in a normal friendship. You could grab dinner and hang out at the park with your “friend.” You could go to a movie or play. Or you could relax at a coffee shop for a few hours and just talk with your friend.
There is definitely a need for your services. This concept is huge in Japan and has been for years. It has started gaining traction in the US, as well, with numerous sites competing to offer this service.
In this article we are going to cover the following topics:
- Who Buys Rent-A-Friend Services?
- How Do I Become a Rent-A-Friend?
- Rent-A-Friend Sites
- How Much Can I Get Paid to Be Someone's Friend?
- 4 Ways to Maximize Income As a Rent-A-Friend
- Benefits and Risks of Being a Rent-A-Friend
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
Table of Contents
Who Buys Rent-A-Friend Services?
There are a wide variety of people wanting rent-a-friend services. They can include people who are too busy or shy to go out and meet new people themselves, folks who are new to town and haven’t made friends yet, or visitors to the area who want some social interaction while they are there.
According to RentAFriend.com (one of the leading companies in this space), a common request is to hire a ‘friend” to accompany them to functions like work parties, weddings, or other social events where they don’t want to show up alone.
I think it’s an interesting concept, especially if you are a people person. I like the fairly low level of effort involved in being a rent-a-friend and the flexibility that this type of side gig offers. You are completely free to accept or reject any friend proposal and you can make the appointments fit your schedule.
How Do I Become a Rented Friend?
You can become a rented friend by signing up with a rent-a-friend platform of your choice. Some sites require an application and, if you are accepted, you can list your profile on the platform. Once you are listed on the site, prospective customers may contact you to hire you as a rent-a-friend.
Most sites require a brief description of you and your services as well as a profile picture for your listing. RentAFriend.com has no cost to join, but other sites may charge you a membership or other fee. Once a customer contacts you, you will need to negotiate the terms of the engagement, including price, activities, location, timing, duration, and any other details that need to be ironed out.
There are several rent-a-friend platforms online where you can sign up to be a friend. The most well-known is RentAFriend.com, but there are a host of others. Below are links to some of the most popular sites that offer rent-a-friend services.
Note: You can also become a friend for rent by marketing yourself on various freelancing sites like freelancer.com and Fiverr.
How Much Can I Get Paid to Be Someone's Friend?
In general, you can get paid between $10 to $50 per hour for being someone’s friend. Depending on your arrangement, you also can get paid with non-cash perks like free food, drinks, entertainment, etc.
The actual amount you will get paid will depend on several factors, including how much you charge, the demand for your services, and how many hours you are willing to work.
One nice feature of being a rent-a-friend is that some rent-a-friend platforms make their money from the customers looking for a friend, so they may not take a cut from service providers like you. In that case, whatever you negotiate with your customer is all yours to keep.
RentAFriend.com has this type of structure. If you go to their website, you can see how much you can make if you do this full-time vs. part-time. They provide a handy chart that estimates how much money you can make based on the number of days you work per week and how much you charge.
4 Ways to Maximize Income As a Rent-A-Friend
Being a rent-a-friend is, at its core, being a service provider. So the principles that apply to being a successful service provider apply here as well. Based on that premise, here are 4 tips to help you maximize your rent-a-friend income.
1. Market Yourself Effectively
First, you want to effectively market your services. This means writing an engaging and compelling description of who you are and what you can offer. You should be clear on what you are willing to do and not do so there are no misunderstandings, but you should come across as friendly (duh!), interesting, and easy to get along with.
This may be a new experience for many people, so you want to do what you can to make them feel at ease. Writing a great description and having the right tone, will go a long way toward making your services attractive to as many potential clients as possible.
If you are not great at writing, there are a lot of services you can use to help you craft the perfect description. A simple Google search of “writing services” should get you started. There are even artificial intelligence writing services that you can buy, like conversion.ai that you can use if you prefer a robot to do your dirty work.
I would also recommend professional photos – I am a huge proponent of professional photos in general when marketing anything. People are visual and having high-quality photos will set you apart.
In order to market yourself to the widest audience possible, offer your services on as many websites as makes sense, including the freelance websites that we covered earlier.
2. Offer a Broad Range of Friend Services
In order to maximize your income from being a rent-a-friend, you should try to offer the broadest range of friend services you can. There are many variations of friend services, including general companionship, online friendships, in-person appointments, help with special skills (such as learning a new language, culture, or hobby) and even counseling and support.
The more services you can offer, the more appeal you will have to different potential clients. Plus you may be able to charge more for some of the specialized services that we just discussed, which means more money in your pocket.
3. Provide Great Value
The next tip is to offer a great friend experience. This is such an obvious point, but if you want to succeed as a service provider, you need to offer great service. How do you do this? Get the basics right. Show up on time and be a great friend who is engaging and fun. Laugh, be relaxed and easygoing, listen to your customer, and genuinely try to have a good time.
In short, make your customer glad that they spent the money to hire you.
Now, I do not mean go beyond your boundaries or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. But make sure you do what you can to make the experience a nice one for your customer. This can generate repeat business and maybe even referrals.
4. Put in the Hours and Price Your Services Right
Fourth, maximize your hours and make sure your pricing is competitive with the market. Obviously, the more you work, the more you will make. The great thing about this gig is that you have a lot of control over how much time you want to devote to this, but if you want to maximize your income, you need to put in the hours.
You also want to make sure you don’t set your rates too high or too low. If you are overpriced, people will go to someone else who is comparable but cheaper. If you are underpriced, you are not maximizing your earnings.
How do you figure out what is market competitive pricing? You have to do your research and conduct some testing. Sign up as a user and look at profiles of others who are offering services similar to yours. Also, experiment with your pricing and see what kind of response you get to different price points.
Over time, you should be able to figure out how to price your services to maximize your earnings.
Benefits of Being a Rent-A-Friend
Being a rent a friend can have some great benefits.
First, you can make pretty good money doing something that is not labor-intensive, stressful, or that requires long hours.
Second, this gig requires no money, education, or skills to start and is completely flexible. You can start doing this right away and work as little or as much as you want.
Third, you get to interact with new people and help them with a social need. As mentioned, many of these folks may be new to the neighborhood, just visiting the area, or may have other reasons why they need your services. It’s a nice thing that you are doing for someone else and friendship is something that you can be proud to offer.
Fourth, you can offer more than just simple companionship. If you are qualified, you can offer a service that really improves someone’s life, such as life coaching, counseling, learning a language, or some other skill, etc.
A related bonus is that as you teach these things to others, you may find that you have a real knack for it. Could be the start of a true business.
Risks of Being a Rent-A-Friend
Your safety is probably the thing that you are most concerned about when you are offering rent-a-friend services. In the case of Rent-A-Friend.com, every person you meet is a paying member, so you are not going to be getting random calls or requests from the general public.
That being said, you should take precautions when meeting anyone who you are not familiar with, including hanging out in public places, carrying personal protection (think mace or pepper spray), letting friends or family know your whereabouts and plans, and enabling GPS on your phone so your location can be tracked.
Or if you want to play it a bit safer, you can offer your rent-a-friend services digitally. Sites like Rentacyberfriend.com specialize in this approach. I have seen people on Fiverr doing this as well. In fact, you will find that there are plenty of people who offer their services via chat, text, etc. You may not get paid as much, but you will have more peace of mind.
You will still need to be careful whenever interacting with people you don't know. Try to get a feel for the person before you share any real information about yourself and never give them personal information that they can use to steal your identity or commit similar scams.
Being a rent-a-friend is an interesting option to make some extra income. I really like how anyone can do this without putting down a ton of money or investing a lot of time and resources. But you do need to take precautions, especially if you are going to do this in-person.
Not sure it’s something that I would feel 100% comfortable doing, since I am pretty introverted, but it you are a people person and don’t mind the constant interaction with people, could be something to explore.
Is Paying For Friendship Illegal?
Paying for friendship is not illegal. You can legally rent out your companionship through various rent-a-friend websites that offer a platform this type of service. But if you go beyond platonic companionship and sell sexual services, then, in most states, that will be prostitution, and thus illegal.