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Can you really get paid to be someone’s friend? Whilst it sounds unlikely, and perhaps even a little strange, the growing trend towards more digitized and online lifestyles means you can actually find work and get paid to be someone’s (or multiple people’s) online virtual friend.
Given how much of life is now online, along with our ever increasing screen time, it’s unsurprising that virtual relationships can now develop almost as easily as physical ones.
It’s also not uncommon for people to become lonely and have the need for simple friendship. We’re a sociable species, and that human connection can be a real and vital need.
In fact, a 2020 Cigna report shows that 3 in 5 Americans feel lonely, and experience a lack of social support and meaningful social interactions.
It’s no surprise then, that some companies have created platforms for people to provide for this need in the form of online friends, or virtual companions.
As far as finding ways to make extra money online go, getting paid to be a virtual friend has to be one of the most unusual!
(Although not quite as wacky as selling your smelly shoes. Yep, you read that right.)
What is a virtual friend?
A virtual friend is someone who ‘meets’ and interacts with other people online, offering communication and connection.
When you become a virtual companion, people searching for friendship can reach out and pay you for your time.
It might sound a little weird at first, and you’d be forgiven for being a little skeptical, but actually, it turns out there can be lots of reasons people might want to take advantage of this service.
Some examples include:
- people may be introverted
- lacking in confidence
- new to an area
- simply looking for some social interaction that’s otherwise lacking.
Alternatively they might be looking for someone to help them develop a new skill or practise language learning.
That’s where online friends come in!
Note: a virtual friendship is not dating – this is strictly for friendship and companionship, not online dating or adult work.
What makes a good virtual friend?
While absolutely anyone can sign up to be a virtual friend, it may be better suited to people who are naturally outgoing and sociable. Being a generally confident person and a great listener will help too.
As some people look for online companions to help them develop new skills or learn languages, having specialist skills or language knowledge can be a bonus too, although this is by no means essential.
Is it safe to be a virtual friend?
It shouldn’t be dangerous to be a virtual friend. Each site that offers this service will have their own privacy and user terms and conditions, and while it should be safe enough to be an online friend you should always take precautions, such as never sharing your address or confidential information with people you meet online.
It’s always best to do your own research and make carefully considered decisions.
What does a virtual friend do?
Virtual friends basically do the things you’d expect to do while hanging out with your friends. It could be audio chats, video calls, perhaps playing an online game together or even just enjoying a movie and chatting about it. Think about the things you enjoy doing while spending time with your mates – that’s the same kind of thing people wanting to rent a friend are looking for.
The specifics will vary by customer. Whilst some may want help developing a certain skill such as a language, others may be looking for a real life opponent to play games with, and others still may simply be in need of some emotional support.
How much money can I make as a virtual friend?
Generally, most people working online as virtual friends get paid a minimum of $10 an hour.
With most sites you can determine and set your own hourly rate, so you may wish to start around $10 and increase as you become more experienced. It’s completely up to you. Working 10 hours a week you can expect to earn a minimum of between $4-$500 a month.
Be aware that some sites may charge a small percentage of your earnings as a commission fee, whereas others may charge a membership or joining fee.
How to get paid as a virtual friend
So now we’ve covered what a virtual friend is and what’s involved when you work as an online companion, you’re probably wanting to know exactly how to become an online companion!
The good news is, there are quite a few different ‘rent a friend’ sites you can register with to find work as an online friend.
Here’s the process:
- Choose the site that you think is a good fit for you. You may want to try out a few sites to see which work well for you.
- Create an account and build your profile
People will be looking for things they have in common with you, whether that’s likes/dislikes, or mutual interests. This is more likely to help the friendship progress.
Include your hobbies and interests and anything you think will make you stand out to potential clients – remember, people will be looking at your profile to see if you’d be a good fit as their online friend. Let your personality show through.
Make sure to select the right time zone – you may not be the best fit to work with someone who’s going to sleep as you’re getting up!
- Take any quizzes or tests
Some sites may require you to fill in their personality quizzes, to get a better idea of who you are and who you’d match well with.
- Set up your payment details. You want to get paid right? So make sure you’re all set up and have added your details. You can usually use PayPal for this.
- Create your listing – whilst on some sites you might be able to search requests and apply, with others you’ll need to create your own listing to showcase what you can offer and how much you’ll charge.
People can then view your profile and advertisements and decide if they want to book you as an online companion.
- Wait for bookings
Once you’re up and running, all you need to do is wait to be selected. You can choose which messages and jobs to respond to, and once you’ve fulfilled the bookings, you’ll be paid for your time.
Popular sites to find work as a virtual friend
Rent A Cyber Friend
Rent A Cyber Friend is based on a more modern way of having a pen pal. Some people may simply want to chat and share hobbies and interests, others might want your expertise on your local area and others may be interested in picking up new languages.
There are all kinds of users looking for different online friendships and you can search through what people are looking for and offering.
When you create your profile you fill on your languages, interests and hobbies, making it easy for the site to identify which gigs may be a good fit for you.
Services people offer on Rent a Cyber Friend include:
- Being a mentor – providing advice and mentorship to someone younger
- Fitness buddy – helping someone with accountability and support on their fitness or weight loss journey
- Gaming partner – playing games with people, whether that’s console games, card games, roleplay, board games – all more fun enjoyed with friends
- PenPals – offering the old fashioned but still lovely experience of writing and receiving physical mail.
- Tourism/travel – helping people prepare for visits, providing local knowledge etc
- Sports – being able to discuss sports/fantasy teams and so on
- Language – helping people with language learning by being able to have conversations and practise languages
- A sympathetic ear – just being there to provide emotional support
Basic membership is free, and you can set your own hourly rate. You can sign up in just a few minutes to start making money as a virtual friend.
Rent A Friend
Rent A Friend was created in the US, but has since expanded to become a worldwide site.
How does rent a friend work?
Rent A Friend allows you to become a virtual friend by offering services such as FaceTime, Zoom, Pen Pals, texting and phone calling etc.
This site actually caters for physical meetings with friends as well, such as going to the movies, attending sports games or restaurants, sharing a hobby or for learning new skills. If you’re not interested in this side of things you can simply choose to be a virtual friend only.
People wanting to find virtual friends can pay a membership fee which enables them to search the site for potential friends. When they find someone they like the look of, if both parties are happy they can agree to the hourly cost and set up the meeting, whether that’s in person or online.
You do not need to pay a membership fee to use Rent A Friend as a friend, and will keep 100% of the money you make.
How much do you get paid on Rent a friend?
You can set your own rate and decide your own hours. The average amount is around $10 an hour, but some people charge more and still find work.
Friend PC is a virtual only site for online companionship. It’s users are looking for people to lend emotional support, a listening ear, confidence building and even just people to do online gaming with.
You may do well on FriendPC if you have a background in areas such as psychology, nursing, coaching, teaching and similar – basically roles that are focused on helping people.
There are also specific sections for offering services as a virtual life coach, or a virtual gaming buddy.
Once you’ve signed up you can set your own price and offer your services as a virtual friend or virtual gamer. Users can then choose to ‘book’ you as their friend. You’ll receive payment as soon as your booking is fulfilled.
You do have to pay a small percentage of earnings from each booking in commision fees.
Rent A Local Friend
Rent A Local Friend is another site that caters to in person meet ups, but again you can choose to only offer virtual friendship.
Catering specifically to those travelling or exploring new places, with Rent A Local friend you can share your knowledge and expertise on your local area with those visiting looking for insider views.
Fiverr is an online marketplace for buying a selling freelance services online. Whilst it isn’t specifically for finding or advertising virtual friend services, there is a Fiverr friendship section within which you can do just that.
All you need to do is sign up and create a ‘gig’. This is your advert, which you will use to advertise your services as a virtual friend. Just outline what you’re offering, and set your rate. Bear in mind that people tend to go to Fiverr to find a good deal ($5 is the starting rate, hence the name!), so you may need to price yourself competitively.
Freelancer is another online marketplace for freelancers. Similar to Fiverr, you can sign up and advertise your services as an online friend. You can also use the search function to look through the jobs available, and apply for any advertising for virtual companions.
Should I be a virtual friend? Things to consider before becoming an online companion
- Are you friendly and sociable?
- A good listener?
- Non judgemental?
- Are you comfortable making new friends/talking to new people?
- Can you offer anything specific? (ie language skills, local knowledge)
If you think you’d like to get paid to be a virtual friend you’ll need to consider what you’re comfortable with before starting. For example, would you be happy video calling, or would you only feel comfortable with online messaging or audio calls. Bear in mind this may impact what you’re able to earn depending on what people are looking for.
All of these sites are very specific that it is about platonic friendship; physical contact is not allowed.
Remember to safeguard your own privacy too.
Getting paid to be an online companion is something you can do to make extra money with no experience and no special skills, so it’s an option that almost anyone can try.
If you’re friendly and sociable, love meeting new people and want to get paid for just hanging out, you might find it a fun and somewhat unusual side hustle!
Looking for alternative ways to make extra money? Why not try: