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Ways To Make Money From: Novelties And Jokes

Novelties And Jokes

NOVELTY AND JOKE products and services are a serious business. Anyone who lives or works near a seaside resort or tourist attraction  will realize this from the number of shops around selling gifts, cards, novelties and joke products. You could choose to make your own products and either sell them yourself or via local retailers, or could profit by selling novelties by mail order.

Here are 20 novelty and joke products and services which you can modify according to your own imagination and taste, and use to form the basis of a profitable enterprise:

  1. Signs

There is a great deal of scope for selling ready-made signs that can be displayed in the workplace and in or outside the house.

On them could be famous phrases that actors, politicians, writers and other celebrities have used, humorous sayings, insults, proverbs, bible phrases or popular sayings of the moment. Use your imagination – you could adapt phrases from a book of famous quotations, films, TV programmes or songs.

You could make signs for outside the house, such as ‘My other house is a mansion’ or ‘Trespassers will be eaten’, or signs for inside the house such as ‘ Do not disturb –genius at work’ or ‘ Keep out – gourmet chef at work’, or anything else you can think of.

Making small phrase-based signs is an easy process. Once you have your wood it is possible using a hot metal implement  to burn or ‘brand’ on the letters. Alternatively you could carve out the letters, or simply paint them on. By attaching magnets to the back you could sell your signs as fridge magnets. A ‘while-you-wait’ signwriting service making simple signs to your customer’s specifications is another area to try.

  1. Badges

As well as being cheap and easy to make, badges are a popular and fun product.

Designs might feature statements and sayings, celebrities, sporting stars or pop starts. As well as being sold in shops, badges can easily be sold outside pop concerts and sports events, and at tourist sites and festivals.

By cutting out wood in special shapes and hand painting them a whole range of badges can be created. You could sell animal shaped badges for kids, or badges featuring paintings, statements, symbols and faces.

One way to make sure that shops stock your badges is to create and attractive display board for them. Another idea is to sell badges to sports fans along the lines of ‘I was at XXX match on YYY’ in the hope they will collect them in the same way fans collect scarves and programs.

Because badges are lights they are easily sold by mail order, and there may also be business opportunities selling badge making equipment.

  1. Mugs

A classic novelty and gift item, mugs can be decorated in a number of ways to target them at a particular trend, or a certain type of customer.

Mugs featuring the names of people and places, popular cartoon characters, football teams and TV characters tend to sell well. There may be gaps in the market to try something similar, but try to be original and make sure you are not breaching copyright.

Alternatively, make or market a range of fortune telling mugs, which could be printed with astrological predictions according to star signs, or feature a guide to reading tea leaves. Mugs containing opinionated statements could be targeted at a particular market.

Example you could try are ‘I hate Manchester United’ (or any other football team), ‘I hate work’, ‘I hate Mondays’, or on the other hand, ‘I love my husband / wife / boyfriend / girlfriend’ or ‘I love my job’.

  1. Transport services

Weird and wonderful transport services can be offered in any place where there are a lot of people about, such as a shopping centre, tourist attraction of place of natural beauty. An advantage is that they can often be operated with little or no start-up costs or experience.

One idea is to operate a sedan chair service. Basically a modified seat with carrying handles, a sedan chair could hold one or two people and be carried by your and one or more helpers for short distances, for a small fee.

Another possibility is to modify a car or build a strange looking go-cart to create a novelty taxi, or use a tandem or three-wheeled bike to transport people short distances. In places where there are shallow rivers, lakes or ponds you could even charge people to give them a piggy back across.

It may be necessary to approach your local council to obtain a license to operate some of these services.

  1. Bottled water

Selling bottled water from famous places –water from Loch Ness, the River Thames or the Atlantic Ocean, for example – could be popular.

You could market the water as a health product, such as a facial skin care treatment or a therapeutic body soother, but take care that the water is not polluted – try to use water from clean rivers and lakes!

  1. Lucky charms

Many people are superstitious, meaning there is a big demand for making and selling lucky charms. Four-leaf clovers, rabbit feet, horseshoes, destiny dice and number sevens are examples of items which can be sold in shops, by mail order, door-to-door and on foot.

  1. Hats and baseball caps

Hats make excellent joke and novelty items. Possibilities to try out are hats featuring horns antennae, alien heads, bald heads or the hairstyles of famous people. Australian-style cork hats are incredibly easy to make and can be sold as novelty or functional product.

Baseball caps can be bought bulk very cheaply and printed up according to your target market. Pop starts and rock groups, sports teams and starts, actors’ and celebrities’ names, place names and practically anything else can be featured on the caps. Because they are very light and portable the caps can be sold outside pop concerts, sports events, theaters, and at tourist attractions and resorts as well as shops.

  1. Themed photographs

Taking novelty themed photos is an excellent business idea if you have photographic equipment.

You could create humorous painted display boards featuring people wearing bathing costumes, for example, with a hole for people to stick their heads through and be photographed. Alternatively you could buy special outfits for people to wear, such as Victorian clothing giving the photograph the sepia tinted look or typical of the period.

You could also hire lookalikes of people dressed in funny outfits, giving people the opportunity to be photographed with ‘the Queen’ or ‘a real gorilla’. These can be very lucrative schemes in places where there are many tourists about.

  1. Garden products

A business selling novelty seed packets and other garden products could be a fertile source of profit.

One idea is to sell packets of garden ‘weeds’, such as plants with a strong smell which will have a similar appeal to stink bombs, plants with thorns and spikes, or just ugly looking plants. Novelty plant speech bubble stickers to attach to plant pots featuring phrases such as ‘My name is XXX, what’s yours?’, Fancy a chat?’ or ‘I like my water shaken, not stirred’ is another original idea to try.

Small ornamental wishing wells could be made or sold cheaply and have the advantage of not being confined to the garden. Finally, tourists and British expatriates may wish to purchase trays of ‘Genuine British soil’, sand or pebbles, taken from famous places such as Hyde Park, Brighton beach, Snow don or Ben Nevis.

  1. Portable and indoor gold courses

By painting a scaled down golf course onto a while sheet and making plastic or wooden holes and small clubs you can create a mini golf course that can be used in the home, garden of office that is extremely portable and great fun to play on. Similarly, you could create scale versions of well-known sports stadia and motor racing tracks. These can be hired out as well as sold in shops.

  1. Action painting

An idea which could go down a storm at fairs and public places is to set up and action painting stall. This is where people pay to put on overalls  and create their own ‘action painting’ on a large sheet of paper or material, covering themselves in as much paint as they like and keeping their final picture.

The price should include the cost of paint and materials and each person should be set a time limit. The interest such a stall will create should guarantee its success.

  1. Stickers

Another classic joke and novelty product, stickers have the advantage of being relatively easy to print and transport. Stickers targeted at children are likely to sell well, which could feature funny faces, jokes, graffiti, popular phrases and streetwise sayings.

Any product related to children can obviously be sold in toy shops and newsagents as well as gift and joke shops.

A range of car stickers could be produced, either along similar lines to the usual stickers seen on cars such as jokes, names and so on, or you could create stickers saying ‘I hate traffic wardens’ or ‘I hate policemen’. Car stickers featuring wartime insignia such as RAF and army crests to stick onto car door is and original idea you could exploit.

Creating a range of amusing party stickers is something else you could try, using phrases like ‘My name is__’, ‘Smile if you fancy me’ or ‘I love your eyes’. Ironic travel stickers along the lines of ‘Fun in the sun at Scunthorpe’ or ‘I spend my holidays at beautiful Milton Keynes’ could go down well at holiday gift shops.

  1. Certificates and licenses

Spoof licenses and certificates based upon their real equivalents make and excellent joke product. If you have a computer with desktop publishing software they are ideal items to produce cheaply, although printers and photocopy shops will produce them to your specification for a small charge.

Joke licenses and certificates could feature a space for a name to be filled in, showing that the person is ‘officially’ insane, a genius, a dangerous driver, a good / bad husband / wife / mother / father, a sex maniac, or anything else you can think of. Novelty educational certificates could show that the holder has a ‘Diploma in heavy drinking’, and ‘A Level in doing the housework’ or a ‘Degree in carnal knowledge’.

  1. Sci-fi products

A market with particular cult appeal, there are any number of science-fiction-related products you could develop and sell.

Sci-fi images like aliens or flying saucers could be created and printed onto products such as t-shirts, badges, mugs, stickers, baseball caps, key fobs and pens. You could create messages such as ‘Graduate of Alpha Centauri University’, or ‘I love time travel’, or create imaginary deeds to distant stars, space stations or UFO factories.

These products lend themselves particularly well to mail order and there are various specialist publications you can advertise in. In addition, gift shops, comic shops and sci-fi conventions are all places which you could sell your products.

  1. Ashtrays

An interesting concept is to produce a range of ashtrays featuring the faces of well-known politicians or celebrities. You actually stub your cigarette out on the faces of people the general public love to hate (or hate to love), such as Margaret Thatcher, Jeremy Beadle or Noel Edmonds, printed on the bottom of the ashtray. Alternatively, you could use football teams, pop groups, or even personal photographs.

  1. Horror door hangings

If you have artistic ability, or know someone else who does, a novel idea is to create horror door hangings. A piece of material is painted with and authentic-looking horror scene, which is then hung in a doorway. When an unsuspecting person opens the door they are then shocked to be confronted by a ghost, zombie or headless ghoul.

  1. Life-sized cardboard celebrities

As the name suggest, the idea is to self-life-sized cardboard cut-outs of well-known celebrities, pop stars or sports stars. Although you may have to obtain permission to use the images of certain people they could make very popular products.

  1. Soft toys

A consistently big selling item to adults and children alike, the soft toy is something you could either make, or sell and modify according to your market.

Everyone has seen the usual selection of toy animals, so why not go for something a little more unusual? Soft toy insects such as bumblebees, caterpillars and ladybirds and could have a wide appeal, and cute looking aliens and sea monsters could also be developed, such as pocket pets, pouch pets, elasticated pets which can be attached to the bedroom ceiling, or Velcro pets which stick to clothing.

  1. Joke books and cassettes

Publishing themed joke books covering a range of topics could prove a versatile business venture, because in addition to gift shops they can be sold in books shops and other suitable stores.

For example, you could produce joke books for a particular town or area, a certain sport or a certain person, or joke books about school, men / women or pop music. An alternative is to compile these under different headings to produce and encyclopedia of jokes.

Similarly themed cassettes could also be produced, perhaps incorporating humorous songs, rugby football songs, and drinking songs.

  1. Joke club

An excellent mail order venture is to set up a joke club, sending out a monthly mail order catalogue of joke and novelty products. You could also write a newsletter including new jokes and ideas, a directory ‘practical joke of the month’. In addition you could offer a joke writing and finding service.

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