Cash for Class

(U-WIRE) SAN DIEGO – While some students cringe at the thought of taking notes in class, a new Web site can help turn those biology notes into cash. Started by Mike Gaynor in July, the Chicago-based RedPaper.com is a digital marketplace where people can sell their creative writings, personal music, class notes, business, love advice and even cooking recipes. “It gives people a way to package up and place a price tag on any piece of information,” Gaynor said. Most of the content on the site sells for just a few cents. However, some sellers have been able to turn a heavy profit by selling hundreds of copies of their work. Elizabeth Hassel, who uses the name “Twinkie” on the Web site, has sold more than 600 copies of her personal advice columns and dating stories, usually charging about 25 to 50 cents each. Hassel said she started posting her stories on RedPaper during the first week of the Web site’s existence. “What I like about RedPaper is it gives me the opportunity to be creative,” Hassel said. “I had writing teachers in both high school and college who spent more time worrying about the content than the process. As it turns out, if you are writing about something you are close to, the writing and rewriting process is enjoyable.” Holly Jahangiri, who has sold nearly 200 copies of her writings on RedPaper, said the site allows her to share her work with readers without having to turn to a professional publisher. Jahangiri also said part of the appeal of RedPaper is that the site functions like a garage sale or a treasure hunt. “It’s really not all that hard to find treasure here,” Jahangiri said. “Some of what’s posted is an incredible bargain — articles and interviews for 2 cents, a short story for 50 cents, gorgeous images for a nickel, a novel for $5.” The site can be especially useful to college students looking to earn money by selling either their class notes or book reviews, Gaynor said. “It’s a great way to pass on information and create revenue from what you’ve learned,” Gaynor said. Because all of the site’s content is in a digital format, anything bought on RedPaper is instantly delivered to the buyer. The instant delivery process is what mainly separates RedPaper from other Internet Web sites like eBay, where buyers have to wait several days for their bought items to arrive in the mail, Gaynor said. “You wouldn’t want to buy somebody’s class notes on eBay and not get them for three to five days later,” Gaynor said. To purchase anything on RedPaper, buyers must first deposit $3 into a buying account. The amount is required because credit card companies charge Internet businesses a small fee for every transaction made on their Web sites, Gaynor said. “To buy something for 25 cents would cost us 33 cents to sell it to you,” Gaynor said. “Of course that’s not making anybody any money.” With a $3 minimum spending pool, buyers don’t have to charge their credit card every time they want to purchase something on the site, Gaynor said. He said RedPaper deducts 5.75 percent from every transaction, leaving sellers with 94.25 percent of the total sale. With an initial startup cost of about $150,000, RedPaper still hasn’t turned a profit, Gaynor said. But with a growing base of about 6,000 users, he said he has high hopes for the site. “It’s going to be pretty cool,” he said.