Writing naked calls and puts is too risky for me.
This is a common misconception. A short put and a covered call have the exact same risk profile. They are synthetically equivalent.
...say you have 1000 shares of a stock currently at 14.53. You can sell someone the right to buy that stock at 15.00 ... for a premium of 4.60/share with the option expiring in 23 days.. You bring 4600.00 into your account.
This would be an exceedingly rare situation, and it's one I've already touched on earlier. It's not a matter of if
you'll get burned on big percentage premiums like that, it's when
However, the tricky part isn't so much how to do it, but rather, what to do and when? What do you buy and when do you buy it?
Ahh, well, there's the rub
Options trading isn't for most users -- in fact, individual stocks isn't for everyone, for that matter (as you point out). But if you insist on holding individual issues and don't mind having them taken away, writing calls against them can generate income from an otherwise stagnant position. You can also use short puts to enter a new position at a discount to today's price, later selling calls on the shares once the puts are assigned (if that ever happens). Rinse and repeat. As an example, a stock that's been meandering like Microsoft has of late might have made a decent candidate for that type entry and/or exit.
What is a "cash-secured put" ?
A cash-secured put is a naked short put that is backed by the full amount of the settlement in cash, as opposed to the normal ~20% margin deposit required. Instead of posting $600 for a short 30 put, you keep the full $3000 in cash in the account for the full duration of the trade. Cash-secured is the only way to write puts in an IRA (if your broker is enlightened enough to allow it at all).