The pandemic seared an uncomfortable truth into the minds of many Americans. Even a steady job can evaporate in an instant. If you don’t want to risk losing everything to a potential job loss, you may want to build multiple income streams.
You can use these additional sources of income to build — or rebuild — emergency savings. Or, you can see them as their own form of safety net. The goal is to keep food on the table even in the worst circumstances.
But to build multiple income streams, you need to be realistic about your time. After all, you don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize your full-time job. The extra income needs to be earned during normal break times and free hours. If you can earn income while you sleep, all the better.
While each individual may forge a slightly different path to success, nearly anyone can use at least one or two of these 10 ideas to generate a second source of income, if not multiple income streams.
If you have developed expertise in anything from accounting to logistics, you may be able to make an occasional killing plying that expertise through any one of several consulting platforms. These sites connect experts in a wide array of fields — public relations, marketing, tech, geology, engineering, etc. — with companies that are grappling with a short-term problem. The clients don’t want to hire full-time help. But they’re generally willing to pay attractive rates for advice or project work.
The sites that connect clients with consultants include Zintro, Maven, GLG, Braintrust and Catalant. Consultants generally set their rates at a multiple of their ordinary hourly wage. Depending on your area of expertise and the number of consulting platforms you register with, you could be tapped weekly or monthly. In other words, this is not steady work. But it’s well-paid when it’s available.
People who are highly organized or have specialized skills in social media or WordPress may be able to fill free hours working as a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants help executives manage their schedules, email, blogs and/or social media accounts. Pay ranges from minimum wage to as much as $100 an hour based on the assistant’s experience and skills.
Sites that connect VAs with clients include Belay, Boldly and Time Etc. However, skilled VAs often find their own clients through social media and trade groups.
Find yourself going to the grocery store so often that you have every aisle memorized? If you don’t mind adding to your list, you can shop for Shipt, Instacart and Dumpling. Shipt and Instacart connect shoppers with customers. Dumpling helps personal shoppers manage their own businesses, find clients and set their rates and schedules. Pay is usually based on the size of the order. You set your own schedule, and pick and choose among available jobs, based on when and where you want to shop.
Spend every weekend at kids’ sporting events? You may be able to earn money as a team photographer. A site called Snapped4You allows photographers to upload photos and share the links with people who may want to buy prints. The photographer sets the rates, paying a 10% (or 50-cent, whichever is greater) commission on each sale.
If you’re not only attending sporting events but also paying close attention to the rules, you may be able to earn generous pay as a referee. Youth sports clubs recruit referees so frequently that there’s a website dedicated to connecting referees with local clubs that need help. Referees typically earn $25 to $100 an hour, depending on the sport and level. (The older the players, the higher the pay.)
The pandemic caused many parents to learn their children’s school curriculum backward and forward in an effort to keep them on track through distance learning. Since you have the skills — and plenty of experience with Zoom — you can make money as an online tutor. Dozens of sites, including Wyzant, Varsity Tutors and TutorOcean, help connect academic tutors with students needing help. Pay ranges from $15 to $50 per hour.
Want to design your own curriculum? Dozens of sites can help, but the right site will depend on what you teach. If you want to instruct in music or dance, a site called LessonFace is your best bet. If you want to teach people to make great pastries — or quiche; or sourdough bread — consider ChefsFeed. If you have an imaginative way of teaching kids anything from engineering to art, you should register with Outschool. And those who prefer to teach adults anything from web design to marketing can sign up with Thinkific, Teachable or Udemy.
8. Walk or sit
Got a free hour? Two sites — Rover and Wag — can help connect you with a dog in need of a walk. Walkers typically earn $12 to $15 per half-hour walk. So it’s a job you can easily accomplish during a lunch hour.
And if you don’t mind having animals at your home overnight, you can earn even more as a pet sitter. Sitters typically charge $25 to $50 per night per animal. So if you are able to watch five pets in a night, you earn between $125 to $250, mostly while you sleep.
Recharging scooters for Bird, Lime and other electric scooter and bike companies is similar. You can charge as many of these vehicles as you have outlets in your home. You’re paid between $3 and $20 for each scooter you return fully charged. To be sure, you will have to pick up the scooters and drop them off. But the actual charging is done between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. — mostly while you’re asleep.
Notably, California’s freelance law has caused Lime to change its requirements for chargers. Now, Lime chargers must have a business license. Business licenses require a little paperwork, but are not difficult to get. But because this scares off casual side hustlers, Lime chargers can now pick up more scooters and earn more money.
If none of these ideas suit your talents, consider plying your unique trade on a broad-based work platform like TaskRabbit or Fiverr. Both of these sites allow you to list your availability for almost any skill or service you have. The main difference between the two is that TaskRabbit focuses on jobs that are done in person, while Fiverr emphasizes jobs that can be done online or remotely.
Specifically, TaskRabbit allows you to list your rates for assembling furniture, running errands, painting, moving, picking kids up from school and gardening. You say what you can do, your service area, and what you charge. The site helps you find clients and collect payment.
At Fiverr you can advertise your availability to do everything from animation to editing, voiceover work to personal training. If you have great experience in the field you’re pitching, also apply for the site’s “pro” status. It will help you charge higher rates and get better exposure on the site. (For a primer on how to best use this site, see “$5 Platform Delivers Six-Figure Incomes.”)
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews money-making opportunities in the gig economy.
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