| OUTSIDE THE BOX
Five Online Opportunities to Fuel Your Side Hustles
by Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a little extra money. Whether you’re a student looking for an easy gig that will be manageable with your class load, a parent who needs to plan a family vacation, or a home business owner who wants to earn some extra money for an emergency fund, the search for a side hustle that meets your needs can be challenging. But it’s not impossible. In fact, the internet offers a plethora of opportunities to make money online, which means you can work from home or wherever your laptop is. You don’t have to commute, and it’s easy to create a schedule that works for your life—both personally and professionally. This column discusses some ideas to make extra money.
Being able to use your knowledge and expertise to assist others in learning by tutoring can be rewarding in more ways than financially. Tutor.com partners with K–12 schools and districts, colleges and universities, public and state libraries, and even the U.S. military “to provide 24/7, on-demand, 1-to-1 tutoring and homework help in more than 250 subjects,” according to its About page. With Tutor.com, tutors use an online classroom to assist students in English and Spanish. The company also offers the Tutor.com To Go app for mobile learning and teaching.
Another company that helps students learn from qualified tutors is VIPKid. Lesson plans are predesigned and provided to you; you just focus on teaching English—one-on-one—to students ages 4 to 15. Partnering with National Geographic Learning and Scholastic, the company at first primarily taught those living in China. However, in July 2021, “Chinese officials announced an outright ban on for-profit tutoring services for core school subjects in a bid to improve the quality of education and boost the country’s flagging birth rate,” reports The Free Press Journal. To comply with this restriction, VIPKid started advertising English classes for adults.
If you like giving your opinion to others, why not turn it into a paid gig by completing surveys? Although several companies will pay with gift cards instead of money, even those will either allow you to choose which cards you want and/or will then offer cash back once you use them. Swagbucks is one that offers this type of pay; however, it also allows you to earn cash that can be transferred to a PayPal account. Being dedicated and consistent with the surveys is what can provide a steady stream of income. Another popular survey site is Survey Junkie, which “offers opportunities to share your perspective via attitudinal based market research” or behavioral market research.
If you have an eye for detail, a proofreading gig may be perfect for you. Several reputable employment services—such as Indeed and FlexJobs—can help you with your search (see the links to job examples in the sidebar). However, a quick way to start is to check with family, friends, and small-business owners in your area who may need important paperwork looked over before it is filed or submitted.
Freelancing is great choice if you have a skill or service to offer and can meet agreed-upon deadlines and deliverables. Often, you are able to set your own prices and work only on projects that interest you. You could go the solo route—i.e., find opportunities on your own—but using a freelancing-focused company can bring you more money and security, depending on your knowledge and experience. According to Upwork, its research “has shown that 60% of freelancers who left a full-time job to become freelancers make more money than they did in their previous jobs.” I actually worked part-time with a company via Upwork for 2 years, and I made more than $50 an hour for my writing skills and experience.
If you enjoy sharing your knowledge, background, and expertise with others, then you may want to consider joining the blogosphere. You don’t have to be a professional writer, and you don’t need to know how to code. The following are some of the basics you’ll need to do to start a blog.
Name and Domain Name
Pick a name, and register your blog. Choose something that reflects your own name and/or what it is you plan to write about. Registering your blog is as easy as obtaining a domain name or email address; if it’s available, it’s yours.
Making It Your Own
Customize your blog’s layout, font, widgets, etc. Depending on where you house your site, there are usually templates to get you started.
Writing and Publishing
Write and publish your first post—and promote it. It may take a minute for you to find your voice, but that’s the nice thing about blog writing. Just write as if you are talking to a small group of friends about the topics you choose. Try to be entertaining, interesting, and/or likable. Have a conversation with the reader—don’t give them a speech.
Selling and Earning
To start making money from your blog, it’s all about the art of the sell. According to Scott Chow’s The Blog Starter, selling advertising space, incorporating product placement, and/or selling digital downloads or memberships to access your blog are a few ways to build a reader base and earn money from your posts. (All of the advice on The Blog Starter is very useful, so be sure to read it thoroughly.)