Earning some extra cash — it's something just about everyone would like to be able to do, particularly in a difficult economic climate. Ideally, we would all like to be able to earn that extra money without having to sacrifice a great deal of time or effort. The goal is to be able to leverage existing skills in a creative way, or pick up some new moneymaking skills without jumping a lot of hurdles in the process. Time is a limited resource as well. We would all like to be able to find a way to earn money while sacrificing as little of our precious free time as possible. And we would like to spend what time we do put in engaged in activities that we already enjoy.
Here is a list of ideas that you may find of value in the quest to earn some extra income. Not all of the ideas will be usable by everyone — some do require a special set of skills or some kind of official certification — but just about everyone should be able to find at least a few suggestions on the list that they can use:
1. Tutoring ($30-80 per hour)
If you have a background in just about any academic subject, you can almost certainly find work tutoring junior high, high school, college students and even adults, in some instances. You can do this independently, via word-of-mouth, dealing directly with children and parents who live near you or you can affiliate yourself with a tutoring service. In addition to well-known, accredited businesses such as Sylvan, there are services that match students and tutors in virtually every city.
While such a service will command a commission, it provides the benefit of establishing a fee collection service, a screening service and simply a way to introduce you to paying customers. Tutoring is offered both in-person and online.
The pay rate for tutors is highly variable but fees of $40-50 per hour for high school students are commonplace and if you have sufficient skills to offer tutoring to college level students, $80 per hour fees are not unheard of, making it possible to bring in a significant amount of money without working a lot of hours. Vertex42.com offers a simple and free invoice template to use when billing your clients.
2. Pet Sitting ($15-30 per half hour)
Many people who travel frequently or work long hours each day need someone to care for their pets in their home. If you love interacting with animals, you may find pet sitting to be a fun way to make money. Pet sitters feed animals, scoop litter boxes, walk dogs and generally interact with pets in clients' homes.
For people who are interested in starting their own pet sitting business, there are several national organizations, such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and the Professional United Pet Sitters Association that provide guidance and credibility for affiliated members.
Individuals who are interested in something less involved may be able to find work through an existing pet sitting service looking to expand its reach into new areas or simply searching for reliable people to supplement their existing pool of workers. Working for an established service will allow better control over the number of hours committed and the distance you travel. Remember to track your expenses, so that you can claim deductions at tax time.
30-minute pet sitting visits will often command fees of $15-30 dollars, depending on the market, number of pets serviced and the specific requirements of the visit.
3. Photography (Variable income)
If you have the shutterbug, you may be able to turn your photography hobby into something that makes money. Photography is a versatile skill, because there are so many different ways to potentially earn money associated with it, including selling prints—directly to customers, over a Web site, through a gallery or shop and at art fairs. Other ways to earn money include photographing local sports and personal events, doing freelance work for news organizations, shooting portraits of people and pets and selling stock images. One of the most attractive aspects of making money through photography is that it involves using an existing skill and doing something you already enjoy.
4. Arts & Crafts Hobbies (Variable income)
Similar to photography, selling arts and crafts that you produce is a way of making money doing something that you already enjoy. Ceramics, woodworking, glasswork, scrapbooking and other crafts all have money making potential by selling finished products at shops, art fairs, local art leagues and the like. Some shops work on a consignment basis where you receive only a percentage of the sale price. While the per item profit is reduced, this provides the opportunity to have your work exposed to a larger audience. If you are particularly skilled and enjoy instructing, you may be able to find additional moneymaking opportunities by teaching art center classes or offering one-on-one instruction. Potential earnings will vary depending on your level of skill and the amount of time you put into marketing your work.
Arts and crafts businesses may involve keeping an inventory of supplies available, so use Vertex42's free inventory control spreadsheet to help you stay on top of things. Your business supplies may also offer tax deductions when you file income taxes, so keep accurate records of your expenses.
5. Home Child Care Services ($4000 per month and up)
The need for affordable, safe and flexible child care service has never been greater than it is today with many parents working multiple jobs. In many areas, child care services can be offered from your home; licensing requirements vary broadly from state to state. To run home daycare, many states require nothing more than a high school diploma and first aid/CPR training.
The average home day care business earns the equivalent of roughly $4000 per month and many household expenses are tax deductible since the business is being run out of your home. Once you are up and running with your child care business, consider using printable rewards charts for behavior management of the children in your daycare, or printable baby feeding schedules to help you keep track of everyone's meal times.
6. Babysitting ($10-22 per hour)
Many people think of babysitting as the domain of teenage girls, but many adults offer the service as a way to make money. The job requires no special skills or certification. Babysitting is quite flexible with plenty of options: picking and choosing which jobs to take and the ability to limit yourself to certain days or nights of the week, ranges of hours and distances from home.
This rate calculator will help determine a fee schedule depending on your market, level of experience and the number of children you are sitting for, among other factors. Keep track of your babysitting schedule with Vertex42's free calendar templates that you can print.
7. Virtual Administrative Assistant Services ($15-60 per hour)
You can provide administrative assistant services while working at home, either by working directly for an employer or by working on a freelance/contract basis. Duties include word processing, data entry, creation of financial statements, general spreadsheet work, message taking and appointment scheduling and coordination. Some skills — largely software-related — are required, but if you don't already have the skills they are easily acquired by taking a community college or community center course or two.
Pay varies widely depending on experience, the specific tasks involved and whether the job is handled directly or through a freelance service.
8. Teaching Online ($500-1500 per 4-8 week course)
A wide variety of educational services are now being provided online, from standard school subjects to vocational training to continuing ed to community college and full college and university instruction. Teaching high school classes online typically requires a bachelor's degree and a teaching license; community college and four-year colleges and universities usually demand an advanced degree in subject matter related to the classes you will instruct.
Online teaching is different from traditional teaching since interfacing with students is usually indirect and requires a somewhat distinct set of communications skills as well as a thorough comfort with Web-based platforms and communications portals.
There is a fair amount of flexibility in terms of hours worked. Pay varies widely, usually in the range of $500 to $1500 for a single 4- to 8-week course.
9. Leveraging Specific Computer-Related Skills (Highly variable)
If you have specific types of computer skills, you can certainly pocket some extra cash. Be it graphic design, Web site design/creation, desktop publishing or computer programming, there is demand for your services, and a good hourly wage as well. An entry level freelance graphic designer can expect to charge roughly $40 per hour while a freelancer with a few years of experience can command up to $150 per hour, depending on the client and job. Freelance computer programmers' pay varies even more broadly, depending on experience and the project involved, from $20-30 per hour on the low end to hundreds of dollars per hour on the high end.
Keep things simple and use Vertex42's free quote template to provide your potential clients with a quote for their project.
10. Writing for the Online Market ($10-30 per hour)
This is an area with huge and growing demand. Numerous website owners are in constant need of fresh content in the form of e-books, articles and blog entries on a wide variety of subjects to help drive Web traffic to their sites and build targeted customer lists. While basic language and grammatical skills are necessary, Pulitzer Prize winning writing ability is neither required nor expected.
Most articles are 500-1000 words in length, but larger projects are available. Pay ranges from perhaps $20 for very short assignments to hundreds or even thousands of dollars for longer, more involved ones. Online writing has the added benefit of great flexibility. As a freelance writer you can pick and choose the projects you want to accept and you can work from home, with hours you select. With a minimum of experience it is quite possible to earn several hundred dollars per week without working more than 10-15 hours. Consider mentoring or training courses to learn more about starting a freelance writing business and use Vertex42's business start up costs template to help you figure out how much it will cost you to get your business off the ground.
More Ideas to Come
We've got 30 more ideas like these to share in the next 3 parts of this series, so stay tuned.