The Virtual Office
Sure, traditional side gigs are a great way to boost your income, but they can still come with restrictions: your availability versus the hours needed; your physical location versus where the jobs are. But if you have a high-speed Internet connection, there are plenty of opportunities for making extra money — without having to leave home.
If you’re looking to boost your income with an online side gig (or two), here are seven ideas to get you started.
When companies create new websites they need real people to test them and give feedback on which parts are confusing or not user friendly. And in many cases, these companies pony up for the service.
While you may be able to find clients that will hire you directly to test their websites, most testers rely on middleman companies like UserTesting to connect them with paying companies.
UserTesting pays its testers $10 each time they review a site, and sometimes more for reviewing mobile sites. Payment is made through Paypal, and many testers say it takes them only 15 to 20 minutes to review a site, resulting in a high hourly rate. But the site has lots of testers on board, so there’s no guarantee you’ll get steady work. According to UserTesting, you’ll receive work opportunities only if your demographic profile matches the target audience of the websites being tested.
Companies like Virtual Bee provide data entry services for their clients, and hire home-based keyboarders (once known as typists) to enter that data online in their programs.
To get work from a data entry firm like Virtual Bee, you’ll have to take an efficiency test to show your skill level. There’s no guarantee that work will always be available for you when you want it, but if you’re a good fit, data entry can be an easy, flexible way to earn extra money — about $13 to $20 per hour — on your own time.
Are you one of those people who always has an opinion about everything? If so, there are companies that will pay you for those opinions.
Businesses of all sizes rely on surveying consumers to determine whether their products are meeting the needs and preferences of the people they want to reach. Some people, such as Gary Mitchell, owner of Get Cash for Surveys, make a full-time income by completing surveys online.
It’s more likely that you could make a nice side income by working with various survey companies. For instance, companies like iPoll, My Survey, and E-Poll Surveys will pay you to respond to surveys about various products and services, and you can do the work from home (or anywhere else you have an Internet connection). According to Mitchell, the pay for each survey varies; some may take two minutes and net $20, while others may take 10 minutes and earn him $7.50.
High school and college students who need help with schoolwork or preparing for standardized tests are increasingly turning to the Web for convenient tutoring. If you’re a strong communicator and have teaching experience, you may find success as an online tutor.
You can find your own clients by running classified ads or answering ads, or you can work for an online tutoring company. To be hired by TruePrep, an online SAT prep company, tutors must score at least 95 percent on an SAT skills test administered during the hiring process. Tutors also have to demonstrate effective teaching skills through a teaching audition — the final stage of the hiring process.
Classes are taught online with screen sharing, annotation, and audio and video chat. Eric Siegel, a writer who also works for TruePrep, earns $50 per hour tutoring. In addition, the online platform allows tutors to set their own schedules — Siegel can take on more clients when his writing projects are slow, and fewer clients when other projects keep him busy.
If you have a good eye for grammar and spelling errors, you may have a future as an online proofreader.
Caitlin Pyle started proofreading court reporters’ transcripts on the side several years ago, and now earns more than $40,000 per year proofreading part time, 20-25 hours per week. She also teaches others to get started through her website, Proofread Anywhere, including offering a free seven-day course.
In addition to court reporting transcripts, there are opportunities available to proofread for lawyers, medical professionals, college professors, and graduate students, and various other types of professionals and organizations. The Editorial Freelancers Association, which also provides education for proofreaders and other types of editing jobs, says freelance proofreaders earn about $30-$35 per hour.
Selling via Amazon
You can always sell products online using sites like eBay or Craigslist to make extra money. But an easier, and growing, method of selling goods online is to partner with Amazon for fulfillment services — that is, picking, packing, and shipping orders.
Using Fulfillment by Amazon, sellers choose the products they want to sell and send them to Amazon (often using home pickup from shipping providers), then take advantage of Amazon’s wide-ranging fulfillment services to get sales finalized and shipped to shoppers. It’s easy because sellers don’t have to create their own listings; they simply take advantage of the listing platform already available on Amazon’s website.
For instance, Cynthia Stine started with a $200 investment and earned more than $40,000 in her first year of part-time selling online. Stine shared with The Work at Home Wife how she built a viable side business through Fulfillment by Amazon: She purchases discount goods online or from retailers like Tuesday Morning to resell, and UPS picks up her shipment for Amazon once each week. She then receives payment from Amazon when her products are sold and shipped.
Creating Niche Websites
If you have more time on your hands, and expertise on a specialty topic, consider creating a niche website.
You’ve probably noticed that for whatever you want to learn about or do, there seems to be a website that can help. And many of those websites have owners who are regular people earning income by sharing that very specific information.
Niche site owners make money by selling ads, selling products, and posting affiliate links (when a reader clicks through and purchases an item, the link sponsor pays a commission to the niche site owner).
Niche sites can be focused on anything — choosing a drone, purchasing a guitar, making French toast. And while site owners can build a site and leave it alone, they are likely to earn more money for a longer period of time by regularly updating the site by writing blog posts or other content related to the site topic. For instance, Sean Ogle built a niche site focused on HDR software (a type of software used by photographers) and several years later, the site continues to earn about $1,000 per month.
You can start a niche website by purchasing a domain name for as little as $12.99 from sites like GoDaddy, which also offers a platform for creating your site and Web hosting for $1 per month. You can also use a turnkey platform like WordPress to quickly create a site.