Want more money in your pocket? You could walk dogs, pick up shifts at Starbucks or even rent a clown suit and work kids' birthday parties. Or, you could just kick back on your couch and flip open your laptop.
Okay, it’s not exactly that easy. But thanks to the exploding gig economy and the enormous reach of the internet, there are more opportunities than ever to watch the Benjamins (or at least Abrahams) roll in during your downtime from the comfort of your home.
To start making money online from home, check out these five digital side hustles. They may be a little out there, but they require no special skills, are totally legal (we swear!) and will give your bottom line a solid boost.
Be a Virtual Bridesmaid
From caterers to bands to florists, saying “I do” is big business. And now there’s a new niche in the $58 billion wedding industry that could score you a little dough. Bridesmaid for Hire provides professional services for brides. While some of the tasks involve helping out on the big day (or even standing with the wedding party as an actual bridesmaid), many responsibilities are handled remotely via emails and social media.
Responsibilities include things like organizing the bridal shower and bachelorette party, managing RSVPs and serving as an on-call therapist and peacekeeper when wedding drama gets heated. “I look for people who are problem solvers, can handle chaos with a smile on their face and have experience working with strangers,” says founder Jen Glantz.
Sound up your aisle? Fill out an application through the site, which pairs brides and bridesmaids based on personality and location. You could make between $200 and $2,000 per month, says Glantz, working anywhere from a few hours a month to a couple of hours a week, and you'll generally handle everything on nights and weekends. Most projects—er, weddings—require between 3 to 11 months of your time.
Sell Your Skills
There are plenty of freelancing websites where people put their talents up for sale. But Fiverr is the go-to spot, thanks to its millions of users and brilliantly simple premise. “Rather than acting as a labor market, Fiverr works like an e-commerce platform, where services are offered as products,” says Aimy Ngo, Fiverr’s business development and marketing strategist. “This makes it easy to control what you will provide and how much to charge.”
With more than 100 categories to choose from, there’s a market for nearly every skill, from graphic design and web development to songwriting and astrology reading. When posting a “gig” (Fiverr lingo for your service), include details about the scope of your offering, your availability and pricing.
While many gigs start at just $5 a pop (Fiverr captures 20% of the fee), “sellers can create a tiered pricing model for a single service, offering good, better and best options,” Ngo says. “After a gig is delivered, the buyer leaves a review, giving you credibility and a reputation.”
Your paycheck will vary widely depending on your experience and free time. “Fiverr’s marketplace caters to the freelance moonlighter with 10 hours to spare a week, along with the professional who’s relying on this as a primary source of income,” Ngo says, noting that some top sellers make over $100,000 annually.
Get Paid to Hang Out Online
It’s called search engine evaluation, and if you regularly find yourself poking around the internet during your downtime, this can be a sweet gig. What's it about? Google , Yahoo and Bing rely on complex algorithms to provide accurate results. But they also run the results by humans to make sure they’re relevant.
For example, if you type in “banana bread recipe,” search engines should pull up recipes from major sites first. Posts from smaller blogs or recipes for other, related dishes—like zucchini bread—should fall toward the end of the list. As a search engine evaluator, you’ll be asked to enter specific words or phrases into a search engine, then assess how appropriate and informative the sites it pulls up are.
LeapForce and Appen Butler Hill are two major firms that hire search engine evaluators. (Appen also hires social media evaluators, who analyze the relevancy of a company’s social media news feed.) Appen has potential employees complete an application (project-specific screenings and language proficiency tests may also be required), and LeapForce asks candidates to take and pass a three-part qualifying exam. Both companies also require that you have a new computer, smartphone, high-speed internet, anti-virus software, certain operating systems and be a little internet-savvy.
Although the sites don’t publicly disclose salaries, GlassDoor estimates their hourly rate to be in the $13 to $14 range. The work isn't super consistent, but it can be a decent side gig.
Help Kids Ace Exams
Online tutoring sites such as Tutor, Skooli, WyzAnt and Chegg are looking for patient, creative people willing to use their smarts in a particular academic area to help school kids, college students or adults master that subject.
To get hired, you fill out an application and take an exam to test your knowledge. “If you pass, you go through a mock session with an experienced tutor who assumes the role of student and evaluates your creativity, empathy and teaching skills,” says Cindy Hamen Farrar, Ph.D., senior director of academic tutoring at Tutor. “We look for people who know their subject matter and who can break it down and communicate effectively.”
Once you’re in, you’ll be matched with a student who can submit questions, essays or homework problems they need help on. You’ll work together in an online classroom, sending files back and forth and having discussions using a shared white board. The work is part-time, and you make your own hours.
GlassDoor estimates that teachers at Tutor earn $9 to $14 an hour. “Depending on the subject mix and number of hours you work, you could make between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per month,” Farrar says. Chegg’s rates start at $20 per hour, estimating that tutors can make up to $1,000 a month. WyzAnt’s rates run $24 to $36 per hour, according to GlassDoor.
Rent Your Parking Space—if You Have One
If you live in a major city and are lucky enough to own a parking spot, you can make extra cash by letting other drivers rent your space while you’re at work or on vacation. To facilitate, there’s ParqEx in Chicago, Spot and SpotOnParking in several U.S. cities and ParkingSpotter nationwide.
Setting up a listing is a cinch. On Spot, you pin your parking space on the site’s map, snap a picture of it, establish your availability and rate (most sites will suggest a general estimate) and provide a payment method, like direct deposit or PayPal . When your spot gets rented, the site takes a commission of around 20%. And you’ve fattened your wallet by barely lifting a finger.