Freelance Writer

If you’ve always felt like you have a way with words, enjoy telling stories or writing – becoming a freelance writer may be a great option for you to make extra money as a side hustle.

As a side job, a freelance writer could potentially make up to $3,000 a month, depending on how many articles they can produce.

Successful freelance writers stick to a a solid body of knowledge. There is literally no limit to subjects people need content for, so there should be plenty of opportunities to write about what you already know. 

Focus on building your portfolio by finding small jobs on ProBlogger Fiverr, Craigslist, or Upwork. Small and manageable is the best way to get your feet wet and determine how much time it will take you. You won’t make a ton of money in the beginning – the goal is to gain clients and good reviews, as well as creat a portfolio of work to lay the necessary groundwork for bigger and better paying jobs. 

The secret to success as a freelancer is to charge clients based on the value that you bring to their project. If you undercharge, you may experience burnout with little payoff.

Freelancing is a great way to earn money if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and a flexible schedule.

Employee or Contractor?

Do you know the difference between an  independent contractor and an employee? The status affects how you are taxed.

If you are an employee, your employer must withhold income taxes. They must also withhold and pay Social Security, Medicare taxes, and unemployment taxes on your behalf. As an independent contractor – you are personally responsible for these things.

If you own your own company, it is critical to understand the difference between the two and why one might be better for specific roles you need to fill to avoid financial penalties.

Independent Contractors:

Independent contractors are self-employed. They are contracted for a specific task. They typically set their own hours, and often work for multiple businesses at one time. Since they are self-employed, you are not responsible for their taxes or benefits.
At year end, you are responsible to provide contractors a 1099-MISC (Copy B), and to report payments made in excess of $600 per calendar year. You are also responsible for filing the corresponding 1099-MISC (Copy A) with the IRS.

Independent contractors are often paid more per hour because of their expertise in the job you are hiring them for. Since you don’t have to pay for benefits or taxes, contractors are still often more cost efficient.

In order to determine if the person you work qualifies as a contractor, the IRS has 3 questions:

Behavioral: Do you have the right to control how, when and where a worker does their job?

Financial: do you control how a worker is paid – reimburse expenses and pay for supplies?

Type of relationship: Is there a written contract or implied permanent status? Do you provide employee-type benefits such as insurance or 401(k)? Is the work that is performed a core business practice?

The IRS looks at the entire package. The law presumes workers are employees unless they meet strict legal requirements that establish someone as an independent contractor.

Employees:

Employees are hired directly by your business. You set their hours and their duties. It is likely you provide them a workspace (or give them permission to work remotely), and the tools to complete their job. YouR responsibility is to withhold taxes from their paycheck, employment taxes, and any benefits your company offers.

At year end, your business provides them a W-2 form to report wages and the payroll taxes withheld from that compensation. Employers must mail W-2 forms to their employees by January 31 of the following calendar year.

It is important that as a business owner you fully understand the difference between these two types of workers. A misclassification can cause you financial  issue, and a big headache.

Data Entry

Do you have great typing skills, an affinity for computer programs, and can sit in place and concentrate for extended periods of time?  You may want to consider freelance Data Entry.

Many businesses need people to simply enter or transfer different types of data into their various systems.  Data that might be used to track inventory, shipments, billing, personal records, measure performance or output, or simply for required storage . 

Data Entry

Data entry jobs usually consist of receiving data via paper or computer – and transferring it into either a standardized form, document or spreadsheet. Having fast and accurate typing skills is a definite plus, as time is usually of the essence in entry projects.  If your skills are rusty, Keybr is an online tool to practice your typing and increase your speed.

Many data entry jobs are able to be done remotely, and on a flexible schedule.  As a freelancer, you will need to have an up to date computer set up to accept jobs.  A dual screen would be a huge advantage, but not necessary.  Two monitors side by side can be a huge time saver, allowing you to more easily transfer information from one document to another. Data entry work is often paid by the piece, so you’ll want to utilize the tools that help you work quickly.

You can create accounts on bid sites offering your services.  Sites like this often pay little, as clients go there to bid on jobs, and many accounts will work for ridiculously cheap rates to gain business.  However, often once you do quality work with a client a couple of times they will keep you and pay your asking rate.

upwork.com

fiver.com

Amazon MTurk 

Clickworker

TTEC

Sigtrack

Some companies specifically hire for remote data entry jobs in one format or another. Some will require you to train onsite before cutting you loose to work from home. Others may require proof of your words-per-minute (wpm) via typing test.  Listed are a sampling of companies with current listings.

Cass Information Systems

The Smart Crowd 

Dion Data 

Xerox data entry jobs

Data entry opportunities are also sometimes available on job boards. Listings change often, so check back regularly, or set up email notifications.

indeed.com

flexjobs.com 

ziprecruiter.com 

If working remotely and being able to be accurate over long periods of time is your thing, then this might be a great way to make side cash.  Don’t expect that data entry will make you a lot of money, but a few hundred dollars a month might be worth the time spent.

Become a Translator

Did you know? You can become a translator without a degree or ever studying translation. The most important requirement for translators is fluency in at least 2 languages.

Become a Translator
Become a Translator

Specific jobs and certain types of translation, such as sworn translation, may require a Bachelor’s degree. There are also specific trainings and certifications available that can make getting, and doing the job much easier. If you want to work as a translator in the US, you might consider becoming ATA certified. This is a highly regarded credential that can improve your chances of finding higher paying translation jobs.

If you have a degree or experience in a specialized field, This could be a great way to stand out. As an expert in your field already, it can give you an advantage over a generalized translator. 

A high number of translators are freelancers who work remotely. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, a good, full-time translator job can earn you upwards of $90k.

You can start finding jobs for freelance translators on sites such as fiverr.com or Upwork.com

Is your work at home opportunity a scam?

There are a huge number of legitimate work-at-home opportunities.  It is especially important to make sure those opportunities are not a scam. Especially now, during COVID-19 – many employers have been forced into allowing employees to work from home to keep their businesses running. I suspect that any earlier misgivings will be altered or no longer exist after the curtain is pulled back on this isolation period.

However, be aware that there are still unscrupulous people out there, and scams do still exist. It is your responsibility to do your due diligence.  It’s not always easy to tell the real deal from a scam.

Research work at home opportunities

Here are some signs to watch out for when starting your search for a work-at-home job:

  • It is important to know exactly who you would be working for. When you find a job you’re interested in, research the company. Check them out with the BBB, Consumer Affairs, and search the internet for complains or poor reviews.
  • Check THEIR references: they ask for yours, it’s your responsibility to interview them as well.
  • Any company that asks YOU to put your own money up front should be viewed with skepticism. Especially if this is a company you have never heard of.  Unless you are a freelance worker – equipment used for a legitimate company should be provided to you.
  • If you are a freelancer with job postings on sites such as upwork.com or fiverr.com, be sure that any jobs you take are done so within the agreed upon online job platforms. Often people will ask to pay you “outside” the platform.  This is a huge red flag that you are being set up to be scammed by check or money order fraud. 

Thanks to technology, the ability to work from home has now become a reality for a large percentage of the population. If this is something you have always dreamed of, this unfortunate turn of events just might have brought the opportunity you have been waiting for. Just make sure that you have done the research to make it a good experience.

Get paid to answer Questions

Ever had a specific question you needed an answer for and didn’t know exactly where to turn?  There are several websites specifically built for this reason, beyond the obvious “ask Alexa”.

You can become the person to get paid to answer questions if you have a license, credentials, or have an affinity and knowledge towards a particular subject.

Resources:

Sites like JustAnswer.com , where you can  ask a question to verified doctors, lawyers, vets, mechanics, and more online.  Best of all, you can ask questions and get answers within minutes, 24/7, without wasting time on hold or in a waiting room.

JustAnswer will match your question with the most qualified Expert available. You get unlimited back and forth until your question is answered for a fraction of an in-person appointment.

There are no scheduled shifts. 

You can make your own hours and work only when you want.  JustAnswer pays Experts every month via Paypal. 

Adept at Electronics?

FixYa.com  is a community based troubleshooting resource that provides consumer generated, practical product tips to help others get answers on over 19 million products. Fixya is a place where you can share real experiences and provide practical advice. 

From fixing cars, to cameras, to mobile devices, Fixya empowers over 30 million monthly visitors to repair and improve upon products they already own.

Education:

StudyPool.com is a great option for education related questions and tutoring. 

Students post detailed questions.  Tutors are recommended based on the subject question. Messages made through Studypool’s chat feature, and they pay at the conclusion of the chat.

Tutors are on a bidding system, and the hours are completely flexible. Studypool makes getting paid easy for tutors. Payment transactions are made via Paypal or Transferwise.

Business Consulting

Join maven.co to profit from your knowledge and connections, network with other smart professionals. Profit from what you know. A “microconsulting” platform puts real value on your knowledge and gives you the power to manage your own private and secure professional network. You decide with whom to connect and consult and what types of opportunities are appropriate for you.

In just a few flexible hours a month, you can make some pocket money by utilizing the knowledge already in your head!

Monetizing your Blog

Have you always wondered how blogs actually make money?  No, it’s not just from sitting and writing.  There is a strategy to monetizing the work that comes from the writing. Let’s look at how to go about monetizing your blog:

Once you have built a blog that has a good number of followers, consider involving other companies and brands to make it mutually profitable by monetizing your blog.

Typewriter Monetize your blog

Google Adsense

Google will provide you a code to copy and paste onto your website. You get paid any time someone clicks on your ads and/or makes a purchase.

Text Links

A text link is a highlighted word you can click on in a web article to take you to another web page. There are many companies who are willing to pay for you to link from your website to theirs.

Sponsored Posts

With a sponsored post, a company pays you to talk about their product or service on their website. I recommend only promote companies you believe in and feel good about. Otherwise, you most likely won’t build trust with your readers.

Affiliate Marketing

By adding affiliate links to your website, companies or services will pay you to promote them by using pre-made ads and clickable banners provided by them. You will be paid for each completed transaction originating from your unique link.

Display Ads

With display ads, you actually get paid based on the number of times your ads are viewed. For that reason, these ads will work best for websites with a huge viewership.

Elevator Speeches

Do you have your elevator speech prepped and perfected?

An elevator speech is a “commercial” all about who you are, what you do, and how you can benefit a company or organization.

Elevator buttons arrow pointing up

It should be a quick synopsis of your background and experience, your expertise and credentials quickly and effectively to people who don’t know you.

An elevator pitch can be used for networking mixers, job fairs, round tables, and social media bios. Your pitch can be used during job interviews when you’re asked about yourself.

Have your pitch ready to share. It should be about 30 seconds – the time it takes to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator.

It’s a good idea to have multiple pitches. Tailor your pitch depending on your audience. You have a short time to convey a lot of information, so make sure to practice to avoid rambling or an unfocused message. Keep your energy and enthusiasm high.

If you have a business card, offer it at the end of the conversation as a way to continue the dialog.

Working from home

Working from home?  You need a place in your home that will give you maximum focus to manage your company.  Your workspace needs a simple desk and comfortable chair with a designated a place for paperwork and other business materials.

As your own boss, you are fully responsible for completing the tasks that keep you in business.

Because it’s easy to get distracted when you work from home, create a plan of action with deadlines and goals and stick with it. Prioritize your responsibilities, and finish the most urgent ones first.

Use a calendar to alert you to important dates and meetings.

Although you might find it difficult to step away, working too much can cause exhaustion and burnout. Take breaks often throughout the day, and set time boundaries for yourself. Do the things you enjoy, like grabbing lunch with a friend, shopping or working out to recharge your batteries.  Often times those small breaks will boost your creativity and help your business in the long run.

Try not to let regular household tasks distract you.  Set aside time on your daily calendar to do small things, like throwing in a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher.  Use those as scheduled breaks.

Working at home is a huge privilege, and can have added benefits.  But it isn’t for everyone. If you are unable to stay focused and on task, you might want to reevaluate if it is the right thing for you and your company goals.

Side Hustles and the IRS

Nearly one third of Americans are now earning extra money on the side.  But when working as an independent, do you know that you are responsible for paying taxes?

If you don’t receive a W-2 from an employer, you must self-report any additional income to the IRS. 

Tax

Failure to report earned income from any source is tax fraud. If you don’t report income on your jobs, and you are audited, you could incur a penalty equal to 0.5 percent of your unpaid taxes PLUS the back taxes and interest. In addition, you could be assessed a penalty equal to 20% of the underpayment if it is determined that you purposely underreported your income and tax liability. 

Make sure to keep receipts for any expenses you might incur from your jobs. You may be able to minimize your tax bill by taking advantage of tax deductions.