Wondering how to earn money from home during the pandemic? Today we hear from Frugalwoods readers who are making it happen: from a circus act owner to a veterinarian, you all are working it from home. Join me to find out how.
Earlier this week, I discussed strategies for saving more money in (almost) every category of your budget. Today, I want to tackle the other end of the equation: earning more money. As we navigate this strange new world of life in a pandemic, a record number of people in the United States have filed for unemployment and still more are at risk of being laid off. Day 2 of the Uber Frugal Week series addresses the benefits available in light of the coronavirus; please go there to see a full list of relief and forbearance programs.
Since most of us are sheltered in place and under orders not to leave our homes, folks are getting creative with how to earn money from home. I turn to the best resource there is–the readers of Frugalwoods–for ideas on how to boost your income during these unprecedented times.
Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions.
How Frugalwoods Readers Earn Money From Home (Pandemic Edition)
Jana shared, “My husband and I have our own circus show (Circus Stella). Since all our events have cancelled, we’re stuck hanging out on our trapeze in the backyard alone. Like many other performers and gig workers, we’ve started a patreon page offering exclusive behind-the-scenes content. We’re talking rehearsals, dog training, vintage footage, and even workouts. It hasn’t generated a ton of money, but it’s been wonderful at giving me a purpose. Making the bonus videos is a fun challenge, and our little page grows bit by bit.
This would be good for anyone who offers entertaining content. I’ve seen musicians, writers, poets, and lots of other variety performers like us adopting this platform when digital shows are still possible even as live ones are not. Here’s our page: www.patreon.com/circusstella“
Liz shared, “I teach for VIPKid, teaching English as a second language to kids in China. The hours are early morning or late at night, but you can work from home and make your own schedule. You just need an undergraduate degree to apply.”
Natalie wrote, “I had a home yoga studio business before so now I’m teaching on ZOOM at www.yogawithnatalie.net”
Aimee is tutoring online and reports, “I teach singing, piano, musicianship, and music theory (have also offered to tutor Spanish but no-one’s taken me up on that so far). Generally there are a lot of bored people (and children) at home who have internet access.”
Making/Finding Stuff at Home; Selling it Online
Julie said, “Several years ago, I set up an Etsy business selling craft patterns (plastic canvas specifically). It’s a cool way to be creative and make a decent amount of money for your efforts because you only need to put the work in once but you continue to make money forever. Usually making crafts doesn’t pay very well because no one wants to pay you what it’s actually worth (if it took you 10 hours to make a scarf, I figure that scarf should be worth $100, but more likely people want to only pay $10). But with patterns, you make it once and you can sell it hundreds of times. I haven’t seen a dip in demand so far!”
Brittany wrote, “We forge metal (kitchen, bushcraft, etc.) knives, coat hooks and more!”
Christine said, “I make jewelry out of recycled materials and sell them at gift and consignment shops. One shop has a huge online presence and is doing well but all the others are closed down. I am keeping that one shop well stocked.”
Stephanie wrote, “I work for a school so I am paid to work from home. But I also just moved in because Goodwill and Salvation Army are closed I was unable to take my donations in so I have been selling them on marketplace through Facebook.”
Tabitha said, “I sell on Amazon, and a little on eBay. Been doing this since Sept of last year, but have been rolling profits back in. However, I have been able to pull some money out here and there of we’ve needed it. Not self sustaining yet, but supplemental.
Oh, and now has been the perfect time to unload clothing and toys my son has grown out of on FB Marketplace.”
KH said, “I sew. I’ve donated almost 750 masks free to hospital staff, homeless outreach programs, and friends but am selling Crown Royal masks made from Crown Royal bags on eBay to cover the costs of the donated masks. Anything remaining will eventually be rolled into the household.”
Lisa wrote, “Last year I started a cloth pad group and that’s been doing fairly well. I also have been making cloth masks. I sell to those who ask, and am donating some.”
Online User Testing and Surveys
Tanya wrote, “I am doing user testing online. Mostly via UserTesting.com, but also a few other sites such as validately.com. It’s not big money, but a small side hustle to do when I have free time and I’m not home schooling / parenting!!”
Melinda reported, “I am making money💰(microscopically) online using Swagbucks. I have an old falling apart iPhone and I use the imoney app there. I registered to do mturk for Amazon.”
Sarah shared, “I registered and work on occasion for UserTesting.com. It’s a legit online opportunity to earn an extra $10+ bucks for about a 20-30 min session testing someones website. It’s actually been a great experience since I work on websites for my full time job – UserTesting.com helps me understand the kinds of things other companies are looking at with their websites. I made about $100 last year doing this about 1X per month (It’s more of a hobby for me). That included a $30 session where I did an interview with a company about their website. It was a great experience. You could easily make $10+/day if you were doing it regularly. It isn’t intended to replace a full-time job but is nice extra cash if you need it. Also, you get paid real money through Paypal instead of in gift cards like other sites. You do have to report the income on your taxes. I tried Swagbucks and a few other sites before this but found they were too spammy and didn’t justify the level of effort. UserTesting.com is worth the effort.”
Leverage Your Professional Expertise
Karla shared, “I am a nurse, so I am fortunately still working. Over the past year, I’ve also signed up for Medscape nurse surveys online. Some are funded by academic institutions and some are funded by pharmaceutical or medical device companies. I get a few surveys per month—you answer a few questions to see if you’re the target type of nurse or work with their type of product. If you aren’t, you’re entered into a survey for an amazon gift card. If you complete the survey, it’s an amazon gift card ranging from $10-$50, depending on how long the survey is.”
L earns money as an editor working through, “UpWork. The upside is that your payments/contracts are protected through UpWork, but the downside is that they take 20% of the payment for your first $500 with a client, which is a lot, but then it switches to 10% (and I just set my fees 10% higher than I normally would). It’s also easy to establish a steady client and then move off of the platform (avoiding fees altogether).”
Nicole said, “My spay/neuter clinics are temporarily closed. I’ve returned to my pre-vet school job of German to English medical translations. Best place to get started is with the American Translators Association (ATA). They offer certification exams. Although certification is not required for taking on translation work, it is a qualification sought by many translation agencies. I believe one can get listed in the ATA translation directory even without certification. I typically get assignments from translation agencies that I’ve been working with for many years (decades!), but the work flow has slowed down over the past couple weeks. I recently did a Google search of medical translation agencies and applied to a few through their online vendor applications. One responded with interest and asked me to complete a translation test.
For any interested linguists, I’d suggest doing the same in whatever specialty area your greatest knowledge lies – legal, patents, IT, etc. I do get several inquiries through my profile on proz.com, but they tend to be very low rates and I haven’t accepted a single one. By contrast, a new client just called this morning and we’ve just set up our first project together. Where did she find me? ATA!”
!!!Beware the MLMs and Pyramid Schemes!!!
I want to close with a reminder from Jessica who said, “Please be careful of multilevel marketing schemes, especially in these tough times. You should never have to pay money to sell a company’s product.” Beware the MLMs, people! More on MLMs in this John Oliver clip and in the excellent podcast, The Dream (season 1). The US Federal Trade Commission also offers this helpful explanation. There are legitimate ways to earn money from home, but please be wary of multilevel marketing schemes. Any company that requires you to buy their products in order to sell them is scamming you. Don’t do it.
The best way to make money online is by doing what you’d do offline. This is why I earn money as a writer! I’m not very good at a lot of other things, so I capitalize on the best skill I have: writing. Examine your unique skills and consider how you could translate them into an online business.
Today we heard from a number of folks doing just that, including:
- A nurse who makes money through online medical surveys
- A veterinarian/linguist who gets paid to translate medical documents from German to English
- A circus performer who offers online circus and workout classes
- A yoga teacher teaching yoga online
- Seamstresses sewing masks and selling patterns
- Teachers offering tutoring and lessons online
Whatever your skills are, they’re probably going to be the best way for you to earn money. It isn’t easy to get started and you probably won’t make as much money as you did at your “regular” in-person job, but you might be able to make enough to get through this pandemic recession.
How do you earn money from home? What advice can you add to this list?
The Uber Frugal Week Pandemic series returns with Day 4 next week! If you’d like to get an email letting you know when it’s published, sign-up for my email list in the box below: