Times are tough. But you’ve got an ever-mounting pile of bills to pay that your full-time gig no longer covers. And unfortunately, your full-time work schedule is all over the place. Maybe you’re a new parent. Or maybe you’re:
A public relations specialist for a firm under intense media scrutiny;
A product manager for a business with a buzzworthy new product but minimal production and distribution capacity;
I’m assuming you are an excellent writer already who regularly refines their skills. That assumption made, know your worth. Hopefully, you’ve already done that and don’t need the money because you accepted a job with no opportunity for advancement. In your full-time gig, don’t work for less than what it takes for you to cover your expenses without payday loans. Really, don’t work for less than it takes to cover your expenses without being able to save a little each paycheck. Because…
Life happens. You had a daughter, or a D.U.I., or a demotion. Perhaps your father had a life-changing injury and times are tighter than they were when you made less, but life was less complicated. In any event, you’ve stretched that paycheck as far as it can go, your resume is floating around out there and you don’t care who knows it, and you’re staving off your financial stress by burying yourself in random articles about making money online. Before you pull out your debit card and spend your last hundred bucks on a membership that promises to teach you the fundamentals of getting rich quick, here are a few of the kinds of opportunities you can find online to make money:
Content mills: These sites don’t pay well – as low as $0.01 per word (or less). Often you’re ghostwriting for others, or engaging in practices like keyword stuffing that can pose deep challenges for you as a writer to create content that does not sound stilted or forced. There’s very little upside, though in my experience, it’s easier to get hired by one, then find most other types of freelance gigs. I’ve also never worked for one that is not deadline-driven, which makes them a less-than-ideal option. Further, the low-pay is often indicative of the value with which they have for writing – and those that produce it. Don’t expect a positive working relationship.
Revenue-sharing sites: These can be helpful, especially if you like to write about a variety of topics, you have a well-developed presence on several social media sites, and the rent is not due tomorrow. Unless you are a celebrity, it will likely take time for your articles to draw the kind of traffic you need to make gas money from advertisements and /or affiliate sales.
Your own blog: Not only does setting up your blog and experimenting with a variety of monetization methods take time, generating sufficient traffic takes time (again, unless you are already a celebrity or have a strong social media following). There are a lot of ways to monetize a blog, and depending on your niche, content, and choice of methods, blogging could be a viable option. It should be noted that for both readership and SEO purposes, it’s best to regularly update your content. If your schedule does not allow you a fixed amount of time every couple of days to work on your content, make sure to create a number of different blog posts when you have large chunks of time available, and schedule them to go live at regular intervals. Again, this is not the kind of money making opportunity to pursue if the rent is due tomorrow.
Guest blogging: This is a better option if you need cold hard cash that you can depend on. There are a number of websites that contain regularly updated writing specs for would-be guest bloggers. And most of your favorite blogs address how to pitch a feature article somewhere on their site. High quality posts can pay well on high-quality blogs, though you may will likely need to spend some time upfront pitching several blogs before landing a couple of good gigs.
Transcription services: Despite the advances in digital transcription software, there is still a need for humans to transcribe audio and video. There are a number of transcription firms that, upon acceptance of your application (which usually includes a transcription test), many firms offer a selection of files for you to transcribe at your leisure. Though the pay is less than many a writing gig, the work is usually consistent and can be completed just as easily at 3:00am as during standard business hours.
Freelance writing/PR/marketing consulting: Take your natural skill set and turn it into part-time income. There are websites like Elancer that can get you gigs without you having to worry about setting up an LLC. And if you’re adept at networking you may be able to find a few paid gigs in the course of your normal duties – reaching out to a small business owner in a different industry you met at a networking party for example. (Make sure to separate any moonlighting from your full-time working hours, full-time employer’s equipment, or full-time employer’s client target market though).If your schedule is quite irregular however, make sure you take gigs when you are reasonably sure you will have time to complete them. The last thing you want to deal with after the time and effort you spent landing a well-paying client is dealing with drop deadlines. Keep in mind the time you may have to put in landing the gig, which can make a moonlighting schedule past the witching hour tricky. If you can’t commit to working before 10:00pm, look for opportunities in different time zones. Many freelance sites have projects from firms in different countries. A bit of research can also reveal more opportunities.
After spending nearly a decade and a half doing communications work, I now work in government relations. However, I still dabble in communications work, as an active freelancer. I'm also a husband and proud father of two boys.