Although the U.S. economy has supposedly been in recovery for years, you wouldn’t know by the millions of people who are seeking employment. There’s a good chance that you’ve found yourself suddenly unemployed with nowhere to turn for cashflow. You may need to think outside the box to keep money coming in.
If you have a financial cushion to draw from while you get your entrepreneurial venture up and running! But if you’re like most people, you’ll need some of the suggestions listed below to help you start making money tomorrow.
1. Get Hustling On Craigslist and Etsy
This one isn’t easy, and only those who work at it do well, but it becoming a successful seller on Craigslist or eBay is possible. Do people love getting your crochet or knit projects as gifts? Do you have an amazing comic book collection? Perhaps you have an eye for priceless antiques disguised as flea market junk. If you have reliable access to tangible items that people are willing to buy, you have the foundation for a work-from-home business that has the potential to generate a full-time income. The advantage of using platforms like eBay, Etsy, or Craigslist is that you have little or no upfront costs. By sticking to selling items that you’re knowledgeable about, you spare yourself from having to deal with a learning curve that requires valuable time that you may not have.
2. Freelance Writers Make Bank
While you may need considerable lead time to generate some of the best-paying gigs (think business-to-business or top-tier magazine assignments), you do NOT have to resign yourself to writing for pennies-per-word content mills to start making money right away as a freelance writer. Instead, seek out your local or regional newspaper, chamber of commerce, or reputable online content providers for potential clients.
Other sources for leads include blogs like Fiverr, ProBlogger and Freelance Switch, and a subscription to WritersMarket.com is a worthwhile investment. You’ll need at least a few published writing samples (online samples are excellent) and you must be willing to promote pitches to editors and other potential clients.
While earning a full-time income by writing is possible, be on the lookout for these work at home job scams.
3. Personal / Virtual Assistant
Establishing yourself as a professional virtual assistant requires a fair amount of lead time. Still, you can get started right away by offering your services for scheduling appointments and booking travel arrangements to your overworked friends or professional colleagues. Don’t have those kinds of friends? The same freelance websites (think Elance and oDesk) that can link you up with writing opportunities are teeming with virtual assistant jobs. You’ll likely only need an internet connection and a reliable phone line.
4. Computer/Tech Troubleshooting
If everyone always calls on you to rid their computers of viruses or coax sound out of silent stereo speakers, you may be able to sell your services for good money. While you may not want to charge Grandma for setting up her mobile phone, there’s nothing wrong with letting casual acquaintances know that you’re setting up shop as a paid troubleshooter. Advertising your services via online ads or social media can also help kick-start your client base.
5. Snow Plowing/Yardwork/Maintenance
In most areas of the country, the winter of 2013-2014 was one for the books. Along with bitter-cold temps and biting winds, there was snow, snow and more snow. Anyone offering the services of their snow plows or chain saws to clean up debris undoubtedly raked in significant cash. The Farmers Almanac predicts that the summer of 2014 will be similarly adventuresome, with sticky-hot conditions and precipitous precipitation. With a truck, toolbox, yard tools, and word-of-mouth, you should be swimming in work.
If You’re Collecting Unemployment Insurance
If you’re collecting unemployment insurance, you will also need to check out the regulations in your state on part-time work and self-employment before proceeding to avoid jeopardizing your benefits. Depending on where you live, you may be able to collect benefits while establishing yourself as a self-employed worker through the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP). If you qualify, you will be excused from the requirement to look for paid wage jobs while retaining your unemployment benefits.
While several of the above suggestions will allow you to begin earning money fairly quickly, none represent get-rich-quick schemes. You must be prepared to promote your services and of course, to perform the work for which you are being paid. Even with these caveats, you may discover that you are ideally suited for self-employment. After all, it is often cheaper to work from home and ditch the traditional job altogether.
If you need to look for a side job to tie you over during this difficult time, remember that we have a list of side hustles you can look into that offer flexibility on time.
Audrey Henderson is a Chicagoland-based writer and researcher. She holds advanced degrees in sociology and law from Northwestern University. Her writing specialties are sustainable development in the built environment, policy related to arts and popular culture, socially and ecologically responsible travel, civic tech and personal finance.