Here Are 11 Side Gigs You Can Do While Social Distancing
The rapid changes we’re experiencing worldwide to slow the spread of the new coronavirus may, to put it lightly, be tough on your wallet.
Whether your work hours have been reduced, you’ve been laid off from a full-time job, or you need a break from gigs that don’t allow social distancing like ride share or grocery delivery, finding a new source of income without leaving home might be daunting.
You can always find work-from-home jobs though our portal. But maybe you just need something to get by for now until this all blows over.
Side gigs are a great way to bolster your bank account, and you can find a ton of online gigs that never require you to leave the house.
Side Gigs You Can Do While Social Distancing
Here are some completely-at-home gigs for a variety of skill levels and interests to make money while you’re self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Find Freelance Creative Work
As businesses cut costs in anticipation of a recession, many are outsourcing work to freelancers. If you’ve wanted to break into freelancing, the increased demand makes this a good time to do it.
Here are some common creative tasks companies hire freelancers for:
- Writing, editing and proofreading
- Photo editing
- Graphic design
- Web design and development
- Coding and software development
- Digital marketing and social media
Search these freelance job sites to find gig work:
- CopyPress is a good, low-paid place to start if you’re new to freelancing in copywriting, design and development.
- Fiverr moved beyond quirky $5 services long ago, and is a legitimate freelance marketplace to list your services.
- Freelancer lets you browse online gigs in writing, editing, design, development and more.
- Gigster is an on-demand software development site that hires freelance designers, developers and product managers to supplement its in-house team.
- Guru lets you bid on gigs based on a wide range of expertise — think, translation to editing to graphic design to ghostwriting.
2. Be a Virtual Assistant
Don’t have creative experience? You could instead find freelance work as a virtual assistant. These tend to be entry-level jobs offering support for businesses or individuals in things like:
- Data entry
- Event coordination
- Social media and writing
- Website or blog production
- Client communications
Lots of online business owners employ freelance, part-time virtual assistants. It can be a great way to get your foot in the door with a new business, see the inner workings of a startup or just earn extra cash when you need it.
Look for people or companies hiring virtual assistants via these gig sites:
For very short-term work, you might even be able to contact companies going remote for the first time and offer some assistance. If you’re comfortable with remote-work technology, like messaging apps and video conferencing tools, pitch a training or offer yourself as a consultant to help teams adjust.
3. Teach English Online
Online English teachers for non-native speakers are in high demand around the world, and requirements to get started are relatively simple.
You’ll teach English to pupils around the world, most often elementary-age kids in China, through companies that facilitate scheduling, video conferencing, lesson planning and payment. Like any tutoring gig, you decide what happens in each session.
You’ll set your own schedule, but some companies require a minimum number of teaching hours per week (usually less than 10), and working with China-based students means you have to be available on U.S. time in early-morning or late-evening hours.
These companies offer online classes where you’ll tutor individuals or groups of kids in English:
- Boxfish: Earn $10 per 25-minute class with one to four students. Pre-schedule or offer on-demand classes with individual students as you’re available.
- Cambly: Earn 17 cents per minute to teach children and adults around the world. No degree or onboarding process required.
- Italki: Set your hourly rate between $4 and $80, and work as many or as few hours as you want.
- QKids: Earn $16 to $22 per hour with a minimum commitment of 12 half-hour lessons per week for six months.
- Rosetta Stone: Work part-time eight to 15 hours per week, and earn benefits including holiday pay and a 401(k) plan.
- Landi English: Earn $16 to $23 per hour to teach Chinese students ages 5 to 10.
- VIPKid: Earn $14 to $22 per hour teaching Chinese grade-schoolers with one of the most well-known companies in the space.
Requirements for each company vary — read our full list of companies that hire online English teachers for details — but generally you can expect to need:
- English fluency (Some, but not all, require native speakers.)
- Interest in working with young children or teenagers
- A tablet, smartphone or computer with a web camera
- High-speed internet that can facilitate video conferencing
- Props for young learners, such as a whiteboard, puppets, posters and musical instruments
Some companies require you to have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, and some only hire residents of the United States or Canada.
With most companies, you’ll fill out an online application, schedule a video interview and possibly teach a practice session before you’re onboarded as a teacher. Cambly and Italki let you simply create a profile and schedule sessions, so you could make money faster with those.
4. Teach Music, Art, Cooking or Anything You Love
As people pick up forgotten hobbies, lessons will likely be in demand during self-isolation. If you’ve got skills, make money teaching.
You can teach live lessons over Skype in just about any subject. Get some lessons on the calendar quickly by promoting the service to your friends and community on social media.
To grow the business in the long term, start a blog on your subject to attract new customers. Or put your class on a site that can connect you with students looking for your skill, such as:
- TakeLessons: Create a free profile to list your skill and let students find you to book live online lessons in things like teaching music, art, language, acting or dance.
- Udemy: Create an on-demand online course hosted through this site to get in front of thousands of people learning new skills.
- YouTube: Produce tutorial videos anyone can watch for free, and earn money on YouTube through advertising revenue.
5. Tutor Kids Online
With statewide stay-at-home orders sending kids home from school and employees home from work, many parents are tackling makeshift home-schooling for the first time. Offer to keep their kids occupied and up to speed with schoolwork for the next few weeks (or months).
For short-term work, reach out to parents in your community or from your child’s school to see if anyone would be interested in the service.
If you want to get more serious about the gig, check out these sites to find online tutoring jobs with kids all over the country or world:
6. Join Video Game Tournaments
Playing video games in all your stay-at-home free time? Online video game tournaments could help you earn money for the skills you’ve honed — as long as it’s allowed in your state.
Professional gamers can win tens of thousands of dollars per tournament and make a living playing video games. For everyday gamers, tons of tournament websites give you the opportunity to win between $1 and $10,000 per match. Check out these sites:
- GamerSaloon: Compete for prizes between $9 and $10,000 in games including Apex Legends, Call of Duty, FIFA, Fortnite, NBA, NFL and UFC.
- MLG GameBattles: Some tournaments pay out in non-cash prizes, like achievements. Cash tournaments pay out well, though, between $100 and $400. Trending games include Apex Legends, Call of Duty, Fortnite and Gears of War.
- Players’ Lounge: Challenge other players, and make a wager between $2.50 and $500 in games including Apex Legends, Fortnite, Madden and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
- World Gaming: Cash prizes in weekly tournaments for games including Apex Legends, FIFA, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Madden and Super Smash Bros range from $100 to $200.
- XY Gaming: Join tournaments in games including Dota 2, League of Legends and Smite to win virtual coins or cash prizes.
Most sites offer both free-to-enter and pay-to-enter tournaments. Paying to enter could be worth your money for a big payout, but keep an eye on your spending to keep this potential money-maker from turning into an expensive new hobby.
7. Work for a Political or Advocacy Campaign
In case anyone’s forgotten in the midst of pandemic news, the U.S. has a national election coming in the fall!
Virtual campaigning and phone banking has grown in popularity in recent election cycles, anyway, but social isolation will make it more important this year than ever. Put your political, social media, marketing or organizing skills to work for a campaign or advocacy group.
Search for political jobs through any job site, such as Indeed, and check out these niche campaign job boards:
- Political Job Hunt: This nonpartisan job board by the creator of the Political Wire blog lists jobs in politics and government.
- Work For Progress: Find jobs with progressive organizations in The Public Interest Network working on issues including environment and health.
- RNC jobs: Work for the Republican National Committee.
- DNC jobs: Work for the Democratic National Committee.
- HillZoo.com: Browse listings for Congressional jobs and internships, plus tons of “off-the-hill” political jobs.
- Idealist: This site lists jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities with progressive nonprofit organizations.
8. Perform Online
Anyone who makes a living performing — like a musician or comedian — is taking a hit as shows are cancelled to keep people at home. But if you’ve got a fan base, you could move your shows online and collect money directly from viewers.
Here are some ideas:
- Let fans subscribe through Patreon to receive periodic updates from you, such as recorded videos or live virtual performances.
- Stream your performance through Instagram Live, and ask for donations through Venmo or PayPal.
- Post videos on YouTube and collect advertising revenue.
9. Help With Bookkeeping, Accounting or Tax Prep
Learning to be a bookkeeper or earning a financial certification to pick up gig work could take some time. But if you already know how to do the work — especially if you have some experience — you can perform any of these jobs online.
You can find virtual bookkeeping or accounting jobs on the same job boards that list their in-person counterparts. Just add “virtual” or “remote” to narrow your search. And don’t be afraid to ask whether remote work is an option, even if it’s not mentioned in the listing.
10. Get Paid for Online Research
Companies and individuals tell Wonder what they’re working on — a marketing campaign, business plan or research paper, for example — and Wonder assigns questions to its community of researchers. That’d be you!
Common questions researchers answer are related to business or marketing, such as:
- Determining the size of a market for an industry or product.
- Explaining a trend.
- Competitor analysis.
You’ll accept an assignment, gather information and write an easy-to-digest report. Researchers are paid per project. Wonder says top researchers can earn $15 to $25 per hour, but a former Wonder researcher told The Penny Hoarder you should expect closer to $13.
11. Be a Transcriptionist
Transcription involves listening to audio or video files and typing what you hear. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
You have to have pristine attention to detail and be a pretty adept typist. The work can become repetitive, because you may have to listen to parts of the audio several times to make sure you get the words right. Most companies require a typing test, and some require a grammar quiz or a sample transcription before you can join their roster.
But it’s a flexible gig you can do from home with nothing but a computer, internet connection and probably a good pair of headphones. Many online transcription companies let you claim work as you want, so you can work as much or little as you want.
Here are a few companies that hire inexperienced transcriptionists to help you get your start:
You could also strike out on your own and offer transcription services directly to earn more money. Transcribe Anywhere offers courses to teach you transcription and how to start a freelance transcription business.
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media.