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You don't need a job to earn income. Regardless of age, profession or education, there are ways to make money without a job in the traditional sense if a 9-to-5 doesn't suit your needs. Some people want to make extra cash by working flexible side gigs or freelance work. Others may be able to capitalize on their profitable hobbies.
So whether you're a student, an entrepreneur or unemployed, we've got you covered with alternative ways to make money.
1. Participate in paid market research
Paid market research allows companies to pay participants to express their opinion on everyday items, services and brands covering such disparate topics as beauty products and political stances.
Market research includes taking surveys for money, participating in focus groups and taking part in medical research. Medical research usually entails being paid to give an opinion on medicine or medical treatments, or to help test medicine and treatments from basic research to clinical trials and studies. Make sure to understand what it can mean for your health if you decide to participate in medical research.
Every opportunity differs in the amount of pay you receive — some pay participants with a point system, an hourly rate or gift cards.
2. Become a virtual assistant
Do you have a knack for organizing? Individuals, groups and businesses often need administrative support. A virtual assistant helps businesses with day-to-day tasks like email management, bookkeeping and social media from a remote location.
Virtual assistant work can provide flexibility at a low startup cost to you. The average pay in 2021 for virtual assistants in the United States is about $19 per hour, according to Indeed.com in a midyear update.
3. Transcribe audio and video
Transcriptionists convert audio and video recordings into written documentation. If you are very detail-oriented, this may be a gig for you. There are usually typing tests and recommended typing speeds, but there is always room to increase your speed with consistent practice.
The average pay for a transcriptionist is about $17 per hour, according to Indeed.com.
4. Sell online
Many platforms exist where users can sell stuff online. The first step is deciding what to sell — is there a collection of vintage clothes in the back of your closet or old electronics and furniture that are no longer in use?
Want to get paid to watch over a house and do some light cleaning? Try your hand at housesitting. Residents often seek housekeepers to take care of their property while they are away and in return provide compensation and free accommodations. Housesitting can involve keeping a house clean and organized, taking care of pets, watering plants, and more.
Housesitting can allow you to create flexible hours, choose your own clients and set your own rates. Choose to housesit in your neighborhood or anywhere in the world, sometimes with free travel accommodations.
Check out websites like housesitter.com and nomador.com to get started — they will connect you with residents all over the world looking for housesitters. Though some websites require annual membership fees, the experience could be worth it. Nomador has a free membership and a paid membership for $99 per year. The paid membership grants users unlimited access to applications, housesitting listings and messaging.
6. Write online reviews
Many companies that sell a product or service take consumer feedback very seriously and use feedback to improve business operations. These companies will pay users for original and thoughtful reviews of products and services. Third-party survey and research websites that are equipped to handle consumer insights are commonly used to distribute surveys and reviews and pay the reviewers. These websites include InboxDollars and Survey Junkie. Certain companies, like Amazon, choose to use third-party websites and also conduct their own reviews directly through their website.
Some websites pay for reviews and surveys with cash or a check upfront. Other sites have users generate points per survey completed and redeem those points for cash, checks, gift cards and prizes.
7. Start a blog
If you've ever wanted to start a blog, there are countless ways to make money from it. Once you begin writing quality content, you can use advertising, affiliate marketing, courses, e-books and more to profit from your blog. It's likely you'll have to build your audience significantly before earning an income from blogging.
But it could all be worth it — as a blogger, you create your own schedule and content and choose whom you want to work with when your blog monetizes.
Check out how to make money blogging in more detail.
8. Game on Twitch
If you love playing video games, make money by playing video games on Twitch, the world's leading livestream platform. The video game industry has surged over the past few years, especially in 2020. The success and earnings that gamers accrue will vary. Still, there is a lot of money to be made in the billion-dollar industry.
Create an account and begin livestreaming — turn it into a full-time job or just use it to bring in extra income. Check out this article to learn how to make money on Twitch.
9. Sell photography
Taking well-crafted photos doesn't just have to be for social media. Turn your passion, hobby, or talent for photography into income by selling your images using stock photography websites and freelance marketplaces like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Upwork and Fiverr. You can also use your portfolio to gain clients without the use of third-party websites.
If you don't have access to a camera, consider using your phone and investing in editing software like Adobe Photoshop.
10. Pet sit
Many people are willing to pay top dollar to ensure that their pets are well cared for when they’re not around. To get started, sign up with a pet-sitting service, such as Rover or Fetch. Or, you can begin watching pets in your neighborhood and grow a business through referrals. The average income for a pet sitter is about $12 per hour, according to Indeed.com. Local gigs like this present quick ways to put cash in hand. By walking the dog, you could make money in one hour.
If you've got a skill, talent or interest, such as writing, graphic design or coding, you can be a freelancer. Companies and individuals hire freelancers to contract with them for a specific amount of time.
Freelancers can use Fiverr and Upwork, online marketplaces for freelance services, to advertise their work. Or create a personal website and market your services on social media, via email and word of mouth. The average hourly pay of a freelancer is about $21, according to Indeed.com.
Keep in mind that freelancer salaries can vary and fluctuate depending on industry, clientele, schedule, economic market and more.
12. Create a podcast
Starting a podcast can be a fun way of making money, seeing as it's a billion-dollar industry. Podcasts have approximately 80 million listeners, with listenership increasing 17% since 2020, according to Edison Research.
As you start your program and build an audience, learn how to make money from a podcast.
13. Become a rideshare driver
Ridesharing has become a form of travel and income for many around the globe. If you have the time in your schedule and love interacting with people, consider signing up through a rideshare company.
Read more on how to become an Uber or Lyft driver. Also, research smaller rideshare companies like Via. The pay for rideshare drivers differs by location. To compare rideshare drivers’ salaries by area, visit Indeed.com.
Similarly, you can make money delivering food as an Uber Eats or DoorDash driver.
If you're knowledgeable on a specific subject, tutoring can be a great way to make money without a traditional job.
You can explore the different approaches and learn how to start a tutoring business. Options include through a franchise or a school, or teaching in your home. According to Indeed, the average salary for a tutor is about $25 per hour in the U.S.
15. Rent out items
Earn money with items you already own by renting them out to others. You can rent out clothes, cars, homes, spare bedrooms, furniture, instruments, storage, tech equipment and other items.
Suppose you decide to rent a specific item, like camera gear or your home. In that case, particular sites cater to one type of rental. A rental platform like KitSplit would be great for those renting out camera gear, while Vrbo could be best for someone renting their home. If you have multiple items for rent, use a general website like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
Looking for more money?
You may need more help if your current income isn't covering basic expenses, like utilities. Learn about ways to save on a tight budget, including getting support and negotiating with service providers.