Looking for a side hustle that you can do between your day job and Zoom school sessions? Look no further.

By Christopher Luu
February 16, 2021
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The idea of working from home got a major makeover in 2020—and it looks like the changes are here to stay. Before the Great Shift, remote work conjured up images of, say, multi-level marketing schemes, data entry, call centers, and customer service. However, the coronavirus pandemic and its stay-at-home orders proved that just about everyone, from CEOs to creatives, can do their job from their couches and dining room tables. But what if you're looking to bring in a little extra income—in addition to that ever-present day job, Zoom schooling, and couch-CEOing? There are some surprisingly lucrative side hustles you may not have thought of.

An image of a mom working from home with her child.
Credit: Getty Images.

Plus, a University of British Columbia Study showed that WFH moms with flexible job hours make more money than those who stick to a traditional 9-to-5. So why not try on these unusual and unexpected work-from-home gigs? You could find the perfect thing to add an extra income stream—or even to grow into your family's main source of financial support. Who knows? The pandemic silver lining may be your burgeoning career as crafter, mortgage officer, stock photographer, and more.

Dog Watcher

Animal-loving families can offer dog-sitting services to neighbors and friends—and it won't even feel like a job. If busy pet owners feel like they're neglecting their furry pals, offer to walk them, set up doggy play dates, or even grooming services if you're open to getting a little messy. Have your new customers drop their dogs off at the front door, and you can even minimize face-to-face interaction and potential exposure to COVID-19. Plus, if you have kids at home who are willing to play with the dog, this can be fun for the entire family—your own dog included.

Crafting

If you already knit, embroider, or personalize home goods with vinyl stickers, take the next step and try selling those projects or taking custom commissions. After all, crocheting a beanie (or five) is something you can do while on a conference call, or those evenings you spend binging Netflix shows. And speaking of, thanks to the streaming giant's hit Bridgerton, people are obsessed with hand-embroidered pieces. If you've got such a skill already, you can also put together and sell at-home DIY kits, film some instructional videos, and show the entire internet that making scarves and hats is fun and functional all at once. 

Answer Questions

Do you have a very specific area of expertise? We're talking anything, from Golden Girls trivia to houseplant know-how and an encyclopedic knowledge of healing crystals. Cash in on your random knowledge; the team at JustAnswer is looking for people to answer questions from home. Over 10,000 questions are submitted to the site each day, so the company is always looking to add to its stable of pros—especially if you know about, say, appraisals, appliance repair, and exotic animals. Top earners can bring in $2,000 per month, all while simply answering questions. It's the perfect thing to do when you've got a few minutes of downtime between the chaos of kids, pets, and those needy houseplants of your own.

Rent Out Your Parking Spot (Really!)

Services like JustPark and Neighbor let anyone with an unused parking space sublet it. It's all done on an app (perfect for busy parents) and if you've got a free spot just hanging out, it can be the easiest source of passive income possible. There are more than 45,000 people in the U.K. alone on JustPark, and the service is flexible. You can set when your spot is available (you know, if your kids ever need to reserve it for impromptu street hockey sessions) and name your own price. You can also consider adopting ridesharing services' surge pricing for peak cashflow.

Mortgage-loan Officer

So this one does require real estate experience, but anyone already in the industry can add this to their résumé. To get started, you'll need a bachelor's degree or an equivalent amount of work in residential mortgage sales—in addition to a documented mortgage-loan volume of $12 million in the last year. Yes, that sounds like a lot, but if you already work in real estate (or did pre-COVID), you can pivot to become a mortgage loan officer and help homebuyers get approved for loans, a major part of looking for a new house. Note that this gig requires a lot of networking and outreach, so get your Zoom background prepped.

Web Designer

Are you a coder or developer looking for a side hustle? If you're familiar with with Javascript, HTML5, and the like, you can reach out to fledgling startups and other techy pals to get jobs in information architecture, visual standards, and interaction patterns—all fancy talk for development. Things like UI testing can be done from home and the only equipment you need is a laptop (and a smartphone, in the case of apps)—and the knowledge that tech startups tend to demand nimble attitudes and a can-do enthusiasm. Anyone looking for a shift from monotony should try out web development for a dynamic workday, whether you're working on small assignments here and there or putting in solid shifts after put-to-bed on weeknights.

Translator

If you're a native speaker of another language—or have logged enough time on DuoLingo to flex your foreign language skills, you can find accessible side work translating for various companies. After all, translators have worked at home for a long time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. The biggest employers for translators may surprise you: technical services; state, local, and private educational services; and hospitals. These companies usually look for workers on UpWork or LinkedIn. The flexibility of translation work is great if you're looking to do things after traditional work hours or take overnight assignments.

Test Reader

If the thought of standardized tests frightens you, step away. But if you're not having flashbacks of no. 2 pencils and graphing calculators, being a reader (also known as an evaluator or online test scorers) can bring in $10-12 an hour and has a flexible schedule. ACT and Measurement Inc. are always accepting applications for anyone who wants to evaluate and score student essays. Maybe consider it test prep for your own kids, too. Who better to guide test takers than someone who knows the inner workings of the system?

Voiceovers

Karaoke die-hards and shower singers can harness their passion for song and vocal acrobatics into being a voiceover actor. It's not just animated features, either. Companies are looking for people to read audiobooks, narrate commercials for radio and TV or online platforms like Spotify and YouTube, and act in corporate videos (like those HR-mandated training clips). You'll need audio equipment, the maybe-prohibitive caveat of some quiet time away from Daniel Tiger episodes, and have those vocal cords ready at all times, of course. Backstage has tips and tricks for anyone looking to get started.

Sell Your Photos

Sure, all those snapshots of autumn leaves, sunsets, and fancy coffees earn you likes on Instagram. But did you know they can make you money, too? No, you don't have to become an influencer; according to Technavio, the stock photo industry made $4 billion in 2020, and that includes amateurs like you. Companies like Alamy and Adobe will buy photos from user submissions, and there's no limit to how many photos anyone can upload to the platforms (though it's safe to assume that your photos of the kids' DIY Bob Ross masterpieces and Montessori-approved toy piles might not be top sellers). $1 per photo is the standard price per snapshot, which seems low, but selling 100 per day can rake in $3,000 per month. That's enough for plenty of lattes, so if you manage to capture the light just right, those coffee snapshots can pay for themselves.