“In the old days, we launched one satellite that had lots of sensors on it. But today, we’ve launched hundreds of satellites that have the same one sensor, and that’s a much cheaper, repeatable way to do it with more consistent data,” says Robin Sampson, head of operations at NanoAvionics UK.
Despite the improvement in the job market in the second half of 2020, there’s little doubt the situation remains uncertain as we move into 2021. While certain sectors of the economy are clearly improving, others are stagnating and some have seen an increase in layoffs.
If you’re in one of those occupations that’s hit on hard times since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, or even if you aren’t, starting a side hustle may be your best long-term strategy for dealing with that uncertainty.
A side hustle can both provide additional cash flow for those who have experienced a decline in income, as well as act as a valuable backup plan if the future of your job is in doubt.
With that in mind, let’s look at the nine best side hustles for 2021.
1. Tutoring – A Real Niche with Pandemic School Shutdowns
Ever since the pandemic hit, education has been in a state of flux. School-age children have been in school, attending school online from home, or combining both. In many cases, they’re even alternating back and forth between the two, depending on the level of COVID activity in the local school district.
The arrangement puts a greater burden on both teachers and parents. Teachers don’t have the capacity to provide as much one-on-one support for students, and parents may find themselves attempting to fill the gap with subject matter they know little about.
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That’s created fertile ground for tutors. If you excel in a specific subject area, like writing, math, or science, you may be a valuable asset to a student who’s having difficulty keeping up with the rotating school situation.
“Tutors can set their own rates and schedules, so how much they earn is in their control,” reports Steven Cox, CEO at TakeLessons. “Just one example: After relocating four years ago, one woman had trouble finding a job. She began teaching violin, viola and cello as a side hustle, but after six months she was earning more than $8,000 and has been an online tutor ever since.”
An obvious limitation is face-to-face contact during the pandemic. But with the rise of apps like Zoom, it’s no longer necessary for a tutor to be physically present with a student.
According to Tutors.com, online tutors typically earn between $25 and $50 an hour. Much will depend on your geographic location (though that will matter less if you’re tutoring online), and the particular subject matter you specialize in. You can generally expect to earn a higher rate in more technical subjects, like math and science.
You can find students to tutor by registering your services with schools in your area. Once you get several students to tutor, it’s likely demand for your services will increase through word-of-mouth.
This can be an especially lucrative opportunity for retired and former school teachers.
2. Manage Facebook Ads for Small Businesses
Love it or hate it, Facebook has become the social media site where the world congregates. There are more than 3 billion active users worldwide – a statistic that isn’t lost on businesses. Any medium that draws and a large number of people is going to be a natural target for advertising.
Big companies are well aware of the value of advertising on Facebook. But there are hundreds of thousands of small businesses that can also benefit, but they are either unaware Facebook ads are a thing, or they don’t know how to make it work.
If you’re a frequent user of Facebook, you already have a built-in advantage. You’re comfortable with the site, and you know your way around it.
When it comes to Facebook ads, I’m not just pitching a concept I’m unfamiliar with. I’ve had success using Facebook ads to sell various products. And I know of people who are making serious money with this side hustle. I go into deeper detail on this in my YouTube video on Facebook ads.
There are plenty of other videos available on YouTube that will help you learn the ropes of Facebook advertising. But you can start by checking out the Facebook for Business webpage.
Once you become comfortable with how the process works, you can begin marketing your Facebook Ads service to small businesses. Those could include businesses in your geographic area, but you can also reach out to those on the web.
It should go without saying that any small business that has a Facebook page will be a natural candidate for your services. Though they have the page up and running, they may not be familiar with how to promote it and advertise directly to Facebook users.
3. Become an Online Freelance Writer
Have you seen all the content that’s out there on the web? Someone wrote every word of it. In fact, many people contribute content to the World Wide Web. And a surprising number of them are being paid to do it.
Though some of the larger websites do employ full-time staff writers, the majority of web content is written by freelancers who offer their services to multiple clients.
You don’t have to have a journalism degree or previous writing experience either (though both can help). But if your writing skills are above average, and you have one or more areas of expertise, you may be able to write content for websites in that niche.
As a blogger, I’ve done some freelance writing myself, so I know this is a legitimate side hustle. Though the fees started low when I began, I eventually found I could earn several hundred dollars per article, and even over $1,000.
One freelance writer I’m familiar with, Holly Johnson, has been providing freelance writing services for several years. It’s become a full-time occupation for her, fetching her over $200,000 per year.
Freelance writing doesn’t have to become your primary occupation. In fact, it can work perfectly as a side hustle that you can do in your spare time. Holly can even help you become a successful freelance writer.
4. Become a Freelancer in the Career of Your Choice
I just covered freelance writing on the Internet, but you can apply the freelance strategy to just about any occupation.
Think about the skills you’re proficient in – they can be what you currently do for a living, or as hobbies. As a general rule, it’s possible to make money freelancing with any skill you have that you’re better at than most people.
That’s a big misconception with freelancing, that you need to be an expert. Nothing could be further from the truth. You just need to be proficient, and willing to apply yourself. And of course, you can always work to improve your skills as you go along.
You need to think of any service you want to provide on a freelance basis as a business, and apply yourself, just as you would for a job.
“The key to successful, sustainable self-employment is to drill down to your career experience and detect a core strength that you can convert to a proficiency,” advises Joanne Clever, President of Wilson-Taylor Associates, and author of The Career Lattice. “Then, build that proficiency into a platform that will win and keep clients or customers. The key is to use the hot trends to fuel demand for your core strengths, not to pile up skills that are hot today but that will cool tomorrow.”
Finding your freelance niche
Take an inventory of all your skills. Think of those you use in your primary occupation, but also list any that you use off the job. That can include skills related to computers, marketing, building websites, budgeting, meal preparation, and even personal fitness. You may even be able to develop new skills based on your passions.
Whatever skill or skills you decide to pursue as a freelancer, think about how you can use it to help prospective customers and clients. Once you come up with a concrete plan, begin marketing your services. It only takes one client, then a second and a third, and from there referrals will keep the cash coming in.
5. Create an Online Course
Because of the Internet, the world is awash in information. But what people really need is instruction. They may be looking to learn specific job skills, better money management, healthier eating, personal fitness, how to set up a new computer, or how to perform basic maintenance on their cars.
Those are niches increasingly being filled by online courses. With their busy schedules, people don’t have time to take a college course to learn everything they need to know in life. That’s why many are willing to pay for an online course that will help them to learn at home, in their own time, and at their own pace.
“I believe that creating an online course is a great side hustle opportunity in 2021,” advises Derek Tharp, President of Conscious Capital, Inc., an owner of the website Retirement Prof. “Think about what you know well. You don’t need to be the world’s foremost expert on a topic to create a valuable course. Just think about what you know better than 95% of people and you can likely create something on that topic that will be useful to others. Then think about how you can efficiently teach people something that they can put to use to improve their life.”
You can market your program on social media, but you should also look into affiliate marketing. That’s where you market your program through websites that are related to your course content. Instead of paying advertising fees, you’ll pay the website or blog a percentage of the price paid for each course that’s downloaded from that site.
You can make thousands of dollars each month with affiliate marketing of an online course. And that will be possible without much effort from you, once the affiliate program is up and running on multiple websites.
6. Become a Social Media Manager
While it’s probably true most people think of social media as something of a communications toy, it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses.
Small businesses can use social media to gain greater market exposure, and increased sales. But it’s also become an important communications channel. A customer may need information on how a product or service works, or to resolve a problem.
If you’re fluid with Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media platforms, you may be able to provide valuable services to small businesses. Those could include marketing, handling customer contact and complaints, promoting the business’s website, or improving the social media pages of the business.
You can start by taking on two or three small business clients, then increasing your clientele as your skill level grows. Compensation may be on an hourly basis, or a monthly fee, or whatever is agreeable between you and the client.
If you’re successful in helping small businesses generate new sales through social media, you can bet your services will be in demand.
7. Provide Local Services
One of the obstacles that prevents more people from starting profitable side hustles is coming up with an idea. Many would-be side-hustlers get hung up trying to come up with the next new, big idea. But that’s totally unnecessary.
A side hustle can be nothing more than providing services in your local community. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated either.
“Think of “unsexy” local services, like pressure washing, pet waste removal, gutter cleaning, and mobile car detailing,” recommends Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation. “More and more homeowners are outsourcing these types of tasks, which means new service providers don’t necessarily have to go and conquer market share from existing companies. For example, one mobile detailer reported that for most of his customers, it was their first time getting a car detailed.”
Once again, think about any skills you have that you use in your work or your personal life. If it’s something you like to do, something you’re good at, you can sell your services to people in your own community.
8. Voice Acting
You probably didn’t see this one coming, but voice acting is actually a thing. In fact, it goes to show the potential options there are for site hustles. There’s practically no effort, skill, ability, or talent that can’t be converted into an income-generating side hustle.
What does voice acting involve?
“For anyone who has been told their whole life that they have a great voice and should be on radio, consider the exciting world of voice acting,” suggests David Ciccarelli, Founder and CEO of Voices.com. “More than just talking, voice acting requires the ability to connect with an audience and bring a script to life, the technical capability to record, edit and export high quality audio and the business know-how to reply to jobs, negotiate gigs and follow-up for future work.”
He indicates an income potential rang from $100 to $10,000 per job, depending on if the work will air on broadcast television or for non-broadcast uses such as phone system recordings or internal corporate training videos.
Ciccarelli adds: “Annually, most talent earns about $40,000, however those who dedicate the time and effort to making a full-time career out of voice acting can consistently earn more than $100,000.”
If you think you have a voice for voice acting, this may be the side hustle you’ve been waiting for. And like other side hustles on this list, the potential is real to convert it to a primary occupation where you can earn six figures.
Copywriting is a bit difficult to define precisely. But it’s basically a writer who creates content for the Internet. It’s something like being a freelance online writer, but it’s more specific. For example, you can specialize in creating advertising, technical, or medical copy for the Internet.
And while the content may be designed to inform the reader, it commonly contains a call to action – or convincing the reader to take the next step.
Given those specializations, it’s hardly surprising it’s potentially lucrative.
“A solid second stream of income can be produced, all while flexing your creative muscles in a business setting,” is how Copy Accelerator Co-founder, Stefan Georgi, describes it. “You can make anywhere between $60 to $1,000 per hour as a part-time copywriter, depending on the piece you are working on.”
What kind of qualifications do you need to be a successful copywriter?
“The best part about the copywriting side hustle is you don’t need any formal education,” Georgi adds. “In fact, some of the most sought after and highest-paid copywriters in the world never took a writing class in their life and clear six figures a year. I myself never received a formal education in the copywriting field and have made millions doing it.”
Whether you’re looking to increase your income, add stability in an uncertain job market, or even begin building your next full-time occupation, give serious consideration to starting a side hustle.
Sure, it will be a challenge when you get started. But once you find your first few clients, you’ll begin to realize the potential a good side hustle has. The most important step is to get started, and once you do, don’t look back. New careers and thriving businesses have been built from what started out as side hustles.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put millions of Americans out of work and many small retailers and restaurants out of business. At the same time, it has been a hotbed of innovation and new business creation. U.S. business formations rose by nearly 42% in 2020, according to U.S. Census data. There’s opportunity aplenty for small businesses selling things people are still buying under pandemic restrictions, from food and home entertainment to office supplies — as well as products and services needed by companies operating remotely.
As many Americans have discovered, you don’t have to quit your day job to start a business. Now is the perfect time to start a side hustle — a business you can run outside of the hours you work your full-time job. With many workers commuting less, it’s easier than it has been in years to create a side income.
Starting a side business is one of the smartest financial moves you can make right now. With the economy shaky, no one can have too much income diversity. Even people in seemingly secure public sector jobs have been hit with furloughs and layoffs since Covid-19 struck. That’s one reason 56% of Americans said they’d be more secure working for themselves than in a traditional job in 2020, up from 32% in 2011, according to the State of Independence Report by MBO Partners, a provider of back-office services to independent workers. For the groups hit hardest by job loss during the pandemic — women, people of color and older workers — depending on a job as your sole source of income is downright risky right now.
Even if you aren’t worried about job loss, a side hustle can be a great source of extra income to pay down debt, save money and invest. It can also have tax advantages. If you make purchases for the business, you may be eligible for tax deductions. Not to mention a side business can be the best way to get a taste of a future career you might want to ramp up later.
Josephine Flood | CNBC
Which side-hustle you should launch?
There are many options: doing freelance projects in your main career, building an ecommerce store around one of your outside interests, public speaking, providing personal service like home organizing, making birthday cakes for people in your community, you name it. Type side hustle into any search engine and you’ll find many lists of options.
As with any business, taking stock of your skills, talents and capabilities—including those you use in your life outside of work—can point you in the right direction. You’ll be more motivated to run a side business if it’s something that you’re good at, you enjoy and there are enough customers to make it worth your time.
One question that can help you come up with ideas: What are you the go-to person for at work? In your personal life? If other people consistently turn to you for help with something, whether it’s promoting events, doing their hair and makeup, helping them learn new technology or baking gluten-free desserts, that’s valuable information when looking for a side hustle. It shows there’s demand in the marketplace.
It’s also important to consider how much time and money you’re willing to put into a side hustle. If you’ll be doing freelance work in your field, it may not take much time to ramp up, but if you’re venturing into a brand new field, or one that requires a credential, like personal fitness training, it will take longer to get going. Businesses that require inventory will cost more to start than those that don’t. Checking out industry-specific market research reports can help you get a sense of the requirements.
Once you find an option you like — whether it’s freelance blogging, selling hand-knit hats or helping people declutter their garage — do a trial run. If you’re selling a professional service, put up a profile freelance marketplaces such as Upwork, Freelance or Fiverr. For a personal service, like SAT tutoring, posting in an ad in community Facebook groups that allow it can be a good way to spread the word.
For those starting a product-based business, like an ecommerce store, try producing or ordering a small amount of inventory, (there are many ecommerce-oriented websites that can show you the ropes,) and putting up a small store on a site such as Amazon, Etsy or eBay. Some new ecommerce entrepreneurs will create a horse race between several products to see which one sells, discount the losers and reinvest in the most popular. Another option is a drop-ship model, where you advertise your products on social media or your own website and take orders and send them to a manufacturer who takes a cut in price and sends them out, paying you a portion of each sale. The advantage of this model is it doesn’t require substantial start-up costs.
Once you’ve done a test run, you’ll know very quickly what it’s like to run the side hustle and if you want to continue with it. Even if you didn’t pick the right business out of the starting gate, consider what you’ve learned an investment in your own education as an entrepreneur; one that you will never get by simply reading about it or watching YouTube videos.
How much will a side gig cost you?
Every side hustle has different start-up costs. The best way to get a sense of what they are is to speak with people running similar types of businesses. Reach out to them in LinkedIn communities, listen to podcasts focused on starting a business in a particular niche (you can find them through ListenNotes), or attend free online events in the industry where you can network and ask questions.
If your side hustle involves freelancing in your existing field, your costs probably won’t be very steep. To get started, you’ll generally need a computer and phone separate from the one you use for your job; any industry-specific software required; and accounting software such as FreshBooks, QuickBooks or Xero to keep track of your income and expenses, so you have the records you need to file your taxes properly.
If you plan to serve big companies, you may also need to put up a simple website to make it through their compliance tests. They will ask you to prove that you are independently employed and are marketing yourself, so they don’t run afoul of worker classification laws. There are many platforms where you can put up a simple website for free, such as WordPress, Wix and Weebly. To put up a website, you’ll also need to register a URL with GoDaddy or one of its competitors.
If you’re running a product-based business, your start-up costs will also include a website and likely online ads on Google, Facebook or other sites. If you don’t choose a drop ship model, you’ll also have to factor in inventory and shipping costs. To determine what they are, it is important to talk with people running businesses in that niche.
Josephine Flood | CNBC
Getting a side hustle started
Before you actually start your business, it’s important to determine whether you are allowed to run a side hustle under your employment agreement. Many employers don’t have any rules against running a side business as long as you pursue it on your own time and use your own equipment.
To be on the safe side, review that thick sheaf of papers you signed when the company onboarded you. Some companies may restrict you from doing side projects for their clients or for competing companies. If you’ve lost the paperwork, see if your company has an internal website where these agreements are posted or discretely ask HR for a copy “for your records.”
Figure out when and where you will run your side-hustle
You can make a lot of progress on a side hustle in just a few weeks, but it’s important to block out time for it in your calendar, so you make real progress. Schedule at least one hour a week — or more if you’re in a hurry to get started — when you’re not accountable for doing something else, so it really happens. Mark your calendar with a specific task you will work on at that time, such as “register web domain” or “research accounting software.”
Creating a master list of tasks you need to tackle to get started will help you make the most of your time. Plus, you’ll have a tremendous sense of satisfaction as you check each one off and get closer to your launch.
How to develop a budget and financial plan
For many side hustles, you won’t have to buy everything you need to launch at once, but it is useful to come up with a start-up budget so you can plan ahead for what you need to buy. For help in figuring out what your start-up costs will be, check out the U.S. Small Business Administration’s video, “Estimating start-up costs.” Here again, talk with entrepreneurs who are doing what you want to do for the most accurate picture. They’ll be aware of things that you might not read about, like fluctuating advertising costs.
Take a less-is-more approach and delay major business purchases as long as possible, in case you discover you don’t really enjoy your side hustle and would like to “pivot” into something else. It’s tempting to buy a tricked out new computer or outfit your home office with brand new furniture but conserving your startup cash is the best way to keep your options open as you grow the business.
Take these costs into account for your preliminary side hustle budget:
- Office equipment
- Technology such as a computer or mobile phone
- Materials you need to buy
- Preliminary marketing expenses (such as the cost of website-building software, registering your URL and online ads, if you are buying any)
- Costs associated with registering for online freelance platforms or marketplaces you might use to find customers
- Accounting software
Josephine Flood | CNBC
Don’t forget tax planning
If you’re not careful, all that side hustle money could cause some serious trouble once tax season rolls around. All it takes is one big job or a few new clients to jack up your tax bill in a major way.
Three ways your side gig could mess up your taxes:
- Depending on how hard you’ve hustled in the last year, you could see your tax bill increase by hundreds (or maybe thousands) of dollars.
- If your side hustle is successful enough, you might have to pay estimated taxes throughout the year —and the IRS will whack you with a penalty if you don’t pay those on time.
- And what if the IRS decides they want proof that you actually spent $1,000 in cooking supplies as a business expense? Do you have the receipts or bank statements to prove that’s what you actually spent?
This is a lot to think about, but you have to be prepared. Here are some ways you can keep your side hustle from messing up your taxes:
Set aside self-employment taxes
Take a look at the last paycheck from your “day job.” You’ll see that your employer holds back some of your salary to pay for income taxes before the money ever hits your bank account—that’s called federal income tax withholding.No matter how much or how little you make, open up a separate business savings account and stash 20–35% of all your side hustle money for taxes. That way, you’ll have enough money to pay for the income taxes and the self-employment taxes you owe on that income. Do that, and you won’t get caught off guard by a massive tax bill once tax season rolls around.
Find out if you need to pay estimated taxes
Our tax system is a “pay-as-you-go” system. That means the IRS wants folks to pay their taxes throughout the year, not just in one lump sum. That’s why you might have to pay estimated taxes (or quarterly taxes), which are paid on a quarterly basis throughout the year, on the money you make from your side hustle.
If your side gig only brings in a few hundred bucks each year, you can relax. You probably don’t need to worry about estimated taxes. Just keep track of what you’re earning and file your tax return in the spring like you normally would and then pay whatever you owe in taxes on that extra money.
Generally, you’ll pay estimated taxes if you expect to owe more than $1,000 in taxes when you file your tax return. That’s after subtracting your federal income tax withholding from the total tax you expect to owe this year.
Open a separate checking account for your side hustle
Open a checking account dedicated solely to expenses related to your side hustle. It’ll make it so much easier for you to find business expenses and add up how much you spent on your side gig throughout the year. Just like any other small business, you can write off some of your side hustle expenses from your taxable income.
Create a simple record-keeping system
For one thing, having all your receipts from side hustle-related expenses in one easily accessible place will help you figure out how much you can claim in business-related deductions. And second, if the Uncle Sam ever comes knocking and asks you to verify those expenses, you have the paper trail to prove it.
Important information to keep for record-keeping:
- Bank statements
- Business records
- Tax forms
- Car mileage and car expenses
Get help from a tax professional
Running a side hustle will make your taxes a bit more complicated than you’re probably used to. And trying to get a handle on tax implications can be a little overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to work with a CPA, or reliable tax advisor you can turn to for advice and tax guidance.
Be sure to check their credentials and track record. The IRS suggests looking at its Directory of Federal Tax Return Preparers with Credentials and Select Qualifications. It can help you find preparers in your area who currently hold professional credentials recognized by the IRS, or who hold an Annual Filing Season Program Record of Completion. You can also check the professional organizations many tax preparers belong to.
Getting set up
You don’t necessarily need to form a business entity when you first open your doors, unless you are entering a field with a lot of potential liability. Many entrepreneurs try running their business for a few months first before they take that step. If you are doing business as a sole proprietor, filing “Doing Business As” paperwork with the office of your state secretary of state or treasurer may be helpful; some banks require one for you to open a business bank account. Fees tend to be nominal and are generally $50 or less.
Forming a business entity such as an LLC or corporation has the advantage of bringing you liability protection and establishing that your business finances are separate from your personal finances. The IRS publishes a guide to the various options.
Once you’re sure you want to continue running your business, speak with an accountant who specializes in small business to find out which type of entity is right for you and will be most advantageous from a tax perspective. Some entrepreneurs choose to have an attorney or accountant file the paperwork to help them establish an entity in their state. Others use their state’s website or a third-party site such as LegalZoom or Rocket Lawyer. Costs vary by the state. If you take the DIY route, you may have to spend several hundred dollars on this. If you get professional advice and help, it may cost a couple of thousand dollars.
The next step is to open a business bank account. Many banks will require that you obtain a federal tax ID first. You can do this for free through the IRS website. Fees for business bank accounts vary considerably, so it is important to shop around, particularly if you are running a side business that may not bring in a large amount of revenue at first.
Establishing a business checking account will enable you to keep your business expenses separate from your personal ones and help you start to build business credit. You may also want to apply for a business credit card, so you can keep all of your expenses in one place and simplify your bookkeeping. Business credit cards often have rewards programs tied to the types of purchases small businesses make, which you can use to pay for other purchases in the business. Some small business owners find it is helpful to open free accounts on payments sites such as Venmo or PayPal to allow for quick electronic payments from customers who prefer paying this way. You can transfer money that comes in through these sites directly to your business bank account.
If you need to accept debit and credit cards, providers such as Clover, PayPal and Square can enable you to do this using their card readers on your mobile phone or tablet. Major invoicing software providers such as FreshBooks and QuickBooks allow you to select an option on their invoices to let customers pay you by credit card or ACH. If your business starts to do a high volume of credit card transactions, you’ll want to find a merchant account provider to set you up with a plan that minimizes the processing fees.
While you’re getting the financial part of your business set up, you may also want to work on your branding. Some companies invest a few hundred dollars or more in creating a logo but it isn’t mandatory for every type of business. Putting up social media pages for your brand on sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can help you spread the word about what you’re doing.
If you need help with certain tasks, like designing your website, consider hiring another freelancer. You can find designers and copywriters using sites such as 99Designs, Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr or by searching LinkedIn.
Josephine Flood | CNBC
Winning your first customers
Most business owners remember exactly how they get their first customer because it’s exciting to close that first sale. Fortunately, there are many ways to sell, even if you’re an introvert who hates cold calling.
The easiest way to win customers, if you’re freelancing in your own industry, is networking. Simply telling close contacts you are starting a business and asking for their advice may help you get leads or even projects to tackle. People who know you and respect your work may be happy to refer you.
If you’re selling a product, advertising on social media, attending a (virtual) trade show or creating a YouTube channel may help. For some entrepreneurs, creating an e-newsletter is a good way to stay top of mind. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s important to evaluate the cost of acquiring each customer and to fine-tune your marketing to keep the business profitable.
Evaluate the cost per acquiring each customer and fine-tune your marketing to keep the business profitable. Know your numbers, as Shark Tank judge Kevin O’Leary has put it. “You can’t manage a business without numbers,” he says.
One of the best ways to lower the cost of acquisition: Sell more of whatever you’re marketing to existing customers. People who love your product or service will often be eager to buy more, without a lot of advertising. Selling your product or service by subscription is a good way to capture more of their business. If you sell a service, consider offering a retainer to customers who use it frequently. Ask them to pay you in advance, for better cash flow. Just be mindful of how much bandwidth you have to manage steady customers and still keep your job.
Keep your business thriving
Even a part-time business needs TLC. If you decide you want to run your side hustle on an ongoing basis, you’ll need a good team of advisors. You’ll need a bookkeeper, to make sure you are always on top of the numbers, know if you’re turning a profit and have your financial statements in good order. You will also need an accountant and if you’re negotiating contracts, an attorney. Look for professionals who work with small business owners regularly and are familiar with the issues facing smaller firms.
Makes sure you work with your CPA to stay on top of tax deadlines, so you don’t get hit with a big tax bill unexpectedly. One common mistake for first-time business owners accustomed to having taxes taken out of each paycheck is to forget to pay quarterly taxes and find themselves in a world of pain when they find they owe taxes in April.
If you started a side business to save more for retirement and are starting to see money coming in, sitting down with a financial planner can help you identify retirement accounts or investments where you can sock away some of the money for the future. If you bring in enough money from your side hustle to move to a higher tax bracket, you may have to pay more taxes. It may be more advantageous to put the money in a tax-deferred retirement account than to use it as extra money.
Running a side hustle takes some work, but it’s a great way to give yourself options. It’s not easy in many companies to get a raise right now. The beauty of starting a side hustle is you never have to wait for your boss to give you one.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.
January 15, 2021
Online staffing platform Freelancer.com reported the number of jobs on its platform rose 17% in 2020 to 2.1 million jobs compared to 2019 with 1.8 million, with the increase coming amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The Sydney-based company reported the job category with the fastest growth in demand was for those with skills in Flutter.
CEO Matt Barrie said the freelance online job market continues to flourish despite the global challenges.
“Towards the very end of Q1 2020 was the start of a deluge of demand and in Q2 to Q4 2020, the number of users that joined our platform, including freelancers and employers looking for freelancers, surged enormously,” Barrie said.
Covid-19 fueled increased growth in freelancing, but Barrie said growth was also spurred by individuals with a strong desire to start their own freelance enterprises.
“These are promising times and positive signs for the gig economy,” Barrie said.
Looking at the fastest-growing jobs for 2020, Freelancer.com noted eight of the 10 fastest-growing were in app development and website development.
Top of the list was Flutter, an open-source user interface software development kit released by Google. Developers use Flutter to develop applications for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, Google Fuchsia and the web from a single codebase.
Other coding languages in demand included Firebase, Wix, RESTful API and Typescript
Freelancer.com listed the fastest-increasing jobs on its platform for the full-year 2020 compared to 2019:
|Name|| Job Count
| Job Count
|% Increase / Decrease|
|2||Google Firebase||1,908||5,365||181.18 %|
|4||Data Analysis||1,619||3,500||116.18 %|
|5||RESTful API||1,579||3,362||112.92 %|
|7||Full Stack Development||1,957||3,889||98.72 %|
|9||iOS Development||5,075||9,484||86.88 %|
|11||Aws Lambda||1,000||1,798||79.80 %|
|13||Web API||1,350||2,354||74.37 %|
|17||React Native||6,824||11,560||69.40 %|
|19||360-degree video||1,047||1,747||66.86 %|
|20||Computer Science||2,248||3,729||65.88 %|
|25||Chemical Engineering||2,184||3,530||61.63 %|
Jobs for skilled freelancers are booming. And it doesn’t matter whether your skill is in marketing, tech, law, logistics or accounting. Companies are turning to gig platforms to find skilled freelancers to fill a wide array of openings.
The pandemic is partly responsible for the change. With COVID-19 leading to widespread telecommuting, acceptance of untraditional working arrangements has gone from rare to de rigueur. That has broken down barriers that discouraged companies from hiring off-site experts, says Joseph Fuller, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School.
At the same time, the uncertain economy makes companies reluctant to hire full-time employees. Instead, they’re enlisting part-time and temporary consultants, bringing in expertise on an as-needed basis.
“When companies are under duress, they innovate,” says Fuller, who recently co-wrote research on the market for skilled freelancers. “They often take that learning and make it part of their permanent approach.”
Online platforms such as Upwork, Toptal, Braintrust and Catalant are a key to the trend, Fuller says. These gig platforms screen freelancers, sussing out specialties and publishing ratings from their former employers. That creates the equivalent of an online talent supermarket — a big benefit to companies in need of experts, he says.
Using freelancers rather than hiring new employees also saves companies time and money, he notes. It enables them to experiment with new people and processes without making costly long-term commitments.
However, these job platforms are a mixed bag for the freelancers themselves. Some provide invaluable matchmaking services. But others charge far too much for questionable benefits.
Reviewing more than a dozen online job platforms for skilled freelancers, SideHusl.com found that more than a third of the platforms provided substandard to barely average options. In many cases, the only outstanding thing about the fair-to-middling bunch was the wide array of fees they imposed on their freelance workforce.
Still, many of the skilled job platforms provided better-than-average opportunities, allowing freelancers to set their own rates and collect 100% of what they charge. The better platforms generally charge clients a fee for the introduction instead of digging a commission out of the freelancer’s wages. And they have a stable of high-quality clients that expect to pay premium prices for skilled work.
As is true in many areas of the freelance economy, some of the best places to find skilled work specialize in a limited range of positions.
Creatives: Working Not Working connects “creatives” — such as writers, editors, producers, photographers and illustrators — with big companies that need talent. The site’s fees are paid by the companies that do the hiring, not by the creatives listed on the platform. And the site’s client list is a who’s who of innovative Fortune 500 firms.
Technology: One of the most hotly competitive markets for freelance talent is in the tech sector, where experts in everything from software development to user experience command six-figure wages. Not surprisingly, some talent networks specialize in connecting these tech experts with clients. Braintrust and Toptal, for example, list only technology specialists.
Tech specialists are also highly sought-after at dozens of other sites that have a broader mandate. Many freelancers on Upwork, for instance, complain that much of the site’s work is poorly paid, but those with specialized technology skills say they can find plenty of well-paid assignments there. That said, Upwork gets its fees from freelancers rather than from the employers.
Insurance, HR and accounting: WAHVE enlists pre-retirees in the insurance, human resources and accounting fields to work with small businesses that need temporary or part-time help. Workers here give up benefits and, sometimes, higher salaries in order to gain the freedom of a flexible work schedule. Worker reviews of the site are overwhelmingly positive.
All skills: Far more sites have a broad mandate, allowing a wide array of skilled professionals to list their availability and rates. Among the better sites in this category: Catalant, Gerson Lehrman Group, Maven, Zintro, FlexProfessionals and FreeUp.
What makes these platforms better than their competitors? Two things.
One is fee structures that charge clients, rather than freelancers, for the connection.
The other is that these freelance marketplaces have rules that prevent bidding wars between freelancers — wars that can drive pay rates into the basement.
Instead, they usually allow freelancers to set their own rates and focus narrowly on niches where they can command premium prices. The better sites play matchmaker, allowing only people with pertinent skills to vie for plum positions.
SideHusl is less enthusiastic about Upwork, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour and Guru. These sites exact high fees from workers, create environments that encourage clients to post low-wage jobs, encourage underbidding for work by pitting freelancers against one another, or all of the above. Although it’s possible to bump into decent projects on these sites, the odds are not in the freelancer’s favor.
Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent site that reviews hundreds of money-making opportunities in the gig economy.
One of my favorite things about being a career coach is that I get an inside look at many industries through my work with diverse clients. Let me tell you… that was certainly an interesting vantage point to be looking out from this past year. More than any year in recent memory, 2020 brought profound changes across all industries.
One of the most significant changes I observed and discussed with clients was the boom in freelance work. The so-called “gig economy” has been growing steadily for years. The economic challenges in 2020 and the rise of remote work contributed to even more growth in the number of U.S. workers taking on freelance work.
In 2020, 2 million workers joined the freelance economy, raising the percentage of American workers engaged in freelancing full time by 8% to a total of 36%. The freelance sector has grown to generate $1.2 trillion in income annually.
Younger generations of workers are also more likely to participate in the freelance economy, with 50% of Gen-Z and 44% of Millennials working freelance. With more new college grads entering the job market, we will only see even more freelancers.
Another driving factor in the growth of the freelance economy is that many workers feel that freelancing offers better flexibility. This has become especially relevant with the increasing uncertainty of living life with Covid-19.
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For many, freelance work seemed a better fit for these uncertain times, with 67% of freelancers reporting that their job flexibility made them more prepared to deal with the lifestyle changes that came with Covid-19. Freelancing affords the opportunity to set your own schedule, allowing workers to have better boundaries in their work lives. Of freelancers surveyed by FlexJobs, 89% stated that they chose to join the gig economy because it offered better work-life balance.
All this has created a much richer freelance landscape and many new roles for freelancers. For those looking to pivot to working freelance, or freelancers looking to expand their portfolio, here are 7 industries that are growing quickly into 2021.
1. Accounting, finance, and bookkeeping
With all the financial challenges that 2020 brought across many industries, everyone could use a good accountant. According to a FlexJobs report on the freelance economy, accounting and finance is one of the hottest freelance jobs for 2021.
Plus, the accounting sector is expected to see 6% growth over the next 10 years. The demand for remote freelance jobs doesn’t extend just to CPAs, but offers many options for professionals with skills in finance, bookkeeping, tax filing, banking and auditing.
Many major corporations are currently hiring freelance accountants. But one of the strengths of this field is that companies across all sectors, ranging from corporations to small businesses, need the various services provided by a qualified financial professional.
So whether you are a CPA who is looking to strike out on your own, or someone who has been doing tax filing for your side hustle, you can expect the market to be rich for freelance accountants and financial professionals.
2. Customer service
While it’s sometimes overlooked, customer service is a crucial part of many sectors — even now, with so many people working (and shopping) from home, consumers still find issues with their purchases, services and appliances.U.S. companies lose a staggering $1.7 trillion in revenue annually due to bad customer service. Customer service also has a huge impact on brand loyalty. After just one single bad customer service experience, 48% of consumers reported switching to another brand!
The Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t lessened the need for good customer service, and if anything, it’s made it even more important. Many companies have directed more attention to their customer service departments this year. A report found that on average, companies were dealing with over 100% more customer service calls that were rated as “difficult.”
While customer service jobs were traditionally full-time positions within a dedicated department, increasingly companies are looking to freelancers to fill customer service needs. FlexJobs has seen a sharp increase in the past several months in demand for freelance customer service jobs.
3. Digital marketing
Marketing consulting is another strong space for freelancers in 2021. It is also one of the most lucrative spaces within the freelance economy, with marketing strategists earning up to $100,000. Many companies look outside of their full-time staff for their digital marketing needs, with 22% of social media activity managed by outside talent.
Covid-19 brought a major uptick in e-commerce, with online transactions seeing a 40% rise. With so much more shopping happening online, businesses are facing more competition than ever. Savvy marketing will be vital as companies jockey for eyeballs in the digital marketplace.
Marketing is a broad umbrella, and the good news for freelancers is that there are many ways to specialize your skillset to cater to the needs of businesses in 2021.
Some highly sought-after skills in the online marketing space include Search Engine Optimization, data analytics, branding or brand development and web design. 2021 is a great time to learn a new skill or specialize if you’re hoping to compete in the digital marketing freelance sector.
It should be a surprise to no one that the demand for therapists is on the rise. After such a difficult year, more and more people are realizing the value of a quality therapist.
The pandemic has been especially hard on relationships, with 34% of couples reporting that Covid-19 led to some greater conflict in their relationship. The strain of working from home also contributed to relationship struggles, with 22.95% of couples reporting that working from home had a negative impact on their relationship, and of those couples, 6.67% said that the strain of working from home caused a breakup.
The increased mental health strain and relationship difficulties resulting from Covid-19 will likely contribute to growth in many opportunities for therapists and counselors who specialize in mental and behavioral health. The need for marriage and family therapists is projected to grow by 22.3% in 2021, and the demand for behavioral and mental health counselors is expected to grow by 24.7%.
While many therapists work through medical centers and clinics, many choose to operate freelance or with a private practice. The growth of online therapy models like BetterHelp has also created more opportunities for therapists looking for freelance and contract opportunities.
Most therapy or counselor roles would require substantial training and in some cases, a higher degree. This definitely isn’t for those who are looking to freelance as a side hustle, but it’s a great direction for those looking to make a career change into a fulfilling and meaningful field with great prospects for freelance work in the future.
5. HR and Recruiting
As remote work has increasingly become the norm in many of our work lives, the options for remote and freelance HR and recruiting work have greatly increased. As of 2019, there were already 43,000 HR consulting companies, which generated revenue to the tune of $25 billion.
Companies are increasingly turning to outside human-resource professionals and recruiters. Freelancers in this field provide the benefit of an outside perspective, as well as flexibility to work on a project or temporary basis.
Many companies turn to freelance recruiters who are specialized in their expertise and focus on helping clients find talent to match specific needs. Insiders at platforms for freelancers such as Fiverr and Expert360 are seeing steady growth in the number of HR experts doing freelance, as well as the demand for HR and recruitment-oriented contract work.
6. Computers and IT
After the 2008 financial crisis, the computer and IT sector saw a major boom, as many industries adjusted and upgraded to get back on pace. Many experts expect there could be another major shake-up to the IT sector as we begin to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn.
While we have not yet seen the major surge in IT jobs that some expected in response to Covid-19, according to FlexJobs data it is still a sector that is seeing some of the highest numbers of freelance job listings.
Cybersecurity jobs will be in especially high demand, as cybercrime has risen by 600% since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. As malware and ransomware attacks and network security breaches become more frequent and sophisticated, the demand for cybersecurity jobs will increase as well.
7. Real Estate
Despite many of the financial challenges of Covid-19, certain sectors of the real estate market saw growth. Lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and high Covid infection rates in major cities had many setting their sites on single-family homes in rural and suburban areas. As of September 2020, sales of existing homes hit a 14-year high, with median prices also rising.
Experts have optimistic predictions for the housing market in 2021. This is certain to drive the demand for realtors, real estate investors and other real estate professionals.
The increase in remote work is also set to be a driving force in the real estate market. As more workers are able to work remotely, they won’t have to contend with long commutes, which allows them to explore home ownership outside major cities. Over 2 million American renters who would not be able to afford to buy in their current market would be able to purchase a starter home in another part of the country.
Whether you’re a long-time freelancer, or you are hoping to finally ditch the nine-to-five in favor of something more flexible, you would be doing yourself a major favor if you focused your energy in one of these growing industries. Happy hunting!
This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.
Though the economy has shed millions of jobs during the pandemic, the one silver lining is that freelancing is on the rise. Recent data shows that 36% of workers report freelancing full-time in 2020, up 8% (or 2 million people) over 2019. And, the income of freelancers has also increased to a total of $1.2 trillion in 2020 (a 22% increase from 2019).
Whether freelancing becomes part of the new normal of work remains to be seen. However, if you’re on the hunt for a new freelance role, FlexJobs can help.
FlexJobs is a subscription service for job seekers that features flexible and remote jobs. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the monthly subscription costs allow us to fully vet and verify all of the jobs on our site — ensuring that customers have a safe and positive job searching experience.
We’ve identified the top career categories with the most freelance job listings in our database between March 1, 2020, and October 31, 2020.
Following are the hottest categories for freelance jobs in 2021.
1. Computer & IT
Computer and IT jobs can include everything from computer repair to designing internet security systems. Jobs in this field include programming and design roles, along with quality assurance and technical support roles.
2. Accounting & Finance
Careers in accounting and finance involve processing financial data, organizing records, and preparing tax returns. These professionals also help clients with accounting records, accounts payable, and accounts receivable.
Administrative assistants oversee in-person and virtual offices, process and prepare communications, manage projects, support executives, and assist clients. They may work in the financial, marketing, social media, or business fields.
4. Project Management
Project managers coordinate all aspects of a project to ensure it’s completed on time and on budget. They may develop the budgets and schedules for the project, schedule and coordinate all project-relevant meetings, and help all workers hit their project milestones.
5. Customer Service
Customer service representatives provide information or technical support to customers so they can get answers and solve their problems. Customer service representatives often communicate with clients through a variety of mediums, including phone, email, and chat programs.
6. Health Care
Health and medical careers can include anything from providing medical care to insurance billing to scheduling appointments. As the population expands and people enjoy longer and healthier lives, this growing field needs professionals to provide direct and indirect services to patients.
7. Writing & Editing
In the writing and editing fields, employees may develop original content, update older content, and proofread and make changes to content before publication. Writers and editors may work for online or print publications in a variety of industries.
8. Education & Training
Educators and trainers help people learn and master new concepts. Using classroom or virtual presentations, instructors help people understand the material. Educators and trainers plan, develop, and assign lessons as well as evaluate student knowledge through testing and other means.
Careers in marketing are found in almost every industry. Marketing professionals help clients and customers identify their needs, then match those needs to the products and services the marketer sells.
10. HR & Recruiting
In the human resources and recruiting fields, recruiters help match people with the right job at the right company. They may actively seek out candidates for open roles or review resumes to match applicants for open positions at a company.
Bookkeepers work in a variety of industries, helping businesses keep track of their finances. They help maintain the general ledger by recording all transactions and may produce financial statements and reports to guide financial decision making.
Therapists work in both the mental health and physical health fields to help clients treat their conditions. They provide treatment plans and rehabilitation to clients using a variety of approaches and techniques.
13. Graphic Design
Graphic designers create visual products for their clients. These products help communicate the overall brand message using visual elements to create an emotional connection between the products and the consumer.
14. Data Entry
Workers in the data entry profession help ensure the smooth and efficient processing of large amounts of data. They may enter numbers, names, or other information into large spreadsheets or data processing programs.
15. Mortgage & Real Estate
Mortgage and real estate professionals help people buy, sell, or rent properties. They guide consumers through the entire real estate and mortgage process, advising them on the best choices for the transaction.
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