Side gigs have been around for some time now, even before the pandemic hit us globally. In fact, a 2019 survey showed nearly 45% of working Americans having side hustles to augment their main incomes. Those who work remotely seem to practice this even more, especially the ones who work online and do not need to report to a physical workplace.
Now, with COVID-19 threatening to disrupt the work environment as we know it, working remotely seems not only a practical option, but the best one by far. For starters, most (if not all) of the jobs mentioned in this post have already existed for some time – way before the pandemic hit. You can also trust them to be accessible and available, with solid systems in place for communication, task management, and online payment.
The Benefits of a Remote Side Hustle
Why consider a side hustle at all? Here are a couple of reasons why you should – apart from the financial benefits (and the ones already mentioned above), that is.
- Flexibility: It provides workers with a flexible schedule to take on side gigs while making sure they are sheltering in place and not exposing themselves to risks that the virus poses.
- Safety: It reduces the risk of contracting the virus and infecting loved ones with it.
- Savings: It minimizes spending on commuting, gasoline, and eating out.
- Skill-specific: Most side hustles do not require extensive training or experience, a degree, or references. You can apply for one that matches your skill set and schedule.
- Dependability: It’s safe to say that side hustles are here to stay. Should you need another stream of income, simply login to a job portal or marketplace and look for something that matches your skills, needs, and experience.
- Transience: These kinds of jobs are a “right-now” thing. You won’t have to invest years into a side hustle since it’s a temporary job. If you have big plans for your future, you won’t have to fear compromising it with a side gig.
Now that you know the pros of seeking a virtual side gig, are you ready to get one?
But First, Some Red Flags.
As with most things that have to do with employment, there are also risks when it comes to your personal safety and security. To avoid them, consider these points and ask yourself the following questions to detect certain red flags when applying for a side hustle:
- The job posting has been up since…forever.
This simply means nobody is taking the bait due to a number of reasons – some of them are mentioned below. It might be worth a shot to apply if you think the posting is reasonable and not at all suspicious. However, it’s still wise to practice caution when you come across a job posting that you’ve been seeing for months (or years) now.
You have seen the same job posting in short, intermittent periods.
The job might not be there consistently, but you see it posted on different platforms in a span of a few weeks or months. This could mean a quick employee turnover – meaning, something is up that isn’t making applicants stay long enough. When you encounter this phenomenon, do a bit of research about the company and read employee feedback about it to get an idea of what’s going on.
- The job description is vague and nonspecific.
Even though they’re temp jobs, side hustles still need proper and clear descriptions to attract the right kind of candidates (and for optimum performance). Avoid vague ads looking for “hard-working, honest, high school level, willing to work overtime” and other unclear requirements so you won’t fall prey to opportunists or scammers.
- There is a job title, but the expectations and requirements described do not match it.
Let’s say you’re applying for a copywriting position – a very specific job title. However, the list of expectations goes on to mention non-writing related things such as customer service, sales outreach, administrative jobs, and other tasks. This is known as scope creep, a phenomenon that happens when employers want to heap tasks on a single employee to forego the need for multiple salaries. Don’t fall for it.
- The job poster has no official business name, website, contact information, or social media presence.
The phrase “contact information withheld” or “company confidential” no longer inspires confidence among those seeking work. People want to know what they are getting into. It’s best practice for employers to lay out important information in their job ads, such as their company name, background, contact information, website, and social media pages (if any). This will show they are trustworthy and have nothing to hide. The absence of information like this, on the other hand, should make you go hmmm.
- There is a website or page, but it looks hurriedly or poorly made.
It might seem superficial, but a thoughtfully put-together website with complete information inspires trust and confidence among job seekers. If a company posting a job has a website that looks outdated and has broken links or pages, it’s a major red flag. It means they can’t even organize themselves well enough (or care at all) to give a good impression of what they are all about.
- There is no mention of an expected salary.
Side hustles are typically temporary gigs meant to augment one’s main income. It’s only sensible for jobs of this nature to post the expected salary, with wiggle room for experience, overtime pay, and other factors that could affect the baseline pay. So if you come across a job posting that promises “competitive salary” or an earning potential that’s too good to be true, steer clear of it. The only trustworthy job posting is one that is upfront and honest about how much it is willing to pay qualified applicants.
- There is a trial or “paid” period/training
In no universe where there is employment does it make sense for a job-seeker to shell out money prior to getting hired. The reason why you’re applying for a job is that you need an additional stream of income, after all. If any job posting asks you to pony up some cash or ask for your bank information, run away from it – fast!
- You are being asked to provide sensitive, personal information
Aside from your bank account or credit card information, you won’t need to provide other kinds of personal and sensitive information if it isn’t really needed for the job. An emergency contact is within reason, but anything else that could jeopardize your privacy and security is a no-no.
20 Best Side Hustles During COVID-19
Now that you have an idea which jobs have a red flag and how to avoid them, it’s time to consider legit, tried-and-tested side hustles. The following are twenty of the best ones in terms of doability, availability, flexibility, and other pros mentioned in previous paragraphs.
1. Testing products and sites
Before products and services are launched to the public, a select few testers had a go at them first. These product testers are chosen for numerous factors such as age, gender, education, profession, demographics, availability, and more. The products can range from actual material things like food, clothing, cosmetics, gadgets; or services like cleaning, room and board, user experience, and others. Product testers can get paid in either cash or in kind (like the actual product or service, or a gift card, etc.), so it’s a good habit to read the fine print before agreeing to sign up with a usability testing experience.
If you’re interested in becoming a product tester, consider these sites. User Testing specializes in beta-testing of websites before they are fully launched, and pay around $10 for every 20 minutes of review. UserZoom is all about the user experience and ensuring that every stage of product development has been thoroughly tested, researched, and measured.
2. Answering surveys
Survey sites have been around for quite some time now. Even before the pandemic happened, it has become a popular go-to for those who need an extra stream of income without having to invest in anything. The best thing about this task, though, is that you basically will be doing something you normally do on a daily basis – and then get paid for it! This is one of the times when being opinionated pays.
ZoomBucks lets you earn points for answering surveys, watching videos, and other tasks. You can then cash out or choose the reward you like and receive it in as short as 48 hours! SwagBucks is a popular and trusted survey and rewards site where you can earn free gift cards from famous retailers after racking up enough points on surveys.
3. Completing offers
Similar to answering surveys and earning from it, there are now plenty of sites where you can just complete offers and get an income from doing it. It offers flexibility of schedule and the opportunity to do something one normally does online – which is using your credit card to shop for offers you like. For example, GrabPoints has completing offers on its menu of tasks to earn points and rewards from. You can redeem your rewards in the form of gift cards for shopping, stationary supplies, and other needs – or opt to cash out via PayPal.
4. Teaching online
In the time of COVID, the most logical move for school kids and faculty alike is for the educational system to transition to distance learning or the virtual classroom. It ensures continued education while keeping them away from the risks of contracting the virus and contaminating everyone else they come into contact with.
Teaching online has always been a great source of income for those who prefer to work from home, or are online tutors on the side. Today, more than ever, it has become a popular way to impart specific knowledge to students and get paid for it – all while sheltering in place. There are plenty of online learning platforms to try your hand at becoming a virtual tutor, part-time or full-time. Check out Tutors or Tutapoint for job openings.
5. Cooking and delivering food items
Those who suddenly found themselves too busy working from home and managing a household might have a hard time squeezing in food preparation and cooking for their family. Good thing the gig economy has allowed enterprising folks to cook food for others and have it delivered to customers right at their doorstep.
If you’re interested in this side hustle, consider advertising in social media platforms for your specialties and offer (socially distanced) pick up or delivery to get them moving. Or, if cooking isn’t really your forte, consider becoming a food delivery partner with sites like Uber Eats in your area. No-contact and cashless deliveries allow for safer and more hygienic transactions with apps and services like these.
6. Managing social media accounts and blogs
If you have been on social media for some time now, this particular side gig should be a piece of cake for you. Granted, some skills like organization and being in sync with your client’s needs and personality are also in order. But the flexibility it offers, coupled with the enjoyable aspect of visiting different social media sites on a regular basis, should make this a pleasant way to make extra money. Look for social media manager openings on such job search sites as LinkedIn and Glass Door.
7. Writing copy, articles, or essays
Being a writer will never go out of style – pandemics notwithstanding. Businesses, institutions, and industries certainly need someone well-versed in the written word to come up with copy, articles, papers, e-books, and other text on their behalf on a regular basis. The best thing about this particular side gig (apart from the flexible schedule) is that you can do it anywhere you feel safe and comfortable writing.
If you want to start earning by being a copywriter, article writer, content writer, or just about any kind of writer there is, try out the search bars and job categories on job portals like Working Nomads and TextMaster.
8. Doing virtual translation
Though this particular side hustle requires employees to know a second language, it does offer flexibility and a lot of opportunities for those who can translate for clients. So if you are well-versed in several languages, consider doing translations for a variety of industries like television, film, production houses, academic institutions, and other businesses. They generally pay well and would likely be repeat customers if you deliver satisfactory results. Look up job opportunities on sites like Transcriptions ‘n Translations if you want to start doing this kind of work today.
9. Becoming a virtual assistant
Arguably one of the most sought-after jobs in the world when it comes to a remote setup, virtual assistance offers a lot of benefits. Since it encompasses different tasks, practically anyone with organizational skills and a familiarity with office tools can apply to be a virtual assistant. Plenty of businesses, entities, and institutions require the help of a VA especially with offices and schools operating on a skeleton workforce. So if you’re ready to help clients organize their professional or personal lives, look up virtual assistant openings at Life Bushido or Fancy Hands and see if they offer flexibility and other benefits.
10. Doing data entry tasks
Data entry work is here to stay, pandemics and disasters notwithstanding. Academic institutions, businesses, and industries like the medical, pharmaceutical, engineering, judicial, and others are in consistent need of people who can do data-related tasks.
The great thing about this particular side hustle is that it is readily available and does not require too much of a learning curve. Try your hand at data entry by looking at available jobs on sites like Working Solutions and Remotasks.
11. Making deliveries and running errands
We already mentioned being an UberEats partner a few paragraphs up. However, you can still apply for other legit delivery service companies if you are feeling a bit of cabin fever from working from home all the time. Just make sure protocols for keeping yourself and customers safe and sanitized are strictly observed. You can be an Uber driver for one, or deliver packages within a safe distance with companies like Amazon Flex.
12. Becoming a virtual juror
Yes, you can become a mock juror in the comfort of your own home. What this entails is reviewing some legal cases, giving your feedback to lawyers, and then getting paid for the whole process. The requirements to become one aren’t too strict – you simply need to be a US citizen who is at least 18 years old. It’s a good one-time gig for those seeking interesting side hustles. Learn more about this particular job at sites like Online Verdict and others and see if it’s a good fit for you.
13. Selling original art and crafts
Now is an excellent time to make some money from your creativity. If you know how to make designs on merchandise, or can sew, sculpt, paint, make prints, or generally create something artsy from raw materials, consider putting your products up for sale on trusted platforms like Etsy or Zazzle. It’s a great way to keep your passion burning for something you love doing, hone your skills and talents, and earn some income from them in the process.
14. Transcribing documents
Transcription jobs fall under a wide umbrella of tasks. You could become a general transcriptionist, or specialize in such industries as medical transcription, legal transcription, and others. It’s a side hustle that is thankfully readily available because, like writing, many industries, businesses, and institutions require it at one some point. You will need adequate typing skills, a good quality headset, and other tools, of course. If you are interested in becoming a transcriptionist, look up vacancies in Transcribe Me! Or
15. Decluttering and selling personal items
Though it isn’t strictly a job like the others mentioned in this post, decluttering and selling stuff you no longer need could become a good secondary source of income for you. If you want to flip certain collections you no longer feel passionate about, or have clothes or shoes you have never or have hardly ever worn, you can use apps or start a virtual shop expressly for them. Consider eBay which has been around for some time now, or Decluttr for convenient use.
16. Signing up for cashback programs
You can earn the money you spent back this way. If you aren’t a hardcore couponer (yet), you can try this method instead. It can definitely help you augment your income and build your nest egg for future needs. Some of these cashback apps also offer a first-time user bonus, such as Ibotta ($20 upon initial sign up!). Be Frugal is also a good cashback app that promises fast cash outs via PayPal.
17. Becoming a customer care representative
Customer care will never go out of style. It’s being done remotely for some time now, so transitioning to a work from home setup shouldn’t be a problem. The hours are also flexible, and you can choose shifts to accommodate different time zones for clients all over the world. If you want to become a customer care representative, look for openings on job markets like LiveOps or Concentrix.
18. Running an online store
The difference between this particular side gig and previously mentioned similar ones is that it will be more of a passive income for you. You won’t have to flip items you have decluttered at home, for one. You can choose to dropship items in a buy and sell setup, too.
Depending on the ecommerce platform you choose, you might need to pay for a virtual shop space, or have the site get a commission for every item you sell. If you’re ready to become a virtual shop owner, consider the time-and-tested sites like Amazon and eBay.
19. Performing micro-tasks
Micro-tasks can be completed in a short amount of time, so it’s great for those who only have a few hours on top of their regular job to spare. The tasks vary greatly depending on the client, but most are doable and easy enough to accomplish. You could be asked to detect spam messages, categorize images, identify anomalies in texts and photographs, tag images, moderate content, and more. If you feel like this is your particular cup of side hustle tea, look up job openings at Micro Workers or Remotasks.
20. Editing and proofreading articles and blogs
If you have editing and proofreading experience, TextMaster and HubPages are good sources of job openings for them. You might be asked to present a portfolio of works or publications you have edited or proofread. This is something you can do on the side or full time – it all depends on your schedule and interest.