The Best Side Hustles For Midlifers While Looking For New Work
Meta description: The 9 to 5 isn’t always where it ends. Here’s how you can increase your employability by engaging in a side hustle.
Bit on the side: The 9 best side hustles for boosting your employment profile
Your brain might scream, “9 to 5 are my working hours! Don’t make me doing anything else!” But you might also f*cking hate your current job. If you’re looking for new work, you can do far worse than moonlighting.
Working during the evenings can be highly enriching, whether it’s in the same industry as your salaried employment or simply a hobby that you monetize.
You remember doing a paper round in the morning, then zipping off to school on your bike, or going to university and hustling in a coffee shop at weekends. This is no different. If you’re unhappy with your current take-home pay, earn more in your spare time until you can level up your employment.
Does the idea of extra work fill you with glee and contentment? Probably not. But you’re a determined individual with a family to support and responsibilities piling up. So use the moment as an opportunity to level up your employment portfolio and earn money in the process.
Working extra hours to support your passions can sometimes help you transition to a career in a field you truly love.
Team Vippi example
One member of Team Vippi is a keen writer but ended up in their city’s infamous call-center purgatory. Customer service role after sales role after charity fundraising role ground them into the dirt. They thought they’d never transition into writing full time and had nearly resigned themselves to a life of “hobby writing” on top of miserable jobs.
This continued for nearly a decade. However, one of those salaried jobs was fulfilling customer service and claims queries for a medical insurer. Combining this with a now bursting portfolio of (poorly paid) freelance work allowed them to apply for a role in medical journalism successfully.
This team member found that experience in salaried work + experience in the side hustle = a fulfilling career. That role in medical journalism then fed better freelance opportunities, which provided career progression – it really can spiral upwards. For this reason, Team Vippi wholeheartedly endorses side hustling (when it’s not likely to burn you out).
We’ll walk you through the best side hustles you can try that will both help you get cash and allow you to branch out jobs-wise.
1. Create a niche blog
The money perspective: Blogs have a relatively high initial outlay, both in terms of time and capital (if you’re paying for web design or freelancers). But once you find your niche and monetize your advertising, blogs can be incredibly lucrative without much input.
Even HuffPost started as a humble blog. You won’t be cranking out 600–1,000 articles a day as they do, and your blog isn’t likely to sell to AOL for $315 million any time soon (simply because… ).
That doesn’t mean you can’t make a tidy buck and have a good time doing it. Team Vippi knows of cooking blogs that have sold for seven-figure sums. Not bad for some well-constructed risottos!
However, you’ll struggle to sell ad space or develop partnerships unless you have a niche. Cooking blogs are a dime a dozen – who does yours cater to? Moms? Students? Fitness freaks? Vegans? Narrowing your market allows you to build an incredibly appealing and targeted demographic for advertisers.
That sounds like a pretty tasty recipe for money pie.
The employability perspective. Blogs can be incredibly lucrative. And if you’re writing about a topic you love, you can look like a subject matter expert when you next send out a resume.
You can use a blog as an opportunity to reach out to people in your industry you’d want to work with. Have them give opinions as subject matter experts themselves. Then, when the time comes to search for work, message them about opportunities. You’ve created your own “in”.
Essential resources for starting a blog
If you’re starting a blog, make sure you look at the following:
- WordPress: According to WordPress themselves, 40% of the internet operates using WordPress. It’s super versatile and a great way to get your site up and running. It’s beneficial as it can accommodate sites of any size, so WordPress will support your platform as it grows.
- Wix.com or Squarespace.com: Of course, you can’t just dump your words into the internet and hope they look good. But if the idea is additional income, paying thousands to a web designer might not be possible. With Wix and Squarespace, you can design your site using intuitive tools and presets for a small annual subscription. You can also buy your domain name through either of these sites, which is hugely important.
- Google Ads: You may “write for the love of writing,” and that’s fine. But the whole point of s side hustle is boosting your cash flow, and monetizing ad sales on a blog can be an incredibly lucrative way to do it. Read up on Google Ads and how to get money from advertising revenue.
- Skimlinks: Affiliate marketing can be a good source of revenue, but you might not want to forward customers to a specific company through one affiliate scheme. Skimlinks is another way to market specific products that your readers might find helpful while getting paid for clicks and referrals.
- SEMrush: SEO is a constantly changing and highly competitive arena. SEMrush can help you compile and scope keywords, monitor your blog’s performance, and get higher rankings on Google.
- MailChimp: Use an email marketing service. You’ll need to keep newsletters flying out to your readers and upsell them on books/related products. MailChimp allows you to build and maintain a mailing list. Email marketing is still a powerful tool for reaching people – make the most of it.
2. Freelance with tasks or talent – the gig economy is your friend.
The money perspective: The gig economy doesn’t just relate to DRIVE ME HERE or DELIVER MY FOOD THERE. Simply put, the gig economy is an industry of small tasks that need doing.
You can be the one to provide those services. Whether they’re fiddly admin duties no one else wants to do, one-off marketing campaigns that need phone support, or logistical support like overnight box-packing, the gig economy is a massive world of opportunities if you look in the right places.
Big and small businesses alike embrace the gig economy. In 2019, participants in the gig economy made up an astonishing 35% of the U.S. workforce. This was expected to grow to nearly half of the economy by 2020.
The employability perspective: Gig work is a risk-free way for companies to try out employees. They offer many gigs on a standalone basis, but if you’ve done one-off jobs for a company before, it’ll look great on your resume if you apply to work there full-time.
Better still, some companies hire gig workers with a view to trying them out for full-time work. So if you find your feet in a freelance hire, you could be offered a salary if they like you.
The best resources for freelancing in 2021
- TaskRabbit.com: For want of a better term, this is unskilled freelancing. Local odd jobs and errands are the order of the day here, meaning the bar for entry is pretty low and primarily based on availability. This is a fantastic call for anyone just getting into gig work.
- Upwork: This is the industry flagship. Businesses can find any type of freelancer on here, making it easy pickings as a source of freelance income.
- Guru: Guru has a pretty excellent filtration system – if you’re great at what you do, you can get fantastic work through this site. Quality is the name of the game here, so once you’ve leveled up and want to boost your per-item fee, this is excellent, especially for professionals like designers, writers, and programmers.
- Toptal: This is less for creatives looking to make a buck and more for software developers, product managers, and finance experts seeking one-off projects. The vetting process is thorough, but the pay is great. If you’re a finance genius by day, add to your finances by night using Toptal.
- Fiverr: This is more for creatives, so those budding artists looking to flog their wares by night should look here for opportunities. Commissions range from $5–500 per project in multiples of five.
- Freelancer’s Union: This is less for finding gig work and more for protecting yourself while you do it. The Freelancer’s Union provides education, resources, advocacy, and member benefits for its union members.
3. Become an influencer
The money side: You might see the word “influencer” and curl up inside, and we don’t blame you. However, hear us out – they can make a f*cking ton of money.
Many companies will pay influencers for product endorsements, advertising, and reviews. This means that you can charge a manufacturer of hair products $1,500 for a promotional post if you have 250,000+ followers and a chosen niche.
Now, you’re a midlifer and not a young, hip, up-and-coming Insta model. And that’s fine. If you run a YouTube channel discussing movies, you can monetize videos through advertising and build a community.
Naturally, becoming an influencer takes time. And if you’re opposed to social media, this is a revenue stream to steer well clear of. You’re going to spend a lot of time reaching out to potential sponsors, lining up social media images, and editing YouTube videos.
If you have solid content ideas or a specific niche, though, you could do far worse things for your extra income.
The employability perspective: As a successful influencer, you might not even need to collect a salary if your network takes off. But failing that, you can at least show that you’re enthusiastic and invested in a particular field.
Social media expertise also gives you a massive boost in 21st-century hiring practices. Many businesses live or die by their social media reach, so they need social-savvy employees, even if their role doesn’t revolve around being on Twitter all day.
A solid social media following is numerical proof of your personal brand. This looks great from a hiring standpoint. And writing blogs on LinkedIn is a sure way to give future employers insight into your passion, drive, and know-how.
Social media tools to help you become an influencer
- HootSuite: This saves you from jumping from one app to another when you manage your socials on 4 or 5 different platforms. HootSuite can help you monitor your reach, develop a strategy, and stream to different platforms at once.
- TheRoom: Maybe at the start, you’d just be happy with some free sh*t or experiences. The Room is the place to exchange these – it puts brands in touch with influencers. Influencers put the word out and get a brand experience in return.
- Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) Studio. Those who want to become video streaming influencers will find OBS indispensable. You can stream to multiple platforms at once and customize the branding and setup of the stream (let’s say you want your video in one corner and a feed of your screen in the other with your channel title at the very top – you can set that up with minimal fuss).
4. Give talks in your chosen industry
The money perspective: This can be hard to access – at first.
But if you’re successful in your 9 to 5 and looking for side hustles, you could monetize your industry standing by giving paid talks and seminars on the side (be warned, though: some employers don’t like you doing this, so check your contract).
The steps to becoming a paid speaker are:
- Narrow down the type of gigs you want to do. A small, highly engaged audience? Industry-specific live streams? College appearances and career fairs? Knowing what you want will help you find gigs.
- Find an agent. Yep, they have agents for public speaking, too! Sites like Agent can connect you with speaking opportunities (although agents usually take a small fee from your payment).
- Google’s got your back. Don’t go for the big guns first (we’ve all wanted to give a TED talk, but if you’re going to become a paid speaker, start small). Aim for local conferences and seminars that are hungry for speakers and contributors. Get experience, and build up. Search what’s going on in your area, and reach out to the organizers.
- Make a list. Conferences are often annual – and there’s an industry conference for literally everything. Build a list from your location-specific and industry-specific Google searches that includes contact details.
- Go to conferences. Conference attendance is excellent for networking, period. But go to conferences, and make sure you upload a bunch of selfies and photos (appropriately hashtagged). The organizers will see your face all over their social media channels. A few days later, send them an email saying that the conference was great and you’d love to be considered as a future contributor.
- Develop enough of a reputation. This is the big one, isn’t it? If you’re well-respected enough in your field, people will approach you. Strive to become the most knowledgeable, up-to-date professional you can be. Stay on top of industry news. Come up with concepts based on gaps in your industry, and don’t be afraid of suggesting ideas to your bosses.
The employability perspective: If you’ve given talks in your field, it makes you hella employable on several levels. You’re actively engaging with the industry on a broader scale. You know what the f*ck you’re talking about. And you’re unafraid to get up in front of people and discuss your field.
As a speaker, you’re basically the teacher’s pet. Except, in this case, the teacher is an employer and they want to give you money.
Resources for finding speaking gigs
- GigSalad: If you’re new to speaking, try GigSalad. This is the way many event planners find speakers and performers. Being on GigSalad will increase your chances of getting picked up.
- Thumbtack: It’s very similar to GigSalad – but the more directories you’re on, the more likely it is you’ll get paid to be a speaker. So sign up for both.
- TED Nomination: TED and TEDx speakers usually get selected on a nomination basis. While they’re often Nobel Prize winners and international figures, there’s no harm in getting someone to nominate you! (And you can nominate yourself. Just saying.)
5. Rent out a room through Airbnb.
The money perspective: If you live in a remote part of Louisiana, this might not be particularly lucrative. And post-COVID, this is one revenue stream that may be a little stop-start until the world lurches back into gear. However, if you’re in a prime location, get a room ready for guests and rent it out on Airbnb.
You’ll have to spend around $1,500 refurbing the room you’re renting, plus about $2,000 for the rest of the house. These costs might include:
- Digital keyless entry: This might involve a passcode lock. Either way, your guest is going to need access without a key to lose.
- A WiFi extender: You’ll need this if you’ve got patchy WiFi and it doesn’t reach the guest room.
- A SmartTV: Because what hotel in 2021 doesn’t have one?
- Extra towels: Because laundry is a pain in the a**.
- Pantry staples like condiments and cutlery
In 2019, Airbnb hosts earned an average of $924 a month, which isn’t terrible for essentially changing bedclothes every day once you’ve recouped that initial outlay.
The employability perspective: Other sidelines might equip you better for job interviews and resume padding. However, you’re still running a business that relies on optimization, customer support, and attention to detail – all qualities you can convey to future employers in an interview.
Resources for starting up an Airbnb
- Optimizemybnb.com: This site helps you bump your listing up the Airbnb ranking to get more clicks – and, therefore, more potential visitors.
- City Regulations on Airbnb: Your city will probably have specific regulations on letting people stay in your house for money. Check the link to see how you’d get fully registered and legally protected.
- Airbnb insurance: One thing you can pretty much guarantee is that one or more of your guests will destroy something you own. Make sure you’re protected – look for insurance that suits your budget and covers your possessions. Airbnb provides liability insurance, but claiming can be a small nightmare.
6. Transcribe stuff.
The money perspective: As long as you can type and your grammar is above average, transcription might well be a way for you to make an extra $15–30 an hour.
Transcription is essentially the art of watching videos or listening to audio and writing down the exact words spoken in the content, usually for subtitling or closed caption purposes.
According to a leading transcription provider, GoTranscript, transcribers earn an extra $150 per month on average. While it’s not much, the work is simple and pays more than some skilled freelance work.
The employability perspective: Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. It might not seem like much to write home about. But transcribing in your spare time shows that you can reproduce work accurately and have an extremely tight focus.
The best tools for transcription jobs
- GoTranscript.com: You can apply for a transcription job here.
- Grammarly.com: Grammatical accuracy is of the essence in this field. Make sure you sign up to Grammarly to catch any glaringly obvious typos – you’re going to be smashing out a lot of words. It’s best to check that they’re the right ones.
- Trint or Otter: If you want to be cheeky, pay for an automatic AI transcription service. Sure, it’ll cost you for each transcription you produce, but there’s quite a solid business model in getting assigned a transcription, having an AI create it, and then spending some time checking its output. A service like this might help you turn a profit for almost no effort.
7. Become an at-home call center
The money perspective: You’ve got a phone line? WiFi? Somewhere to privately take calls? Congratulations, you’ve got the seeds of a home call center. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it can be an easy way to leverage facilities you already have for extra pay in the evenings.
Many companies offer 24/7 customer service and need agents to provide this service. This means that they need evening and weekend staff. Enter you and your trusty headset. The pay won’t be overwhelmingly high, but it’s a simple enough revenue stream.
Often, you don’t even need experience. Some jobs will supply phone equipment – others request that you use your own gear.
The employability perspective: If you’re getting back into work after a long time unemployed or are looking to move from more manual roles into an office-based position, a home call center might be just the way to upskill yourself.
Taking the initiative and monetizing these skills in your own time could be just the spark that employers are looking for. It could certainly be what sets you apart from the next candidate in a string of job interviews.
The best sites for getting remote call center work.
- FlexJobs: This is a legit site for customer service roles and opportunities. They’re remote, part-time, freelance, and full-time, too, if you decide to become a fully-fledged home call center.
- LiveOps: Flexibility is the name of the game here. It’s perfect for side-gigging as a phone operative. With LiveOps, you essentially become an independent contractor who freelances for larger customer service operations. You can potentially make upwards of $200 per week.
8. Tutor people.
The money perspective: Tutoring is a fantastic way to spread knowledge – and, if you can get work, it’s a well-paid side gig to have going. Most tutors are part-time, but you can earn up to $25,000 in a year if you play your cards right.
Tutoring is mainly generic, meaning you’d cover a whole range of topics. As a tutor, you’d be helping kids pass their exams if they’re struggling at school. Subjects might include English, maths, the sciences, and foreign languages. The more specialized you are, such as in French or a specific mathematical discipline, the more you can earn.
There are also qualifications and certifications you can get to improve your authority and employability as a tutor.
You’ll need to:
- Have graduated high school (in midlife, that should be a given).
- Have completed tutoring training (which will likely cost you a little outlay) – if you’ve already got a degree, such as in English or science, you should be able to get tutor certification.
- Join a tutoring association – this isn’t a need, more something that will benefit your professional credibility as a tutor.
The employability perspective: Being a tutor may feed into a future teaching role if that’s a field you’re keen to move into. However, any employer is likely to see the merits of you nurturing the youth of tomorrow. Tutoring requires patience, knowledge, and clear communication.
- Learnhowtobecome.org: Here’s some more in-depth guidance on what’s needed to become a tutor.
- National Tutoring Association: This resource will allow you to apply for accreditation and gain mentoring (even tutors need tutors).
How to moonlight successfully without burning out
“Aah, get a job on the side,” they said. “It’ll be fine,” they said. Two weeks later, you’ve been fired from your salaried work, and you’re burning out rapidly.
Approach moonlighting sensibly. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a worse position than when you had a single job. These rules can help you navigate this sometimes rocky terrain:
- Don’t moonlight on your employer’s time. Your salary takes precedence– that’s why your moonlighting is called a side hustle. Don’t work on side-job duties while your employer is paying you: their money, their time.
- Take your side hustle seriously. Don’t approach a side hustle casually. It takes a lot of effort to get a side job off the ground and ongoing energy to keep it rolling. If you exert yourself, you’ll see ample rewards – but you need to dedicate time and energy to it.
- Priority management is essential. Juggling this many responsibilities needs keen priority management. Use apps like Asana, Trello, or even just the basic calendar app on your phone to organize your day, so you’re not overwhelmed.
- Use what you know. New skills are great. But if you’re looking to make a quick buck, use what you know. Are you an accountant by day? Get some temp or freelance accounting gigs online. Do you write internal comms for your company? Start a blog about one of your passions or hobbies.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Moonlighting can be tough on your sleep debt. Make sure that even though you’re working two jobs, you’re getting enough shut-eye. Losing sleep can impact your salaried position. You need the energy to run two different revenue sources.
9. Start a podcast
The money perspective: A podcast is an exclusive little club focused on your weird niche, industry, or interest.
This needn’t have anything to do with your job (but industry-specific podcasts may make you more employable in the long run). You can monetize just about any podcast that becomes popular enough.
Many podcasts can get money through the following means:
- Ask for donations. Many of your supporters will happily donate the cost of a latte if you prompt them in each episode and provide a link to something like Ko-fi that lets them send you money. If they’re fans of your content, they’ll usually oblige.
- Set up paid membership tiers, granting exclusive content to those on the highest levels. Patreon is a smart way to do this.
- Seek sponsorship and ads. Speak to relevant brands or companies and have them plug products on your show for a fee.
- Premium episodes that only members or Patreon subscribers can access (say, when you bring in a famous guest or contributor).
- Paywall your old episodes so that diehard fans need to pay to access older content.
- Sell merch. You might get such a following that flogging t-shirts, mugs, and stickers are an option. Websites like Teespring can help you design merch without any outlay – they only get printed when someone drops an order.
- Provide content upgrades. For example, if you’re a business startup podcast and you have an episode about strategy, offer a roadmap template for 99 cents that your listeners can buy through your website.
- Branch out into live events and speaking engagements. You can sell tickets using a platform like Eventbrite.
- Consult and coach. As a podcast host, you’re an expert in a niche. The opportunities of mastering any niche include consulting and coaching. Providing advice to business and overseeing individuals in their niche. If you run a novel-writing podcast, for example, budding writers can hire you to help them structure their narrative.
- Publish your podcasts to YouTube as videos. This is called syndication, and the videos don’t even need any heavy editing. Just upload the audio with a thumbnail. Check out this advice on YouTube SEO for information on how to monetize your YouTube content.
A podcast can be hard to get off the ground. But they’re a versatile money-spinner if you build enough of a following.
The employability perspective: A podcast can give you the appearance of being a passionate expert on a niche. Bringing in relevant experts can help you boost your value by proxy, and having an engaged audience can help employers see that you have a quality people want.
Plus, it’s a hearty dose of conversation. If employers want a sense of who you are and how you conduct yourself, a podcast might be the way to showcase your personality.
It might seem like a side hustle would sap energy from your daily grind, but far from it. You can supplement income in ways that also upskill you for future employment or give you the personal brand of a subject matter expert.
Team Vippi says get hustling to boost your bank balance and employability.
How small businesses can embrace the freelance gig economy. (n.d.). https://business.linkedin.com/grow/profinder/how-small-businesses-can-embrace-the-freelance-gig-economy/
Leonhardt M. (2019). 82% of people think Airbnb-ing their home is a good money-making strategy—here’s what you need to know. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/03/is-running-an-airbnb-profitable-heres-what-you-need-to-know.html
The top 10 highest paid bloggers of 2020. (n.d.). https://www.targetinternet.com/our-analysis-of-10-top-paid-bloggers-2020