10 Ways for Parents to Earn More Income

Even if you watch minimal television, you’ve probably seen the Uber commercials extolling the value of driving for them: the mom who drops her kids off at school and then drives for Uber for a few hours until its time to pick them again so that they have money for a ski vacation, or the man who drives for Uber taking dates to their destinations so he has extra money to spend in his own romantic life. Driving for Uber or participating in any kind of gig economy venture was once rare, and now it is becoming the norm.

In 2016, Forbes predicted that 50 percent of the U.S. workforce would be working independently. That means many people would be self-employed, working as freelancers and/or participating in the gig economy. The Financial Times reports, “…technology has cast a wider net, drawing in people who would not otherwise be gigging at all. Think of the retired person who occasionally lets out a spare room on Airbnb, or the office worker who picks up an extra passenger on the morning commute by using a ride-hailing app….The line between gigs and work is getting increasingly blurred.”

And parents everywhere are participating, doing jobs that can be broken down into four broad categories: digital freelance services, caregiving, task labor and education. Digital services are geared towards connecting writers, designers, programmers and artists to clients who need their talent. Caregiving extends beyond childcare to adult and senior care, pet sitting, housekeeping and related jobs. Task labor is basically renting yourself out to run errands, do office work, clean up stuff, do minor assembly or construction projects, move furniture or any other manual task, including driving for a delivery service. And education involves teaching classes either online or in person and students pay to participate or to hire you to teach them yoga, a computer program, a recipe or anything else they desire to learn.

Though Priceonomics found that having either a listing or being an experience expert on Airbnb brings in the most average and median monthly income for people, side hustle or gig economy participants make money in a variety of ways. Ten ways you can supplement or create income include:

  1. Becoming an experience host on Airbnb. What are you good at? What do you know about your area and city? Experience Hosts on Airbnb sell guided local tours, lessons, adventures and anything that constitutes an experience. If you have a boat, maybe you can take people waterskiing. Or if you’re a history buff, put together a walking tour that follows Washington and his troops’ footsteps. Ideas for types of experiences are limitless.
  2. If you love pets, do contract work for DogVacay or Rover or Wag. These pet sitting and dog walking apps pair you with animals in your neighborhood that need an afternoon or evening walkabout or overnight pet care.
  3. If you prefer humans to pets, you can pick up contract work caring for and being a companion to children, disabled adults and senior citizens at care.com, sittercity or urbansitter.
  4. Complete tasks for your neighbors or offer your services through TaskRabbit and Thumbtack. (Thumbtack is how I found two yoga teachers I studied with for two years.) Both of these sites are great if you are offering a skill or want to pick up money for doing something quick and unskilled (like picking up someone’s laundry or getting their groceries for them).
  5. Become a delivery person with Doordash or UberEats, for example. These services deliver meals from restaurants to people’s workplaces and homes, and drivers are paid on a per delivery basis (plus tips).
  6. If you have hordes of decent digital photos from vacation scenery or around town, upload them to Shutterstock, who will then make them available to users for a fee. Shutterstock will then pay you a royalty on every photo of yours that they sell.
  7. If you have an active website, join an affiliate marketing program that pays you per click, per action, per purchase or per commission. These programs will give you a link, an ad or a product to put on your website and then will pay you every time someone lands on your page, clicks through or purchases whatever they are selling. Popular programs include Google AdSense, ClickBank and Amazon Associates.
  8. Hiring yourself out to write website copy, jokes, or speeches; to use your arts and crafts knowledge; to give advice to people; to do voice-over acting; or any number of other things through Fiverr, Upwork, Guru, Freelancer or a number of other online ventures. (There’s pretty much a category and work for everyone.)
  9. Put together an online course teaching something you love and offer it on Udemy, Teachable, Skillshare. While it is work upfront without any pay, once the class is online, you’ll collect residual income on a monthly basis from it without any additional work.
  10.  Check out FlexJobs.com to find contract or part-time work, much of which is remote and work-from-home.

The beauty in the gig economy is that you can choose to make money in different ways each day. One woman on the NPR podcast “Piecing Together a Living in the Gig Economy” said she had been a wedding singer, a business consultant, a copyeditor, a web site graphic designer, a family consultant and a teacher of parenting classes. She loves her independence and the fact that she never gets bored.  That may be your motivation, or maybe it is just to make extra cash; in 2018 opportunities for parents to side hustle abound.

Jill L. Ferguson is the author of Creating a Freelance Career (Routledge).