If you were depending on a part-time or summer job to shore up your college savings, you may scrambling for other options to make bank before the fall semester starts.
Believe it or not, there are quite a few legit ways to make a few bucks from home even while practicing social distancing.
Please be aware that we are not endorsing any of the companies mentioned in this article. We strongly suggest that you conduct your own research before signing on to complete work for any business. It's always wise to read about the experience of other contractors so you can have a better sense of the pros and cons of working for each venture.
1. Become a virtual assistant
Let's just go ahead and say it: You're probably more tech-savvy than most people twice your age. Right now, that's an advantage that could seriously pay off.
Telecommuters (especially those with kids) are desperate for help managing their workloads. As a virtual assistant, or VA, you could earn cold, hard cash for doing things like updating social media accounts, answering email, posting blogs, entering data, and scheduling appointments. Best of all, being a VA can provide you with solid experience in the business world, along with a sneak peak into different industries.
If you're still in high school, you can start local by posting your services on Facebook pages that cater to your community. Explain what services you offer and don't be afraid to sell yourself by listing some attributes that make you stand out. You can also check out online platforms, such as oDesk, connect VAs with the people who want to hire them.
Bonus: Since this is a job you can do from anywhere, working as a VA could also be a regular source of income when the fall semester starts.
2. Complete "microtasks" through Amazon
If you're over 18, you can sign up to complete basic online tasks for companies through Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Some background: Some tasks cannot be completed by technology, rather, they require human discernment. For example, a computer program may not be able to tell if a description matches an image. Amazon originally created the "MTurk" platform as a way to root out problems on its own site. Now it has expanded the platform for use by other companies.
The Amazon Mechanical Turk platform lists Human Interface Technology tasks (known as HITs) that companies need people to complete. Those tasks might include taking a survey, sorting images, or following a series of instructions to help identify bugs on a web page.
Some tasks may take only seconds to perform, so pay can vary widely, ranging from $.01 to $60. Note that you may need to meet certain qualifications for higher-paid tasks, so it's worth your while to spend some time doing the lower-paid tasks to build up your credentials. The more tasks you complete, the more you'll qualify for.
To get started, create a "worker account" here.
3. Work as a transcriptionist
From podcasters, to conference speakers, to professional services companies, there are plenty of businesses that need assistance in translating audio to the written page. Doing home-based transcription can be a reliable way to make money if you're willing to invest the time to build your skill set.
Check out this handy guide on how to get started.
4. Sell your designs
If you're visually creative, you can sell your designs on T-shirts, mugs, hats, backpacks, or any number of items. Upload your designs to sites like TeeSpring, TeePublic, Threadless, or RedBubble. They'll display your products, handle orders, and collect payments.
Of course, you'll make more money if you can get more eyes on your merch, so be prepared to do some marketing on social media. It's also worth noting that TeeSpring has partnerships with YouTube and Google Shopping to get your creations in front of a larger audience.
5. Do remote customer service work
Many customer service jobs can now be done from home, either via email or phone-forwarding programs. These jobs are generally compensated by the minute (for call center gigs), so the more calls you take, the more money you can make.
You may need to invest in a good headset and you'll need a reliable internet connection to do this work. Companies like LiveOps require a $45 fee for a background check, but if you pass you'll have access to a large network of available jobs.
6. Sign up with Swagbucks
Swagbucks, an online rewards program, isn't going to make you a fortune, but it is a legit way to make some extra money. Payment is via gift cards or through PayPal.
How it works: Swagbucks partners with retailers to help promote their offers or conduct market research. Swagbucks users get a cut of the retailer fees, awarded as Swagbucks, for participating with certain programs. Each Swagbuck converts to about $.01.
To get started, create a Swagbucks account and then pick the ways you'd like to participate with the program. You can take surveys, use the SwagBucks portal as your search engine, watch videos, play games, or do other activities. You can use Swagbucks on your desktop or via the phone app, which makes it easy to earn some Swagbucks whenver you have a few minutes to spare.
Is there a downside? Just be aware that Swagbucks is selling access to YOU and other users. Retailers are very interested in your preferences and browsing habits. If you decide to participate, you need to be OK with ceding a certain amount of privacy.
To get a more in-depth look at Swagbucks, check out this blog post from Smart Money Mamas.
7. Take online surveys or participate in market research
As we mentioned with Swagbucks, be aware that participating in any online survey or market research can mean sacrificing some of your online privacy. Make sure to know what you're signing up for.
8. Conduct user testing
Help companies find web glitches and errors by working as an online user tester. There are multiple web platforms that will be happy to hook you up with companies that need people to test-drive various web pages and online operations.
This post from the Work at Home Woman lists several high-paying sites you might want to check out.
9. Be a "Task Rabbit"
This option may be a bit more challenging than some of the others if your area is still practicing social distancing, but there are still possibilities for no- or low-contact work. Task Rabbit connects people who need assistance with errands, yard work, basic repairs, or virtual and online tasks with individuals in their local area.
After signing up on Task Rabbit, you'll be able to browse available gigs near you.
This article in Money profiles some "elite" taskers who have been able to bring in substantial monthly incomes. However, be aware that these are the best-case scenarios, so your mileage may vary depending on how often you work and if you have any specialized skills.
10. Be a dog walker
Obviously, this is another gig that might require some creativity with social distancing, but people need help with all kinds of things right now. Throw up a post on your town's Facebook page to get the word out.
You can also offer to do a yard cleanup for people who haven't gotten around to it.
11. Do yard work
Teenagers have been making bank on mowing lawns for decades. Why not you?
Mowing lawns, trimming bushes, weeding ... people are always looking for ways to outsource yard work without shelling out for an expensive landscaping company. Bonus: You 'll get some exercise and immune-system-boosting Vitamin D.
12. Apply for scholarships
Honestly? This is the BEST TIME EVER to get a leg up on scholarship applications. Why? Because people are distracted. If you can stay focused on securing college money, you may be able to apply with less competition than usual.
To get started, here are five scholarships you can apply for in under 30 minutes (total!).
Best of luck!