If your child was depending on a part-time or summer job to save money or just have day-to-day cash once school starts, they may be scrambling for other options to make bank before the fall semester starts.
Believe it or not, there are quite a few legit ways they can make a few bucks from home even while practicing social distancing.
Note: We aren't endorsing any of the companies mentioned below. We strongly suggest doing some research before your kid signs on to complete work for any business. It's always wise to read about the experience of other contractors so they 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: Your kid is probably more tech-savvy than most people twice their 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, your child 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 solid experience in the business world, along with a sneak peek into different industries.
Students who are still in high school can start local by posting services on Facebook pages that cater to your community. They should explain what services they offer and sell themselves by listing attributes that make them stand out. They can also check out online platforms, such as oDesk, that connect VAs with the people who want to hire them.
Bonus: Since this is a job that can be done from anywhere, working as a VA can continue to be a regular source of income once the fall semester starts.
Students over 18 can sign up to complete basic online tasks for companies through Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Some background: Some tasks cannot be completed by technology; 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 literally take only seconds to perform while others are much longer, so pay varies widely, from $.01 to $60 per task. Workers may need to meet certain qualifications for the higher-paid tasks. Spending some time doing lower-paid tasks can build up your credentials. The more tasks you complete, the more you'll qualify for.
From podcasters, to conference speakers, to professional services companies, there are plenty of businesses that need help in translating audio to a written format. Doing home-based transcription can be a reliable way to make money for people willing to invest the time to build up their skill set.
For the visually creative kid, they can sell their designs on T-shirts, mugs, hats, backpacks, or any number of items by uploading designs to sites like Spring, TeePublic, Threadless, or RedBubble. They'll display the products, handle orders, and collect payments.
Of course, your kid can make more money if they get more eyes on their merch, so they should be prepared to do some marketing on social media. It's also worth noting that Spring has partnerships with YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch to get those creations in front of a larger audience.
Many customer service jobs can 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.
To do this work, your kid will need a reliable internet connection and possibly invest in a good headset. 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, isn't technically a job, but rather an online rewards program. It isn't a path to fortune, but it is a legit way to make some extra money and the time commitment is entirely flexible. 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 they'd like to participate. Options include taking surveys, using the SwagBucks portal as your search engine, watching videos, playing games, or doing other activities. Swagbucks is available via your desktop or phone app, which makes it easy to earn some Swagbucks whenever you have a few minutes to spare.
Is there a downside? 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
Swagbucks and Amazon's Mechanical Turk aren't the only sites that pay you take surveys. In fact, there are quite a few companies that do this, including Opinion Outpost, Survey Junkie, and Toluna.
As with Swagbucks, be aware that participating in any online survey or market research can mean sacrificing a little bit of your online privacy. Before recommending this option to your kid, read the fine print and make sure you both know what information is collected and how it's used.
8. Conduct user testing
Some people work as online user testers to help companies find web glitches and errors on their sites. There are multiple web platforms that can hook your student 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 higher-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 while social distancing is still in place, but there are possibilities for no- or low-contact work. TaskRabbit connects people who need assistance with errands, yard work, basic repairs, or virtual/online tasks with individuals in their local area.
After signing up on TaskRabbit, 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 these are the best-case scenarios, so your kid's mileage will vary depending on how often they work and whether they have any specialized, in-demand 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. It can be as simple as posting 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.
Mowing lawns, trimming bushes, weeding ... people are always looking for ways to outsource yard work without shelling out for an expensive landscaping company. Bonus: Your kid will 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.
Carol Katarsky is a contributing writer for Nitro. She is an award-winning journalist with extensive experience writing about both finance and education. Her corporate and non-profit clients include AIG, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and the Project Management Institute. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, son, and one cat more than she should. Read more by Carol Katarsky