I have a confession to make. During college I was busy, I didn’t keep a full time job. Unfortunately, I also didn’t consider the opportunity I had. There are many jobs out there that are compensated really well on an hourly basis, simply because it’s too hard to get a lot of hours, and they aren’t benefitted. Instead of working part time for the same wage I might make if I was working a more scaleable job, I should have poked my head up and looked at some of these, far better options. Those of you in college, or maybe even high school. Bypass the burger flipping. Figure out what your actual skills are and contract them out. Here are a few examples to get you started.
If you are in school, you probably know how to pass the classes you have taken. Learn how to explain these concepts to people one year behind you. It’s probably worth practicing helping friends first. If you’re able to help them reliably think about marketing to folks who aren’t your friends and charging them for your services. Check what tutors in your area charge. Aim for something in the middle. The pricing here will undoubtably shock you. What’s going on here is that most college students don’t actually pay you. Their parents pay you. Their parents really want them to pass the classes that they’re paying thousands of dollars for. They would probably be happy to pay you $100 an hour if there weren’t other tutors out there charging less. You can probably make about $25 per hour of actual work doing this. You need to account for the time you spend marketing as well so your “sticker rate” will need to be something like $30-$35. Alternatively, farm out the marketing. Your fliers are never going to reach all the people you need to in the internet age. Half of your customers have their out-of-state parents scrounging for tutors anyway. Personally, I use wyzant.com. I charge about $40 per hour. Wyzant takes a huge cut (40%, so my take home is $26), but they add a great deal of value for this. They do all the marketing, billing, and overall management. I just take jobs that sound interesting, show up, and tutor. The vast majority of this is freshman physics. There’s no reason it should have taken me until senior year to do this. Keep in mind, some fields are more in demand than others. Folks studying math, the hard sciences, and economics have an edge here.
“But Adam,” I hear you cry, “I’m an English major, and all of these potential students need math/science help. You’re advice has failed me!”
Do contract writing. Depending on the topic pricing per blog post can vary wildly, if you’re interested in high value topic this can be $30 or more per post. If you want to do creative writing the pricing is a little tougher, the spread appears to be between $15 and $25 per hour. You can also do editing and proofreading for other folks. The hourly earnings here seem to be somewhat lower, between $10 and $20 per hour. All in all, this is a great thing to do if you can find a niche.
Alright, so lets say that you’ve really got a good handle on the technical end, but you have trouble communicating it to other people. So maybe, tutoring or writing isn’t your bag. You can still sell you’re actual skills in the marketplace. If you know how to program software in just about any programming language, freelance that. Check out freelancer.com or upwork.com. Seriously, even if you know something really weird, like fortran, there are people who will pay you well to fix their broken code, translate their code from one language to another, or build some module for them. Usually folks will post specific projects that they’re willing to pay a fixed amount for. You need to get good at coding fast, and correctly estimating how long a specific project will take you. You can easily clear $20/hr here.
Maybe you can’t do any of this stuff, but you can do a funny voice. Turns out that’s a thing too. You need careful diction, and to make sure that the audio you record comes through crystal clear, but you can make $20+ per hour. Take the voices you can do and make a demo reel. Look at what other voice actors have done to get an idea of where to start. Upwork seems like a good place to look for jobs, but don’t let that be the only place you check.
The world is a really wide place when it comes to deciding how to make a living. Many of these jobs would be really difficult to turn into a career, but if you only need five to ten hours a week of work, getting stuck in this minimum wage job box doesn’t make a great deal of sense. We’ve only scratched the surface here. You have some skill, that somewhere someone else desperately needs. Use it!