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3 Best Ways to Diversify Your Income (and Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck) During Times of Uncertainty

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Side hustles might just get you through these economic tough times.

7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Making money is tough. There is no denying that trying to dig yourself out of the rut that most of us find ourselves in can be hard, but it’s not impossible. 

Almost all of us have found ourselves stuck at some point in our lives, existing paycheck to paycheck, hoping that somehow we can gain enough experience to haul ourselves from minimum wage struggle to comfortable living. In fact, over 12 million people in the U.S. are living in poverty despite working full time, according to PolicyLink, an organization that advances racial and economic equity. Even before the pandemic, 78 percent of all workers were living paycheck to paycheck, CareerBuilder found in a 2017 study. 

If you’re tired of spending your days weighing whether you can afford to put gas in your car or be able to make your insurance payment, think about starting an online side . It might seem like online side businesses are for the highly skilled, but we all have skills that are valuable to someone. Don’t let yours go to waste when you could be harnessing them to improve your bank balance and help others at the same time. Here are three ideas for how you can earn extra cash with an online side hustle.

Related: 11 Best Websites to Find Freelance Jobs and Make Extra Money

1. Freelance on the side

Freelancing is an excellent way to build your income because it’s flexible. Unlike full-time employment, freelancing means that you can choose your hours and clients, making it a perfect side business if you’re not able to commit a dedicated number of hours each week. 

As of October 2019, there were 57 million people in the U.S. alone who were using freelance work to boost their incomes and build their businesses. CNBC reported that freelancers doing skilled services earn a median rate of $28 an hour — more per hour than 70% of workers in the overall. 

Freelancing isn’t limited to professional skills. In fact, freelancing can be so varied that it is possible to offer a service for almost anything, providing there is a requirement for it and you can build a client base. 

According to Preston Lee, founder of Millo, one of the quickest ways to find new clients is via job boards. “If you don’t have clients, you don’t have a business, and if you don’t have a business, you’re just a hobbyist. Getting your first freelance clients will give you confidence, momentum and traction from which you can find success more quickly.” 

So how do you get started with freelancing?

  • Find your niche. What skills do you have that other people or companies might need? Can you write engaging content, are you great with graphic design, can you offer administrative skills or do you have a knack for accounting? Find a skill that you can offer to solve a problem for your potential customers. The more valuable the skill, the more profitable and in demand your freelancing will be. 

  • Market yourself with a website and portfolio. Start a website to get your skills noticed. You can design your own or, if you don’t have the skills or funding for that, join a platform where freelancers and clients can find each other. Whichever you choose, make sure potential clients can review your work and decide if they want to hire you. Your portfolio should showcase your skills and show clients why they should choose you. If you haven’t had previous clients, create your own examples to highlight what you can do. 

  • Price it out. How much to charge can be a conundrum: You don’t want undercharge and end up putting in a ton of hours for little return, but if you overcharge you’ll struggle to find clients willing to pay for your services. Research how much you should charge. Review the services you’re offering, compare them to competitors and find a price range that matches your level of competency. 

Related: 4 Tips for Finding Your Profitable Blogging Niche

2. Launch a high-end blog

Blogging is flexible and doesn’t really cost anything to get started. It may seem like blogging is reserved for those with incredible writing skills and a great understanding of . Although you do need to have some writing skills, what you write about is just as important as how you write it — the actual content is what draws in readers. It’s also what makes or breaks a blogging site. You could be the most skilled writer in the world, but if you don’t understand what your readers want, then you’re never going to find success. The key to starting a blog is to find your niche.

So how do you make money through blogging?

  • . Affiliate marketing means that you link to a or product in a blog post, and each time one of your readers clicks that link, you can earn a little money. You can’t just link to brands randomly and get paid, but you can sign up for an affiliate marketing network.

  • Sponsored content. Once you’ve built your brand and secured a good number of subscribers and readers, you might even be approached by brands and companies to write about their chosen product. This is a great way to make money from your blog.

  • Pitch to publications. If you’re very knowledgeable in your chosen niche, there’s no reason for you to shy away from approaching publications and getting your blogging business out there. It could result in you getting into paid publications. 

Related: How to Create an Online Course for an Engaged Audience

3. Turn your knowledge into an online course

The online course industry is continuously growing one because it provides people with the ability to new learn skills in a flexible and more in-demand way than traditional classroom . We all have skills that other people don’t possess but want to learn, and with a little work you can create your own online course to give you extra income each month. 

The beauty of starting your own online course is that you don’t have to be a qualified teacher and as long as your course has high-quality content and provides people with an in-demand skill for a reasonable price. There’s no profit without a little hard work, though — you do have to create the content, which might be time-consuming. Here’s how to get started:

  • Choose a subject. What are you skilled in? Consider what skill or knowledge you can teach other people that is so valuable they would pay to learn it.

  • Buy or build. Before you can get started with online courses, you need to decide if you’re going to build your own website or use a hosted platform for online courses. Research the cost of both options and weigh the pros and cons before deciding. 

  • Marketing is key. Good marketing is essential if you want to draw in potential clients. If you haven’t had your own business before, it’s important to know the most effective marketing techniques. Do some research to make sure you’re up to date and knowledgeable about the latest marketing strategies.  

Starting an online side business isn’t impossible and doesn’t mean you have to take a huge financial risk by giving up your day job. With a little hard work and commitment, you can start making extra income so you can make paycheck-to-paycheck living a thing of the past. 

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