July 25, 2018
When your friends or neighbors head away on summer vacation, consider offering to take care of their pets to earn extra cash. (Getty Images)

While many people think of summer as a time to slow down and enjoy the warm weather and a vacation, it can also be the perfect time to earn some extra money with a side hustle. Not to be confused with part-time jobs, side hustles borrow a page from the gig economy, emphasizing flexibility and short-term commitments to supplement the income from a full-time job. Centered around mobile apps and on-demand services, a side hustle is work you take how, when and where you choose, and it should be a good match for your skills and availability.

Survey-taking is an easy, low-stress way to earn money during your summer downtime, especially if you live in an area that lacks other opportunities. With a computer or smartphone, you can sit on your couch, log into survey sites such as Opinion Outpost, InboxDollars or Swagbucks and start earning money for your opinions. Unfortunately, the ease of use comes with a low earning potential. Keep in mind that you may not qualify for every survey you start and earnings are often points redeemable to PayPal or in gift cards.

A more lucrative use of your summer free time at home can be found with Amazon Mechanical Turk. The service is a marketplace that allows “requesters” to offer a set fee for tasks best completed by a human. Tasks can range from data validation to audio transcription. This service will require more of a commitment than answering surveys, but depending on the effort and time required, it has a higher earning potential, from less than $1 to up to $10, $20 or even more per task.

If you have a skill set that you want to capitalize on or gain more experience in, you can sign up for an on-demand task service such as Fiverr. Users list tasks they are skilled in, such as graphic design, language translation or programming. The emphasis is on easy jobs with quick turnaround that cost $5, as the name suggests. While with Fiverr, there isn’t the cost of starting a freelance business from scratch, you will have to build your brand and have a portfolio to pull in jobs.

With people taking care of their kids, planning vacations and working jobs that ramp up during warmer weather, summer means less free time. Because of this, side hustles that help people get their tasks done can be even more in demand. Virtual assistant services are a growing area for people who are organized and have above-average research skills. For a side hustle, look for on-demand virtual assistant services, such as Fancy Hands or Wonder.

Unlike other virtual assistant jobs, Fancy Hands doesn’t require a long-term commitment. Instead, the service focuses on tasks such as making a reservation for dinner, returning calls or researching a vacation or product. On the other hand, Wonder is strictly a research service. Users ask a question, and the service connects them with a researcher or research team to answer it. This service is perfect for people who have a high-level knowledge base and research skills. These services will usually pay less than $10 a task, with tasks expected to take around 20 minutes each to complete.

If you enjoy driving but don’t enjoy chauffeuring people, you can use your car to take advantage of the burgeoning on-demand delivery industry. You can sign up to deliver food from restaurants with services such as Uber Eats, DoorDash and Favor. Unlike working for a specific restaurant, working for an on-demand service provides the flexibility to pick up jobs on your schedule with no set hours.

Another option is delivering groceries with services such as Postmates, Shipt, AmazonFresh and Instacart. With some of these services, you can choose to work in the supermarket and focus on completing customers’ shopping lists in the store. You can also choose to deliver customer groceries as well. The earning potential for delivery can be higher than for other on-demand jobs because you can earn tips. The drawback is that these jobs can require a bigger time commitment.

Summer is also a time when people take vacations and may require someone to look after their home or pets. These jobs can require a larger commitment time and can take longer to build up a client base. Services such as HouseSitter.com and MindMyHouse.com connect homeowners with perspective housesitters. While the earning potential is low as you are earning a flat fee, you can use the time you’re not completing any home-related tasks to work remotely on one of your other side hustles. For animal lovers who would rather care for someone’s pet while they are away, you can connect with perspective clients on a service such as Rover.com.

If you find that the summer months have brought you some extra free time, you can turn that free time into additional income by focusing on the right opportunities. While you shouldn’t expect to get rich working on-demand jobs, tapping into the gig economy opens more opportunities to earn extra money.

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