If millennials know one thing about supplemental income, it’s that it can be found online. No matter what a young adult’s primary occupation may be these days, many of us have grown used to seeking out side opportunities – not for employment, but for pocket change and ultimately supplemental income. In many cases, we start looking for these opportunities in college, hoping for extra spending money, and wind up pursuing them in our idle time, or in evenings and on weekends, simply to infuse our lives with a little extra cash.
The reason these sorts of side ventures seem particularly common among millennials is that they’re available online and via mobile devices. Mind you in most cases we’re talking about very small means of generating money – a few bucks here, a few bucks there, with the occasional larger payday mixed in. But even these small ones can feel worthwhile to a generation that is used to working long hours and multiple jobs without the investment opportunities or career security of generations past.
If you actually do the math, most of the traditional side income opportunities online probably aren’t worth the time. But they’re still popular, so below I’m writing a sort of outline assessing some methods and sites by which millennials might hope to generate some side income.
If you were to google how to make spare change online, surveys would be some of the first results. There are in fact several paid online survey sites that honestly do provide cash or other rewards simply in exchange for your opinions. It’s difficult to analyze the whole concept because every site is different. But generally speaking it’s not a bad way to spend idle time if you want some of that side income. The ratio of time spent to money earned tends to be pretty weak though, so don’t get carried away spending time on this just because it’s “free money.”
Sites like Upwork (formerly Elance) have been around for a while now, and basically exist to give creative types a chance to advertise their skills to potential clients. These sites are entirely hit or miss. If you sign up – as an artist, a writer, a translator, web designer, etc. – you’re likely to encounter some clients who are offering you rates so low they’re insulting. However, if you sift through opportunities, and you can prove that you have real value to offer, you can actually wind up with some legitimate jobs to go about in your spare time.
For the vast majority of people who get into it, blogging is one of two things: a hobby or an aspiration. If you have a topic to write about however, and you’re able to contribute regularly (even if that’s just a post a day) you can start to generate a following. And once you pass a certain threshold, you can actually start generating some income via ads. This has become a lot easier over the years, and a quick search when the time is right will tell you how to start advertising on your site. But it is possible – so long as you can put some real work into the blog. And, as with most options here, you probably won’t be bringing in truckloads of cash so much as a little bit of spare, side income.
Fantasy sports – specifically, daily fantasy platforms – are designed to make you feel like you’re going to win money. You can play at sites like DraftKings, Draft, FanDuel, and even Yahoo Sports, and test your knowledge of various sports by putting together short-term fantasy lineups in the hopes of performing well enough to earn a payout. This, for sports fans, is fun, and there are some lower risk gaming options you can try. But to win substantial amounts of money you have to risk the same, and the likelihood of a big win is not good. Doing this as a hobby, where you might lose a little or you might win a little, is fine – looking at it as an income opportunity is a bad idea.
As with fantasy sports, gaming – specifically casino gaming – this idea comes with as much or more risk as reward. That said, you can at least dip your toe in with a chance at some winnings and a little bit of recreation. Most casino platforms these days offer some bonuses for players, meaning you can deposit a given amount and receive that same amount, matched, from the site. This gives you a little bit of money to play with, and you never know if you might win some more while you’re at it. Just remember, this is a hobby in which the odds are against you – not a source of side income or even a reliable place for spare change.
Transcription – literally typing out what you hear on an audio recording – is not the most exciting job. But according to The Penny Hoarder, you can actually earn $25 an hour doing this, which really isn’t bad compared to most of the options on this list. It’s not exactly a second job, but at that rate it may just be worth your time when you have a spare hour now and then. Think of it this way: at that rate, one hour of transcription can buy you your morning lattes Monday through Friday.
This is a concept by which you literally sit through trailers for different apps in exchange for points, which you can ultimately redeem for gift cards or in some cases cash deposited straight to PayPal. There are a few services that offer this general setup, though the app “AppTrailers” is probably the place to start. Here, as with online surveys, the time spent for money earned ratio is usually underwhelming. But if you have downtime and you don’t mind doing it, there’s no reason to say no to free cash!
Travis Cohen writes about just about everything, and contributes to a range of blogs, websites, and online magazines. He primarily covers lifestyle, technology, finance, and music, though he always enjoys researching and writing about new topics as well.
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