6 Online Side-Hustles To Earn Extra Cash For The Holidays

They say nothing compares to Christmas in the Philippines. With green and red decorations hanging and Christmas songs playing as soon as the calendar hits September 1, there’s no denying that we celebrate the longest Holiday season on the planet. Yup foreigners, we spend a whole quarter anticipating Christmas.

Just as big as our Holiday celebration is the amount of money we spend during the season. As early as November, Christmas parties flood spaces in our planners, with at least one get-together organized for each clique – office mates, high school barkada, college tropa, gym buddies, and the list goes on and on. And since get-togethers are usually potluck or split-the-bill, it’s not exactly cheap. Added to that, there are circles that have traditions of exchanging gifts and you wouldn’t want to head to that party empty handed.

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And don’t get me started with family reunions. Yes, many titos and titas from abroad come home bearing gifts or, if we’re fortunate enough, ang pao loaded with green backs (they still remember us as teenagers). But don’t celebrate just yet. Also in those same reunions are your inaanaks, younger cousins or children of your cousins who would be encouraged by parents to kiss the hand of ninong / ninang – your cue to hand in that red envelope.

No wonder, most Pinoys’ 13th month pay and Christmas bonus don’t last long enough to see New Year. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Many financial experts advise investing one’s 13th month and bonus in stocks or mutual funds. By doing this, the annual excess money becomes building blocks for retirement fund.

Okay, that sounds good. But what money would we spend for parties, gifts and all the Holiday merriment? You got to make extra cash, of course!

We listed down some side-hustles you can do online with no capital whatsoever. The best part? You wouldn’t be tied down to any contract. You can do these side-hustles these ber months and forget about them as soon as you earn your target Christmas cash.

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1. Sell your pre-loved stuff. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” so the saying goes. If you’ve got new or slightly used clothes, footwear or accessories that are still good enough to be bought by others, sell them online! You can post the items on your social media page, or you can sell them through eBay or OLX. Another buy and sell website that is gaining popularity among the young market is Carousell. TIP: To increase the chances of finding buyers for your pre-loved stuff, snap good photos and write detailed descriptions. NEVER LIE about any information just to get your item sold.

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2. Sell your crafts online. Are you fond of making crafts, accessories and other forms of art? You can sell them online at Etsy, an e-commerce website that specializes on handmade items. I personally haven’t tried selling anything on Etsy, but I know two people who are making good money by selling their items (one makes cute crocheted stuff and the other makes unique handmade bracelets) via this platform.

You can also sell digital copies of your artwork on Etsy – meaning you can earn multiple times from something you’ve only done once. This is a great passive income opportunity I plan to try in the near future.

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3. Be an online reseller. Having your own online business can be a headache (trust me, I’ve been there). From developing your own merchandise to designing marketing materials to managing inventory – it can be a lot to handle.

Luckily, there are various products you can resell online, you just have to reach out to traders who offer reselling opportunities. The possibilities are endless! You can choose to resell food items (baked goodies are a hit during Christmas) or gift items like clothes and accessories. TIP: click this link to learn how you can resell Inspired Space items.

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4. Watch videos and get paid for it. I know it sounds like a scam, but hear me out. I learned about this website called Snuckls that helps you “win” money for just watching videos. All you have to do is register and watch any of the YouTube videos on the dashboard. You can keep the video on background while you’re busy doing something else on your computer. After 90 seconds or so, you would have to answer a simple question about it (what category is the video? a. hip-hop b. vlog c. pets).

This generates a ticket which is your entry for a lottery. So far, I’ve only earned around P10 on this. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve only played twice or if I’m really not lucky on any form of lottery. But I’ll try to play more over the coming days and I’ll update you about it. TIP: registering for Snuckls is by invitation. You can click on this link if you want to try it out.

5. Try out freelance writing. Freelance writing is not just for those who are looking for a steady online job. There are many short-term and project-based writing jobs that only takes hours or days to complete, depending on complexity: article contributions, academic papers, and press releases are just a few.

TIP: Just because you’re doing this to earn extra cash this season doesn’t mean you can ditch clients in the middle of an unfinished project as soon as you get your moolah. Never burn bridges especially if your client is good to you. You’ll never know when you’ll need a side-hustle again (say, if you’re planning for an overseas trip or a big purchase like a car) and being in good terms with past clients means you always have a ready market for your skills.

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6. Get rebates on your receipts. If you can’t help from going all-out on your Christmas shopping, at least make it a point to get rebates. Snapcart is a mobile app that helps you earn cash backs from receipts. I’ve had it on my phone for about a month and a half, and so far I’ve earned around P300. Considering that I was just going to throw out those receipts anyway, three purple bills is not bad!

So, what does Snapcart do with your receipt information? They compile the massive data and offer it to brands, somewhat similar to survey data. Bear in mind that Snapcart only accepts receipts from grocery, cosmetics  and drugs. So if you want cash back on your Christmas gifts, you might want to shop within these lines.

TIP: My “Snapcart Christmas Gift Shopping List” – Grocery: wine, chocolates & grocer baked goodies for relatives. Cosmetics: bath sets for friends and pre-teen inaanaks, lip color for girly cousins. Drugs: I can’t think of a fun drug gift that’s legal, but over-the-counter pain reliever pills will surely be helpful for anyone nursing a hangover after a night of Christmas walwal.

 

How do you earn extra or try to save money amid Holiday expenses? Tell us on the comment section below!

8 Steps I Took To Establish My Freelancing Career

Most people think that online freelancing is the easiest career one could ever start, because why not? All it takes is a laptop and WiFi connection, right?

Sorry to burst your bubble but it’s not exactly as simple as that.

Back when I was working for a TV network (read about why I left my producer job and became a freelancer in this post), I also used to think that freelancing is effortless and is a great backup job when I leave the newsroom.

I can travel for months as a digital nomad – beach bumming in the morning, partying at night, and writing whenever I find the time to squeeze it in. Boy, was I naive. Only when I started freelancing did I understand its complexity.

It took me these eight steps before I was able to establish myself as a freelancer and earn my first ever PayPal remittance. Check it out and see what steps could apply to you. Disclaimer: this list is based from my own experience and since we’re all built differently, what worked for me may not entirely work for everyone.

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1. Decide and commit to be a freelancer.
There’a a huge difference between deciding to be a freelancer and committing to it. I first decided to be a freelance writer back when I was still employed in a TV network. I knew that being a freelancer would eventually give me the freedom I longed for, so I thought of jump-starting my online career while I still had regular work (and regular income).

I looked up oDesk (now Upwork after merging with Elance), made an account, and searched for jobs that I could do. I told myself that I would make time some other day to apply for those jobs… but I never did. I was caught up in the daily grind of my regular job. Every day after work, I was just too tired and didn’t have the energy to do more than reheat dinner and watch a Game of Thrones marathon.

It was only when I was formally resigned from work (in other words, officially a bum) that I fully commited to my goal of becoming a freelance writer. I guess the push to commit was brought by the pressure of being unemployed and not having a steady flow of income. I didn’t commit to freelancing the first time I tried because nothing was at stake. The second time around, a lot depended on it – my career status, my bank account, and my pride.

Now, I’m not saying that you should become a bum first to find it in yourself to commit to freelancing. What I’m saying is, you need to have a good reason to be committed to being a freelancer. Is it to have more time with your kids? Is it to have more time to pursue a passion project? Is it to avoid the daily commute that’s already taking a toll on your health? Think of your reason and commit. If you’re not yet 100% sure about pursuing a freelance career, read this post to avoid regret.

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2. Update your resume, make a cover letter template and organize your portfolio.
Just like applying for any regular job, you should take online job application seriously and it all starts with a well-written resume. Be sure to update your CV and include skills or qualifications related to freelance positions you’re applying for.

If you’re applying to be a freelance writer, highlight your writing experience or awards. If you‘re applying to be a virtual assistant, mention related skills like being organized or being well-versed in Excel or Shopify. Just be sure that you’re honest with what you put in your resume.

Most likely, you’ll be applying for multiple job postings at a time. It’s a good idea to create a cover letter template or a generic proposal. But this doesn’t necessarily mean cutting and pasting every time – you have to tweak and tailor-fit your template for different job posts to increase your chances of getting hired.

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3. Search for online freelancing platforms, register, and make a credible profile.
Aside from oDesk, I made accounts in Elance, Freelancer and Onlinejobs.ph. I also regularly checked postings on Craigslist to increase my chances of finding jobs and clients.

Based on my experience back then, I had an impression that most employers on Elance were micro-business owners looking for just one or two freelance employees. Job postings on Onlinejobs.ph on the other hand, seemed to be involved with companies looking for multiple employees and were usually SEO-related.

Whatever online freelancing platform you choose, always remember this: make a credible profile ASAP and never apply for a job if you haven’t completed your profile yet. If you apply for a job and the prospective employer sees a half-blank profile, you’re off their list in a snap – one opportunity wasted. Competition is fierce in online freelancing platforms and you have to come to battle prepared.

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4. Create a PayPal account and take time to understand how it works.
Back when I started freelancing, PayPal was mostly the only way to receive payments from international clients. I still get paid through PayPal these days, but there are more platforms available now like Paymaya, Xoom, or remittance services (mostly for local employers). Some online freelancing platforms also send payment directly to bank accounts.

I know of many people who are hesitant to link their bank account to an online platform like PayPal for security reasons. One way to feel more secure about it is to link a bank account that you would only use for freelance payments. This way, your life savings isn’t compromised if anything goes wrong. Also, be sure to understand an online payment systems’ regulations, including fees and withdrawal process.

5. Bid or apply for jobs you are interested in.
When applying for jobs, you shouldn’t only look at the job description itself. You should also check out the profile and review of the employer who posted the vacancy. Does the employer pay on time? Is the employer overly demanding? Checking the name of an employer or a company in freelancing forums and groups is also a good way to be sure of its reputation and legitimacy. You wouldn’t want to be a victim of a scam.

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6. Prepare for video call interviews.
When applying for a regular job, one prepares for an interview by picking out a good corporate outfit, reviewing answers to basic interview questions, and arriving on the venue on time. All these doesn’t change when you’re applying for an online job.

Based on my experience, Skype interviews can work three ways – 1.) basic chat, 2.) voice call, or 3.) video call. You can ask the hiring officer how the Skype interview will be conducted, but I advise aspiring freelancers to be ready in case the employer decides to do a video call.

First, be sure to look presentable and wear a decent top like a collared shirt. A freelance employer expects you to be at home and might be surprised to see you all suited up unless you were required to do so. Your background should be professional and simple – a plain wall will do. Lastly, boot your laptop, get your headphones ready and log in 30 minutes before your scheduled interview time. You should be able to reply right away the moment the interviewee sends you the first chat message.

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7. Read articles and blogs about freelancing while waiting for projects.
If you’ve been interviewed for a job and haven’t heard from the client for a week, don’t fret. Chances are, the employer could be screening other applicants for the post, or the management could still be deliberating on who to hire.

Instead of refreshing your email inbox every five minutes, distract yourself from the waiting game by learning more about the online freelancing industry. Business websites like Forbes and Entrepreneur have excellent articles on international freelancing. Or if you want feedback from local freelancers, it would be helpful to read blogs, forums, and Facebook group posts.

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8. Repeat steps 4, 5 and 6 until you find the perfect fit.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get a call back after your first few online job applications. As mentioned earlier, competition can be fierce in online freelancing platforms, and starting as a newbie is not exactly a walk in the park.

It’s easy to doubt your qualifications if you don’t get an online job within the timeframe you set for yourself. However, it’s important to be aware that there are many elements involved in the hiring process.

Also, newbies have a tendency to get trigger happy when applying for online jobs just to be able to land their first project. But one must also consider other factors before hitting that “Apply” button.

Does the job pay enough? Is the employer easy to communicate with? Does the job challenge you mentally and contribute to your growth? In short, you should also consider if a job is “qualified” to be given your best asset – your time.

That’s it – eight steps I took to set up my online career. For current freelancers, did you have a journey similar to mine during the start of your online career? And for aspiring freelancers, what step are you currently in right now? Let us know on the comment section below!

Why I left my job at a TV network to become a freelance writer

I’ve always had a thirst for independence. And I endured all those years of reporting for duty at the newsroom before dawn and working long, stressful hours by clinging to a dream that one day, I would have the freedom to wake up any time sans a call time, have the choice of what to write about, and go anywhere without having to file for a leave.

That day came in January 2015, when I found myself with all the independence in the world. I wasn’t tied to a network and I could do whatever I wanted without a boss looking over my shoulder. Finally!

However, it wasn’t all as romantic as I imagined it to be. I was unemployed, wandering, and a bit clueless about the new virtual industry I was trying to penetrate. Not to mention, I was nervous that my bank account would run out before I even land a freelance writing project.

Though I didn’t have much financial responsibilities then, there were bills to be paid – phone bill, WiFi, laundry, groceries, my part of the rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Quezon City that I shared with three friends.

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How did I end up sitting on a desk in my room, counting on my laptop to find me a job that is excitingly, but also scarily, virtual?

I’ve been a television writer-producer since the year I graduated from college. I spent most of my 20’s in one of the top television networks in the country.

Despite working as a news and public affairs producer in that network for seven years, I never became a regular employee. We, in production, were called “talents” – a classification that gave us good financial compensation (we were paid “talent fees”), but did not provide regular benefits including vacation leaves or sick leaves.

For instance, if I was absent for a day, I would have to find someone to replace me. That pinch hitter would receive my talent fee for that day.

We also didn’t have security of tenure as our contracts were renewed every year, or every two years, depending on the TV show we were producing for.

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By the last quarter of 2014, my parents decided to take us on a two-month family vacation to the US, to see the sights and visit relatives. My parents were both self-employed professionals while my sister worked for a company that allowed long vacation leaves depending on work merits. I was the only one who didn’t have the privilege of going on vacation for that long.

And so, I devised a plan which my program manager approved: I would resign to cancel my contract for the rest of 2014, and would come back to work in January 2015 under a new contract.

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But while I was marveling at the lights of Time Square, staring wide eyed at the Grand Canyon, and feasting on my first legit Thanksgiving turkey dinner and Costco pumpkin pie, new talent work policies wreaked havoc in the network.

The management amended talents’ contracts and changed our tax classification, resulting in higher taxes and a handful of paperwork.

They wanted us to register our writing service as a business and issue a BIR receipt for every payment cutoff. Though it was stipulated in our contract that we don’t have an employer-employee relationship with the network, it’s not like we can do any other work for other media entities. For one, we worked full-time for the network. And despite the lack of benefits, we were required to do the same amount of work as regular employees.

Because of the changes, merely staying became a hassle. People were leaving. Many of my friends were leaving.

Trouble at work was not something I wanted to chew on while gorging on churros in Disneyland, so I tried to stay off Facebook Messenger and pushed worries to the back of my head for the rest of the trip.

As soon as I got back to NAIA and was greeted back by the sweltering heat, I knew there was no way I could further delay making an important decision which would be a turning point in my career.

If I was going to register myself as a self-employed professional with a writing business who issues receipts for completed projects, then why not go all the way and be an independent contractor?

So I talked to my manager and told him that I wouldn’t be reapplying for a new contract in 2015.

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It was fun while it lasted – call times earlier than the sun, the savage race of who gets to break the news first, coverage in jails, evacuations centers, and whatnot, all in the name of public service.

Though complying with the network’s new job contract requirements was easier than, well, not having a job at all, I saw it as a perfect chance to check out other possibilities.

I’ve had the privilege of fulfilling my dream of being a TV producer for most of my first decade out of school. Life was handing me a new opportunity to go after other things on my bucket list. And I took it.

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And so, we go back to that moment when I was sitting in my room, clicking away on Freelancer.com and what was then Elance (now Upwork after marrying oDesk). There was just so much to learn. How do I propose for a project? How does this Paypal thing work? How much should I charge or bid? What freelance jobs can I actually do?

Just as I was pondering on these things, I heard a ping and saw an envelope icon appear on my Freelancer.com window.

It was exhilarating and horrifying.

I felt a bit lost, but I also knew I was right where I was meant to be. I clicked on the envelope.

Are you currently a freelancer? What made you decide to choose this path? Let us know on the comment section below!

Freelance Psychotherapist Shares Inner Peace With Clients

You can’t give what you don’t have. In the field of psychotherapy, it seems paradoxical for a counselor to offer comfort and support to clients if he or she does not have tranquility within.

This is not a problem for Karin Brauner Hollman, a self-employed psychotherapeutic counselor and a freelance languages tutor based in Brighton and Hove, England.

cropped-fullsizerenderBeing her own boss allows Karin to work quietly and independently, without the pressure of conforming to requirements and preferences of a company or institution.

Her inner peace becomes a beacon of light to clients, many of whom are seeking guidance amid abandonment, relationship problems, life transitions, depression, bereavement, anxiety, and stress.

Though Karin has been working freelance since 2005, she became a full-fledged self-employed counsellor in 2013 a nd began offering freelance language tutoring services last year.

Karin tells Inspired Space how she keeps a peaceful yet productive work routine in her office. She also offers advice for aspiring freelancers before they decide to quit the rat race for good.

Inspired Space: What made you decide to be a freelancer? I like the freedom to do things my way, within ethical, moral and professional boundaries of course, without the bureaucracies that can come from working in a company with a boss.
Karin: My dad has had his own business (electrical engineering) since I was little, and this has been an example for me. I was always going to go into freelancing/entrepreneuring as I like the freedom to do things my way, within ethical, moral and professional boundaries of course, without the bureaucracies that can come from working in a company with a boss. Also, with the way things have gone in the NHS and the counselling professions, it is easier to find work independently, and market myself as a Private Practitioner (alongside a part time PAYE job while I reach my earning and professional goals). With the tutoring side of things it’s a similar thing, but it might be a possibility to do part time work in a school if it comes up.

IS: How difficult was it to start a career as a freelancer?
Karin: I think I am still in the midst of it, and always learning and adding skills, tools as a practitioner and advertising/marketing tools both online and locally. It is a steep learning curve but the benefits are great and am hoping to see even more benefits as time goes on! Four years is still the beginning stages of my freelance career in counselling, and one year is even more so for my tutoring career! Ask me again in 5 years, let’s see what has changed!

IS: What are the most challenging parts of being a freelancer?
Karin: I work from home, so my office is at home. This means I need to balance even more work and life – having time for self-care, for disconnecting from work and the admin it requires…

IS: What are the most rewarding parts of being a freelancer?
Karin: I get to set my own schedule, how much I want to earn, how much I want to do, and I enjoy it. Admin work is never really work, because I enjoy doing it and know the benefits I will reap from it – either from learning new things when writing a blog or attending a CPD event, or from engaging with people online and locally.

IS: Tell us about your work routine and how you keep yourself productive when working at home.
Gimp 1Karin: I have set a schedule for things I need to do for advertising and marketing online, I’ve split things into one or two things to do daily, the main bulk will be on Mondays and Thursdays, which are my busiest freelancing days. The rest of the days it’s just re-posting the blog, for example or adding more posts to postify. With counselling, sometimes there are cancellations and rescheduling so every week is different, but I try to keep to the same availability times each week.

IS: Tell us about your Inspired Space.
Karin: I love my office, especially since I moved furniture around. I have a DAB radio that I play on low just to keep me focused. I have everything I need in here – my laptop and a desk for it and for students when I teach, I have bought a laminator which is a highly satisfying task (try it! you’ll see!), I have all my books in here and a comfy sofa chair that I can sit and work from. My kitchen is not far away if I ever need a tea top-up or a snack.

IS: What advice can you give aspiring freelancers who are planning to take the big leap?
Gimp 2Karin: I would say, go for it, but don’t leave your day job until you are financially secure – I know others might say take the leap and the universe will conspire and sort you out…but the universe doesn’t pay the bills at the end of the month, does it! I am still working part-time at my care job which I enjoy doing, but hope that in the next few years I will be able to live from the counseling and tutoring business. Make a list of your goals for your business and put them on a wall where you can see them. Pick one or two that are manageable and get them down to the point that they become a natural part of your days/weeks. One thing at a time or you’ll get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing and with nothing!

Karin also advises learning as much as one can about marketing, advertising, and what websites work best depending on the products or services offered by the freelancer. She herself networked with a few entrepreneurs online who shares their experiences and tips to help one another in their endeavors. Learn more about Karin and what she does on her websiteblog, and Facebook page.

How did Karin’s freelancing story inspire you? Tell us on the comment section below!

The Benefits Of Being A Freelancer: Do The Pros Outweigh The Cons?

As with any career choice, there are pros and cons to being a freelancer. But are the benefits really worth that regular job you ditched it for?

We, freelancers, can think of a thousand benefits to being an independent worker. Abdullahi Muhammed, an entrepreneur and CEO of Oxygenmat, listed down seven particular advantages that you probably won’t get if you’re traditionally employed.

In his article for Forbes, Muhammed enumerated the following pros of freelancing:
1. You control your workload
2. You’re less likely to get sick
3. You get as many breaks and as much sleep as you want
4. You control your work relationships
5. You can exercise at optimum times
6. You’re your own boss
7. You avoid the long commute

Of course, some of this pros can easily turn into cons, depending on the work outlook and attitude of the freelancer.

The ability to control your workload and the allowance to take as many breaks as you want, for example, can become quick turns to non-productivity resulting in fewer clients and meager income.

The benefits of having a more relaxed working condition is definitely a priced advantage. Avoiding a long commute allows one to pass up on fatigue and escape exposure to pollution and seasonal viruses.

But it still depends on a freelancer whether the time saved for commuting would be used for something worthwhile like exercise, or if it would be spent in front of the television while snacking on a huge bag of chips.

In the end, it is the freelancer’s daily choices that either makes independent employment worth it or not. 

It is also these very choices that divides the line between successful freelance professionals and career drifters who are just passing up time before trying to find their next regular company job.

For aspiring freelancers, which of these benefits do you look forward to the most? 
And for existing freelancers, what is your favorite benefit in your current independent work setup?

Tell us about it on the comment section below!