Table Of Contents
When you’re talking about making money online, the words scam and slave labor get thrown around fairly often – and not without cause. But there are plenty of legitimate ways to earn a decent secondary income online if you’re savvy enough to avoid the false offers that are simply too good to be true, and if you possess any of a wide variety of marketable skills.
First of all, if you ever come across any sort of advertisement claiming some sort of magical guru can teach you how to make thousands of dollars easily from the comfort of your home, run away fast. That is unless you’re reading this guide of course, in which case we’d like to preface its actual content with a disclaimer: all of these activities are best done as sources of secondary income only, unless you’ve already been doing any of them long enough to feel they’re reliable and you keep a tight budget. You won’t find any get rich quick schemes here, but with some hard work, your finances might get a welcome boost.
We’re also going to be avoiding vague categories of work, which you may have seen if you’ve ever researched this topic online before, we’ve come across a lot of guides with suggestions such as “Sell your homemade goods online!” or “Design and sell your own t-shirts!”. In those cases, the subset of abilities required to actually get the ideas off the ground is far too specific to make them realistic, so we’ll focus on jobs (no, the fact that they’re online-based doesn’t diminish their qualification as actual jobs) which require little to no specialization, as well as rating the best sources of jobs we’ve found in each category.
There won’t be any information in this guide about doing surveys or odd jobs such as those available in Swagbucks, Clickworker, etc. since these basically pay nothing. Our purpose here is to guide you towards increasing your income in a considerable manner, showcasing easy writing gigs with lower pay through to more elusive work with quite lucrative payments. Whether you’re simply looking for a few extra bucks on the side or you are a competitive freelancer, you should come along for the ride. Your wallet will thank you.
Writing is an online gig with a bad reputation. There’s tons of competition, and the market is flooded with websites that offer wages so low they might as well pay you in food stamps.
There’s also the fact that even if you enjoy writing, you’re probably not going to get much of a chance to flex your creative muscles, given that the majority of the work you’re likely to perform may be related in one way or another to marketing. But work is work!
So, given the odds are stacked against all new entrants to this business, how can any newly minted online freelancer hope to make any money just by writing? Diversify and build up a portfolio in order to attract clients on your own outside of the normal writing marketplaces. Do your research and find the sites that pay the best rates and how to go about joining the cast of writers, but never place all of your hopes on a single source of work.
Today, we’ve taken the liberty of doing some of the research for you, so you can find the places that offer you the best fit and you can get down to work right away. We’ll be going over the details of each potential workplace and at the end of each section, we’ll recap the most important points, such as payment methods, potential earnings, available amount of work, joining requirements, etc.
As an important note, the potential earnings included in this guide should be treated as rough estimates. That being said, we’re taking into account the individual pay rates of each site, whether they’re slanted towards short or long assignments and we are also assuming that all writers can write at an average pace. At the end of the day, your earnings are going to be limited only by how much work you put in and the inherent pay scales of each workplace.
Textbroker (TB) has long been one of the main sources of work available for online writers. When a new worker joins, they’re asked to submit a writing sample on a topic not of their choosing and that sample will be subsequently rated by the Textbroker elves on a scale from 1 to 5, which will determine not only your pay scale but the jobs that are actually available for you.
We cannot emphasize this enough: you’ve got to make a solid effort on your writing sample instead of just winging it. Moving up the ranks if you’re starting from the bottom takes a lot of work and requires several positive ratings from your clients.
If you score anything below a 3 on their test, Textbroker is probably not going to be worth your time. The majority of work is requested of level 4 writers because they’re expected to deliver solid, quality content at decent rates and those at the coveted level 5 get their pick of the choicest assignments with great compensation.
To put things into perspective, let’s take a look at their pay scale based on compensation per each 500 words written:
- 2 stars: legible – 0.7 cents – 3.50 USD
- 3 stars: good quality – 1.0 cents – 5.00 USD
- 4 stars: excellent quality – .4 cents – 7.00 USD
- 5 stars: professional quality – 5.0 cents – 25.00 USD
You may notice the scale does not include they payment for level 1 assignments and that is because there are none. If your sample is rated at that level, your application will simply be rejected.
If you’re salivating over those 5-star rates, hold your horses. Those sought-after spots are only handed to the writers that pass the strict Textbroker proofreading test and get consistently rated high enough on their assignments to even consider being promoted in the first place.
What do you need in order to join? The main Textbroker website (.com) only accepts applications from US residents, but they’ve got an international website (.co.uk) that accommodates all other applicants. In order for your account to get verified, you might also get asked for a photocopy of a photo ID. Applications can take up to 2 or 3 weeks before they’re verified, so you best send yours in as soon as possible if you want to start working right away.
Even then, once you’re in, you’re going to start off in a probationary basis until you’ve got 5 well-rated articles under your belt. If this all seems like a lot of hoops in order to get your foot in, just remember that they help weed out the competition and ensure that Textbroker can afford to keep compensating their writers fairly, because its strict policies guarantee that only competent individuals may join.
Once you’ve got your foot in the door and you have survived the probationary period, here comes the fun part. You’ll be able to pick any Open Orders you choose up to your writer rating (if you choose to write a level 2 assignment however, as a level 4 writer, you’ll get paid at the level 2 rates). If a client likes your work enough, there’s a chance you might be asked to join their private teams, which means you’ll get the first pick at future assignments. This is where the real earning possibilities unfold.
Once you’re well established in the community, you might even get direct commissions for which you can set your own prices regardless of your writer rating.
- Payment methods: PayPal (weekly if your account meets the minimum threshold of $10, although you’ve got to log on to make the payment request yourself. Requests made before 11:59PM PST Thursday will be paid by the end of the day Friday).
- Potential earnings: $14 per hour (This is a conservative estimate for a level 4 writer who can manage to complete two 500 words assignments in an hour, taking into account the possibility that each of these may require some research and editing).
- Available amount of work: From 3 stars and upwards, you won’t be lacking for work, but the real gold mine is at level 4.
- Joining requirements: A PayPal account in order to be paid, you might also be asked for a photocopy of a picture ID to verify your identity. The process involves a writing sample and applications may take up to 2 or 3 weeks to be processed but your mileage may vary.
- Link: http://www.textbroker.com/
2.2 Writer Access (US-Only)
Writer Access (WA) is very similar to Textbroker. When you join, you’ll be tested to determine your rating from 1-5 and your pay will vary depending on which rating you’re assigned.
Writer Access however, has the distinct advantage of being easier to advance in terms of rating so it’s easier for new writers not to get discouraged. If you’re admitted with a rating of 2-3, a couple of good reviews from a few well written articles will allow you to make your way up the ladder in no time.
The actual writing process here is a bit different. You’re allowed to pick one job from any potential client at first from the assignments pool and if they choose to accept your finished product, you may work for this client again at any time they have more work available. What this means for you is that things may start off a little slow as you build up your own pool of clients. Conversely, the pay scale is a little better than at Textbroker, which makes up for the difference. Let’s take a look at it:
- 2-Star Writer – 500 words – $6.65
- 3-Star Writer – 500 words – $12.25
- 4-Star Writer – 500 words – $19.95
- 5-Star Writer – 500 words – $25.90
Once again, the 1-star rating compensation scheme is excluded because that rating is reserved for rejected applications.
Besides the open pool assignments, all writers can apply to casting calls and if a client likes your work enough, you might get placed on their ‘love’ list, which is likely to ensure a steady flow of incoming work.
The application process itself may take up to a month while your sample is rated and they’re strict about following the rules of the Associated Press Stylebook for writing, so you might wish to take a look at that. Only US residents with PayPal accounts may apply.
- Payment methods: PayPal (monthly between the 7th-9th day if you meet the minimum of $10 in your account in order for your payment to be processed).
- Potential earnings: $24.50 per hour (This estimate is based on a 3-star writer who can successfully finish a minimum of two 500 words assignments per hour including the time it may take to do research, edits, etc).
- Available amount of work: Little at first, until you get a few casting calls and clients under your belt, afterwards, if you’re level 4 and up, you should have a constant stream of work.
- Joining requirements: A PayPal account and being a US resident. After you submit your application, it may take upwards of a month to hear back from WA.
- Link: http://www.writeraccess.com/
Zerys is yet another platform similar to WA and TB. You sign up and are rated on a 1-5 scale, which will determine the assignments you may sign up for on the Job Board and consequently, your payment rates.
Your writer rating can change rapidly once you have a few completed jobs under your belt with corresponding glowing reviews, since you will strive to write quality content, won’t you?
The Job Board is decidedly bare if you’re below the 4-star rating, but you’ll get email notifications whenever new jobs are available for the taking. Once you get an assignment, you can communicate directly with the client in case you need further instructions and your writing ‘timer’ will be paused while you receive them, which is a plus.
One thing to keep an eye out for is your client’s rejection rate, which should be taken as an indicator of how worthwhile an assignment may be. Hardly anyone will have a 100% acceptance rate though, so it pays off to take a risk once in a while. Trust your own judgment on this one.
As for the difficulty of signing up, you should hear back about your writing sample within the week, most likely after 2-3 days, but this may vary depending on how many people are queuing up at the time. At that time you’ll also be required to individually select every single topic for which you’ve got the appropriate qualifications to write, which is sadly a very slow and clunky process due to their platform, but it pays off to sign up for as many as possible, so power through.
- Payment methods: PayPal (On the 1st and 15th of each month or up to three business days afterwards, without any minimum amounts).
- Potential earnings: Depends on the rates assigned by the client, so it’s difficult to make an estimate on this one, but ranges are similar to the Textbroker scales.
- Available amount of work: Compared to WA and TB, there’s less work available and it gets scooped up pretty fast, but they do contact you via email when any new assignment you’re qualified for become available. As always, there’s more work available the higher your writer rating is.
- Joining requirements: A PayPal account in order to receive payments and the registration process includes a short writing sample that is usually reviewed within the week. Registration is open for non-US residents.
- Link: http://www.zerys.com/
2.4 Constant Content
Constant Content (CC) is quite different from the other sites we’ve talked about so far. Here clients seldom request articles directly – instead, writers are free to send in whatever work they want and price it as they see fit, so customers can browse amongst the vast catalog of available articles and choose whichever one they prefer.
Each article is available for sale through three formats, which you can price individually:
- Usage: this simply grants the client permission to reproduce your article somewhere else, but keeps it available for the taking on the marketplace in case more people are interested.
- Unique Rights: should the client complete his purchase using this option, he will be free to reproduce it as he sees fit and it will be removed from the marketplace so that other people aren’t available to obtain the same content.
- Full Rights: similar to unique rights but more thorough, this allows the client to publish your work under his own or any other name, edit it or even resell it should he choose to do so.
When it comes to prices, Full and Unique rights of course command a higher rate than Usage, and they are the most commonly chosen options by clients. At the time of publication, you can choose which formats you’d like your article to be available in.
If this all seems too complicated for you, there’s an upside. Constant Content articles command a much higher rate than most other “content generation” sites. Articles are commonly priced at the $0.1 per word range, which is to say a 500-word document will usually sell its Full or Unique rights for around $50.
If you’re already crunching numbers, you’ll realize there’s a lot of earning potential in CC, but sadly, there’s no guarantee that every article you write will end up being purchased. Also, some articles will simply sell their Usage rights (which usually discourages any potential Full and Unique rights buyers).
Experienced writers on CC claim that on average 60-70% of articles end up being sold, which is a pretty respectable rate. We recommend readers consider CC as a way to diversify a working portfolio, but not to make their finances dependant on sales within their platform – sales are, at best, unpredictable.
However, if you play your cards right, there are lots of ways to hedge your bets when writing for CC. For example, once you’ve been admitted to the site, you can check a list of Popular Searches on your Writer’s Dashboard, so you could potentially tailor your future projects to any keywords you find there. There are also direct requests made by clients for specific articles, for which any writer may submit his own work. If your article is not chosen by the person requesting it, it’ll be automatically placed in the open pool of articles.
About the joining process: you’ll be required to pass an English grammar test, which is composed of 5 multiple-choice questions. Once you’re in, the first articles you submit will be revised thoroughly to check whether you’re up to the Constant Content standards.
Every article you want to publish on their marketplace must first pass the magnifying glass of an editor and a plagiarism check (which may take several days, depending on the length of the queue), so don’t think about CC as a place to dump work which has been rejected elsewhere – they take care to maintain high standards. In fact, CC editors reserve the right to completely terminate their association with any author that has been found to submit subpar work on 3 or more separate occasions.
This rule is a source of constant confusion for a lot of writers who have joined the platform, since there’s seldom any feedback regarding its specifics. However, as long as you stick to the Constant Content author guidelines and double-check your articles for common grammatical mistakes, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
- Payment methods: PayPal (during the first week of the month) or wire transfer (this option is only available if your payout exceeds the amount of $500).
- Potential earnings: We’d be remiss to make any estimates, since there’s no guarantee that any given article will be sold and the prices are wholly up to you, the writer. But if you have a wide catalog of work available on popular topics, sales should crop up constantly.
- Available amount of work: Entirely up to the writer.
- Joining requirements: A PayPal account, in order to receive payments and the registration process includes a short English grammatical test. Registration is available to non-US residents.
- Link: https://new.constant-content.com/
Right off the bat, Scripted gives a very professional feel. They’ve got very thorough FAQs for writer and clients, and the site includes lots of positive testimonials.
Scripted also charge much higher rates to clients than most other websites, and take a bigger cut, but writers still benefit from the increased prices. For example, someone working on a 400 word article would be paid a minimum of $24.50 for it, should it pass the editing process and be accepted.
The application process for Scripted is simple. Once you’ve filled out all the important information, you’ll be required to apply to one or multiple specialties, which will determine what assignments are available to you. As for other sites, this part of your application may take a while, but it’s worthwhile to stick around and cover all the topics you feel you’re qualified for.
Once you select a specialty, you’ll be shown a sample of the kind of work they’re looking for in that area and be requested to submit a sample of your own so the Scripted editors can verify you’re indeed qualified to join its roster. You’re free to submit work that has been published elsewhere on the Internet as long as it’s your own. This reviewing process may take up to two weeks, so we advise you to apply simultaneously to as many specializations as you can, so you can start working as soon as possible.
An important note to consider about the application process is that you only get one shot per specialty, so make sure your writing sample accurately reflects your talent and don’t be afraid to self-edit.
If your application is accepted, you’ll be able to find jobs for whichever specialty you chose on your dashboard. Each assignment includes details, so you can pick the ones you prefer.
Once you find an assignment that interests you, it’s time to pitch the topic to the client (you may send multiple pitches). This must include a potential title and summary for the full article. If your pitch is accepted, you’ll be given a week flat to complete it and could be awarded bonus points if you do so with time to spare (which will help you get advance notifications of upcoming jobs before other writers).
Keep in mind, your client may change the details of his request at any moment, so remember to check them after your initial pitch is accepted to make sure you’re up to speed on any changes. Your writing area includes a message box so you can communicate with your client.
When your article is finished, it’ll be reviewed by the Scripted editors before being sent to the client, who reserves the right to both request edits (in which case you’ll be given an additional 5 days to execute them) or outright reject the article.
In the case that your article is indeed outright rejected, your editors will go over it in order to determine whether it truly wasn’t up to standards and you may be offered a “consolation” fee (of at least half of the full payment) if they come to the conclusion that the rejection wasn’t due to the quality of your work. This is a feature unique to Scripted, since rejected articles everywhere else are, quite simply, discarded.
Deadlines are taken very seriously at Scripted. In the case an article has been sent forward to a client for his final review and they don’t request any edits within that timeframe, it will be automatically considered as accepted; the same rigor applies to edits.
Payments are sent out every Friday via PayPal for every article that was approved within the week, all fees are covered by Scripted.
- Payment methods: PayPal (weekly every Friday).
- Potential earnings: The minimum payment for a 400 word article (which will likely be a blog post) is $24.50, although most average $30-40 and several long-form jobs are available for the taking.
- Available amount of work: Depends on how many specialties you’re accepted into.
- Joining requirements: A PayPal account in order to receive payments and after the registration process, you must be approved individually for any specialties or topics you want to writer for, which could take weeks depending on the number of applicants. You will also be required to fill out and submit a W-9 form if you’re a US resident or a W-8BEN form if you’re not.
- Link: https://scripted.com/
Contently is an odd duck in our roster of writing sites, since it acts mostly as a portfolio for you to display your writing, but it does offer you the chance to get assignments for which you are paid handsomely. By handsomely we mean, they offer $100 minimum for each article, but payment usually averages $250.
Don’t expect to get your hands on these coveted assignments right off the bat however, since the first and most crucial step when joining the site is to set up your portfolio, which is what will allow prospective publishers to decide whether to offer you jobs. If you’re still getting your feet wet in the world of online writing, you likely won’t have a decent roster of articles up, which will limit your exposure.
Contently allows you to link to your entire portfolio on other sites or individual articles. You’ll be able to search for specific article clips, which will be displayed prominently on your portfolio, and their platform is even able to directly retrieve your information and past work automatically for several sites, such as Yahoo! Voice.
If you have no articles available online, you can add files directly from your computer, so you don’t have to limit yourself if your catalog isn’t as ample as you’d like just yet.
Once you’ve added all the articles you want, you can choose your favorites among them in order to be featured on your Contently profile page. We recommend choosing from a wide variety of topics in order to show off the broadness of your range. However the opposite approach is also valid, if you’re aiming to get assignments from a specific topic, limit your featured articles to those within that specialty.
When your profile/portfolio is ready to go, you’ll be able to get jobs from publishers working with Contently. This is an inexact science, you’re not able to choose assignments directly from a pool like on other websites and it may take a long while before you actually get any work here, but when it happens, the pay is worth the wait.
If you’re chosen for a job, you’ll be joining a team and will be able to send in pitches or accept existing assignments from the client. Once the work is completed, it’ll go through a reviewing process and rest assured, the editors at Contently will be happy to help you through it with constant back-and-forth during the whole process.
Each article averages a deadline of around 4 days and edits are around 3 days. Payments are then automatically approved once your work goes through the editing process and you can request a payout to your PayPal account at any given moment once you’ve passed the $10 mark.
Contently isn’t the right place to look for day to day work, but we decided to include it on this list because having a portfolio is an important tool for any freelancer, whether they work online or off and Contently provide a fast, easy way for you to get yours.
- Payment methods: PayPal (whenever you request it, if you’ve accrued over $10 on your account).
- Potential earnings: The minimum payment for any given article is $100, although they average $250 each.
- Available amount of work: Indeterminate, as clients reach you directly if they like your work.
- Joining requirements: A PayPal account in order to receive payments and after the registration process and some past work in order to fill out your portfolio.
- Link: https://contently.com/journalists
2.7 Alternative Routes
If you’re looking to do writing work independently instead of affiliating yourself to a writing platform, there are a lot of routes you can take in order to get your online writing career started. MakeUseOf has already published guides on the two big, do-it-yourself methods, so we’ll defer to these existing guides here:
Transcription is a job that people seldom imagine themselves doing, but curiously enough, it’s one of the most stable sources of online jobs available at any given time.
The process is simple: you listen to an audio file, transcribe its contents according to the guidelines specified, turn in the finished product, and get paid.
It of course, is very seldom as easy as that. Considering the incredibly wide range of topics that your assignments may cover, you may find yourself constantly at a loss when dealing with lingo from specific areas of work, or simply frustrated due to segments of a file where the speakers talk over each other and you can’t make out a single word they say.
Transcription isn’t for everyone, and most online platforms have incredibly high burnout rates. But if you find that you don’t mind the work, and posses a decent set of headphones, it might just be the ticket for you. Further on ahead, you might even want to invest in a pedal – with this you can bump your speed up even higher, as you won’t have to take your hands off the keyboard in order to speed up, down, or replay parts of an audio file.
Starting rates for transcription work may go as high as $0.6-0.7 per minute of audio, which is indeed decent pay, but if you’re a rookie it will almost certainly take you a long time to get through even short audio files. So your actual amount of earnings won’t be high until you get some experience and speed under your belt.
Once you’ve been doing transcription for a while, you might even get the chance to do some media work, which pays considerably better, or you may make it to your client’s shortlist for rush jobs.
When looking for transcription jobs, you’ll notice they’re divided mostly into four categories:
- Medical: this involves transcribing the notes of medical professionals and is considered a technical trade, so any serious workplace will require you undergo training before accepting you into their team. This training is often quite expensive.
- Legal: slightly more relaxed than medical transcription, but still requires some qualifications, mostly in the form of previous experience in some area related to the law.
- General: the catch-all category, which groups all the odd-jobs such as business meetings, phone calls, etc. this is likely going to be your meat and bones unless you’re willing to undergo the qualifications to obtain either medical or legal transcription work.
- Media: mostly work relating to TV, such as documentaries or reality television. They offer the best pay since they’re usually incredibly deadline-sensitive. As such, it’s a hard niche to break into.
Now that you’ve been properly warned about what you’re getting into, let’s review some of the biggest transcription sites to work for.
3.1 Daily Transcriptions (US-Only)
Daily Transcriptions (DT) provides transcription services ranging from academic, legal, corporate through to multi-lingual. Their pay rate is around $0.7 per minute for most assignments and you’re guaranteed work each week.
The application process involves a test transcription, which is famously difficult and must be written down according to their guidelines.
DT will contact you via e-mail whenever any new jobs are available for the taking, and you’re free to either accept or decline them, but you must complete some work each week in order to receive a grade and continue working for them.
They offer both full and part time positions depending on your availability and applications are only open to US residents.
- Payment methods: Direct deposits.
- Potential earnings: Transcriptionists are paid $0.7 on average per minute of audio.
- Available amount of work: Indeterminate, assignments are sent directly to you via email.
- Joining requirements: Being a US resident and passing a test, which involves transcribing an actual audio clip. The test itself is notoriously difficult.
- Link: http://www.dailytranscription.com/
3.2 Focus Forward (US-Only)
Focus Forward (FF) is another outfit that’s always looking for new transcriptionists to join their ranks. Their average pay per minute of audio comes out to around $0.6 for their regular jobs, but they do offer several specialty assignments with higher pay rates.
For example, if you’re bilingual and are capable of doing Spanish transcriptions, you can earn up to $23.36 per 15 minutes of audio, which translates into $1.5 for each minute.
Besides all the elements we covered in the introduction to this chapter, FF also likes to remind its applicants that being a fast typist is an important part of the work if you want to get any true volume of work done in a reasonable amount of time. Your typing speed should be at a minimum around 50 words per minute, although if you aren’t quite there yet you can simply slow down whichever file you’re working on.
Working as an independent transcriptionist for FF means you can choose when and where you work of course, since they only require a minimum of 4 hours of work per week and will keep you up to date on assignments and deadlines via email. So if you don’t check your email constantly, get in the habit of doing so.
Should you miss multiple deadlines, it’s likely that FF will terminate its contract with you, so try to start off with shorter files while you’re still learning your way through the process – don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Payment methods: Direct deposits.
- Potential earnings: Transcriptionists are paid $0.60 on average per minute of audio, although there are several projects available on a regular basis that pay higher base rates due to their difficulty.
- Available amount of work: Indeterminate, assignments are sent directly to you via email. You are required to process at least 4 hours of audio per week.
- Joining requirements: Being a US resident and passing a test, which involves transcribing an actual audio clip.
- Link: http://www.fftranscription.com/join-team.html
Rev is quite similar to the writing sites we covered in our Writing section, in the sense that you are free to choose your own work from an assignment pool. Each assignment possesses a separate deadline and rates that vary depending on several factors such as accents, number of speakers and urgency of the transcription.
Transcribing rates range between $0.40-$0.65 per minute. This is a bit on the low end as far as the industry goes, but they do offer the possibility for non-US residents to join their team, which is unique as far as online transcription outfits go and as such we decided to include them.
We do however, not recommend thinking of Rev as a full time job, since workers earn only an average of around $300 per month. Think of it as another place to diversify your income sources.
Besides that, the process of working for Rev is quite simple. You’ll be required to submit your resume and a transcription sample when you sign up and you’ll most likely hear back from them within the week.
Once you’re in, you’re free to take any job you wish, although you should study their style guidelines thoroughly first. When a finished job is sent in, it’ll go through an editing process and then move on to the client.
Transcriptionists are evaluated on several metrics, so although editors will have your back and most likely correct any mistakes you may miss, you may still be penalized from them and possibly even lose the opportunity to take on further assignments.
- Payment methods: PayPal (Weekly payments every Monday for work completed up to the past Saturday).
- Potential earnings: Transcriptionists are paid $0.4-0.65 on average per minute of audio, rates vary depending on the complexity of each assignment and are specified up from on the job pool before you accept any job.
- Available amount of work: There are always transcriptions available for the taking.
- Joining requirements: Passing a transcription test and having a PayPal account in order to receive payments.
- Link: http://www.rev.com/freelancers/transcription
The idea of tutoring online is pretty straightforward, but it has high entry requirements. Most reputable sites will ask you to, at the very least, be currently attending college or have a bachelor’s degree.
Besides that, it’s as easy as connecting to Skype, Google Hangouts or whichever software the company you’re working for uses, getting paired with a student and working away. Rates of course vary according depending on how many other tutors there are for any given subject.
4.1 Tutor.com (US & Canada Only)
Tutor.com is the gold standard for online tutoring as far as we’re concerned. First of all, they require you to either be currently attending college or have a bachelor’s degree, regardless of the subject you wish to tutor in – but your major doesn’t necessarily limit the subjects you can tutor in.
You must also be either a US or Canadian resident (although New York state habitants may not apply), be over the age of 18 and finally, pass a test in the subject area you’re interested in teaching. The subjects that are most commonly requested are of course: calculus, statistics, physics and chemistry. Tutors who are fluent in Spanish or any other language are also highly sought after.
The test you have to take in order to be approved to tutor in any given area includes a writing sample, in order for them to gauge your communication skills. We recommend that you test in several areas at once, if you’re qualified to teach the material, since the more subjects you’re accepted into, the higher your chances are of actually being approved for either one or all of them. Tutor.com favors those workers that can cover wide areas of expertise.
Once you’re selected, you’ll be required to send in some paperwork and peruse their training materials at your leisure. When you’re ready, you’ll be able to schedule an interview with an experienced mentor who will pose as a student with a problem you’ll be required to help him with. Afterwards you’ll be graded and given all the necessary feedback, Tutor.com understands that a lot of first time tutors need some time to hit their stride, so don’t be scared about your mock session.
After your interview is done and you’ve been approved. You’ll be able to run a program on your computer that will pair you with students that require help in the area you’re tutoring. You’ll be compensated at an hourly rate for these sessions and be able to both schedule hours in advance (in which case you’ll be given priority when a student is seeking help) or simply work whichever hours you please.
There is a cap for tutors of 30 hours of work per week, though most tutors work on average about 20-25. When you’re starting, you’ll get work as a probationary tutor, which means your rates will begin at $9 per hour, while later on you can either receive $10 per hour if you tutor in low-need areas or up to $12 if you focus on any of the highly sought-after subjects we mentioned earlier (one interesting tip is that you can get these higher active rates if you’ve passed a test for any of those areas even if you only actually tutor on low-need subjects).
Payments peak at around $14 per hour for the highest-rated tutors and there are also several incentive programs in place for the “hardest” subjects, as well as for tutors that consistently get high ratings.
- Payment methods: Monthly via Direct Deposit.
- Potential earnings: Tutoring rates go from $9 to $14. Advancement opportunities come through consistently high ratings and those that focus on teaching the most sought-after areas will get better base rates. If you work here an average of 20-25 hours, as most of their workers do, you should be able to clear at least $800 monthly.
- Available amount of work: Depends on the subjects you’re tutoring in, as some areas, such as calculus, statistics, physics and chemistry, are always in need of more workers.
- Joining requirements: Being either a US or Canada resident and to be currently attending college or already possess a bachelor’s degree (it doesn’t necessarily need to be a degree in the area you’re interested in teaching).
- Link: http://www.tutor.com/apply/
4.2 Buddy School
Buddy School (BS) offers a more freelance approach, for those who don’t want to work through a company and would prefer the freedom to set their own rates.
The way it works is that you register, fill out your profile with the areas you’re interested in tutoring in and the payment methods you’d prefer and then simply have to pay Buddy School a small activation fee ($1 per month or $10 per year) in order to be included in their listings. You handle payments yourself with your clients, and BS doesn’t take a cut of any of your earnings.
The downside, of course is that you’re not guaranteed any hours unless you’re a tutor in the areas we’ve already mentioned to be always highly sought after. But with the freedom to price yourself at the rates you consider just, it can become a good source of extra income.
Buddy School also has a rating system, which helps you obtain more visibility, so you still need to keep your work up to high standards if you want to get more clients in the future.
- Payment methods: Entirely up to you and your client as payments are handled directly between the tutor and his client via the method they prefer.
- Potential earnings: You can set your own hourly rates.
- Available amount of work: Depends on the subjects you’re tutoring in, you’re likely going to be getting less work weekly than in Tutor.com for example, but it’s a nice way to complement your earnings at Tutor.com since they have a hard cap of weekly work time.
- Joining requirements: Being qualified to tutor in whichever subject you prefer and possessing some payment processing method, which is up to you.
- Link: https://buddyschool.com/
We’ve already covered all the major areas of work we consider to be worthwhile when looking for good sources of secondary income online, but those are not the only places available.
There are always new sites popping up where you can find work in whichever field you prefer. However, in the meantime, there are also a few established hubs that offer jobs all across the freelancing spectrum. Let’s take a short look at each (all of these sites have work available for every imaginable category: writing, transcription, tutoring, audio or video editing, translations, etc. so we consider it superfluous to mention them individually).
ELance works in the same way most freelancing hubs do. You sign up, set up your profile, choose your areas of expertise, portfolio, job history and then either wait for the clients to come knocking or choose from amongst the work available publicly, in which case you’ll have to contest other applicants for it.
You can choose either a free membership – which allows you to submit up to 40 proposals per month to potential clients – or opt for any of the paid plans – which increase your limit. We recommend you start off with a free membership until you’ve tested out the marketplace.
If a client contacts you directly you’ll be asked to submit a proposal, including a price offer which can be negotiated. Once you get hired, you’ll have access to a shared Workroom so you can stay in touch with your project managers and they can supervise the progress of your work.
ELance automatically keeps track of the time you spend working, and does the whole billing and invoicing process for you, so you can focus entirely on your work. For this service, ELance take a 8.75% fee from your earnings, which are deducted from the final payments of any job.
- Payment methods: You can choose between wire transfers, payments to a Payoneer card, PayPal, Skril Moneybooker or even bank checks if you reside in Canada.
- Potential earnings: You can set your own hourly rates and negotiate prices with clients when offered a job directly. Besides that, clients specify their offers if you’re applying for an open assignment.
- Available amount of work: There are always jobs available, so it’s simply a matter of making proposals or having a profile that stands out from the rest. In the case of your profile, you do this by building up your portfolio.
- Joining requirements: Being able to receive payments via one of the methods mentioned above and choosing either free or paid membership plan. Paid memberships range from $10 monthly for individuals or $20-60 for companies depending on their size.
- Link: https://www.elance.com/
You sign up, set up your profile and start working – no fuss. ODesk does offer a very wide range of online competency tests, so clients can be certain that you’re indeed qualified for whichever job you’re applying for or being offered.
When offered a job, the process is similar to ELance. You can negotiate your hourly rate or a fixed payment, and ODesk has an application that can track your work and allow your client to supervise it.
If you choose to apply for a public assignment you can also negotiate your rate, although clients do specify the price range they’re aiming for upfront and you can submit a cover letter in order to differentiate your application from the rest.
- Payment methods: Weekly payments via Payoneer, Skrill Moneybooker, PayPal, direct deposits or wire transfers.
- Potential earnings: You can set your own hourly rates and negotiate prices with clients when offered a job directly. Besides that, clients specify their offers if you’re applying for an open assignment. Jobs usually pay less than similar offers on other websites such as ELancer or People per Hour.
- Available amount of work: There are always jobs available; it’s simply a matter of making either your proposals or profile stand out from the rest. Build up your portfolio in order to make your profile stand out.
- Joining requirements: Being able to receive payments via one of the methods specified above, filling out your profile and pass whichever online competency tests apply to the jobs you’re interested in (not necessary, but heavily recommended since clients use these as a way to weed out applications).
- Link: https://www.odesk.com/
5.3) People per Hour
Similar to ODesk and ELancer, but you have to send your own invoices via their website. Clients are asked to place any agreed upon payment in escrow with PPH when you begin a job, in order to avoid problems down the road.
- Payment methods: Either PayPal, direct deposits or wire transfers.
- Potential earnings: You can set your own hourly rates and negotiate prices with clients when offered a job directly. Besides that, clients specify their offers if you’re applying for an open assignment. Rates are comparable to ELancer.
- Available amount of work: There are always jobs available; it’s simply a matter of making either your proposals or profile stand out from the rest. In the case of your profile, you do this by building up your portfolio.
- Joining requirements: Being able to receive payments via one of the methods specified above and filling out your profile.
- Link: http://www.peopleperhour.com/
There are many, many places to find online work – this manual is just a quick outline of what’s possible. Clearly we can’t cover every single online freelancing site out there, but as far as the big hitters and reliable sources of work go, the previous sections are a good place to start for anyone looking to dip their toes into online jobs.
However, there are two last places that we must mention but haven’t been included in other categories because they’re simply online classifieds. They are Craigslist and Reddit for Hire.
By their nature, we can’t vouch for any of the jobs you’ll find available there (although RfH tends to be a very safe place to find assignments), but the sheer amount of work available in both can be a good place to seek additional income for the adventurous freelancer, so be sure to check them out.
Image Credit: Cover photo by DeclanTM via Flickr
Guide Published: January 2014