Cutting expenses isn’t the only solution when it comes to balancing your budget; you can also try to find ways to boost your income. Here are three suggestions.
With everything from interest rates to tax to electricity and petrol increasing faster than our salaries, it’s not surprising that it’s becoming more difficult to make ends meet. If you’ve stretched your budget to its limit, it’s time to start thinking out of the box to find ways to make some extra cash.
Pay-per-task websites have transformed the work environment by creating platforms where companies or individuals list jobs that can be done remotely.
This phenomenon has been coined “crowdsourcing” and is usually used by small- and medium-sized companies to hire skills around the world. For example, a South African company may enlist the skills of a writer in India to do their press releases, or a company in the UK may hire a South African to design a new website. These are all contract based without the need to ever sit in an office.
Some freelancers make their livings off these sites, but many full-time employed people moonlight in the evenings or weekends to supplement their income.
Use your freelance skills
If you have skills such as a programming, graphic design, proofreading, writing, typing or even book-keeping, there are loads of opportunities for freelance work on websites like upwork.com or peopleperhour.com. The downside is that many thousands of people are using these sites, so competition is fierce. You may have to accept lower-paid jobs initially until you have built up your online portfolio and positive reviews.
Ros Brodie, a freelance copy-editor and proofreader who uses website upwork.com, recommends that if you don’t have very specific and in-demand skills, then you may want to price yourself very low when you first start. “Since you have no work history or ratings, price is the only factor that you can compete on. There are a lot of people from places like India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Phillipines who are willing to price themselves very low. Try apply for jobs that have some sort of ‘test’ attached to the application ‒ this will allow you to prove your abilities and show the quality of your work.”
The more good work you do, the better your reviews, and the likelier it is that you’ll get more work. Of course the opposite can also apply ‒ a negative review would hurt your chance of future work.
Payment is done via PayPal, and you can withdraw the funds to your local bank account. Regarding payment, there is an element of trust involved, though Brodie says that she has never not been paid for a job. “Just as employers rate freelancers, freelancers also rate employers,” explains Brodie, so you are able to see the employer’s history in terms of how freelancers who’ve worked for them have rated them, and also how much in total that employer has already paid out for all of their jobs. Be careful of scammers – no site will ask you to pay a registration fee (though some do offer a premium service for a small monthly fee); they make their fee by taking a percentage of each job.
“Obviously you’re taking a chance on a brand new employer who has no history, just as any employer is taking a chance on a new freelancer who has no history, but I think any sensible person can gauge from correspondence with the prospective employer, whether there are likely to be issues or not,” says Brodie who adds that the website also has a dispute-resolution process.
Article update: A new freelance hub was launched in 2016. According to its website Hubstaff Talent is a zero-fee freelance website that connects businesses with great talent across the globe. It officially launched on September 30, 2016, and now has 7,126 freelancers that specialize in everything from computer science and coding to writing and marketing.
Ideal for call centre agents
For example, Mechanical Turk (which is run by Amazon specifically for their own website) hires people for specific internet-based tasks. They run what they call Human Intelligence Tasks where you are given a specific time period to complete the task and the amount of money paid is clearly indicated. After the requester approves the work, the money is deposited into your Amazon payments account.
The tasks can range from filling out a multiple-choice survey to checking if two products look the same or finding the Twitter account of a website URL, and categorising images.
The amount paid is very small – often less than a rand, so you need to do quite a few in an hour to earn any real money.
Trent Hamm, author of The Simple Dollar, tested out Mechanical Turk to work out how much he could make in an hour. He made around R80, which is not a bad income to make on the side.
His recommendation is that since the tasks require a very low skill level and are often repetitive, the work is best done in sporadic bursts during the course of the day. This could be ideal for someone who is manning a call centre, for example, who can complete a few tasks during delays between calls.
He recommends avoiding very low-paying tasks but refreshing frequently to see what new tasks are available, as well paid tasks go quickly. Writing tasks are better paid, so if you can write quickly, especially on a topic you’re familiar, with you could earn a better rate. By completing an online test, you can earn a qualification that makes some higher-paid jobs available.
For students or on the weekends
The US has several sites where people and companies can post small jobs, tasks and errands such as collecting laundry, summarising a lecture, finding a string quartet for a party, etc. These sites are specifically designed for students who have a few spare hours a week to help out people who are often too busy to get the day-to-day stuff done.
Unfortunately in South Africa these sites are not as prolific. There are some sites like Rent-a-Student which list some jobs, but if you have a car and can run errands, then list your services on websites like Gumtree and OLX, or work on word of mouth. A word of warning though: there are some strange people out there, so vet them carefully before you take on the job.
Drive someone home safely
As South Africans become more aware around drinking and driving, many driver-assist businesses have opened. Since the demand for this type of service peaks over weekends, there is a high demand for part-time drivers to work a 12-hour shift over a weekend.
Unlike a regular taxi service, in the driver-assist model the driver is dropped off at the location by a ‘chaser’ and drives the client home in the client’s car. The ‘chaser’ follows and collects the driver once he/she has dropped the client at home. This means there is no need to have special insurance or a public driver’s license and can be a perfect part-time job for a husband and wife team.
What you need to know is that hired drivers and chasers all need to submit to drug screening on request and are subject to background checks. As the driver, you would usually receive a training course before you would be allowed to drive clients.
Companies use different models: some pay a set fee for the 12-hour shift while others pay for each trip taken with a minimum booking fee. Over and above the booking fee, a driver can make good tips. Alan Wheeler of Cape Town based service Drunk Drivers says tips can be around R300 a shift.
Get your home on TV
There is a huge demand by both local and international film and photography crews for locations for photoshoots, especially in Cape Town. You don’t necessarily have to have a designer home, as many TV adverts are looking for ordinary homes to shoot commercials for everyday products such as washing powder and tea bags.
Jeanne Watson of Shootmyhouse says the weak rand is making South Africa a top destination for international adverts. The catch however is that the house needs to be fairly generic and easily adapted for an international look.
“We are looking for homes that are fairly generic but that are open plan with a lot of space where small changes can be made to suit the requirements,” says Watson, who adds that kitchens tend to be the most in demand for shoots. The photographic crew may need to make some changes to your home, such as putting in additional counters or putting up blinds, but these are all rectified after the shoot. Watson says insurance is taken out by the film company to cover any damages but in her experience this is seldom required as the crews are very careful. A generic home for an average commercial can earn between R8 000 and R10 000 per day.
Before signing up you would need to submit photographs of your home. If it meets the criteria professional photographs will be taken and your home would then be listed on the site.