In the United States, the median weekly wage is about $850 per week or $44,200 a year for those working a 40-hour work week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Although that’s certainly not a salary to scoff at, unfortunately, 32 percent of workers say they have an unreasonable workload, and 41 percent feel they aren’t paid fairly for that amount of work, according to a study done by Workplace Trends.
But so often we’re told we have to work harder if we want to make more money.
Well, that’s not the case for everyone. Some entrepreneurs manage to find lucrative careers while working fewer hours than required in a typical office. Here, four of them share their stories on how they made over $75,000 a year without a full-time job.
1. Develop an online course
Online learning is becoming increasingly popular. According to a study by the Babson Survey Research Group, more than 6 million students are taking at least one distance course, 5 percent more than the previous year.
It was this demand and opportunity that inspired John Omar, creator of the blog Chain Operator, to develop an online course sharing the secrets of his cryptocurrency success.
“I created a course because I couldn’t find anything out there that explained how to trade cryptocurrencies,” said Omar. “Making it online meant I could reach more people with very little work.”
The course is a set of pre-recorded videos, which he charges $500 to access. The one-time effort of creating the digital lessons and platform now equates to an income of $50,000 a month, according to the entrepreneur.
“At most, I work five hours a week writing content for my blog, which drives new traffic to my website and course,” he said. “I generate passive income literally while I sleep.”
Although you may not be able to make five figures in one month like Omar, you can leverage your expertise to develop an online course of your own. Websites such as Udemy and Teachable make it simple to create one and charge a minimal fee.
Have a master’s in English? Start a writing course! Have you spent years working in finance? What about creating an investing 101 class? The options are limitless, and you can reap the benefits by doing very little work. Just keep in mind, the competition can be fierce since many web courses are so readily available online.
2. Take pictures
A selfie on your smartphone might not make you a lot of money (unless you’re Kim Kardashian), but honing your photography skills could lead to a high-paying, part-time job.
Mike Sansone, a headshot photographer in Chicago, quit his day job to focus on photography and now works fewer hours — while making more money — than he did full-time.
“In 2017, I broke the $75,000 mark, and this year I will make over six figures,” said Sansone. “And my day is super flexible. I’ll do some work in the morning, hang out with friends, make dinner, watch TV, and then do some work again. Some days I won’t work at all. It’s certainly not a desk job.”
Sansone never aspired to be a photographer and, instead, stumbled into it while in acting school. “I bought my first camera to make short movies,” he said. “A friend noticed and asked me if I would take his headshot. I learned more through personal coaching with famous photographer Peter Hurley, and now was eventually able to go out on my own.”
In addition to his part-time work, Sansone also keeps his overhead as low as possible. “I don’t have a car anymore, and my apartment is super tiny, and cheap,” he said. “If you live minimally for a few years, you eventually won’t have to anymore. That’s one of the important factors to working less and making more no matter what you decide to do.”
3. Create and sell digital graphics
If you find yourself doodling at work, that pastime could become your lucrative part-time career. Amy Stafford made up to $100,000 a year for the past several years selling digital graphics via her website and Etsy shop.
Graphic designers at companies and business owners look for pre-made illustrations to use in a larger design to save time, rather than creating it themselves. Stafford provides those “raw” materials and a variety of licensing options, which is how she makes her money without having to work a full-time job.
“This self-styled career has afforded me the freedom to travel, live, and work remotely while still making giant strides with my U.S. student loan debt,” said Stafford, who is now based primarily in Germany. “I happily paid off my last loan in February about five years ahead of my previous plan with my current flexible job.”
For those handy with graphic design software or a paintbrush, you could start selling your images online, like Stafford. There’s no requirement for how many graphics you have to deliver, so you set your hours.
But the more inventory you have, the more money you’ll likely make. Stafford, for example, has 168 purchasing options on her Etsy site that include “digital patterns,” templates for powerpoint, and papers for scrapbooking.
4. Consult on SEO for businesses
Having an online presence is imperative to almost any business. According to a study by Forbes Insights, 82 percent of customers will research products they want to buy online first. But a company’s website needs to come up as one of the top search engine results to get noticed by consumers. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
SEO is the process of growing the number and quality of people who visit your website through organic search traffic by strategically using keywords throughout the site. Doing that takes skill, one that Andrew Graham managed to turn into a part-time job, making over $125,000 a year.
“I can make six figures working about 25 hours per week as a freelance SEO consultant,” said Graham. “I even went traveling in Asia for nine months working just 15 hours a week.”
Graham was introduced to SEO as a career through a friend at a house party, and instantly saw the lifestyle advantages that this kind of job could provide. “I saw SEO as a tangible skill that would allow me to start an online business that can be run from really anywhere in the world, as long as you have a good internet connection,” he said.
At that time, Graham had just been laid off from a corporate sales job and was looking for something different; he was hired as a sales representative for an SEO company. That job allowed him to develop relationships in the industry and, after about 20 months working there full-time, he was able to quit and start his own business.
To break into the field, said Graham, you’ll have to study the landscape intensely, and it’s best if you have a marketing or computer degree. Bonus points to anyone who has created their own website before or has experience with WordPress. Having jobs with SEO companies on your resume also helps with securing clients, if you want to work for yourself later. “The more experience you have, the better,” said Graham.
In addition to having a lot of experience, you have to stay on top of trends. “Industry changes rapidly as the search engines further develop their algorithms. This does require you to put in a lot of effort to stay sharp,” he said. “But overall it’s an excellent field to make a great salary and have lifestyle freedom.”
All of these real-life stories began with taking a leap and trying something new. If you’re inspired to take on a new side hustle, find out how you can turn it into a lucrative career.
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