The unfortunate thing about not having a job is that you probably don’t have a lot of financial resources to make things happen for yourself the way you want to.
However, the positive side of being unemployed is that while you don’t have much money, you have more time than people who are currently employed. This means that while you’re job searching, you can spend just a few hours a day building up your resume by doing fun, exciting things that can generate a little cash flow, and maybe even spark some new interests!
Even if you don’t end up taking on any of these things as a career path, future employers will be impressed when they look at your resume to find that while you were unemployed, you took the initiative to fight unemployment and create opportunities for yourself!
Of course there are endless amounts of opportunities out there, but we want to help you navigate through a few of those by creating a list of 10 ways to make money while you’re unemployed in your 20′s.
1. Offer tutoring or lessons
If your highest level of education is high school or college, you know something that an 8th grader doesn’t know. Whether it’s pre-algebra, literature, SAT prep, or even the sport you played for four years, there’s something you can help teach or coach an elementary, middle, or high school student that will help them make it to the next level.
Action: Print flyers that include your credentials (college grad, honor roll, dean’s list) and contact information. Take these flyers to local libraries or community centers and also, don’t be afraid to offer your services to family and friends. You never know whose child might need a little extra boost in their academics or other school related activities.
2. Start a blog
Making money on a blog can come faster than you think. Yes, it takes time to build a readership, but it might not be as far away as it seems. You may say “I don’t have anything to blog about” however, if you have something to talk about, you have something to blog about. We’re not saying that everyone has to be a professional blogger, but here are a few different approaches you can take to get started.
⁃ I’m a college student blogging about the music scene in my college town
⁃ I’m a college grad blogging about my journey as I navigate through the job searching world
⁃ I’m a working class twenty-something blogging about finding a dream job
⁃ I’m a young mom blogging about healthy, affordable meals for kids and the art of coupon-ing
⁃ I’m a young man blogging about his various adventures after college working odd jobs
Action: Set up a free blog on a site like Blogger or WordPress and be sure to set up and offer ad space to potential clients through a site like AdProval (it’s free!). Build your readership by spending 1-2 hours a day (this might mean a little less free time) and simply commenting on other blogs that relate to the general topic of your blog. Don’t just say things like “great post” or “check out my blog.” Leave heartfelt, meaningful comments and show that you actually care about what these other bloggers have to say. Do this for about two weeks and you’ll be surprised how fast your readership starts growing! If you do this consistently, you will find that people will start becoming interested in sponsoring your blog by buying ads. You can also sign up for an account with Google Adsense, which is a way to gain income when people click ads from larger advertisers on your site. Making money while blogging is closer than you think — just spend a little time working on building your readership everyday, and you will be surprised by the results!
3. Start an online store
Are you creative? Whether you know how to make jewelry, sew, or even take decent looking photographs of nature, these skills can create unique gifts that people are searching for all over the internet and willing to purchase. There are people making money online selling things they’ve made that cost as low as 50 cents and as much as thousands of dollars. Surely, there’s a place for you and your talents in there somewhere! So channel that woodworking or home economics class you took in high school and start creating something based on what you already know how to do!
Action: Sites like Etsy, StoreEnvy, FlyingCart, and Big Cartel are great sites to get a store started for little-to-no money. Sites like these will typically charge a small fee up front and/or take out a percentage of what you make, however, these percentages are not usually very much, and the more you began to make a profit, the more it pays off.
4. Sell used items online
One of the many beautiful things about the internet is that is had made the concept of getting out and selling things an easy, user-friendly virtual process. Sites like eBay and Amazon are two of the spearheads for selling things online rather easily. So, what are you going to sell? Let’s be honest: what are you going to do with those textbooks lying around your apartment, or those dresses in your closet that still have the price tags on them? Whether it’s an old iPhone or a brand new skillet in your kitchen that you bought from IKEA and never used, these are just a few things that are likely lying around your house gently used or brand new that you aren’t using and could be sold online.
Action: Create an account on a site like eBay or Amazon and begin listing items. Make sure you give good descriptions and take well lit pictures. Your pictures can even be taken on a smartphone, but just make sure potential buyers can see the product clearly. Stay on top of things by offering your customers good shipping rates and sending them products that match the description. In return, happy customers will give you positive ratings and the higher your ratings, the more comfortable future customers will be buying from you.
5. Get paid to write and create
Sites like Odesk and PeoplePerHour are great resources to find freelance work for skills you already have. These sites, among many others include listings for people looking for all kinds of works from website building to writing blog posts. There’s a little something from everyone on these sites. Take a look around and you just might see something you’re capable of doing.
Action: Create a profile and treat it like a job interview. Even though it might just seem like yet another social networking profile, use the same language you would use on your resume and spend at least 45 minutes to an hour a few times a week actively bidding for jobs.
6. Ask family and friends if they need help with any work
This might be the most awkward suggestion yet, but it can be helpful. Sure, it might not be the easiest thing asking your uncle if he needs help with his lawn care service, or asking a friend if the coffee shop she manages is hiring, but it is worth it to ask. You never know what opportunities may present themselves when you simply ask someone you know if they are looking for an extra hand!
Action: When asking family and friends about work, make your intentions clear. If your uncle will only hire you to work at his lawn care service company under the condition that you are actually interested in lawn care, don’t tell him that you “LOVE working outside” if you don’t. Be honest. If you’re just looking for something temporary, state your purpose. Being honest and having great integrity will take you far, no matter what career path you end up taking.
7. Consider becoming an au pair or nanny
Do you like kids and have any past experience with working with them? There are opportunities all over the world from Paris, France to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania looking for au pairs and nannies. Not anyone can be an au pair or nanny, which means that you if you really have it takes to care for children, you just might be able to have a nice, comfortable job that often pays very well. Even if you don’t end up caring for children for the rest of your career life, working with kids is no doubt a great resume builder.
Action: Join a site like Nannies4Hire or AuPair for a chance to see what families are looking for and if your skills and experiences align with what they’re looking for. As with every other suggestion in this article, practice basic privacy and internet safety rules. It is also important that you are honest about your credentials and maintain exceptional integrity.
8. Get paid to do music
You don’t have to have a record deal or a huge management company to make money doing music. If you’re a musician, start out playing open mics in your city every week. Be consistent and eventually, if you have decent talent, the right people will began to notice.
Action: As stated before, carry yourself like you’re going to a job interview. Just because it’s the music industry, that doesn’t mean people aren’t looking for professionalism. Always be on time and be sure to build authentic relationships with open mic hosts, restaurant managers, owners, etc. If they like you, they are likely to ask you to come back…maybe even for a paid gig!
9. Repair things
Have you ever fixed something? A computer? A pair of ripped jeans? Windshield wipers? You’ll be surprised to find that your knowledge isn’t always common knowledge. Don’t assume that just because it comes easy to you, everyone else knows how to do it, too. That’s what makes us communities work. We all have skills that we are unique to us, and we can use them to serve others, and perhaps generate an income, too.
Action: If you hear that someone you know needs help fixing something that you might be able to help with, don’t be afraid to tell them you have credibility in that area and would be glad to offer help. Their payment to you might be something as small as ten dollars for gas money or as simple as a thank you note, but these small forms of payment will lead to a good reputation around town and higher paid jobs if you stick with it for a few weeks.
10. Start your own business
This is the biggest step yet. But believe it or not, it’s not impossible. Many young people feel that they have to have a ton of experience before they can start their own business. Of course, you will need experience when you have five employees working for you, a company vehicle, and you’re making thousands of dollars in profit a month. However, when it comes to you selling items on eBay, starting a blog, or seeking freelance jobs, you just might be able to use some of the experience you already have and get started right now.
Action: And this is why we love the internet. The U.S. Small Business Administration Site (SBA.gov) has ever step you needed to properly become a business owner in the United States. Once you’ve worked that way through your list, incorporate other things from this list (starting a blog, repairing things) to build your reputation and make your business work!
And finally, things to remember:
Don’t sell yourself short
Just because you didn’t have a 4.0 GPA in college doesn’t mean you can’t be a tutor. All because you only started photography last year doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the right to take a high school senior’s pictures. You develop and perfect your skills by trying new things and taking the initiative.
Don’t do what you do to become famous or super wealthy. If that happens to be a positive consequence, then great! However be wary of overselling yourself or your product. As stated before, integrity goes along way, and people–meaning your customers–appreciate honesty.
Don’t let other people tell you you can’t do it
Always have people in your life that you can trust and people that are going to be honest with you, even if it’s something you don’t want to hear. However, while accountability is very important, be wary of those who allow fear do the talking. Beware of statements such as “wow, that work you’re doing right now has nothing to do with your college degree at all” or “why not just go and get a real job first?” There will be times when you don’t know how to respond or what to make of their words, but don’t let it keep you from trying to fight unemployment by creating work for yourself, whether it’s temporary or long term.
It won’t always be easy
Great things take great work. Taking the initiative to find unemployment in your youth will definitely come with its own set of battles. Don’t be afraid to look up to role models that you can actually talk to and ask questions (not celebrities that you don’t get to interact with) and ask questions like, “How did you do [this]?” “What did you do to make [this] happen for yourself and your business?”
It’s okay to start small
“If I could just find a job” is not a valid reason to not work. You don’t have to be hired by a company in order to generate some kind of income. Now, being hired by a certain company might generate a certain KIND of income that you want, but don’t be afraid to start small. You might only make $5 profit from a pair of pants you sold on eBay, but $5 is better than $0.
You’re young! It’s your time to shine! While so many of your peers enjoy spending unemployed time doing irresponsible things, take the time to really enjoy the simple fact that you get to try new things that aren’t only adventurous and exciting, but will help you in the future.
Discussion: Do you see yourself trying any of these things? Have you tried them before? How did it go?
Do you know a 20 something that’s job searching right now? Send them this article!
Also posted at The Get Started Project