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7 Ways to Get Paid During the Pandemic

Need to earn money fast? You can use these socially distanced side hustles — from contact tracing to wine sales — to make dough the digital way.

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Olivia Fields
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Some side hustles have gone by the wayside during this pandemic. After all, who wants to go mystery shopping when we are trying to stay out of the stores? And renting a room out on Airbnb is just too risky in the age of social distancing.

But some hustles are just as relevant during the current health crisis, if not more so. If you have some extra time on your hands and need a little cash, these side hustles are pandemic-proof.

  1. Become a contact tracer. One of the most important jobs during the pandemic is contact tracing — identifying and reaching out by phone, text or email to people who may have been exposed to COVID-19, connecting them with testing resources and keeping in touch with them to monitor their symptoms. Contact tracers are being hired across the country on a full-time and part-time basis, so if you want to help bring an end to the pandemic, this is a way to pick up extra cash in the process. While pay varies across the country, the job site Indeed says contact tracers earn, on average, around $19.72 per hour. Check your state health department’s website, as well as job sites such as for opportunities.
  2. Tutor kids online. With so many students taking part in virtual learning, some parents may be itching to give their kids some extra support. Online tutoring services let you share your knowledge and offer students encouragement at a time that is convenient for you. Salary website PayScale lists $19.65 as the average hourly pay for online tutors. Among the sites that connect tutors and students are Club Z! Tutoring Services and Sylvan In-Home Tutoring.
  3. Introduce your friends to new businesses. If you spend a lot of time posting on Facebook, here’s a way to possibly get paid for it. Drum is a service that brings together businesses looking for publicity and people looking to make referrals. When you share information about a company with your network via text, social media or email and someone makes a purchase, you get paid. Depending on the cost of the product, you can make anywhere from $10-$100-plus per referral. Your friends and family also benefit from discounts when they try products or services you tell them about. 
  4. Make contactless meal deliveries. Last August, Uber reported that people weren’t looking for many rides during the pandemic, but its food delivery business was soaring. If you feel comfortable picking up food from restaurants and dropping it off to hungry neighbors, an UberEATS driver can typically make anywhere from $12-$17 per hour, according to the latest estimates from the jobs site Glassdoor. DoorDash and GrubHub are also looking for drivers. Payment and tipping are done via app, so you don’t need to worry about cooties from cash.
  5. Offer freelance business services. The percentage of people who applied for applications to start a new business soared 77 percent between the second and third quarters of 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With so many new entrepreneurs, you may find plenty of work if you have a knack for graphic design, creating marketing materials or handling other administrative tasks. While you can certainly market your services to businesses directly, you can also use platforms such as Fiverr or Upwork to connect with clients. While you can set your own rates, the more technical your skill set the more money potential clients may be willing to pay. Consider doing the same for personal services, such as virtual party entertainment.
  6. Get crafty. Many have connected with their creative sides during this pandemic, making everything from jewelry to paintings to masks. If you’ve always wondered whether others would appreciate your talent as much as you do, now’s as good a time as any to find out. Take photos of your creations and post them on a site such as Etsy or Amazon Handmade. You get to set the prices though you must pay the platform a commission on sales.
  7. Be a virtual music teacher. In-person singing can potentially spread the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns. But virtual singing lessons can give people a safe opportunity to improve a craft and engage in an activity they enjoy. There is also a market for people looking to learn how to play an instrument online. If you have either of those skills, you can offer classes on platforms such as Live Music Tutor and Lessonface. Typically, such services will take a percentage of your sales. For example, Lessonface charges 15 percent of your earnings when you teach students who find you through the website, but only 4 percent for students you bring to the table.