This article was written by Ben Kissam — a middle school teacher and high-performance coach. He helps professionals achieve goals, perform better, and find work-life balance. Check him out on his website.
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*This article was written by a guest author. It has not been vetted or endorsed by Bored Teachers' editorial staff.*
No one got into education for the money. We do what we do for the fulfillment of the job, but making a little extra money never hurts, either. This is a story, as well as a guide, for you to make some extra cash as a teacher.
I had an idea of how to make some extra cash- try and find odd jobs around the neighborhood in which I already work. The end result? I made $3,877 in 43 days working an average of 3-5 hours/day doing any and every odd job you could think of (i.e. house sitting, dog sitting, trench digging, nannying (“mannying”), buffing and waxing cars, mowing lawns, and picking weeds).
Whether you are a teacher in your mid-20’s like myself or not, these tips should be useful in helping you make extra cash during the school year or summer break. They can be applied to your specific level of interest and level of time commitment for establishing a side-hustle.
Here are the 5 things you should do if you’d like to make extra cash during the school year or on summer vacation.
1. Know what you’re good at (and use skills you’ve developed as a teacher).
The most important thing is to know what kind of work you’re up for doing. My situation may have been a bit extreme as I took whatever fell into my lap to make some cash, but you can be as selective a you want.
Do you mind landscaping or doing other manual labor? Mow lawns, pick weeds, trim hedges, paint fences. Are you cool with being around more kids outside of school hours? Nanny after school, pick kids up from camp, host your own camp, or babysit on weekends. Do you have a specific skill? If you teach music, offer lessons. If you teach math or english, start a tutoring business.
2. Sell yourself, don’t sell yourself short.
Think about why being a teacher is one of the best careers there is for establishing a side hustle- and why you should charge more because of it. You have a college degree. You (hopefully) passed a background check to get your job. You choose to work with kids everyday, for pete’s sake. Your career choice screams that you are trustworthy, hardworking, and willing to do something many people simply are not cut out for.
All of these are reasons that you can charge more because of the value that you have to offer. Sure, you may get a few offers to do the same jobs a high school kid might receive, but it doesn’t mean you have to be paid like one. My flat rate for manual labor was $25/hour, and no one ever questioned it or said it was too high. I’m not saying be greedy, but make it known that your time is valuable.
Pick a number you’re comfortable with. Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short.
3. Use social media and your network.
Eighteen of the twenty-three families I worked for this summer I connected with on Facebook. That’s over 80% of the work I ended up doing. Here’s what you can do to replicate that:
Pick the neighborhood(s) you’d like to try and find work in.
Find (or ask around) for the local Facebook community group for the parents of that neighborhood. Also try local businesses or sports pages. All of your student’s parents are on Facebook these days. If you can’t find one, ask someone you’re already familiar with if a group like this already exists.
Get in the group. Sometimes you have to be approved first, but once you do, make a post similar to the example below:
“Employ me so I don't have to get a job before school starts.
Teacher/coach at a middle school in ____________ and a new resident looking to make extra cash this summer. Can provide references.
- House and dog sitting, dog walking
- Child care I was a full-time "manny" last summer in Stapleton
- Yardwork (cleaning, maintaining, fixing)
- Other general labor projects
Odd job not in one of those categories? Describe it and I'll let you know.
Can start this week. Text or call ___________, PM me or reply here. TIA"
Make sure you list that you’re a teacher, can provide references, and the jobs you’re open to different work. The first time I posted this, I received over 40 replies in 3 days, which led to 15 paying jobs.
4. Make money while you make money.
Sounds nice, but what does it mean? At least if you’re on summer break, there is potential to double down with the extra cash you make each day. If you have a family of your own to take care of, this one isn't for you.
I averaged around $90/day, but it wasn’t because people were handing me $90/day directly for my work. I was getting paid for other work (usually house or dog sitting) while I was working. I’d crash in one family’s house, take care of their pets in the morning, and book odd jobs each afternoon. I spent 28 of the 43 days living in other people’s houses, averaging an extra $40/day to take care of their pets.
This might be difficult to replicate at that scale during the school year, but you can certainly make $100-150 in a weekend for house sitting while a family is away. Again, because you teach, you are almost by default trustworthy enough to crash in someone’s guest room.
5. Give them a reason to use you again.
Make it a goal to have them use you over and over again. Here are a few ways to give yourself the best chance for that to happen:
Go above and beyond - do a great job at whatever you were hired for!
Make getting paid easy - accept cash, check, PayPal, or Venmo. Whichever is easiest for them.
When they go to pay you, be sure to mention that you’re willing to doing more work if anything else comes up.
The reality is, teachers work hard and still don’t always make enough to make ends meet. Some of us may need to work more than one job. If you’re like me, being a little entrepreneurial might fit your situation better than having to rush to your part-time work shift after school. The best part of this whole thing was I was able to set my own schedule throughout — my goal from the beginning.
Good luck and happy odd-job hunting!