Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Additional income: my strategy

A while back, Krystal of Give Me Back My Five Bucks wrote for Moneyville about how to earn extra money in your spare time. It got me thinking about ways I can supplement my own income. Other than freelance writing (which I've done in past and plan to start again) I was coming up short on inspiration. So, I sat down and wrote a list of things I really like to do, noting any money-making potential for each activity, as well as potential downsides.

My list looked like this:

Gluten-free baking: Since I'm allergic to wheat, I've developed a talent for baking without it. There's definitely a growing market for this. However, this would likely result in a low dollar rate per hour due to the effort required. Cakes might be more profitable, but I am actually terrible at decorating them (though I know someone who is excellent at it). I made a note to contact this friend about potentially joining forces.                      

Playing violin: Teach violin, start a quartet/ensemble to play weddings and other gigs. I could make $30-40 an hour teaching, given my experience, and I really love it, too – especially working with beginner students. I’ve done it in past so I know what’s involved. With a quartet, you can make $50 or more for a one-hour gig, although there’s a fair deal of preparation involved. But, once you have your “sets” down, you can slash that prep time considerably. I sent a note to a fellow orchestra member to see if we can get something going.

Fooling around with words: I actually quite enjoy crafting bad writing into readable prose. I might be able to make $20 an hour editing, to start, though it would take some to ramp up to decent contracts. Corporate jobs would pay more, but would likely be *really* boring. I’m more interested in narrative writing (fiction / non-fiction) and wouldn't necessarily mind working for a lower rate to do this. I am going to look into this further.

Working out: I could actually do a great job of personal training, judging by some of the trainers I've seen at the gym (I see some really bad stuff, geez!). I’d need certification though, which would take time and cost some money. I’m not sure I’d enjoy it, either. There’s something about other people’s sweat…

From this list, I determined that I could immediately start teaching violin lessons. I put some ads on Craigslist and Kijiji. Good news: I just got my first student! She will be starting March 2nd. I'm charging $20 for a half-hour lesson, once a week, which adds up to an extra $80 of income at the end of the month. If I can work my way up to five students, that amount will grow to $400 a month!

If you’re stuck for ideas, try the format above. What do you really like to do, and how much could you make doing it, just starting small? Could it evolve into a full-time business? Might you like it even better than your current job?

I'm learning that with many things in life, if you start small, you can achieve big results over time. Freelance work is a great example of this principle. Finally, really do try to choose something you love. You'll definitely be more motivated to succeed!


  1. Awesome! Put those years of intensive violin practising to good use :)

    Seriously though, playing violin is such a beautiful talent to have!

    I used to play the trombone but I am in no way any good to be able to teach anyone.

    Good luck with teaching!

  2. Thanks! I studied pretty seriously for 12 years - it's a shame not to use it. I might consider going back and getting a certification - maybe my ARCT diploma from the Royal Conservatory. It's a huge investment of time (rather than money), but may be worth it in the long run...

  3. Good for you for starting to teach violin lessons. It's amazing how many people take their talents for granted, when it could be earning them extra money!

  4. Thanks :) I'm really excited about it!