38 Creative Side Hustles To Make Extra Money In 2019

How to Earn Extra Money on the Side

How to Earn Extra Money Guide

Nomadic Living

Looking to make some extra money this year? Check out my detailed guide to unconventional side hustles for earning extra income from home. Even if you’re already working a full-time job…

Nine years ago I quit my job to travel the world.

This was a crazy idea at the time, but it eventually turned into the best decision of my life, and these days I run a successful travel blog that earns 6-figures a year.

I wasn’t some rich-kid though, and before I could leave for that year-long backpacking trip around the world, I first learned how to make extra money online while working a day job so I could afford my travel adventures.

While I’ve shared how to get paid to travel as a blogger, and examples of travel-friendly jobs, some of you are still asking about other ways to make extra money.

Maybe you already have a day job. Or you’re a college student. Or a stay-at-home parent. You’re interested in a “side-hustle” to make extra cash in 2019.

Maybe for traveling, to open a small business, become a writer, or whatever your personal dream happens to be.

Well, keep reading then! This post is for you.

For the past year, I’ve been researching all kinds of crazy ways to make extra money on the side, and you won’t believe what’s working for some people these days!

More and more of us are learning how to make money online or from home — new technologies and opportunities make it easier than ever before.

Best Ways To Earn Extra Money

How did I earn extra money to travel all those years ago? Well, aside from learning how to save money properly, I also wrote and sold a series of ebooks about topics I was knowledgeable in — nightlife and photography.

Ebooks are basically digital how-to guides that people can download in PDF format. Don’t worry, I’ll go into more detail later in this article.

Selling ebooks is just one way to earn extra money, and it’s not for everyone.

Because we all have unique skills, passions, and abilities, below you’ll find many different ways to make extra money on the side, along with helpful resources to get you started with each one.

You’ll be saving up for that dream vacation in no time!

Creative Ideas To Make Money

Car Rental Side Hustle Idea

Rent Your Car to Tourists

1. Rent Your Car Out

Ah, the sharing economy. Always coming up with new ways for regular people to earn some extra money. If you own a car, you can make some easy cash by renting it out through an app called Turo.com. Don’t worry, every car gets a $1 million insurance policy, plus they pre-screen drivers, so your car will be in good hands.

How much money can you make? It depends on the car, where it’s located, and how much you decide to charge. This guy makes over $1000 per month, per car (he has a fleet now). To earn good money, don’t rent out the same car you use to get around every day. Only have one car? Maybe rent it out and switch to public transportation!

Start Renting Your Car On Turo

2. Become A Virtual Bookkeeper

Every small business needs a bookkeeper. I’ve got one too. Basically, they organize and track income and expenses, so a business owner can spend time on the things they’re good at — running the business. And you don’t need to be a professional accountant in order to become a bookkeeper either!

Competent bookkeepers can handle multiple clients, and make a good side income for themselves while working from home, as almost all financial information can be tracked online these days. With only 3-4 clients, a part-time (10 hours per week) bookkeeper can make an extra $10,000 a year. Being good with numbers helps!

Learn How To Start A Bookkeeping Business

How to Make Money on Fiverr

Make Money Like the Lord!

3. Dress Up Like Jesus?!

This guy records videos of himself dressed as Jesus, praising whatever you want him to. Your company. Your song. Anything! And he’s making bank… charging at least $10 with over 10,000 sales so far. I’m not saying you should copy him, just get creative!

Now I know what you’re thinking. But this is a totally legitimate way to work-from-home! Sure, it’s a bit oddball, but that’s what makes it great. People will pay you to do the strangest things over on the website Fiverr.

Launch Your Jesus Career On Fiverr

4. Recharge Electric Scooters

Renting electric scooters has become big business in cities like San Diego, Los Angeles, Austin, Paris, and Nashville. Companies like Bird & Lime hire regular people to pick them up and recharge overnight in their homes, dropping the scooters off on the street the next morning.

The reward for finding and charging each scooter is between $5-$20, and it’s like a fun GPS scavenger hunt, playing to win against other “bird hunters” or “lime juicers”. If you have a truck or van, and can grab 10 each night, that’s an extra $50-$100+ per day!

Earn Extra Money As A Bird Hunter

Earn Extra Money Renting Your Place Out

Renting Your Pad on AirBnB

5. Rent Out Your Room (Or House)

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the online marketplace AirBnb.com, which allows regular people to rent out their homes or spare rooms to traveling guests. I’ve been using it for years to find good cheap accommodation on my trips around the world.

Well, all those people I’m renting from are making extra income by renting out their apartments. Some have turned it into a regular side business, buying up properties in order to rent them out to tourists. If you have your own place, you can do the same.

Start Renting Your Place On AirBnb

6. Teach Cooking Classes

Are you a good cook? I’m not, except that one time I took an Italian cooking class! Have you ever thought about training others to cook? You could earn extra income teaching kids, retirees, or clueless husbands like me how to put together a healthy meal.

Back in 2012 Jan Pinnington was teaching her kids how to cook. Word got around, and other parents brought their kids, paying for her time. She saw an opportunity, moved her classes to a local community center and started a successful business.

Learn How To Teach Cooking Classes

Making Money Proofreading

Proofread Online for Extra Cash

7. Become A Freelance Proofreader

This one is for you grammar fanatics! Proofreading entails going over each word of someone else’s writing — correcting it for punctuation, formatting, and any other errors that may occur. My mom is my proofreader (thanks Mom!).

Proofreading court transcripts is in especially high demand, as it allows court reporters to focus on what they’re good at, typing fast during legal proceedings. By hiring others to proofread, these reporters can book more gigs, and make more money.

Before she started a blog, Caitlin Pyle was earning $43k a year working 20-30 hour weeks as a freelance proofreader. But you can work as much or as little as you want to.

Learn To Proofread Professionally

8. Make Extra Money As A Tutor

You’d be surprised how many people are looking for a professional tutor. For example, foreign students trying to improve their English. Or high-school kids that need help with college exams like the SAT or ACT. Or even the traditional homework tutor.

Businessmen in Hong Kong and the Middle East pay up to $25 an hour for someone to talk to them in English, helping them improve their skills. All you need is a wifi connection and Skype for this type of remote job, allowing you to work from anywhere in the world.

Start Tutoring Students Online With Preply

How To Make Extra Money Online

Making Money Online with a Blog

Earning Extra Money Blogging

9. Start A Blog (Like This One!)

Ok, I might be a bit biased here. Blogging is how I’ve been making a living for the past 9 years. It gives me the freedom to travel and work on my computer from anywhere.

If you want to share your knowledge with the world, and maybe entertain people, there’s no better way than starting a blog (and make some extra income).

Maybe your passion is travel, food, fashion, home-improvement, hiking, fitness — blogging allows you to turn your hobby into an online business.

How do you make money from a blog?

  • Selling advertising space
  • Promoting affiliate products and earning commissions
  • Selling your own products and courses
  • Launchpad for book deals and speaking gigs

Starting a blog is easy, but turning your blog into a successful business takes time.

As someone who’s learned how to build a successful blog from scratch, I’ve put together a free guide to help get you started:

Learn How To Start Your First Blog

10. Teaching English Online

English is the default international language of business around the world, and because of this, foreigners often start learning it at a young age.

Because the demand for learning English is so high, particularly in China, some companies have popped up offering English language tutoring services online. One of the most popular is called VIPKID.

Basically, you can get paid to teach basic English language classes to Chinese kids through a webcam. For just 90 minutes a day, it’s possible to earn over $500 per month.

You do need a Bachelor’s degree and some basic teaching/tutoring experience.

Earn Money Teaching English Online

11. Write & Sell An Ebook

Before I quit my job to travel the world, I built a small online business selling ebooks. I had one about nightclub photography and one about event promoting, two topics I was experienced with.

Basically, packaging knowledge into a useful handbook, and selling it online in a digital format. Either as a PDF, or maybe on the Amazon Marketplace. Writing the ebook is only the first step though, you also have to learn how to promote it using advertising, content marketing, blogging, social media, etc.

Learn How To Launch A Profitable Ebook

Freelance Writing Side Hustle

HINT: This Office Doesn’t Work in Real Life…

Work As A Freelance Writer

Do you enjoy writing? Freelance writers and copywriters make money crafting text for others, and if you’re good, you can earn a decent income on the side. I’ve written for online publications like the Travel Channel and Weather.com in the past.

Freelance writing can pay $0.10 – $1 per word, or $50 – $1000 per article. You not only need to be a good writer, but you should also know how to craft a proper pitch. Here’s a huge list of companies that hire freelance writers.

Learn How To Become A Travel Writer

12. Transcribe & Caption Videos

If you haven’t noticed, online video has exploded in the last few years. YouTube alone is the 2nd biggest site on the internet. Facebook is #3, with their own huge video platform.

Video creators know that to get their uploads noticed, transcribing the audio into text helps. I do it with my YouTube videos. Many people also watch videos with the sound off, so captions become very important.

If you’re a fast typer, you can make extra money typing out what people are saying in these videos through a few companies that specialize in providing this service. The pay is around $10 an hour.

Popular transcription companies:

Earn Extra Money as a Teacher

Earn Extra Money Selling Lesson Plans

18. Sell Your Teaching Plans

Are you a grade school or high school teacher? If you are, thank you for your service! Maybe you’ve already heard about TeachersPayTeachers.com. If not, this site lets you sell your amazing lesson plans to other teachers around the country.

Created by a New York City public school teacher who saw his class performed best when he mixed in unique lesson plans & ideas from other teachers with his own, the site offers full curriculums, assignments, and videos for sale to fellow teachers, tutors, and homeschoolers.

Sell Your Lesson Plans For Cash

13. Become A Virtual Assistant

As the world becomes increasingly connected online, more and more tasks can be accomplished without meeting face-to-face. This has opened up a whole new job demand for “virtual assistants”, or online personal assistants who help business owners with mundane work they can’t do themselves.

What kinds of work? Data entry. Social media management. Formatting. Editing. Online research. Email management. Graphic design. Booking travel. The list is endless! My own VA, Jess, makes my life easier by allowing me to focus on what I do best. Virtual assistants can earn between $10 – $30 an hour.

How To Become A Virtual Assistant

14. Create An Online Course

If you are an expert on a particular topic, there’s probably an audience out there willing to pay for your knowledge. I already mentioned turning your skills into an ebook, but there’s another, more lucrative way to teach some topics. Selling an online course.

I’m a huge fan of courses and tutorials, and I’ve learned so much about online business and photography with their help. While there’s a lot of free information on the internet these days, having someone organize all the best of it into an easy-to-follow format (with video!) is often worth the investment.

Create Online Courses With Teachable

16. Language Translation Jobs

Are you fluent in another language? Online translation is one of the best careers for working from home. You can work as little or as much as you want, earning extra money translating websites, books, presentations, and more from your computer.

My friend Alexandra earns up to six-figures as a freelance translator from English to Spanish, allowing her the freedom to travel while she works. To make good money you need to build up some experience first though.

How To Find Online Language Translation Jobs

Earning Money with YouTube

Earning Money with YouTube

17. Start A YouTube Channel

Do you have any favorite YouTubers you like to watch? Millions of people tune into YouTube each day to be entertained or to learn something new. And there’s lots of money to be made.

Making money with YouTube isn’t “get rich quick” though, it takes time & practice. I have my own YouTube channel about adventure travel. If you’re passionate about a certain topic, (video games, travel, cooking, science, parenting, sports, etc) and can put together creative videos, you may have a chance to earn money on YouTube.

Ways to make extra money on YouTube:

  • Display advertising
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Brand sponsorships
  • Patreon donations

How To Create Amazing YouTube Videos

19. Online Coaching & Consulting

What do consultants do? They share their knowledge with others, in exchange for a fee. It’s that simple. I used to do some travel consulting, charging $75 an hour for a Skype call to help strangers plan their next trip.

But you can become a consultant for all sorts of topics. Online dating is a big one. Life coaches. Financial advice. What are you really good at? There may be a market for your knowledge and advice!

As a working professional, like a doctor, lawyer, or car mechanic, you can get paid to answer people’s questions on JustAnswer.com.

Social Media Influencer Side Gig

Social Media Influencer Side Gig

20. Become A Social Media Influencer

Making money on Instagram? Sure it happens! I work on social media “influencer” projects from time to time. Now, I don’t want to mislead you. It can take years to build a following large enough to make this possible. But maybe you already have a large social following, and aren’t monetizing it yet?

Companies pay influencers to be the face of their brand, promoting certain products or even destinations. It may start with free stuff, but over time can lead to making thousands of dollars per post on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and blogs.

Ways to earn extra income on social media:

How To Make Extra Money From Home

Watch Pets for a Side Business

Watch Pets for a Side Business

21. Pet Sitting & House Sitting

Getting paid to take care of other people’s cute dogs & cats? Sign me up! As a cat owner myself, we’ve actually hired many pet sitters when we need to travel for work, and can’t bring Poofy (but sometimes we do). We often use the pet sitting app Rover.

At an average of $16 per 30 minute visit, that’s about $32 an hour to hang out with pets. There are other sites too, like Wag (for dog walking) and Trusted House Sitters where you actually house-sit for people, in exotic foreign countries if you want to, in exchange for taking care of their pets.

Get Paid To Cuddle Pets With Rover

22. Amazon Furniture Assembly

Are you one of those people who loves putting together IKEA type furniture? Well, this one’s for you! There’s a lot of lazy people who buy furniture or appliances on Amazon.com, but don’t want to put it together when it arrives. Wall mount TVs. Bed frames. Dressers.

Amazon charges an extra fee for “assembly” and farms the work to independent contractors nearby. Like you! A typical build takes about an hour. Earning $2000 – $6000 a month is possible, and you can set your schedule to only work evenings or weekends if you have a day job.

A business license and business insurance are needed to get started, and depending on your state, those might cost a few hundred dollars.

Earn Extra Money Assembling Amazon Furniture

23. Become A Local Tour Guide

Do love your hometown or city, and want to show others the best parts of it? There’s a market for local tour guides in different tourist hot-spots around the world. One of the coolest ways to do this is by offering free walking tours… wait, but how do you make money if they’re free?! TIPS.

As a GuRuWalk city guide, you take people on free walks around the city, and if they enjoy it, you collect (and keep) any tips afterward. Let’s say you have 10 guests, and they each tip $5 after an hour-long tour. That’s $50 an hour! Or, you can try offering unique travel experience through AirBnB Experiences.

Lead Walking Tours With GuruWalk

Make Extra Money with Photography

Make Extra Money with Photography

24. Sell Freelance Photography

Are you passionate about photography? Why not try to make a living shooting portraits, weddings, or stock photography for some spare cash on the side. You’ll need to build up your portfolio first, but once you have a solid one, you can start applying to freelance photography sites to sell your work.

There’s even a market for travel photographers to help tourists get the perfect Instagram photo. Basically, if someone is traveling to Miami (or any town) for vacation, and you live nearby, they can hire you to be their personal travel photographer for a few hours.

Freelance photography websites:

25. Drive For Uber And Lyft

Now anyone can become a taxi driver! Uber and Lyft are the leading rideshare companies and have changed local transportation forever. Working for them as a driver can help you make some extra money on nights and weekends, even if you already have a day job.

To drive for them, you need to be at least 21 years old, have a few years of driving experience under your belt, and own your own decent 4-door car (it can’t be a beater). Many drivers I’ve met work for both companies at the same time.

Start Driving With Uber

26. Work Odd Jobs & Chores

Got a knack for odd jobs around the house? Platforms like TaskRabbit connect you to people who are in need of a hero and are willing to pay you to help them get through their everyday to-dos.

From cleaning and moving to deliveries and home improvements, it offers a win-win solution for everyone. All you have to do to get started is register online, attend an info session in your city and start tasking! You can set your own hours and rate of pay.

I’ve hired people through TaskRabbit many times, and have always been happy with the results. The system is very easy to use too.

Make Money Doing Chores On TaskRabbit

27. Sell Arts & Crafts

If you’ve got ‘the eye’ for art, why not sell your artwork online. You can ship your creations (paintings, custom furniture, knitting patterns, etc.), or simply email a digital copy to your customers if you’re not in the position to manage the postage.

Tools like Etsy give you access to customers around the world (33 million customers to be exact). They also provide their sellers with powerful marketing tools to help you grow your following and online income.

Sell Your Art With Etsy

28. Make Deliveries For Flex

Never heard of Amazon Flex? It’s a delivery platform that allows you to be your own boss, set your own schedule and make between $18-$25 per hour!

Once you’ve registered online, you let them know which times work best for you, then you head off to pick up your packages. As soon as you’ve scanned it, the app will show you where to deliver it and suggest directions for the quickest route.

Want to see how much you’ve made at the end of the day? In true Amazon style, it couldn’t be easier to monitor your earnings through their app.

Deliver For Amazon With Flex

Deliver Food for Extra Money

Deliver Food for Extra Money

29. Food Delivery Side Job

Instead of driving people around, what about bringing them food? There’s been an explosion in the popularity of restaurant takeout delivery apps like UberEats and GrubHub.com, and these companies are all hiring drivers.

Obviously you need your own car, but it doesn’t have to be as nice as if you were shuttling people around.

Earn Extra Income Delivering Food

30. Become A Substitute Teacher

This won’t be for everyone, but if you enjoy teaching, it could be the perfect side hustle for you. Substitute teachers are required in many schools across the country to carry out a class for teachers who are absent for a day or extended periods of time.

Depending on the school district, you may be required to obtain a certification or complete training courses in order to become a substitute teacher. However sometimes all you need is a high school diploma.

To apply for a sub position, you can call on the phone or visit your local school district’s website and look for specific instructions.

31. Pick Up Parking Lot Trash

Sounds crazy, right? Meet Brian Winch, who turned $200 into a $650,000 a year business picking up other people’s trash in business parking lots. The great thing about this small business idea is that you don’t have to quit your day job to get started.

Basically, you offer to clean up litter around commercial properties. You don’t need expensive equipment, just a broom and a litter collection tool. You don’t need a college degree. You’d work with property management companies, retail stores, offices, and warehouses.

Start Your Own Litter Removal Business

Easy Ways To Make Money Fast

Ok, these next few options don’t pay a lot, maybe a few hundred dollars a month. But they’re easy and fast ways to earn extra cash. They really don’t require any experience to get started either.

Make Extra Money Fast

Earn Extra Money Donating Plasma

32. Donate Blood Plasma

Blood plasma is a yellowish liquid that holds your blood cells in suspension. It’s the key ingredient for medical products that treat many life-threatening conditions. Unlike donating blood, you are actually paid for plasma donations, because it’s used by big pharmaceutical companies.

You can donate plasma up to twice per week, earning up to $400 a month. The process takes about 90 minutes. There are a couple of risks though. If the large needle used bursts your vein, it can turn your whole arm black & blue for a while. And if you donate a lot, it can leave a small permanent scar.

Popular plasma donation centers:

Answer Questions from your Phone

Answer Questions from your Phone

33. Participate In Market Research

Market research companies are paid to collect data on consumer interests and spending habits, so big brands can learn how to improve their marketing efforts. They do this research using online questionnaires, and they’re always on the lookout for new survey participants.

Basically, you can make an extra $100 per month filling out surveys on your phone sitting in your underwear if you want to. Granted, the money isn’t amazing (because answering mindless questions is pretty easy). But if you’re looking for a simple way to earn extra money, participating in surveys while you surf Netflix doesn’t get any easier.

Take Online Surveys In Your Spare Time

34. Join Clinical Trials

If you have a body, you’re good to go! By joining a clinical trial, not only will you be paid for your time and support, but you will also be helping medical, surgical or behavioral research studies, which are hugely beneficial for researchers who are trying to find out if a new treatment or drug etc, is safe and effective for use.

Although the payment rates change from trial to trial, you will be reaping in the good karma at the same time. Clinical trials pay between $50-$300 per day, and it depends on the length of the time required as well as the procedures performed.

Find Clinical Trials Going On Near You

35. Earn Extra Money Testing Websites

Website owners, like me, want to know what regular readers think about the site. How they use it, move through the menus, what they look at, if they’re confused about anything, etc. We’ll pay for that information because it’s useful for creating a better user experience, and leads to more readers.

More readers results in more money. So there are some companies out there that arrange this testing for website owners, by hiring regular people to visit the websites and report on their experience. You can earn around $8-$10 for 15 minutes of your time. Some sites require a webcam and microphone.

Some of the most popular ones are:

36. Sell Your Hair (If You Have Some!)

If you’re lucky enough to have a thick head of hair on your head, this might just be your creative solution to earn more money! Your payment will depend on the length, thickness and colour of your locks, but nonetheless, it’s certainly a quick and easy way to make a buck.

It’s not exactly a consistent flow of income, but it could give your bank balance a nice boost every now and again, with most people earning a couple of hundred dollars each time. You can get a rough estimate of how much your luscious locks are worth here.

37. Grocery Shopping For Others

For those of you that get excited when you see an empty fridge and know that it’s time to do the food shopping all over again, this one’s for you. You could be earning extra income by simply doing other peoples food shopping with InstaCart.

Choose between their Full-time Shopper or In-store Shopper positions, giving you complete flexibility, you don’t even need a car to sign up. You can work during the hours that are best for you, but if you are available during peak times, you can really maximize your earnings.

38. “Wrap” Your Car With Advertisements

It doesn’t get much easier than this. No skills or brain power needed, as long as you have four wheels that get you from A to B, you could be making money while you drive.

Companies such as Wrapify are always on the hunt for drivers who will wrap their cars in certain locations for brand campaigns. According to Carvertise, you could be earning between $300-$1200 per campaign, simply by doing what you already do every day.

Ready To Earn Some Extra Money This Year?

In a world where income from our traditional jobs is not keeping up with inflation and cost of living expenses, everyone’s looking for ways to make extra money on the side from home or online.

I know what it’s like living paycheck to paycheck! I was there once too — but I managed to break free of that cycle with help from a side-hustle that allowed me to make (and save!) some extra money on top of my day job.

I hope you learned of a few new options available for you to do the same. ★

Pin This!

39 Creative Side Hustles To Make Extra Money This Year. Learn how to work from home or online for extra cash!

Have any questions about ways to make extra money or do you have recommendations to add to the list? Drop me a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

How To Work As An Online Language Translator

Online Translation Jobs

Alexandra is an Online Translator

Travel Jobs

Did you know that if you’re fluent in another language, you can find online translation jobs and make money from your computer while also traveling the world?

Today, my friend Alexandra shares her experience working as a nomadic translator, along with tips for how to find work while traveling. Here’s Alexandra:

For more travel friendly job ideas, check out my ultimate guide to Finding Work While Traveling.

Online translation is one of the best careers for language lovers who wish to see the world without compromising their professional goals.

Unlike teaching English as a foreign language, translating may give you more flexibility and financial freedom, akin to other popular digital nomad careers such as freelance writing or graphic design.

You may choose who to work with, where to work from, when to work, and even how much you earn.

However, if you want to make a living with online translation, it’s not as easy as just being bilingual. In fact, many unsuspecting prospects don’t realize it can take years to build up the knowledge and references to become successful (a.k.a. well-paid) in this field.

But don’t fret! I’m going to share how to get started with online translation, and some of the best lessons I’ve learned for success after a decade in this business.

Typical Day For A Freelance Translator

  • 8 AM: Wake up for yoga session. A clear mind always translates better.
  • 9 AM: Breakfast and coffee while checking email (focus on client emails only)
  • 10 AM: Check my status Excel sheet including current projects, in descending order, by deadline
  • 10:30 AM: Open up Linguee.com, my favorite context-translation online resource for cross-referencing, and start translating away
  • 12:30 PM: Lunch break (swim and beachside meal preferably!)
  • 1:30 PM: Check client-only emails again for potential project updates
  • 1:45 PM: Continue working on translation project at hand
  • 3:45 PM: 15 minute afternoon coffee break
  • 4 PM: Follow-up on invoices, send any new ones
  • 5 PM: Look for new opportunities on websites like ProZ.com
  • 6 PM: Dinner and a sunset
  • 7-9 PM: Explore the city

Some days it’s just the reverse: explore a new city in the morning while the weather is still cool, then start working by midday. Other days you just work half the day and take the other half off.

No pending projects and enough funds in the bank? What the heck, take it all off!

What if you land a gig with a full-time client? Then it’s typically an 8-9 hour day, just focusing on translating, proofreading, and publishing content for said client, clocking out around sunset.

Every other Friday I usually take the day off to either work on passion projects or just relax.

Freelance Translation Tips

Translation or Interpretation?

Online Translation vs. Interpretation

Many people confuse online translation with interpretation. Translators convey the meaning from one language to another in writing, while interpreters convey the meaning orally.

Each career track requires different skills sets, too.

After working in both tracks, I can confidently tell you that translation is the most digital-nomad-friendly of the two.

Many interpretation opportunities require your physical presence and/or more sophisticated equipment for over-the-phone interpretation or video conferencing.

This makes online translation the preferred career track for those who wish to have the freedom to travel the world and work from anywhere.

Selection Of A Language Pair

Translators work in language pairs, so you must pick the two languages you are most proficient in to get started.

You are expected to specify your language pair(s) on your resume or professional profile, accordingly.

Most importantly, the language pair you choose to work with will also play an important role in determining your earning potential for any translator job.

In the rare occasion that you’re allowed to translate into a target language that isn’t your native one, a bachelor’s degree and/or significant professional experience in-country is typically required.

Highest Paying Language Pairs

  • English to Arabic
  • English to Chinese
  • English to Japanese
  • English to Danish

A 2008 report from a survey conducted by the American Translators Association (ATA) explained:

“At an average of $0.19 per word, the language combinations commanding the highest rate per word were English into Arabic and English into Danish. At an average of $0.12 per word, the language combinations commanding the lowest rate were English into Italian and English into Portuguese. The highest average hourly rates by language combination were English into Chinese ($74.92) and Chinese into English ($65.79).”

The following article by TranslationRules.com may also help you better understand competition, demand, and earnings for translators as they relate to selection of language pairs.

My primary language pair is English into Spanish, as I’m a native Spanish speaker (that being my target language here); while my secondary language pair is Spanish into English, as English is my second language and I can read and write it at a professional level.

Even though this is the language pair with the highest demand and competition for translation jobs, I still managed to earn six-figures working in the United States.

Traveling Translator Jobs

Working while Traveling

Become An Outstanding Writer

Being bilingual is not enough to become a competent freelance translator. In fact, you also must be an excellent writer in both languages and highly skilled in your industry (niche) of choice.

Moreover, there are many cultural nuances in language that you won’t learn unless you experience it in a country that speaks it.

Truth be told, I was not ready to be a professional translator until I finished four years of intense writing courses in an American college and lived in the United States.

Ways to properly prepare for an online translation career and improve your language skills include taking advantage of study abroad programs, enrolling for classes in a foreign university or hire a private language tutor from your country of interest.

Picking A Niche For Translation

Picking a niche or specialty in the language industry is as important as deciding whether you want to be a translator or an interpreter, as this will dictate the other set of skills and abilities you will need to develop before your career (and pay) takes off.

Individual translation project length is typically linked to its niche, so take that into consideration when comparing the industries you’re interested in.

Your obvious passions may not necessarily be the industries you want to be translating in, so I suggest you practice translating your top topics at home in order to zero in on your ideal translation niche.

Interested in translating websites about general topics such as tourism, lifestyle or celebrity news?

Becoming an expert on website localization and frequently reading about those topics in both languages of your pair should be part of your career development in order to have a competitive edge.

A bachelor’s degree in creative writing and/or translation in either language may be a good idea in order to land internships during your studies and/or a good entry-level translation position.

Interested in better-paying technical translation fields such as information technology, engineering, medical or legal?

I highly recommend a bachelor’s degree in your technical field of choice, with a related entry-level translation job post-graduation for a minimum of two years.

A master’s degree in translation and/or the selected technical field is also recommended in lieu of an entry-level translation job.

Either track — getting a higher-education degree in translation or two years of translation experience — will typically give you the minimum skills and preparation necessary to sit for and successfully pass a translation certification examination such as the ATA’s, if that’s what you’re interested in.

Online Translation Certifications

Freelance Language Translation

Should You Get Certified?

Getting certified as a freelance translator is as much a personal as it is a professional choice. No translation degree or certification is technically required — but it can help.

One of the nice reality checks, when I started translating, is that no translation degree or certification is required for many translator jobs unless you’re interested in a specialized field such as medical or legal.

The flip side is that, if you are certified, you are more likely to land a better translation job — or any translation project for that matter.

More likely than not, whether you get certified will depend on the niche or industry you select to work in.

Interestingly, top certification bodies such as the ATA only recommend certification to experienced, mid-career translators anyway, so I suggest you experiment translating in different industries to get a feel of what you’re really passionate about.

An ATA certification, along with other local and foreign equivalents, typically gives you an edge when applying for full-time technical translator positions or technical freelance projects online.

While this also applies to prospective non-technical online translators, references/a portfolio are more valued in the latter than the former (from my personal experience).

Still, I advise you to look up the eligibility criteria for freelance translator positions in your industries of choice for more insight related to your top niches and/or their certification requirements.

Be Willing To Work For Less

Well, at least at first.

I officially started my translating career by working for a startup while I was still in college. This first translation job is actually what helped me zero in on the niche I was interested in.

Since I didn’t have a translation degree, didn’t have a translation certification, and graduated amid the Great Recession, I was grateful and simply saw the low starting salary as a paid internship (even though it wasn’t).

All they asked me to do to prove I could do the job? Translate a sample during the interview – that was it!

So my starting salary was way less than the average college graduate is “supposed” to get. But you know what? I gained so much experience on this job, got promoted to project manager within 18 months, and that bona fide translation reference helped me get my foot in the door of the world of freelance translation.

This position also led me to other projects that I was passionate about (tourism/marketing), as it built up my confidence and resume to successfully network with destination marketing professionals on travel blogging conferences.

The Small Projects Matter

Still working on your writing skills or simply trying to get some translation experience?

Small jobs or projects such as translating restaurant menus in a foreign country can not only help you improve with real-world practice but can surprisingly serve as excellent networking opportunities.

Word-of-mouth goes a long way, particularly abroad! You can also pursue these kinds of opportunities in international neighborhoods within your city, whose businesses may have a need for quality translations within your language pair.

Make your professional profile stand out. Even if you have little to no translation experience, setting up an online professional profile is one of the most important steps of your career.

If you have not built a translation portfolio yet, I recommend you post samples of translations you have done in your spare time of topics or industries you are interested in working in.

This will allow prospective employers and recruiters to see the quality of your translations early on.

I landed several interviews by doing this!

REMEMBER: Both volunteer and paid translation projects and positions count, so fill out your online profile as thoroughly as possible, updating it whenever you start or finish a relevant project or position.

Don’t forget to include any awards, company goals attained, etc.

How to find translating jobs

The ProZ Job Board

Finding Online Translation Jobs

While ProZ and Translators Cafe are some of the best websites for translators looking for paid projects or positions, it may be hard to compete with the more experienced translators who typically bid on those job boards.

Thus, if you are a beginner, I recommend you look into People Per Hour, Upwork or Fiverr for shorter, typically-lower-competition translation projects to build up your portfolio.

Most importantly, be creative! A unique way I landed some of my first freelance translation jobs involved reaching out to the marketing/public affairs contacts of multilingual online travel websites or magazines to see if they needed freelance translators for individual projects or ask if were hiring entry-level translators.

Additionally, I went to travel blogging and tourism conferences, networking with destination marketing professionals to land this type of translation projects.

Applying For Translation Projects

Making your online professional translator profile stand out is just as important as crafting a successful pitch. The best pitches are those that are brief, concise, and personalized to each translation project you are bidding for.

That being said, there are certain elements that should be included in all of your pitches: your current per-word rates in the currency of the offer, a brief byline highlighting your years of experience and how that experience or areas of specialization match with the translation project being offered.

Below is a sample pitch I successfully used early in my translation career. I included/excluded information depending on the client or project at hand:

Dear _,

My current rates are USD $0.10 per word or USD $25/hr for proofreading, meaning I can complete your web project for a total of $___ – well within your budget. I am able to deliver the completed project before your desired deadline.

About me: I studied and lived in Latin America for 18 years; have been a volunteer translator for 8 years, and have more than 3 years of full-time experience as a professional marketing, localization, and translation manager. Additionally, I’m a freelance translator and bilingual travel writer (Spanish and English).

References and endorsements can be found in my LinkedIn profile, which I have included below:

[URL here]

You may reach me at ___@gmail.com

Looking forward to collaborating with you on this project!

Average Translation Project Length

There’s no real way of telling what your average project length will be, as it highly depends on your niche and which projects you apply for.

However, I can tell you from personal experience that website articles/blog posts average between 500-1200 words; press releases hover around 1000 words; and full website localizations can be in the hundreds of thousands of words, as you also have to translate backend items such as text on menus, photo captions, alt text, and other SEO metadata.

Interested in becoming a technical translator? Unless you are translating blog posts or website articles for a tech site, you will likely be translating guides or manuals containing hundreds of thousands of words.

If you are easily bored, this is not a field for you, as you could be working on the same guide/manual translation for weeks or even months.

Charge Per Word, Not Per Project

When looking for online translation jobs or projects you will find that the most common way translators charge for work is per word, not per project.

Per-word rates vary widely depending on industry, technicality of a particular project, and popularity/demand-supply of the language pair.

For example, even experienced English-Spanish translators rarely earn over US $0.20 per word unless they work in very technical fields or hold a full-time position that includes website localization and bilingual marketing.

By contrast, English-Arabic translators can easily expect to earn up to US $0.40 per word for freelance projects or $200,000 for salaried positions when working with an American or European client, even in fields not considered as technical.

A simple Google search (i.e. “per word rate French into English translators”) will help you calculate an average that is best for you, your language pair, and location of your desired clientele.

From personal experience, I have found that a good starting point for beginner online translation jobs in my language pair (English into Spanish and vice versa) is US $0.10 per word.

Per-word rates is a highly debatable topic and some translators still feel $0.10 per word is a lowball offer.

How To Get Paid As A Translator

Most translator or freelance marketplaces make clients pay you via PayPal, so expect to lose about 4% of the total of each translation project — in addition to any other fees each particular marketplace may or may not charge.

Some freelance marketplaces offer the option to get paid by ACH or check from the client, but be careful: these payment methods usually don’t include a protection by the marketplace, which exposes you to fraud and scams.

Best way to get around this? Bid for translation projects with established companies, which you can identify by visiting the profile of each translation offer.

This way, you can reach out to the translation company separately through their official website, in the hopes that they will broker future deals directly through you and without the middleman marketplace.

You can then request they send you money via other methods with lower to no fees. I did this to establish certain business relationships, plus avoided all fees by getting paid by check (which was sent within the U.S.), then have it mobile-deposited into an account by a trusted family member.

If you plan to become a freelance translator to travel the world however, it is unlikely you will be able to avoid all fees if you wish to get paid safely (and electronically).

Telecommuting Translator Positions

Those who are not as comfortable working on an independent contractor basis (a.k.a. freelancing) and beginners should also look into telecommuting translator positions.

Benefits include a predetermined salary, payment via ACH or direct deposit (bye-bye fees), a set amount of hours worked per week, paid leave, and even health insurance coverage and 401(k) for some U.S.-based positions.

I highly recommend this type of telecommuting opportunities to translators with little to no experience, as they can be a great career launching pad.

Some companies offer apprenticeships, certifications, and/or other valuable perks in addition to the aforementioned benefits.

This is a great way to build up your resume before going solo, as you are unlikely to be awarded high-paying freelance translation projects without solid references.

Remember: you must build a strong foundation as competition can be fierce, especially for the most common language pairs such as Spanish into English, French into English, Italian into English, and vice versa.

Initiative & Networking Are Key

Whichever track you choose, I can assure you that individual preparation and networking will be the main key to success as a translator.

I have two bachelor’s degrees in criminology and political science; have 8 years of professional translation experience, but only got certified in interpretation by a former company I work for; I never got certified in translation.

Yet, I still earn six figures as a chief Spanish translator in the public affairs/marketing/law enforcement/tourism industries in the U.S. I currently work full-time for one client—occasionally doing other side gigs/passion projects.

I got where I got by experimenting with translation gigs in different industries early in my career, in addition to individually honing my writing skills in both languages and networking online, or with industry conferences to obtain gigs/projects that eventually became part of my translation portfolio.

As you can see, your ability to hustle independently will be the major predictor of how successful you’ll be as a freelance nomadic translator! ★

Alexandra Laborde de Bess is the author of LatinAbroad.com, where she shares her struggles living with chronic pain, travel tales, and advice after exploring over 30 countries across 5 continents. Follow her on Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest!

Freelance Translator Resources

r/TranslationStudies – A Reddit community featuring articles, tips, and resources for people who work as translators.

ProZ.com – The most popular job board for finding online translation work.

Translators Cafe – The second most popular job board for translation projects.

How To Succeed As A Freelance Translator – Great book to help you get started as a professional translator.

For more ways to make money while traveling, check out my Ultimate Travel-Friendly Job Guide.

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The complete guide for becoming a freelance translator! Learn how to find an online translation job.

Have any questions for Alexandra about working as a freelance translator or landing your first job? Drop her a message in the comments below!

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.