Kathy Reagan, creator of the FUMS website and podcast, founded Patients Getting Paid in 2021. Her mission is to help people with chronic illness find and create work that accommodates their health and generates income. In this column, she shares advice, resources, and stories to help others navigate the world of work while living with a chronic illness.
Is your social media full of videos and ads for get-rich-quick gigs that will take you no time at all? Yeah, um, that’s not true. Don’t buy it. And I mean that quite literally because oftentimes, these are actually ads for “how-to” courses that will take your money. They may give you a taste of what is possible, but certainly won’t make you rich.
Lest you think all “side hustles” are scams, I want to share the good news with you that they are not. There most certainly are ways to make money that don’t require you to leave your job or spend an inordinate amount of time. As with all things, this is relative. The less time and skill required, the less money you will make.
There are generally four reasons people want to find a side hustle or gig:
Regardless of your reason, side hustles, also known as freelancing or gigs, can be a great way to supplement your income. But you need to be aware of those scammers I mentioned.
So, how do you know if it’s a scam or not? There are certainly some telltale signs.
If the signs are there, run (don’t walk) away.
I’m a big proponent of having multiple streams of income. That way, if one goes away for any reason, you’ve got others to fall back on. I’m also a big fan of freelancing in the world of chronic illness, in particular.
The benefits of having multiple gigs are being able to set your own schedule, working when you’re able and during your most productive time of day, and making money based on your own efforts. Whether you are not able to play the “9-to-5” game anymore or simply wish to add a little something to your pocket, it can provide us with some sense of security in the future.
Let me be very clear: If you choose to start your own business or do freelancing as your sole income producer, that can add a level of stress that may not be good for your health. Additionally, if your source of income goes away, there is no safety net. For instance, if you’re doing freelance work for a company and they decide to bring that work in house.
You would have to rely on your savings and cannot file for unemployment if you are a “gig worker,” also known as a 1099 contractor. If you are employed by a company, you are a “W2 employee,” and you would have access to unemployment should you lose your job.
As a contractor, you also have to provide your own health insurance, and that can be quite expensive — especially given that we use our health insurance a lot.
OK, that’s the warning I like to provide to people considering freelancing. Now, onto the good stuff.
Right now is a great time to dip your toes into this endeavor as we approach the holidays. Who couldn’t use a little extra shopping money?
Here is a list of vetted companies offering legitimate opportunities that involve doing surveys, offering your opinion, playing games, testing UX design, and more.
There are a number of job sites on the internet that promise flexible, remote, hybrid, and work-from-home opportunities. Many of these are not to be trusted. One that is trustworthy and legitimate is FlexJobs. I recommend this site to all of my one-on-one coaching clients. Many of them have found exactly the kind of employment opportunity they need.
If you receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and worry that making money could disqualify you, you’re not alone. This fear stops a lot of people from adding any additional income. Fear not. The Social Security Administration created a program just for you: the Ticket to Work Program. This program provides guidance on adding income to your SSDI income and even helps you search by providing employment resources.
Bottom line: If you’re interested in additional income for your household, go ahead and jump into the gig economy. Whether you want to start a “chronicpreneur” business of your own or you just need some extra money for the holidays, it can be fun and profitable. Just be aware of the potential pitfalls I shared in this article.
Fact checked on October 26, 2023
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