Let’s face it. Sometimes, you just need to make some extra cash. But if you’re already busy managing your own business, finding the time to do so can pose a bit of a problem. Fortunately, there are many well-paying freelance gigs that require little to no time commitment. In episode #89, Elizabeth Larkin and Gene Marks offer helpful advice on how to find these lucrative short-term freelance opportunities.

Executive Summary

0:25—Today’s Topic: How Do I Find Short-Term Freelance Gigs that Pay Well?

1:31—Cater-waitering is a fast solution for individuals who need to make some extra money in a hurry because it doesn’t require previous work experience or a lot of time commitment.

2:52—If you have specific skill set, you can always solicit different companies for temp work or create a profile on a freelance site.

4:36—For more passive forms of income, you can either rent out property as an Airbnb or sell your belongings on a website.

5:52—Signing up with a temp agency is useful if you have weekday availability.

8:23— Gene discusses how to get the most out of your webinars.


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Elizabeth: We’re back with another episode of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast. Today’s question comes from Erica in Chicago. Have you been to Chicago recently?

Gene: Oh, I go to Chicago all the time actually.

Elizabeth: All the time?

Gene: Yeah. I mean, I do a lot of speaking, so I’ve been to Chicago. I went to my first Cubs game.

Elizabeth: You mean you go to O’Hare or you go to Chicago?

Gene: No, I go into the city. Usually if I’m speaking gigs, it’s usually in the town.

Elizabeth: Oh, you told us about your Cubs game, yeah.

Gene: Yeah. I went to my first Cubs game this year, but I go to Chicago a lot.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: Great city.

Elizabeth: So, Erica’s a small business owner, but she’s in a bit of a cash crunch right now.

Gene: Pickle. Okay.

Elizabeth: Here’s her question:

“Hi, Gene and Elizabeth. Are there any sort of freelance gigs that I can get into right now and start making money? Most freelance gigs require about a year of work, just to get a client base or good rating on a freelancer site.”

If you’re not familiar with freelancer sites, you sign up. You’re like, “I’m a writer. I’m a video editor. I’m a graphic designer.”

Gene: Upwork, Fiverr, that’s with two R’s. Guru.

Elizabeth: ClearVoice, Contently. There’s a lot of them out there.

Gene: Right. There’s tons of them out there.

Elizabeth: She continues:

“I know it’s not technically a business, but I would be working for myself and making my own hours.”

So that is a business.

Gene: That sounds like a business to me.

Elizabeth: Someone, a couple years ago, I was on Twitter and someone that I kind of know, but not really, I mostly know her on Twitter, was like, “I need to make money fast. I just need something I can do.” She’s like, “I babysit.” She’s a blogger, so she does that full-time. Sometimes you’re just in a cash crunch, you need more money. And I told her to look into cater-waitering. That’s when you go to-

Gene: It’s a great idea.

Elizabeth: A banquet facility or something, and you say, “Hey, I can wait. I can be part of your waitstaff.” So then on Friday, Saturday nights, maybe a Sunday afternoon brunch of something, you do that and you make a lot of money per hour. I think sometimes you also get tipped out.

Gene: And you’re almost always a freelancer in that case.

Elizabeth: Yeah. That leaves your Monday through Friday, nine to five, eight to four or whatever it is open, and then you can quickly go in and do that. And you don’t really need a lot of experience for that because it’s not steady work, so they’re just always trying to get like, “Oh, we need bodies.” And you do get training, so it’s not like they just throw you in there and expect you know how to do that. I’ve never done that, but I do have a co-worker who used to do that, and he said it was great money. That’s not starting a business, but that is a way to-

Gene: But it comes down to your skills, though, in a way, doesn’t it? I mean, you talk about people with no experience. I mean, if you do have a skill, if you have some bookkeeping background or accounting or some type of, say, graphic design or something, you go to any company and ask them right away if they need any extra work done in a short-term basis.

Elizabeth: Oh, as opposed to going to a-

Gene: To like freelancer sites or anything like that.

Elizabeth: Okay, but then you’re missing out on getting those ratings, so what do you do? Let’s say you sign up on Fiverr or Upwork.

Gene: You know, you could just solicit companies on your own if you want to do that. I mean, people do that a lot. People put their … You could advertise for yourself out on things like Craigslist, as well as listing yourself on those freelancer sites.

Elizabeth: How would you feel about that? Let’s say someone emails you probably via LinkedIn, and they say, “Gene-“

Gene: Yeah, “I’m a marketer. Do you have any work? I’m looking for a three month gig to do this or that or whatever.” I’d say, “Let me see your resume.” I’m like, well if this person’s got some skills, then depending on the timing and depending on my needs, that’s something that I would consider doing.

Elizabeth: You wouldn’t be put off by that?

Gene: No, I wouldn’t be put off by that at all. The biggest thing that … The beauty of it right now, of the era that we’re living in, is in the sharing economy. You know, the first things that comes to mind is Uber, for example, or Lyft. They’re all freelancers. You want to make some quick money, and hopefully if you have a car, sign up with Uber or Lyft and drive around.

Elizabeth: Yeah, but they’ve already proven, Uber and Lyft, the wear and tear on your car and the gas money, it ends up not being worth it.

Gene: Well, that depends. And that’s a whole other conversation we can have about whether it economically makes sense. Clearly there are many people out there who believe that it does, because they’re driving for these companies. And it’s quick freelancing money. You sign up and pass whatever requirements.

Elizabeth: I mean, I don’t think they’re looking at the long game, though. I mean-

Gene: Well, this person here just wants a short term thing.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Yeah, so you could do this short term whether you’re … Same thing if you have an asset, like a property or something, that you want to rent out maybe. Put it on Airbnb.

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s a good idea.

Gene: Yeah. And then you can make money that way. Other ways that people make money, believe it or not, is you walk around your house and see stuff-

Elizabeth: Sell stuff.

Gene: And just sell stuff on eBay, because that takes … The reason why not everybody does that is because it’s still a pain. You still have to get everything set up on eBay and take photos or whatever.

Elizabeth: Craigslist.

Gene: And Craigslist, and then you’ve got to ship it out or whatever. It’s not like it’s … that puts a lot of people off and that’s why everybody doesn’t do it, but it certainly something to be done. By the way, when you talk about freelancing, people hold garage sales. You could be going to neighbors on the street and saying, “I tell you what. Over the next 90 days, I’m gonna set up a site on eBay and sell some old stuff. And I’ll sell some of your old stuff, as well,” you know what I mean. It’s like everything you want to, if you want to put the effort out, that’s what you get back.

Listen, in this world, Elizabeth, nothing is easy. I mean, all good things take time and take some effort. So it’s not like you could just snap your fingers and say, “Hey, I’d like to go out and just make some money over the next 90 days.” I mean, there is some effort that’s gonna be involved, so if you’ve got skills, that will definitely help you. If you want to sell something, you can do that as well or jump into the sharing economy. Be a dog walker. What’s the name of the dog walking site?

Elizabeth: Wag.

Gene: Yeah. Is it Wag?

Elizabeth: Wag.com.

Gene: Yeah, yeah. Sign up there and you make some quick bucks doing that.

Elizabeth: Another, if you do have Monday through Friday open, which I kind of have a feeling that Erica doesn’t, and that’s why she’s asking this question, but if you do, you can always sign up with a temp agency because I used to do that when I was in New York and I was super poor and in-between jobs. And I actually, I was thinking when you’re talking about looking around your house and selling stuff, I once sold my kitchen table so I could make rent.

Gene: Did you really? Wow, you really were poor.

Elizabeth: Yes. Because I was a 23 year old living in New York, and not getting help from my parents because I wasn’t asking them. I’m sure they would have been like, “Oh, I’ll help you,” but yeah.

Gene: Yeah. “Our daughter’s selling her furniture.”

Elizabeth: I know.

Gene: “Maybe we could give her 100 bucks.” Geez, poor girl.

Elizabeth: I hope they don’t listen to this and then be like, “What?”

Gene: They’re gonna feel terrible when they hear this.

Elizabeth: But no, it was fine. I didn’t need the kitchen table. And honestly, it was taking up so much room in my tiny apartment. No one needs a kitchen table when they’re 23.

Gene: Clearly, you couldn’t have friends over because you couldn’t buy the food. You didn’t have any money.

Elizabeth: No, no. You have people over, just everyone brings a take-out. Anyway, believe me, I wasn’t in dire … I mean, I was, but anyway. I was between jobs because I was finding myself. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to a temp agency, and I couldn’t believe how much they paid per hour. Some of them were like $25 an hour, which is fantastic.

Gene: Yeah.

Elizabeth: And I ended up getting to go into a bunch of different companies, and I ended up getting a full-time job that I loved out of that.

Gene: That’s great. Now, don’t forget, you had skills. Okay. You’re college-educated.

Elizabeth: Nah, not really.

Gene: That plays into it.

Elizabeth: I was a political philosophy major, Gene. I really didn’t have any skills.

Gene: Please, Fordham is an excellent university. But anyway, I think that’s what it comes down to, is that if you do have the skills to do it, temp agency’s a great idea. Taking advantage of the sharing economy. Soliciting companies individually. Going on some of the freelancing sites, Upwork and Fiverr and Guru, and of that. There’s plenty of opportunities out there to make money. And the other things you want to also do is you have to be persistent at it. And know that once one gig ends, are you gonna have a dry period before the next gig comes along?

Elizabeth: Yeah. Alright. We’re gonna be right back with Gene’s Word of Brilliance.

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Elizabeth: Alright. We’re back. Now, I’m kind of embarrassed about telling that story about selling my kitchen table.

Gene: It’s really sad. It’s really terrible. I’m telling you, man, your mom finds out about that story, she’s gonna be very upset.

Elizabeth: You know what it is. It’s just young people, when you go to New York, you’re just so obsessed with being there that you’ll do anything to stay. And I remember, I had a job-

Gene: If I found out my daughter did that, I’d be beside myself.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I know. She doesn’t know. I would never tell my parents. They would be so upset. But one day, okay, I think I was making $400 a week, and I would run out by like, let’s say we got paid on Friday. Friday I would run out and I wouldn’t get my paycheck until the afternoon. And once I got it, I would go to Chase Bank and cash it out, but for lunch, I didn’t have my paycheck yet. I had 80 cents, so I ate a Dunkin Donut for lunch one day. I was like, “This is a low moment for me.”

Gene: Yeah, that actually sounds delicious. That would be a high moment for me actually. A Dunkin Donut for lunch sounds delicious.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: That’s funny. That’s funny.

Elizabeth: But you know what. There’s a big difference between me doing that, knowing I could just run home to my mom and dad if I really needed the help, versus like-

Gene: For somebody who’s in a legitimate predicament.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I was not sitting here crying poor, like feel bad for me. It’s just I really wanted to make it on my own and not have to ask my parents. And if things got really dire, I would have.

Gene: I appreciate that.

Elizabeth: I always figured out a way to be plucky.

Gene: Selling your table.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Selling my table, which I didn’t want anyway. Okay. Gene, hit us with your Word of Brilliance.

Gene: Webinars.

Elizabeth: One word again, wow.

Gene: Webinars.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: There was a recent report that came out by our friends, that we all know as business owners go to a meeting. They’re a big … They host a lost of webinars. Anyway, you know what they did? There were 2017 big book of webinar stats. I guess you can Google it and find it. We can put a link to it in the show notes. These guys, they looked at something like 350,000 webinars conducted on their site, among like 16,000 customers of theirs. And I wrote about this recently. It’s a good topic to address about what it takes to put it … A lot of businesses do webinars. It’s a very important thing to do. So the first question I’m gonna ask you. I’m gonna quiz you, Elizabeth, okay? What do you think is the most popular day for doing a webinar?

Elizabeth: Tuesday.

Gene: Thursday.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Gene: Thursday’s the day.

Elizabeth: Why?

Gene: Who knows, okay. It’s just Thursday. That’s just what it is. It turns out Thursday is the popular day.

Elizabeth: I think because by Thursday, everyone’s like, “I’m so done with this.”

Gene: “I think I’ll just zone out and watch a webinar.” Tuesday, I’m still into the work week right now. I’m still a little bit focused. By Thursday, you’re like-

Elizabeth: Tuesday’s the most popular day for meetings.

Gene: Yeah, so maybe that’s why people … Anyway, if you’re gonna do webinars, you want to focus on Thursday.

Elizabeth: Do it on a Thursday, all right.

Gene: My next question to you is what do you think is the most popular time for a webinar?

Elizabeth: 2:00 PM.

Gene: Well, it’s between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 PM eastern time.

Elizabeth: So, I’m right.

Gene: You are right. Eastern time is the most popular time zone. Sorry for all you guys on the west coast, but it’s between 12:00 and 3:00. That way it brings the most-

Elizabeth: Well, that’s because it’s like late morning for them.

Gene: It is. Whereas here, it’s lunchtime. Anyways, if you’re gonna do a webinar, Thursdays and between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00 are the most popular times. And finally, what do you think is the most popular length of a webinar?

Elizabeth: An hour?

Gene: Yes. Very good. 60 minutes. Now, I would have thought differently. I mean, as somebody who has ADD, I can’t stay focused on anything before I get bored and I’m-

Elizabeth: You were gonna say like a half an hour.

Gene: 30 minutes. That’s all I can sit in one place to watch a webinar.

Elizabeth: But I feel like for the investment of giving … Alright. I’m assuming everyone who’s listening has seen an ad for a webinar, but typically you have to give them your name and where you work and your email address. For me to type that all out, it needs to be 60 minutes.

Gene: Interesting.

Elizabeth: I want to see that people are, they’ve done research, they’re gonna give me some good content here.

Gene: You’re absolutely right. And the public does agree. They’re speaking to you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: That’s why I’m in marketing, Gene.

Gene: Well, they found that 60 minute webinars attract 2.1 times the attendees than just a 30 minute webinar. And guess what? A 90 minute webinar, 90 minutes, attracts even more people. It attracts 4.6 times the amount of attendees that would sign up for a 30 minute webinar.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: That much more popular.

Elizabeth: That makes sense because you’re giving up your information. You know they’re gonna come and try to market to you again.

Gene: Yeah. 90 minutes. I would think, “90 minutes. Who is sitting online for all of that?” It turns out, that that’s it. I would have thought it would have been something different, but it isn’t.

Elizabeth: When you do a webinar, are you like, “This is gonna be 10 minutes.”?

Gene: No, no, no. Our webinars now are 30 minute webinars. They’re training webinars, and maybe I need to change that and maybe make them a little bit longer. The other thing I want to say did not come up, and I’ll leave you also with this point. Anecdotally, but we do a lot of webinars at my company, and I participate in a lot of webinars with other companies. I have found this trend that the old school webinar, where somebody’s droning on and showing power point slides, is moving away more towards discussions on webinars, where you have a panel on it, and it’s more like a podcast.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I’ve noticed that, too.

Gene: Yeah. So instead of it just being the webinar or the presentation, we’re gonna have a topic, whatever it is. And then there’s two or three people that’s on it and you’re talking … And I see that the trend is also that less slides. It’s not even so much a webinar anymore. People, you give the audio number and you can dial in if you’re around driving around. You can listen in.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Gene: Just because that’s what you would do with a podcast.

Elizabeth: And then they usually, if you sign up for a webinar, typically they’ll send it to you afterwards, because what I do is I’m-

Gene: Or they’ll archive it.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I’m like, “Oh, that’s such an interesting topic. I’m gonna sign up.” And then someone schedules a meeting at the time or something.

Gene: Of course, and you can’t make it. Remember, also if you’re gonna do your own webinars, that it doesn’t make a difference who comes. Webinars are lead generation activities, so if you have 50 people that signed up for a webinar and only 10 people actually attended, don’t feel bad. You got 50 leads out of it. And then you archive it and trust me, you’ll get a few hundred other people actually watch that, as well.

Elizabeth: We should do an episode about webinars.

Gene: I have so many thoughts on webinars we can talk about.

Elizabeth: Okay, great. Alright. Book it.

Ryan: Okay.

Elizabeth: We’ll do one in a couple weeks.

Gene: Sounds good.

Elizabeth: All right. That’s gonna do it for this edition of the Small Biz Ahead Podcast, and we’ll talk to you in a couple days.