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How to boost your pension

It seems that no one’s pension is adequate, neither yours nor mine. Indeed most of us consider our pension to be measly and insufficient for what we’d like to do now that we are no longer ‘working’ and have lots of ‘free time’. So what’s the solution? How do you boost your pension?

Working from home as part of the gig economy is one of the best bets for retirees on a low pension.

You can control your own space and timetable. It’s also the safest nowadays with viruses and other ills rampant in our communities.

And with a decent WiFi connection, communication is no problem.

But what kind of work should you do?

The answer, of course, depends on your present set of skills and what extra skills you are prepared to learn.

Now let’s be clear, every retiree has plenty of skills and experiences that he can turn to profitable use.

Indeed, he or she also has the learning power needed to master new, more marketable skills.

My primary tip

Whatever you decide to do in order to boost your pension, choose something that you enjoy, is a hobby or something you have been longing to do for a long time, something that you can be passionate about.

Don’t choose solely on the basis of the money you could earn.

Instead think about how you can use whatever you are going to do as a way to help people, solve their problems, fulfil their needs.

This way you’ll not only feel better but you enthusiasm will shine through and you’ll get plenty of gigs.

Welcome to the gig economy

A gig is a word used by musicians to reflect the temporary nature of their work. A gig economy is a free market system in which independent workers are hired for short-term assignments.

Gigging is perfect for the retiree whose basic needs for shelter and nourishment are covered by his pension but who is looking for something that is interesting and is, at the same time, a nice little earner.

There are several ways you can exploit the gig economy to boost your pension:

  • Consulting
  • Writing
  • Teaching or tutoring
  • Using your professional or technical skills
  • Doing jobs outside your home
  • Learning digital marketing
  • Becoming an affiliate marketer

Most of these jobs can be done online, from the comfort of your own home, provided you have a strong WiFi connection.

But before we look at how you can exploit the gig economy, let’s check-out how you can make money by exploiting your home itself.

Ways you can use your home to boost your pension

Your home is a valuable asset … there are dozens of things you can do around your house to generate alternative streams of income.

Much of what you can do will depend on how big your house is, the size of the plot on which it stands, and where you live.

Urban areas always have more opportunities than rural areas where space is not scarce.

Renting out storage space

Now that your children will surely have moved out, you may find you have extra space in your house

Renting out empty rooms, garages and outhouses for storage space can be an easy way to earn regular money each month.

Just make sure that your insurance is adequate or that your tenant has his own insurance.

You can find customers locally by word of mouth or by putting ads on notice boards or in local newspapers.

Renting out sleeping space

Hotels are expensive so tourists are always looking for better options.

If you live in a big city which is an attractive destination for tourists, you can rent out your spare bedroom or your entire house to tourists through Airbnb by the night, week or month.

Retirees travel a lot, touring the world or just visiting their children and friends.

If this is you, and you are away for longish periods of time, you can rent out your home on a holiday rental site such as VRBO.

You could rent it out all summer and use the rental income to cover your traveling expenses.

Renting out your car

As well as renting out your home, you can rent out your car when you are away or it is otherwise not in use.

Why pay to park your car at the airport the next time you fly off somewhere?

Let Getaround make money for you with it. They’ll pick your car up at the airport, rent it out, clean and disinfect it, and take care of it. And you’ll be covered by their one million dollar insurance policy.

With HyreCar you can rent out your car to drivers who will use it to drive for Uber or Lyft. Go with Turo to rent out your car to international tourists as a regular car rental for weeks at a time.  

It pays to be resourceful.

Growing Mushrooms

All you need is an old shed which you can darken by covering over the windows and installing shelves for the trays in which the mushrooms will grow.

There are plenty of blogs, websites, and forums where you can learn from other growers and experts. You’ll find there is a wide range of varieties you can try, such as my favourite: Irish chestnut mushrooms.

Getting started is a bit tricky. After that you’ll find that growing mushrooms is pretty easy and makes a perfect urban farming project once you get the hang of it.

Indeed, growing mushrooms, especially gourmet mushrooms, can be a profitable side-hustle.

And once you have the knowledge and have upped your production volume, it can generate a decent enough stream of income.

Refurbishing furniture

Again, all you need is a shed for a workshop and a modest set of wood-working tools as well as loads of enthusiasm. Great, if you enjoy working with wood.

To find dirt-cheap (but sound) used furniture, you’ll need to haunt flea markets and garage sales.

Begin with small pieces you want for your own home and see what your friends and neighbours think of the results.

If you really are good, your friends will begin asking you to refurbish their prized pieces of furniture. Then you can hire yourself out to others.

Take before and after pictures of your work and use these to market your services.

You can find out more at Mother Earth News.

Gardening

If you are an avid gardener, you can help others maintain or landscape their gardens, lawns, trees, and bushes. It’s a good way to keep fit and you can earn up to 20 dollars or euro an hour.

If you have a green thumb and like working with plants, this may be a perfect occupation for you. The work, however, is mostly seasonal.

You can work for private clients or at botanical gardens or at local parks and public gardens. Just search for ‘part-time gardener’ jobs on sites such as Indeed, Care, and Hortjobs.

If your garden is the pride of your neighbourhood, you could go into garden consulting … teaching others how to plan, design, layout and create their dream garden.

Your teaching can be casual or formal, and either way you’ll find delivering value to your clients both personally rewarding and profitable.

Animal caretaking

You can make extra money indulging in your love of animals by taking care of them on behalf of others.

Pet care covers dog walking, grooming, or taking care of pets when owners go on holiday or are away for other reasons such as work.

Besides walking and grooming dogs, animal caretaking includes feeding, watering, inspecting, cleaning (cat litter box, cage or kennel), bathing and giving medicine.

Make sure you have the required level of strength for the animals you are caring for. Dog walking requires stamina and grooming may require heavy lifting.

If you are not sure about animal caretaking, Pet Sitters International offers a free ebook, 5 Must-Do Steps to Starting A Successful Pet-Sitting Business, which is a good starting point to find out more.

If you’ve had any experience with your own pets or your children’s then you have the experience you need. However, you’ll also need good references.

The wage for animal caretakers ranges from 10 to 20 dollars or euros an hour.

To market yourself, you can post flyers with your information at local pet stores and veterinary clinics and hospitals.

There are also plenty of pet-care job marketplaces, such as Rover, Care.com, PetSitter, and Fetch!, where you can create a profile of your services and get bookings.

If you have the garden space, the knowledge and experience, you can set up a boarding kennel for dogs, cats or other creatures. But this will take a lot of effort and some financial investment.

As you can see, there are several things you can do to make money out of your home.

Now let’s look at things you can do working from home, from your home office.

Consulting to boost your pension

By the time you’ve retired, after a lifetime of working, you’ll have accumulated a vast range of expertise, experience, and contacts.

You can put these skills and contacts to good use by taking on project-based consulting work.

Most of this work, nowadays, is carried out online using video-conferencing and so on.

Start by determining your area of expertise.

Marketable expertise and experience can include business development, project management, market research and marketing strategy, and sourcing hard-to-find talent.

Contact everyone on your contact list. Find out if they need any of your proven skills on a contract basis or project-by-project basis or if they can introduce you to anyone who might need your services.

Another way to find work is to get on the books of online consultant marketplaces that match projects to consultants.

These include London-based Talmix, USA-based SpareHire, Australian firm EXPERT360, Catalant, Clarity and Mindbench among others.

Remember that any firm that contracts for your services is not putting you on their employee payroll, and won’t give you employee benefits such as paid holidays, insurance etc.

These cost savings mean that the firm that engages you can afford to pay you a premium price for your consulting services.

Non-executive board member

Becoming a non-executive member of the board of directors for a company in the private or public sectors is a form of consulting.

A non-executive director is not part of the company’s executive team and is not engaged in the day-to-day running of the organization.

He or she is involved in policymaking, planning exercises, the monitoring of the executive directors, and ensuring that management is acting in the interests of the company’s stakeholders.

While person to person meetings will be required at times, many board meetings are conducted through video-conference-calling these days.

Boards are heavily populated with retirees. Most of these were executives in upper management or CEOs during their working lives.

You can obtain non-executive membership of a board of directors by using you connections and by checking out networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook etc

Writing to boost your pension

There are many ways in which you can enjoy your creativity, help others and earn a few bob through your writing. There are several forms of writing that fit this bill.

Copywriting

Copywriting is the art of writing text for advertising or other forms of marketing.

The copywriter creates written content (sales copy) that aims to persuade people to take a particular action, normally to buy a product or service.

Copywriting is an ideal way to work remotely, ie work from home, and satisfy your creative urges.

Your clients will be mainly advertising agencies and firms looking for copywriters for brochures, sales materials and other corporate materials.

If you are new to copywriting you can learn about it online (mostly for free) from renowned writers such as Neil Patel (https://neilpatel.com/blog/ultimate-guide-to-copywriting/) and Jacob McMillan (https://jacobmcmillen.com/how-to-become-a-copywriter/) or just by searching on Google.

To learn how to land your first clients just search on Google for free advice or check out this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxfxmLMRfP0.

As a beginner, you can find work on London Brokers, which has free training videos and advice though the pay is meagre. But worthwhile, as you are getting paid to learn.

Once you have some experience you can also use Upwork to look for copywriting, editing, and other creative jobs.

Copyediting

Copyediting is the process of revising written material to improve its readability and fitness for its purpose, and ensuring that it is free of factual errors as well as errors of syntax and grammar.

Copyediting consists of five main steps:

  • proof-reading (checking grammatical accuracy)
  • line editing (assessing the work as a whole to ensure its main points are clear and well-supported)
  • fact checking
  • rewriting, and
  • SEO copy editing (to ensure the piece ranks high on search engine results).

You can find out more on https://www.scripted.com/content-marketing/6-types-copy-editing.

Copyeditors are usually expected to abide by certain style guides that lay down rules for writing and designing content.

These guidelines help writers produce documents that have the same tone and grammatical style, regardless of who writes them.

The AP Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style or the Economist Style Guide are the standard writing style guides for media publishing and advertising agencies, while the AMA Manual of Style is the main style guide for academic and medical publications.

Your clients will be similar to your copywriting clients and you can find copyediting jobs in the same way.

You can also check out major job sites such as LinkedIn, FlexJobs, Glassdoor, Monster, ZipRecruiter, CareerBuilder and Indeed.

Sites specifically aimed at freelancers include FlexJobs, Fiverr, Upwork or Freelancer, Freelanced, PeoplePerHour, FreelanceWritingGigs, Super Copy Editors, Mediabistro and Global.

To get work, you will need to create a profile on these sites.

Résumé (CV) writing

A résumé is essentially a sales letter. Its purpose is to persuade a firm to interview someone for a job.

As such it is a written account of a person’s education, work experience, credentials, and achievements.

Most professional positions require applicants to submit a résumé and cover letter as part of the application process. Writing résumés is now big business for writers.

Résumés come in various formats and you can easily research these online. That said, they are relatively easy to write once you have drawn up a questionnaire and your clients have filled it in.

You can charge high-flying executive up to US$1,000 for a resumé you can do in a few hours, significantly less for newly-minted graduates looking for their first job.

Freelance writing

Freelance writing is writing for money as a self-employed commercial writer.

You produce whatever written text is needed by your clients … articles, brochures, advertising material, etc. You usually work from home.

For all commercial writers, networking whether in person or online is essential.

To find work, checkout these sites: FWJ, LinkedIn, Be a Freelance Blogger, Morning Coffee eNewsletter, or ProBlogger.

Blogging

A blog or weblog is a discussion or informational website consisting of informal diary-style text entries called posts.

Posts are usually displayed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent post appearing first, at the top of the web page.

Becoming a blogger is easy:

  • Decide on the purpose and audience of your blog
  • Choose a name for your blog that reflects your purpose
  • Get hosting from an internet service provider
  • Set up WordPress (WP)
  • Pick a simple WP theme that reflects your purpose
  • Add the following plugins:
    • Limit Login Attempts (to stop hackers)
    • All in one SEO (to optimise your blog for the search engines such as Google)
    • Google Analyticator (to track stats such as overall traffic, traffic sources, pageviews per article, tracking of outbound clicks etc)

Now all you have to do is to start writing compelling content to create a blog that your readers will love.

But the big question is: is possible to earn money blogging?

The short answer is yes but it takes a long time, years in fact … provided you blog at least once a day. Profitable blogging is hard work!

You can speed up the process by advertising but to do that successfully you need (unless you have very deep pockets) a good knowledge of digital marketing which you can learn easily enough (see below).

Self-publishing a book

This means you write a book, edit and format it, design a cover etc and then publish it yourself on Amazon, Smashwords, BookRix, and several other platforms.

To be honest, self-publishing a book is relatively easy but marketing it (and thus making some sales and decent profits) is something that requires digital skills or online marketing skills.

But you can learn these skills and the how is discussed below under Digital Marketing.

Teaching or tutoring to boost your pension

Online teaching or tutoring is a great way to deliver value to students and receive a boost to your pension in return.

Virtual tutoring … if you have experience tutoring a particular academic subject or in preparing students for exams, you can put your expertise to profitable use online as a virtual tutor.

Virtual tutors use Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and similar technologies to communicate with their students.

Tutors in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are always in high demand.

Tutors of English are also highly sought in areas such as critical reading, comprehension, writing essays, English as a second language, and English for Specific Purposes (eg, specific occupations).

Your obtain work through tutoring companies who put you in touch with students. You will need to create a profile for these virtual tutoring firms.

The majority of these companies require a bachelor’s degree and some demonstration of expertise in a particular subject. Many of these firms have convenient online training modules.

Here are some tutoring firms you can check out … Wyzant, Tutor, Revolution Prep and Course Hero.  

You won’t make a fortune doing online tutoring but you can expect to make a steady stream of extra income of roughly US$22.50 / €20.00 / £18.00 an hour.

Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)

Teaching ESL is another growing opportunity for creating a second income stream.

Generally speaking, you don’t need a degree or certification, just a strong command of English

Opportunities exist to teach at every level of English, from children to older adults, online on a one-to-one basis from your home computer.

You could, for example, be teaching ESL to a Chinese student.

Checkout Kukuspeak. Here the pupils will be 5 to 15 year olds and the pay is US$ 12 to $17 an hour.

As well as your remuneration, you can meet people from another culture without leaving your home.

Other sites where you can teach children include VIPKid, Englishunt, and Funbulous (US$ 16-20 an hour)

You can teach conversational English at Topic-Time. You can teach other forms of English for adult students at Tes, Lingoda and many more. Just search online.

Life coaching

No matter what kind of life you have lived before retirement, you have accumulated a lifetime of experience and wisdom. 

Life coaching is a way of sharing what you have learned with other people who are looking for guidance to help them in their work, with their relationships, and personal development.

Life coaching is ideally suited to retirees because it can be done part-time and remotely by phone or online by Skype, Zoom or other video conferencing apps. 

There is no rule saying you have to be certified to be a life coach. But being certified does make it easier to pick up clients and ensures that you will deliver a quality service and thus gain referrals.

Remuneration is excellent, starting at say US$100 an hour and reaching upwards of $500 an hour for coaching executives.

For more information, check out Forbes,  Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), and the International Coaching Federation.

Other ways to share knowledge online

There are plenty of other ways you can share knowledge, bring value to other people’s lives and, at the same time, supplement you pension. 

To start, checkout the following websites:

Using your technical skills to boost your pension

Qualified professionals with skills that are in constant demand have the best chances of finding well-paying work as freelancers or consultants working remotely, ie from their home-offices.

The best-paid jobs where you can work remotely include:

Software developerStatistician
IT managerMathematician
Web developerAccountant
Database administratorActuary
Information security analystMarket research analyst
Computer systems analystMarketing manager
Computer network architectManagement consultant
Computer systems administratorBusiness development consultant

If you are a retiree with credentials in any of these areas, you need to contact your business networks and let all your connections know that you are available to assist with projects on a contract basis.

You should also sign up to some of the numerous websites that will connect you with firms or individuals who wish to hire freelance workers on a contract basis.

These websites include Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer. But there are many more.

There are diverse part-time job opportunities for remote workers. Scheduling is nearly always flexible.

Firms that take on outsourcing work from other businesses are always looking for graphic designers, transcriptionists, translators, developers of mobile apps and so on.

Check out Alorica, Sykes, TranscribeMe, and Rev, among hundreds of others around the world.

Most jobs only require a computer, internet connection and a quiet place to work. You potential income will depend on the type of work and your expertise.

A word of caution … avoid scams like being asked for an upfront fee. Legitimate firms will not charge start-up fees.

Also be wary of promises that are too-good-to-be-true, like thousands of dollars for very little work.

Check out this article for some solid advice.

Graphic design

This is a skillset that is always in demand. You can work anywhere, anytime provided you know how to get clients

If you were a passable graphic designer before you’ll have plenty of contacts who can help you find freelance work. You should, of course, milk your contacts for as much work as you can get.

As a graphic designer you will be used to working online. But, if your online marketing skills are weak, you may need to take a course in digital marketing (see below) so you have the skills to find clients online.

Check out Creative Overflow for side-hustles that will make you extra money as a designer.

Transcription

This is work can be ideal for retirees provided you have fast, accurate typing and an acute ear that can quickly adapt to regional accents, indistinct speech etc.

Your remuneration will depend on the length of the audio file and not how long it takes you to type it, which is why you need to be able to work fast to make it worthwhile.

Of course, besides a computer and a quiet place to work, you’ll need high-quality headphones and a foot pedal that allows you to stop, rewind and fast forward a recording quickly.

You’ll also need to have word processing software installed on your computer, along with a media or audio player.

Skills-wise, you’ll need to be adept at downloading media files and at converting the word-processing files you create into whatever file format your client needs.

To find work you’ll need to leverage your contacts and invest in digital marketing skills.

Translation

This is much easier and pays a lot more than transcribing provided you are truly bilingual.

You usually get paid per word. Your rate will vary depending on your skill-level and the complexity of the material to be translated.

If you can translate highly technical documents, such as medical, scientific or legal works, you wil earn a lot more.

You can find work privately by leveraging you contacts, through translation agencies or by using online digital marketing techniques.

Landing clients directly through your contacts or via email marketing or other digital marketing techniques is the most profitable as agencies naturally take a cut for their fee.

Some of the agencies are very good. Gengo, for example, allows you to you choose the jobs that suit and pays you directly to your PayPal account.

Market research and testing

These are easy ways to make money from your computer. All you need is a computer or smartphone and internet access.

There are a variety of ways you can take part in market research and testing:

1 ̶ Focus groups are a neat way to get paid reasonably well for your opinions and feedback. You will answer consumer questions as part of a group. This can take anything from an hour to all day.

The pay for the work varies widely but can be several hundred dollars or euros for a few hours of your time.

You can sign up for focus groups at SIS International, Focus Group, Focus Groups, Global Strategy Group and PaidFocusGroups.com etc.

2̶ Surveys provide another way to express your opinion online. Surveys only take a few minutes to complete. The pay however is not over-generous.

First you need to register with a market research survey site. Then you’ll be contacted when there is a survey that fits your demographic.

Here are some of the many websites where you can register: MySurvey, MyPoints, Survey Junkie, Pinecone, Survey Spot and Opinion Outpost.

3̶ Website testing allows you to make up to 40 dollars or euro an hour. All you have to do is provide feedback on websites and apps.

Testing usually takes 10 to 15 minutes for which you’ll earn an average of 10 dollars or euros a test.

Some companies you can check out for this type of work are UserTesting.com, Whatusersdo, UserTest, UserFeel, Startuplift and Analysia.

4̶ Mystery shopping enables you to be earn money for secretly visiting shops and stores, and reporting back on your experience.

This enables business owners to know what’s working and in what areas they need improve the shopping experience for their customers.

To find out more about this undercover quality check, click here.

Mystery shoppers don’t get paid much, minimum wage at best.

Legitimate mystery shopping companies (that provide opportunities to do mystery shopping) can be found in most countries.

To get started, search for assignments on the website of the Mystery Shopper Providers Association (to which most legit mystery shopper companies belong).

Some general job sites also have opportunities to be a mystery shopper.

Find more opportunities through these mystery shopper companies: Market Force, Best Mark, Sinclair Customer Metrics and Experience Exchange.

Beware of scams. If a company is charging you a fee to gain access to mystery shopper jobs, it’s probably not legit.

Getting out and about to boost your pension

There are plenty of ways you can make extra income on the side when you are prepared to leave the house. Many provided a bit more than pin money.

Tour guide

Signing up for part-time work as a tour guide may be a satisfying opportunity for someone who knows a lot about their local history or architecture, and who likes to talk about it.

You’ll be able to share your knowledge and interact with others. The work combines a social aspect (you need to be a bit of a performer) with intellectual and physical aspects.

While you’re teaching people, you have to trek around, so a degree of physical as well as mental fitness is required.

To apply for work as a tour guide, check out local museums and historical monuments as well as private tour companies in your locality. Expect to earn 15 to 20 dollars or euros an hour with tips on top.

Movie or TV extras

You can earn a pittance for 8 to 12 hour days with a lot of hanging about.

But you do get to rub shoulders with celebs and (possibly) wear fancy costumes, and you’ll maybe see yourself on TV or the silver screen!

You can find opportunities near where you live by watching entertainment news, checking for casting calls on websites such as Craigslist or registering with a casting agency (free of charge).

Two of the better-known background casting agencies are Central Casting and Backstage. There are plenty of other agencies as you’ll find in your local telephone directory.

Learning digital marketing to boost your pension

Most retirees know a fair bit about using a computer (eg, MS Office), emailing and using the internet to search for stuff. But not many are up to speed with digital marketing.

Digital marketing is the use of the Internet through PCs, laptops, mobile devices, social media, search engines, and other online channels to reach clients and customers.

The purpose is to get them to take some action such as contact you, sign up for something, or buy a product or hire you.

Most of the possibilities we have discussed in this article so far depend on digital marketing skills to find clients for the services you offer to boost your pension … such as writing, consulting, teaching, tutoring, or using your technical and professional skills and so on.

Digital marketing skills are thus a necessity, especially if you are a one-man band working without the backup or support of office staff and have to do everything yourself.

Even if you don’t want to become an expert, you will need basic digital marketing skills if you really wish to find clients or customers for your services.

To find out more about digital marketing, just click here for some FREE lessons.

Becoming an affiliate marketer to boost your pension

Affiliate marketing predates the internet. However, the internet has delivered the digital tools and skills that have elevated affiliate marketing into a multi-billion dollar industry.

As an affiliate marketer, you promote products and services on behalf of other people or firms and get a commission every time a sale is made.

Many well-known companies, such as Amazon, have affiliate programmes that pay out millions of dollars every month to affiliates who market and sell their products and services.

The commissions you can earn range from 5 or 10 percent to 20 percent for physical products and up to 50% for products such as software applications.

The concepts behind affiliate marketing are simple and learning how to be a successful affiliate is easy but does take a little time.

However, once you are a competent affiliate marketer you can expect to earn at least $2,500 a month and anything up to and beyond $10,000 a month with only a few hours work a day.

The only equipment you need is a laptop and a decent WiFi connection. This means you can literally live in any country, the country of your choice. In other words, you are location independent.

To find out more about affiliate marketing, just click here for some FREE lessons.

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