A Little Extra, Please!

Wouldn’t it be great to earn a side income in your free time, be it after work or between minding your kids? Here are some ways you can work on an ad-hoc basis.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Wouldn’t it be great to earn a side income in your free time, be it after work or between minding your kids? Here are some ways you can work on an ad-hoc basis.

My Reading Room

You can make use of every minute of your day to help you put money in the kitty. Just ask Vivien Tan, a craft instructor and founder of online craft store The Cotton Shoppe.

Before the 41-year-old turned crafting into a full-time business in 2013, she was a corporate communications manager for 18 years, who worked long hours at her day job while carving out time to make and sell her crafts on US-based online marketplace Etsy. “I made use of my bus rides to and from work as well as my lunch hours to reply to customers’ e-mails and social media postings,” says the mother of two children aged 14 and 16, who sells quilted products, baby gifts, totes and other lifestyle products on Etsy. If the success of her business is any indication, it was time well spent. You don’t even need to be a crafter; you simply need to identify where your pockets of free time are, then turn those into avenues through which you can make a side income. Here are some easy and doable ideas.


If you’re like Vivien and enjoy crafting as an outlet to relax after a long day at work, why not turn your hobby into a source of income instead of reserving your handmade gifts for family and friends?

If you’re skilled with the scissors or a needle and thread, leverage on the recent surge for one-of-a-kind, handcrafted items and sell your work on Etsy. The e-tailer, which carries a wide variety of goods such as accessories, clothing and even skincare, charges a listing fee of just 29 cents per item and a commissioning fee of 3. 5 per cent of your item's selling price, excluding shipping costs.

With Etsy, you’ll get access to an international market and the opportunity to interact with your clientele, at your own pace and without having to worry about raking up high overheads.

Home Baking

Not crafty but love to bake? Selling baked goods online may sound like a good idea, but the laborious process of setting up a website and marketing your products is off-putting to many.

Bearing that in mind, entrepreneurs Tan Wei Qiang and Chuah Chongxian set up Bakersfirst (www.bakersfirst.sg), a local online platform through which talented home bakers can sell their sweet treats without the hassle of managing an online store. Bakers pay a 15 per cent commission on what they sell.

Simply register (it’s free!) as a vendor, then list your products and pricing. If you are not tech-savvy and are struggling with the listing protocol, you can even ask the owners for help. They’ll send you a form to fill in, after which they'll upload your listings for you. You can even state the amount of available stock for each item on the website – all the better for managing customer demand. In this sense, the level of commitment is really up to you as a vendor.

“If you think you can only spare the time to make three jars of cookies, or [just one] cake, per week, you can adjust your [available stock] accordingly,” explains Wei Qiang. “Once [an item is] out of stock, [it] won’t be available on the page until you replenish it, so you won’t have to worry about overworking yourself to complete orders.”

Orders are received via e-mails and text messages. From there, you can contact the customer directly for pick-up and delivery.

Since Bakersfirst has no subscription or maintenance fee, you can opt to list your products only during festive periods, which makes it ideal for those who specialise in seasonal goodies such as moon cakes and pineapple tarts.

Home Cooking

Always getting compliments for your cooking? Put those culinary skills to good use and earn some money. Started by celebrity chef Eric Teo and businessman Luke Lee, Dine Inn (www.dineinn.com) is an online platform that links aspiring home cooks up with customers looking for personalised home-cooked meals. You could simply cook an everyday meal, then arrange for it to be self-collected by or delivered to the customer. Deliveries are managed by Dine Inn, which will make the arrangements and cover the cost.

Alternatively, show off your cooking prowess by hosting guests in your home or by acting as a private chef at the guest’s house. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have full control over the menu, pricing, the type of service you provide and your availability.

All you have to do is sign up as a Host (registration is free) via the website or the Dine Inn app (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play), then attend the one-day Basic Food Hygiene Course approved by the Workforce Development Agency. After that, set up your profile and menu, and you’re good to go. Note that 20 per cent of the booking price goes to Dine Inn as administrative fees.

Thanks to Dine Inn’s partnerships with various vendors, you can get up to 25 per cent off your cooking supplies and ingredients, lowering your operating costs.

Running Errands

You’re probably no stranger to ridesharing apps such as Uber and Grab, but if chauffeuring strangers around isn’t the job for you, there are other tasks you can do for others that could make you a fast buck.

For instance, you can deliver others’ packages and get paid for it. Sign up as a dispatcher – registration is free – at courier service provider Zap Delivery (the mobile app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play), and take up jobs based on pick-up and drop-off locations, so you can work at your convenience.

The app computes a fixed delivery fee based on the weight of the parcel and the distance you travel. Delivering a parcel weighing less than 1 kg to a location within 3km of your pickup point will earn you $5; your earnings go up to $6 if the parcel weighs between 1kg and 10kg. After the first 3km, each subsequent kilometre earns you an additional 70 cents. For parcels that weigh more than 10kg, Zap Delivery sets the rates on a case-by-case basis.

Like doing odd jobs? You can earn money doing that for others too – think painting someone’s dog kennel and doing some last-minute grocery shopping for him or her – by becoming a “Tasker” on on-demand service provider Laborme (the mobile app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play). Sign-up is free, after which you can browse through tasks by location and category – courier, food delivery, shopping and other miscellaneous activities – then bid for those you would like to help with.

You’ll be bidding against other “Taskers” and the client will decide who to award the task to according to bid prices and user reviews. According to the folks at Laborme, the average rate for an errand ranges from $10 to $15.

Taking Care of Pets

If you love furry critters big and small, sign up as a pet sitter on Pawshake Singapore (www.pawshake.com.sg), and get paid to cuddle and play with other people’s fur babies. Registration does not cost a thing; simply log on to the website to sign up. Tanguy Peers, co-founder of Pawshake, advises you to include lots of photographs of yourself with pets and give details of your past experiences with animals in your profile.

Once registered, you’ll be able to connect, via the mobile app (available on the Apple App Store and Google Play), with “pawrents” who need dog-walking, home-visiting, home-boarding or housesitting services. While you’re free to set your own rates – starting at $10 for a home visit (whereby you’ll drop by a pet owner’s home to feed and play with the animal (s) for 30 minutes to an hour) and $20 for overnight care – do note that 19 per cent of your fee goes to Pawshake.

Using Your Professional Skills

Don’t limit yourself to menial work. Put your professional skills to use outside of your full-time job. Sher-Li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work, says working mothers should seek out freelance and ad-hoc jobs that tap into their unique skill sets.

On social networking platforms such as Mums@Work (www.mumsatwork.net), you can find flexi-hour, work-from-home and temporary job listings such as those looking for a legal transcriber, a translator, a resume writer, a copywriter and a makeup artist.

Make sure you have a Linkedin profile that’s updated with all your skills and past experiences, and put yourself out there by participating actively in women’s community groups on social media to make contact with potential clients. SH

Main Photo 123RF.com.