Economically speaking, 2022 wasn’t particularly kind to Americans, as fears over an impending recession prompted layoffs at many leading companies. Here in Arizona, unemployment might be reaching historic lows, but people don’t seem to be content with relying on their day jobs.

By 2027, nearly 51% of the U.S. is predicted to go freelance, and in Maricopa County, new business formation is surging. One study recently reported that this year, a whopping 93% of Americans have earned supplemental income via side hustles.

While many can make it sound easy to earn an income online as a content creator, it can be difficult to know where to start. Simply posting on social media won’t make you money even if you manage to gain a significant audience. For example, with YouTube’s revenue share program, you need 4000 hours of watch time before you can make a single cent.

Luckily, there are many ways to experiment with extra income streams without such huge obstacles to overcome. You can convert an interest or a hobby into a side hustle, which can help you financially during these tough times.

Rattle Your Virtual Tip Jar

If you create content which is highly valuable for a small niche with loyal followers, you may want to consider a tip-based model. This allows you to focus on creating content about a topic you are highly passionate about, without worrying about building a mass audience.

You can use Ko-fi to set up a tip jar and add it to your social profiles in your bio. This takes minutes and could earn you hundreds or even thousands per month. It’s important to remind your audience that they can leave tips if they enjoy your content, as no one will tip if they don’t know the option is available.

To encourage tipping, you can set different overall funding goals and advertise content releases depending on the goal being met. For example, if you create content around personal finance, you could say once you reach $100 in donations, you’ll release a video about your best spreadsheet formula hacks.

Create Content for Brands

You’ll find once you’ve built even a modest following, you’ll start getting DMs from accounts that look like spam offering you paid collaborations. While some may be legitimate, you should always be careful because of the unconventional manner they’ve reached out to you. If it seems too good to be true then it probably is.

It’s much safer to go through Popular Pays by Lightricks and create content for brands which you know and trust. The sign up process is easy, and you can spotlight your skills and preferences. You can then browse the brands on the platform, including the likes of Frito-Lay, Kraft-Heinz. They can also reach out to you if you look like a good fit for a campaign they are running. Many of the brands on this platform are not necessarily looking to work with mega-influencers but rather to source the creation of assets from people with talent.

The terms are set out clearly, so you won’t ever be scammed. You could start by taking on roles with smaller companies to build your competency and confidence before targeting the most attractive roles. Remember that large companies can never have enough content, so there will always be opportunities.

Start a Paid Newsletter

Email newsletters have come back into fashion in the last few years because email is the one channel where you don’t need to worry about algorithms or being deplatformed. There are many newsletters out there already, but you can make significant income if you can bring something unique.

For example, Grace Robertson’s “Grace on Football” takes a creative approach to soccer stats which is highly engaging. Despite there being many sports sites such as ESPN, people will still pay for Grace’s analysis because they want her style. This shows that no matter how popular the topic or saturated the niche, if you have a distinct perspective that resonates, you can still find a way to make income through a newsletter.

Grace built her newsletter on top of Substack, which is a great place for beginners to start. Unlike other newsletter platforms, it also has a discovery engine, which helps you to get those all important early subscribers and build traction. You’ll want to make your early newsletter editions free to experiment, and once you know you’ve built some superfans, you can offer a paid tier.

Create a Premium Online Course

There are people making millions each year from online courses with huge dedicated teams to optimize every part of the journey. It can be overwhelming if you look at their courses and try to replicate when you’re new to the content game.

Instead, you should keep it as simple as you can and remove as many variables from your control as possible. A good platform to use is Skillshare, because their model makes your life easier. Customers pay a single subscription fee for access to all courses on the platform, and you get paid based on how many minutes customers spend on your courses. This means you don’t need to worry about the sales side at all and can just focus on making a helpful course.

You can look through the courses which are already on the site and see which ones are doing well. You can use existing courses as a rough template, and then add your expertise and knowledge to make a top performing course. Skillshare representatives also advise all courses to be under an hour, so you aren’t required to spend weeks filming.

Final Thoughts

While the economic outlook seems bleak, earning side hustle income as a content creator could be a crucial boost to your financial health. While it takes a long time to build a large audience there are other ways to make income quickly:

Tip jars – Add one to your social bio then encourage those who like your content to be generous.

Content for brands – With the right platforms, you can find reliable work easily.

Paid newsletters – People are always willing to pay for something original.

On-demand courses – You can build a short course quickly and monetize.