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7 Activities To Add To Your Day To Earn Extra Cash In 2021

Earning some extra money is easier than you think.

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Everyone seems to be talking about side hustles and making more money in the new year. You can't scroll on Instagram or scan Facebook without somebody talking about the next big money-making product, trend, or brand to invest in. Even if you're not a hustler, aren't into entrepreneurship, nor looking to start a new brand, you can find ways to at least bring in a little extra income to reach your personal and professional goals by incorporating income-producing activities (IPAs). It's basic, deliberate actions you can take each day, week, or month to either make extra cash or further expose you to the potential of doing so.

We could all use a good check-in with ourselves on whether the things we're doing throughout our day are actually leading to tangible results and well, getting to the money. Are we really getting a return on our time investment? Below are 7 IPA tasks to look into adding to your to-do lists in the new year:

1. Etch out at least an hour a week to reconnect with your network and make new contacts.

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We can all take a nod for the sales buffs with this one.The age-old cliche, "Your network is your net worth," rings especially true in pandemic times because many of us can't really meet up and network in the traditional way we're used to. It's important to continue to connect with people and cultivate new relationships while nurturing the old ones. A good way to do this is to check in with your current network, keep up with what they're doing via LinkedIn, Twitter, or local news, share information, congratulate them on professional wins, and offer ways to support. Go for the easy icebreaker and send a holiday card—via snail mail or online—or offer ways to partner up or help with a cause they're passionate about. You can also still join professional groups, participate in virtual events or meetups, or offer your knowledge for podcasts and blog posts.

And don't forget the art of the follow-up. Don't just let contacts sit on an email list or in your phone. Keep the conversation going about opportunities, events, and conversations in ways that are authentic, well-timed and relevant. If you find yourself at a loss for words or simply feeling awkward try using templates for writing emails to introduce yourself or thanking your network.

2. Commit to acts of service that go beyond seasonal one-offs.

Volunteering is yet another way to network, and when you give, you get. It's just a simple rule of reciprocity and karma. So many professionals can attest to the power of service and how working with others to help communities has led to paid opportunities or at least a link to a money-making resource. Be sure your act of service aligns with your values and is something you actually enjoy doing, and be strategic about the organizations and professionals you align yourself with. Also, this is a good way to get your foot in the door or try a different career if you're looking to pivot into a new industry due to pandemic-related layoffs.

3. Persistently and strategically invest in professional development to improve your skills.

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Some experts would disagree on this being an IPA, but research has shown that upping your skill set can open you up to pay raises and income increases. This doesn't just apply to higher education. Getting certifications and special qualifications in your field can open you up to more opportunities to earn extra cash. Look into the needs of your industry, especially those that complement the main business operations (i.e. cybersecurity, first aid, search engine optimization, project management, human resources, or organizational leadership.) Some specialized courses will cost but there are plenty of free courses online and certifications classes as well. Also, participating in courses or master classes can expose you to your industry peers who are doing great things and are forward-thinkers—yet another opportunity to network.

4. Host a weekly or monthly webinar, online class, YouTube video or podcast.

Since Covid-19 hit, Web consumption has gone through the roof, increasing by more than 200% from March 2019 to March 2020. That means even with borders reopen and restrictions lifted, people are still online now more than ever. Take advantage of this by offering your expertise on a subject or teaching something you're passionate about. You can charge per class or partner up with brands or rganizations to collectively broach a subject, raise awareness, or present a how-to. From fitness and cooking to accounting and parenting, there's a webinar or online course topic out there that needs your special take or approach. (A few good tips on how to launch a webinar, YouTube video, or course can be found here.)

5. Think of a residual problem in your industry and present a solution for it.

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Oftentimes we get caught up in one major aspect of what we offer professionally, and we don't think of related skills or problems we can solve within our industries. A good way to surpass these limits is to write down needs you see within your company and the soft or related skills you possess to help fill the gaps. For example, if you're in the healthcare field but have a love for innovation or creativity, you can offer products or processes that would make the jobs of your peers easier such as selling glow-in-the-dark face masks for essential workers on the night shift. In the beauty or wellness industry? Offer tailored a-la-cart services for busy CEOs who neglect self-care. Love travel and keeping up with the latest updates on Covid-19 restrictions? Offer services or products to overwhelmed travelers or airline professionals to help them organize information, testing appointments, travel kits, and itineraries.

6. Incorporate technology to automate smaller tasks to make room for larger income-generating tasks.

If you're not automating activities, especially as a high-achieving professional or business owner, you're losing valuable time that you could be using to do more IPAs. Also, some activities are best done either by a third party or via the use of technology because they may not be what you're that great at in the first place. Accounting, cleaning, schedule management—these are all tasks that can be automated or delegated so that you can free up energy and time to do what you do best. Automation can also help you reach more people at once in terms of email correspondences, social media interactions and pitching for your brand or business. Those who use technology to give them a leg up often open themselves up to more opportunities to put money in their pockets and beating out the competition—whether that competition is a coworker or a brand. (Find a few tools and resources for automation here and here.

7. Complete a project that can earn passive income.

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Investing in stocks, real estate, or an AirBnB space are all great ways to build avenues of passive income. Also, offering popular products such as T-shirts, mugs, apps, downloadable art, or e-books is a good way to generate, as experts say, "income while you sleep." It will take time and planning, but you can start by listing what you'd be most interested in offering, find out how to offer it, and learn the best way to sell it. Then make it a habit to etch out time each day to specifically focus on execution. (Tips on how to create streams of passive income can be found here and here.)

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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