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6 Side Hustles You Can Employ While You're Unemployed

Finance

As I sat on the floor staring at my depleted bank account on my phone, I felt a swell of emotions creep up my throat like a bubbling volcano. This unemployment season sucked.

I tried to keep the faith and hold things together for as long as I could but the bills were piling and the stress of it all was killing my pride and definitely my edges. I never planned to go through this. I thought I had life planned out with a job before my college graduation, but little did I know that they would fire me a week before I walked the stage.

Talk about a Britney 2007 breakdown. As I sat deep in this reality check, this moment brought me face to face with my reality.

I was broke.

Broker than broke. And it frustrated me because this wasn't where I was supposed to be. I saw everyone thriving around me. I even praised their accomplishments but deep down I felt shame that I was struggling through a season I never planned for.

This is the story of many of us. Stats show that millennials have the highest unemployment rate out of all age groups. But I realized that this season did NOT define me. I was determined to stay faithful to the process and do what I needed in the meantime.

A lot of times unemployment is a humbling season.

For me, it revealed that I was wrapped in validation and status. How "embarrassing" to tell people that I didn't have a plan with my career moves. And because I couldn't feel valued by others, I didn't feel like a value at all. But it's not true. Through the up and down seasons of unemployment, I've learned that there are some super simple ways to bring in a little cash while you're in the place of uncertainty:

1. Ebay

Calling all thrifters! Selling your things online has got to be one of the simplest ways to make some quick money. When I started on Ebay, I first sold things I had around the house like nice clothes (homecoming dresses are really popular), purses, and even an old camera. After I got the hang of how Ebay works, I started going to local garage sales and thrift stores to flip items.

The keys to Ebay are simple but require some consistency. Always have clear pictures taken in good lighting. Ask for a reasonable price, go for popular items (this takes a little research), and always use honest and detailed descriptions. When trying to decide if an item is worth selling, I usually type it in the search bar and scroll down to the sold items. This will show you how much people usually paid for the item and what you should list it as.

Other seller sites you can try include letgo, Poshmark, and even Facebook Marketplace.

2. Temporary Agencies

When I had no clue where to look during my unemployment season, temp agencies came through with great job opportunities. I first looked on Indeed.com for temporary jobs but you can also research temp agencies in your city and request an appointment to meet with them.

The meeting usually consists of going over your resume and areas of expertise. From that information, they will search for job openings that match your qualifications. During my unemployment, I got a great job at a health company that paid way more than I predicted. They are great resources, even for just a short period of time!

3. Babysitting

Babysitting can be a great way to earn decent cash during your extra time. It was a very humbling experience because I did NOT want to do this at first. But try going through sites like care.com or sittercity.com to find work.

What's great about this gig is that it still offers time to work on a skill or apply for job opportunities online. The summer is the perfect season because many kids will be home from school.

4. Photography

Photography is great because there will always be a need for dope pictures. For my website, I bought my first DSLR camera from Craigslist (which is GREAT for items like that). A friend knew that I had a nicer camera and asked if I could take pictures for her sister's college graduation.

That ended up being my first "client." Her sister referred me to another friend and it just grew from there. If you have a nicer camera, I recommend offering to take photos for people for a fee. This may require some Facebook recruiting but people are always looking for pictures around their birthday, pregnancies, graduations, and even headshots.

In my down time, I heavily watched YouTube photography tutorials to help me learn my camera and get better at angles and ideas. When you feel confident, you can even reach out to local organizations like churches or schools to offer your services.

5. Airbnb

Do you have an extra room or guest house in your backyard? Airbnb can make you some serious cash without much work. If you live in a frequently visited city, try renting the extra space, especially during big weekends that host festivals, conferences, concerts, and even sports events. Most Airbnb renters are able to upcharge their guests because of such high demand during these times.

Some of my best Airbnb experiences have included a flexible renter and also a well-stocked room. Make sure to provide helpful things like toiletries and suggestions of places to visit in the city. This always leaves a great impression and a higher chance for positive feedback.

6. Freelance Writing

If you love to write or have ideas for a topic you are passionate, try freelance writing. There are so many publications that are constantly looking for new content, especially from writers of color. So many times, I see media websites try to connect with diverse audiences but fail because of a lack of insight or knowledge.

Look for trending topics and pitch your point of view by emailing an editor. Other ways of finding jobs are checking Craiglist, Indeed.com, or following certain accounts on Twitter like @writersofcolor that frequently post jobs. And even if you don't see a current opportunity available, create one by sending a draft of a post to outlets that you love.

Some of these ideas may not totally replace an income, but they can help bring in financial help and also confidence that this situation will be temporary. So hustle, stack the dollars, and stay focused your goals. Your time is coming.

Featured image by Getty Images

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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