15 Easy Ways to Make Money When You’re Unemployed

Illustration of a woman sitting on large coins working on a laptop and surrounded by a large wallet

Unemployed professionals arrive at their shared situation through many different paths, including resignation, layoffs or redundancy. You may also be a student yet to land their first job, or a consultant waiting for your contract to be renewed. However you got here, the survival guide to unemployment comprises staying positive, practicing self-care and staying on top of your financials.

We know that you still need time to peruse job listings and prepare your CV, so we’ve put together a list of money-making ideas that won’t interfere with your ultimate career goals.

1. Apply for unemployment benefits

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people neglect to file for unemployment benefits promptly. You may assume you’ll get another job right away or think you should look for work first before seeking financial assistance. Unfortunately, delaying this could cause you to miss a filing deadline and leave you without the money you’re entitled to just when you need it the most.

Be aware that any additional income you bring in while unemployed can affect how much of the government assistance you’ll receive. Check the guidelines for your country’s official programme, such as the Jobseeker’s Allowance in the UK and Unemployment Help in the US.

2. Offer childcare

Baby-sitting isn’t just for teenagers. If you want to earn some money fast while you’re unemployed, your best bet is probably through referrals from friends and family. Otherwise, parents may prefer that you work through an agency, which requires a background check and additional vetting. Also, be aware that signing on with an agency may interfere with any unemployment benefits you’re receiving.

3. Work as a dog walker

If you’re a dog lover, dog-walking is one option to consider. You’ll likely find people in your neighbourhood that would be happy to hire someone who can help get their pets some exercise while they’re at work. Apartments and communities catering to seniors are also a great place to find new clients.

Another option is pet-sitting; many pet owners prefer to hire a dedicated minder rather than leave their pets at a boarding service. Sites like Rover.com and PetSitter.com allow you to list your services and gain positive reviews that will help expand your customer base.

4. Work as a freelancer

While you may have lost your full-time job, you can continue working in your field as a freelancer. Sites like FlexJobs, Upwork and Indeed help you find freelance gigs, including work-from-home opportunities, that match your skills. Freelance jobs can be very lucrative while accommodating a more flexible schedule that lets you make money and still have time to hunt for permanent employment.

If you have excellent writing skills, you can also use your knowledge in any field, including arts and entertainment, auto repair and gardening to land freelance writing gigs.

5. Earn from affiliate marketing

If you have a website or personal blog, you can make some extra cash with affiliate marketing. This involves advertising a product or service on your site and then taking a percentage of any sales that result from users clicking on your ads.

You can utilise a service that works with multiple businesses such as ShareASale or ClickBank. Whatever affiliate marketing agreements you sign up for, make sure you’re following all transparency laws like GDPR and guidelines enforced by your blog or web host.

6. Start an online store

This could be a good time to turn your hobby into a business. Any skills you have in jewellery-making, wood-working, knitting or other crafts can help you make some extra money while you’re unemployed.

You can start an online store of your own, especially if you already have a niche website and solid following on social media. Otherwise, consider taking advantage of the big boost in marketing potential when you join an existing marketplace like Etsy, ArtFire, Shopify or Big Cartel.

7. Work as a tutor

Tutoring is an excellent online business idea to make some money. Whether your expertise is in grammar school math or university-level economics, students and their parents are willing to pay for your help. You can accept commissions through your own website, use a freelance site like Fiverr, or work with an online tutoring service like Preply or TutorMe.

Those with foreign language skills can also find work through in-person tutoring, or online teaching with sites like Verbling and italki. You can even make money by offering to be a practice partner in your native language via video chat.

8. Try seasonal work

It’s not always easy to replace a lost job, particularly if there are no current openings in your field. You can help bridge the gap in income while you’re job-hunting by nabbing a seasonal job. There are lots of seasonal gigs, aside from summer landscaping and holiday retail roles. Accounting firms hire extra help during tax season, for instance, and college registration offices ramp up before the fall semester.

You can also work with a recruiter who will find you multiple temporary positions in your industry to keep the income rolling in.

Take your temp jobs seriously, as it could lead to a permanent job at that company or through making a good networking contact. Do keep in mind that income from temp work can affect your unemployment benefits.

9. Rent your home or vehicle

You’re probably familiar with sites like Airbnb, where you can list any property you own for temporary use or lodging, everything from a spare bedroom to your summer condo in Florida. You may not be aware of sites like Neighbor, Park.com and Turo, however, that help you rent out your garage, driveway, parking space, or even your car.

While this can be a great way to earn extra income, be sure to research the laws in your area and comply with all regulations. You should also read up on safety practices and potential liability issues.

10. Join a rideshare programme

Many workers join up with rideshare services like Uber and Lyft for a side job. You can take as many calls as you want, so that side job can turn into a full-time gig when you’re unemployed. As for your rates, how much you make will depend a lot on where you live.

You’ll need a car that meets the rideshare service’s requirements, and you should factor the maintenance of your vehicle into your profits. Browse through review sites and social media for helpful tips from experienced drivers and consider signing on with a service that offers formal safety training and protocols.

11. Capitalise on your clutter

Clearing the clutter from your home clears up needed space, helps you get more organised, and offers a way to make speedy cash.

While traditional yard sales, car boot sales and flea markets are still an option for selling your stuff, there are plenty of online alternatives, too. Use Craigslist to sell large items, like furniture, to locals in order to avoid shipping hassles, weed out your book and media collection using the Amazon marketplace, or unload the unused parts from your automotive restoration project on PartingOut.com.

There are sites where you can sell pretty much everything you own, including camera equipment, clothing and even gift cards.

12. Try house-sitting

Being unemployed can affect all areas of your life, including where you live. If your lease on an expensive apartment is ending landing a house-sitting gig can be a perfect solution. Oftentimes, homeowners who travel for vacation, or spend winter months in warmer climates, get their house-sitters to look after their homes after and you get a free place to stay while you’re job-hunting.

For potential house-sitting opportunities, check out online job listings at sites like The Caretaker Gazette or MindMyHouse.

Be aware that jobs that offer both lodging and pay typically require more than just occupying the house, like handyman work or taking care of pets.

13. Pick up a delivery job

Yes, newspaper routes still exist, and they aren’t just for teenagers. With a good earning potential, a delivery gig can really help your bills while you’re unemployed. Online job listings typically have several openings for drivers to deliver newspapers, real estate flyers and other materials to both residential and business addresses. Deliveries are usually completed in the early morning hours, leaving you plenty of time to pursue job hunting and schedule interviews during the day.

There may also be opportunities in your area to pick up freelance delivery work with sites like Amazon, Uber Eats, Shipt and DoorDash. While this is an option that allows you to make some fast cash on a flexible schedule do your research before signing on and make sure you’ll get a decent profit out of your time and energy.

14. Cash in on recycling

While you’re sorting through your clutter, hold onto damaged items that contain metal. Scrap yards will buy all sorts of items, including aluminium siding, batteries and computer motherboards. It won’t necessarily be a literal gold mine, but it’s an easy way to earn fast cash without much effort.

You can get anywhere from a penny to a few dollars per kilo, depending on the metal. Prices fluctuate with the market, so check the rates before you head to your local buyer.

15. Use your photography skills

If you’re a skilled photographer, let your family and friends know that you’re looking to make some extra money by photographing events. Instead than spending thousands of dollars to have a stranger photograph their daughter’s graduation ceremony or their son’s first birthday, many people would be happy to have a trusted friend memorialising the event, at an affordable rate.

If you’re just looking to make some money from your photography without big commitments, consider selling your work to businesses and bloggers using photo sites like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock or 500px.

As you can see, there are a lot of options out there for you to earn income while you’re job-hunting for a permanent position.

Have you had success with any of these money-making options? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section below!


This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 8 February 2014.