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6 Good Side Gigs for Retirees in 2023

Earn extra cash by peddling your experience, your opinion, your skills and your craft — or by volunteering to be a guinea pig

By Nancy Collamer

If inflation and the gyrating stock market has you fretting over your financial security in retirement, you're not alone. Fully 71% of boomers recently surveyed by Bankrate said they are behind on retirement savings.

One way to boost your income after retirement is to work a side gig — a flexible job that can be worked on a part-time, occasional or seasonal basis. In addition to the financial benefits, side gigs can add enjoyment, interest and purpose to your retirement years.

An older adult making a sculpture. Next Avenue, side gigs
Traditionally, most artists and artisans have depended on local fairs and galleries to sell their work. But increasingly, they are taking advantage of technology to boost their sales and expand their reach.  |  Credit: getty

To help you learn about good side gigs for retirees in 2023, I turned to two experts: Toni Frana, career services manager at FlexJobs, and Kathy Kristof, founder of SideHusl.com.

Here are their 6 recommendations:

1. Professional Services Consultant. Consulting has long been a popular second-act career for retirees. But Kristof says a tenuous economy and new technology have made consulting opportunities stronger than ever. "Right now, many companies are reluctant to hire full-time employees," notes Kristof. "So, they're relying more on consultants."

"Many companies are reluctant to hire full-time employees, so they're relying more on consultants."

To find consulting opportunities, you can strike out on your own or you can search on one of the many online consulting platforms, like Maven or Zintro. Assignments range from one-off hourly consults to months-long commitments.

Pay varies widely, depending on your expertise and industry, but most professionals command at least $50 an hour, with some earning north of $500 an hour. Notably, many highly paid positions no longer require a college degree.

According to data collected by SideHusl.com, the best college-optional jobs are in tech, logistics, construction, marketing, landscape and design, but other industries are open to non-college graduates as well. "Your reviews and experience will matter far more than your education," Kristof says.

2. Tutor or Instructional Designer. Demand for tutors exploded during the pandemic and hasn't cooled off since. "The difference is now there's demand for both virtual and in-person tutors," says Kristof. Tutors are needed for both children and adults, in everything from reading to coding; Spanish to SAT prep.

You don't need teaching credentials to land work (although it helps), so long as you're well-versed in the subject matter. To find clients, you can tap your network for leads, affiliate with a local tutoring service or register with one of the many online tutoring platforms.

Starting rates for online tutors are in the $15 to $20 an hour range, but as Kristof details in this blog post, 3 Best Tutoring Sites, it's possible to earn considerably more: SAT tutors in affluent suburbs can earn $200 an hour or more.

In addition to tutoring, Frana says that FlexJobs has demand for instructional designers, people who develop training materials, programs and curricula for organizations and businesses. Successful instructional designers typically have some background in adult learning combined with strong technical skills and familiarity with e-learning platforms.

3. Editor, Copywriter and Content Writer. The growth in corporate blogs and websites has created a growing market for freelancers with strong writing and editing skills. As an example, Penguin Freelancers, which is operated by one of the world's largest publishing houses, has listings for freelance copy editors and proofreaders at over $30 per hour.

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FlexJobs currently has hundreds of postings for a variety of flexible writing gigs, including technical writers, content developers and grant writers. If you'd like to learn more about online writing gigs, consult this SideHusl.com post, Where to Find Writing or Editing Jobs.

4. Online Art Vendor. Traditionally, most artists and artisans have depended on local fairs and galleries to sell their work. But increasingly, they are taking advantage of technology to boost their sales and expand their reach.

"The number of online platforms where you can make money selling your art and crafts has exploded."

"The number of online platforms where you can make money selling your art and crafts has exploded," says Kristof. A few examples: on Society6 or RedBubble, you can have your artwork printed on items like notebooks, mugs and T-shirts.

They process the orders, and you earn a commission or royalty for every item sold. If you're a fine artist, you can sign-up with Turning Art, a site that works with corporate clients that want to buy or rent artwork for their office buildings.

Or if you're more into craft items, you might set-up shop on a site like Etsy. Whichever platform you use, be sure to carefully review their terms and conditions so that you're clear on how you'll be paid — and how much the site takes for handling your listing, transactions and payment processing.

5. Mock Juror. If you're a devotee of legal dramas, you might enjoy a quick stint as a mock juror. Lawyers pay mock jurors to review their case summaries, so they can get a better feel for the potential pitfalls in their legal arguments. You won't earn a lot (one firm, Online Verdict, pays mock jurors $20 to $60 an hour and another, Jury Test, pays $5 to $50 per trial) but it could be an intriguing way to earn a few dollars.

6. Clinical Trial Participant. Kristof suggested a side gig that comes with both risk and reward: clinical trials of drugs and cosmetics. You can peruse scheduled tests on sites such as Labcorp Drug Development (formerly called Covance) or Princeton Consumer Research, and if you find something that fits your health, risk-tolerance or age, you can then decide if you want to sign up.

"They are always looking for people who have existing conditions, like eczema or diabetes," notes Kristof, "but there are plenty of other studies as well." Compensation varies wildly: short-term low-risk studies average $25 to $100 an hour, while studies involving invasive procedures and overnight stays can pay thousands of dollars.

Clearly this option isn't for everyone but if you'd like to learn more, read Clinical Trials: Highly Paid but Risky.

Photograph of Nancy Collamer
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a semi-retirement coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. You can now download her free workbook called 25 Ways to Help You Identify Your Ideal Second Act on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com (and you'll also receive her free bi-monthly newsletter). Read More
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