If you’re anything like me, that word has gone from “haha-I guess-it’s-ramen-for-dinner-tonight” to “oh-dear-lord-how-am-I-going-to-make-rent” in the span of a few months. New York City has never been particularly affordable, even in the best of times. The COVID-19 pandemic has only added insult to injury for those of us who fall under the ever-growing category of “broke in NYC.”
So what do we do?
This is a tough time for those of us struggling to get by in the burroughs. The majority of people who held jobs in the service or entertainment industry (most of NYC, if we are being honest) have completely lost their only sources of income. If you still have a job now, months into the pandemic, you are honestly one of the lucky ones. The rest of you, myself included, are scrambling to find any scrap of employment to hopefully carry you until better times arrive. If you’re panicking, stressing, or scared, you’re definitely not alone. That is a small consolation, I know, but solidarity does help in times like these.
Some New Yorkers have opted to just move and it’s hard to really blame them. However, if that’s not an option for you, or if you simply don’t want to leave, there are alternatives. There are quite a few pandemic-approved side hustles, for those of us who have lost our full-time jobs. Some of these gigs require minimal person-to-person interaction, but most require none. A lot of these small jobs are something to do just to get by for the time being. A few could possibly lead to more permanent careers in your desired field. It’s hard to know for sure, unfortunately.
That being said, we are still New Yorkers at the end of the day, no matter how much money we have in our bank accounts. We are still strong, resilient, and pretty damn badass. We will get through this, I have no doubt in my mind.
Still, it’s a lot easier to weather the storm with a little bit of money, right? Here are some pandemic-approved side hustles for those of us who are completely broke in NYC.
Neighborhood Small Jobs
So, the first thing I would recommend is downloading a local app for your NYC neighborhood. I have been using the “Nextdoor” app. On here, people post every day looking for help doing small jobs and running errands. There are senior citizens who don’t feel comfortable grocery shopping, asking for someone to do that for them. Additionally, people post daily, seeking someone to walk their dogs, get their mail, or pick up their dry cleaning.
You can also make the first move, if you’d like, and create a post saying you’re available to do all those chores and more. Granted, this will not get you salary-type money, but a little is better than nothing. And who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone who sees potential in you for something larger and more lucrative down the road.
Sell Items Online
Now, I know this isn’t exactly a “side hustle” in the normal sense of the word, but it does take some work. It also can definitely alleviate some of the stress of being broke in NYC. If you have anything around your place, from jewelry to books to instruments, that you don’t want anymore, try to sell them. You can use:
Work for Uber, Lyft, or Postmates
This is more directed to those fortunate enough to have a car, although you can deliver for Postmates with a bicycle. You can even walk if you choose to, but that could mean an awful lot of leg work (pun intended, obviously.)
If you do have a car, though, Uber and Lyft are looking for drivers. This is an especially profitable side hustle for NYC, seeing as many people are opting to take cabs or cars instead of the subway these days.
I know, I know. You’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about, but this is a real thing!
I just recently discovered JustAnswer, a website where people pay to have their questions answered. This includes legal questions, health questions, tech questions, and much more. If you are an expert in a certain field and want to earn money in exchange for your knowledge, this is an awesome side hustle for you.
Sell Your Services
Fiverr is an amazing space for freelancers. Whether it’s writing, editing, social media, mechanics, designing, or programming, Fiverr includes almost all skills. The more work you do, the more reviews you get, the higher your standing becomes on the website.
This in turn will open the door for even more opportunities. This is the perfect side job for those of us who are broke and struggling to find a full-time occupation in our field.
Tutor or Teach
Tutoring and teaching from home are more needed now than almost any time before. Many parents are dealing with the frightening decision of whether or not to send their children back to school, in the midst of this pandemic. A lot of those parents would rather not, but do not have any alternative for an education for their kids. Many of these parents work full-time and would not be able to teach their kids themselves. That’s where you can come in.
A lot of school systems are even handing out curriculum to people who want to do their schooling from home. You would have to check in with your local school system and post ads offering your services. Once you have pupils set up, platforms such as Skype and Zoom make it easy to virtually teach. You can set up payments through PayPal or Venmo.
This is an especially great side hustle for broke people in NYC. Luckily, this city is filled with dogs. It’s also filled with people who are too busy to walk their dogs.
With the help of the company Wag, you can be paired up with countless people who want or need dog-walking services. Like many other sites, the more work you do, the better your standing becomes. This is a great gig for all the dog-lovers out there.
Babysit or Nanny
Not much of an animal person? Do you prefer babies and children instead? Luckily, there are platforms for that, too! Just like tutoring, babysitting and childcare services are needed now more than ever before. The demand is high, and if you have any sort of experience, you are already a step in the right direction.
You can advertise yourself in this department on Care and SitterCity. If you prefer to offer this service to only people you know personally, you can also make a post on social media.
If you are particularly good at housekeeping, NYC is filled with people looking for someone to take care of that. A lot of people don’t want to commit to a housekeeping service, and would prefer more of a “freelance” housekeeper.
The platform HouseKeeper is where they can find that. That is where you can advertise yourself for this service. It’s important to note, though, that you’ll likely have to provide your own cleaning equipment, so this is one of those things where you’re going to have to spend money in order to start making money.
Start an Etsy Shop
Are you creative? Do you like to draw, paint, sew, or build? On Etsy you can make your own little store, filled with your specialty items.
I already know a few people who have started their own Etsy shops since the beginning of the pandemic. One sells homemade leather wallets, one sells hand-crafted jewelry, and another sells tee-shirts she designs and puts together herself. The possibilities are endless.
Do Interior Design
This is one I, personally, would never be able to do, but I know there are definitely New Yorkers out there with an amazing eye for interior design. A lot of people have always been good at this, but don’t really know how to make money off their talent.
I’m happy to introduce you to Houzz, a place where you can offer your interior design skills to people for a price.
Do Graphic Design
This is for all the broke New Yorkers out there who specialize in the technical side of design. Are you good at making logos? Creating advertisements? Do you love experimenting with programs like Photoshop? If so, 99designs is the place for you.
Here, companies or individuals can hire you to create their logo for them. You can also be hired to help with website designs, packaging, and numerous other marketing aspects. Additionally, this can serve as a nice start for a potential future career in this field.
Miscellaneous Freelance Work
Finally, I’m including a platform for those of us who don’t exactly know for sure what services we want to offer. The Freelancer app is perfect for this. You can browse all different types of requests to figure out what best matches your skillset. Some people are looking for writers, some are looking for computer help, and some people are even looking for artists. You might see a service you hadn’t even considered offering, but know you’d be good at.
This is a great place to figure that out and make some extra cash. (Alternatively, the site Upwork is also great for finding miscellaneous freelance work).