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How to Make Extra Money in the Military in 2020: This Guide Explains

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Committing to a military career is one of the most selfless choices you can make. 

And while it can be extremely rewarding, it doesn’t come without challenges. 

You make okay money in the military, but because you move around so often, your spouse may struggle to find stable work.

So, it’s all on you.

And, you want to know how to make extra money while still in the military so you…

  • can take better care of your family
  • have some more spending money
  • Or maybe just so you can sleep a little better at night

In this guide, we’ll walk you through every step to show you how to make extra money in the military in 2020.

First, think about what your dream job would be:

If just thinking about the phrase “dream job” makes your head spin, you aren’t alone. 

It can be overwhelming to dream up an entirely new job and career path. Especially one that you can start while still working your military job. Where do you even start?

You might have already scoured job sites and tweaked your resume until you’ve got 10 slightly different versions, but still are stumped on where to begin. Luckily, there are more than a few tried and true jobs to check out before you are completely overwhelmed. 

Read on to find the best way for you to start earning extra money.

Step 1: Think about your talents and passions

Start by thinking of what skills come easy to you. Maybe draw on what you went to school for, or what you may have no formal training in but are naturally drawn to. 

Now, make a second list, this time thinking of what you’re passionate about.

  • What doesn’t feel like work? 
  • What are some things you might consider hobbies? 
  • What makes you curious?

As you form your list, try to think of ways you can combine your talents with your passions and branch from there.

Step 2: Find a need in the market where you can use your talents and passions

Many successful entrepreneurs in today’s society started a business from a gap in the market. 

For example, DryBar CEO Alli Web started her business in 2009 going home-to-home giving clients at-home blowouts (in regular terms-getting your hair washed and styled). When popularity increased, she recognized that there was a gap in the market for affordable blowouts. 

Emulate that mentality and thought process for your talents and passions.

Step 3: Create a business around that market and enjoy the work

Whether it be a service business, (i.e. a landscaping firm, barber shop, or local handyman repairs) or a merchandising business (think brick-and-mortar store), brainstorm what your community needs and what would be fulfilling for you. 

As the saying goes, if you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. 

Can’t think of any passions to turn into a business?

Still stumped? Not to worry. 

In today’s world, entrepreneurship is on the rise. 

If you’re resourceful and take initiative, you can still figure out how to make extra money in the military in 2020. If you can’t envision your dream job, create one yourself.

Option 1: Build a business around other needs in the market

Keep in mind that there are still ways to use your skills to make extra money, even if it’s not your passion. You just need to find other ways to build your business.

Step 1: Make a list of all your skills

Start with characteristics and personality traits. 

Are you: 

  • Inquisitive? 
  • Enjoy talking to or meeting new people?
  • Great with kids?
  • A strong communicator? 
  • A self-starter?
  • Collaborative?
  • Creative? 
  • Organized? 

Now, move onto more tangible, learned skills. The more specific, the better!

  • Are you good with numbers?
  • Have you had any formal training? 
  • Are you proficient with Microsoft Word?
  • Have you taken any courses?
  • What specific programs do you know well?
  • Are you really organized?

Step 2: Research if there is a need for any of those skills

Once you’ve nailed down your strengths, it’s time to look and apply for potential side hustles. 

If you’re just starting your career, or don’t have a degree, you might need to think outside the box. 

But don’t worry if you don’t feel you have any obvious applicable skills just yet. 

Check your local job sites for positions that fit your skillset. 

Here are some great places to start:

  • Craigslist
  • Local papers
  • Job boards

You can search for specific skills, like “typing” or search by job title.

Step 3: Create a business surrounding that need in the market

Meet Katie: Katie loves to bake, and she’s good at it, too! 

But, there are already 3 bakeries in the town she lives in. 

Opening up a new cupcake shop might not be the best idea if she’s trying to make money. 

Luckily, she’s made a list of all her past jobs and skills and finds a local job office has recently posted an opening for a bookkeeper. 

Katie has prior experience bookkeeping when she was a treasurer for her daughter’s elementary PTA and decides to apply!

Option 2: Freelance your talents

The popularity of freelancing as a full-time or part-time source of income just keeps growing. 

In fact, 35% of U.S. workers are now freelancing. 

Still not sure how your skills apply to freelance work? Check out job platforms like UpWork

Business owners in need can search for specific skills like, “writing,” “bookkeeping,” or “graphic design” and see what comes up—if you have any skills (even if it’s as simple as converting a video file into an audio file…) you  could likely make some additional money.

Step 1: Make a list of all your talents

Think of any part-time or full-time jobs you’ve held in the past. You might be surprised to find skills you used at a past job might directly translate to freelance work. 

This time around, start by focusing on tangible skills. 

Draw on past assignments or projects at work. Have you taken any courses? What specific programs do you know well? It will be easiest to search for jobs looking for those skill sets.

Your goal is to translate military-speak into words that would show your value to a civilian employer. 

Most civilians have zero knowledge when it comes to military acronyms, so if you use any in your resume, be sure to use the full technical name and put the acronym in parentheses.

Try your best to add buzzwords in to your resume, or include specific words that were called for in the job listing. 

If you think another pair of eyes would be helpful, enlist the help of a resume builder.

Step 2: Ways to freelance those talents

The possibilities for freelance work are endless, especially online. 

There are dozens of sites that connect job seekers with job searchers. But if you’d rather not start on the world wide web, your freelance career doesn’t need to end before it starts. 

Consider any family or friends with businesses. Think locally, too. Stores and small businesses may be willing to pay hourly for you to help with small or administrative tasks. 

Don’t be afraid to get out in your local community and build relationships that could lead to part-time work.

How can I get started with UpWork?

More freelancers are taking their careers full-time, due to many employers hiring freelance workers and online platforms, according to the new Freelancing in America Survey.

Upwork is a website dedicated to connecting freelancers with clients and vice versa. 

The beauty of Upwork is that it doesn’t just cater to one type of career. 

In fact, there are over 80+ categories of job types to search through

A few examples of jobs you can search by are:

  • Web development 
  • Admin support
  • Writing
  • Accounting
  • Data & Analytics
  • Engineering 
  • Architecture
  • Translation

Upwork is a great place to start to find the right freelance position to fit your needs and skillset. 

Even if you don’t have a college degree or are just starting out in the workforce, you can find freelance work. 

Pro-tip: Employers are often in need of simple administrative tasks like:

    • customer service
    • basic online research
    • or other entry-level virtual assistance tasks

and you can build your client network (and skillset) from there.

Step 1: How to Set It Up

To find your side hustle on Upwork, you’ll first need to create a profile. It’s a free service and all you need to sign up is an email address. 

  • First, you’ll make a general profile. You can upload your resume, along with any links to past projects, a portfolio, or even a website. 
  • Your profile will allow you to input up to 10 skills (this is where the list you made before comes in handy)
  • Add any certifications you may have
  • List your employment history and education
  • Feature any professional accomplishments or online skills tests results
  • Add your availability and how many hours you’re willing to work per week

Step 2: How to Get Clients

As a freelance applicant, you’re able to search, pitch, and navigate payment through the Upwork system. 

Upwork says the beginning of your new career all starts by creating an outstanding profile and submitting a compelling job proposal. 

  • Think of your profile as an introduction, resume, and marketing brochure all rolled into one. 
  • To stand out, make sure your profile is complete, well-written, error-free, and, if you can, feature a professional, friendly-looking picture.
  • When you’re ready, send the client a compelling proposal. This will greatly increase your likelihood of getting an interview, so consider making sure yours is: engaging and tailor-made for the work you’re seeking. 
  • Make sure it is a true representation of your strengths and skills.

Your rating increases as a freelancer as you book and complete more projects. So the greater success you have on projects, the more likely you are to get hired by other Upwork clients. You’re essentially building your online portfolio as you continue to freelance.

Step 3: Find Other Similar Freelance Work

List your services and availability on local job boards and circle back to freelance work for family or friends with businesses of their own. 

Remember: Not every side gig has to align perfectly with your skillset. 

If you are willing to learn on the job, just think of the experiences and expertise you’ll be able to add to your resume.

Other Side Hustle Ideas to Make Extra Money in the Military

Military members and spouses work for a wide variety of reasons, and identifying your end goal could help determine what area to look into to put some extra cushion in your wallet. 

Here are a few ideas on how to make extra money, while still in the military in 2020. Many of these can also even work for your spouse.

1. Real Estate Investment

Real estate can be a great answer to how you can make extra money in the military in 2020, and is one area that many military members are already capitalizing on

Whether you are looking to buy an investment property or rent out a home you already own, real estate presents many opportunities for passive income.

How can I make money?

There are two main options for making money in real estate while in the military: renting out your home or room for short term, or renting out your home for the long-term.

If you are stationed overseas, you can rent out your home here in the U.S. to bring in extra money. 

If you have extra room in your home and are able, you can convert any extra bedrooms and living spaces into areas you can rent. You decide if the space or spaces are rented out short-term or long-term. You might consider listing your home on popular websites like Airbnb or VRBO.

With so many frequent moves, becoming a landlord is a good option to consider.

VA loans can make this choice a smart one.

It’s easy to qualify and buy a new home with the VA’s no-money-down loan option. Once you move, you can then keep the former home as a rental. 

Keep in mind, though, that repairs can be expensive, tenants can be a hassle, and that it may be necessary to hire a property manager if you don’t live nearby.

2. E-Commerce Site / Dropshipping

Websites like Etsy, Shopify, Craigslist, or eBay allow you to list items for sale. You might also sell your products from your own blog or website.

Shopify, for example, is an e-commerce builder designed to help its users build online stores. You’re able to access features and apps that allow you to sell both through the website and across other channels like..

  • Facebook
  • Amazon
  • Or Pinterest

One way to sell online is through dropshipping. 

Shopify explains dropshipping as a retail fulfillment method where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. 

Instead, when a store sells a product using the dropshipping model, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the seller (you) don’t have to handle the product directly.

How can I make money?

Dropshipping is a great business model for those looking for how to make extra money in the military in 2020 because it’s accessible

With dropshipping, you can quickly test different business ideas with limited disadvantages, which lets you learn a lot about how to choose and market in-demand products. 

Here are a few other reasons why dropshipping is such a popular model:

  • Less capital is required (you don’t have to invest thousands to get started)
  • Flexible location
  • Low overhead
  • Wide selection of products to sell
  • Easier to test
  • Simpler to scale

According to Shopify, dropshipping stores drive additional sales that the supplier would have otherwise missed out on. To make a profit with your dropshipping business, it’s a good idea to find out how much it costs for you to “acquire” a customer, and price your products with that in mind.

3. Writing or Blogging

Writing and blogging has the potential to be both a creative outlet and a way to make extra money. 

Depending on the topic or topics you chose to write about, you can appeal to a big audience and even gain a following. The first step is to register a domain and select a hosting plan for your blog. 

The good news is, there isn’t just one way to use your website or blog to make money.

How can I make money?

Start by taking a look at some blogs or websites you subscribe to or follow. 

Make a note about what marketing tools they use to monetize their platforms and how many revenue streams they use to bring money in. 

Consider the following as you brainstorm what might fit your blog or website best:

  • Make your blog subscription-based. Your followers would pay a small fee each month to access your content
  • Sell advertising space 
  • Post affiliate links from companies 
  • Host webinars about your topics and ask people to pay to view 
  • Sell products from your blog or site

If you can consistently use your blog and create a lot of value for your followers, you can generate an extraordinary amount of passive income. As you post to your blog more and more, your site will start bringing in traffic whether you put in any additional time or not. 

4. Create a Product

This is where artistic and crafty skills come in handy. If you enjoy making crafts, this skill can directly translate into making you extra money. 

Can’t think of any products or items to sell? A few examples include:

  • T-Shirts 
  • Hats
  • Magnets
  • Pins
  • Pet goods (toys, accessories)
  • Stickers
  • Jewelry
  • Wedding signs or invitations

Depending on the quantity you want to produce, you can have a fulfillment and distribution company manufacture the items for you. Just send them a prototype and some even take care of shipping the final product.

How can I make money?

Creating and selling your own products can reap steady income for you, depending on what you sell and how well you are marketing your products. 

Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay any costs from purchasing your domain for your website and small transaction and listing fees associated with websites like Etsy. 

In addition to a lot of other great information, if you need help honing in on many of the ideas in this guide, you can take American Dream U’s Free Dream Job Course to help you find your dream job.

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