Get Paid to Write: Top 18 Sites That Pay (up to $1 per Word)

Getting paid to write may sound easy, but the reality is a little more complicated. Freelance writing can be hard to break into, and the pay can be low (or nonexistent) for beginners.

The trick is to get your first few articles or creative pieces published and then use them to score bigger clients and better pay. And even if long-term freelancing isn’t your goal, building a portfolio that showcases your published work can bolster your career as a writer or subject-matter expert.

However, publishing those first few pieces is typically the hardest part of your writing journey. To help, we’ve compiled several places where you can get paid to write now. We’ve also included tried-and-true techniques to allow you to grow as a writer and, ideally, make more money writing in the long-term.

Get Paid to Write for Flat-Rate Websites, Blogs and More

If you’re new to freelance writing, one of the first things you may notice is how opaque the whole process is. Websites, blogs and publications often rely on armies of freelancers, but their contributor guidelines and pay are often nowhere to be found.

Instead of diving straight into negotiations with editors about assignments and pay, first try to find a site or publication that has a straightforward process for contributors so that you know exactly what they’re looking for and how much they’re paying. (We’ll cover pitching and negotiating further below.)

Ready to make money writing online? Here are 20 sites to try pitching:

1. Copyhackers

Copyhackers is a content company based in Canada. It provides educational materials to help new copywriters as well as paid opportunities for writers to publish lengthy articles on Copyhackers’ blog.

Its submission guidelines are clear: You should be well versed in the topic that you’re pitching. And you should expect to be writing blog posts that are 2,000 words or more “unless it’s extremely wonderfully amazingly readable reading.”

Pay: $300 to $1,000 per blog post

Categories/Topics: Advertising, branding, UX (User Experience) or marketing concepts; freelance lifestyle or advice; entrepreneurship

2. Listverse

As its name implies, Listverse specializes in listicles aka list posts. These are highly clickable posts where each main point is part of a numbered list (sort of like the article you’re reading right now!).

The contributor guidelines mention that you can write articles related to “any topic you like” so long as it’s interesting, well-researched and in the form of a list of at least 10.

To narrow that down ever so slightly, the website is broken into several topics: bizarre, entertainment, general knowledge, lifestyle, science, society and more. Your articles should roughly pertain to those areas.

Note: Listverse will only pay freelance writers via PayPal.

Pay: $100 per list post

Categories/Topics:  Bizarre, entertainment, general knowledge, lifestyle, science, society and more.

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3. Narratively

To understand what type of articles Narratively publishes, look no further than its tagline: “Human stories, boldly told.” All sections of the website are open to submissions. Just be sure that your story is longform, gripping and has strong narrative elements.

For an in-depth breakdown of the different sections and story types, read Narratively’s submission guidelines. You’ll need a Submittable account to send in your draft.

Pay: $300 to $400 per article

Categories/Topics:  Personal essays and reported articles with a narrative, human-interest approach

4. Reader’s Digest

Reader’s Digest needs no introduction. But what you probably didn’t know is that it offers one of the funnest and low-risk ways to get paid to write.

But instead of swinging straight for the big leagues with a front-cover feature story, you can submit jokes and micro-stories to Reader’s Digest, which will publish them online and in the print magazine. If your submission is selected, you’ll get $100 a pop. (That’s among the highest per-word rates in the industry.)

Be sure to follow the appropriate guidelines for jokes and 100-word true stories.

Pay: $100

Categories/Topics: Jokes or true personal stories (100 words or fewer)

5. Unemploymentville

According to its website, Unemploymentville is “a place for anyone who has felt the sting of being out of work.”

It also happens to be a place you can write guest blog posts if you have interesting small-business ideas, helpful job-searching techniques or personal stories about dealing with job loss.

Pay: $25 to $75 per blog post

Categories/Topics:  Unemployment, job hunting, personal essays related to finding work

6. Writer’s Digest

Writer’s Digest is a century-old magazine dedicated to publishing “everything writers need to stay inspired, to improve their craft, to understand the unique challenges of publishing today, and to get their work noticed.”

According to the submission guidelines, Writer’s Digest accepts submissions for a variety of sections of the magazine, and it occasionally accepts cold pitches for guest posts online.

Pay: 30 to 50 cents per word (print); or $50 to $100 (online)

Categories/Topics: Personal essays, memoirs manuscripts and feature stories of interest to the writing community

hands working on a laptop at home

Get Paid to Write Using Freelance Websites

To diversify your income as a freelance writer, you can also sign up for freelance marketplaces, sometimes referred to as content mills. For these types of freelance websites, there’s typically some kind of screening process involved before you start working with clients.

Sometimes the companies will feed freelance gigs to you, and you can accept or decline them. Other times clients will reach out to you personally through the marketplace’s messaging system. Payment varies by marketplace, but it is always funneled through the marketplace instead of coming directly from the client.

Pro Tip

Freelance marketplaces are a low-risk way to test the waters as a freelance writer, but they aren’t the most lucrative long-term option.

7. CopyPress

CopyPress is a content-marketing agency that provides its own content management system that freelancers can use to connect with projects from CopyPress’ clients.

While it offers some freelance gigs for designers, developers and influencers, content writing and editing is CopyPress’ bread and butter.

Sign up for free and start your training.

Pay: About 6 to 10 cents per word (writer); 1 to 2 cents per word (editor)

Categories/Topics: Varies by project

8. Fiverr

Started in 2010, Fiverr is a freelance-service marketplace that has grown to become almost synonymous with freelancing. You can offer almost any professional service imaginable on the site, but freelance writing services are especially popular.

You need to create a freelancer profile to start bidding on and accepting freelance gigs.

And contrary to its name, you are allowed to charge whatever amount you want — not just $5. However, Fiverr takes 20% of the cut.

Pay: Your rate minus 20%

Categories/Topics: Varies by project

9. iWriter

With iWriter, you can earn a fixed rate for every article. The rate largely depends on your star rating, which you receive based on a trial article and subsequent projects with clients.

According to the site’s FAQ section, you earn 65% of the price that clients pay for typical assignments, which will translate into very low rates as you’re starting out.

For example, the lowest tier of assignment is 150 words and would earn you 91 cents. Becoming an “elite plus” writer (4.85 rating or higher) will drastically increase your earnings. Complete a writer application to get started.

Pay: 91 cents to $282.75 per project
Categories/Topics: Varies by project

10. nDash

Founded in 2014 as a one-person operation, nDash now boasts a network of more than 10,000 freelance writers, which it connects with its clients, some of whom are household brand names.

To get started with nDash, you need to sign up, create a free profile that highlights your expertise and past experience, and set up an account with Stripe so that you can get paid.

You’ll be able to set your rates based on project type (blog, whitepaper, email, article, etc.). nDash does not take a cut of pay like other marketplaces. It charges its clients instead.

Pay: 100% of your set rate ($150 to $450 on average, according to nDash)

Categories/Topics: Varies by project

11. Textbroker

Launched in 2007, Textbroker stakes its claim as the first online content marketplace.

To get started with Textbroker, you need to first register for free and then write a trial article, which Textbroker editors will assign a rating. Your rating from your trial article will determine how much money you will earn per word.

After this registration process, you can fill out an author profile to attract clients and use it to pitch them directly.

Pay: 0.7 to 5 cents per word

Categories/Topics: Varies by project

12. Upwork

Formerly Elance-oDesk, Upwork is another massive online freelance marketplace. It caters to all kinds of industries, including and especially writing services.

Before you accept gigs, you’ll need to register for free and set up a freelancer profile. With Upwork, you set your own rates and find work by pitching clients directly, accepting work from clients who reached out to you or by bidding on projects that clients posted.

While Upwork is free to sign up, it charges you a fee based on your lifetime earnings with a client, between 5% and 20% of your set rate.

Pay: Set rate minus 5% to 20%

Categories/Topics: Varies by project

A woman types on a keyboard as her pages fly around her in this photo illustration.

Get Paid to Write Poetry, Fiction and Other Creative Works

To get paid to write creative work, forget almost everything you know about freelance writing. Getting your creative writing published is an entirely different beast, and very few people make a living writing poetry or fiction alone.

Still, seeing your name in a literary journal can be a gratifying experience, and that experience is only heightened when you get paid for your creative masterpiece.

Not all creative writing publishers pay. In fact, it’s common to see “submission fees,” meaning you are paying them to review your work. In those cases, publication isn’t guaranteed. You want to avoid those scenarios entirely when you’re just getting started.

Below, we’ve included several publications that do not charge any such fees and will pay you a modest sum to boot.

Pro Tip

The creative writing world runs on Submittable, an online submissions manager. You can create a Submittable account for free. 

13. The Antioch Review

The Antioch Review, founded in 1941, is run by faculty and staff of Antioch College, a small private institution in Ohio.

The writer’s guidelines state that the journal publishes nonfiction essays, fiction and poetry. Submissions must be mailed in. Published materials are paid a rate of $20 per page.

(Note: The Antioch Review is currently on hiatus as it deals with the effects of the pandemic. Check for updates before mailing your submissions.)

Pay: $20 per printed page
Categories/Topics: Nonfiction essays, poetry and fiction

14. Blue Mountain Arts

If your poetry has a more lyrical, feel-good vibe, consider writing for greeting cards. (Literary journals are notoriously snobbish toward this type of writing.)

Blue Mountain Arts, a greeting card and gift company, runs a biannual poetry contest. It accepts submissions online and by mail.

First place receives $350. Second place receives $200. And third place receives $100. Winning poems are published in greeting cards and online. Outside of the poetry contest, you may also submit seasonal poems that follow these guidelines.

Pay: $100 to $350 per poem

Categories/Topics: Feel-good poetry related to special occasions

15. Deaf Poets Society

The Deaf Poets Society is a small online journal that seeks to uplift the voices of deaf and disabled artists.

According to the submission guidelines, you may submit both art and poetry via email. Each accepted piece pays $15.

Pay: $15

Categories/Topics: Poetry (and artwork)

16. Rattle

Rattle is an online and print journal that publishes only poetry, and it offers poets weekly opportunities to get paid to write.

While the print magazine publishes quarterly, Rattle also holds a weekly “Poets Respond” contest online that asks poets to write about a current event that has happened within the past week.

Pay for acceptance into the print issue is $200 per poem, and online publication pays $100 per poem. Reference the appropriate submission guidelines before sending in your work.

Pay: $100 to $200 per poem
Categories/Topics: Poetry

17. The Threepenny Review

A quarterly literary magazine, The Threepenny Review publishes nonfiction essays, memoirs and reviews, fiction stories and poetry in print.

Depending on the type of piece, you can expect between $200 and $400 per published work.

According to the writer guidelines, The Threepenny Review doesn’t accept email submissions and doesn’t accept any submissions between May 1 and Dec. 31.

Pay: $200 to $400
Categories/Topics: Reviews, criticisms, memoirs and other nonfiction works; poetry and fiction

18. Poetry Nook

Poetry Nook is a website and forum for poets and poetry lovers. It’s operated by the literary magazine Plum White Press.

Each week, Poetry Nook holds a free-entry poetry contest (for 350 weeks and counting). Multiple winners and honorable mentions may be chosen. Winners receive a $20 payment via PayPal, and honorable mentions receive $10.

Poetry Nook’s competition is a great way for budding poets to get paid to write. There are no theme or length requirements for the poems, it’s “organic impression and memorability that matters,” according to the entry guidelines.

Ensure you’re entering the correct contest, as the link changes each week. You can find the latest contest on Poetry Nook’s homepage.

Pay: $10 to $20 per poem

Categories/Topics: Poetry

Other Strategies to Get Paid to Write

There’s much more to writing than freelance websites and open-calls for submissions. Once you feel comfortable (and perhaps after you have a few successful projects under your belt), you can start to implement some longer-term strategies to build your reputation as a successful writer.

They might not be as clear cut as the options above, but they’re nonetheless important.

Pitch to Your Favorite Publications

Pitching unsolicited article ideas is a tricky and vague process. But pitching is a crucial skill for freelance writers, especially freelance journalists and content writers. There are untold opportunities to get published by your favorite alt-weekly, local newspaper, magazine or online publication, and they’re rarely (if ever) advertised.

In our insider guide to pitching your article ideas, we lay out exactly how to find the right person to pitch and what to include in your pitch email.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Pitch the correct editor or your email will never get read.
  • Have a deep understanding of what the publication has already published on the topic.
  • Craft a short and sweet email that shows a busy editor that No. 1, your pitch is a good idea and No. 2 that you are the best person to write it.
Pro Tip

Finding an editor’s email can be difficult. Scour the publication’s masthead or staff page and use tools like Hunter.io to guess and verify specific editors’ email addresses.

Even if the editor likes your idea, the work doesn’t stop there. You then need to be ready to negotiate your pay — another vague and informal process. Our guide will help you figure exactly out how much to charge for your freelance work.

Start Your Own Blog

If you’re interested in freelance writing or launching a freelance writing business, chances are you either already created a blog or you’re considering it. Blogging is incredibly popular among writing hobbyists, and it’s one of the first steps many new freelance writers take when they want to get paid to write.

The truth is, blogging is tough to monetize. It’s certainly not a quick way to get paid to write, but it’s not obsolete either. It will take sustained effort to become a successful blogger. Luckily, we have a plethora of resources to help you.

First, you’ll need to learn how to start a blog, if you haven’t already. This includes:

  • Choosing a writing niche
  • Selecting a catchy domain name and finding a web host for your site
  • Building a user-friendly blog

Once the basics are set up, you’ll want to make a dedicated plan to monetize your blog. Successful monetization strategies often include:

  • Writing informative and authoritative blog posts that are optimized for search engines
  • Writing for other blogs and publications that allow you to link back to your own site
  • Signing up for affiliate partnerships with brands related to the topic you cover, so that you can earn a commission on sponsored links in your blog posts
  • Allowing advertisements on your pages, usually via Google AdSense, so that you can get paid when people visit your page and interact with the ads

Due to the time investment of blogging, we recommend that you simultaneously write for some of the publications mentioned above so that you get some money coming in while you build your website. And don’t fret if it doesn’t take off. At the very least, your blog can double as a portfolio site to help you land other clients and gigs.

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Launch a Career as a Writer

The freelance writing business isn’t for everyone. There are a lot of unpaid hours and late nights involved in getting things set up. (And that’s not mentioning additional tax burdens and lack of benefits.)

The good news is that you can break into a career in writing by temporarily freelancing to build up a portfolio. Then you can use that portfolio to land a full-time job with health bennies and paid time off.

What writing jobs are out there? Plenty — and aside from the obvious journalist and author jobs, too.

Everywhere you look, there are words. Words on book covers. Words in your vehicle’s manual that teach you what that dang squiggly exclamation point symbol on your dashboard means. Words that entice you to buy stuff.

You get the idea. There’s a person (or maybe even a team of people) behind all of those words, and they’re getting paid. Their titles include copywriter, UX writer, product writer, technical writer, content marketing writer and more.

Even more good news: These types of jobs were already remote friendly before the pandemic. In fact, writing jobs are among the most commonly listed openings in The Penny Hoarder’s Work-From-Home Jobs Portal.

So whether or not freelancing was your end goal, the published clips you rack up along the way can help you build an impressive portfolio, establish yourself as an expert on a certain topic and even launch your career as a full-time writer. The options are endless.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Writing for Money

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about getting paid to write.

Who Will Pay Me to Write?

Plenty of people and publications will pay you to write articles, blog posts and more. If you’re freelancing, it all depends on how you find your client.

For example, if you’re using a freelance website like Upwork, the pay will come from Upwork — not directly from the client, since Upwork operates like a matchmaker.

If you’re submitting your article or creative writing directly to a publication, it will pay you usually by direct deposit, check, PayPal or some other established payment method.

Plenty of companies also hire writers as employees. Advertising agencies, online publications and marketing firms are among the most popular types of companies that directly hire writers.

Where Can I Submit Writing for Money?

The easiest places to submit writing for money are publications that have clearly stated submission guidelines. Some websites, including content mills, online magazines and literary journals may accept submissions year-round and have their rates publicly displayed. We cover several such places to submit your writing in this article.

Alternatively, you can cold pitch magazines, newspapers and some blogs with your story idea and then negotiate your pay if they like your idea.

How Can I Make Money Writing Online?

Blogging and freelance websites like Fiverr and Upwork are among the most popular options for making money online by writing. But they’re not always the fastest and most lucrative options.

In addition to those popular methods, you should also consider writing articles for blogs as well as more traditional types of publications like magazines, newspapers and literary journals — all of which are very likely to publish online.

No one method is a cash cow, but if you combine them, it’s very possible to make a living writing.

Where Do I Find Freelance Writing Jobs?

Finding freelance writing gigs is much easier if you diversify your sources. In addition to pitching publications directly and signing up for freelance websites, you should set up email alerts for a job board or two.

Mediabistro, The Penny Hoarder Work-From-Home Jobs Portal, FlexJobs and sometimes even the standard job boards like Indeed and Glassdoor can be useful tools in hunting down quality writing jobs.

And instead of waiting for the gig to be posted on a job board, you can go directly to the source. Big online publishers such as DotDash (which owns Verywell, Investopedia, The Spruce and several other online publications) and Vox Media (which owns The Verge, Vox, Eater, Polygon and others) post freelance writer openings on their own job boards all the time.

How Do I Start a Writing Career?

Becoming a professional writer isn’t always a linear process. And it often, paradoxically, requires you to have previously published articles and materials to qualify.

Writing careers don’t always start by getting a degree in journalism or English, either (though a related degree certainly helps). Lots of writers find success by falling in love with writing later in life, choosing to freelance and slowly building up expertise and a portfolio before finally applying for a full-time job as a bonafide writer or journalist.

One thing is for sure, whether by credentials or previously published work, you must be able to demonstrate your writing skills to land a job.

Adam Hardy is a former staff writer for The Penny Hoarder who specializes in stories on the gig economy. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

TaskRabbit Review 2021

Odd jobs are as old as time. There have always been folks hiring people to perform tasks they don’t have the time or skills to do themselves.

The gig app TaskRabbit makes it easier than ever for service providers to make extra money and for clients to buy some free time.

Want to know how it works? In this TaskRabbit review, we cover what it takes to get to work on the platform, and what it’s like to hire through the platform to help everyone make the most of it.

What Is TaskRabbit and How Does It Work?

TaskRabbit connects gig workers with people who need help with jobs like cleaning houses, making deliveries or completing household tasks, such as installing a new faucet or putting together a bookshelf.

The app lets clients post the work they need help with. Service providers, called “Taskers,” use it to find jobs, contact potential clients and get paid for the work. Jobs are paid at an hourly rate, which Taskers set, and clients pay right through the app with a connected credit card or account.

Using TaskRabbit, instead of a classifieds site like Craigslist or other job-listing site, helps make sure service providers actually get paid for their work, and reassures clients that they are who they say they are and they’ve been vetted by the platform.

How does TaskRabbit work? Here are the basics.

Working for TaskRabbit

Here’s everything you need to know about making money through TaskRabbit.

Who Can Work for TaskRabbit?

To become a Tasker, you have to be at least 18 years old and live in one of 61 cities in the U.S. or those in seven other countries where the platform is active.

You can provide services across more than 50 categories in the app. Some require previous experience or expertise, but many don’t. You should be able to become a Tasker without any specific background or experience. Just choose tasks from the categories that fit your skills.

When Do You Work on TaskRabbit?

Like with any gig app, you make your own hours on TaskRabbit. Unlike some gig options, though, you have to keep an updated schedule on your profile in the app so clients see you in search results and you can avoid scheduling conflicts.

The client handles the entire booking process through the app.

When a client needs to book a service, they select from a list of chores in the app to search for available Taskers in their area. They read through your profile to make sure it matches their needs, then book an appointment based on your availability. You’ll receive notifications when clients request your services.

Once they’ve confirmed the appointment through the final booking page, you can communicate with each other through messages in the app to make sure you have all the information you need.

Clients can book same-day or future appointments, based on your settings, and the appointments will show up on your work schedule. Once you have the task completed, they’ll pay you your hourly rate through the app. You keep 100% of your rate plus any tips clients offer.

What Kind of Services Do You Provide on TaskRabbit?

Tasks on the platform range from the mundane to the creative across more than 50 categories. Some require experience or expertise in a certain field, but you can perform many tasks without any background.

Some gigs we’ve seen for Taskers include:

This is not at all exhaustive. You can pretty much get paid to do anything (legal) that a client doesn’t have the time or resources to do on their own.

How to Sign up for TaskRabbit as a Worker

To become a Tasker, you can sign up through the TaskRabbit website or download the iOS or Android app.

Pro Tip

Note that TaskRabbit uses separate apps for clients and Taskers — to offer services, download the “Tasker by TaskRabbit” app.

During the registration process, you’ll have to:

  • Consent to an ID check.
  • Provide a Social Security number (in the U.S.).
  • Connect your bank account to get paid.
  • Submit to a criminal background check (using your name, SSN and birth date).

In some cities, you’ll have to pay a non-refundable $25 registration fee when you sign up. Paying the fee doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved as a Tasker, so if you have any concern you won’t pass the screening process, you probably want to save your money and try other gigs.

Once your profile is approved, you can begin tasking!

You’ll build your profile, listing the tasks you want to offer and your related experience and background, if necessary. You’ll also set your schedule, which determines your availability, and your service area, as a radius from where you live.

woman using a level and marking the wall with a pencil

How Much Money Do You Make on TaskRabbit?

On Taskrabbit, you set your own rates, and the average hourly pay for Taskers in the U.S. is $35, according to TaskRabbit’s April 2019 fact sheet.

The rates you can earn through TaskRabbit gigs vary based on the types of tasks you take on and what clients are willing to pay. If you set your hourly rates higher than average, they might sift past you in their search, for example.

TaskRabbit no longer charges a support fee, so you keep 100% of what you earn plus any tips.

(Instead of taking a cut from you, TaskRabbit makes money from the service fee clients pay on top of your hourly rates. So the total cost to clients is a little higher, but you don’t have to fork over a share of your earnings.)

Don’t Forget About Taxes

Like all workers in the gig economy, Taskers are independent contractors in the eyes of the IRS and most state income tax authorities.

As an independent contractor, you’re completely responsible for paying income taxes on the money you earn through TaskRabbit. The company doesn’t withhold taxes the way an employer would.

To keep up with what you owe throughout the year, you’ll want to pay estimated quarterly taxes four times each year. If a substantial amount of your income comes from TaskRabbit or other gig work or self-employment, you’ll want to do the paperwork and stay on top of that quarterly tax bill.

If you’re just picking up an occasional gig here and there on the side of employment, your payroll taxes might cover anything you’d owe from tasking. Don’t count on it, though — do the math to estimate your tax obligation and make sure you’re not surprised with a bill in April.

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8 Tips to Make More Money on TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit and other gig sites that match eager workers with people who need odd jobs performed are often criticized as a difficult way for people to earn a decent living. Many of the independent contractors who complete tasks through these sites end up racing between different low-paying gigs, with long, unpaid commutes in between.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you’re strategic, you can use gig economy apps to make a serious side income or even to make a full-time living.

To make more money as a Tasker, follow these strategies.

1. Be Flexible

Set an hourly rate that makes any task worth your time, and be willing to take on a variety of tasks to fill out our schedule. We’ve learned from experts that flexibility is key to high earnings on the app.

Being willing to work on call is extremely helpful, too. That availability could give you a leg up on other Taskers and win you more gigs.

2. Be Versatile

You might have preferences for some types of tasks, but your best bet to earning good money through the platform is to be open to a variety of gigs.

If that’s not your bag, no worries; TaskRabbit just might not be the best platform for you. On this platform, it’s all about fulfilling client’s unexpected needs.

One day, you could find yourself walking dogs, and the next week, you’ll be parking strollers outside of preschool. The app connects you with an array of odd jobs, and the more open you are — they’re called “odd” for a reason — the more money you could earn.

3. Capitalize on Your Skills

Top-dollar Taskers earn their cash by having top-notch skills. You can be willing to take on the occasional stroller-parking gig, but you can command the highest rates doing things like carpentry, construction and other handyman tasks clients hire out because they don’t have the skills themselves.

Having top-notch, in-demand skills help you rise to the top of the pack.

Figure out your strengths: Maybe you have a big truck for moving jobs, you’re a neat freak, you’re an expert at IKEA furniture assembly or you run a handyman business. Keep an eye out for gigs that require those skills to get the most for your time.

4. Invest in Your Business

If you want to take this tasking thing full-time, it could be worth some investment. Maybe you see a lot of gigs for moving help, so you buy a truck or a van to stand out against the competition. Or maybe you invest on a smaller scale, like a set of cleaning supplies or tools.

5. Build an Appealing Profile

A strong profile that highlights your skills and abilities will help you stand out to clients as they scan through bids.

Choose a quality, fun photo of yourself and take the time to write an informative bio. Link to your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn, to highlight your background and expertise. If your profile shows you’re experienced, approachable and intelligent, you’ll have a much higher chance of landing gigs — even if you don’t have the lowest rate.

6. Work With Your Busy Schedule, Not Against It

Run lots of errands already? Choose tasks that fit with your own to-do list to get paid for the running around you have to do all day.

Figure out which types of services to focus on by considering what works with your life. Maybe you can plan your grocery shopping or donation drop-offs to coincide with tasks, for example.

7. Set Your Prices Well

Choosing a fair and accurate price for a job can keep you from being passed over or worrying about being paid less than your work is worth.

Set prices that make the work worth your time, and use your profile to let clients know why you’re worth it. In the long run, that’ll help you build a much stronger business or side hustle than simply trying to be the lowest bidder.

Don’t be afraid to experiment as you get started to figure out the best balance for getting the most tasks and earning fair wages.

8. Use the TaskRabbit App to Check Tasks on the Go

Increase your productivity by checking the app while you’re out and about. Does anyone need anything from your area, whether it’s groceries or a lunch delivery? Have you had any task requests?

Being able to check on available tasks while you’re away from your computer adds a little extra productivity to your work.

A man places a nail in the wall.

FAQs About Working for TaskRabbit

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about working as a Tasker.

Is TaskRabbit legitimate?
Yes. TaskRabbit has been around since 2008 and has a reputation as a safe marketplace for gig work. The company is owned by the multinational company that owns IKEA, and it has more than 1.5 million users, more than 140,000 of whom are Taskers who earn money through the platform, according to its 2019 fact sheet.
Is TaskRabbit a good way to make money?
Whether TaskRabbit is a good gig for you depends on your financial goals and lifestyle. At an average of $35 per hour in the U.S., the earnings are well above minimum wage — even when you cut them in half to account for self-employment costs and taxes. Your total earnings depend on how many hours you’re available and where you live, which could determine how much commuting you have to do between gigs and how many clients are around.
Do you pay taxes on TaskRabbit?
In the U.S., Taskers are classified as independent contractors for tax purposes, which means you’re responsible to pay all of your taxes owed, including a self-employment tax. Money you earn through TaskRabbit counts as earned income (just like any work income). You have to file an income tax return if your earnings from self-employment are $400 or more.
Do you need a license for TaskRabbit?
In California only, you need a business license to operate as an independent contractor in any capacity, including as a gig worker. This license confirms you’re a service provider and not an employee of the company (which keeps TaskRabbit out of legal hot water). You can get a license as a sole proprietor (i.e. a solo person), so you don’t have to form a business entity like an LLC. No other states require a business license to work for TaskRabbit.
Can an LLC work for TaskRabbit?
Yes. If you do run a business that’s registered as an LLC (or any other entity, including a partnership, you can sign up for TaskRabbit under your business.

Hiring on TaskRabbit

Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of hiring contractors through TaskRabbit.

What Kinds of Services Can You Pay for on TaskRabbit?

TaskRabbit connects you with any kind of help you need, as soon as the same day. To find what you’re looking for, just browse the task categories, and choose one to pull up Taskers who do that kind of work.

TaskRabbit offers a range of services across 50 categories, from virtual assistance to furniture assembly to cleaning to moving to yardwork to… well, you get the picture.

If it needs to get done and you don’t want to do it, you can probably hire a Tasker to handle it for you.

Who Are You Hiring Through TaskRabbit?

You’re often letting Taskers into your home — maybe even while you’re not there — so you probably want some assurance that they’re legit. For this reason, TaskRabbit runs an identity check and criminal background check on all Taskers.

Also, Taskers tend to be folks from your local community, so you may already have some trust and rapport just from being in the same neighborhood.

Taskers create profiles that list the kinds of work they do and their experience and expertise. So you can make sure you’re hiring someone fit to do the job, especially for more complex tasks that require a very particular set of skills.

If you liked the service you got from a Tasker, you can rehire them through the app by adding them to your favorites or pursuing your completed tasks. Note that Taskers might not be available for all kinds of tasks, so you might not be able to rehire a previous Tasker who, say, delivered your groceries, to be your virtual assistant.

How to Hire a Tasker

You can hire a Tasker through the app for iOS or Android through this simple process:

  1. Search the list of chores in the app. They span 50 categories and includes hundreds of tasks. Select the type of task you need completed.
  2. TaskRabbit matches you with fitting service providers in your area, and you choose someone and put in the request, including details about the task and a date and time that fits the Tasker’s availability. You can schedule a task as soon as same day or as much as 14 days in advance.
  3. Once the Tasker accepts your request, you’ll manage the booking through the app, including communicating and payment.
Pro Tip

To use TaskRabbit to hire someone to do your odd jobs, download the client app: TaskRabbit: Handyman, Errands.

How Much Does TaskRabbit Cost?

When you book a task, you’ll pay a Tasker’s hourly rate (“Tasker Rate”) plus a service fee and a “Trust & Support Fee” paid to TaskRabbit, plus any reimbursements you agree to with the Tasker.

Taskers set their own hourly rates, and you’ll be able to see those in their profile before you put in your request. Rates should generally be commensurate with the work and competitive for the area, because that’s the best way for Taskers to get work.

Both the service fee and the Trust & Support Fee are billed as a percentage of the total Tasker Rate. TaskRabbit is a little opaque about the exact percentage, but some users have reported seeing fees as much as 35%. You’ll be notified of the fee percentage before you book, so keep an eye out for that detail to avoid surprise charges!

After you receive your invoice, you can also add a tip of any amount for the Tasker. They receive 100% of their hourly rate and tips; TaskRabbit doesn’t keep a cut.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) has been writing and editing for online audiences since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. She is a former staffer at The Penny Hoarder. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, CNBC, The Motley Fool, Inc. and more. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Freelance Bartending Side Gig Stirs Up Extra Cash

Freelance bartending is a great side gig for the holidays that doesn’t require bartending school and can earn you good extra money whether you’re working large events or something more intimate.

Freelance bartenders can make anywhere from $20 to $50 per hour — and sometimes more — according to freelance bartenders we interviewed. That’s before tips, and those can bring in serious extra cash.

“You definitely can make really good money bartending if you’re at the right place and you network,” said Nicole Freimuth, a freelance bartender in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Do you know folks who want to hire bartenders at their private events? Friends who don’t want the hassle of mixing drinks while mingling at their own party? Read on to learn the ins and outs of being a freelance bartender.

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Freelancer Bartender?

While freelance bartenders aren’t required to get special training, they do need other key skills such as a good personality, networking chops, a steady hand and a willingness to cut people off if needed.

“It takes more than just making drinks to make a good buck,” said Keisha Harrison, who operates Mixing Val’s Mobile Bar in Washington, D.C. “It’s how you interact with guests and how you make drinks that make a great bartender.”

And a few theatrics don’t hurt in the bartending services business.

At a bachelorette party for a bride-to-be named Chi who loves the color pink, Harrison offered a signature “ChiTini,” which was a Cosmopolitan in a martini glass rimmed with pink sugar. When tending bar for a lingerie party, Harrison brought champagne glasses with pink fur around the stems. And for a ’70s party, she donned a big, beautiful wig reminiscent of the era.

But she also knows when to tone it down.

“You have to watch people’s body language and know if they want to chat or just get their drink and go,” Harrison said. “You’ve got to remember there’s usually a guest of honor and you don’t want to take any attention away from him or her.”

Getting Started as a Freelance Bartender at Private Parties

So you think you’ve got the basics down but you’d like to develop your bartending know-how before joining the world of bartending services.. There are ways to learn the trade without paying for a course.

If you’re not in the service industry but can mix a good drink and chat up guests, offer to tend a couple parties for free then use those hosts as references to scheduled paid private parties.

Freimuth learned to tend bar when she was waitress at a restaurant at age 21. She’s now 38, and credits freelance bartending as helping her buy a house several years ago.

“A lot of times, when you’re working at a restaurant someone is willing to train you on the bar,” Freimuth said. “You have to bartend for at least six months before you get really good at it.”

And be prepared to memorize a lot of recipes, she said.

Harrison, 25, attended bartending school for several months when she was 20, but said she perfected her craft working at Starbucks. That’s where she learned to pick up her speed and experiment with mixing syrups to learn flavor profiles — great preparation for being a freelance bartender.

How Much Can You Make for Bartending Services?

Harrison charges $20 an hour for a three-hour party (the most typical gig; fees can increase if it’s longer). With 30 to 40 people there she walks out with tips between $200 and $300. Add that up and it’s $86 to $120 an hour.

Freimuth charges a higher hourly rate, but her tips are a little lower. “I charge $50 an hour for a three-hour party, so I know I’m making at least $150,” she said. “Tips depend on the crowd. It can be anywhere from an extra $50 to $100.”

Do the math and that equates to $66 to $83 an hour.

You can also check the going rates in your state on Ziprecruiter.

How to Get Freelance Bartending Gigs

When it comes to finding prospective clients, “It’s all about networking,” Freimuth said.

If you already work as a bartender, waiter or waitress, let regular customers know your freelance services.

Harrison hands out cards where she tends bars, to her friends, and even to new acquaintances. “People love having a private bartender at their parties. It makes them more special and allows the host or hostess to enjoy themselves a lot more,” she said.

“My friends and their friends are always glad to know they can hire me for not too much, and I make the rest in tips.”

How to Increase Your Bartending Tips

Along with a few of Harrison’s tactics from above, check out these suggestions culled from professional bartenders in person and online:

  • Let the party host know you’d like to put a tip jar on the bar.
  • Make your Venmo (or other transfer app) account visible. Harrison has a QR code guests can scan.
  • Greet guests when they come up to the bar. Don’t wait for them to speak to you. Try to catch their names and remember them.
  • It’s great to have a specialty drink, but don’t premake a batch. Guests tip more when a drink is made in front of them.
  • While you won’t have the full bar a restaurant would offer, if a guest seems to hesitate with the offerings, ask if you could make a custom drink. “I pay attention to what people order, then I might ask them, ‘Do you want to add a little pineapple to that?’ Or ask them if they like white or brown, sweet or salty,” Harrison said.
  • Follow up and ask if they liked the drink when they return. Even if you haven’t made a custom drink, ask if they liked that glass of wine you poured last time or how the bourbon went down.
  • Remember their drink and ask if they’d like another when they return to the bar.
  • Look for ways to connect with guests. Compliment a tie or handbag. Ask how they know the guest of honor. Tell them what they must try on the menu if you were able to taste when setting up.
A mixed drink sits in a mini unicorn floating device by a pool.

What About Stocking the Bar?

Whether you’re bringing your own portable bar or using one provided by the host, there are some rules of the road about how to stock it.

  • The host is expected to purchase the alcohol, but a freelance bartender gains repeat business by being an educated consultant in the planning process. Suggest the best places to get good alcohol at the lowest prices.
  • Bring your own tools and concoctions. “I was working an event and she wanted to serve Mojitos,” Freimuth said. “I brought a muddler, cutting board and a knife. Those are basic bar tools.” She also brought the simple syrup.
  • If it’s a small gathering, ask if you can provide glasses with a little flair, like those fur-trimmed champagne glasses Harrison used.

How to Cut Off a Guest

When she’s working at a public bar, Harrison has no problem saying: “You are drunk sir. I’m going to have to cut you off.” But the situation is a bit more delicate in small, private events where everyone knows each other. You may wonder if that’s part of the job description or something that the host would deal with.

“At a private event, I would definitely have to be on my Ps and Qs and be sure not to embarrass anyone,” she said. That doesn’t mean she won’t cut off if they’re too drunk to drive.

“I might try suggesting water or a soft drink or say, ‘You’ve got to go have some more of that good food.’ And I’d let the host know they might want to try to control their guest or make sure they aren’t driving.”

Before cutting off an intoxicated guest, a bartender has to recognize the signs. It’s not always as easy as spotting the guest with a lampshade on his head or throwing up in the bushes.

“You can tell by how people are talking, how they are standing, how they are moving,” Harrison said.

Ways to Discourage Drunken Driving

Good bartending services work with the party host to keep drunk guests off the road. Here are some suggestions a bartender can make to the host before the party begins.

  • As guests RSVP, confirm that at least one person in each group is prepared to be the non-drinking designated driver or ask if they plan to take an Uber, Lyft or taxi home.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages or mocktails for designated drivers and others who prefer not to drink alcohol.
  • Collect car keys at the beginning of the party.
  • Suggest that the host is ready with some clean linens to turn a sofa into a hotel for guests who need to sleep it off.
  • Don’t rely on coffee to sober up your guests. Only time can make someone sober.
  • Mixers won’t help dilute alcohol. Carbonated mixers like club soda or tonic water cause alcohol to be absorbed into a person’s system more quickly.

Who Is Liable if There Is an Alcohol-Related Accident?

What if a party guest drives drunk and the unthinkable happens?

The particulars vary by state. But in general, the driver isn’t the only one who can be sued and found liable for injury or death. The host and the bartender can be sued, as well. When the host buys the alcohol, there is often more liability placed on them, but not all.

“The host would be responsible and the individual bartender could be liable, as well, even if the owner bought the alcohol,” said Matthew Sullivan, a personal injury attorney with White & Allen in Kinston, N.C. “The responsibility of the service falls on the person serving the alcohol to not serve someone that he/she knows or reasonably should know is intoxicated.”

Bartending services can protect against this sort of liability by either purchasing specific insurance or being added under the owner’s social host liability policy, he said. You can purchase an annual liability policy starting at $199.

And remember those earlier tips about preventive steps. If there is any type of accident caused by overconsumption, measures like those will mean a better defense in court.

Katherine Snow Smith is a freelance writer and editor living in Chapel Hill, N.C., and author of Rules for the Southern Rulebreaker: Missteps and Lessons Learned. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

The 6 Best Print-on-Demand Sites for Artists in 2021

In a perfect world, artists wouldn’t have to worry about making money. They would spend their days creating, and cash would simply appear.

Last we checked, we don’t live in a perfect world. But print-on-demand services make it a little bit better by giving creators a way to share their work and let the payments roll in.

How Print-On-Demand Sites Work

You upload an image of your creation. The site walks you through the steps of setting up an online store displaying products printed with your image — depending on the site, you can pick anything from posters to keychains to framed art prints. Customers buy your products. The platform handles manufacturing, shipping, and returns. You get paid.

For Scotland-based freelance illustrator Flora Kirk, who makes bold, colorful illustrations inspired by ancient Mediterranean mythology, these services helped monetize a passion.

“I was creating art anyway, so why not make some profit from my work!” she told The Penny Hoarder. Kirk can sell everything from T-shirts to tapestries with print-on-demand services.

Like many artists selling their work online, Kirk runs multiple online storefronts. Her INPRNT store focuses on art prints while her Redbubble store offers consumer products ranging from totes, T-shirts and ball caps to stickers, face masks and bedspreads.

Selling your work on multiple print-on-demand platforms means you can reach more customers and get more sales. And to boost sales on any platform, you’ll want to market your work like any other business owner. Instagram is your friend!

Of course, print-on-demand companies don’t provide this service out of the goodness of their hearts. They take a cut — in most cases, well over half of the sale price.

That’s why it’s so important to choose the right site (or sites!) to host your work. We made this handy guide to help.

Print-On-Demand Companies

In this guide, we will review these six print-on-demand sites:

What to Watch Out for When Choosing a Print-On-Demand Site

Your Cut

Your share of the sale price will differ depending on the product being sold and the website that’s helping you sell it.

For instance, a typical poster on Zazzle, RedBubble or one of the many other print-on-demand sites costs $20. But how much of that does the designer actually get?

Depending on the service, your cut of the profits from that poster can be anywhere from 5% to 50%. On a $20 poster, that means you’d get $1 to $10.

And some sites even let you increase your cut, which might sound great at first. Careful, though: a higher mark-up means a higher price, which can result in fewer sales.

Ease of Use

Time is money. If it takes you an hour to upload a design to a platform, it might be worth choosing a different one. You shouldn’t spend more than a few minutes on uploads when you could be marketing your shop!

Competition

The best print-on-Please demand sites host hundreds of thousands of creators — all with online stores competing for customers. Before committing to one site over another, search for work similar to yours to scope out the competition.

Product Range

Some print-on-demand companies, like INPRNT, focus almost exclusively on art prints. Others offer everything from backpacks to whiskey flasks. Why should you care? More products can mean more sales. By selling your design on a range of items, there’s a higher chance a customer will buy something.

A woman creates digital artwork on her computer.

The Most Popular Print-On-Demand Websites for Artists

Zazzle, RedBubble, CafePress and Society6 are some of the monster print-on-demand services — they’ve all been around for over a decade. They’re big, popular — and full of competition. Are they a good choice for most creators?

Here’s how the top print-on-demand sites stack up.

Zazzle

  • Your cut: You choose, but Zazzle recommends 10 to 15%.
  • Ease of use: Clunky uploads and tagging.
  • Competition: Crowded! 80 million products sold per year and 30 million customers.
  • Product range: Wide! More than 1,300 products.

Zazzle is one of the most popular print-on-demand sites on the internet. This popularity is a blessing and a curse for creators.

The sheer number of products on Zazzle can make it difficult for beginners to get momentum. Searching “floral art” brings up over 350,000 results — and if you’re not on the first page, it’s hard to make sales.

That said, it’s all about finding your niche. Search “baby bibs” and you’ll get more than 87,000 results. Narrow the search to “daisy baby bibs” and you’ll have just over 300 to choose from.

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CafePress

  • Your cut: 5-10% depending on the product.
  • Ease of use: OK, but limited design features in-app.
  • Competition: Very high.
  • Product range: Over 250 different base products.

Similar to Zazzle, CafePress is a massively popular print-on-demand site with a wide range of products you can cover in your designs. There’s good news and bad news about CafePress.

The bad news: CafePress is a very saturated market. The good news: With a little effort, you can stand out from the crowd.

Scroll through CafePress T-shirts and you’ll see hundreds of low-effort designs — “live, laugh, love” in various fonts, references to popular TV shows, etc. That means an artist can stand out with original, high-quality work.

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Society6

  • Your cut: 10% with the option to increase share on art prints. This sounds like a good option but it actually raises the price of the work.
  • Ease of Use: Not great. “Brain-aneurysm inducing,” says one reviewer.
  • Competition: Heavy.
  • Product range: Extensive, with good selection on home goods.

Society6 is much like other print-on-demand companies, just a little classier. Like its competitors, Society6 lets creators sell their designs on various products. Unlike them, it prioritizes original art over popular slogans.

“It is a platform very committed to artists,” says Ana Maria Martinez Gomez, the illustrator behind El Buen Limon Atelier. A cursory look at Society6’s homepage shows what she means. There is always a featured artist on the front page. Best-selling items tend to feature intricate illustrations.

If you make visually pleasing work that would look good on a throw pillow, Society6 is the place for you.

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This illustration shows a woman walking down a windy road with the ghosts of past travelers with her.

Redbubble

  • Your cut: 17% on average.
  • Ease of use: Smooth upload process.
  • Competition: Over 300,000 designers.
  • Product range: Extensive — aprons, mugs, and planners, to name a few.

By Google traffic, Redbubble is the most popular print-on-demand site, period. It is getting more visits from consumers than any of its competitors. That’s a huge bonus for sellers — you want your products in front of eyeballs.

“My main income source is Redbubble,” says Kirk. Even though the company produces dozens of other products, the quality of the art prints is still solid, she explains. “They also ship from all over the world, so no customs fees.”

It’s not all sunshine and daisies, however. While many artists are finding success on Redbubble, its popularity can make it an extremely competitive marketplace.

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TeePublic

  • Your cut: Ranges from 50 cents for a face mask to $7 for a sweatshirt.
  • Ease of use: Simple, fast uploads.
  • Competition: As a newer site, it’s less saturated than old-guard sites.
  • Product range: Focused on apparel, with some additional products.

The clunky interfaces and endless product offerings of older print-on-demand services can be overwhelming for a newbie. TeePublic makes it simple by focusing on T-shirts.

The service is an especially good option for cartoonists and graphic artists — bold designs look great on clothing. Your cut is calculated using flat fees rather than percentages.

Interestingly enough, TeePublic is actually owned by Redbubble. That means you get some of the benefits of the larger platform — like good organic search traffic — without some of the drawbacks — an overcrowded market.

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INPRNT

  • Your cut: 30-50% on prints, $5 for iPhone cases.
  • Ease of use: Simple, but slow uploads.
  • Competition: Artists must apply and are selected by a “community of artists,” which keeps the platform from getting too crowded.
  • Product range: Focused on prints with a few additional options

Does the idea of putting your art on a bathmat make you cringe? Try INPRNT, the artiste’s print-on-demand service.

Focused on archival-quality prints, INPRNT blows the competition out of the water on artist pay percentage. Kirk’s average profit per print sold on the site is $10.72.

There’s one major catch. There is more consumer demand for home goods, T-shirts, and notebooks than art prints. By limiting customers to just a few items, INPRNT is able to give artists a bigger share, but often fewer sales.

For artists who already have a big following and just want a simple way to ship prints, though, it’s a great option.

Which Print-On-Demand Service Should You Choose?

There are pros and cons to even the best print-on-demand sites. Some pay better, others get more traffic. They’re also free to use. Why not try all of them?

Working artists like Kirk and Gomez use multiple platforms to host their online stores — you can, too.

No matter which platform you try, print on demand is one of the easiest ways to get started making money with art online.

Ciara Ainsley McLaren is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in The Penny Hoarder, HuffPost, MoneyGeek, and Substack.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

How to be Santa Claus: Your Guide to Working as a Professional Claus

Do you love Christmas? Are you full of cheer? Can you grow a belly and — more importantly — a beard (or just fake it all well?)

You might have what it takes to work as a professional Santa Claus. After all, the real Santa Claus can’t be everywhere all the time.

If you’ve thought about pursuing this unusual seasonal job but didn’t know where to start, keep reading for advice from professional Santas in three different states. They share the inside scoop on working as Santa this Christmas.

What it Takes to be Santa Claus

Every year, thousands of shopping malls, department stores and corporations throw Christmas-themed events and parties that rely on guest appearances in person and on Zoom from Ol’ Saint Nick himself.

(Spoiler alert: not the real one. He’s too busy. It’s actually a complex network of Santa Claus impersonators.)

If you’ve got what it takes — e.g. a jolly chuckle, a mean beard (real or not), a background check and liability insurance — you can find a variety of Santa Claus jobs this time of year

In this guide we will cover

The Requirements for the Job

Yes, there are a few important commonalities that most professional Santa Claus look-alikes possess.

“Of course, a convincing look is paramount,” says Ed Taylor, who has worked as a professional Santa since 2003. He’s appeared in TV commercials, movies and works as Santa in Los Angeles and around the world. Last year, Taylor did more than 550 virtual Santa visits.

A great smile and a jovial personality helps but beyond that, the learned skills are super important, Taylor says.

“Like how to take a great photo, how to establish rapport with children, working with those with special needs, storytelling, beard care and grooming, how to use virtual technology and more,” he says.

Mitch Allen, head elf at Hire Santa, a  job site for Santas based in Dallas, says that being Santa is hard work, as you have to be in character for many hours at a time and for many days in a row. This is something people don’t consider when they’re trying dutifully to gain weight and to grow out their beards.

“We at HireSanta like to say, ‘Real beard, real belly and real jolly,’ ” Allen says. “But seriously, you have to have the love of Christmas in your heart, and enjoy interacting with children of all ages as you help bring the season to life.”

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Santa Claus gets ready to put a face mask on.

COVID Considerations

The pandemic has affected the way Santa’s stalwart stand-ins spread holiday cheer.

“In 2020, everything changed: Masks, social distancing, acrylic barriers between Santa and the children were all common,” Allen says. Some of this will continue this year.

But the pandemic also had a bright side for Santa, making virtual home visits possible, he says. HireSanta developed virtual visits, where parents could hire Santa specifically for their own children so they’d have a personal interaction with him from home.

He says they’re already seeing strong demand for this again this year.

Taylor switched to online only, relishing not having to drive through Los Angeles traffic to land at his appointed Santa post. Last year, he appeared via Zoom for a virtual tree lighting ceremony, and he hopped online for dozens of virtual company parties in the United States and around the world, including Japan, Australia, England, France and in U.S. embassies in Poland and Puerto Rico.

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How to Start Working as a Santa

Ready to find work as a professional Santa Claus? Here are the techniques our Santas suggested:

1. Go to Santa School

You probably didn’t know it, but Santa schools are a big business.

There are plenty to choose from, online and in-person. Taylor runs the Worldwide Santa Claus Network, an online Santa School and a community of Claus portrayal artists with more than 4,000 members worldwide. They offer classes for everything from Santas who want to do TV commercials to classes for those who need to set up virtual Santa visits.

Is Santa school necessary? No, but it’s helpful.

“Santas that take being Santa seriously attend regional and/or national school,” Allen says. “We recommend that Santas attend additional training to become better entertainers.”

2. Network With Other Santas

You don’t have to go to Santa school to find success as a Santa.

Santa Jim Beck got started by working for an established Santa who “subbed out other Santas.” Though he had to pay the lead Santa a cut of his earnings, the experience led to gigs of his own.

If you’re just starting out, this is a smart move. Find a local Santa who has more work than he can handle, then offer to take on any gigs he can’t or doesn’t want to do. If you offer him a percentage of your earnings, what Santa is going to say no?

3. Buy a Suit… and Start Working

That’s how Michigan Santa Claus did it.

His first Santa suit was made by a friend who is a professional sewer. He wore it while helping to sell Christmas trees at the Home Depot where his son worked. He wanted to “see what the response would be and if I liked it.”

4. Build a Website

For all of the Santas we interviewed, web inquiries are key to the majority of their business. Creating a website is an essential step in starting your business.

If you don’t have the money for professional web design, don’t fret: You can ask a friend for help or even use free tools to DIY your site.

5. Get on Social Media

Santas booking their own appearances often get jobs due to word of mouth and social media shares. Pop up your profile on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook and maintain connections with potential clients.. Create some fun TikTok videos as Santa, Taylor says. One jolly TikToker, @santajclaus, has 2.7 million followers.

6. Book Your Return Visits

The first year of being a Santa is definitely the hardest. However, once you’ve visited some families, Santa Jim Beck says, “They’re generally going to want you back next year.”

People want continuity for their kids, which means guaranteed repeat business each year — in addition to any new clients you drum up.

Santa Tim says this works for corporate events, too — as does word of mouth. “One HR lady will ask another one, ‘What Santa did you hire?’ and that will get you some more gigs.”

7. Reach out to HireSanta

Hire Santa was created specifically for Santas to find jobs and to help people or groups looking to hire Santas. The site boasts thousands of Santa Claus entertainers in their database, and people from all over the world reach out and hire Santa through this site.

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How Much Money Do Santas Make?

The pay range for professional Santas varies widely and depends on how much you work and how much effort you put into marketing yourself.

The majority of Santas only work during November and December, though some keep the holiday spirit going all year long.

Allen estimates that professional Santa Claus entertainers can earn between $5,000-$10,000 during the six to eight weeks leading up to Christmas, which is generally a full season at a mall or other retail location.

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Santa Claus ride a scooter on the beach while holding a surf board.

How Much Does It Cost to Start Working as a Santa?

In addition to growing out your beard, there are some start-up costs involved in working as a Santa.

If you choose to attend Santa school, that will be one of your biggest expenses.

Santa Tim says the rest depends on your “level of professionalism.”

“If I’m going to represent Santa for children, I want to be as professional and realistic as I can be,” he says. “Children are looking at everything about you: your eyes, your cuffs, your boots, your belt. I put $200 to $300 into bleaching my hair and beard; I have two suits that each cost over $1,000, a $300 belt and $300 boots.”

Michigan Santa agrees, saying it’s important to not skimp on the suit. His is “lined wool with real sheepskin white fur trim.”

In addition to the suit and the website, he also says, “It’s very important to set up as a business account and register the name of the business with the state establishing LLC … [And] we’ve never had an issue, but we do carry Entertainment Liability Insurance.”

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How to Find Santa Claus Jobs (Mrs. Claus, Too!)

Becoming Santa Claus is a little more complicated than walking into your local shopping mall with an application in hand. Many malls and department stores rely on event companies, talent agencies and freelancers to meet their Kris Kringle needs. Here’s how to join those ranks.

Work at an Event or Photography Company

When you think of Santa Claus jobs, do you think of a winding single-file line through the atrium of a shopping mall, everyone waiting for a photo with the big guy? These types of events are often coordinated by events and photography businesses.

Some companies contract with shopping malls or department stores as full-service vendors – handling all the staff, decorations and photographs. Others may only provide photography services or Santa-staffing services.

Cherry Hill Programs and Instant Photo Corporation of America (IPCA) are two national companies that partner with regional shopping malls across the nation to hire Santas, Mrs. Clauses and other festive characters (as well as some photographers).

Use a Talent or PR Agency

Maybe you have experience as Santa under your well-worn leather belt. In addition to looking the part, you sing or act to enliven your impersonation. Simply put, you’re down to do more than sit on a red velvet throne for a few pictures.

A talent agency is just what you need. Such agencies find the Santa Claus jobs — the corporate events, the media appearances, the charity drives — and reach out to you if you’re a part of their network and meet certain criteria.

Three free nationwide Santa networks, Hire Santa, Real Santa and Santa for Hire, are looking for talented actors to play the part. Applications are open for Mrs. Claus as well.

Freelance as Santa

Whether you find gigs through an events company or talent agency, you can always boost the profile of your Santa enterprise by finding clients on your own. This will require a bit more legwork on your part, but the reward can be well worth it. Some Santas we spoke to earn up to $7,000 a season by running their own show.

Penny Hoarder contributors Adam Hardy, Susan Shain and Danielle Braff provided information for this report. 

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

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