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Making summer money online

Need a summer side hustle? Here are three ideas to try.

5 min read


Making summer money online


There are two types of people:

  1. Those who smirk and say, “It must be nice,” to teachers when June rolls around; and
  2. Teachers and their families who don’t get paid during July and August.

Yes, it’s nice for teachers to have a seasonality to their job—the anticipation that comes with the end of the year in June, the fresh start every September. This is hard to argue.

But for many teachers, when the students stop showing up in June, the paychecks stop, too. That leaves educators with the need to do some creative planning to make ends meet.

It’s true that some teachers can enroll in 12-month payment plans, which is great. But even these teachers may need an income-earning opportunity when summer comes.

Fortunately, the modern teacher looking for summer work can harness the power of the internet. With this glorious invention comes a whole new set of opportunities for teachers to take advantage of their existing skills and earn money while school is out. Not only did these jobs not exist in a pre-internet world, but they have a few special attributes that make them highly attractive:

  • They are often entirely remote. (Work in your pajamas!)
  • You can sometimes make your own hours. (You won’t miss that 5 AM alarm, will you?)
  • They are more likely to be merit-based or scalable (a clear difference from the set, salaried position that most teachers are used to)

At this point, you may have a few questions: What are these opportunities?

Are they available to anyone? How do I get started? Can you just sign me up already?

The first opportunity is from a company called BoomWriter, makers of a collaborative writing software for students in grade 2-12. During the summer when classrooms are empty, though, BoomWriter offers their platform to teachers via a special opportunity: online writing camps.

BoomWriter Online Writing Camps let teachers make money working from home. Teachers get a unique URL for their summer camp and share this with interested parents and students. When students sign up for the camp, teachers get a percentage of the registration fee. The more students that sign up, the more money teachers make.

These five-day virtual writing camps are also a fun way for students to improve their writing. Each day starts with campers taking a web-based writing lesson shared by the camp leader (and provided by BoomWriter). Campers read the “story start” chapter and begin writing the next chapter using the techniques and writing tips they’ve learned. Camp leaders review their campers’ submissions and provide individualized feedback. Campers then participate in BoomWriter’s anonymous peer review voting process by selecting the winning chapter. That winning chapter becomes the next part of the story, and the process continues until the story is complete.

Another company, 51Talk, offers a different way to connect with students remotely. This Chinese company runs a tutoring platform that connects American teachers with Chinese students who want to learn English. They pay teachers hourly and the tutoring sessions take place during evening hours and on the weekend. With 51Talk, teachers generally work with one student a time, and can increase their hourly rate by taking a series of trainings that the company offers (online, of course).

The final opportunity is for the teacher who creates beautiful handouts that colleagues admire.  Teacher Pay Teachers offers teachers the chance to take all the work they’ve done throughout the school year and offer it to other teachers in need in exchange for cold, hard cash. Surely, many teachers don’t sell on TpT during the school year because they don’t have time to run a side hustle. The summer is the perfect opportunity to get started. Teachers can review their best resources from the past year, polish them up, and offer them on the TpT platform at a fair price. Like the online writing camps, this is another summer work opportunity for teachers that scales. Create a popular resource and you can sell it over and over again—without any extra work.

Whether you decide to run a writing camp, tutor Chinese students, or sell your lessons on TpT, you’ll be joining the teachers who have ditched the sunscreen for the computer screen, and found the smart way to make summer money online.

Gerard Dawson is an English and journalism teacher at Hightstown (NJ) High School, the author of Hacking Literacy: 5 Ways to Turn Any Classroom into a Culture of Readers, and a contributor to The Best Lesson Series: Literature. Follow him on Twitter: @GerardDawson3.

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