Are you a team player? If you work for many companies, you better say yes, with fervor and enthusiasm, embracing corporate espirit de corps. Office motivational posters remind you There is no I in TEAM. You may want to see what Winget has to say regarding this – he actually makes a powerful argument against being a team player, very much challenging the conventional wisdom. Not a team player? Or part of a company but looking to branch out, or a stay at home parent or student looking for some (or a lot) of income? There are options for you. But first:

Make certain it is for you:

Ask how thin you will be stretched if you have obligations to school, family, children, or another employer. Will you have the time and energy to dedicate to a flex job?

Prepare:

Crunch the numbers. Figure out how much time you spend every week on your current commitments, and how much more you can afford. Include how far you will have to commute, if applicable. Be realistic. If you put in 16 hours a day at school, are you going to have the energy to work another four hours and then get up for an 8:00 AM class? I have seen students trying to do this and they fall asleep in class. Identify your skills and interests, and see what the market is for what you can do.

Establish goals:

Where do you want to take this? A short term venture while you are in college, or until the kids are a certain age, or are you looking to do this long term, or turn it into something full time?

Give it a test run:

If you are thinking of piecing together some flex jobs into a business- e.g., author, tutor translator services- I think that is a great idea. But I think leaving a steady 40 hour a week job with a decent salary you collect weekly or bi-weekly, and benefits for an idea would be reckless in my opinion. Start out slow before jumping in. Do your flex work even 10 hours a week, and see what kind of effort and energy it takes for the income you generate.

Here are some possibilities for people who prefer their own company, who can work independently, and who need a flexible schedule:

  1. Do you have an idea for a book? You can self-publish on Amazon. Writing is something which you can do on your own schedule. I can attest this does not mean light work; it means you can choose the hours which you put in, and you will be working mostly on your own. If you go through a publishing house, an editor will be needed, and if you self-publish, it could entail a great deal of research which could include in person, skype or phone meetings. You may find yourself working on your book well past midnight when inspiration strikes you and the words start flowing, only to have to rise for your regular job at 7:00 AM. Putting together a good book can take as little as months or it could be an investment in years.
  2. Freelance Web design, IT and programming. There are a number of websites that act as brokers or middlemen for clients in need of IT, web design, or programming services. Clients post their needs with a fee range to the site, and freelancers put out bids. When they bid is chosen, they are hired, an escrow account is funded. For a percentage, the broker website is a third party who holds the funds until the job is completed, so you get paid and the client gets their service.
  3. Medical biller and/or transcriptionist. Physicians and other health care providers need someone to transcribe their patient reports, and submit bills for their services to patient’s insurance companies. This can be done from home, on your own schedule, after completing a training program. There are private practice psychotherapists who have very small operations. They rent an office, and hire an independent biller to bill for their services. They pay their billers by providing a commission on each completed bill.
  4. Do you teach elementary school through graduate school? Or do you have expertise in a specific field? Consider sharing your knowledge with one on one tutoring. There are on-line tutoring services you can join, or you can be hired through a school or college. Math and science tutors are especially in demand.
  5. If you are fluent in a foreign language or two, first, see number four and consider offering private lessons. You can also earn income translating documents and books. If you also have expertise in fields such as law or engineering, you can specialize in translating technical manuals, reports and other documents.
  6. Personal trainer. Are you very fit, and do you not just love to work out, but to help others reach their fitness goals? Consider getting certified as a personal trainer through one of the national accrediting organizations, such as ACE, ACSM, NASM or the NSCA. You can contract with a local gym to provide one- on-one fitness instruction. With sufficient experience, this may also be an avenue to authoring a book on fitness.

Flex-work, aka Freelancing, aka Moonlighting, is not for everyone. You have to be organized, manage time and communicate well, and be self-motivated. The rewards are substantial though, in terms of freedom and autonomy. Flex –work is also an opportunity to develop skills that could be marketable if you are part of a company, or several ventures can be combined into your own business. Having multiple income streams through flex-work can also be an avenue to developing and maintaining financial security.

 
Written by David A. Porter, MA, LADC
Private Practice clinician
Adjunct Faculty in Psychology and Criminology
Freelance Behavioral Science writer