My fellow Millennials love to whine about employment. They whine about not having a job and then they whine about their job and its low pay. We’re just a bunch of entitled little brats. We just expect a job out of college. But what about the Boomers? They ruined a great economy with their overzealous spending! They killed the American Dream!
Who cares. Seriously. What does being right about this argument get you? Nowhere. Regardless of whose fault it is, there is one thing for certain: whiners don’t win. Sean Connery had a fantastic line about winners in The Rock. I suggest you YouTube it. The people that win are those with initiative, drive, and a little luck. It’s not just hard work. Working hard is noble and all, but if you want a better job then you’ve got to work smart.
Back to that job problem we’ve got. Maybe you’ve got a low-paying, low-skill job with a huge Dead End sign on it. This is a major problemo because the whole retirement equation depends not only on saving–which is heavily stressed in this blog–but also income. We’d be doing ourselves a disservice by ignoring this part of the equation.
So what are some of the ways that we can leverage that crappy, low-paying job? I see two ways. Work while you work or use it as experience to start your own business.
Work while you work
Working while you work doesn’t work in all situations. It’s hard to do this if you’re a cashier at the store or if you’ve got some sort of entry-level position that requires consistent interaction. But not all jobs are like this. We’ve all seen jobs where the employee just sits around and does nothing for a big chunk of time.
One job that comes to mind is the mail-room guy at work. This dude sorts the mail and delivers it about four times per day. Each delivery takes about 45 minutes. Add in another hour or two for sorting and you’ve got a total of five hours of work. That leaves an entire 3 hours that this person could be doing something else! An even better example would be the security guard or hotel concierge These late-night jobs have some serious free time!
The idea is to maximize your dollars per hour across all income streams. In other words, increase your total hourly-wage. A minimum-wage job sucks. But if you’re working a minimum wage job while writing an article for somebody, your total hourly-wage looks much better.
If you’re lucky (unlucky?) enough to have a job where you could work on something else on the side, there are plenty of things you could do to make some money. Freelancing is the key word here. Writing and graphical design are some of the easiest routes, especially if you already have some relevant skills. Check out Freelancer or Fiverr. To give you an idea of what you’d make, I think $0.5-$0.10 per word is a realistic figure to shoot for if you’re a writer. For a 500 word article, that means you could net between $25-$50. Not bad if it takes you three hours to crank it out. Factor in that you’re already sitting at the security desk at 2:00am and earning $9.00/hr your total hourly-wage just jumped to $19.00/hr!
You could also start a blog. Blogging definitely takes a lot more work to do, but there are better rewards if you are successful. Find a niche and stick to it. I can tell you firsthand that you need to blog about something you’re passionate about. I love personal finance, but holy moly, there are some weeks where I really don’t feel like writing 1,000 words about money. You’ve got to grind through it though. Start with buying a domain/hosting package and begin creating content. I use Bluehost for hosting and I have been happy with them so far. They are one of the lower-cost hosting platforms I have found.
The sky is the limit when it comes to stacking your work income. You obviously can’t be at two places at once, but the internet provides bountiful opportunity to make some money if you’re stuck doing nothing for a few hours. This type of approach is best for the “we just need somebody to be there” type of job.
Use it as experience to start your own job
Using your experience doing whatever job it is that you hate is a great springboard to starting your own business from the knowledge you’ve gained. Every single company I know of has some form of inefficiency. Being directly involved in a specific sector can give you a pretty clear picture of what those inefficiencies are. Consultants help companies improve issues like inefficiency. They can also help create systems for tracking training or even conduct the training themselves. Many companies outsource their training. Know Microsoft Office really well? Boom. You’re a MS Office trainer. This path is definitely more involved from a labor and risk standpoint, but what’s the alternative? Work a dead-end job for the rest of your life?
From a startup capital perspective (i.e. the amount of money you need to start), starting a consulting business is very feasible. It’s taken me until my late-twenties to fully understand something: if you want to be a consultant, you need to do only one thing. Call yourself a consultant. Seriously. That’s it. Just because we’re adults, doesn’t mean we possess some mysterious professional power. We just make some nice business cards, throw together a nice little website, and voila! You are what you say you are. The more difficult side of the equation is attracting customers, but with a little social media work, it’s totally doable. Ok, maybe I lied, it takes a lot of social media work. Just remember… you are sitting around doing nothing, so find the energy to make it happen.
The point of this post is to convince you that there are opportunities out there to make money. You’ve got to be smart enough to open your eyes to them and dedicated enough to push yourself to do some work. Opportunity and execution. A website and a stack of business cards should run you no more than $120. Nobody ever made a living by complaining about the Baby Boomers and your job on internet forums.
- Pick your route. Are you going to freelance or start your own consulting business?
- For freelancing:
- For starting your own business: