Feeling crafty this holiday season? 5 artsy ideas that can bring in cash

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 4:27 PM

The following jobs may start you off as a volunteer or part-time, but with potential for advancement Package handler for UPS Bell ringers for Salvation Army Retail cashiers or warehouse work Santa's helpers for photography companies Gift wrapper at department stores Shelter servers in your community Delivery drivers for Lyft or Uber

The most wonderful time of the year could be a wonderful time for your wallet as well. 

If you're a pro at arts and crafts, the Christmas season opens up opportunities to showcase your talents and develop a lucrative holiday business.

RELATED: 7 temp holiday jobs to flip into full-time fun

"Christmas is one of the busiest times for me as a graphic designer," said Tonya Wright, an award-winning, Georgia-based creative consultant and owner of Wright Touch Designs. "Creatives who don't capitalize on this time of year are missing out on a lot of freelance projects that make money. I've been in this industry for more than 15 years, and people still appreciate original gifts. In December, I rake in around $1,500-plus from designing and selling digital holiday cards and promotional merchandising."

The following jobs can produce real money and crafty workers can use them to jump start creative careers during the holiday season:

Turn your creative hobby into a gift-giving profit for yourself during the holidays.

Graphic design

Merging art and technology, seasoned graphic designers can take an idea and bring it to print or digital life for editorial, marketing and advertising projects.

  • Holiday How-To: During the holidays, exercise this design skill by creating custom-made Christmas cards and letters that families and friends can use for e-blasts, social media posts and printed keepsakes.

Cake decorating

With steady hands to apply confetti, icing and, at times, out-the-box embellishments onto cakes, pies and pastries, cake decorators give personality to their sweet masterpieces. 

  • Holiday How-To: Before the holiday season begins, start baking breath-taking winter wonderland-themed desserts worth sharing on social media like Pinterest and Instagram. Not only will you attract followers, but you'll start collecting orders for your extravagant baked goods in time for Christmas and the new year. 

Window painting

These artists know how to dress up a storefront by telling a visually engaging window story using paint. 

  • Holiday How-ToVisit local businesses to see if they have any cool holiday promos or campaigns going on. Then pitch them on how you can artfully illustrate their theme or project to woo Christmas shoppers and passersby. 
Creatively collaborating with local businesses during the holiday season could earn you extra cash and kick start a new career for the new year.

Lifestyle photographing

Creatives in this category know how to capture ordinary people in natural settings to create memorable images. 

  • Holiday How-ToBuild a relationship with venues and area companies in need of original, festive stock photography. Then contract with them annually to capture local images of scenic events and holiday shoppers.

Seasonal copywriting

If you're skilled at effectively stringing words together that make people want to ring in the new year, consider copywriting throughout the Christmas season.
  • Holiday How-To:Collaborate with skilled graphic designers and illustrators to develop authentic, punchy postcards and party fliers that individuals and companies can use to promote events or thank partners, sponsors and colleagues. 

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6 most impressive benefits offered to Amazon employees

Published: Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 10:36 AM

It was formerly called Cadabra, Inc. The company has half a million employees. Its revenue exceeds $135 billion. Amazon's current logo depicts a smile that goes from A to Z. Its warehouses have more square footage than 700 Madison Square Gardens.

As Atlanta and 19 other cities strive to become the site of Amazon's next headquarters, aka "HQ2," an important question needs answering: What's in it for potential employees?

After all, HQ2 could bring 50,000 new jobs to the chosen city.

According to business publications like Business Insider and Fairygodboss, those employees would be in good hands.

Though Amazon does not appear on the ranks of the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® 2017 , it does offer premium benefits and perks to its full-time employees and it would extend the same or similar packages anywhere it chose as a second headquarters.

»RELATED: 9 best-, worst-paying jobs at Amazon 

As its VP of HR John Olsen told Business Insider, the company provides uniform benefits across all levels of employees. "My benefits package is the same as a benefits package here at the fulfillment center," he said. "I think we've got an egalitarian process."

Here are six current Amazon employee perks or benefits to drool over:

The new Amazon Books store at Domain Northside opened in March and features about 2,000 book titles, as well as Amazon’s electronic devices and some nondigital products, such as board games, toys and high-powered blenders. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman(American-Statesman Staff)

Top-rate tuition reimbursement. Amazon corporate communications manager Nina Lindsey included this teaser on the full breakdown of Amazon benefits she shared with Business Insider: "Both full-time and part-time hourly employees are eligible for Amazon's innovative Career Choice program that prepays 95 percent of tuition for courses related to in-demand fields, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a future career at Amazon." Amazon even steers students to a few good bets in the future economy, though they don't match the company's hiring profile (at least not yet). "Career Choice allows employees to develop in-demand skills for professions of the future, including medical technicians, paralegals, robotics engineers and solar panel installation professionals," the website enthuses.

Some of those classes might even be held onsite at the HQ2 if the current headquarter continuing education strategy is duplicated.

»RELATED: 5 things to know about Amazon

A "network of support" when it's a jungle out there. According to the Amazon jobs site benefits link (and with the caveat that these benefits apply to full-time employees and may vary by location), company benefits designed to "make life a little bit easier" include an extensive and free, employee assistance program. It provides confidential 24/7 support for multiple aspects of work and personal life. This assistance runs the gamut: from access to financial counseling and estate planning to online assistance with children's developmental disabilities.

Dental and vision insurance for part-timers. According to the Amazon jobs link, employees who work more than 20 hours per week still receive "funding towards medical insurance" and dental and vision insurance with "premiums paid in full by Amazon."

A bias-resistant interview process. Amazon's rating on the women's work website Fairygodboss isn't too rousing: Just 33 percent of its female employees who offered feedback would recommend it to other women. But Amazon did get a glowing review of its ongoing interview process improvements.

"Amazon has even incorporated bias training into their interviewing practices so that every Hiring Manager and Interviewer considers subconscious biases they may have coming into the interview (an example would be women coming across as 'abrasive' in an interview whereas a man would come across as showing backbone)," one woman wrote. 

Enhanced ability to adopt. According to the Amazon jobs page, the company also gives full-time employees help with qualified domestic and international adoption expenses including attorney fees, court costs and travel. The adoption edge at Amazon also includes leave prior to, and following, the birth or adoption of a child. It taps into Amazon's industry unique "Leave Share" option, where an employee can share time off with a spouse or domestic partner whose workplace doesn't offer the option.

An Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair heads into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Butler County's Liberty township is making efforts to snag Amazon's second North American headquarters.((AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)/For the AJC)

Bring your dog to work every day. Really devoted pet parents would adore working at Amazon, at least if HQ2 follows the current headquarters. Fairygodboss describes Amazon as "a dog owner's dream. On any given day, you can find hundreds of dogs roaming the company's campus, where they happily enjoy doggie water fountains, a dog park, and treats at the reception desk."

As solid as the Amazon's job benefits are, Atlanta would do well to also try to draw an Audible outpost for top worker perks. The Amazon-owned company, based in Newark, listed some of these perks for employees during a recent hiring spree, according to Business Insider: In-house gym, Happy Hour on Fridays, tuition assistance, transit reimbursement and a breakfast and juice bar on Mondays.

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5 side hustles you can do from the comfort of your home

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 4:09 PM

Here are five of the most popular expert-recommended work at home businesses Start a business plan service and grow as you're able to devote more time and resources Be an accountant, from simple bookkeeping to providing analytic tools Those looking for a profitable after-hours side hustle might want to consider small engine repair Airbnb your home to business travelers or tourists Land a job as a home-cased call center

It's not all working in your pajamas, sleeping late and eating cereal at all hours, but part-time work from home can help you earn money while you watch the kids.

Plus, you'll avoid a commute and earn great experience you can take into the world for a later career. 

Here are five of the most popular expert-recommended work at home businesses:

Business plan service

One of Entrepreneur's "55 ideas for starting a home-based business for less than $5,000," a business plan service costs less than $1,500 to get off the ground. You'll complete market research, a business plan narrative and financial statements for clients. Author Cheryl Kimball advises, "Base your fee on whichever deliverable the clients wants most and bill the others as 'add on services.'" Along with the ability to work from home, this idea has the added advantage of expansion possibilities, so you can start small and grow as you're able to devote more time and resources.

Accountant

Those willing to perform financial services for small businesses can easily choose their level of involvement, from simple bookkeeping to providing analytic tools like income statements and financial reports. If you have the requisite background and certifications, you can offer specialized services like tax accounting. If you're new to the field, beware employment ads promising big profits, as they're probably not legitimate accounting jobs.

RELATED: Uber isn't everything: 7 other lucrative part-time side gigs 

Small engine repair

Not every part-time home-based job is for white collar workers, according to Entrepreneur. Stay-at-home parents or those looking for a profitable after-hours side hustle might want to consider small engine repair. Of course, you'll need experience or licensing for this garage-centered business, but most community colleges offer courses on engine repair. You also might be able to start out at someone else's shop to learn what you need to know. Before you put up fliers or a Craigslist ad, you'll want to know how to repair different types of lawn mowers, rototillers, chainsaws and generators.

This home in the South Park neighborhood rents on Airbnb starting for about $99 per night. CONTRIBUTED(Staff Writer)

Airbnb

If you're considering ways to make money working part-time from home, spend a few hours evaluating whether your home itself could provide sideline income. Airbnb is simply a website that acts as an online community, connecting travelers and hosts. Members list and rent lodging to other members, from entire houses to a spare bed. Airbnb handles all the transactions for a small fee from both host and renter. You'll need to consider whether you can attract enough business travelers or tourists to your home, according to the Simple Dollar, which offers tips for creating an alluring listing and for scheduling your opening at the same time as a big local event that will boost demand.

Home call center

As more companies shift to an increasingly remote workforce, there really are opportunities for legitimate work-at-home call center positions, according to the Spruce. Having experience in a office-based call center or even previous retail experience is often enough to land you a job with a home-based call center. Speaking more than one language will also make you an extra-appealing call center candidate. Avoid scams by watching out for job offers that include testing costs, application or training fees or reqests for the job applicant to pay for specialized equipment and software.

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Uber isn't everything: 7 other lucrative part-time side gigs 

Published: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 9:59 AM
Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2018 @ 9:59 AM

Uber isn't the only option for making extra money Become a notary public Start dog walking and pet sitting Be a modern-day disc jockey Or a freelance personal chef Clean garages and attics Be a computer tutor Or a picture framer

Uber is usually the first side hustle mentioned when talk turns to part-time jobs for people who already have full-time work. 

It does offer flexible earning power, especially if you live in an area with lots of nightlife and own a car that qualifies. But Uber isn't the only option for making extra money working around your full-time commitments. 

»RELATED: Become a rent-a-friend? 6 under-the-radar ways to make some extra cash

These part-time businesses are recommended for people who already have a full-time job and want to make extra money or start getting established as an entrepreneur:

Become a notary public: Each state has different requirements, but notary publics are always independent contractors who earn money by handling mortgage signings, notarizing trust documents and performing many other tasks. This part-time money maker offers the advantage of adding another skill to your resume or enhancing your current job qualifications. It's also a good side hustle for weekends and evenings, when typical notary publics may not be available. You'll need state certification, which will probably cost less than $100. Visit the National Notary Association to learn more about how to become a notary in your state.

Dog walking and pet sitting: If you're good with animals, you may have a head start on a part-time pet sitting business. Drawing from friends and neighbors is a good way to grow your business and you can increase your rates a bit once you're established. If you can't commit to boarding animals in your home or staying overnight with other people's pets, consider a dog-walking or waste clean-up business. Get more business quickly by registering with a service like Rover.com, which links pet owners with sitters and dog walkers (after you pass a background check and provide references).

Modern-day disc jockey: ‪Event entertainment is in high demand, providing dance music for weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvahs and background tunes for more casual events. This is the ideal side hustle for people who already have an organized music collection, mixing software and a "have laptop, will travel" mentality. While full-fledged disc jockey equipment can be pricey, you can rent speakers, subwoofers and other bells and whistles until your business can justify purchasing your own.

Freelance personal chef: Cook meals for new moms, working parents or people who want to enjoy their weekends off. According to Entrepreneur, there's lots of demand for personal chefs.

Garage and attic cleaning: You might find doing someone else's dirty work can actually be fun. Along with the base fee, you may earn more by finding saleable treasures among the giveaways or bottles and cans you can recycle for profit. The only possible deal breaker: you'll have to acquire a truck if you don't already own one (they're typically too expensive to rent when you're trying to turn a profit).

Computer tutor makes a profitable part-time business since many people can't afford or don't understand software manuals.(Contributed by Pressmaster/Shutterstock/For the AJC)

Computer tutor: Whether you're an expert at programs from Windows and Linux or just really good at desktop publishing or work processing, you can earn money helping people improve their computer skills. Technical manuals are often expensive and hard for average computer users to understand. Business News Daily recommends charging by the hour for complete tutorials or holding short classes for small groups at a business.

Picture framer: If you're crafty but not necessarily a framing expert, read up or take a non-credit course at a local college. Then work with gallery owners, print shops, artists, photographers and portrait painters to build a client list. You'll need tools (but you can rent the saws and miter boxes at a home store to start).

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Become a rent-a-friend? 6 under-the-radar ways to make some extra cash

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 1:40 PM

Uber isn't the only option for making extra money Become a notary public Start dog walking and pet sitting Be a modern-day disc jockey Or a freelance personal chef Clean garages and attics Be a computer tutor Or a picture framer

Need some extra cash or an ongoing side hustle?

It can pay (literally) to get a little creative. In fact, in today's inventive economy, it can pay even more if you go beyond "creative" and into the realm of pretty weird. Still, as long as they're legal (and the following suggestions are), what does it hurt to bring home the bucks in an odd fashion?

»RELATED: 5 unique side gigs you’ll probably enjoy more than your day job

For those who are open to an off-kilter experience and not ashamed to show it, here are six odd - but perfectly legal - ways to make money:

Serve as an online mock juror

It's fairly random, because it's not guaranteed that you'll get called, but if you sign up on sites like Sign Up Direct, you can get paid to become a surrogate juror.

Here's how it works: parties to a legal case require jury-eligible citizens from particular venues. Those selected listen to the case and decide the issues in the same way they would on a convened jury. Most sessions last either eight to 10 hours on a weekend or five to seven hours on weekdays and pay between $100 and $150 per session, just as soon as the "verdict" is returned.

Get paid to be a buddy

Consider the RentaFriend website, which takes applications for people who are wiling to provide (strictly platonic, no touching allowed) friendship in exchange for hourly pay that starts around $10. Fringe benefits include free meals and entertainment like concerts and sporting events.

The reasons people rent friends include needing a date for a business event or wedding or wanting someone to do stuff with in a new town. Some of the friends employed are able to offer additional services, like tutoring in a foreign language or etiquette advice. Do note that RentaFriend doesn't perform background checks on either its friends or its members.

Deliver phone books to real live doorsteps

While those yellow phone books may be old-school, individuals and charity groups who deliver them make modern-day money for their efforts.

Yellow Books doesn't pull any punches about the difficulty of the work: "Make no mistake, this is no walk in the park," they say. "It's good old-fashioned door to door deliveries so that means lacing up those runners, heading out into the fresh air and getting that blood pumping!”

On the plus side, you only have to be 18 or older, you can earn more the harder you work, you get paid four or five times per week during delivery season and you can often choose your turf. Yellow Books recommends checking out the active delivery locations listed on its "Where & When" page and then attending a 30 minute orientation to get started. 

(Drew Angerer/Getty)

Drop in on lazy dogs. Or maybe iguanas

While Rover is known as the nation's largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers, it also offers a "drop-in" option. That means you can create a business through them (if you pass the qualifications test) where you mostly stop by to feed and check on low-maintenance dogs, cats or caged pets. 

Play video games

Apparently, a few experts actually make a living playing the popular golf arcade game Golden Tee. In 2017, GO Banking Rates advised gamers to check out the earning potential of playing games while streaming live on video platforms like Twitch. "There, fans can interact with you as you play. Of course, it helps if you're actually good at the game, and can talk strategy and character builds. On Twitch, streamers with a few thousand followers and five-figure views earn an average of $3,000 to $5,000 per month playing 40 hours per week, and that's just off subscriptions. On top of that, ad revenue averages about $250 for every 100 subscribers."

According to the Smartasset blog, the three components of a Twitch channel are the game play itself, the webcam video of the player and the audio commentary. "That means broadcasters need a computer or console and other gaming equipment, plus a camera and a microphone headset for broadcasting purposes."

Make your backyard a wedding venue

"Renting out your property for backyard weddings is also a great way for homeowners to generate income while helping couples create a special day their guests will never forget," according to the Install It Direct blog. Venuelust estimated that engaged couples will spend anywhere from $2,500 to $30,000 for a unique venue, but of course you could start smaller in the beginning.

If you're sold on the idea, Venuelust offers a complete guide to renting your home for wedding events. They begin with the advice to avoid potential liability by listing with a venue management company like Estate Weddings and Events that takes precautions to protect you from such risks. 

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