The nitty-gritty: Most bloggers are making very little per month. Little wonder. There’s lots of competition out there for eyeballs. There are millions of blogs today. Tumblr claims 178.7 million blogs. WordPress.com boasts more than 77 million. It is possible, though, to break through. An income stream comes from steadily building a following through referrals and generating income from the ads on your page. You can also make money by selling merchandise directly — from books to T-shirts. Developing traffic flow (and money) to your blog is time-consuming. You can’t just come up with a few pithy posts on a whim every so often and expect visitors to show up with any consistency. It takes discipline. Use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.
The hours: Flexible. It’s tough to measure how long it takes someone to write a post of around 800 words. It might take three or four hours. The real money-hungry bloggers log in full-time schedules of 40 hours or more a week managing their blogs. While that’s heavy duty, you should plan to blog at least three times a week. You also need to keep tabs on the business side — managing display ads and product sales adds up to a few hours a week.
Median pay range: The majority of bloggers make less than $100 a month from their sites. Some bloggers produce more than one blog, which antes up income. There are bloggers who pull in more than $100,000, but they’re the exception. Google AdSense, Amazon’s affiliate program and Chitika are three income streams to check out. How much income they produce varies by blog. The key is to try out a few.
Qualifications: At the heart of it, passion, a micro-niche that you really know something about, decent writing skills and the commitment to keep feeding your site with fresh content. A successful blog is built on subject matter that’s valuable to people interested in the precise topic. Computer skills are a must, and knowing how to post photos and YouTube clips is helpful. You have an edge if you know how to use keywords and other online links to lure people to your website via search engine results such as Google and Yahoo. If you’re interested, start with ProBlogger.net. File this under labor of love.
2. Athletic Coach/Umpire/Referee
The nitty-gritty: This one’s for the kid in all of us. Check into a coach, referee, umpire or scorekeeper post in high school programs, or various youth and amateur leagues. Stress and plenty of time standing go with the territory. And for outdoor sports, prepare for the elements. Travel is usually part of the job, but it’s probably a scoot across town. If you’re blowing a whistle, you’d better brace yourself for the possibility of verbal strip-downs (parental ire).
The hours: These fluctuate widely by sport and organization. Coaches can figure three hours or so for late afternoons, five days a week, plus weekend days in season. Umpires, referees and scorekeepers usually work two to three hours per game. Figure on once a week for two or three games in an afternoon or evening.
Median pay range: For a coaching position at a school, $3,000 to $5,000 per season is possible. A median annual wage for a coach at an elementary or secondary school is $22,140, according to the BLS. Umpires and referees can make $30 to $50 per game. Independent leagues or private travel teams might pay $50 to $75 per game.
Qualifications: You need to be good with children, possess moderate physical fitness and have an overall knowledge of the game. Specific education, training and licensing requirements for coaches and officials vary greatly by the level and type of sport. Some entry-level positions for coaches require only experience gleaned as a participant in the sport. Umpires and referees usually are required to attend a training course and pass a test. You can gain experience by volunteering for intramural, community and recreational league competitions. If you have a hankering to umpire, check out your local umpire association. For American Legion (high school age), you will need to contact your local division and attend a certifying clinic. There are one-day refresher classes and full courses with several sessions, plus an exam. Some leagues require that certification be renewed periodically. Additional resources: National Association of Sports Officials and state athletic associations. Look to high schools, parks departments, recreational and church leagues, and soccer clubs for openings. Ask if they offer a club-certified referee or umpire class.
3. Teacher’s Aide
The nitty-gritty: Kid Central. This post can take some nerves of steel and patience, but the rewards are plentiful. It can be frustrating for some aides to have to defer to the guidance of the teacher in charge, so you need to have a good rapport and working relationship. The teacher needs to respect and value what you bring to the classroom. If not, it’s a bust. Be prepared for some grunt work — clerical duties such as grading papers, recording grades, setting up equipment, entering computer data. One of the best aspects is one-on-one tutoring for a student who needs special help or has a disability and requires individual attention. These are bonding moments of giving back that are worth more than a paycheck. While some of the school day is spent standing, walking or kneeling, most of it is sitting while working with students. Teacher assistants also supervise students in the cafeteria, school yard and hallways, or on field trips.
The hours: Three to five days a week, six to seven hours per day during the traditional school year (eight to nine months). Summer school hours may be available in some districts.
Median full-time pay: $23,640 per year
Qualifications: On-the-job training combined with a high school diploma. Some states or school districts may require additional education beyond high school. A college degree, related coursework in child development and previous experience helping special education students can open up job opportunities. Self-starters who can multitask and work independently are highly valued. Fluency in a second language, especially Spanish, is in demand. Many schools require previous experience in working with children and a valid driver’s license. Most require you to pass a background check. For more information, go to the websites of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
4. Tour Guide
The nitty-gritty: Imagine steering a group of curious tourists around historic monuments in Washington, D.C., on a sunny, cherry blossom-bright day in April. That’s particularly true if you’re a history buff and have a knack for storytelling and showmanship. You need to have a mind for remembering dates and historical facts. You also must interact easily with everyone — from excitable school kids on a field trip to seniors hailing from all over the globe. Tour guide jobs pop up in various places that attract visitors. You might lead visitors through points of historical or local interest, pretzel factories, wineries, breweries and more, doling out tidbits of information in a narrative format. The downside is that it can be hard on the feet and the vocal cords, and the patter can become stiflingly rote. Your job is to dig down for a fresh and energetic performance each round. Many of these jobs are walking tours, although you may land one where you drive a vehicle, or go with a group on a park shuttle or monorail system. Depending on the assignment, you might have to stand up to eight hours per day or walk and climb stairs. Plus, you’ll need to be sharp-eyed to visually monitor guests to ensure compliance with security and safety rules. Less demanding openings, such as ticket-takers, program sellers or cashiers, are also generally available.
The hours: Varying schedules including days, evenings and weekends. It might be difficult to receive time off around peak tourist times, such as holidays and school vacations.
Hourly pay range: $8.22 to $18.05
Qualifications: Tour guides often receive on-the-job training from employers. The academic background required for a position varies according to the venue. Best skill: the ability to hang on to historical facts, dates and anecdotes and relate that information to visitors in a compelling way. Some cities require licensing, and applicants may have to pass a written exam covering factual knowledge of specific locations and city history. Some community colleges offer short-term courses in tour- and travel-related occupations. Certified Tour Professional (CTP) certification is offered through the National Tour Association.