How to Become a Career Coach: 3 Success Stories

When you hear the term “coaching,” it’s easy to think of the whistle-blowing leader of your child’s little league team or a motivational life coach who pens self-help books.

Yet a stream of young professionals are now giving that term new meaning. They are spinning off parts of their businesses — and even creating whole new businesses — on the idea of coaching a specific skill, tool or industry.

How did they get started? Where did they find clients? And, perhaps the most perplexing question in the work-for-yourself world, how did they decide what to charge?

We talked to three pioneers in the career coaching world about how they got to where they are and what they want to do next.

Coaching the Business of Freelance Writing

Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan, The Writers’ Co-op

Freelance writers Jenni Gritters and Wudan Yan both got into coaching after a continued flurry of requests for advice. Both have a presence on social media and had written viral articles about their professional experiences.

For Gritters, it was a piece she wrote on Medium in June 2019 with an eminently clickable headline: “How I made $120,000 in my first year as a freelance writer.” For Yan, it was a piece published around the same time about her saga of successfully extracting late fees from publications that were late paying her. In both cases, Yan and Gritters found themselves inundated with requests from people who wanted to “pick their brains” and ask for career advice.

At some point, they both decided that offering their time for free was not financially sustainable.

To streamline their advice in one place, Yan and Gritters decided to start a podcast, The Writers’ Co-op, which has since become a guidebook for freelancers with worksheets, webinars and even coaching. They also started their own individual coaching businesses, offering one-hour sessions with prospective and experienced freelancers.

A woman smiles outside while sitting next to a flower bush with white flowers on it.
Jenni Gritters started her own coaching business where she offers one-hour sessions on the business of freelancing. Photo courtesy of Jenni Gritters

Finding clients was never too much of an issue. Yan’s and Gritters’ relative internet fame assured some level of success. But deciding what to focus on and how much to charge posed bigger problems. Both Yan and Gritters lowballed their rates at first — Yan was charging $35 a session while Gritters was charging $50. Both have since raised their fees: Gritters is at $150 while Yan is at $200.

They advise being realistic about how much work coaching will take and charge accordingly. Remember that a one-hour coaching session does not just take one hour: It takes time to schedule the session, prepare for it and send a follow-up email with tangible guidance, as Yan and Gritters do.

Remember, also, to be thoughtful about what topics you choose to coach. Although Gritters was a longtime editor and once taught high school journalism, she knew she did not want to teach the creative elements of writing. She wanted to save her creative energy for her own work. Instead, she focuses her coaching on the business of freelancing.

Coaching Social Media for Nonprofits

Dana Snyder, Positive Equation

When Dana Snyder initially started her own social media marketing business for nonprofits four years ago, she wanted to emulate an agency. Her plan was to be on monthly retainers with nonprofits managing their social media.

But once those contracts ended, she quickly saw that her clients went back to their previous practices. She wanted to help them long-term.

Much like Gritters and Yan, it was a sort of serendipity that pushed Snyder into coaching. In the first year of her business, a nonprofit reached out asking if she would be willing to work with an internal employee. The leaders knew enough to know what they didn’t know — and that was social media and the digital world.

The coaching paid off. At the end of the year, the nonprofit’s CEO reached out to Snyder to tell her that they had had unprecedented success on social media channels.

Since then, Snyder has made the pivot from the agency model to business coaching and speaking engagements. In a twist of fate, 2020 was the first year Snyder decided to focus 100 percent of her business on online courses, coaching and speaking engagements.When COVID-19 hit, she saw a rush of demand for virtual professional development sessions and planning virtual events.

She offers pre-recorded online courses for purchase on topics like Facebook and Instagram, planning a virtual event and reaching ideal donors. Those range from about $39 to $70 per course. She also offers social media audits to nonprofits, which function as a one-time coaching session. Snyder asks about an organization’s business goals, researches their competitors and the nonprofit’s own content before presenting them with digital strategies for the future. Those start at $1,000.

But in the age of COVID-19, Snyder has found real success in webinars. She offers professional development series for nonprofits that can book her as a speaker. She also received the unique opportunity to become an approved speaker through CharityHowTo, a site that connects nonprofits with relevant webinars. That has both increased her presence in the community and taught her more about how to make an engaging presentation.

Snyder is an example of the power of having a diversified revenue stream — audits, online courses and speaking engagements — at a variety of price ranges.

Coaching How to Pitch to News Outlets and Brands

Austen Tosone, Keep Calm and Chiffon

Austen Tosone did not initially become a full-time freelancer by choice. After getting laid off from two different magazine jobs, Tosone decided to pursue her blog, Keep Calm and Chiffon, and while writing freelance full-time.

As her work was getting published in publications like Refinery29, Teen Vogue, Bustle and The Zoe Report, she started receiving messages from people wondering how she got there.

“I really want to get into pitching magazines,” they would say, “and I would love any advice.”

But Tosone didn’t have the time to answer every one-off message. She decided to compile a resource that she could hand off to anyone with questions — for a price. That’s how she created her e-book, “Right On Pitch.”

The e-book focuses on the making of a successful pitch and looks at pitching brands and publications. She also has a section on negotiating rates. The book is priced at $9, which Tosone reasoned would be the cost of an actual coffee date, if each person who messaged her were actually able to take her out for coffee.

A woman sits at her home desk.
Austen Tosone created an e-book, Right on Pitch, that explores how to make a successful pitch to brands and publications. Photo courtesy of Austen Tosone

Tosone also learned the power of sharing your work with a small group before releasing it out into the world. Before launching her e-book, she shared it with about 12 beta-testers of freelance writers and influencers to get feedback. That helped her tweak the product to be ready to go.

The bulk of Tosone’s marketing for the e-book occurs on her own social media platforms, but she has paid to advertise in freelance writer Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week newsletter. She continues to do that, because she’s seen a good return from that $25 investment.

On top of her freelance writing career, Tosone now works full-time as a beauty content director at Jumprope, a company that helps users create how-to videos. But she’s still managed to find time to grow her e-book sales. In 2019, the e-book made up nine percent of her total freelance income. In 2020, it grew to 16 percent.

Tosone found success by compiling all of her advice in one place and marketing it as a low-cost product. Her decision to use beta-testers shows how fine-tuning a product with potential clients can help identify issues on the front end.

Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Instacart Layoffs: Here’s What the Cuts Mean for Your Side Gig

An Instacart worker shops for corn inside a grocery store.

Instacart worker Saori Okawa shops for produce for a delivery in San Leandro, Calif. Instacart plans to lay off nearly 2,000 employees as it shifts away from having shoppers inside grocery stores. Ben Margot/AP Photo

Grocery delivery service Instacart is laying off nearly 2,000 employees in the coming months as it shifts away from having shoppers embedded in stores.

Instacart unveiled the shift to a new “Partner Pick” model in a post on Medium. Under that model, Instacart will rely more on grocery store employees to fulfill orders. The announcement didn’t say how many in-store shoppers are being laid off, but CBS News reported that 1,877 Instacart employees who work embedded in grocery stores across the country will lose their jobs by March.

Going forward, grocery store employees will play a larger role in preparing pickup orders that customers place through the Instacart app. The result is that the current in-store Instacart employees will no longer be needed at many locations.

What Do the Instacart Layoffs and Changing Services Mean for Your Side Gig?

The March 2021 wave of layoffs is primarily focused on one of the two major side gigs Instacart offers: in-store shoppers. The other major side gig, full-service shopping, is indirectly affected.

In-store shoppers are W-2 employees of Instacart, and they work embedded in partner grocery stores around the country. Typically, they shop and prepare orders for pickup — either by a customer or an Instacart delivery driver who then takes the order directly to the customer’s doorstep.

As of March 2020, Supermarket News reported the company employs about 12,000 in-store shoppers. The layoffs mark an estimated 15% reduction in these types of jobs.

“We know this is an incredibly challenging time for many as we move through the COVID-19 crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to support in-store shoppers through this transition,” Instacart said in an emailed statement to The Penny Hoarder. “We’re also providing all impacted shoppers with separation packages based on their tenure with Instacart.”

Instacart did not clarify whether it plans to cut more in-store shopper positions in the future as the company continues to implement its new Partner Pick model.

The cuts have a rippling effect on the more popular grocery-delivery gigs, known as full-service shoppers. These positions are 1099 independently contracted roles. The folks who work these app-based gigs are not employees of Instacart, technically speaking. The “full-service” part generally refers to the grocery shopping and delivery responsibilities.

Pro Tip

1099 independent contractors aren’t eligible for standard W-2 employee benefits or workplace protections, including health insurance, workers compensation, paid time off and more.

Throughout the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people have supplemented their income with Instacart’s flexible delivery gigs.

Soon, full-service gig workers will start taking over the new shopping-only orders that will become available on the Instacart worker app.

“As part of this pilot, full-service shoppers at select retailer locations will be able to choose orders to pick, pack and stage — no delivery required,” Instacart said in an announcement.

The company did not share when the new type of orders will go into effect for gig workers.

In an announcement following the news of the Instacart layoffs, Kroger — a grocery chain that partners with Instacart — said it had no part in the decision to cut the in-store shoppers working at its locations. The grocer welcomed affected shoppers to apply to a host of job openings.

In a statement to CBS, Kroger said: “For those who are looking for a career opportunity, we have thousands of retail roles available on jobs.kroger.com.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, remote work and other unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to Sell Travel Photos and Turn Your Memories into Cash

If you travelled a lot prior to the pandemic, dig through your old photos. Pause when you find the ones that take your breath away.
You have to submit 15-20 photos per campsite. Prior experience isn’t mandatory, but the end product must be high-quality, and your equipment has to be quality, too.
When you sell your travel photos to a stock agency, you’ll upload a high-resolution version of your image to their website. Then, the agency connects those shopping for images with your work. For each photo sold, you’ll earn a royalty.

Sell Your Travel Photos to a Stock Agency

One way to make money while you’re stuck between the four walls of your home: take a trip down memory lane.
Smugmug, for example, allows you to sell your photography on coffee mugs, magnets, coasters, ceramic tiles and more. You can also sell photo prints, and you get to keep 85% of the profit.
If you have compelling images from your sojourn in the Nevada desert, Nevada Magazine may be interested in them. Here, you’ll make -0 per image.

Sell Your Photos to Travel Magazines

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For example, if you took a trip to the Adirondacks and got some gorgeous shots, you could submit them to Adirondack Life. This magazine pays between and 0 per image.
HipCamp works with photographers — including amateurs — to facilitate this photography service. Here’s what photographers get for visiting a campsite and providing their services:
HipCamp is the Airbnb of campsites. And just like on Airbnb, the people who list their properties on HipCamp could use the help of a photographer. Visually appealing listings get booked more often.

Get Paid to Photograph Campsites

Because you’re often signing away some of the rights to your photography when you work with a stock agency, be careful to pick the right agency the first time. You usually won’t be able to list your images on more than one site.
If you want to keep even more of the profits, you can sell your photography on Etsy. Etsy pays you 96.5% of each sale minus Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Sell Prints or Novelty Items

Another way to make money off of your travel photography is by selling prints or novelty items with your photograph printed on them.
Most photographers aren’t going to break into major magazines like National Geographic, especially on their first try. But a practical alternative is looking for local magazines based in the places you have traveled.
There are many microstock agencies that pay pennies for each photo sold. Instead, check out these five sites that pay 0+ per photo. Before publishing moved predominantly online, selling photos to travel magazines was a lucrative venture. Today you likely won’t be able to build a career on travel magazine photography alone, but you can bring in some side hustle income.
You can sell those breathtaking photographs, bringing in a little side income even while your travel plans are grounded. Here’s how to sell travel photos.

Earn Extra Money by Joining Online Focus Groups

A couple years ago, I was invited to participate in a focus group. I visited in-person along with about 15 other people. For two hours, we vented all of our feelings about the ways a particular health insurance company interacts with its customer base.

At the end, we each walked out with $125. The health insurance company wanted consumer feedback on their products and customer service, and it compensated us for providing our insights.

Focus groups can be a lucrative side hustle when you break down per-hour pay. You get to be a part of a company’s market research efforts, magnifying your opinion above those of other potential consumers.

These days, you don’t have to participate in paid focus groups in person. During the pandemic and beyond, you can use online focus group platforms to earn anywhere from $20 to as much as $600 per hour.

Online Focus Groups: a Viable Side Hustle

Focus groups can pay extremely well for the amount of time you actually “work.” They can provide surges of side hustle income all at once.

However, they’re not likely to sustain you in lieu of traditional income. Earnings can be extremely inconsistent. First of all, you won’t qualify for every survey, as each focus group has a specific demographic it’s targeting.

Often, though not always, the highest-paying surveys also have the most exclusive demographic requirements. The company may be looking to work with construction foremen who work with specific brands of equipment, for example, or with mobile app developers who use a specific type of programming.

In addition, some consumer research companies will only allow you to participate in one focus group every six months.

Just because work is sporadic doesn’t make this a bad side hustle. When the money does come in, you’re getting paid so much per hour that it’s worth setting aside 30 to 90 minutes of your time.

What You Do in a Paid Focus Group

Most focus groups require between 30 minutes and 90 minutes of work. When you’re doing a focus group remotely, you may be asked to fill out a multiple choice survey. Most of the time, though, you’ll complete a phone or Zoom interview with a live person.

Topics for focus groups are unlimited: You could find yourself answering questions about your favorite margarita recipe, how you’re coping with pandemic parenting or a survey related to your profession.

Some focus groups may require you to dedicate some time outside the interview itself. For example, you might have to give a specific product a test run or keep a journal of your experiences. This extra time is often accounted for in the compensation.

Where to Find Online Focus Group Jobs

All of the following focus group companies currently have online opportunities. In the past, many national opportunities could be completed remotely. But during the pandemic, even most of the city-specific assignments are virtual, too.

These market research companies pay well for your time and consistently update listings for more opportunities. We surveyed current listings for hourly pay and estimated average hourly pay given the jobs currently available.

Respondent

An overwhelming percentage of the focus group opportunities listed on Respondent are remote. The majority of the listings are not city-specific, allowing you to qualify regardless of where you live.

Current job listings range between $20 and $400 per hour, with the average focus group paying around $120 per hour.

WatchLAB

WatchLAB doesn’t have as many opportunities listed, but it does regularly update its inventory on its Facebook page.

Jobs are often city specific, though there is a wide variety of cities with opportunities available. Even city-specific assignments have been primarily remote through the pandemic.

Pay for WatchLAB focus groups ranges from $60 to $150 per hour, with the average focus group paying around $100 per hour.

Focusscope

Focusscope is another smaller consumer research company. It updates its users regularly about new opportunities on its Facebook page, and most studies are now completed remotely.

Focusscope pays $75 to $250 per focus group, with an average payout of $100.

FindFocusGroups.com

FindFocusGroups.com isn’t a consumer research company in and of itself. Instead, it’s a job listing board. It aggregates current opportunities available across the country, and allows consumer research companies to submit listings.

You can search these focus group listings by state. For example, the pay range for current listings in Pennsylvania is $65 to $160 per hour. The average focus group pays around $100 per hour.

User Interviews

If you’re looking for online or over-the-phone focus group opportunities, User Interviews’ listings are plentiful. However, compared to the other companies on this list, more of these focus group opportunities are in-person. Use filters while you search to ensure you’re only being shown the remote opportunities.

A portion of the listings on User Interviews are medical studies rather than focus groups.

Participating in medical trials can be another lucrative way to hustle together some extra cash.

Listings on User Interviews pay between $25 and $600 per hour — though very few studies get close to the $600 mark. The average focus group pays $60 per hour.

Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Women in Tech: Get Hired Jan. 28 at This Free Virtual Job Fair

Fairygodboss recommends that attendees have at least two years of job experience and that students should hold off on attending until they graduate.
If you can’t attend the event, consider signing up anyway. Fairygodboss will forward your resumes to the companies hiring at the event.
Just because the job fair is online doesn’t make it any less crucial that you make a good impression. Come to the fair prepared with tailored questions for the hiring manager.

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data science
  • Software design and engineering
  • Tech consultants and team leaders
  • User-experience and user-interface design

A resume or a PDF version of your LinkedIn profile is required to register for the fair. Registration closes Jan. 26 at 10 a.m. Eastern.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
And if you’re strapped for time, here are the big takeaways. During the event, you will be able to virtually meet hiring managers through an online portal. Each company will have a digital booth, similar to a real job fair, where you can learn more information about the company, browse open positions or join a chat room with other attendees and hiring managers.
Privacy Policy
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Fairygodboss is giving you the opportunity to do just that — from the comfort of your home. The women-centric career website is hosting a virtual job fair for women in technology, Jan. 28 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern. Big-name employers such as Citi Intuit, ON Semiconductor, PwC, Verizon, WWE and several others are recruiting at the event. To request more information about a specific job listing, you may start a one-on-one chat or video session with a hiring manager. Or if you’re making a good impression, the hiring manager may request a chat session with you.
You’ve already broken the mold. You’re a woman in a career field often thought of as a boys’ club. All that’s left is to land a first-rate job at one of the nation’s largest companies.

  1. Do your homework.

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  2. Take care of tech beforehand.

    If all goes well, a hiring manager might ask to interview you on-the-spot. So be dressed to impress. Make sure you are in a well-lit, distraction-free area where you can chat. It’s OK if that’s not the case, too. Explain that you are not in the best environment for an interview, and offer alternative times when you are available.

  3. Be interview-ready.

    Is your account properly registered? Are your web browser and flash player up to date? Documents organized and ready to go? Don’t forget the motherlode of all tech issues: WiFi. Hardwire your computer with an ethernet cable, if worse comes to worse.

Helping push that trend is Fairygodboss, a women-centric career network where women can find jobs, attend events, get career advice and rate employers. Each employer attending the event has been reviewed by Fairygodboss members, and the results are available on the registration page. <!–

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Traditionally, careers in computer science have had higher male populations, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software-development and computer-information jobs are some of the highest-paying and fastest-growing jobs for women.

How to Build a Photo Scanning and Digitizing Side Gig

A woman scans old photos and saves them on her computer for a customer. The photo she is currently scanning is an old black and white photo of a boy.

Then spread the word on social media. Give an estimated price of how many photos you can do for a certain price. Ask your early clients to share something about how wonderful it feels to finally have photos organized and saved forever.

You might have to offer to digitize photos for one or two friends at no cost first to get an idea of how long the process takes and what you will charge.
A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.
The first step to starting your photo scanning business is setting aside a space in your home. It can be as small as a corner of your bedroom or a desktop if an actual office or spare room isn’t possible.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Sabrina Hughes is a photography historian who operates her business, PhotoXO, from her home in South Pasadena, Fla. She archives analogue photos using a method of scan, organize and share. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder Perhaps the most daunting version of unorganized photographic memories are slides. Once the butt of so many jokes about boring dinner parties, now they are covered in dust with no hope of ever seeing the light of a projector again.
Warn your clients that digitized videos won’t look so great on a TV, especially if it’s high definition, because the videos were filmed with lower resolution. They look best viewed on a phone or a computer screen.
“There’s a certain point when I’m not doing anything you can’t figure out on your own,” she said. “A college student or really anyone could do this to make extra money.”
Five years ago, professional photo curator Sabrina Hughes decided she could make a business out of helping people organize their photos, videos and slides. Her company, PhotoXO, has a compelling slogan: “Show your photos the love they deserve.”

Get the Right Equipment

  • Scanner. There are hundreds of scanners out there, but she prefers the Epson v600, which sells for $229.
  • Video adapter. Hughes uses the Elgato Video Capture for digitizing VHS tapes. It can be bought online for $87.
  • Storage. “When I first started out, I was giving everything back on hard drives,” Hughes said. “I was trying to get away from DVDs, since most computers don’t even play those anymore.” She then offered flash drives filled with the photos. Though they are also becoming less common, this is still probably the best tool for beginners. Hughes now uploads everything to her website, which offers permanent storage.
  • Software. Hughes uses Adobe Lightroom ($119), which enables her to label photos so they can be searched and has photo editing functions. Software isn’t required to organize unlabeled photos into folders, however.
A stack of old black and white photographs sits on a person's desk.
A stack of client photos sits on Hughes’ desk . Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Develop and Perfect Your Process

Well, anyone armed with a 9 scanner and a computer can make searchable digital files of photos and slides. To turn videos into digital files, it takes the original camera they were filmed with or a VCR, an adapter and a computer.
You can offer photo editing if it’s something you can handle. Hughes uses a very simple process in Adobe Photoshop. “You can also do it as you are scanning them,” she said. Adding, that many scanners have color correction options.
Determine ahead of time how many photos you can scan in an hour. If you are sorting and scanning, that may be harder to estimate, but it probably adds another 30 minutes onto each hour of scanning. Say you can scan 40 photos an hour, then it would take you five hours to digitize 200 photos that don’t require sorting.
To digitize photos and slides, scan each one with the scanner to upload it to your computer. Make files for certain years or topics such as “1970s beach trips” or “kids’ birthday parties.” Drag and drop the photos into the appropriate file.
Then there are the videos filmed on various versions of clunky cameras over the decades.
A high schooler or college student might charge to an hour, or approximately 0 to 0 for 200 photos. Allow an extra hour for computer glitches, labeling files and calling the client with questions.
It’s smart to charge by the hour when you start out, and give an estimate of how long the project will take.
“Sometimes it’s easier for a third party to make the decisions in narrowing things down,” Hughes said. You can pick what you think is the best of the three or four repetitive photos.
You may have to limit the number of photos to digitize if the client wants to save on time and your fee. If the photos are organized in albums, ask the client to mark which ones to exclude with sticky-notes. If they are loose in boxes, suggest you select which ones to use.
As simple as it sounds — and actually is — most people are overwhelmed by the thought of taking hundreds or even thousands of photos and organizing them into searchable, digital files.

Deciding What to Charge

Here’s how to make photo scanning and digitizing your new side hustle.
Hughes started out charging by the hour, but found clients were spending so much time “pre-organizing” their photos themselves to save money, it would take them six months or more before they were finally ready for her to start archiving. So she switched to a flat fee of ,222 for unlimited archiving of slides, photos or videos. To do all three formats, she charges ,777. She also offers small projects a-la-carte based on the amount of work.
For videos, they have to be played the whole way through on the camera that originally filmed them and the adapter will transport the movies to a computer. If you don’t have the camera, you can play them on a VCR connected to the computer with the adapter.

A woman looks off into the distance toward a window with an old photograph on a television screen behind her.
In addition to her PhotoXO services, Hughes also offers a self-paced online class called Disaster to Done for $297, which includes lifetime access to course materials. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

To organize and select from loose photos overflowing shoe boxes or laundry baskets, Hughes hand sorts them into piles based on the clothes people are wearing, the backgrounds and the time of year.

How to Attract Clients

Hughes offers a self-paced online class called Disaster to Done for 7, which includes lifetime access to course materials. But she’s also sharing her tips with The Penny Hoarder.

Digitized photos make a great Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas gift. Promote your business online and in emails during these times and throughout the year.
Next, create a storage system for clients’ photos and video tapes while your work is in progress. Of course clear boxes that stack are great, but they come with a cost. Cardboard shipping boxes work just as well. Place white adhesive labels on the ends with the name of the client and the date the work started. You can place new labels over these when one project is done and the next client’s photos go into the boxes.

Her years as a photographer, plus a graduate degree in art history and experience as a curatorial assistant at the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, Fla., combine to make her an astute photo archivist. But all of this expertise and experience is not required.

New PUA Rules: Don’t Miss These Unemployment Deadlines

The second stimulus package is tightening the rules for millions of gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed workers receiving unemployment aid.

On Dec. 27, the $900 billion stimulus package extended Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a critical benefits program for folks who don’t typically qualify for regular unemployment aid. The deal lengthened PUA benefits for at least 11 weeks, but it also created new filing rules that affect current recipients and new applicants alike.

Chief among the new rules: You will need to submit income documentation to your state’s unemployment agency if you are a gig worker or self-employed worker — or risk losing future benefits and having to return any benefits collected after Dec. 27.

“I think they are a real pain,” said Michele Evermore, an unemployment policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, regarding the new PUA filing rules. “Not just for recipients, but for state agencies to collect. Every burden we add to state agencies slows benefit processing for everyone.”

The new requirements are intended to combat fraud. According to the Department of Labor, more than 7.4 million people are relying on PUA and are subject to the changes.

New Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Rules and Deadlines

The new deadlines established by the second stimulus package are different for current PUA recipients and new applicants.

As a current PUA recipient, you have until March 27 to submit income-related documents to prove your PUA eligibility. If you apply for PUA before Jan. 31, you also have until March 27.

If you apply for PUA Jan. 31 or later, you will have 21 days from the date of your application to submit income-related documents.

The Department of Labor requires each state to notify you of your state-specific rules. Your state may have different deadlines. In that case, refer to your state’s instructions. The DOL is also leaving it to each state to determine exactly what documents are required to prove your eligibility.

Here are some examples of documents your state may ask you to file:

  • Tax forms such as 1099s and W-2s.
  • Ledgers, recent pay stubs and earnings statements from gig apps.
  • Recent bank statements showing direct deposits.

If you’re self-employed, you may be required to submit:

  • Federal or state income tax documents.
  • A business license.
  • A 1040 tax form along with a Schedule C, F, SE or K.
  • Additional records that prove you’re self employed, such as utility bills, rental agreements or checks.

If you’re qualifying for PUA because you were about to start a job but the offer was rescinded due to COVID-19 related reasons, you may be asked to submit an offer letter, details about the employer and other information related to the job to verify your claim.

Another new rule is that you will have to self-certify that you meet one or more of the following PUA eligibility requirements on a weekly basis:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are seeking diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has COVID-19.
  • You are taking care of someone with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to the pandemic.
  • You are quarantined by order of a doctor or health official.
  • You were scheduled to start employment and don’t have a job or can’t reach your workplace as a result of the pandemic.
  • You have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household died due to COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.

Self-certification means that you swear the reason(s) you are on PUA is or are true at the risk of perjury. Previously, PUA applicants had to self-certify only once at the time of their initial application.

Evermore says that since current PUA recipients weren’t asked to submit all this information when they were first approved, they might no longer have access to the requested documents.

“People who were told they don’t need documentation may have lost it, and this will create panic resulting in more stress on people who have already had an unimaginably bad year,” she said.

The good news, Evermore says, is that states have leniency to waive some of these requirements if you can demonstrate “good cause” for not being able to submit the requested documents. What’s considered “good cause” is also determined on a state-by-state basis.

“People who got approved for benefits in the past won’t necessarily get cut off from benefits simply because they are unable to produce the requested documentation,” Evermore said. “Just follow all of the agency’s instructions carefully.”

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, remote work and other unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance in Every State

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the new programs and provisions in the second stimulus package.

For the first time nationally, independent contractors and gig workers can receive unemployment benefits — through Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Millions of Americans have relied on this program since it was created by the first stimulus package in March 2020.

Depending on your state, PUA effectively expired on Dec. 26 or 27. At the 11th hour, lawmakers rallied to pass a second stimulus package, extending the program for 11 weeks. However, some states had to pause making PUA payments as they implemented the new rules.

The Penny Hoarder looked at the application process in all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C. when the program was first created. We compiled the information into an interactive map that shows you how to file in each state, then updated the information based on new provisions laid out in the second stimulus package.

This guide will explain everything you need to know about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Here’s a look at what’s included. (Click a link to jump to the section you need.)

What Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was established by the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus package in March 2020 and was extended by the second stimulus package passed in December 2020.

PUA grants unemployment benefits to people who don’t typically qualify for their state’s regular unemployment program. A whole new set of people are now eligible for unemployment benefits — namely gig workers, independent contractors and furloughed workers.

To be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you must be fully or partially unemployed due to one or more of the following reasons:

  • You have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms and are seeking diagnosis.
  • A member of your household has COVID-19.
  • You are taking care of someone with COVID-19.
  • You are caring for a child or other household member who can’t attend school or work because it is closed due to the pandemic.
  • You are quarantined by order of a doctor or health official.
  • You were scheduled to start employment and don’t have a job or can’t reach their workplace as a result of the pandemic.
  • You have become the breadwinner for a household because the head of household died due to COVID-19.
  • You had to quit your job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Your workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19.
Pro Tip

If you have already exhausted your state’s Unemployment Insurance benefits, you may receive additional benefits through PUA.

Weekly PUA pays half of your state’s average unemployment payment. Average state payments range from roughly $180 to $480, meaning that you can expect PUA payments between $90 and $240 weekly.

If you are approved for at least $1 in unemployment benefits, you will also be eligible for a $300 weekly boost for up to 11 weeks and until March 14, 2021. This $300 boost is known as Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).

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How the Second Stimulus Package Changes PUA

Initially, the CARES Act authorized PUA payments for a maximum of 39 weeks. The second stimulus package extended PUA to 50 weeks total — or 11 extra weeks.

PUA now sunsets on March 14, 2021, unless extended by Congress and the Biden administration. Those who haven’t exhausted their PUA benefits as of March 14, 2021, may continue receiving benefits until April 5, 2021.

One new and notable limitation: PUA used to be available retroactively as far back as January 2020. The new stimulus law tightens the window for retroactive PUA payments to Dec. 1, 2020, through March 14, 2021.

All PUA recipients should be expecting to file more paperwork, too. To curb fraud, the second stimulus deal forces current and new PUA recipients to submit documents related to employment or self-employment, according to the DOL.

The exact documents needed will be determined by your state agency, which is required to notify you. The deadline to file those documents is March 27, 2021. Defer to your state’s deadline if different.

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How to File for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, State by State

Our interactive map includes PUA filing instructions for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Based on The Penny Hoarder’s analysis, 35 states and D.C. process PUA applicants using the same application for general unemployment. Only 15 states have separate PUA applications.

Here’s how we broke it down on the map.

General Unemployment

To determine PUA eligibility, most states funnel applicants through the Unemployment Insurance system first. Those states require you to file two applications: state unemployment first, then PUA.

In such states, you must get denied Unemployment Insurance (UI) before applying for PUA. Only a handful of states have one streamlined, general unemployment application that determines your eligibility for both PUA or regular benefits.

For simplicity — and because in both instances your first step is filing a general unemployment claim — both methods are categorized as “general unemployment (UI)” on the map, in dark  blue.

To see if you need to file two applications or one streamlined version, click your state on the map for specific filing instructions.

PUA

States marked in light blue have a PUA application separate from the regular Unemployment Insurance system. If you are a resident of one of these states, you can file for PUA directly so long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

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Documents Needed to File for PUA

If you’re ready to file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, you’ll need to gather several types of identification- and income-related documents.

Your state may require a few additional documents, but here’s an overview:

  • State-issued ID card.
  • Social Security Number or Alien Registration Number.
  • Mailing and residential address (if different).
  • Bank account information for direct deposit, otherwise your benefits will arrive via a prepaid debit card or check.
  • Tax return: Form 1040, Schedule C, F and/or SE.
  • As many income statements as possible: bank receipts with deposit information, 1099 forms, W-2s, paycheck stubs, income summaries and business ledgers.

Income statements and related documents are crucial to proving how and when the coronavirus affected your earnings. For freelancers and independent contractors, it may be difficult to compile everything. Include as much as possible.

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Expect Delays

Due to new rules outlined in the second stimulus package, state labor departments are once again scrambling. Hiccups should be expected while applying for, asking about or submitting documents related to PUA. Many gig workers and independent contractors warn of website crashes, unavailable customer service, confusing questionnaires and more.

Perseverance is key.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

DoorDash vs. UberEats: Which App Is Right For Your Next Side Gig?

For better or worse, apps like DoorDash and Uber Eats have disrupted the food-delivery industry. Since their launch in 2013 and 2014 respectively, restaurants across the country have outsourced delivery services to independent drivers who use the apps to make extra cash.

During the pandemic, these services have seen demand like never before. For customers, the apps make ordering food from just about any restaurant as easy as opening their smartphones. For drivers, it’s almost as easy to land a delivery job hawking food from local eateries.

But before you download your next job, take some time to review the key differences between DoorDash and Uber Eats so that you can make the most of your delivery gig.

DoorDash vs Uber Eats: The Top Food Delivery Apps Duke It Out

The general premise of the two apps is almost identical: Customers place food orders at local restaurants. The apps alert drivers in the area with the order details. The first driver to accept the order picks up the food and drops it off to the customer. Simple enough, right?

Several differences are worth noting, though. Some minor and some major. We took a deep dive into those differences, looking at pay, vehicle and job requirements, available locations, driver reviews and more to help you make an informed decision before you start delivering.

And if it’s too close to call, you can always sign up for both to see which one suits you better.

Round 1: App Reviews

A woman looks at what's offered on Uber Eats.
Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder.

Because the apps are so popular, they’ve amassed more than 4.1 million driver reviews. Both companies require their drivers to use different apps than customers, a huge perk when trying to get a sense of drivers’ perspective. Worker reviews from Glassdoor are also included.

DoorDash Driver (Dasher) Reviews

Feedback from Dashers is overall mixed, but there’s a clear preference for the iOS version of the app. Trends in negative reviews across all platforms show that many drivers have trouble with glitches and crashes, especially Android users, and that the nature of the work takes a toll on their vehicles. Many negative reviews mention that DoorDash’s strict performance metrics are a hassle.

Workers reviewed DoorDash more than 760,000 times.

App Store (iOS) review: 4.7 out of 5.
Google Play (Android) review: 3.3 out of 5.

Glassdoor review: 3.7 out of 5.

Uber Driver Reviews

More than 3 million drivers reviewed Uber. A caveat worth noting is that Uber has one driver app. That means it’s hard to get the opinions of only Uber Eats drivers because general Uber app reviews are mixed in. Overall, reviews are positive.

Trends in negative delivery reviews on Glassdoor indicate GPS issues and trouble contacting customer service. Several drivers mentioned problems with promotion and surge pay (bonus pay during in-demand times). Negative reviews regarding vehicle wear-and-tear are common.

App Store (iOS) review: 4.6 out of 5.

Google Play (Android) review: 3.8 out of 5.

Glassdoor review: 3.9 out of 5.

Round 2: Job and Vehicle Requirements

A woman drives for Uber.
Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

To become a Dasher or Uber Eats driver, you have to meet a baseline of requirements. Some are vehicle related and some are age and experience related.

DoorDash

To qualify as a Dasher you must be at least 18. Dashers need to have a valid driver’s license. There are no car requirements, but auto insurance is required. In some markets you can make deliveries on scooters, bicycles and motorcycles.

Uber Eats

To make automobile deliveries, the minimum age requirement is based on your local jurisdiction, plus at least one year of driving experience. Vehicles must be no more than 20 years old. Drivers must be properly insured and can use bikes and scooters in certain markets. The age requirements are higher for those who prefer two wheels — 18 for bicycles and 19 for scooters.

Round 3: Sign-Up Process

Becoming a delivery driver for DoorDash and Uber Eats is simpler than landing a part-time job. You can complete the entire process from your smartphone or computer.

DoorDash

You can sign up to become a Dasher on the driver app. You’ll have to consent to a background and motor vehicle check (and pass both). They could take as little as a few days, but err on the side of a week or two.

After passing the checks, you’ll need to select what type of “orientation” you want. The pandemic paused in-person orientations. Depending on your market you may need to request an “activation kit” instead. Receiving your activation kit may take an extra couple of weeks, according to driver reviews.

The activation kit includes a Dasher manual, a hot bag and a credit card, which is used to pay for orders. Once you receive and set up the card through the app, you can start accepting orders.

Uber Eats

For drivers new to Uber, you can sign up on the website or through the driver app. Because of the stricter vehicle requirements, the application requires more detailed information on your ride. A background check is also required, which may take three to five business days to process.

After the background check clears and your application is approved, you’re free to start taking orders. No orientation or additional equipment is needed.

If you’re a current rideshare driver for Uber, it’s easy to start delivering with Uber Eats. You simply opt in to Uber Eats orders through the driver app and start delivering without any additional screening.

Round 4: Pay and Tipping

The two apps handle pay a little differently, both in how you get paid and how you pay for customers’ orders when you pick them up. Neither company offers guaranteed wages (unless you live in California).

DoorDash

As of Fall 2019, the company switched to a payment model where Dashers earn a higher base pay per order in addition to keeping 100% of their tips. Previously, a customer’s tip would subsidize the Dasher’s base pay.

Dashers report earning between $11 and $15 an hour depending on location, but those earnings aren’t guaranteed. Pay is based on how many orders you accept per hour and how much customers tip you. DoorDash pays weekly through direct deposit, or you can access your earnings early through Fast Pay, for $1.99.

When picking up orders, you may be required to pay for the order using the company red card from your activation kit.

Uber Eats

Depending on your location, you can expect to earn $11 to $14 an hour on average. Again, those wages aren’t guaranteed because your earnings are based on orders and tips. With Uber Eats, you pocket 100% of your customers’ tips. You get paid weekly via direct deposit, or you can pay a fee to access your earnings early through Instant Pay for 50 cents.

You won’t be involved in the payment process for food orders. Partner restaurants are reimbursed directly by Uber.

Round 5: Available Locations

People walk alongside a lake and tall buildings.
Aileen Perilla/ The Penny Hoarder

This one’s easy. Both services are available in most big cities in all 50 states.

Previously, DoorDash and Uber Eats ran driver support centers in major metro areas of most states. In 2020, many of these centers closed due to the coronavirus. Some still exist, but neither company offers a comprehensive, public list of remaining locations.

Final Round: Additional Perks

Promotional offers are popular with both DoorDash and Uber, but they’re temporary and vary by location. Aside from sign-up bonuses and referral codes, here are a couple perks that are here to stay.

DoorDash

A few perks unique to DoorDash include grocery delivery options, automatic insurance coverage and health care services.

After you’re screened and accepted as a Dasher, you can choose to deliver food in any city where DoorDash operates, meaning there are no hard location requirements. The company also launched grocery delivery services in some Midwest and West Coast areas.

Dashers also get supplemental auto insurance and occupational accident insurance for accidents or injuries that fall outside your current auto insurance. The insurance plan covers up to $1 million in medical costs, a weekly payment of $500 for disabilities and $150,000 to dependents for fatal accidents. Coverage is automatic. There are no deductibles or premiums.

While DoorDash doesn’t offer health insurance, the company does partner with Stride Health, which provides free health care advising and assistance to Dashers who need help finding affordable insurance plans.

Uber Eats

Uber Eats drivers get a variety of discounts and may be eligible for Uber Pro perks.

All Uber drivers receive discounts for vehicle maintenance and phone service plans. Uber also partners with Stride Health to provide health plans and tax advice. Drivers automatically receive supplemental auto insurance, which covers up to $1 million in damages. There’s a $1,000 deductible before benefits pay out.

Uber Pro perks have recently expanded to all of Uber’s markets across the U.S. Only top-rated drivers receive Pro perks like tuition and gas reimbursement, and the program is designed for Uber drivers primarily, not Uber Eats drivers.

If you drive for both Uber and Uber Eats, your food deliveries may apply to Uber Pro, but Uber-Eats-only drivers aren’t eligible.

Final Decision in DoorDash vs Uber Eats

Ding! Ding! It was an even match-up. Uber Eats and DoorDash were neck and neck throughout. No knockout punches. A good few jabs by DoorDash’s insurance coverage and grocery options and a couple of hooks by Uber’s overall ratings and ability to switch to ridesharing.

The decision goes to our judges. (That’s you.)

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, remote work and other unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Things Break. How to Make Sure Your Emergency Fund Can Cover Them

Your washing machine. Your car. Your front tooth.

If any of those broke right now, would you be able to get it fixed immediately? Or would you have to walk around with a gap in your smile for months until you could get the money together?

If you can’t afford to pay to fix it today, you’re not alone. Most people don’t have $400 saved in case of an emergency either. So before your car breaks down on the side of the road on your way to an interview, make sure you have a solid emergency fund of at least $500.

Don’t know how to get there? Having a budget (that you actually stick to) can help you get there. Here’s one budgeting strategy we recommend, and four other tips that can help you keep your expenses in line.

1. The 50/30/20 Budgeting Rule

The 50/30/20 rule is one of the simplest budgeting methods out there, which is why you’ve probably heard us talk about it before if you’re a regular TPH reader. There are no fancy spreadsheets or pricy apps to download (unless you want to), and it’s very straightforward.

Here’s how it shakes out: 50% of your monthly take home income goes to your essentials — your rent, your groceries, your minimum debt payments, and other necessities. 30% of your cash goes to the fun stuff, and 20% is dedicated to your financial goals. That could be paying more than the minimum on your debts or adding to your investments. And it definitely includes building up your emergency fund!

If you take a look at your budget and realized you don’t have enough leftover to contribute to your emergency fund, here are a few ways to help balance your budget:

2. Cut More Than $500 From One Of Your Must-Have Bills

You’re probably overpaying the bills you have to pay each month. But you can cut those expenses down, without sacrificing anything. Maybe even enough to cover that window your kid just smashed with a ball. Definitely enough to grow your emergency fund a meaningful amount.

So, when’s the last time you checked car insurance prices?

You should shop your options every six months or so — it could save you some serious money. Let’s be real, though. It’s probably not the first thing you think about when you wake up. But it doesn’t have to be.

A website called Insure.com makes it super easy to compare car insurance prices. All you have to do is enter your ZIP code and your age, and it’ll show you your options.

Using Insure.com, people have saved an average of $540 a year.

Yup. That could be $500 back in your pocket just for taking a few minutes to look at your options.

3. Earn Up to $225 in Easy, Extra Cash

If we told you you could get free money just for watching videos on your computer, you’d probably laugh. It’s too good to be true, right? But we’re serious. You can really add up to a few hundred bucks to your emergency savings with some mindless entertainment.

A website called InboxDollars will pay you to watch short video clips online. One minute you might watch someone bake brownies and the next you might get the latest updates on Kardashian drama.

All you have to do is choose which videos you want to watch and answer a few quick questions about them afterward. Brands pay InboxDollars to get these videos in front of viewers, and it passes a cut onto you.

InboxDollars won’t make you rich, but it’s possible to get up to $225 per month watching these videos. It’s already paid its users more than $56 million.

It takes about one minute to sign up, and you’ll immediately earn a $5 bonus to get you started.

4. Ask This Website to Pay Your Credit Card Bill This Month

Just by paying the minimum amount on your credit cards, you are extending the life of your debt exponentially — not to mention the hundreds (or thousands) of dollars you’re wasting on interest payments. You could be using that money to beef up your emergency savings, instead.

The truth is, your credit card company is happy to let you pay just the minimum every month. It’s getting rich by ripping you off with high interest rates — some up to nearly 30%. But a website called AmOne wants to help.

If you owe your credit card companies $50,000 or less, AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan you can use to pay off every single one of your balances.

The benefit? You’ll be left with one bill to pay each month. And because personal loans have lower interest rates (AmOne rates start at 3.49% APR), you’ll get out of debt that much faster. Plus: No credit card payment this month.

AmOne keeps your information confidential and secure, which is probably why after 20 years in business, it still has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to $50,000 online. You do need to give AmOne a real phone number in order to qualify, but don’t worry — they won’t spam you with phone calls.

5. Get a Side Gig And Make More Money

Let’s face it — if your monthly income is less than what your monthly expenses are (and you’ve run out of things to cut), you need more money.

Well, we all could use more money. And by earning a little bit extra each month, we could make sure we’re never taken by surprise when an ER visit tries to drain our savings.

Luckily, earning money has never been easier with the rise of the “Gig Economy”. Here are 31 simple ways to make money online. Which one could you do to pad your emergency savings?

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com