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5 Pandemic-Friendly Side Gigs to Boost Your Income in 2021

By Maurie Backman - Dec 23, 2020 at 10:00AM

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Want to increase your earnings in the new year? These side hustles can be lucrative without compromising your safety.

Man walking six dogs down the street.

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There are plenty of reasons to get a side hustle in the coming year. Maybe you're unhappy with your savings account balance and want to boost it. Maybe you want to sock away funds for a huge vacation to take once the pandemic is over. Or maybe you owe money on your credit cards and want that debt paid off. 

Regardless of your motivation, doing work on the side may be more challenging in 2021 due to the ongoing health crisis. Normally, picking up weekend shifts at a restaurant or grocery store would be no big deal. But today, that means exposing yourself to throngs of people and potentially increasing your risk of contracting COVID-19. As such, if you're going to get a side hustle next year, you're better off finding one you can do safely. And these options fit that bill. 

1. Virtual academic tutor

Millions of students haven't been able to learn in a classroom since March of 2020, and many, sadly, are falling behind. Right now, there's a huge demand for academic assistance, so if you have the skills and patience, signing up to become a virtual tutor could put serious cash in your pocket. While you could sign on with an online tutoring service (like, you can also try marketing your services independently -- the choice is yours. 

2. Personal trainer

Getting certified as a personal trainer takes work -- you'll need to complete an online course and take an exam. But if you're willing to put in the effort, you may find that the side hustle bucks start rolling in quickly. The great thing about being a personal trainer is that you have the option to work with clients outdoors. You can meet at parks or even in clients' driveways. Or, if you feel it's safe to do so, you can meet clients in their homes staying masked and give guidance from across the room, with windows open for ventilation. A lot of people have let their health fall by the wayside during the pandemic, and many have put on weight being cooped up at home, so you may have a lot of success going the personal training route.

3. Dog walker

There are plenty of people who can't do their jobs from home during the pandemic and need assistance with their animals while they're away from the house. If you're a dog person, signing up to walk people's pups could put cash in your pocket, all the while allowing you to enjoy a contact-free experience. Usually, you'll get a key to each client's home to retrieve a dog, and you'll return the pet without so much as having to look its owner in the face.

4. House sitter

Some people are abandoning their homes and escaping to warmer climates or more remote areas to ride out the pandemic. But that doesn't mean they can leave their homes for months on end without repercussion. It's these same people who may need a house sitter -- someone to check in on their properties from time to time -- so that's a gig worth looking at, and sites like can help you find openings.

5. Snow shoveler or lawn mower

Winter is coming, and in much of the county, that means homeowners in colder climates will be grappling with snow. If you're strong and don't mind physical labor, snow removal could be a very lucrative gig for you. And since it all happens outdoors, there shouldn't be danger from a coronavirus perspective (you can have clients pay you electronically to avoid contact). Of course, winter won't last forever, but from there, you can pivot to lawn-mowing and landscape services. 

While finding a side hustle may be a bit trickier in 2021 -- or at least during the early part of the year, when the bulk of the population has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 -- it doesn't mean there's not plenty of opportunity out there. Look into these options if your earnings could use a boost, because they could pay off in a very meaningful way.

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