It’s no secret that we’ve been living in a gig economy for a while now. There are legitimate criticisms to be made of the gig economy and how it plays into capitalism, but for those of us who like to have our fingers in many different pots at once, it can have an upside. Personally, I love to have lots of different projects going on so I can switch at any whim and maintain a high level of engagement and interest in my work. Still, I tend to stick to bookish endeavors. The book world is one of the things I know best, so I gravitate toward bookish side hustles. If you’re looking for a bookish gig yourself, whether just to fill some hours in the day or to supplement your income, this list will help you get started.
Bookish Side Hustles to Earn a Little Extra Cash
Being a book reviewer can sometimes mean cash on top of free advanced readers’ copies. If you have the credentials, getting started typically isn’t too difficult. Some journals require or highly encourage particular experience. For example, Library Journal (which doesn’t pay) usually prefers library staff apply, because their content is intended for libraries. The application process varies by journal, and some may be one-off review opportunities while others may have a regular schedule for you. Check out this list of paying review opportunities.
Writer or Content Contributor
If you ever wondered what the situation is like here at Book Riot, you can be assured that content contributors are paid for our work. There are plenty of sites similar to Book Riot who will pay you for your brilliant thoughts and words, but if you want to join us, you can find more information here. As always, different platforms have different approaches, so it can be useful to shop around and find the right fit for your schedule and creative desires.
Bookish Etsy Shop Owner
Love the book life but love crafting, too? Etsy might be a good match! Plenty of folks have set up bookish Etsy shops, allowing them to fill their creative crafty needs as well as their love of the written word. The beauty of Etsy is you can be as invested or not as you like and have full control over your hours. You’re your own boss for these kinds of bookish side hustles! I’ve sold bookish embroidery on Etsy as well as TBR star jars, because I love compiling lists of books around a theme. But you might try bookmark design, bookish-inspired candles, clothing, stickers, or any other kind of bookish-inspired goods. In some ways, this is the king of the bookish side hustles because of all the flexibility and self-direction it affords.
That freelance audiobook narration is even a thing may surprise you, but it is indeed an option. Sites like ACX have a process for folks to log on, record themselves reading a book, and get paid for it. Many platforms will walk you through the process, so if it’s something totally new to you, don’t be intimidated.
If you can hack it, a paid newsletter may be something you can offer. In order to require a paid subscription relationship, you’ll need to be sure that your content is worth paying for. It’s less common for individuals to produce a paid newsletter, but you might get inspired by checking out Omni from Quill & Quire.
Literacy or Literature Tutor
Whether you work with a company or go out solo, tutoring is a great way to help bring a love of books to others on a part-time basis. Start with the basics of reading as a literacy tutor for any age or consider getting into the finer details of literature for more advanced students. Because most tutoring gigs would work around school hours, you’ll likely be able to stack it somewhat easily on top of a 9-to-5 if that’s what you prefer.
It seems like retail always needs extra help on weekends and evenings and while it’s true that indie bookstores suffered just like many other small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, their existence is still very much appreciated among book lovers. Booksellers are some skilled folks, so it may take some experience to rank among the best, but the work is important. Working with an indie bookstore is a great way to support your immediate community, though you might also consider a part-time job at a big box store like Barnes & Noble.
Part-Time Library Staff
There are lots of library jobs to be had that don’t require an ML(I)S. Though it can be for those of us who have careers in libraries, there are also a lot of part-time opportunities in libraries. You’re most likely to find these kinds of jobs at public libraries, but you may also have luck at other types as well. Whatever your preference, part-time jobs at libraries can be of the peaceful, methodical variety or the exciting, chaotic kind. Plus, like with a job at a local indie bookstore, your work at a public library will help embed you in the community more deeply, and there are few things more rewarding than that.
This is one of the more difficult bookish side hustles to crack. With a decent following on a social media platform (or, in some cases, a successful blog), some content creators have been able to make some cash. Payment may be offered for things like promoting a product, but beware of scams and be sure to vet each offer as they come in. If you don’t already have a significant amount of followers, don’t worry yet. As new platforms come onto the scene, it’s not impossible for you to gain a hefty amount of followers relatively quickly even without experience. Find something that’s special and unique about what you create and start building your presence and making connections with others on your app of choice.
Whether you decide you want to monetize your love of books is a choice entirely up to you. My advice? Don’t do it if it’s not fun anymore and if you can stand to lose the extra income. After all, why work at something you don’t love when you can use that time to read?