Can I Make More Money Without a Traditional Job?

Last Updated on May 18, 2021

Last updated: May 3, 2018.

The job market up here in Northern Ontario sucks. Big time.

I knew this when it took me over 9 months to find a new job after deciding it was time to quit my dead-end theatre job back in 2013. And then again when I was laid off (and then not rehired) at the college, and reluctantly accepted a survival job 7 months later. Why did I expect it to be any easier my third time around?

Or I guess the better question would be why have I not been focusing my efforts elsewhere?

I don’t mean moving to another city – at least not yet. We have talked about possibly moving in the future, but it would have to be the right thing for both of us, which it isn’t at the moment.

What I do mean is why am I wasting so much time and effort trying to get a traditional “9 to 5” job when there are almost no opportunities for me here, and when so many millennials are running away from that?

Over the last few years since I joined this little PF/lifestyle blogging community, I’ve watched so many of my online friends and acquaintances quit their day jobs to work for themselves instead. And I can’t think of a single one that hasn’t found success.

So why am I still hanging on to the notion that I need to work for someone else in order to be happy, or be successful, or have a career? Why can’t I too make more money without a traditional job?

How Much is “More”?

Right now, for me making more money really means making any money! Because I’m unemployed and currently make almost nothing…

Even when I was (under)employed at the daycare, I was lucky to net $1000 a month. So by either standard, the bar for what “more” means to me is set pretty low.

My goal is to do even better.

The first step, however, means I need to at least get back to where I left off. So, rather than set myself up for failure, my starting goal is to earn $1000 a month again. It’s a nice, round number that’s small but realistic, and enough to alleviate some of the financial stress.

Although, I can’t forget about taxes! While some non-traditional jobs will withhold the proper taxes, issue pay-stubs, and follow the CRA or IRS guidelines, most non-traditional jobs or sources of income won’t. Therefore, I’m likely going to have to tax myself to the tune of 30%, otherwise, I might be in big trouble.

Taking taxes into consideration, I’d actually need to gross $1300 a month in order to net $1000. That works out to ~$45 a day (or ~$65 if I took weekends off). Totally doable! I think…?

Shifting My Focus

Somehow, despite putting very little effort into it, I’ve made some money from this blog, freelance writing, and related online activities (taking surveys, affiliate income, etc.). But by that I mean I’ve made about $250 so far this year – which is what I need to start making each week, not every 7 months.

But what if I actually give this thing a real shot?

If I can make $250 doing almost nothing, surely I can make more if I actually try!

I’d much rather commit to spending 40 hours a week becoming self-employed, than obsessively (and rather pointlessly) checking the job boards 6 times a day. I would still keep an eye out for those rare opportunities of course, but I would no longer be wasting my time and effort applying for low-paying jobs that I don’t even want. (And subsequently feeling even more pathetic when I don’t even get a chance to interview for them.)

I know that becoming self-employed will have its challenges, but I’m already exploring a variety of options (including freelance writing, virtual assisting, babysitting, etc.) and have a few things in the works.

It’s undeniable that what I’m doing now is not working. I can’t sit around and wait for a job to magically appear, because it’s already been well over a year and I’m really starting to doubt it will ever come.

I can’t afford to wait anymore.

YOUR TURN: Do you still have a traditional “9 to 5” type of job?

If you’re making money outside of your traditional job, what would it take for you to take the plunge into full-time self-employment instead?

Amanda Kay

Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.

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32 thoughts on “Can I Make More Money Without a Traditional Job?”

    • I too doubt that I’ll make even a minimum wage equivalent salary online, which is why I’m putting a good amount of effort into things like babysitting as well. Something a little more “traditional” but not too traditional. Haha. I’m SUPER jealous of those that have made it work!

  1. I don’t have a 9-5 job and I’m able to work from home 🙂 The job market here in New Brunswick is pretty bleak too! I do a few different things, but they make me happy so none of it feels like work. I make money through my blog and I am a Shaklee distributor. People can be very successful in Network Marketing so if you find a company with products that you really like, it doesn’t seem like “work”. Good luck!

    • I’ve often wondered about the Network Marketing stuff, but I really don’t think I have the personality to be successful, or to enjoy it. But I know a few people that have quit their day jobs because they have made it work.
      Also, my fiance has recently gotten into the NerdBlock stuff and he’s loving it 🙂

  2. My sister right now is having an impossible time trying to find a job. I’ve heard that our new town in Colorado is hard, but in her field it’s usually much easier. She has since decided to take up self-employment a little more, which makes me happy!

  3. I’m going through the same thought process myself right now, so I’m definitely with you! I’ve always had a traditional 9-5 and somehow feel safer doing that, but like you, I feel like attempting to take the plunge into self employment would be a better use of my time than checking job boards all day. I think allocating a (small) portion of your day to still doing that, while spending the bulk of your time seeking out freelancing opportunities would get you the most optimal results. Good luck!

    • You are absolutely right, Pira! The traditional job search isn’t getting me anywhere, but the security of it is still too tempting for me to give up on it entirely. I think this is a better balance. I hope this process works for us both 🙂

  4. Job opportunities are minimal everywhere it seems! It is so important to find a way to supplement income. Sometimes taking a risk can be the most rewarding experience!! I have been apart of a company that allows me to work from home and make money – which I couldn’t be more thankful for!

    • I’d love to find a work-from-home job opposed to trying to start off self-employed. I think it’d be a good compromise between the two. But those are also hard to come by.

    • Thanks Janine! I haven’t given up entirely on finding a “regular job”… I just realized that I need to find a better balance between the endless applying and waiting, with actually making something happen.

  5. I definitely think you should go self employed! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I know the troubles you’ve had with jobs in the past. I took the plunge to self employed in January and it’s the best thing I ever did. I’m not rich by any means but I’m doing work that I actually like doing and I more than cover my bills. Plus I get to work from home, no commuting. Try Upwork (formerly oDesk) for freelancing jobs, I make almost half my income every month from that site alone. I wrote an article about it on my site:

  6. This is what I’ve been thinking about a lot lately too. It’s just not something I’m very knowledgeable about actually doing. I’ve been doing my blog and youtube channel for a couple of years, as you know and it’s really difficult. When I hear people are making thousands of dollars every month doing the same things I’m doing – sometimes I wonder what I’m doing wrong, or if I can ever make this work for me. Or, maybe it’s just because the “beauty community” is so heavily saturated.

    I’m at a huge crossroads right now, because you know I HATE my current job – and one of the ‘full time’ (and by full time, I mean 33 hours a week) is going down to part time and her position is becoming available and part of me is hoping they’ll give it to me, but it will take away a lot of the time that I have to work on things just because of the difference in schedules (I already work that many hours or more now). Along with that, one of the managers where I work is planning on retiring at the end of March, and I do NOT want to be offered that position.

    I hope that you can figure this out, for your own sake! I think it’s a great idea for you to go this route – you’ve always been interested in blogging and working online!

    • Oh Debbie, I don’t really know what I’m doing either… I think there are probably a thousand people like us for every one successful blogger. It’d be great for me if I could find a work-from-home job, even if it’s something simple like data entry. I just need something that’s steady and this city has NOTHING!

      Have you tried applying for other jobs like, admin assist, data entry, etc. Something that at least gets you in an office or with a better schedule?

  7. I’m weird. Short of somehow making $10k a month online, I won’t ever quit my day job. But that’s because I like my boss, if not my actual work, and I don’t like uncertainty. I like having a paycheck after years of being on disability. And also my husband is actually still on disability. So it’s important to have steady income for that.

    If you do more freelance writing, you can probably hit your goal pretty well. Unfortunately, from what I hear, most starting freelance positions are $35-50 a pop. Which means you’d have to write 1-2 a day to hit your quota. It’s hard to generate that much and keep quality.

    So yeah, look into affiliates, AdSense (assuming that’s offered for Canadian blogs?) and ads. I know there are sites like Cooperatize that do sponsored post stuff. While I’m not a big fan of sponsored posts — which is my nice way of saying please please please don’t go overboard — it at least means you’d be occasionally making money for writing your own blog.

    Good luck!

    • Oh wow! I had no idea you made that much online – what’s your secret??? 😉 I already have AdSense, but I need to look into making them more effective. I have started accepting sponsored posts, but so far have only had 2. I definitely want to keep those to a minimum.

      If you like your job, I don’t blame you for keeping your job. Not maybe people these days can say that!

  8. I’m so excited for you to try self-employment! Honestly, given the market where you live, I bet you’ll be way more successful doing that than finding a job. And working for yourself is more fun (although more stressful) than being on someone else’s beck and call, right?

    I’d love to work for myself – right now I make about 1/3 freelancing of what I make at my 9-to-5, but my job is just… *shrug* I know I should be responsible and stick it out for the next 7 years (until I’m 35 and have all my debts paid off), but the allure of working for myself is strong. It helps my fiance is on board with me leaving one day. We will see! I can’t fail, so the fear of possibly failing is what holds me back. But if your back is against the wall, why not?!

    • Exactly! I haven’t “given up” on finding a 9-5 job, because obviously I’ll need to make decent money to pay off my debt and to one day get the things I want in life, but why not try to make that happen on my own terms while continuing the traditional job hunt?

  9. Maybe investing in something like Cat’s course would help? (And no, im not promoting it only because i have aff link on my site). She’s an amazing resource and might help a lot long term!?

  10. Working for yourself and job hunting aren’t mutually exclusive and building up to $1000 a month is going to take time. Go for it, yes, but don’t get discouraged and have a backup plan.

  11. I work freelance and love it! The downside was the beginning, when my income could only qualify as a “sideline”. But with time, I have created a full income for myself, I work from home, I’m the boss, and even if it requires discipline and organization, I fully enjoy the freedom. If you have the passion and the personality, go for it. 🙂

  12. I am 100% sure that you will at least be able to make $1000 a month freelancing. I think the trick is to set up systems so that you don’t go overboard or get lazy (ahem…I may have experienced both recently). As long as you’re consistent and focused you will find work. And, I’m so sorry that this has been such a pain in the butt for so long. Sending good vibes.

  13. I got lucky. I learned the skills required to do my job well (and I like it) and I was able to freelance in an industry that lets me freelance as well..

    It’s half luck, half skill. Crapshoot really. I never would have known to quit my 9-5 and pick up freelancing (9-5) by cutting out the middleman had I not been in this industry

    I never would have joined this industry had they not paid the most out of school and I had $60K in debt

    Never would have had $60K in debt if I didn’t go to business school to get my degree

    Never would have gotten into business school if I decided being a lawyer did not sound like my kind of fun…

    All mostly luck.

  14. I currently work a 9to5 job that I really do love. It is a great learning experience for me, and still allows me some flexibility in my personal life. However, it is my future goal to start my own company. In fact – that’s my only goal for the future right now. But, it would take a good amount of savings, and a great business plan to leave where I’m currently at!

    It sounds like you are on the right path to making this dream a reality. It is obviously hard work to create what so many people in this blogging community have done, but it’s easy to stay motivated when you truly love what you’re doing! Good luck, and keep us posted!

  15. I think you can do it! Imagine how much new stuff you will learn when you’re able to apply yourself to it full time. You have a great blog, there’s no reason you can’t make it work!


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