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Do you side hustle?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated monetarily nor was I provided with any free product in return for my thoughts and opinions in this blog entry. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

For someone who wants to side hustle, or is thinking of going on her own eventually, the internet is choke-full of ways and suggestions on what one can do or services one can offer off-hours.

According to this women’s magazine, there are 12 jobs that a woman can do from the comfort of her home. Listed are some very common ones such as virtual assistant, transcriptionist and survey takers. Also listed are hustling jobs that are rare in this parts of the world – search engine evaluator, telephone nurse and website tester. Perhaps that is common in the west but not here in Malaysia.

I for one have done my share of part-time jobs. I once did general transcription, took surveys (still do) and just last year, taught conversational English.

I don’t have the experience and knowledge to comment on some of the part-time jobs mentioned on the said site. I will however elaborate on the three part-time job that I did.

Transcriber or Transcription Service

I freelanced as a transcriber for an agency that was conducting focus group surveys on consumer products. This was in the early 2000s. My tasks involved transcribing pre-recorded focus group discussions onto text document. These recordings can be anywhere from 90 minutes to an hour and a half. My turnaround time is normally 24hours.

The task was a direct transcription, meaning I transcribe or in common speak, type audible discussions in the recording onto a document. There was no translation or research required on my part. What was important was accuracy in typing the discussion so that there will be less time spent correcting the spelling in the typed document and more time spent to review the audio to make sure nothing is left out. At least that was how I did my transcription.

In a month, I would get at least 3 audio files of between 60minutes to 90minutes to transcribe. Although the files are not long, what takes up the most time is the transcription itself. Mind you. I did not use any transcription tool to get the job done. At that time, it was purely audio play/pause method and typing what I hear.

How much did I make?

Payment depends on the word count of the transcribed audio. So my monthly ‘earnings’ varies. The least was about RM90.00 (or about USD21.00) while the most I made in a month was nearly RM300.00 (USD70.00)

Would I do it again?

I would. My kids are older now and they don’t need as much attention as when I was still doing the work. Also, back then, I was on the good old dial-up internet line compared to the fibre-optic internet service I am subscribed to now. With this better internet service, better software and equipment, I could probably do a much quicker transcription job with better turnaround time.

Is it for everyone?

No. Transcription needs one to be proficient in the language used. In my case, it was English. I would be listening to the audio and could accurately guess what the respond would be because of my knowledge of the language. This helps in getting my typed document done rather quickly with more time for me to review and correct or add whatever I left out. Transcription needs patience. Focus group are a casual chat among several people so there are times when one person in the group talks more than the others. Or the opinion given is the same as the others albeit said in a different manner. For an introvert like me, this can be rather annoying but I have to literally sit it out. Transcription also needs one to understand other dialects or the local lingo. As a transcriber, sometimes you would come across words said that is the local lingo of the community. Since it is an official document, the transcriber need to translate that particular word into a legible, commonly understood word.

Paid Surveys

This is no doubt the easiest side hustle one can participate in. There are many out there, such as and However, it also depends on what you are looking for. Monetary returns or other forms of returns? The one I signed up for compensate survey takers by giving vouchers once a certain point is accumulated.

Signing up as a survey taker is relatively easy. Once that is out of the way, I am invited to participate in a survey every few days. Of course, depending on my time, there are some surveys that I don’t take up. And there are some surveys that I do take, but would later be deemed not suited for my profile (they have a set of questions to determine this) so I might just be given minimal point instead, for participating.

Since I was paid through vouchers, I find that the reward is easily accumulated compared to monetary compensation. I managed to redeemed several vouchers worth between RM50.00 to RM200.00 doing the surveys. Also, I find that getting compensated in vouchers is much more attractive than getting paid because it seems to me that when compensated monetarily, the points are very little or worth just USD3.00 per survey, at most. This in comparison to surveys that offers points that are at least 50points and are redeemable once 250points are accumulated.

How much did I make?

I once redeemed a voucher worth RM250.00 (USD58.00). I would have accumulated more points if not for the survey site stopping their business.

Would I do it again?

I would. Especially for compensation using vouchers from reputable vendors.

Is it for everyone?

Yes. Especially if you have the time and patience. Patience is needed because sometimes survey questions are repetitive. I am sure this is a means for them to judge whether the survey taker is really doing the survey with thought or just skimming through the questionnaire. But yeah, patience and attention is required when doing surveys.

English Tutoring

My venture into English tutoring was actually by accident but I will skip that ‘accident’ part. I was tutoring conversational English. But unlike academic tutoring, the work required for conversational English tutoring was mostly done post-session.

How I normally conduct a session is to have a ‘chat’ with the student. I encourage my student to talk and would answer questions only if I am asked. The idea is to encourage student to speak uninterrupted. If there are grammar mistakes or pronunciation correction needed, I would write it down rather than correcting the student. This observation will be presented and discussed with the student at the end of the session or before the start of the next session. I also use audio recordings for the session but for this particular student, recordings were not used upon request. After the session, I will review the days’ ‘lessons’, write down in writing the grammar and pronunciation mistakes and prepare a post-session evaluation to be presented to the student at the next session.

How much did I make?

I was paid RM600.00 (USD70.00) a month for three 2-hour sessions a week for a one-to-one tutoring.

Would I do it again?

Yes. Not only because of the good payment received (I consider myself lucky in this instance) but also for the opportunity to meet and chat with another. In this case, a person of another culture and nationality with whom I could also learn from.

Is it for everyone?

No. Like I said, I was lucky to be presented with the opportunity to tutor. And considering that I do not have any academic credentials, I was extremely lucky to be given the trust to conduct the tutoring. In fact, I almost did not get to do the tutoring for lack of credentials. But the student was keen to learn and because it was more conversational than academic, I was given the opportunity. And I proved that I am as capable as any academically credited person.

So is side hustling for everyone?

It all depends on the person. To me, the easiest is the surveys while the most challenging is tutoring. As in any business, your client expects results. In all three jobs, I believed I gave them my best.

Would I side hustle again?

I would, if the opportunity arises. More than just the monetary returns, I now know that the knowledge acquired and information gained is an added bonus. My best experience in side hustling was the tutoring as I get to learn my (foreign) client’s language and culture.

What about you? If you can make something out of nothing, would you do it?



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