Breaking the 9-to-5 job mould and creating your own according to your passion and needs is not a dream anymore, thanks to online platforms. You may be an amateur cook or a photographer without the wherewithal to open a restaurant or studio of your own, or a professional degree holder who is unable to keep up with a full-time job, online platforms have plenty of opportunities. And the best part: you can monetise your talent.

Anita Meghnani, 39, is one such example. An engineering graduate with an industry experience of more than 10 years, it became difficult for her to juggle work and home after she became a mother. “My confidence went sharply down after I quit my job. For a mother, her children are everything but as a person, it felt like I was wasting all my education and experience. Once I started teaching through Vedantu, an online tutoring platform, I regained the confidence because I was able to learn, earn and develop as an individual," said Meghnani. A friend told her about Vedantu about three years ago and there has been no turning back ever since.

If you have the necessary skill-set, it is a good idea. But to know how legitimate the online platform is, carry out due diligence of your own- Nisreen Mamaji, certified financial planner and founder, MoneyWorks Financial Advisors

High internet penetration has made it possible for a lot of people to convert their passion into well-paying jobs, or to supplement their income.

“I would encourage everybody to have a parallel source of income. Even if you’re a home maker, it’s sensible to have a source of income because it gives you financial independence," said Nisreen Mamaji, certified financial planner and founder, MoneyWorks Financial Advisors. “If you have the necessary skill-set and a good internet connection, it is a good idea to take up such opportunities. But to know how legitimate the online platform is, you have to carry out due diligence of your own."

Tutoring students

For people who are qualified and hold professional degrees, not being able to work and earn could get daunting. Online tutoring platforms like Vedantu, which connect teachers and students from all over the world, have opened doors for individuals who have a passion for teaching to make a few extra bucks. “There is a huge struggle to find good teachers. So the idea behind starting Vedantu was to have a platform which is accessible for qualified individuals to become teachers," said Vamsi Krishna, chief executive officer and co-founder, Vedantu. Similar platforms include TutorHub.com, Tutorvista.com and Smarthinking.

“Teacher partners" with Vedantu earn on average 20,000 a month and teach students from class 6 to 12. The salary depends on how many hours you teach, which class and syllabus you tutor and whether you’re comfortable teaching a group or an individual student.

Our IGCSE teachers earn about ₹800 an hour and teachers comfortable with teaching to groups earn up to ₹1,500 an hour- Vamsi Krishna, CEO and co-founder of Vedantu, an online tutoring platform

But you can’t choose the class to teach on your own. For instance, Vedantu has a 7-step online screening process followed by two weeks of training after which selected candidates become teacher partners who are evaluated regularly.

If you are qualified to teach the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), you are likely to earn more than what ICSE and CBSE syllabus teachers do. “Our IGCSE teachers earn about 800 an hour. Teachers comfortable with teaching groups earn up to 1,500 an hour," added Krishna. “More the number of hours I invest, the more I earn but again it depends on the inflow of classes as well. I am idle during vacations and very busy during exams. I make 30,000-40,000 a month," said Meghnani, who teaches mathematics to students of classes 6 to 10. Teachers training students for engineering and medical competitive exams earn up to 2, 00,000 a month, said Krishna. You can start off with teaching lower classes and then graduate to higher classes once you have got a hang of the process.

A market for home chefs

Platforms such as FoodCloud and InnerChef are digital marketplaces which connect customers with verified home chefs. Home makers who are restricted to their homes due to various commitments can utilise such platforms to monetise their unique recipes. “Once the chefs are live on the website and app, our team carries out customised promotional campaigns for them on social media. When the chef receives an order, she prepares it in her own home and we deliver it," said Vedant Kanoi, chief executive officer and co-founder, FoodCloud. “Till this stage, the chef pays nothing. Once the payment is collected by us from the customer, we deduct a commission and release the payments to the chef."

Deepika Vij, 47, has been working with FoodCloud for more than a year and half. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint
Deepika Vij, 47, has been working with FoodCloud for more than a year and half. Photo: Priyanka Parashar/Mint

Deepika Vij, 47, has been working with FoodCloud for more than a year and half. She offers dehydrated fruits topped with Indian spices and desserts such as cheesecakes and chocolate mousse. “I have a page on Instagram where I run a separate business of my own. FoodCloud is yet another platform through which I sell my products," said Vij. “My fastest selling product is fox nuts (makhanas) because I add different flavours to them which are not easily available," Vij said.

FoodCloud has helped her get more customers and learn better marketing techniques. The company serves 500-1,000 customers each day and chefs earn on average 30,000 every month with a few earning more than 1 lakh. Kanoi said two types of people make for the company’s chef community. “The first is the homemaker who is typically a mom who is looking for ways to use her time better. The second is the young and ambitious women who are often trained from illustrious culinary schools but aren’t ready to make long-term commitments to their own restaurant or a full-time job. The company currently works with home chefs in Delhi, Gurgaon and Kolkata.

The photographer in you

If you think you make good images and have a hard disk full of pictures, there’s a way you can make a few bucks off them. Getty Images, iStock, Alamy and Bigstock are some online stock photography websites which allow people to upload images and earn money each time someone downloads them. The earnings also depend on the size of the downloaded image; contributors usually make 30-45% of the amount received after each download.

“I have been a contributor with iStock for about two years now. Once you register and upload a few sample images, the iStock team reviews them and, on approval, asks you to submit an ID proof. After that, you start making money and also earn royalty for images that are sold via iStock," said Shreenath Puranik, a part-time iStock contributor. He makes about $150 every month. If the website you’re contributing to does not have an exclusivity clause, you can upload the pictures on multiple websites.

Monetising designer wear

Sometimes simply being innovative can also work for you in terms of money.

If you’re a fashion blogger or a hoarder of designer wear, companies like Flyrobe and Stage3, online fashion rental platforms, can give you a lucrative opportunity by renting your Sabyasachi and Anamika Khanna pieces. Trishala Sikka, 26, a fashion blogger by profession, rented her designer wear closet through Stage3 about a year ago. “We bought a lot of ethnic wear for my sister’s wedding and we knew we wouldn’t wear them often. They are worth about 1 lakh each," said Sikka. “If you are buying a designer lehenga, you are making an investment so why not get some return on that." Sikka had collaborated with Stage3 in the past and was happy with how the company had taken care of her garments.

“I believe that certain outfits are expensive and trendy, but you can’t wear them again and again," said Sabena Puri, co-founder and CEO, Stage3. “We have outreach programmes where we ask women to send us reference images of the designer garments they own. We then curate and bring the selected pieces on board."

Once you hand over the garment to Stage3, the company takes care of its maintenance, alteration and the renting process. You are paid 50% of the price at which your garment is rented out and the other 50% goes into Stage3’s kitty. “We’ve found that a garment can make about 15 to 20 turns which means the garment you give me will rent out 15 times at least," said Puri. “It’s a very easy way for young people to monetise their closet."

Sikka said this is a great supplementary source of income because it’s a stress-free process. She makes up to 70,000 a month for the 20 garments she has given to Stage3. “If I feel guilty for spending a lot on clothes, deep down I know that after a while I can give it on rent and get some money back," said Sikka.

These are only few of the many options which the internet offers. While it is important to earn and become financially independent, it is also necessary to understand the terms and conditions and authenticity of a company before collaborating or working for it.

Sabari Saran contributed to this story.

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