4 ways to turn your skills into cash this summer


By Gerri Detweiler,

Summer isn’t just about long, lazy days. For those with an entrepreneurial bent, it’s an opportunity to put cash in their pockets while testing the viability of a business that could become a full-time gig. If that sounds appealing to you, here are four ways to use your interests and talents to start a business for the summer.

4 ways to turn your skills into cash this summer

Follow the crowds

Are you crafty? Do you have a killer recipe for something edible everyone keeps telling you to sell? Follow the crowds to festivals, fairs or concerts.

Jamison and Amy Noorlander did just that. A creative couple who met while working on a children’s book, they designed T-shirts, posters and other items, and sold them at a variety of venues. Jamison says it’s a great way to test the waters of entrepreneurship, see how the market reacts to what you have to offer, and develop a business plan.

“It’s a fun summer activity that will introduce you to some of the strategies for a brick and mortar business,” he says. You will get to talk to prospective customers, field questions and test pricing. “You get a sense instantly of what’s going to sell and what doesn’t,” he notes.

Sit something

Petsitting, housesitting, or babysitting can be lucrative during the busy summer season as families head out on vacation. Tourists may need sitters, as do families who need to care for someone back home while they travel. My family once earned $700 by watching two well-mannered dogs for a month while their owner was away. We made enough to cover the airfare for our own summer vacation.

If you want to go this route, you can either subcontract with an agency (as we did), or go out on your own and find clients through local networking, or through websites designed to match clients with providers, such as:

Just make sure you check out local ordinances and licensing requirements first, and get appropriate insurance. Our dog-sitting days came to a halt when a local government official appeared on our doorstep and informed us that in our county, you can only board dogs on a property of five acres or larger.

Take care of tourists

If tourists flock to the part of the country where you live, renting out part or all of your home on Airbnb or VRBO can be an easy way to earn extra money. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Summer vacationers or even “staycationers” are often looking for unique experiences and want to tap into the local flavor of a community, says Daniel Yaffe, co-founder and COO of, a service that provides back-end tools for these businesses, including booking, scheduling and credit and debit card payments.

He quickly rattles off a list of the services offered by providers who use Anyguide: bartenders who take people to distilleries and breweries; wine tour guides; someone who bought a sailboat and wants to take people sailing; hiking guides; those who offer stand-up paddleboarding, surfing, or archery lessons.

“It’s a fantastic way to make some extra cash, and a great way to turn your passion into a business,” he says. As a bonus, start-up costs are often low.

Teach or tutor

While some students may take a break from studying for during the summer, not all do. Some parents hire tutors to keep their kids from falling behind, or to get a jump-start, in subjects where they may be having trouble. Other students will hire tutors to help them prep for college tests, such as the SAT or ACT.

But it’s not just just traditional students who will hit the books in the summer. Dean Ferraro is an enrolled agent, which means he is licensed to represent taxpayers before the IRS. He says it also means he can teach tax law, which he does, adding it’s “a great way to even out cash flow.”

Ferraro teaches at local volunteer tax preparation sites, and to groups of small business owners. “The best part about teaching is that it forces me to ‘stay in the game’ (and) my tax knowledge stays current,” he says. “Talk about a great way to make money and stay highly-trained!”

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