I need to make some money. Fast.
October 5, 2011 8:35 AM   Subscribe

I'm based in Northern Europe and really have to make some money soon or else I'll have to go on public assistance.

If the worst comes to the worst, I'm elegible to receive a living 'wage' from the government, so I'm not interested in doing anything dodgy or scammy, and I'm not interested in sex work. However, I'd really like to avoid having to apply for government assistance in the form of unemployment payments. (It's not a pride thing; I see nothing wrong with claiming unemployment, I'd just prefer not to for a number of reasons which I'll skip here as they are not relevant to the question at hand.)

I don't really have anything much to sell. I've applied to temp agencies but nothing is doing. I have my own business doing writing, translation and editing work, but business has been quiet lately and I'm not sure exactly how to target new clients any more. I'm starting to feel a bit panicky and can't figure out the best plan of attack. I'm at the stage where I would even work for Leapforce or Mechanical Turk (!) but they either don't pay cash to or employ people outside the US.

This is a bit of a mess, but I would appreciate any tips or advice you could give to someone who has got the twin problems of needing to boost his business and also struggling to find work of any sort, outside of the US.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not sure where you live but if you have been running your own business and are now struggling for clients then perhaps you could look at some form of additional training? You could look at what is available to you locally by talking to your public employment people even if you are not planning to sign on. One problem with this may be that some retraining may be linked to getting public assistance so you may rule yourself out by not signing on but better to know the options and make an informed decision from the best possible set of options.
posted by biffa at 8:47 AM on October 5, 2011

I apologise if these are stupid ideas - I'm not in your field, so they might well be.

I have a couple of suggestions for earning a bit of money. They're probably on a par with Mechanical Turk, financially speaking, and you've probably already thought of them anyway, but just in case...

Translation, you say. Are you conversationally fluent in the non-English language(s) involved? A few years ago, I used to pay £20 or so for an hour's Japanese conversation practice each week, just for fun. As an expat in the Netherlands, if I were planning to settle here, I'd eventually be interested in perfecting my Dutch (or acquiring more confidence, at least) via a similar arrangement. To find a tutor, I would look on the public noticeboards at the supermarkets and the noticeboard in the bookshop; if I had access to the university, I'd look on the noticeboards there too. I'd also ask around in the expat forums online, including the local expat group on Facebook.

If you're in a university town, there might also be money to be had helping students with their written English, whether you're in an English-speaking country or not. Here in NL, even undergraduates in some courses are expected to submit some work in English (and as a token native speaker, I've been dragooned into helping with that from time to time); in the UK, there must be foreign students who need help. Whether this is actually something people are willing and able to pay for, though, I don't know.

One other observation. There are always websites and open-source software projects looking for translators. (For that matter, if you happen to read Japanese, the manga scanlators would love your help.) I know that's of no use financially, but depending on the kind of work you want for your business, it might be a useful way of getting your name out there, making new contacts etc.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:02 AM on October 5, 2011

1. Make a list of the clients that are most successful for you.
2. Call them and ask if they know any businesses that could use your services.
3. Use the referrals to gain appointments to find new business.
4. If that doesn't stir up work, make a list of business that are similar to your clients, and thus probably have similar needs.
5. Call them with the aim of gaining a meeting to introduce yourself.
6. Also attend business networking events or whatever the Northern European equivalent is.

You need to find companies that are likely to need what you do. Start with your clients, their referrals will help immensely. Then expand to companies that should need your services, because of the business they are in, or whatever.

Keep going until you are as busy as you want to be, then make sure you set aside some time every week for business development work, so you don't get into this situation again.
posted by COD at 10:42 AM on October 5, 2011

Check out oDesk and similar sites to get small international gigs.
posted by brainwane at 11:55 AM on October 5, 2011

Can you give any more specifics about your location through a mod please? I understand that you are in a bit of a "omigod what should I do" place, but your post is really vague. You are getting good advice here on online work, but let me look at the more hands-on aspect.

If you are at the point of "I don't want welfare, but I am not interested in sex work", then you shouldn't be talking about mechanical turk, etc. That's pocket money. You need a living wage sounds like?

Do you have language skills of the country you are working in? Is there a reason you couldn't do customer service by phone, sit in the booth at the subway or clean offices, boats or peoples homes? I work with unemployment issues in (one part of) Northern Europe, please memail me if you want to brainstorm a little.
posted by Iteki at 12:10 PM on October 5, 2011

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