What jobs can I get with my disability and level of education?
April 27, 2016 10:01 AM   Subscribe

How can I make money with a disability?

I have a chronic disability that has made staying in school and keeping a job nearly impossible. I am finally a junior at university at 26 years old, having returned to school after a 2 year long hiatus, this past fall. First semester, I worked hard and did well. This spring semester I had to withdraw from all of my classes because things got so bad. I am being financially supported by family but I need to be able to support myself financially if I can't manage going to school right now. I will eventually get my degree, at least I hope, but right now the priority is supporting myself and trying to get better.

I make jewelry, maybe I could I really try and get an Etsy shop going. I've considered some types of sex work. What else can I do that is flexible with my good and bad days?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It might be helpful if you told us about your interests, any paid or unpaid experience, life experiences you found meaningful or major.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:03 AM on April 27, 2016

I feel like there really isn't enough to go on here.

What are you studying at university? Do you want to pursue a job in that field?

What is the nature of your disability? It sounds like you have good days and bad days. Are you impeded in any way on your good days? Are you unable to function at all on your bad days, or could you still, say, do work on the computer at home?
posted by fogster at 10:44 AM on April 27, 2016 [5 favorites]

A lot of the books on the Kindle store right now are pretty much glorified long-form journalism. A business model like this one might appeal to you. I mean, don't churn out crap. But if you enjoy writing and researching on various topics and can grasp the concept, this is basically long-form journalism and once you get the quantity up there, you can make money.
posted by JoannaC at 10:54 AM on April 27, 2016

Where are you located? Can you drive?

Based on just that you post this question, and the fact that you wrote it in fluent English, you could tutor in English online (here are some companies). Or you could get certified to become a medical transcriptionist.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 1:31 PM on April 27, 2016

Just to address one part of the premise: nobody will care how long it took you to get your degree.
posted by rhizome at 1:59 PM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I made and sold jewellery in the pre-internet era. I did quite well, especially given that I was still a teenager and self-taught and so on. However, scaling up to a living f/t wage would have required significant financial investment in the business -- this is still the case -- and in the post-Etsy era I sadly have a large stash of gemstones, metals, beads, tools, etc that I haven't touched for years, because on Etsy you are competing with (1) people willing to work just to support a hobby, with very very low prices, (2) overseas sellers who can afford to sell at low prices, (3) jewellers who have spent many years being for-real professionally trained jewellers, not just "I make jewellery" people.

If you seriously want to consider that route, I'd start trying to build a nest egg for start-up funds ASAP, and I'd stop looking at getting a degree and start taking courses in silversmithing and enamelling and so on. You'll need a fully equipped studio space, packaging materials, all sorts of things. Which is high-risk stuff, ditching uni for jewellery-making instruction, but realistically your only shot at having "I make jewellery" eventually translate into something that can support you instead of acting as a pleasant side hustle in 2016.

One thing you could consider is selling on eBay and/or Amazon -- I would pick up a bunch of relatively recent how-to books, read through, and see if that appeals. It works best if you: have some 'niches' where you know a lot about particular goods, can get good at sourcing, can take good photos and write good descriptions quickly and -- and this part is important -- you need to be able to get stuff in the post in a hurry with no warning. If you have weeks where you would not be able to send out a parcel or have somebody send it for you, it won't work. But, you can set your own hours and deal in whatever amuses you, and the start-up costs are relatively low. There are certainly people making a pleasant living off of f/t eBaying. You can sell used, or you can buy from wholesalers and sell new things, or do a mix of both. It will require bookkeeping and some tedious interactions with terrible customers -- and eBay's customer service is pretty much run by drunk teenagers; you will be paying a hefty % to a company that has no interest in helping you, the small-time seller. But the good experiences ("OMG, I've been trying to find this for my daughter for YEARS, thank you so much!" etc) outweigh the bad.
posted by kmennie at 2:50 PM on April 27, 2016

MeFi's own Michele in California recently posted to Projects a blog she's started about making money writing online.

Her 'About' says, among other things:

"I have been able to do this under really difficult circumstances, so I know it can be done even if you have a lot going on in your life. You can do it part time and intermittently and start building towards a middle class income with a solid future. You can use it to supplement your regular income or make it your main gig, if you desire. It is up to you how much or how little you put into it."

The blog's fairly new so there's not yet a huge number of back posts, but there might be something useful there for you, and MiC always seems like a particularly awesome person on AskMe, so she might be willing to be MeMailed if you have any specific questions (apologies, Michele, if that's not the case - you're still awesome!)
posted by penguin pie at 4:24 PM on April 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

You can also look into panning for gold. It is something you could do whenever and doesn't require a big investment up front (gold pans are under ten dollars -- that plus something to put the gold in plus appropriate clothes and shoes is all the equipment you need to get started).

You could start by googling up videos about it on your bad days and doing research on it -- on your bad days so you can spend your good days doing things more likely to pay off in a shorter time frame. This is something that will take a while to have any hope of paying off, however I am tossing it out there because if it pays off, it can pay pretty well and it very much is something you can work on whenever you damn well please.
posted by Michele in California at 1:31 PM on April 28, 2016

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