Occupational Therapy 2021 Side Hustles – Work from Home & Remotely

Sidehustle Work From Home Featured


In my post, “Occupational Therapy Side Hustle – Best Ways to Make Extra Money in 2020“, we talked about how to make extra money on the side while in and after OT school. In 2020, many Americans worked remotely from home for their primary jobs. If you were an OT student, you likely took classes online.

Although I am optimistic that things will open up in 2021, it could take a couple of months – or longer. If you live with vulnerable populations such as the very young or the very old, you would likely want to minimize your exposure to the outside world. So working from home can be a great side-OT-hustle.

What You’ll Need

Here are some side-hustles you can do from home right now, without ever leaving your room, even. All you’ll need is some free time, creativity, a computer/tablet/smartphone, an Internet connection, and some coffee & tea.

Should You Invest in Equipment

In the photography and videography world, there is a term called GAS – gear acquisition syndrome, a type of retail therapy for photographers and videographers that likely have empty wallets due because they spend money purchasing lots of equipment impulsively.

Some items make sense, especially because it can be a great investment for your side-hustle and be used personally, e.g. family photos. It may be worthwhile to invest money in a decent DSLR camera, a better microphone, or a better quality printer. However, you shouldn’t have to go broke from this, especially upfront by purchasing things such as super expensive lenses, computer rigs, or software licenses. Once things start to pick up and become more lucrative you can invest in such equipment for your small business.

You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get started.

What You Should Choose

There are of course, many side-hustles you can do. However, I will list ones that are worthwhile that I would actually spend time doing. You wouldn’t want to spend time doing work for just pennies and less for minimum wage.

Last but not least, pick something that is meaningful to you, interesting to you. We are Occupational Therapy after all! Sure you could fill out some surveys, be a tester for some apps, transcribe text, etc. but if is mindless work then you’ll likely quit early and it is likely not a good investment in your occupational therapy career.

For the Creatives

  • Using your fine motor skills to craft or make something (e.g. jewelry, clothing, accessories) to sell online. When the pandemic started, many people had lots of fun and money selling face masks. In fact, Etsy even sent a message to sellers to start selling them because there was such high demand. I should’ve gotten into that!
  • If you are especially artistic you can draw, paint, or build to sell artwork or original products.
  • We like (and personally use) Etsy because of its user-friendly interface and platform compared to say Amazon for beginners. Use this referral link to register your first Etsy shop and we both get 40 free listings to start selling right away – #sponsored.
  • Do you have a Cricket machine? Some popular things to make and sell are stickers, planners, and t-shirts.
  • What if you do not want to turn your room into a home office or factory? There are many digital merchandise platforms (dropshipping) that don’t require you to purchase a single t-shirt or sticker for raw materials. Services like Merch by Amazon & RedBubble are popular options that don’t require you to spend a single penny. Check out their SubReddits for tips and guides before starting for the best chances of success as these are platform-specific and have their own quirks.
  • No, you won’t need to purchase software like Photoshop to start designing either. We like using Photopea (free) which is a cloud-based, browser-based version of photoshop that is ad-supported. Popular ways to design are to use your tablet such as an iPad to draw the artwork, scan your hand-drawn art with a camera and digitizing it, or even using stock-free images and graphics as a basis for your creative art.
  • There is a vast library of tutorials on Youtube that teach you how to draw, edit, and use programs like photoshop.
  • Canva is a popular option for social media influencers to created visually appealing posts. You can also use it as a creative for your side-hustle too.
Work from the comfort of your own kitchen too!

For the Social / Extroverts

  • Yup, TikTok can be a side-hustle (indirectly, of course). Many of you likely already have experience with social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even Pinterest.
  • Social and Affiliate often go hand-in-hand when it comes to side-hustles.
  • We mentioned Apps like Canva to help you create cool content. All you have to do is gain a follow for something such as OT. You can be an influencer for OT students, pediatrics, you name it. If you have specific or expert knowledge in a specialty, that is even better. One example is a PT who built a large TikTok following for movement at home with exercise and stretching during the Pandemic.
  • Once you gain a following, you can mention services, brands, or products that you personally use and trust. This is key as you do not want to spam your followers and seem like one big advertisement.
  • For example, OTDUDE is an affiliate for MedBridge, an online continuing education company. You’ll see this brand on many popular OT blogs and social media accounts – and it’s a service that I personally use for my OT licensure.
  • How do you find Affiliates? It’s actually quite easy. Just do a google search for “brand / product / service + affiliate” and see what comes up. Also, when you scroll to the bottom of some websites, you’ll often see an “Affiliate” link to get started. While each Affiliate service has it’s own guidelines, in general, you will just need:
    • Be 18 years old
    • Live in a specific country
    • Have some sort of online presence, e.g. number of followers – where you mention your social media accounts. Having a website or blog is a plus, but not mandatory.
    • and that’s it!
  • You usually just fill out a form with basic information and they will get back to you with some sort of login that contains a URL / link that has your specific affiliate code. Just share these codes or links on your social media and you will get paid each time someone makes a purchase or subscribes to their service.
  • In fact, many companies aren’t looking for professional marketing firms but instead everyday people to become affiliates for their brands through micro influencers – as they are more trustworthy and less likely to be biased or have a “dog in the hunt”.
  • What’s great about becoming an Affiliate is there is no limit to how many or what space you become involved with. You just have to get creative in what you find and use in your social media posts.
  • Start Here – OTDUDE.com has an Affiliate Program with a generous commission and a low payout threshold. Promote our badge reels and when someone you refers makes a purchase, you share the sale with us. All you need is your name, e-mail, and PayPal payout address.

For the Nerdy

  • Do you like to write? Why not write a book or a guide? It does not have to be a Harry Potter, but can be a guide for something that you are interested in and have knowledge about. If there is an audience and a niche subject that is not oversaturated, you can probably make some decent money doing it. Examples include “how-to’s, self-help, fitness and wellness, and video games.
  • Why not write about OT? 2020 may not be the year of the blog compared to say TikTok, but they are still popular and you can make money as a ghostwriter for blogs and websites. If you have some area of expertise and experience, then you should consider this. Websites like Upwork are great platforms to find freelance work as a writer or even as an editor. This may not seem fun to you, but if it’s OT-related, I’m all about it.
  • Personally, I love to write about OT topics and to share my knowledge and experience with Pre-OT, students and new grads.
  • Other ideas include: study guides, planners, calendars, courses, video tutorials, top lists, comparison posts and videos (e.g. “OT vs. PT – which career is right for you?”).
  • Software is simple as Google Docs and Grammarly for spell/grammar checking. Just have your friend review your work and send it off!
  • Platforms you can publish to include Amazon KDP, Teachable, and YouTube – all free to publish.
  • Get nerdy with Podcasting. I think Podcasting had a huge comeback in 2020 because many content creators were at home and thanks to the popularity of Zoom. You can interview guests about nerdy OT topics, create monologue episodes about OT subjects, or talk about something else related in general, e.g. health and wellness. All you’ll need is a Microphone (not very expensive) and free software such as Audacity to get started.
  • How can it make money? We mentioned Affiliate marketing already, so you can make a short commercial or mention a product with your affiliate code. Podcasting can also indirectly help you gain credibility and influence and work with your other marketing campaigns to build your side-hustle. Some popular podcasts are sponsored, but this is more difficult to get. Podcasts can be a greater way to reach an audience or a niche. For example, Murder Podcasts have become very popular these days because they gain the interest of the general public.
  • Overall, podcasting can be very fun and a good learning experience. OTDUDE just started their own Podcast!

Other Ideas

  • Consulting work. With popular platforms such as Zoom, you can provide consulting to your clients from your home. One OT student on social media helps others review and edit their resume for some side cash and gets paid with Venmo. It does not need to be complicated. You can be a mentor or tutor for OT and make some side-cash doing it. As a professional, you can offer to consult for clients in specialty areas such as being a lactation consultant, a small business start-up consultant, consulting for an App, and so on. You can consult with companies for OT-related topics as well. There is no limit to what you can do in this area!
  • Telehealth has also taken off and you can get into this as a side-hustle if you have some free time for you Per Diems and Part-Timers out there. Many companies are temporarily hiring remotely. Just go on Indeed and type in remote and see what comes up.

Side Hustles to Avoid

  • Daytrading with apps like Robinhood. Leave this to the experts as you can lose a lot of money doing it, not to mention add to your stress and anxiety.
  • Surveys. I think there is a place for them, but I think you all have a lot more to offer for OT and related areas than doing mindless surveys.
  • Pyramid Schemes. There are many out there, but if in general, you need to purchase or pay to get into selling something – you should be suspicious. The side-hustles that we mentioned so far do not require you to spend a significant amount of money, just your time.

Good luck in 2021!




Jeff is a licensed occupational therapist and lead content creator for OT Dude. He covers all things occupational therapy as well as other topics including healthcare, wellness, mental health, technology, science, sociology, and philosophy. Buy me a Coffee on Venmo.