It’s hard out here for those of us that do the 9-5 grind (some even 8-10), and a side hustle definitely relieves some stress when it comes to saving for that trip home for Christmas, or your tuition.
Our fine team at Guide in China complied 10 of the most popular ways for expats to make that extra moolah on the side.
Alexandre is an overseas student studying in Shandong, China and also my best friend. He makes a killing buying products from China and selling them to his home country – Ghana. Alexandre came to me this one time to buy makeup products to sell. He said, “I take goods from factories in China and sell them to my country. I make a great profit! I can pay for my tuition and my daily expenses.” Eric is a university teacher in Shandong, who also started his foreign trade business by ordering goods from B2B platforms in China and shipping them directly to his country. “I am a part-time businessman now. I am happy with the low-cost and high-quality products produced in China, they are very popular in the UK”. In case identifying products that will sell well back home is not your forte, we’ve come up with a few more ways to rake in some extra moolah.
Foreign Trade Business
China has many factories with low-cost products, making foreign trade a popular business in China. If you know your country’s market well, you can consider purchasing products here and selling them to the consumers back home. There are lots of B2B platforms here such as Alibaba, and Global Source, that makes sourcing easy. What’s more is that some companies have merchandisers who can show you to the local markets, where you can sample products to your liking.
Pay: Whatever profit you make after your expenses and COGS (Cost of Goods Sold)
Prerequisite: Knowing your country’s market well – what sells and what you can turn the most profit on.
Translation companies are always on the lookout for translators in all languages (not just English). They prefer native speakers who are also good at Chinese, so if you study in China, this would be a great way to make some extra cash.
Pay: payment based on language and words, English-￥150/1000 words, Japanese-￥200/1000 words, Russian ￥200/1000 words
Prerequisite: Fluency in the language
Recording monologues and dialogues for educational material can be more fun than it sounds, and lucrative too! Check city-based websites and Craigslist for ads, or approach English schools to see if they need any voice talent. There is also limited work available at some studios for speakers of other languages.
Pay: Up to ¥500 per hour of recorded speech, up to ¥2,500 for one-off commercial work
Prerequisite: British, Australian or American accent
You don’t have to be Kate Moss to land a modeling gig in China; there are a whole host of opportunities for amateurs. Much of it is fitting work for clothing companies, but there are also chances for runway and commercial work. Infant and child models are also in high demand. If you are a stay-at-home mom, you could look for some modeling gigs for your child. Look for ads on local job sites like HiredChina.com, Craigslist, EnjoyClassifieds or ChinaDaily.
Pay: Up to ¥1,000 for a fitting session
Prerequisite: The right look
Be an Extra
Local TV dramas, movies, operas and musicals often need Westerners to participate as extras for walk-on roles and even voice parts. The work can be so lucrative that some expats actually make this their main hustle OR make a living out of it a full-time living from it. Check job posting boards (see “Modeling” above) where agents are recruiting for these roles.
Pay: ¥400-¥1,000 for a walk-on part. ¥1,000 plus for a voice part
Prerequisite: Again, you have to look the part
If you have strong opinions and want to voice them while getting paid for it, join a focus group. You’ll be invited to take part in a group chat or fill in a survey. Focus groups are advertised on job boards and company websites but ask your friends and roommates too - in case the companies they work for are holding a study.
Pay: ¥100 plus or vouchers/products
Prerequisite: Time and opinions
China is an amateur musician’s paradise. With so many improv and open mic nights happening around town, it’s easy to find your niche and get on stage. If you want to make some money for your efforts, you can either form a band yourself and start charging entry for your gigs or find yourself an agent on the job sites.
Pay: ¥300-¥1,000 for a performance
Prerequisite: Musical talent
Party photographers are a common sight in clubs and bars around town. To get in on the action, you’ll need a good quality SLR camera of your own, plus a love (and talent) for mingling. Be on the lookout for ads, or approach the city’s magazines and websites to offer your services. You may need to work for free while you’re building your portfolio.
Pay: ¥250–¥1,000 per night, depending on if you’re hired by a magazine or a club
Prerequisite: Camera, photography skills and the courage to the balls to approach hot girls
While native English speakers get their pick of the language teaching jobs, there is a market for foreign language tutoring too. Lessons will usually be conducted on a one-on-one basis, which has the potential for a higher salary.
Pay: ¥100-¥300 an hour
Prerequisite: Fluency in the language
If you love to party, hosting your own music night or event is the perfect job. Rent a venue, hire a DJ, print out some fliers, shoot a few texts to your party people, and wait for the crowd to turn up. Depending on the success of your event, you could be taking home a large chunk of the profit.
Pay: A cut of the night’s profits
Prerequisite: A large network of contacts party people