From The Straits Times    |

PHOTOGRAPH: uwaiskitchen

Every minute of your day can contribute an extra dollar to your kitty. Just ask Vivien Tan, a craft instructor and founder of online craft store The Cotton Shoppe.

Before the 41-year-old turned crafting into a full-time business in 2013, she was a corporate communications manager for 18 years who worked long hours at her day job while carving out time to make and sell her crafts on online marketplace Etsy. “I made use of my bus rides to and from work and lunch hours to reply to customers’ e-mails and social media postings,” says the mum of two kids, aged 14 and 16.

If the success of her business is any indication, it was time well spent. You don’t even need to be crafter to do the same. You simply need to identify where your pockets of free time are, then turn that into an avenue to make a side income. Here are some easy and doable ideas. 




If you’re like Vivien and enjoy crafting as an outlet to relax after a long day of work, why not turn your hobby into a source of income?


Read more: The smart way to use your craft hobby to make some extra money


Your handmade gifts don’t have to be reserved for families and friends. If you’re skilled with the scissors or needle, you can leverage on the recent surge for one-of-a-kind, handcrafted goods and sell your work on Etsy at a listing fee of just 29 cents per item. For every item sold, you then pay Etsy a commissioning fee of 3.5 per cent of your selling price, excluding shipping costs.

The US-based online platform carries a wide variety of goods like accessories, clothing and even skincare. On her Etsy site, Vivien sells quilted products, baby gifts, tote bags, plush toys and other lifestyle products.

You’ll get access to an international market and the opportunity to interact with your clientele, all at your own pace without having to worry about raking up high overheads.


Home baking



Not crafty but love to bake? Selling baked goods online may sound like a good idea but the laborious process of setting up a website and marketing your products is off-putting to many.

Entrepreneurs Tan Wei Qiang and Chuah Chongxian found that many talented home bakers simply don’t have the time to do all that, so they created Bakersfirst, a local online platform through which home bakers can sell their sweet treats without the hassle of managing an online store. Bakers pay a 15 per cent commission on what they sell.

Register for free as a vendor at and you can list your products and pricing right away. If you are not tech-savvy and are struggling with the listing protocol, you can even ask the owners for help. They’ll send you a form to fill in so they can upload your listings according to your instructions.

The website allows you to state the amount of stock you have available for each item so you can manage customer demand. In this sense, the level of commitment is really up to you as a vendor.

“If you think you can only spare the time to make three jars of cookies, or a cake per week, you can adjust your stock level accordingly,” explains Wei Qiang. “Once you’re out of stock, your product won’t be available on the page until you replenish it, so you won’t have to worry about overworking yourself to complete orders.”


Read more: REVIEW: This stylish countertop oven can steam and bake


Orders are received via e-mail and text message. From there, you can contact the customer directly for pick-up and delivery.

Since Bakersfirst has no subscription or maintenance fee, you can opt to list your items exclusively during festive periods, which makes it ideal for those who specialise in seasonal goodies like mooncakes or pineapple tarts.




If you’re always getting compliments for your cooking, perhaps it’s time to turn those culinary skills into a money-making asset. Started by celebrity chef Eric Teo and businessman Luke Lee, Dine Inn is an online platform that links aspiring home cooks up with customers who are looking for a personalised home-cooked meal. 

You could simply cook an everyday meal, and then arrange either self-collection or delivery with your customer. Delivery is managed by Dine Inn, who will make the arrangements and cover the cost.


Read more: REVIEW: 4 tingkat delivery services that taste just like homecooked food


Alternatively, you could show off your cooking prowess by hosting guests in your home or acting as a private chef at the guest’s house. Whatever you choose to do, you’ll have full control over the menu, pricing, the type of service you provide and your availability.

All you have to do is sign up as a Host on or on the Dine Inn app (available from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store). Then, attend a one-day Basic Food Hygiene Course approved by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), after which you can set up your profile and menu, and you’re good to go. Note that 20 per cent of the booking price goes to administrative fees.

And thanks to Dine Inn’s partnerships with various vendors, you can get up to 25 per cent off your cooking supplies and ingredients to defray your operating costs.


Running errands


A photo posted by LaborMe (@labormeapp) on


You’re probably no stranger to ridesharing apps like Uber and Grab, but if chauffeuring strangers around Singapore in the family car isn’t the job for you, there are also many other tasks you can accomplish for others that could make you a quick buck.

Zap Delivery Get paid to deliver packages for this mobile app. You’ll get to choose jobs based on pick-up and drop-off locations so you can work at your convenience.

The app computes a fixed delivery fee from the size of the parcel and distance you travel. Couriers are paid a basic fee of $5 for transporting documents less than 1kg, or $6 for parcels less than 10kg within 3km of the pick-up point. For parcels larger than 10kg, Zap Delivery sets the rates on a case-by-case basis. For deliveries that are more than 3km from pick-up, each kilometre earns you an additional 70 cents.


Read more: 7 online services in Singapore that make life easier and save you time


Laborme On the Laborme app, you can earn money doing odd jobs like painting someone’s dog kennel, or doing their last-minute grocery shopping. Browse through tasks by location and category – courier, food delivery, shopping, and other miscellaneous activities – and bid for tasks you would like to help with.

You’ll be bidding against other “Taskers” and the client will select who to award the task to according to your bid price and user reviews. According to the folks at Laborme, the average rate for an errand is $10 to $15.


Taking care of pets


If you love furry critters big and small, sign up as a pet sitter on Pawshake Singapore and get paid to cuddle and play with other people’s fur babies. Log on to to register as a host.

Tanguy Peers, co-founder of Pawshake, advises you to include lots of photographs of yourseld with pets and give details of your past experience with animals in your profile.

Once registered, you’ll then be able to connect, via the mobile app, with “pet parents” who need dog-walking, home visiting, home-boarding or house-sitting services. You’re free to set your own rates, starting at $10 for a home visit, during which pet-carers drop in at a pet owner’s home to feed and play with the animals for 30 minutes to an hour. Rates for overnight care can range from $20 to upwards of $60.


Using your professional skills

Don’t limit yourself to menial work. Put your professional skills to use outside of your full-time job. Sher-Li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work, says working mothers should seek out freelance and ad-hoc jobs that tap into their unique skill sets.

On social networking platforms like Mums@Work, you can find flexi-hour, work-from-home and temporary job listings. Sher-Li gives some examples, such as legal transcriber, translator, accountant, resume writer, pianist, copywriter and makeup artist.


Read more: The best advice for women who want to be entrepreneurs


Make sure you have a Linkedin profile that’s updated with all your skills and past experience and put yourself out there by participating actively in women’s community groups on social media to make contact with potential clients.