The top 5 best side hustles to earn side income in Bhutan besides your 9 to 5 job are:
- Web Design and web development
- Ghost Writer & Content Writing
- Graphic Design
- Tuition (school-going kids)
- Online Course
There are other prevailing streams of income-generating methods, such as affiliate marketing. Affiliate Marketing is being practiced in Bhutan but this is only for those with a decent number of followers or unless you have a strong connection with a company or business. These are usually done by celebrities who are well established on social media channels. However, I have not used affiliate marketing as a method to earn for now. I started my blog only a month ago (July 1st, 2022) and don’t have traffic that will actually allow me to earn.
These side incomes are limited to my knowledge and practice. I have made a few hundred thousand from doing all these 5 side hustles to add to my saving account. There are many ways to earn through side hustles which you might probably see on the internet, however, the majority of these side hustles doesn’t work in Bhutan (at least not now).
One of the primary reasons why most of the side hustles we see on the internet don’t work in Bhutan is the payment gateways. We do not have a payment gateway to receive payment in Bhutan from the international market. There is a larger scope and huge market outside Bhutan compared to the small-size market within the country. Moreover, freelancing work is a pretty new concept in Bhutan, and the majority of businesses, corporate offices, and government agencies resort to well-established firms and companies for services that freelancers can easily take up. Few freelancers are using wire transfers and other platforms to receive money from outside Bhutan.
For government agencies, there is no clause in the procurement rules and regulations that will allow freelancers to take up a task (firms/companies or individual consultants must be legally registered and must have a valid business license). Government must ensure to create a conducive environment for freelancers to capture the market in the country. Because, as per the post on kuenselonline.com by a popular Technology Strategist in Bhutan. Dr. Tshering Cigay Dorji wrote, “It is estimated that around 1.56 billion people, which is about 46.5% of the global workforce are self-employed many of whom are online freelancers”.
- Web Design and Web Development
We cannot deny the fact that online presence in this modern internet era is extremely necessary. From bloggers to celebrities to businesses, all need a decent website to ensure their online presence. It actually authenticates the business, office, or any work you do. The first question you will get from your client, customer, or visitor is “Do you have a website?”, or 70% of consumers look at the online presence before physically visiting a business. A website is a must if you want to gain trust and loyalty from your visitors or customers.
I have developed several websites (check out my portfolio for websites I developed) from travel agents to bloggers to businesses and government offices. I have earned more than Nu. 600,000 (USD 800) from web design between 2019-2020. The good news is, that you don’t need coding skills or you don’t have to be a programmer to develop a decent website. Thanks to an online free/opensource platform called Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, and Joomla that allows you to create a website without coding or programming skills.
While there are many other CMS platforms, WordPress has been my no.1 choice because it is one of the most popular platforms used in the world. Over 455 million out of 1.3 billion active websites in the world are powered by WordPress. Websites such as The New York Times, Spotify, TechCrunch, The White House Website, BBC America, and even the Facebook Newsroom is created using WordPress. Some of the popular websites created using WordPress in Bhutan are Bank of Bhutan, Bhutan National Bank, Bhutan Development Bank, Royal Insurance Corporation, Bhutan Telecom, The Bhutanese new channels, and a few e-commerce webistes. These are enough reasons why WordPress is so popular in the world.
You can learn how to create a decent WordPress website within a few hours. We need to spend some time researching online, going through a few tutorials, and articles to follow. You can learn how to design a WordPress Website by learning it online or by attending an online course. You can attend my self-paced online course on how to develop a website using wordpress or visit my article to learn it.
Earning from website design: Nu. 600,000 in two years. Check out the websites I built with love here.
- Ghost Writing and Content Writing
If you have a passion for writing and some more time to spare, Ghost Writing and content writing will be a good source of income. Ghostwriting basically means writing an article or research or an essay for someone who will credit the work as their own. They will pay you for the work you have done, and they will take the credit although it is being written by you.
I have written many assignments, articles, research works, and content for websites in the country and a few other countries such as India and Australia (probably referred to by my friends). With many people going out to Australia for better opportunities and lucrative jobs, there is more demand for writing SOP (Statement of Purpose) and I have written several SOPs at a decent writing fee.
The content writing, articles, and essay also come as a part of web design. While designing and developing a website, the client might want you to write content for their website as well. This will enable you to add an extra fee to the website design. With many businesses making an online presence with websites these days, there is also more demand for content writers. Ghost Writing and Content Writing have been my second most lucrative side hustle to date. I have earned approximately Nu. 74,000 in two years.
Earning from ghostwriting/content writing: Nu. 74,000
- Graphic Design
Although graphic design can be a full-time job or freelancing gig, I have rather earned from designing graphics for websites I have designed so far. Graphic design skill is an important part of web design as it gives that aesthetic part of the website. Images and icons usually make the website look attractive and convey messages or information in a pictorial form than using redundant words or paragraphs.
The website will also require a graphic designer, and the plus point is, that if you know how to do the graphic design, you don’t have to hire or recruit a separate graphic designer to design a website. You can charge an additional fee for the graphic design as a part of the web design. Or you could also include it in the website design package and add an extra fee for the whole package.
Another good news is that you don’t have to learn graphic design the hard way. Expert graphic designers make use of premium software such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator for graphic design, however, there are other several graphic design methods and tools you can easily get used to. These free tools and methods are useful enough to develop a decent website. I have used these free tools to save time and finish the task on time to develop my websites. You can learn these methods for free online or attend an online course.
A decent logo, just like my logo (https://kuenzangtobgay.com) can cost a minimum of Nu. 1500 to more sophisticated design such as this will cost more than Nu. 10,000 for a single design.
Earning from graphic design: Nu. 21,000 in two years.
If you have enough free time to engage yourself in teaching kids, you can earn some extra money. Further, it is always fun to be around young minds and get yourself blended with these creative minds. There are many school-going children, whose parents are busy with their day-to-day business like 9-5 jobs. There are parents more concerned about their children’s education and need extra tutorial time for their kids at home too.
This is an opportunity for those with free time to spare. Subjects like Science, Mathematics, and computer application are high in demand. In urban areas, Dzongkha has been also a subject of concern for many parents as their children are exposed more to English medium platforms therefore, children learn it themselves (experiential learning).
Providing tuition is popular, particularly in Thimphu, where the majority of the parents have full-time jobs. Tuition actually has two advantages for the parents in urban areas, while tutor can teach their kids, they can also look after the children while their parents are away at work.
The earnings usually depend on the number of students enrolled and the number of hours you teach. In Thimphu, tuition providers charge around Nu. 2500-3500 per students per month. If you have a minimum of 15 students in the class, you could earn Nu.52,500 in a month which comes to Nu. 6,30,000 in a year. That is more earning than an entry-level Civil Servant who has an annual income of Nu. 2,52,000 in a year.
I have provided tuition classes (Physics, Chemistry, Maths, and IT) to 8 students in the year 2019. The students used to come to my place, where one of my bedrooms was used as the classroom to save some money on paying for a separate room. The tuition fee per child was Nu.2000 (lower than the usual rate in Thimphu, since all the children were my neighbor’s) in a month. Therefore, I earned around Nu. 200,000 in a year. Not bad uha!
Earning from providing tuition: Nu. 200,000 in a year
- Online Course
If you have some skills that might be of use to other people, they might not hesitate to spare some time and spend some of their hard-earned money on learning those skills from you. Just like providing tuition to school-going children, you can provide a course, however, this time the online course seems more convenient for both the tutor and the learners. People with a full-time jobs will always learn at their pace at their convenience.
However, developing an online course requires some upfront investment such as building a website, buying a domain, and hosting services. This is a one-time investment and earning from online courses usually pays off within a month if you have few registered online learners.
Why provide these online courses when there are other more reliable platforms (course era, udemy, skillshare etc)? The answer is context. Many courses on these international platforms are expensive, and the payment methods are not reliable and not in the Bhutanese context. The tutors on these platforms are usually away and don’t provide support to those who take free courses.
Further, creating online courses in the locality ensures, that people who want to learn it further could contact or meet in person with the tutor for in-depth discussion and collaboration. It is much easier to contact a tutor within your country than someone living somewhere in an alien place.
I have provided some paid webinars, especially on website development and starting out a blogging journey for beginners. You can make a decent income from hosting such webinars, which actually bring value to the participants. My course development is under way and hoping to be made online to public access in a couple of weeks.
Earning from online courses/webinars: Nu. 15000, (Nu.200 per person)
The total earning comes around Nu. 910,000 in four years of my freelancing experience (2016-2019).
While there must be many other side hustles to earn in Bhutan, these are something I have tested and through my own experience of making some money.