Is your financial situation making you think about starting a side hustle?
Side hustles, also known as side gigs, are jobs you do outside your primary day job. These gigs can be a great way to pay off debt or earn some extra spending money. They can also be a means to tap into unused skills or explore passions.
So if you’re about to start searching for a side hustle, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some tips on what makes a great side hustle, what qualities workers need to have for success and 10 gigs to consider.
What The Best Side Hustles Have in Common
Not all side hustles are the same. To help you choose the 10 best side gigs, we researched numerous jobs and found some commonalities such as having a low barrier of entry, flexible schedules and availability in most areas. Here are some tips on what to look for in a good one.
Rule No. 1 when starting a side hustle: Don’t let it interfere with your day job. The last thing you want to do is mess up your primary source of income, as some companies may have policies in place that prevent employees from taking on extra gigs. If you’re cleared to do side hustles outside of your 9-to-5, make sure the gig allows for a flexible schedule.
By day, Brandon Ballweg works in the Kansas City, Missouri area as a marketer for an e-commerce business. At night, he runs a photography website and works app-based gig jobs. He says he enjoys app-based jobs like ride-share driving and meal delivery because there’s no set schedule.
“When you get off your regular job, you can just turn on the app and go,” he says. “It gives you a lot of flexibility, and that’s a big thing for me.” So find a job that works with your schedule.
It’s Something You Enjoy Doing
No matter what you end up choosing for your side hustle, pick something you enjoy doing. Seek out a gig that fits your personality and interests because it’s going to take up a lot of your free time. Krystal Covington, CEO of the networking service Women of Denver, has worked several side hustles over the years and currently puts in between 15 and 20 hours per month as a freelancer on Upwork doing marketing, public relations and internal business communications.
“If you have a [day] job and you’re side hustling, that’s a lot of work to be doing,” she says. “You’re not getting as much leisure time, so if you hate it, it’s going to be a terrible life.”
Low Cost of Entry
Another thing to factor in when choosing a side hustle is how much it’s going to cost to get it off the ground. Some gigs, such as those that are app-based, can be done right away, while others, like selling goods online, may need more time and money upfront. The cost of running your business will eat into your earnings as a self-employed worker. “If the side gig costs more money than it makes you, then it’s a problem, and I’ve seen people get into that trap,” Covington says.
The 10 Best Side Hustles
No gigs coming to mind? Below is a list of the 10 best side hustles that can be done outside your regular 9-to-5. Some gigs are easily obtainable, some provide passive income and others offer opportunities to use specialized skills.
1. Ride-share Driving
Your car can be a valuable asset in the gig economy. Ride-share companies, such as Uber and Lyft, are always looking for drivers interested in making extra money. To become a ride-share driver, you need to be at least 21-years old, have a valid U.S. driver’s license, proof of car insurance and vehicle registration, a four-door vehicle that seats five people, and pass criminal and driving background checks.
The earnings potential of ride-share drivers varies depending on how often and when they drive. Driving at peak “surge” times can put more money in your pocket. Drivers can earn $18 to $40 per hour, with many earning around $25 per hour.
2. Meal Delivery
If driving around strangers in the back of your car doesn’t sound appealing to you, then try meal delivery. Services like Uber Eats, Grubhub and DoorDash, allow people to order takeout and have it delivered to their door. One difference between traditional Uber and Uber Eats is that you’re not required to have a four-door vehicle. Drivers can use two-door cars, motorized scooters and bicycles. Uber Eats drivers earn pickup, drop-off and trip mileage fees, plus tips. Also, like traditional Uber, surge pricing can boost your payout during peak times. Here’s how you can learn more about delivering for Uber Eats.
3. Freelance Work
If you have a particular set of skills and want to make some money using them, join a freelance network. Services like Fiverr and Upwork connect people with freelancers specializing in fields like copywriting, graphic design, coding, digital marketing, financial consulting and much more. Freelancer decide how much to charge for their services. Fiverr user Charmaine Pocek started writing resumes and cover letters for $5 a pop. Now she charges about $30 to $800 to write resumes, cover letters and optimize LinkedIn profiles. According to Fiverr, she’s earned more than $2 million using the site. Check out how she made her first million. It’s free to join Fiverr, and users keep 80% of your earnings made using the service.
4. Renting on Airbnb
Have a spare room? Might as well try to earn some money by listing it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable space, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your savings account with Airbnb.
A few simple steps can make the difference between a great experience and a less-than-satisfactory one. We talked to Terence Michael, an Airbnb superhost based in Los Angeles.
Here are some of his tips:
- Break out the labelmaker. “I have the entire house loaded with labels,” Michael says. “They look nice; they’re modern. This helps people feel less helpless.”
- Be a good host, and stock your place with the toiletries you’d expect at a hotel — toilet paper, soap and towels. Here’s a little hack from Michael: “I order on Amazon and have it delivered when people are there.”
- Be kind to your neighbors. “I say, ‘I’m not going to put anyone here who I think won’t be good for you,’” Michael explains. “And I turn a lot of big groups away, especially in Nashville. I don’t want anyone going to the cops or the city.”
(Hosting laws vary from city to city. Please understand the rules and regulations applicable to your city and listing.)
5. Online Tutoring
If you have teaching experience, then here’s an opportunity to make some extra money from home. Online tutoring companies such as Tutor.com, Brainfuse and TutorMe allow people with teaching or tutoring experience to instruct K-12 students and adults on different topics. These topics include your basic grade school subjects (math, English, science, reading and social studies), SAT/ACT prep and college-level courses. Online tutors can earn anywhere between $9 and $25 per hour depending on the service, and sometimes the subject. Here’s a roundup of 10 online tutoring companies.
6. Teaching English as a Second Language
This is another opportunity for teachers looking for work-from-home opportunities. Companies like VIPKid, QKids and Italki connect U.S. instructors with students wanting to learn English as a second language. Jennifer Ross, a former schoolteacher from Mount Dora, Florida, told The Penny Hoarder in 2018, that she earns $520 working 24 hours a week as a VIPKid instructor.
“And now I can live the stay-at-home dog-mom life,” Ross says with a laugh.
7. Selling Craft Goods
Not all side hustles have to be service jobs. Consider making some money using your craft skills. Thanks to online platforms such as Etsy, eBay, Shopify and Amazon Handmade, artists have several outlets to sell their items without leaving their home or studio.
Each selling platform comes with its own pros and cons. Selling on Amazon, for example, gives you access to a huge online marketplace, but crafters will be up against stiff competition. Etsy seller Katrin Lerman told The Penny Hoarder in 2018 she has shops with Amazon Handmade and Shopify, but Etsy is her favorite platform.
“Etsy really caters to the handmade,” she says. “They understand [handmade] better than Amazon… [which] is very strict with all the rules.”
8. Delivering Groceries
Some people hate going to the supermarket, which is why grocery delivery services are on the rise. Instacart and Shipt employ gig workers who go shopping, pick out requested items and deliver them to customers’ homes. Shipt shoppers are paid per order — the price is higher for bigger orders — and they also receive tips. Destiny Firth, a Shipt shopper in Nashville, told The Penny Hoarder in 2017 she makes $17.50 an hour.
9. Creating Online Courses
If you’re a master of a topic and wish to make some passive income, then consider creating an online course. Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, provided by companies like Udemy allow teachers and professionals to instruct students wanting to broaden their skills.
Instructors create the courses, which consist of audio, video, a PowerPoint-style presentation, practice assignments and exams, then charge a fee to enroll. The longer the course, the higher the pay. According to Udemy, the site keeps 50% of the cost if the student finds the class on their platform, but the instructor keeps 97% of the course cost when the student signs up using an instructor coupon.
10. Selling T-Shirts Online
If you’ve got ideas for catchy slogans or eye-catching graphics, why not put them on a T-shirt? Print-on-demand services such as Merch by Amazon, Printful and Redbubble allow people to upload their designs and sell products without dealing with the hassles of inventory and shipping. Each shirt is made to order, and the designer receives a percentage of the sale.
Stacy Caprio, a former designer who made shirts from April 2017 to Feb. 2018, says she still makes between $200 and $300 per month in passive income from T-shirt sales.
“I think it’s cool that there are so many platforms you can put your designs on,” she says. “There’s a lot of opportunity, especially for people who spend the time making high-quality designs.”
What Skills Do Side Hustlers Need to Have?
Finding a great side hustle is important, but that’s only half the equation. Each side hustler needs to have a set of intangible qualities to succeed.
Being a Self-Starter
A significant adjustment newbie side hustlers need to make is learning how to be a self-starter. Covington says you get used to the systems and workflows of your day job because they have always been there. It’s up to you as the sole employee to create your workflow and stay motivated so your products or assignments get done on time.
Keeping Things in Perspective
Side hustlers need to have realistic expectations. Ballweg says it’s most likely going to take awhile before your side hustle gets up to full speed and — hopefully someday — makes you a lot of money. “Keeping that in the back of your mind is a healthy way of looking at it,” he says.
Always Willing to Learn
You’re never too old or too experienced to learn something new. Covington listened to podcasts and audiobooks about side hustles to learn how to improve her businesses when juggling multiple side gigs. She says side hustle-focused podcasts can be a great place to gain inspiration and learn about the different ways people make money during their off hours.
Being Able to Forgive Your Mistakes
You’ll be better off knowing from the beginning that you’re going to make mistakes. This may be your first attempt trying to do a side hustle while balancing a day job and a personal life. Covington says there will be long nights and a lot of trial and error when learning how to run your business the best way possible. She says you have to be willing to forgive yourself if any setbacks occur.
Matt Reinstetle is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.