Everything You Need to Know About Your Next Side Hustle

Everything You Need to Know About Your Next Side Hustle
Photo: Viktoriia Hnatiuk, Shutterstock

In our capitalist society, there’s constant pressure to turn every free moment into a money-making opportunity. But I’m not here to dwell on capitalism. I’m here to talk about the popularity of side hustles, and all the ways you can get in on the action.

In addition to my role as a staff writer at Lifehacker, I can usually depend on a few extra hundred dollars every year from one-off gigs like humour writing, voice-over work, and copy editing. What’s notable is how I can do all these odd jobs from the same work desk (OK, you caught me: work bed).

According to Side Hustle Nation, the most popular ways to make money on the side are often all done online — a fact that only became increasingly true over the pandemic. In fact, a study from popular freelance job platform Upwork found that during the pandemic, 12% of the U.S. workforce tried freelancing for the first time.

However, it’s difficult to gauge how much extra income you can actually earn from a side hustle, since payment varies wildly depending on your expertise, location, and amount of time you have. Below we’ll go through some of the most popular types of side hustles to kickstart or supplement your income.

Online part-time gigs

Examples: Virtual assistant, customer service representative, online tutor.

What you put into it: You could work up to 20 hours a week for some roles. Varying levels of expertise is required; virtual assistants might not need any educational requirements, but an SAT tutor needs some additional qualifications.

What you can get out of it: Moderate flexibility (your hours might depend on your client), ability to work from anywhere.

Tip: Network to find jobs. Reach out to people who you know have had success freelancing to hear their advice, ask for referrals from past clients, and join industry-specific Facebook groups to stay up-to-date on freelance opportunities.

Online microjobs (aka “odd jobs”)

Examples: Graphic design, resume editing, data entry, transcribing audio and video, voice-over artist, dating app ghostwriter.

What you put into it: Basic tech savvy, usually one-three hours per gig (but this can vary greatly), specific skills for projects involving design or programming.

What you can get out of it: Can charge a higher rate depending on your skill level; transcribing averages at about $20 per hour, online tutors average around $30 per hour, and experienced graphic designers can set rates at several hundred dollars per project.

Tip: Create a profile that showcases your specialities and browse freelance gig sites like Editorr, FlexJobs, and Upwork.

In-person microjobs

Examples: Dog walking, house sitting, moving furniture, cleaning, notary services, personal training, etc.

What you put into it: Physical travel, usually one- to two-hour tasks, specific expertise depending on the project.

What you can get out of it: Depends on the task at hand and your personal rates; some — like walking dogs — can earn around $21 per hour.

Tip: Get creative with the sort of services you can provide. I’ve heard of people making a quick buck from knife-sharpening, pet waste removal, and cleaning car interiors.

E-commerce

Examples: Selling homemade goods on Etsy, re-selling clothes on apps like Depop, getting rid of your old crap on eBay/Craigslist/Facebook Marketplace.

What you put into it: Several hours doing market research, taking good photos and writing descriptions for items, handling buyer interactions, and then physically packaging and shipping items to buyers.

What you can get out of it: Income varies depending on item; you have tons of flexibility in terms of what, how much, and when you sell.

Tip: Good customer service can turn you into a top seller; conversely, one negative review can have a (potentially unfair) negative impact on your sales. Here are some of the best sites to sell all your old stuff.

Rideshare gigs

Examples: Lyft, DoorDash, etc.

What you put into it: Your own car, potentially high-pressure shifts that last anywhere from one to 12 hours.

What you can get out of it: Flexibility setting your own hours. Sources on hourly pay range from $10-20 per hour, averaging around $19 per hour (plus customer tips).

Tip: If you like working rideshare gigs, don’t feel the need to be loyal to one corporation over another — drive for multiple companies at once to maximise your profits.

Home rental

Examples: Airbnb. There are alternatives like VRBO and Homestay, but let’s be real: Airbnb looms large.

What you put into it: Potentially two to three hours a day managing your property and between five-eight hours on days where you have a change-over of guests. When you do have guests, there’s the expectation that you’re always being “on call.”

What you can get out of it: Depends heavily on location. NerdWallet finds that hosts average $1,283 per month. To get an estimate for how much you can make, you can go to Airbnb’s website, plug in your location, the number of guests you can host, and how much of your home you can rent out.

Tip: Use the Airbnb algorithm to your advantage by writing detailed property descriptions and using the most popular keywords for your destination.

Content creator

Examples: Twitch streamer, YouTube how-to videos, OnlyFans, running niche meme accounts.

What you put into it: Establishing a personal brand or authority online, consistent posting habits and strategy to gain and monetise a following.

What you can get out of it: Online fame is a fickle thing. Assuming you’re not going to become a true “influencer” (whatever that means anymore), profiting off your online content is not exactly a get-rich-quick scheme. For instance, as a comedian on social media, I’ve gotten free pizza, glasses, sweatshirts, and vibrators in exchange for posts — but not much cold hard cash. Your best bet is to somehow gain a niche, loyal following that will donate to your Patreon in order to access your content. Those types of subscribers are key.

Tip: Do your research and be realistic about expectations. Calculate how many followers you’ll need to be a full-time influencer. Also research content gaps you can fill, so that you’re not competing for eyeballs in hyper-competitive spaces like health and wellness accounts.

Investing

Examples: Crypto, stocks, getting behind specific businesses, real estate, etc.

What you put into it: Potentially large risks.

What you can get out of it: Potentially large rewards. Investing online won’t be too time-consuming or involve any sort of special skill. Compared to the other task-based side hustles on this list, investing is a way to make thousands over the years–depending on a lot of variables, that is.

Tip: Educate yourself before you start throwing your money into whatever is trending.

Online surveys

Examples: Paid research studies, online focus groups, anything on Survey Junkie.

What you put into it: Not much work. Most surveys will take about 20 minutes of your time, and involve little to no real effort.

What you can get out of it: Not much money. Considering these can be mindless and you can do them whenever you have downtime, they’re a little pocket change.

Tip: Never pay to join a survey-taking site. That’s a sure sign of a scam.

There’s no way to make this list exhaustive. With the ability to post your services online, any hobby or skill you have has the potential to earn you money. Get creative and do a lot of market research to make a side hustle a part of your life and, hopefully, a part of your bank account.

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