I've got 99 Problems but a side hustle ain't one! As any regular reader and email list subscriber knows, side income is my favorite way to improve anyone's personal finance situation. Budgets are important, but you'll rarely get rich budgeting. Real wealth comes from income, and every single one of you has the ability to earn more (unless you are restricted by a work visa while living abroad).
A few weeks ago in the private Personal Profitability Facebook group (join the email list to get the link instantly), a member of our community asked if I had a list of options to earn on the side. I didn't, so I got to work. Here is my list of 137 ways to earn from a side hustle. There are plenty of other ways to earn from a side hustle if you are creative and put your mind to it, but this list should be plenty to get you started.
Enjoy this infographic to see the list, and read on below for details on every single one of the 137 ways to earn your first side hustle dollar!
If you want to share this infographic on your site or blog, you are welcome to! I only ask that you add the image using code below exactly as offered. Please do not edit this HTML in any way or you are violating copyright.
- App Developer – If you know what the terms CSS, HTML, PHP, Python, and SQL mean, and how to use them, your skills are in demand. Plenty of people have the idea for the next big app, but little knowledge of how to implement it. You can find clients and list your services on the big gig sites like UpWork and Freelancer.com, or utilize your network to find people looking to hire. (P.S. If this is you, send me an email. If your rates are reasonable, I may have a couple of projects for you.)
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- Blogging – By no means easy money, blogging can be a way to earn big online. Sites like this one earn by selling products, affiliate marketing, or click-based advertising. I make about 10% of my online income from this blog. Of that income, the vast majority comes from affiliate marketing. I have found that click-based advertising takes away from the message of the site, and it wasn't making that much for me anyway. If you want to learn how to start a blog, check out my resources page for links to my favorite domain registrar and hosting companies. For more on running a successful blog, check out Problogger.
- Bookkeeping – If you understand basic accounting and can do simple math while staying organized, bookkeeping can be a very lucrative side gig. Small business owners around the country are happy to pay someone to manage their Quickbooks for them. If you know Quickbooks or are not intimidated to learn (it is pretty easy once you get the hang of it, but getting the hang of it is a challenge), you can manage invoices, payments, receipts, and payroll for businesses who are happy to pay you to take care of it.
- Tax Preparation – If you are great with numbers and don’t mind working long hours from mid-January through mid-April, you can help people prepare their taxes for a fee. Some states require licensing to do this, so check before you start to make sure you are on the right side of the law. You can even help people using tools like TurboTax or H&R Block just like you use for your own taxes, and charge to do it!
- Brand Ambassador – If you have a large online presence through a website and popular social media networks, companies will pay you to try out their stuff and share it with your followers. As a brand ambassador, your job is to project the image of the company and products in the best light possible. The company's goal is to increase brand awareness and sales. The brand ambassador is the vessel.
- Article Writing – This is my top income source, and my only side gig where I earned over $10,000 last year. I actually make more like $30,000 from this source in 2015. To enter this space, you'll need examples of your work and some sort of an online resume. For me, it was this website that helped me land gigs writing for other companies, and my rates (and writing quality) continue to improve each year. You can find listings at the Problogger Job Board and Contena to get started, but there is a big world out there beyond that you can access through strong relationships. Also be sure to create a profile on Contently to show off your best stuff. That reminds me, I need to take a break from this post to get some client work done!
- Fiverr – The vocals at the start and end of the Personal Profitability Podcast came from a Fiverr voiceover artist. The “as seen on” banner at the bottom of my homepage came from Fiverr. If you offer any sort of writing, graphic, audio, or other service that you are willing to do for $5 (you actually only get $4 after fees), you can do it on Fiverr. There are add-ons as well that can increase the price of your gigs in this major online marketplace. Get creative here, there are some odd and bizarre things people are willing to do for $5, or pay you to do for $5.
- Graphic Design – When my sister-in-law got tired of going into the same office with the same frustrations every day, she started her own online graphic design business. With her own graphic design business, she works for herself. She started when she still had that day job. Like with other online gigs, there is lots of competition, so marketing and relationships are just as important as a quality product. Check out Media Bistro for some job listings in addition to other sites already mentioned for online gigs.
- Kindle Book Formatting – When I wrote the Personal Finance Arsenal, I knew I could easily deliver a quality PDF version, but my attempts to convert to the Kindle reader format were in vain. I hired Edward Antrobus to get me all fixed up (he has since started offering the gig on Fiverr as well). If you can learn how the Kindle epub format works and know the tools to convert and format an ebook, this can be a lucrative side gig.
- Mechanical Turk – Amazon's Mechanical Turk is an online marketplace for micro gigs. Think of Fiverr scaled down to the smallest projects, like adding a caption to a photo or categorizing a list. People get paid very small amounts for Fiverr gigs, but they are so small that the pennies add up to dollars quickly if you are an efficient worker. An article I found says that as of a few years ago, the average worker earns $1.20-$5.00 per hour, but you may not be average. Take a look to find out if it is a good fit.
- Online Courses – Online courses are a multi-billion dollar industry, and if you are willing to put in the work, you can get a slice of the pie. To succeed, you need both a great course and an audience. I am actually planning out a course for all of you, but it is still a ways off. The best expert I know in this space is David Siteman Garland. If you want to build and sell courses, he is the go-to expert.
- Online Surveys – Most online survey sites pay you in points you can cash in for goodies like frequent flyer miles or gift cards. Some will pay you in actual money. I shop at Amazon for most of my purchases, so sites like Swagbucks, which offer Amazon gift cards as payment, might work well for someone like me. A few minutes of online searching will give you plenty of survey sites to choose from. One such site you can get started with quickly is Opinion Post (if you sign up through this link, I get a small referral fee).
- Resume Writing – A lot of people need jobs, and those people need resumes. Everyone has a best professional face to put forward, but most Americans cannot write a good resume, and they are willing to pay for help. Depending on the client or service you offer, payment can vary widely. People are willing to pay an experienced writer with a history of good results, so consider helping someone out for free to get a portfolio together.
- Self-Publish a Book – Self-publishing is hard work, and your results may vary depending on the size of your audience and the topic of the book. My self-published book, the Personal Finance Arsenal, has not been a record-setting hit by any means. I also didn't spend much time on marketing, which is a big reason for failure in any side business. If you can write something high quality and get it out in front of a lot of people, this can be a very lucrative industry. And it's a good way to mark “write a book” off your bucket list.
- Self-Publish a Children's Book – Children's books and adult books are very different, which is why I listed children's book separately. Rather than focusing on writing, children's books are all about the pictures and distilling a story down to about 10-20 sentences. If you are a talented artist or really good with kids and poems, hire out the other half and you are on your way to children's book success.
- SEO Specialist – I have to be honest, I think that most SEO experts are the scumbags of online marketing. However, there are some really good, white hat SEO services that can produce amazing results. Just stay away from that black hat junk and you'll be fine. Learn more about search engine optimization that works today at Backlinko.
- Social Media Manager – I spent about six months as the social media manager for startup Switchmate. In that role, I wrote blog posts, emails, and managed social media channels for the then pre-launch business. The business was totally awesome, but social media is some serious time-intensive stuff, so I decided to move on to make more time for article writing. If social media is your thing, though, you can make a good income doing Facebook and Twitter posts for growing brands. If you want to link with companies hiring for this role in an “on the side” capacity, check out my friends at Cloudpeeps.
- Transcription – If you can type really fast, you can make good money as a transcriber. Competition in this market is fierce, as virtual workers in places like India and the Philippines are willing to do this work at a much lower price than most USA based workers. However, people are willing to pay more to a native English speaker and someone who can take the time to do some good editing work as well. I hired out the transcription of my podcast via UpWork, and had mixed results. One worker in India had the best price, but I needed another freelancer to go back and edit. That editor is now my primary virtual assistant, and does all of my transcriptions going forward.
- Translator – How many languages do you speak fluently? If the answer is more than one, you can earn online as a website or document translator. Translators are typically paid based on the length and difficulty of the document. If you have command over technical writing terms in a foreign language, such as business, medical, or engineering terminology, you can expect a better rate.
- Virtual Assistant – The ‘catch all' job of working online, a virtual assistant can do nearly any online task that may be outsourced by a busy business owner. Pay varies based on your location, language skills, and other online skills you can offer. Some VAs are very specialized, while others are more general. My general VA helps me run the administrative tasks on this website and does some social media work for me as well. VAs can do things as diverse as email management, travel planning, and basic writing and graphic work. I wouldn't outsource your entire online business, but outsourcing has been amazing for me, and I am happy to pay someone to help me out. The biggest name in the virtual assistant world is Chris Ducker, and his website is a go-to resource for both workers and people looking to hire.
- Website Design – The second biggest slice of my online income pie comes from WordPress design. If you know HTML and CSS, people who don't are willing to pay you big bucks to build and maintain their websites. I have built dozens of sites for many happy clients. The rates you can charge are based on your skills and portfolios, so staying up-to-date on the latest best practices will help you win bigger and better clients. Most of my clients are referrals from past clients, but you can get out there and compete for good jobs on job boards and online marketplaces.
- Research Assistant – The most expert Googlers and library buffs can get paid to help businesses and individuals complete research tasks and other odds and ends similar to a virtual assistant. Being able to quickly find answers to questions and concisely deliver the answer with excellent English skills is key here (for English based clients, that it). A new company that can help you match with clients is Wonder, and you can sign up or learn more here.
- Customer Service Phone Support – Companies typically pay $10-$15 per hour for phone support, and there is sometimes extra seasonal demand around the holidays for retail companies. Companies including Alorica at Home, U-Haul, Sykes, and LiveOps are big names in this industry. Job boards like FlexJobs and Indeed may have more listings as well.
- Support Chat – In some cases, those “click here for support” chat applications connect you with computerized artificial intelligence to help answer your questions. Better companies have real people on the other end. Companies like Needle and SiteStaff can get you up and running. You just need a friendly online disposition and high speed internet to get started.
- Search Engine Evaluation – Companies like Lionbridge and Leapforce hire people to work on an hourly basis to evaluate internet search engines and search placement. Paying in the $13-$15 per hour range, this is a great part-time way to earn some cash on your own schedule from the comfort of your couch or home office.
- Community Moderation – Community moderators have a job that requires a thick skin, but still one that can be done from the home with nothing more than a computer. If you can read English (if you've made it this far, I think you have that covered) and can follow site guidelines on what content to remove, you have the skills.
- Software User Testing – This gig is best suited to people who enjoy technology. If you have participated in software beta tests in the past, you can do the same thing, but for money! Pay varies depending on the site and software you are testing. Get started at sites like UserTesting, StartUpLift, whatusersdo, userlytics, and trymyUI.
- Product Wholesaling – Some retail and product companies are looking to sell their products through as many channels as possible. In some cases, they are willing to hire a middleman to sell their products on sites like eBay and Amazon. SaleHoo is a directory of legitimate companies interested in hiring a middleman to act as a storefront online for their products.
- Online Juries – Attorneys preparing for a trial sometimes run a mock court case for a focus group or online jury to get an idea of how their arguments will appear to the real jury on trial day. Sites like Online Verdict connect lawyers with online jurors looking to make a few bucks.
- Travel Planning – If you are a wiz with finding the best airfare and hotel rates, you can open up a travel planning business. This works similarly to a travel agency, but you would book for the client using their own information rather than as an agent. If it goes well, travel agent could be a fun career path. Bonus idea: If you are an expert booking trips with miles and points, this is another lucrative business that can earn you hundreds of dollars per trip booked.
- Data Entry – Okay, so this may be the most boring gig on the list. However, fast typers can make a few bucks turning documents into spreadsheets and databases as a professional data enterer. There are tons of places to find this type of work online, but due to the competitive nature and low skill requirement, pay is not great.
- Write Greeting Cards – Mr. Deeds isn't the only one who gets glory sending cards into Hallmark. Okay, maybe not Hallmark, but there is a list of sites happy to pay for selected greeting card submissions. Get started with this list at Freedom with Writing.
Gig Apps and Sharing Economy
- Uber/Lyft Driver – The other night I needed a ride to a show downtown, and I grabbed my phone, hit a button, and a Lyft driver was at my door three minutes later. The sharing economy is here to stay, and while some cities are grappling with the best way to regulate them, Uber and Lyft are a great way to make money in your spare time if you have a car. I've even looking into doing this myself in my little bit of downtime. If you want the whole story, check out this post that tells the good and bad of driving for Uber by my friend Martin at Studenomics or sign up right now here.
- Delivery Driver – I wanted Mexican the other day, so I grabbed my phone, typed in an order, and a few minutes later it was at my door. Thanks to services like Postmastes and Amazon Prime Now, convenient delivery is available for a lot more than pizza and Chinese food. All of those deliveries need delivery drivers, and you can jump in and take deliveries on demand at Postmates. Other similar services include DoorDash and Amazon Flex.
- Rent Your Spare Room – If you have a mother-in-law suite or room above the garage, you can earn by listing your space on Airbnb. I've even seen some dedicated folks own properties just for this purpose, like my friend Paula at Afford Anything. While there is some up-front investment required, or a spare room, you can make a lot from Airbnb doing very little work.
- Rent Your Car – If you really think about it, your car sits idle a lot. While you are at work, your car just sits there. If you live in a two car home, odds are one car does not get used much on the weekend. Why not turn that idle car into income? With services like Turo (formerly RelayRides) or Getaround. If you are going out of town and your car will be sitting at an airport, check out FlightCar.
- Gigs from Apps – If you're up to make a few bucks here and there for doing odd jobs, you may do well with TaskRabbit. Other similar apps include Gigwalk, Field Agent, Loot, and Rewardable.
- Rent Your Stuff – You already know you can rent out your home or car, but what about other stuff like video game systems, furniture, and power tools? Zilok is a forum to make money renting out things you already own.
- Rent a Parking Spot – If you live in an area where parking is a hassle, or near a large stadium, you can rent out a parking space on a monthly basis, or for special events. Advertise on Craigslist and scope out other spaces for market pricing.
- Baking – Do you have that special touch in the kitchen? Bake sales are not just for elementary schools and non-profit fundraisers. Skilled bakers usually dream of owning their own bakery with a storefront, but even the greatest bakers in the world started with humbler beginnings. You can sell your baked goods to local stores for resale, or try selling independently online or at a local market. Last year I met someone starting a made-from-scratch pretzel business. They beat the hell out of anything I'd ever tried before! Make sure you bake your goods in a health department approved kitchen to avoid getting the smackdown by the local government.
- Dumpster Diving – Upcycling is turning something that might otherwise be discarded as trash into something useful and valuable. I have seen people dumpster dive around college campuses on move out weekend at the end of the school year and come away with thousands of dollars in furniture, decorations, and other valuable goods that can be upcycled or sold on Craigslist.
- Farmer's Market Vendor – Every farmer's market vendor has something in common. They grow or cook something to sell. If you have a green thumb and end up with loads of extra produce, you may be able to sell through a local farmer's market. Other popular items at farmer's markets include pickled things, organic eggs, and baked goods. Here is a list of what you need to do to get started.
- Firewood Collection and Sales – If you live somewhere with lots of trees that are up for grabs, you can chop up those trees and sell bundled firewood. Outside of cutting down trees, many firewood sellers get their supply from local factories and forests where they can collect what would otherwise go to waste.
- Flipping – There are people all over the world who make money from flipping. I once featured an interview with a serious rare and used book flipper, but you can buy and resell much more than that. If you can pick a specific niche or speciality, you can scourge thrift stores and garage sales for potential diamonds in the rough, or seriously underpriced items. You can learn a ton about flipping at this Reddit community.
- Ice Cream Truck – As a kid, I always jumped at the sound of the ice cream man driving down the street. I rushed out the door to spend my parents' hard earned money on Ninja Turtle and Super Mario popsicles with those crumbly gumball eyes. This is where food trucks started! If you can use a van or truck with enough power to keep the treats cold, you are on your way to delicious profits. Parking near parks and schools on a hot day is a great way to earn a few extra bucks, in addition to driving through the neighborhood playing that melodic tune over and over and over.
- Stock Photographs – If you have a great camera and love taking pictures, turn your hobby into income with stock photograph sales online. Sites like iStockPhoto and ShutterStock are built just for this purpose. For a big list of stock photo sites where you can get paid and more tips of getting your business started, check out Microstock.
- Jewelry Making – If you have a nack for making beautiful jewelry, you can be like my college pal Brandon Knaster and sell your own designs. In addition to your own website and online marketplaces like Etsy, you may be able to sell at local markets or through local jewelry stores or retailers.
- Kids Clothes – I'm about as good with a needle and thread as Steven Segall is at acting. If you have skills with a sewing machine and a creative touch, you can make kids clothes to sell on marketplaces like Etsy or at local markets or specialty stores.
- Lemonade Stand – Again, not just for kids, a lemonade stand on a busy street can be a great way to bring in a few bucks. Setup near a beach, park, or trail on a hot day and watch those dollars roll in. Remember, in some cities you need a license and may be required to collect sales tax. Before you go big time, test your recipe on some friends.
- Plasma Donation – Blood can be donated to blood banks out of the goodness of your heart, but some blood banks are willing to pay you for the good stuff.
- Quiltmaking – Another option for the textile pros, custom quilts can bring in a big premium. You can make regular quilts for sale online or through local specialty shops. If you can build a reputation, you will start to see custom orders come in.
- Scrapbooking – When I earned my Eagle Scout rank in high school, my mom promised me a scrapbook showing my progress from Cub Scout to the highest rank. The thing is, it never happened. If you can get the word out about your service, there is plenty of need for scrapbooking expertise. (Bonus idea: create custom shadowboxes)
- Sell Your Stuff – Adam Baker got out of debt and into profit by selling his junk. Man vs. Debt became a hit, because it is so easy to sell and turn your clutter into cash with eBay and Craigslist.
- Sperm Donation – Who said jerking off is a waste of time? I'll let you decide the ethics of this yourself. A quick Google search shows that this can pay up to $1,500 per month if you are a busy donor.
- Sell Breast Milk – Moms who are over producers or still have good milk production while weening their own kids off of the boob can sell excess milk for a profit. OnlyTheBreast is a marketplace that connects producers with buyers. Or, if you are like Borat, you can make cheese from breast milk.
- Woodworking – Who doesn't want to be a little more like the badass Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation? Mustache aside, Ron Swanson was portrayed as an amazing woodworking craftsman, made high quality canoes, chairs, and other furniture. If you are like Ron, get to work and sell your quality goods!
- Direct Selling – Everyone has heard of companies like Avon, Mary Kay, and others. If not from a friend annoying the hell out of you on Facebook to buy the crap they are hocking, you may have heard of it through a less annoying channel. If you decide to do something like this, tread lightly with your friends and work hard to avoid multi-level-marketing (also called MLM or pyramid marketing). I don't really like businesses like this, but they do work for some people so I didn't want to leave it off the list.
- Professional Calligraphy – If you have excellent handwriting, or are willing to learn fancy calligraphy scripts, you can take an online course to learn everything you need to know to write words for hire. You don't even have to come up with the words! Check out this post at The Penny Hoarder for details on getting started. You can work locally or sell on sites like Etsy.
- Seasonal Holiday Crafts – Artfully inclined individuals who get into the Christmas, Halloween, and Thanksgiving spirit yearround can make centerpieces, decorations, and other crafts to sell on sites like Etsy and elsewhere. Maybe tie into a knitting or clothing making business to sell seasonally themes hats, scarves, and costumes as a package for holiday hosts.
- Babysitting – Babysitting isn't just for middle school girls. Anyone can make money on evenings and weekends watching other people's kids. Most babysitters make $10-$15 per hour. If you babysit four hours a week at the bottom of that range, you'll bring in an extra $1,920 per year. Do it a few times a week or push up to the higher end of the range and you can make your way toward $5,000 per year or much more. If you want to level up, you can become a nanny working longer hours on evenings and weekends.
- Career/Personal Coaching – Coaching is big business. Past podcast guest Suzan Bond made a living coaching executives, but you can focus clients on any topic where you have expertise. Hot trends in coaching include entrepreneurship, fitness, and career coaching.
- Craft Instruction – Earlier in this post I told you how bad I am at sewing. If you are skilled in anything artsy or crafty, teach people how to do it! You can try to teach through a local community center, or build an audience and teach around town.
- Cuddling for Hire – Get your mind out of the gutter. This is far from legalized prostitution. There are serious cuddling businesses popping up around the country. If you have good hygiene and can market locally, you can start a legit cuddling business. In Portland, cuddler Samantha Hess charges by the hour and makes a full-time living.
- Dance Instruction – Do you have dance moves like Napoleon Dynamite? Get on the dance floor with a bunch of students to teach them how to Douggie, samba, salsa, swing, or any other area where you know how to dance like a boss! Charge by the student or by the class for group instruction.
- Doula – I have to admit that I had no idea what a doula was until my wife got pregnant with our baby girl. Apparently doulaing is a big deal, and it can lead to a big income. A doula is a birthing assistant. Kind of like a midwife, but not exactly the same thing.
- Elderly Care/Companion – Aging may not be fun, but we all have to look forward to it someday. Many elderly people need a little help around the house and help dealing with everyday tasks like taking medications and moving from a wheelchair to a toilet and back. If you are patient, caring, and don’t mind working odd hours, caring for an elderly person may be a great way to supplement your income. If you know anyone in companion care as a full-time job, you may be able to fill in during days and evenings off. As a bonus, elderly people have the best stories. You may make yourself a great friend while helping them with daily needs.
- Massage Therapy (Masseuse) – Massage therapy is a gig where you can set your own working hours. If you have a Monday-Friday, 9-5 day job, you are in a great position to do massage work on evenings after work or weekends. Most big cities have a few massage schools. Pick one that fits your budget and schedule, graduate, and start making $1 per minute for giving people a rub down. Just keep things on the up-and-up. While people may pay extra for happy endings, that type of side income isn’t making it into this post.
- Music Teacher – Were you first chair in high school band and keep up with your skills? Did you play in a band called MouseRat with some buddies in your 20s? Do you have excellent guitar, drum, or piano skills? It’s time to turn that love of music into money! You can give kids or adults music lessons in their homes, at a music shop (if you can find one that has space available), or even at your place if you feel comfortable with it. Post advertisements at schools, community centers, and of course have your own website sharing your background and services.
- Personal Shopper – My mom loves to shop. If you are like her, but would rather make money than spend, turn your love of shopping into a part-time income as a personal shopper. Just like Rachel at Bloomingdales on the show Friends, you can find yourself helping rich people pick the best styles, and pick up more than a couple of bucks while doing it.
- Pet Training – My wife has a nack with dogs, and about 10 years ago spent six weeks in San Francisco learning the ins and outs of everything you need to know to train a pet. If you have the time to take a pet training class, or have had lots of success with your pets in the past, you can be a pet trainer for hire. But let’s be honest, you are not really training pets. You are training people how to stop spoiling their dogs and letting them crap in the house.
- Tour Guide – Are you the go-to person in your group of friends on the best places to go and things to do in your hometown? Stop giving it away for free! Well, I guess you still can with your friends, but start charging other people right away. Just be sure to check licensing and certification laws in case you need that before you start. You can connect with potential customers on your own website or using third party sites like ToursByLocals, Shiroube, Vayable, RentALocalFriend, or RentAFriend.
- Pedicab Driver – My best friend Jakob used to spend late nights and game days shuttling people around Downtown Denver… with a bicycle. Pedicabs are a great income source if your city allows them. Jakob started out by renting a cab from a larger company, but eventually purchased his own so he could keep 100% of the profit.
- Tutor – From elementary school through graduate school, someone out there needs help with math, writing, science, economics, geography, history, foreign languages, or virtually anything else taught in schools. Turn their needs into a business! Advertise similarly to how music teacher advertise. Schools, Craigslist, and your own website are a great place to start.
- eBay Selling – If you are an eBay listing rockstar, you can start your own “I'll sell your stuff on eBay” business. You take care of the listing, seller communications, and shipping. In exchange, you get a fee for your efforts.
- Foreign Language Classes – ¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? את מדברת עיברית? Whatever language you speak, odds are someone is willing to pay for a class to learn it. Advertise in local community centers and school community boards to get started.
- Personal Training and Fitness Classes – I am the first to admit that I have almost no idea what to do in a gym. I don't know what weights to lift in what order or what machines to use to reach my goals. Take on clients or teach a class if you are a fitness expert. Think big like yoga, spin classes, and more.
- Care Taker – Like babysitting, except not for babies. Care takers help eldery and disabled individuals around the house, which may including helping people move from a wheelchair to a toilet or preparing meals. This can be a full-time gig, but you can find part-time care taking work helping out when relatives are at work or on vacation.
- Residential Computer Repair – Are you the person in your family everyone comes to for computer help? Do you know how to do computer fixes like a RAM upgrade or router firmware update? While you might think those are basic skills, most people can't do anything to the inside of a computer and don't know what firmware means. Setting up wireless internet and fixing sluggish computers can be a big business, and one you can do in your spare time.
- Catering – Do you believe you are the second coming of Julia Childs? If your family and friends rave about your cooking and you can’t get enough time in the kitchen, you can start a business as a caterer for hire. Small weddings, bar mitzvahs, and business events are always looking for food, and you can be the person that makes it happen. In most cities, you will need to rent space at a commercial kitchen to meet health laws, but otherwise there is very little required to get started. Get yourself listed on Gig Salad, build your own website, and consider joining a local chamber of commerce to get the word out.
- Event Food Sever – Maybe you don’t have the kitchen chops like those cooks on Chopped, but that doesn’t mean you can’t score a paying gig through a catering business. Weekends and holidays are prime time for the catering biz, and companies are always looking for someone reliable to work a party or event.
- Club Promoter – If you want to be Tiesto when you grow up but don’t know how to DJ, you can still get into the club scene in your city and make a nice profit doing so. Start by contacting the marketing director at your favorite downtown club to learn about how their promoting program works. Typically promoters sign guests up for a discounted guest list and get paid per person that actually shows up for the club. You have to be outgoing and willing to leverage your social network to really make this work in the beginning. The most successful promoters can arrange their own fully managed night at some venues where you can get a bigger portion of cover charges and/or a cut of bar sales.
- Dancer – Keep your mind out of the gutter, I’m not talking about stripping (though they do make a ton of money if they’re good). My bar mitzvah party was the talk of the school for a few days thanks to two Denver Broncos cheerleaders that joined me at my party as dancers. Again, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and private events will probably be the biggest revenue source. Connect with local DJ companies for an in. If you are crazy hot and really know how to strut your stuff, you may be able to get a gig as a go go dancer at a top dance club.
- DJ – Did I mention I’m a DJ? Seriously, they call me DJ Yofi. I wanted to learn how to master the ones and twos when I discovered dance music from The Crystal Method and The Chemical Brothers in middle school, and shortly after college finally had the money to buy my own mixer. Flash forward and I have played for thousands of people at cruiser rides, private events, night clubs, and my own living room on occasion. While my living room does not pay, most other places do.
- Event Planning – People with great ideas, organization skills, and style can combine their super powers to become a top notch event planner. Some event planners help with every detail from the start, and others come in towards the end to ensure the big day goes off without a hitch.
- Event Security – A job primarily for tall, strong, intimidating people, event security is typically paid hourly to keep out the riff raff and make sure nobody gets too out of control after a few drinks. Connect with event planners and venue managers to see what might be available. Off duty police usually charge around $75 per hour, so you’ll get less than that, but it can still be a lucrative way to supplement your income.
- Face Painter – Moving on from weddings to kids parties, artists who are good with kids can charge by the hour or by the event to paint faces. Face painters also do well at fairs, carnivals, and any big family friendly event.
- Food Sales at Concerts/Fairs – Fried Twinkies and everything on a stick. That’s what people want to eat at state fairs, concerts, rodeos, and similar events. Seasonal events may need to bring on extra staff to sell, or talk to the concessions manager at any stadium or arena to see how they hire and work.
- Sell Snacks Before the Game – If you want to limit your hours to before the game begins, you can join the vendors who show up outside baseball stadiums and other venues to sell peanuts, bottled water, and other snacks and drinks to people looking to save a few bucks compared to the ridiculous prices charged by the people we were just discussing one paragraph up. You will need to invest a little bit for inventory. Also check with local laws to see if you need a license or to pay local or state sales tax.
- Ticket Scalping – Another gig that requires checking local and state laws before you start, you may be able to buy and sell game and event tickets for a profit. This article from Daily Finance helps people get started scalping on the ground, or check this article from the Penny Hoarder to learn about online scalping.
- Form a Band – If teaching music isn’t for you, but you still want to cash in on your killer guitar skills, do like my old hair guy Fred and start a band. Live music venues like to bring in new talent from time to time. However, never work for free! Also, don’t assume that drinks are free for the band. And try to find a venue that matches your style, unlike the Blues Brothers.
- Photography – There are two ways to make money as a photographer, but right now we’re focused on events – head back to the “Sell Something” section for info on selling stock photos. If you are great with people and have skills with a digital SLR camera and Photoshop, you can photograph personal and business events. My friend Anna in Denver does wedding photography with her husband for a living, and they love their job!
- Valet Parking – For the second time in this article, my friend Jakob is making an appearance. He spent years working in valet parking, and regularly brought home some serious dough in tips on top of his hourly rate. Contact event planners and event companies to get on the list when they need someone reliable to park and unpark cars.
- Flash Mob Business – I never guessed when I went to my first flash mob in October, 2010 that I would turn it into a profitable business. But I have! Over five years later I have brought in thousands of dollars planning flash mobs for weddings, proposals, and private events through Denver Flash Mob. I did so well I wrote an ebook on how to plan flash mobs for fun and profit. Check it out!
- Officiate Weddings – You can get a quick online license to officiate weddings in most states, and the job can be fun and lucrative. If you are a great speaker who can tell stories, distill information from participants, and spread the love, this gig can pay between $300-$500 per wedding! This site has more information on how it all works.
- Cleaning Service – Home and office cleaning is not a glamorous job, but it is a gig that’s in demand and can be used to build an even bigger cleaning business by contracting out jobs to other cleaners. When starting, you can advertise locally or sign up with apps like Exec or GetMaid for a more Uber like maid experience.
- Furniture Assembly – I know lots of people who like shopping at Ikea, but very few who actually enjoy putting that furniture together. If you are that weird breed of person that likes building furniture from Ikea or elsewhere, this is a great way to make a few bucks. TaskRabbit has a handyman section that includes furniture delivery, or you can advertise locally at grocery stores, community centers, churches, and retirement communities.
- Gardening – Green thumbed entrepreneurs may see success running a gardening business. This can be run seasonally in colder climates, or as a complement to a snow removal service that runs during the winter. In the spring, summer, and fall months, you can plant, prune, and maintain plants or gardens. And don’t forget lawn mowing and raking leaves.
- Handyman – I know how to fix up a few basic plumbing problems, but if I need any serious home repairs or projects, I need a handyman. Previously mentioned TaskRabbit is a great place to start. Also consider advertising on Craigslist, with a car sticker or magnet, and online with listings on Yelp, Google Maps, and local online business directories.
- Housesitting – People with pets who like to travel sometimes hire a house sitter to take care of the pets and make sure the house does not sit vacant. Professional house sitters get paid for that. And, you can typically house sit while going to a day job during the day, as long as you can come by for an afternoon walk.
- Interior Design – If you are the friend people come to for advice on setting up their apartments and houses, you are already a recognized interior design expert. Add on a habit of reading sites like Apartment Therapy and a slight obsession with Genevieve Gorder, and you’re posed for a great side income as an interior designer.
- Landscape Design – Decorating a home is very different from decorating a yard. Knowing how to arrange trees, plants, flowers, lighting, sod, and pavers around a home is a valuable skillset. If you have the vision and knowledge to plan climate appropriate landscaping and the knowhow to turn that vision into reality, you can start landscape design business.
- Lawn Mowing – While this can be mixed and matched with gardening and other outdoor home care services, some people just need a lawn mower man to come cut the grass. If you have a mower, a way to move it, and a few hours on early mornings, evenings, or weekends, you can make this business work.
- Organization Specialist –Hoarders are an extreme situation, but there are lots home homes around the country filled with junk strewn about. Some people have a knack for organization and would prefer to live in The Container Store over their own home. If that sounds like you, get to work!
- Painter – Growing up, we put down blue painter’s tape on the trim and painted many of the rooms around my parent’s house. If you know how to dip a roller or brush into a bucket and evenly apply paint, you know everything you need to start a painting business. For bigger jobs, consider bringing on local high school or college students as low cost labor.
- Mural Painter – This takes more skill than just turning a wall a neutral shade of tan. Serious artists can earn big money painting murals for businesses and homeowners. Think of kid's rooms and business walls when advertising your services. Experienced muralists charge hourly or per square foot. FindaMuralist.com is a great place to start.
- Pet Care Services / Pet Sitting – Some pet owners want a house sitter when they leave town, but others are happy to have a pet sitter stop by a few times a day to feed, walk, and play with their furry family members. If you are allergic to dogs or cats, or hate pets, probably not such a great idea. Otherwise, show me the money!
- Pool Cleaning – Pool guys are not just in thing in adult films. There are real, live pool cleaners who travel to customer homes to take care of the pool out back. If you already know how to deal with pool chemicals and maintenance, this is no brainer. If not, you can always learn. Managing pool chemicals and cleaning out pool filters is actually fairly straightforward in most circumstances.
- Snow Shoveling – Not many people actually enjoy shoveling, with the possible exception of my Dad. Most normal people, dread going out in the cold to shovel pounds and pounds of snow from their sidewalks. On extra special days, you get to chip away at ice as well. Help your neighbors and others in your city avoid that by taking care of it for them. You can dramatically increase efficiency with a snow blower and a truck or trailer to take it along with you for jobs. The best way to build up this business is to have a list of customers who you will shovel for automatically (and bill later) any time there is more than a pre-determined snowfall level. e.g. I will come shovel if it snows more than 3”.
- Raking – Either as part of a full-service yard care company or on its own, raking fall leaves can be lucrative. You are only busy a few months of the year, and the payoff can be worthwhile. Check what other local companies charge to best price your service.
- Dog Poop Cleanup – Poop is gross, but that comes with the territory of pet ownership. Grab your work gloves and a plastic trash bag, that’s all you need to succeed in this line of work. A pooper scooper tool can make it easier on your back and help make your cleanup jobs a bit more efficient. Advertise to middle class and affluent neighborhoods for the best return on your invested time.
Other Services – Outside the Home
- Alternations / Sewing – I have a bunch of friends who are handy with a sewing machine. I am not one of those people. When I need an alteration or something sewn up, I pay someone else to do that. If you have the skills, you can be that someone else for people in your area. You can take on bigger jobs if you have skills in dressmaking or other creative clothing creation (which could also work as an Etsy tie in).
- Auto Mechanic – I can change windshield wipers, air filters, and do other very basic car maintenance (I even changed my own oil once!). However, like most people, I hire an expert when my car needs more complex repairs or maintenance. Most people go to the shop for work, but sell them on the convenience of a reliable, skilled mechanic showing up at their home or workplace to take care of the job so they don’t have to spend any extra time. If this sounds like you, can can get going on your own or through a service like Your Mechanic.
- Car Wash – A car wash is not something reserved for high school bands, cheerleaders, and swim teams. There is nothing holding you back from capitalizing on a car wash other than you having yet to take the initiative to get it up and running. You can operate a car wash out of a fixed location, as a pickup service where you take cars to a 3rd party car wash and return them, or as a traveling service where you clean cars at people’s homes or workplaces.
- Consultant – This can be a blanket term for lots of different gigs, but the connotation here is important. A consultant is usually someone providing big value and professional expertise to a business. People often start a consultancy business after retiring or reaching a notable level of success. If you are somewhere in the middle, or just want a platform to get started, take a look at the new PWC Talent Exchange from PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
- Day Labor – While not exactly glamorous, day laborers can make a living that supports their family. If it makes money, it is not beneath any of us. You don’t need many skills to get going here, but some background in home improvement or construction helps. Ask around at a local hardware store or search online for agencies that help match laborers with employers. In most cases, you’ll end up doing some construction or agricultural work on an hourly basis, and pay is geared towards unskilled workers. However, doing this a day or two per week could cover a vacation, help you knock out your student loans, or build up your savings.
- Door to Door Advertisement Distribution – Political and social campaigns are the most likely source of this type of work, but there are plenty of businesses looking to hire someone to hand out flyers around target neighborhoods. Who do you think puts that pizza coupon on every door on your block? It is not a volunteer; it is someone getting paid. Be that person. Get paid!
- Envelope Stuffer – Sometimes this can be done from home, other times it is in an office alone or with a team. Either way, the job is simple. You put together packets and/or stick paper into envelopes. It just requires patience and a good playlist with headphones to keep you pumped while you work. I suggest fast paced electronic dance music.
- Extra on a TV Show – My friend Ninja from the blog Punch Debt in the Face was an extra on Veronica Mars and became real life friends with Kristen Bell, and made $1,200 in a 10-hour day on set! I can’t guarantee that you will make the same money or become friends with one of the most rad celebrities in Hollywood, but if you can find a gig as an extra, you will usually make a few bucks and have a fun, memorable experience. This article at Thrillist has more details on what it is like working as an extra.
- Golf Caddy – If you are into golf as a hobby, working as a caddy could be a great way to enjoy time on the green while making some extra cash, plus tips! M0st golfers who hire a caddy expect some level of knowledge on which clubs to use at the right time, and you should have a good understanding of the rules of golf. Otherwise, you are just following a rich guy around with his golf clubs giving advice when asked. Talk to local country clubs and golf courses when starting out. Once you have a few clients who really like you, you can find more through word-of-mouth.
- Modeling – Art classes need nude people to stand around and get drawn and painted. In addition, magazines, publications, and retailers often need people to pose with clothes on. If you are objectively good looking (that means people other than your mom and/or other family tell you that you are good looking), you may be able to make some money posing or at a photo shoot. Art models make around $20-$25 per hour.
- Moving Business – After moving myself from an apartment into my first condo, I decided I was done moving myself. I have happily paid movers for every move since. Those are thousands of dollars well spent, particularly when your move involves stairs. My friend John started a moving company where he rented a truck and hired a couple of guys by the hour. It has expanded into a larger, more profitable enterprise that provides him a full-time living, but he started just doing moves on weekends.
- Newspaper Delivery – Warren Buffett’s first job is no secret. While newspaper routes for young kids are no longer as common as they once were, the industry has evolved to bring in a new crop of earners. If you own a truck or SUV and are willing to work very early morning hours, you can deliver for an entire neighborhood before going into work at a day job.
- Item Transportation – “There’s a new type of gambler.” Well, that’s how the show Shipping Wars on A&E talks about people in the shipping and transportation for hire business. Call them truckers, movers, haulers, or anything else, this business does require a big up-front investment of capital and a big time investment. However, it can stack with online businesses and a nomadic lifestyle to lead to a great income and travel opportunities. Online portal uShip is mentioned on the show, and a great way to get involved in the business. As they say, it is a great way to “Get ship done.”
- Participate in a Study – In college I had friends regularly go in for sleep studies and alcohol studies, but there are others including medical trials that pay even more. There are some risks, so understand what you are signing up for before you get started. These types of studies are typically advertised online by universities, dedicated research companies, and pharmaceutical companies. Browse for options in your area.
- Public Speaking – The first speaker who really turned me onto the idea of making money through speaking was Grant Baldwin. Since meeting him, I have seen lots of entrepreneurial minded friends start getting fat paychecks from schools, conferences, and companies looking to bring in a professional speaker. This Entrepreneur article has great tips on getting started.
- Santa Clause (Seasonal) – If you are large and jolly, you can fill a certain pair of boots better than most. And you know who’s boots I’m talking about: Santa Clause! Christian, Jewish, Atheist? Who cares! The only –ist you need is Capitalist to make this work. And a good disposition and willingness to play the role of Chris Cringle as thousands of kids sit on your lap.
- Secret Shopper (Mystery Shopper) – Enter this world with caution, as there are some secret shopping companies that are less savory than others. As a general rule, you should never, ever pay anything to work for someone else, or do any job on this list, secret shopping included. That said, there are many legitimate opportunities for secret shopping for pay. Sometimes you are paid in free stuff, but I prefer getting paid in cash. Always review every detail before signing up. The Work at Home Wife has a more detailed article explaining how to get started with a legitimate list of companies included.
- Shoe Shining – I’ll never forget the man on the 16th Street Mall in Denver every day at lunchtime. Rain or shine, or snow, he would be out there and periodically yell his signature phrase: “SHOEEEE SHINE!” All you need to get started is a chair, a few clean rags, and shoe polish of various colors.
- Sign Spinner/Twirler – Everyone has seen those guys (or gals) standing at a busy intersection advertising tax prep services, pizza, going out-of-business sales, or even marijuana stores if you live in Denver. Sign spinning is a big part of marketing for brick-and-mortar business. In fact, it has made it into the big time with an annual Las Vegas championship competition!
- Street Performance – I have spoken to performers on Boulder’s Pearl Street Mall and Key West’s Mallory Square about their street performing acts. I was surprised to find that many of these performers can make a full living doing this, but not-surprisingly, most of them started part-time to make sure their act could succeed. Check into local street performance laws before you take your act to the masses to make sure you are in compliance with permits and other regulations.
- Focus Groups – Businesses are always working on the next big thing, and they use focus groups to help them create products that will be successful when launched rather than investing big in a flop. You can find focus groups through sites like FindFocusGroups.com or looking on Google or Craigslist for “focus group” or “market research” or “paid study” keywords.
- Standardized Patients – My sister just finished medical school, and had to poke and prod professional “standardized patients” who also give feedback to the doctors in training. This is a good gig for people who have daytime availability and generally good health, plus acting skills that can lead to a proper diagnosis. Most medical schools pay $15-$20 per hour for this type of acting.
- Paid Reviews – Take your Yelp skills to the next level with paid reviews. Similar to secret shopping, but different enough to earn its own spot on this list, companies will pay you to try out their product or service and write an honest review online. Keep things on the up-and-up by only writing honest reviews and disclosing when you were paid.
- On-Site Building Manager – Some apartment buildings pay an onsite manager to deal with day-to-day concerns, and sometimes throw in free rent. The downside, you have to be available on the phone 24 hours a day and on-site at night to deal with emergency maintenance issues.
- Online Security Expert – Every week someone is getting hacked or breached. If you have good knowledge of online security best practices, you can save someone future trouble by helping them get their passwords and computers secured today. A lot of people don't understand that Windows has a free antivirus program and LastPass can store unique passwords for every website you use.
- Small Business IT Support – Just like those people who need computer help at home, there are many business owners who could use a little help with their computers at work. Small businesses typically don't have their own IT department, so you can fill that void by offering IT support for hire. If you know how to set up an office network, repair slow or broken computers, install a NAS, and know how to turn a computer off and back on again, you could be a great fit for this income source. You can always Google it if you get stuck!
- Officiating – Local sports leagues, both for children and adults, need referees. You get to dress like a zebra, blow a whistle and yell at people, and get paid for it. Not for everyone, but I am sure this has to be someone's dream gig. The National Association of Sports Officials can get you started.
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