I’ve already written about the odd jobs that kept me afloat in college, but I haven’t stopped taking them since! Enough can’t be written about the merit of a good side gig (or “side hustle,” as the internet is known to call it). Having a stable, fixed income is great, but it’s not the limit to what you can earn in a given month. If you’re strapped for cash, feeling pressure from a loan (hello, new house), or just want extra cash for your next vacation, why not spend a few hours a week on something other than a hike or binge watching The Magicians (just me?).
If it’s something you genuinely enjoy, why not pad your income a bit with some extra cushion? I’ve tried a few side gigs in the past few years, with varying levels of success and joy. The key is finding the extra work that you genuinely enjoy (if you have the privilege of saying no to the wrong gig). Out of everything I’ve tried, here are the ones that I’ve stuck with – and my thoughts on each:
I love babysitting, or even care-taking, which is somewhat of a confusing point for someone who may not want kids in the future. I used to work with kids back at in college, and loved it. When I moved back to Los Angeles and started my life as a startup recruiter, the only thing I felt was missing is playing silly learning games with excitable, adorable kids, or feeling like I was genuinely helping someone. Care-taking and babysitting give that back.
The trick is finding parents that are able to work around my schedule. I’ll take regular weekend jobs, or babysit for occasional date nights. It’s easy work that feels good for my soul, and the parents are grateful for the time alone. I do tend to charge more than the neighborhood teenager, typically earning $20+/hour.
Similarly, what’s easier than hanging out with a neighbor’s (or, you know, neighbor-from-the-next-town-over’s) pup? Usually I’ll make sure this is something I can do on my way to and from work, and doesn’t take me too far out of the way, but walking a friendly dog or checking in on the cat while they’re on vacation is easy money for animal lovers like myself. For this, I’ll earn anywhere from $20-40/day, depending on the pet owner.
Then there are the digital work opportunities! Upwork is a mainstay for freelancers, and they have opportunities for just about everyone. I first learned about Upwork when my ex used it to fully support himself after we left our first startup. While he was able to make livable wages as a freelance graphic designer-slash-video editor-slash-web designer, I tapped into it for other opportunities. I recorded a few voiceovers for a nifty $50/job, and proofread resumes at $30/resume.
While Upwork maintains itself from a percentage of your fee, you set your own price for your work. Heads up – it’s become pretty saturated and competitive for freelancers. The best advice: build a portfolio of happy clients and well-done projects, and advertise yourself. Establish this track record first, and you’ll win more business.
I recently found People Per Hour as a new (read: less competitive) alternative to Upwork. Most of the clients are based in the UK, but it’s perfect for weekend work you can do from your bed. Like Upwork, you set your own price and the company retains a percentage, but they give a handy warning if you’re pricing yourself too low.
So far, most of the jobs I’ve taken on have been things like transcription, proofreading, or copywriting – all things that I’m happy to do on a quiet Saturday morning. The pricing is a bit higher than Upwork, thanks to that handy pound-to-dollars conversion. Things are just more expensive in the UK, I suppose!
Oh yes, I’m the cat lady with an Etsy shop! If you are even a smidge creative, or like working with your hands, it’s easy enough to make a few bucks. I know people who make their own candles, or do light wood work. Personally, I prefer to keep things as low-maintenance as possible.
I’ve had good luck with making digital art* on Adobe Creative Suite, and adding it to the shop. People can either pay for a vector file to download and use as they so choose, or I can have my local print shop make perfect glossy copies and mail them out. Either way, all I really have to do is put it up and leave it be, and I’ll occasionally hear from someone interested in trading me money for something I made!
*Not sure I can call what I’ve made “art” but, for the sake of this post, let’s get fancy.
You bet this counts as a side gig! I’ve been loving this whole oversharing-on-the-internet thing, and have even made a few bucks on it. And, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s so easy to start. I write when I feel compelled to over-explain something nobody’s asked about, rant on the internet for a few hours at a time, and schedule it for a rainy day. In the meantime, brands that I’m already using and loving (for example, People Per Hour) give a small fee for people I refer.
That’s just a small list of what I have active, but there are tons of options available. I don’t enjoy driving, but if you do, there’s always Lyft and Uber. I’ve heard that the take-home is better with Lyft than Uber, but it doesn’t hurt to have both apps active.