The Best Way to Earn $500,000 in Your Spare Time

"It's never been easier in history to make more money."

We'd all like to earn a little extra scratch. But Grant Sabatier, the founder of Millennial Money, a personal-finance community dedicated to helping people achieve financial independence, took that whole "extra income" idea to an all-new level. In just five years, Sabatier, a former staffer at a marketing agency, turned a paltry savings account into a seven-figure behemoth by juggling a host of side hustles. He did everything from flipping concert tickets to buying and selling web domains to writing white papers for corporations.

But given his mind-blowing savings, we had to ask: What was his most lucrative gig? If you're looking to really rake in extra savings and don't necessarily have time to diversify workload across the whole of American industry—as Sabatier did—what is the most lucrative side hustle anyone can do?

Well, it turns out the answer isn't something like graphic design or dabbling in real estate ("The time invested in getting to [a lucrative] level on the side is not worth the effort," says Sabatier). It's SEO consulting.

SEO (or "search engine optimization") consulting is when you advise companies on how to have a stronger presence on Google and other search engines. In other words, if you own a pet-food company, you'd hire someone like Sabatier to help you deploy an online strategy to ensure that your website shows up when people search for "pet food."

All told, Sabatier was able to pull in more than half a million bucks through SEO consulting alone. He took jobs ranging from $500 to $100,000. If you balk at that latter number, don't. "Never be afraid to push your pricing," explains Sabatier. "A lot of people sell themselves short and don't get paid what they're worth."

If helping businesses rank their websites on Google doesn't sound like something up your alley, there are plenty of ways to put your income on steroids. The key, says Sabatier, is "being smart about the side hustle you choose."

Whatever you do, put yourself in a position of power. Instead of walking dogs, for instance, start your own dog-walking company. "The easiest way is to sell your skills in other formats," says Sabatier. In other words, you should be trying to figure out a way to repackage your day-to-day skill set and selling to others on the side. If you're a chef, your side hustle is lucrative catering gigs. If you're a marketing whiz at a big firm, figure out a way to sell those skills as a lone wolf.

That way, he says, your skills are put to use, and you're not wasting time—the most valuable resource—learning something from scratch.

But most importantly, he says, "Make sure you chill as hard as you hustle."

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Ari Notis
Ari is an editor specializing in news and lifestyle. Read more
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