20 Lucrative Side Hustle Ideas for Putting Your Savings on Steroids
In 2017, the new "high-paying job" is looking like "multiple jobs."
In 2017, the new “high-paying job” is increasingly looking like “multiple jobs.” Take Grant Sabatier, for example. In his early 20s, he realized that his $50,000-a-year staff position at a marketing agency wasn’t bringing in enough savings. Since he wanted to sock away a cool million bucks before his 30th birthday—no humble feat, of course—he went looking for ways to diversify his workload with side hustle ideas to bring in more income. “If you just view your full-time job as the way you’re going to get ahead,” he told The Washington Post, “it’s just going to take a lot longer.”
Here’s the video primer: putting more in the bank
So he picked up an extra job, then another. Soon, he was juggling a consulting business, a concert-ticket selling business, and building websites on the side. By smartly juggling his side hustle jobs—and thanks to a surging stock market—he actually achieved his goal. (And, yes, he’s long since ditched the marketing gig.)
So how close are you to your first million?
If the answer is “not as close as I’d like to be,” add one—or two or three—of these side hustle ideas to your portfolio, which are all certain to add some extra padding to your wallet. And if find that your day job is stressing you out, learn the 10 workplace stress busters.
Become a Real Estate Agent
You have to put in the time to get the license and study the local market, but real estate brokering works great as a side gig. “The nature of the real estate business is that much of the time-intensive work happens outside of normal business hours,” says Jon Sterling, an agent at Keller Williams Realty. “Clients are available on nights and weekends, so that’s when most agents do their work.”
Though the housing market can be unpredictable, when things are going well, it can pay dividends. Sterling gives the example that selling just one median-priced home a month (about $200,000) can pull in $60,000 in commissions each year. See? Side gigs do pay out.
Invest in Your Own Real Estate
You can also become a landlord yourself, buying a property or setting up a guest house or attached unit to your own home that you aren’t using. This requires a significant of time and money up front to buy the property, get it ready to rent, and to find renters. But once you have tenant(s) you can count on, and potentially a property manager who can take much of the day-to-day work off your hands, it’s profitable and low-maintenance among the side hustles you could pick up. If you aren’t interested in buying the whole property yourself, sites like RealtyMogul can help you to invest with as little as $5,000. If you’re looking for tips on buying an investment property, read up our on our guide to buying literally anything—it’s on there!
Moonlight as a Marketing Consultant
A more traditional way to turn your knowledge into one of your side hustle ideas is to hang a shingle and start a consulting business. The amount you can earn doing this varies wildly depending on what you offer and what clients you attract—a cybersecurity expert for Fortune 500 organizations is going to bring in more than a feng shui consultant for old ladies. You’ll have to put in the time and money to set up a website and market yourself, but a successful consultant can bring in an extra few thousand dollars a month—easy.
Marketing consulting is one area that is particularly worth considering. “Businesses need tons of help adapting to the Internet era, and it’s very easy to get businesses to pay for expert implementation here,” says John Crestani, a marketing and lifestyle expert. “Marketing consultants can work from home, run the business on their own schedule, and outsource the work if desired.”
The “errand economy” has exploded in recent years, and if you’re someone who enjoys checking tasks off a list, while bringing in a little side cash as you do it, offer your services on apps such as TaskRabbit, Postmates, or Door Dash. They allow you to be selective in what you do and work on your own time. These aren’t all low-level tasks: Those who offer assistance with carpentry, plumbing, or other skilled side hustle ideas can bring in $150 an hour or more.
If you are interested in particular subjects (history, finance, patent law), you can make a steady income selling your research skills. Depending on your level of expertise and access to materials, you can command $150 or more to provide background information, data, and reports to individuals and organizations that will find it valuable. The key to side gigs like this is to find your niche and know how to get the answers to questions that someone with only a casual knowledge of the area would find daunting.
Start a Food Truck
If you’re a culinary type, it’s easier than ever to share your passion with the world, rather just the friends you have over for dinner. If you have a specialty you think people would be willing to pay for, a food truck is a great way to go, with more locations than ever to park it and plenty of hungry consumers eager to buy. It requires a decent investment up front—about $50,000 on the low end—but is much cheaper and less time-intensive than opening a restaurant. And if it takes off, you could be making $200,000 or more from it a year. As far as regular gigs—let alone side hustle gigs—go, that’s not shabby. Once you master cooking for a crowd, bring those skills home, and impress the hell out of your kids.
Open a Stand at a Farmer’s Market
If a food truck seems a bit ambitious, a more modest way to start a food business is to rent a stall at a local farmer’s market. “If you identify a craft or something you are good at making you can do business as a sole proprietor and set up a booth selling your wares,” says Chandler Sterling, CEO of California Beard Company. “Handmade items are very popular these days, and some vendors make between $500 to 1,000+ per market. The best markets to work are usually on the weekends when white-collar professionals tend to have the day off. I’ve found it to be very rewarding to earn a little extra income while helping others with my creations.”
Create Your Own Flea Market
If you have connections to a number of other entrepreneurs or crafty people, you might open your own craft market. That’s the approach Haya Zoubi, founder of online art, travel, and interview website The Gone Cat, took when she launched The Gone Bazaar Pop Ups—temporary shops such as the Brooklyn Bazaar in New York City and The Mondrian and Palihouse in Los Angeles—that showcase independent designers and artisans. “It’s a lucrative yet win/win situation for everyone because I am able to do what I love and promote independent brands to the public,” says Zoubi.
Do Web or Graphic Design Work
Companies and individuals are always in need of designers who can improve their websites or create marketing materials or other visuals for them. Sites like Upwork and Fiverr allow you to showcase your work and bid on additional side hustle gigs from buyers—a great way to build out your portfolio as you deepen your experience in the business. Once you have a couple years’ experience under your belt, you can expect to make $50–$100 an hour.
Develop Apps or Websites
If you’re comfortable with code, your services will also be in demand from plenty of companies, whether they are looking for some extra assistance developing a microsite or creating a new app. If you’re not dealing with code on a daily basis, it may be time to take a course to update your skills with online courses, making sure you are up on the latest best practices with mobile, ways to make a site is device responsive, and so on. But as it’s become essential for every organization and person to have their own website or app, there are no shortage of opportunities for someone who knows how to build them. You can expect to make between $50 to $150 an hour.
Open Your House to the Sharing Economy
Do you really need that guest room? Or maybe you can convert part of your bottom floor into a comfortable place for visitors. Chances are that you could turn some part of your home into an Airbnb—and make a decent amount of money doing it. Sure, this takes a bit of work: You have to set up the space with all the necessities and turn it over for the next guest, but it’s an easy way to make some extra money with something you already have. If you’re a pro, you can make as $50,000 or more (some report clearing six figures). Use Airbnb’s calculator to figure out how much you could make in your area.
Drive Uber or Lyft
The sharing economy has made it very easy to dip your toe into a profession and work it during the hours you prefer. Uber and Lyft are perfect examples of side hustle jobs like that. There’s no need to buy an expensive medallion or fill out a lot of paperwork—you can just sign up and start driving, on your time. You can take on a few evening or weekend shifts when you find you have free hours and could be using them to bring in a little extra money. The pay’s not bad: A national study estimated that Uber drivers made about $19 an hour. And if you get anybody riding shotgun, regale them with the story of the term’s surprising origin.
Launch a Boxed Subscription Service
If you are not interested in creating your own product or crafts, this is a great way to appeal to a particular niche and put your savvy marketing skills to work. This requires an initial investment of time and money to connect with suppliers, launch the service, and market it. But since it’s on a recurring billing model, once the wheels start turning, it requires limited effort on your part. Stumped on what kind of subscription you might launch? Here are 100-plus ideas.
Open an Etsy Shop
If you’re a crafty type, Etsy makes it easy to turn your hobby into a paying gig. You can dust off those art supplies from college, or maybe you have a stack of vintage magazines you can turn into some cool prints. Opening an Etsy shop is a low-cost way to see if there is interest in the work you are selling. Those who have made it a full-blown business are bringing in more than $70,000 a month. But chances are you can at least make a few hundred if you find the right audience.
Play the Stock Market
Those who have a financial background or who enjoy watching stocks can take their hobby to the next level by delving into swing trading.
“Swing trading means taking on positions for more than a day, which means that this can be done as a side hustle,” says Paul Koger, positions trader and founder of FoxyTrades.com. “The biggest downsides to this side hustle is the fact that you can lose money and probably will lose money in the beginning, although for those that have an interest for the stock market, this can be a fulfilling venture to pursue aside from work.” If you have no freaking clue about the financial markets, you can still play by learning how to buy a stock.
Write or Blog
If you’ve got a knack for expressing yourself or conveying ideas in an entertaining or engaging way, you can probably make a decent bit of money writing. This could be blogging for a trade publication in your industry, or simply writing for hire in any area that may be of interest to you. As far as side hustles go, this one requires little financial investment, but does mean putting in time to scout outlets where your writing would be a good fit and getting used to hearing “no” (or nothing at all) from editors. But if you find the right match to your interests and abilities, it can be a beautiful thing. Check out Writers in Charge for some ideas of websites that actually pay for your writing.
Write an eBook
If you’re an expert in a particular area, it probably won’t take you a ton of time to write a 10,000-word how-to manual on it and put it up on Amazon and charge $1.99 for it. Just like writing, this won’t cost you much more than time and research, though unlike with writing up a blog post, here you will want to hire a proper editor to proof your manuscript and a designer to create your cover (a typo-free manuscript that looks professional is key to actually getting traction). If you’re more of a fiction fan, you can self-publish a thriller or romance (genre fiction tends to do better in the self-publishing area). If it takes off, shop the book around to agents and publishers and you might score a multi-book deal.
Create an Online Course
If you’ve written a few blog posts or an eBook on some topic at which you are an expert, the next logical (and more financially rewarding) step is to turn it into a full-blown online course. Using a platform like Udemy or Pathwright, you can turn your particular skillset into a commodity that others can buy and learn from. Though income varies by what is being taught (tech-focused skills tend to earn more than arts or music), according to Forbes, the average instructor on Udemy brings in about $7,000.
“Educating people online about whatever subject you’re an expert at is an amazing business, since it can ideally be a completely digital business,” says Crestani, a . “Sites like Udemy, Lynda, and Youtube all offer options to have people pay for videos, so everything can be totally automated.”
If you’ve got a killer idea you can’t believe no one’s come up with before, whether for an actual product, an app, or something else, don’t let it stall out at the daydream stage—do something with it. As with many creative fields, inventing is not something that’s going to bear immediate or consistent fruit (that’s why it’s best as one of your side hustle jobs, not your main gig), but with persistence and a willingness to fail and get back up again, you might strike on a winning idea.
As professional inventor Keith Mullin told Inc.: “Professional inventors seemed to have at least six royalty-producing licenses at any given time. Sure, you hear stories about fantastic one-hit wonders—but those are rare.”
Elevate Your Hobby
This applies to a number of the side hustle ideas on this list. But beyond the money you can earn from this, you can also deduct the costs of your hobby or interest when tax time comes around—which can add up to some serious savings.
“I’m a tennis nut, but I’m no Roger Federer. In fact, I’m nearly twice his size, so I created a DVD for overweight and out of shape people who love tennis,” says Tom Antion, found of Internet marketing school Internet Marketing Training Center. “As long as I’m seriously running this site as a business to sell the DVD, the expenses or Rackets, balls, ball machine, et cetera, are tax deductible.”
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