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Having a side hustle can be a great way to add some extra cash into your budget. Whether you’re trying to cover basic expenses, pay down debt, build an emergency fund, or save toward a goal like a downpayment on a house, side hustle income could help you. A recent Self survey found that nearly half of working Americans recognize these financial benefits and have a side gig of their own.
Adding a successful side gig to your schedule may not always be as easy as it looks on the surface. But if you take the time to research and learn from the successes (and mistakes) of others, you could set yourself up for a profitable side hustle experience.
Before you start brainstorming about the perfect way to earn some extra cash on the side, it’s important to keep a few details in mind. Raya Reaves, Founder and Finance Coach of City Girl Savings, LLC, has three helpful tips on how to make the most out of side gigs and avoid problems along the way.
Understand your schedule. Reaves says it’s critical to get clear on your schedule and know how much time you can devote to a side hustle. “Depending on the answer,” she says, “it may narrow the pool of side hustle options to choose from.”
Know how much you want to earn. Have you ever heard the saying that a goal without a plan is just a wish? The sentiment can apply to side hustles too. “Because you’ll be putting in more work,” Reaves says, “[an income goal] helps keep you motivated when you know how much you want to earn. Once you hit that number, you can sit back and relax or decide to keep making more!”
Start with passion. There are so many side hustles to choose from that the choices can be overwhelming. So Reaves recommends starting with a side gig you can feel passionate about to avoid feeling like you’re just taking on more work. If you can make money doing something you enjoy, you may be more likely to stick with it and have fun while potentially adding additional funds into your budget.
If you’re looking to try to make extra money on your own time, our partner Steady may be a great place to get started.* Their free app allows you to search for a part-time or even a work from home side hustle that fits your schedule.
To help you kick off your search, we’ve put together a list below that might provide some inspiration.
Driving for Uber or Lyft seems to be a popular way to earn money. While there may certainly be some drawbacks to driving for a rideshare company (like wear and tear on your vehicle), there can be big perks too. You can control your own schedule and work whenever you like. ZipRecruiter reports that the average Lyft driver earns about $25 per hour.
Another seemingly common side gig may make it easy to work at your own pace is food delivery. DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub all provide easy-to-use platforms where you can sign up to work. In addition to delivery fees, you might also take home some tips with this service. But it features some potential downside of extra miles on your vehicle. You may also be limited to the hours that restaurants are open and people are more likely to order takeout.
If takeout isn’t your jam, you might prefer the idea of shopping for and delivering groceries. Instacart, Postmates, and Shipt are some popular options within this space. According to ZipRecruiter, the average grocery delivery driver earns around $16 per hour. As far as negatives go, there’s the standard vehicle wear and tear to consider. You may also need to be comfortable loading and unloading some heavy items with this option.
Do you have a service you could provide to others from the comfort of your own home? If so, setting up an online business could be a great way to make extra income with a flexible schedule. Reaves herself started her current business, City Girl Savings, while working full time in a corporate setting—and it was her most successful side hustle by far. “The beauty of businesses,” she says, “is that there really isn’t an income earning cap. The possibilities are endless.”
While online businesses are becoming increasingly popular, there can still be plenty of ways to make money offline too. Photography, baby sitting, pet sitting, house sitting, cleaning, music lessons, party planning, handyman work, and more are some in-person services you can provide to others in exchange for payment.
Many Americans may have items they don’t use lying around their homes. If you fit into this category, you might consider posting the extra clothing, household goods, and more for sale online. Platforms like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, OfferUp, LetGo, Poshmark, ThredUp, etc. simplify the process of offering unwanted items to others in exchange for cash. You could also try an old fashioned yard sale if you’re hoping to sell more items in a short period of time.
Remember that some side gig opportunities may be scams in disguise. Because of this, Reaves recommends doing research to make sure a company that’s offering you a side gig is legitimate. You should never have to pay a company to work for them. “Proceed with caution,” Reaves says, “if someone is asking you to pay money upfront to get more money back later.”
When you consider side hustle options, you’ll probably want to find something you’ll enjoy with good earning potential. But no one has a crystal ball. So don’t be afraid to jump into a side gig that looks interesting, even if you’re unsure if it will work long term. You can always leave a side hustle for something new down the road if you’re unhappy with the experience.
Michelle Lambright Black is a nationally recognized credit expert with two decades of experience. She is the founder of CreditWriter.com, an online credit education resource and community that helps busy moms learn how to build good credit and a strong financial plan that they can leverage to their advantage. Michelle's work has been published thousands of times by FICO, Experian, Forbes, Bankrate, MarketWatch, Parents, U.S. News & World Report, and many other outlets. You can connect with Michelle on Twitter (@MichelleLBlack) and Instagram (@CreditWriter).