Side hustles. They’re awesome, right? Many of us have at least one, and that’s real estate (if we haven’t made the plunge into full time). Here are a few of my favorite side hustles I’ve been able to employ while working full time! Let’s start with the major money-makers and work our way down.
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1. Give Lessons
If you have a unique talent or skill, you can make money with it! I’ve posted violin lessons on Craigslist and acquired as many as four students—at an hour each per week. At $50 an hour, that’s an extra $800 a month. If they’re really committed students who never take a week off, it’s nearly $10,000 per year! (Other people I know have used their abilities to perform one night a week at restaurants for fun. That’s another great way to use your talents and make extra cash.)
I grew up as a competitive dancer in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe, and hip-hop. I also have some training in ballroom dance. Straight out of high school I made $20 an hour teaching dance to younger students. Now I make nearly $40 an hour doing something I absolutely love, part time at a large dance studio. That’s not even teaching private lessons! I’ve taught wedding dances, competitive solo pieces, and more, at $60 an hour easily. It’s been a great way to stay in shape, teach students of all ages (which I love doing), and fund my travel budget each year.
This income admittedly isn’t very passive, but it can be very fulfilling if you’re interested in, and enjoy, teaching. There are plenty of online platforms where you can tutor various topics for around $20 an hour, working your way up the longer you teach there. I’ve known a few people who’ve done fairly well with these. Simply Google “tutor from home” and you’ll likely find a handful of reputable companies to peruse.
Do you have a Master’s degree? Check your local community college to see if they need instructors for certain topics. You can do part-time work, or perhaps find yourself in another job in academia with free tuition benefits.
The bottom line? If you have a skill, talent, or knowledge of a subject, you can put it to work to make some extra cash.
Photography businesses have been popping up everywhere, especially on social media. There’s a good reason for it: It pays incredibly well! For 30 minutes of photographing and a handful of photos, the going rate is around $200. (Note, you may or may not get to keep the rights to your photos, and you may have to pay out of pocket to make prints for your clients.) Yes, you still need to work to find clients, edit pictures, and pay for website hosting, if you’re that into it—but for someone just taking clients on a referral basis, that’s not bad.
Since high school, I’ve always respected and loved the art of photography. So much so that I bought a fancy camera I use to commemorate special events like traveling, visiting family, attending weddings, and not-so-special events like sitting in the backyard dog sitting.
A few weekends ago, after seeing some of my work (i.e. random photos), a friend asked me to take some additional pictures of her wedding as a gift. It was a great way to participate in her special day. This gig led to a family asking me to take their family portraits. I told them I’d never done so professionally, but they didn’t care. They liked my work and offered to pay me for it. This isn’t the first time this has happened, either. A few days ago, I launched my amateur albums online and will be happy to take photos of people, events, and things for a small fee, since I also enjoy doing it for free.
For the family portrait session, I was asked how much I charge. Well, $100 seemed OK for me. I’ll take as many photos as I can in 30 minutes, edit their favorites, and give them the digital pictures so long as I can use them in my portfolio. There’s my entertainment budget for the month! That single hour (or so) of work will provide me nearly 10 hours of dinners out with friends and more.
3. Refinishing Furniture
This one can be very lucrative if you have an eye for it, but it’s not as consistent for me personally. I spent many years as a child rolling my eyes at my mom’s love for garage sales and Home Depot trips. Now, I am making a decent living off of them. I’ve furnished most of my house through Craigslist, Nextdoor, local Facebook buy-and-sell groups, or garage sale flips. It’s taken less than 10 minutes to learn how to refinish even the worst-looking furniture.
If you’re interested in this side hustle, it’s extremely easy to get into. It’s amazing what a little love can do to the appearance of a piece of furniture. Breathing new life into a piece is something I’ve come to really enjoy. I’ve found countless coffee tables, dining sets, and other wooden furniture, either for free, or really cheap on the aforementioned sites.
I got a coffee table and two matching end tables for $5. All they needed was maybe $1–$2 of stain application after I sanded them down. Here’s a before picture, and here’s an after picture. I was able to finish these within 30 minutes and sell them for $75. My best flip was a set of chairs and a table I bought for $40. The chairs needed tightening and the table needed to be sanded a good bit. Three hours of work and I was able to sell the table and chairs for nearly $350. Not a bad payday for something I enjoyed doing in the first place! That table bought my airfare and lodging for a weekend in Los Vegas.
The only caveat to this hobby is that you need a good bit of space to work in. My mustachian upbringing begs me to tell you that I was able to move all of these dressers, coffee tables, dining tables, etc. without a truck. That’s right! I was able to move all of the pictured (and plenty of non-pictured) furniture in a Prius. You don’t need a truck for this hobby. Make sure you have the right tools to take things apart. Most sedans can take a table home if the legs are taken off of it. Hatchbacks are pretty amazing, though. I’ve fit an entertainment center, a king-size sleigh-bed frame, a workout bench, and more into my Prius. It’s pretty roomy.
Other variations of this are car flipping, clothing flipping (a lot of people do this on Amazon or Ebay), etc. You can also find free items and sell them. We’ve picked up plenty of couches off of Nextdoor. One morning we went to pick one up, put it in our garage, drank a beer on it King of the Hill style, and sold it a few hours later for $200. We flew to Los Angeles for a wedding the next month with that money.
4. Wedding/Event Planning
If you have good people skills and like organizing events, you can easily plan events for others. Weddings these days are pretty elaborate, don’t you think? You can make a quick buck setting up catering, music, venues, and entertainment for all sorts of people who need help with their events. Most of this is easy to do from home until the actual event, where your attendance is likely required. I’ve done this for families at a heavily discounted price, but never policed a day-of event. Instead, I have offered that they (or the vendors) just call me if there’s a problem.
Check out this article outlining how much a wedding planner can cost: $1500 for day-of services? As much as $200 an hour at a three-hour minimum? I can call some vendors and prevent Great Aunt Milley from getting into the vodka at that rate!
5. Secret Shopping
Speaking truthfully, I don’t make much money off of this one. It is, however, a great way to get free movies, dinners, cell phones, or even hotel stays. Normally it entails checking off items on lists, filling out surveys, or ordering items from the menu and commenting on the service and quality of food. I’ve heard of people making as much as $400 a month, but my personal strategy is I never to do them unless I’m already going to buy (or do) something. Don’t get caught in the couponing traps buying something you don’t need to get another for free.
The cell phone was the most intensive, but after four years with the same phone, an upgrade was desperately needed. So $75 off for talking to salespeople I’d need to speak with anyway seemed worth it to me.
Truthfully, there are some not-so-great companies out there. If you’re going to do this, make sure you get in with a good one. You can find user reviews for most companies, and if you can’t find them, perhaps don’t go with that company.
Remember, part of the game is making life cheaper to live.
You don’t need to be insanely frugal unless you want to be. These side hustles allowed me to never once cut into my actual income to spend money having fun. And the best part about each one of these is I inherently have fun doing them. They are a part of who I am and what I like to do already.
What side hustles have you tried? Which ones work best with your lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below!