Most people hear this advice and say “that’s a great idea, but…” You can insert your own excuse here. Three of the most common are:
- “I don’t have time.”
- “I’m afraid of rejection.”
- “I don’t have an idea.”
I covered how to overcome the “not enough time” excuse—and fear of failure—in this post.
Today, I want to help you find side hustle ideas.
The fastest side-hustle: Get a minimum-wage job
Getting a part-time job brewing coffee, flipping burgers, or folding sweaters might be the least desirable way to earn extra money, but it’s easy to do.
I worked three such jobs nights and weekends on my road out of debt:
- At a gift and bookshop
- At Starbucks
- As a nighttime receptionist at a flight school
The gift shop was miserable, the receptionist job was easy but boring, and making lattes was, to my surprise, quite fun, but still a low-paying food service job.
None of these jobs paid more than $10 an hour, but they were easy to get, worked with my schedule, and had the added bonus of not requiring much thought.
Moonlighting in the minimum-wage workforce isn’t for everybody; it’s easier when you’re single and free to give up your nights and weekends. If have kids, the wages and short shifts at these jobs might not cover the expense and hassle of arranging childcare.
And there’s still competition for these jobs. You will go up against applicants for whom the job isn’t a nice-to-have second income but must-have employment to put food on the table. To improve your chances of landing a part-time gig:
- Treat the application process like any other job. Be confident and respectful. Dress well for the interview.
- Apply to places where you have an interest in what they sell. I love coffee, so Starbucks was an easy sell.
- Realize that nobody likes working nights and weekends. If you’re willing, you’ll be an attractive candidate.
- Address your day job head on. Emphasize that you’re committed to earning extra money and will take the part-time position seriously. Most managers know that your day-job will come first in the long run, but they want to be reassured you won’t be calling out every week because your other boss needs you to stay late.
Anywhere with a “Help Wanted” sign is fair game, but here’s a list to help get the ideas flowing.
- Any mall store
- Home improvement stores
- Big box stores
- Coffee shops or fast food restaurants
- Bars and restaurants
- Distribution centers
- UPS/FedEx – They have part-time early-morning and evening positions loading trucks.
- Office cleaning companies (nights and weekends)
- Airport stores and services
Find freelance gigs online
If you have skills that can be used virtually (think writing, designing, or coding), the Internet makes finding a side hustle both easier and more difficult. On the upside, Websites like Upwork and Freelancer.com connect freelancers with clients: You can create a profile tonight and begin bidding on jobs in your field. On the downside, you’re competing with the world. No matter how good you are—or how cheaply you’re willing to work—there’s somebody in India or Vietnam willing to do the same work for a quarter of the price.
The second hurdle is that new freelancers have no track record: Very few clients are going to select somebody with zero feedback over someone with five stars from 20 clients. To get a foothold in these services you will have to do some jobs for virtually nothing or work with somebody you already know first.
Here’s a list of the top online freelancing marketplaces, although are many more focusing on specific skills like writing, design, or coding:
There are other Internet marketplaces for freelance work. Craigslist, of course, remains a tried-and-true place to list services offered and find gigs wanted. You just have to be extra careful of scams and sketchy people.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is an interesting one. The site harnesses thousands of willing virtual workers to complete large, mundane tasks cheaply. Examples include transcribing audio, translating documents, tagging images, collecting URLs, etc. Tasks (called HITs) don’t take very long but only pay between a few pennies and a dollar. In other words: Less than minimum wage.
Mechanical Turk isn’t a realistic option to earn any meaningful income, but it’s something — and if you have time to kill in front of a computer – it can put a few extra bucks in your pocket.
TaskRabbit connects real-world workers with customers who need help with simple to-dos: Doing the grocery shopping, weeding a yard, assembling IKEA furniture, moving stuff, housecleaning, you name it. It’s available in about a dozen U.S. cities. To become a TaskRabbt you must be 21 and pass a background check. Once approved, you can bid on jobs just like other freelance sites. According to TaskRabbit, average payouts are $35 for grocery shopping, $60 for housecleaning, and $85 for handyman tasks.
TaskRabbit competitors are popping up, too. Handybook focuses on cleaning and handyman services. GigWalk posts tasks related to local businesses, such as recruiting attendees for a concert or finding the prices of milk at a grocery store’s competitors.
If you have a decent car and a clean driving record, you might consider becoming a driver for ridesharing services like Uber, or Lyft. Once approved, you can login to these apps and bid on jobs giving rides to customers. The app collects the money from the customer and pays you for each trip. But don’t be fooled, you might make less than you think as a rideshare driver.
Where the money’s at: How to create your own side hustle
With some persistence, it’s possible for most people to earn a couple extra bucks by getting a minimum-wage job or using one of the gig services mentioned above. But there are downsides to this approach:
- You won’t earn a lot of money doing it and
- With the exception of feedback on freelancing sites, you’re not building anything of your own—you’re simply trading your time for money.
At some point you have to ask if the money you’re earning is worth your time.
Related: Time Management for Freelancers
When you’re young, unattached and broke, virtually any hour you can spend earning a few bucks is time well spent. As you get older, earn more at your day job and pay down debt, your time begins to get more valuable and you might decide that $10 isn’t worth the hour of your life you have to trade for it.
If you want to be as successful as possible, eventually you’ll want to charge $100 an hour, not ten. And even more importantly, you’ll want to build a side hustle that you control.
In order to build your own side hustle, you need to be willing to think like an entrepreneur. That means you need to take something you can deliver and turn it into:
- Something your clients want and
- Something your clients will pay for.
Then you need to sell it.
In our last side hustle post I mentioned Ramit Sethi’s Earn1K course—it’s like a condensed MBA for part-time entrepreneurs focused on earning at least an extra $1,000 a month. The course begins with numerous exercises designed to help you find a business idea that you can deliver, that clients want and will pay good money for. It then goes into how to get your first three clients and on from there to advanced topics. You can learn more or sign up for his free email lists here; even the free stuff is invaluable to any potential entrepreneurs.
Focus your idea as narrowly as possible!
Although it seems counterintuitive, the more specific you can focus your offering, the more you’ll earn. For example, if you decide to offer tutoring services for all high school students, you’ll have a hard time standing out from the competition and you’ll have to compete on price. But if you offer SAT and AP Exam tutoring for affluent students aiming for Ivy League colleges, guess what – you can double your hourly rate (and you’ll probably get more clients, too).
With that in mind, here are some side hustle ideas to get you started. It’s far from an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will get the juices flowing.
- Yoga/exercise instructor.
- Writer. Specialize, specialize. Find a niche you’re confident about and become THE freelancer to hire in that area.
- Designer. Competition is tough, so you’ll have to be good and specialize. My cousin has been successful by focusing his graphic design business on the food and restaurant industry in Texas. If you’re branding a new gastropub in Dallas, he’s the guy you’re going to first. Another Web design firm I know transformed its business when it decided to focus solely on serving museums and art galleries.
- Dog walker/pet-sitter.
- Landscaper/snow shoveler.
- Fitness coach. Are you a competitive runner/biker/swimmer? Tap the huge market of individuals wanting to do their first 5k, marathon or triathlon and offer individual or group training classes.
- Public relations. Big bucks if you have the connections!
- Virtual assistant. If you’re an organized, detail-oriented person, there are busy people who will gladly pay you a good rate to keep their lives on track. The key is selling your value to the right people – busy working people with good salaries that can’t keep up with life’s little details.
- Car detailer.
- Language teacher.
- Musical instrument instructor or vocal coach.
- Career counseling.
- Data analyst/Excel guru.
- Massage therapist.
- Business coaching.
And the list goes on and on… click here to read the full article.
Talk to you soon.