Side hustling can reap extra cash to burn, or boost your savings account for a rainy day. But how and how much you earn is up to you.
Who couldn’t use a bit more money than their day job pays?
Now, more than ever, taking on a sidehustle is providing folks strapped for cash with solutions. For some, extra funds make it possible for them to indulge in their “wants,” like a dream vacation, the down payment on a luxury item, or the security of having a buffer in their bank account. But for many, the struggle is real, and the need for an extra gig keeps the lights on and creditors at bay. While for others, their side-hustle provides them with an outlet to tap into their passion, especially if their main job doesn’t, with the added bonus of being paid for it.
Ø Almost 70 percent of those engaged in side-hustles do it for financial reasons
Ø More than 15 percent of side-hustlers are in debt in excess of $50,000
Ø Shrinking retirement savings have pushed 1 in 3 people into taking on a second job
The types of sidehustles are as varied as the entrepreneurs who pursue them. What’s needed for success is an in-demand service to be provided, flexibility and adaptability, and a can-do spirit to get the job done.
Sidehustle: Ride Sharing
Earn: $300-$400 per month
There was a time when being a “cab driver” conjured the image of a stogie-smoking, gravely voiced man making heart-stopping maneuvers as he drove a cab through New York City traffic. But then ride sharing companies like Uber and Lyft changed the game, and men and women throughout the country have gotten in on the game. Sean*, a 26-year-old tech support specialist at a law firm in Houston, TX by day, decided to get behind the wheel as a Lyft driver earlier this year after watching a friend reap the benefits. “After learning the ins and outs, I started it to see if I’d like it, and so far, so go,” says Sean, who considers the $300-$400 extra dollars a month he can make “quick and easy money” since he can set his own hours before or after his regular job, leaving him free to still have quality family time. “I use that money just to have more money.”
Sidehustle: Voiceover Work
Earn: $1,500 per month
Ever wonder exactly who provides the disembodied voices that you hear speaking on promotional videos, commercials, and online presentations? They’re people like Claudia*, whose main line of work is in insurance, but who sidelines as a voiceover artist whenever she can get an assignment. “Originally, I never thought much about how I speak,” says the 34-year-old New Yorker, “but people would often comment on how soothing my voice is, and how I should look into doing voice work.” Claudia got her chance when a friend needed someone with a clear and crisp command of English to provide the voiceover for their business presentation. That pro bono gig gave her the confidence she needed to pursue other, paying opportunities, which often come word-of-mouth. The $1,500 or more (depending on the client) she earns per assignment, often from repeat clients, keeps Claudia talking—and cashing checks—whenever her talent is requested.
Sidehustle: Rent out your home or a room
Earn: $3,000 per month
When Melissa*, a lawyer, found that the house she owned had more space than she needed, she got to thinking of how she could maximize her surplus. “I could have gone the usual route and just gotten a leased tenant to help with the mortgage, but my research showed me that I could do, and earn, more,” says the New Haven, CT native. So she got busy renovating and then listed her spare footage with Airbnb, the original space-sharing platform. Given that the 48 year old lives in a college town, where doting parents often flock while visiting their kids, being a landlord offering comfy apartment space for transient boarders has proven to be a lucrative business. “Depending on the season, and whatever is going on at the schools in the area, I can easily pull in upwards of $3,000 a month by renting my available apartment, and I don’t even have to be home to do it,” she says.
Sidehustle: Braid Hair
Earn: $1,000 per month
“I’ve been braiding hair practically my whole life. If was something I picked up on as a kid, and I just kept at it, with prodding from my mother and my best friend” says Shanita*, a New York City probation officer, of her side-hustle passion. Excelling at the traits that she says make for an expert braider—patience, attention to detail, creativity, dexterity, and an ability to adapt to new trends and techniques—Shanita also strives to make each session a uniquely individualized experience for her clients. Attending hair shows and seeking out opportunities to train under masters keeps the 30-year-old on top of her game and her skills in demand. “My side hustle can bring me in almost $1,000 a month, depending on the season and the style,” she says. Shanita sets her own hours, and her overhead is pretty low, since she often provides her service from the comfort of her home.
Sidehustle: Become a Vendor
Earn: $8,000 per month
Little did Jabari* know that the penchant he had for designing and embellishing clothing and paraphernalia for his fraternity brothers would one day tap into an entrepreneurial spirit he didn’t even know he had. With a talent for graphic design that he honed while in college in his hometown of Nashville, TN, the now-insurance broker turned his skills at tricking out t-shirts, jackets, and caps for members of his frat into a business when other Greeks on campus wanted in on his designs. Recognizing that he could supply the demand for trendsetting fraternal paraphernalia, the 27-year-old hatched a plan to vend his wares at select Pan Hellenic-centric conferences, where he knew there would always be a specialized clientele seeking new and innovative ways for Black Greeks to rock their fraternal colors. “Traveling the conference circuit can be exhausting, but the money is good and there’s nothing better than seeing something you’ve designed on someone else’s back,” says the part-time vendor whose sales can net him upwards of $8,000 per conference. “And the networking opportunities have even led to insurance sales!”
Sidehustle: Event Marketing
Earn: $5,000 per month
Nikki’s* job as a lifestyles engagement director for a events production firm in New York calls into play her considerable skills in event planning and execution for festivals, concerts, and media events from coast to coast. So it’s not a stretch for the Tallahassee, FL native to parlay her valuable relationships, acquired over years of talent wrangling for local radio stations and other media outlets, into fueling her sidebar event marketing business. But it takes boundless energy, staunch commitment, and a comfort level with artists to keep talent coming when she calls. “I devote at least 20 hours per week to this hustle,” says Nikki, 51, who credits having a flexible work schedule that allows her to travel and work from home in between her firm’s contracted events. Demanding work? Yes. But it’s work she loves, and it paid her around $50,000 last year. Nice work, if you can pull it.
Earn: $1,000 per month
A fruitless search for great selections of food from around the world once she moved to Durham, NC is what prompted Nevele*, a bank auto loans account manager, to put her cooking skills to the test in the food catering industry. “I didn’t want to become accustomed to just eating southern barbecue or southern style cooking, so I started cooking international dishes with Caribbean, Asian, Spanish, Indian, Korean, Italian, Vietnamese, and South African influences.” The various transplants in the area literally ate it up. The perfectionist in the 34-year-old chef inspires her to constantly research and study her craft, resulting in devoting 10 hours a day to her regular job and its commute, with the other 14 hours devoted to improving her menu. Only six months in on her new venture, she says she has brought in close to $8,000 from events and personalized meals since she launched her catering business last October. Content, for now, with dedicating just as much time to her side hustle as she does to her regular 9-to-5, Nevele rationalizes, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
*Only first names are being used to protect the image—and the day jobs—of those interviewed.
Dawn M. Baskerville is a writer, editor, and pop culture junkie who lives in Brooklyn.