It’s nearing the end of the month and your flurry of bills are going to be due soon: rent, cell phone, student loan payment. Your paycheck is already stretched thin and there aren’t really more areas to scrimp on, short of losing your sanity or dignity.
The only other option is to earn extra money — but how?
To earn extra income, it might seem like you have to be entrepreneurial or have the next Big Idea. But that’s so not true! You can use your current talents and time to earn extra money on the side.
Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche recommends activating your passion and “Start charging for things you already do for free.”
If you’re good with words…
Are you a master word wrangler who enjoys writing for fun? You can turn your love of words into cash by helping others carefully craft their communications.
Writing is integral to nearly every aspect of life, from email, newsletters, social media messages, professional capacities, and more. Here are some options to consider if you’re good with words:
- Become a freelance writer in a specific niche. Are you passionate about travel? Star wars? Cooking? Watching movies? Feminist issues? Politics? Whatever you’re into, there are niches that need written content. You can work as a freelance writer and write blog posts, articles, op-eds, and more. Find gigs on FreelanceWriting.com.
- Write resumes. A killer resume can mean the difference between another deleted email and a new job. Earn extra income by helping others craft a resume that matches their skills to their desired profession. Tell your friends and family you’re available to help out.
- Write cover letters. Cover letters are often the first thing prospective employers look at when evaluating candidates. Unfortunately, most people suck at writing cover letters. If you are adept at writing, you can create a lucrative side business helping others write cover letters that get noticed.
- Write dating profiles. Side hustling requires thinking outside the box. You don’t have to write in a traditional way to make money. Try writing dating profiles for people as a unique way to put your words to work. Tell your friends, advertise on Fiverr, and look on Craigslist for opportunities.
- Work as a translator. Did you study abroad and become fluent in another language? Or are you naturally bilingual? Earn extra money by working as a translator — government agencies, community centers, and more all need help with translation in order to serve diverse communities. Make sure to advertise your proficiency level on LinkedIn.
- Create an ebook and sell it on Amazon. Share your passion, expertise, or stories by writing an ebook and selling it on Amazon. Self-publishing is now a viable business and with services available on Fiverr, you can put it together on the cheap and make a profit.
If you love animals…
Do you feel like animals understand you way more than people? Make money with your passion and talent! Consider the following:
- Become a dog walker. Busy professionals who are gone all day need someone to let Fido out of the house for exercise. Depending on your availability, you could walk several dogs in a day and earn extra money.
- Be a pet sitter. If you’re good with animals and love them as your own, being a pet sitter can be the perfect side hustle. I’ve worked as a pet sitter taking care of dogs and cats while their owners were away. I’ve made between $30 to $50 per day for very little work and get to spend some time with adorable pets.
- Work at a cat cafe. Cat cafes are popping up around the nation and if you love cats, consider working at one as a side hustle. Coffee and cats? Sounds like a perfect combination.
If you’re a people person…
- Become a brand ambassador. If you can talk to the public and stand on your feet for a few hours at a time, this job may be the right fit for you. Brand ambassadors are those high-energy people you see giving away free swag at sporting events, concerts, and stores. I’ve worked as a brand ambassador for the past few years representing Columbia Sportswear, Starbucks, Ghirardelli, and more, typically making between $18 and $25 per hour. The best part? You usually get to take home some of the free stuff (which for me has included $500 worth of clothes and top shelf whiskey).
- Coach/Consult. Do you have a unique talent that others are always asking about? Coach others on how to do what you do! “You can charge more money for a service when you’re an expert in a field. Think about how you can shape your education into an extra source of income,” said Aliche. You can also consult with companies and share your knowledge on your expertise. You can be a social media consultant, business strategist, curriculum designer, and more.
- Become a tour guide. Earn extra money by working as a tour guide in your city. In nearly every major city (and many not-so-major cities), there are tour companies that help tourists experience the city like a local. This side hustle is perfect for interacting with others and seeing your own city through the eyes of a tourist.
If you have design skills…
If you are savvy with design and have tech skills, you have a ton of options to make extra money.
- Design websites. Having a good design on a website is huge for first impressions — and many people just don’t know where to start. If you know how to design websites, you could earn extra money. Bonus: you can do it from anywhere!
- Create logos. Every website and business needs a logo. If you have design chops, you can create logos for other people.
- Make book covers. Authors of print and ebooks all need book covers.
- Design presentations. You know how boring PowerPoint presentations can be. Help professors, business executives, and brands by designing their presentations so they actually engage the audience instead of put them to sleep.
- Design signs for events. Think about how many printed materials are required for events and special occasions. You could be the designer of wedding invitations, hashtag signs, posters, marketing materials, business cards, and more.
If you’re crafty…
Do you like making things with your hands? Are you good at knitting and sewing? Making furniture or jewelry? You can make anything from picture frames, mugs, earrings, cat-related anything, etc.
- Sell your wares online using sites like Etsy, DaWanda, ArtFire, Bonanza, ShopHandmade, iCraft, Zibbet, MadeItMyself, SilkFair, and Big Cartel. Sandy Smith from the blog Yes I am Cheap sold cell phone cases and mugs on Amazon and made $25,000 in 2014!
If you have photo skills…
Do you know your way around a camera? Put your skills to use and earn extra money.
- Take headshots. It’s not just actors or models who need headshots these days — anyone looking to up their LinkedIn profile or social media game needs a great picture. Advertise on Craigslist or through Facebook to build your clientele.
- Edit photos. Help others out by making their photos picture perfect by editing in Photoshop.
- Become an event photographer. Live events such as panels, conferences, weddings, and parties need someone to capture the moments. You can leverage your photo skills and make money by taking photos at live events. There’s never a shortage of events!
If you have musical or theatrical skills…
If you majored in music or theater, you can leverage your skills to make money and not be a starving artist while waiting for your next big gig.
- Create an opening song for podcasts. Are you a composer who can come up with a catchy tune on the piano or guitar? Create an opening song for podcasts.
- Sing telegrams. Yes, this is still a thing. Brighten someone’s day and earn extra income for a small amount of work. Google telegram opportunities in your area.
- Work as an actor. Medical students often practice with “standardized patients” or actors who portray real patients. Contact local medical schools for opportunities.
- Be an extra. Television shows and movies are always in need of extras. The pay may not be great, but the work isn’t that hard either.
- Do standup comedy. Comedian Dan Nainan was an engineer at Intel and took a comedy class on a lark. “I took a comedy class to get over the fear, and the comedy kind of took off,” he said. His side gig turned into his new career. “Now I travel the world, performing for people like President Obama, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, etc. for up to $20,000 a show.”
- Work as a DJ. Turn your love of music into cash by becoming a DJ for live events such as weddings, parties, birthdays, and more.
If you’re good with kids…
Some people have a natural affinity for kids and are just plain good with them. If that’s you, consider these side hustles.
- Be a babysitter. This is a side hustle that will always be in demand. You can watch kids and help parents out. Win-win.
- Work as a tutor. Do you love kids and have a specialized skill? Become a tutor. Set your own rates and be sure to get testimonials from your clients. Once you help one student, the parents will talk. Pete Abilla, founder and CEO of www.findtutorsnearme.com became a tutor to pay back his student loans. “I went to a very expensive graduate school and had to borrow for tuition and also to help me support my wife and three kids at the time,” he said. So he started working as a tutor to help him earn extra money. “As that business grew, I created a website where others could also become a tutor.”
- Become a teacher. After-school programs and community centers are always in need of teachers to work nights and weekends. Even if they don’t have classes with your specialty, you can pitch them your idea. It doesn’t hurt to ask! I taught theater to elementary school students after I realized that a theater program didn’t exist at the local school. I made $25 per hour and had a great time!
How Much Money Can You Actually Make?
You may be thinking, “How much can I really make with these side hustles?”. The answer: it’s up to you. It really depends on how much extra time you have and what talent you will be monetizing. The best part is that for most of these gigs you can set your own rates.
You can make hundreds or even thousands of dollars each month. All of that money can be put to your student loans so you can get out of debt faster.
One important thing to note is that many of these gigs are independent contractor positions, not employee positions. That means you are responsible for paying for your own taxes, so be sure to set aside a percentage of your income every time you get paid and avoid being hit with a surprise tax bill you can’t afford.
Where to Find Gigs
You can find gigs using a variety of resources — you simply need to be open to new opportunities and keep your eyes peeled.
Sarah Brown, a college student who has earned extra money as a freelance writer said, “Utilize the internet; many job openings or talent opportunities are posted there if you just look for them.”
She got her start through blogging and looking for sites that hired contributors through Google, but says anyone can turn their talents into extra income.
“If you are a band, search for open mic nights in your area — a lot of people will be offered time slots to play music for money based off of open mic performances. If you love video games, search for game testing opportunities in your area. All the information you need to succeed can be found online,” she says.
- Start by telling your network of friends and family about your new side hustle
- Look on social media networks for opportunities.
- Join relevant groups on Facebook (such as Brand Ambassadors of [Your City])
- Search relevant keywords on Twitter (e.g. “looking for writers”, “paid”, etc.)
- Connect with your ideal clients (such as parents)
- Learn from others who are already making extra money
Aside from leveraging your network and searching on social media, you can use these resources to find opportunities:
- Craigslist — look under ‘Gigs’ section
- Cloud Peeps
- The local newspaper
- Weekly publications (such as LA Weekly, etc.)
- LinkedIn (keep your profile up-to-date!)
You can also make your own flyers and business cards and post your services at the library, coffee shops, and community centers. There are so many ways that you can earn extra money on and offline by using your talents!
Start with your network and try different avenues of marketing. Once you get your first client, it only gets easier. Put that extra money to debt and say “bye” to debt sooner rather than later.
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