5 Unique Side Hustles That Turn Your Hobby Into Extra Cash

how to make money

Finding a good side hustle is an excellent way to help pay off that student loan debt faster. But, if you’re already holding down a full-time job and trying to manage day-to-day life, another to-do list item can seem daunting. So, what if you could get paid for merely doing your hobby?

No, this is not some prank. Side hustler Jessica Grose makes over $1,000 extra per month doing what she loves: baking cookies. This extra income helps ease the burden of her student loan bills, which total $600 per month.

Not into baking? No worries. Whether you’re a foodie, photographer, or sports lover, there are side hustle ideas for every interest. Here’s how to make money doing what you love.

1. The photographer: Get paid to take Instagram stock photos

Know all those perfect brunch shots you see on Instagram? You could get paid to take those. Some Instagram users hoping to boost their followers turn to buying stock photos for those professional-looking snaps. With over 700 million users posting over 95 million photos a day, there’s a huge market for photographers to capture these images and make extra money on the side.

Cathy Yeulet does just that, traveling the world and taking stock photos and licensed images used by businesses, marketing agencies, and media organizations. She started off small, but now has her photos available on major hubs — including Shutterstock — where she can make almost $8,000 on one image and is in the six figures altogether.

To sell your photos on Shutterstock, you must go through an approval process, where you submit images for review. It doesn’t cost anything to the photographer, but you only get paid when you sell an image.

Even if you can’t land your snaps on a major site, you can still make money selling your pics to wannabe Instagram stars. Stocksy, for example, makes artists co-owners — artists receive 50 to 75 percent of the royalties (or $37 to $56 on a $75 photo). They only receive 25 to 38 cents per picture on Shutterstock.

Or, there’s Twenty20, where no application is required. Photographers simply upload photos for other people to purchase. They make $2 (a 20 percent commission) every time someone downloads their photo.

2. The foodie: Get paid to taste food

Are you the friend giving out recommendations for the best places to eat and raving about the new recipe you found? Well, there’s a way to make extra money on the side if you love food.

How? Become a food taster.

You can make around $40,000 a year as a full-time food tester. (Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in Food Science or a related field are preferred.)

If you don’t want to eat for a living (though it sounds pretty awesome), there are part-time gigs you can take on. Contract Testing Inc. lets you register as a taste tester. You’ll receive an email to come to a facility when they need food reviewed. You’re paid up to $25 per session, which typically lasts an hour. No previous experience is required; in fact, they want average consumers to weigh in more than pros. Even your kids are welcome to partake!

There are also gigs that pop up from time to time for food tasters. During the writing of this article, a quick search on Indeed revealed a part-time tasting opportunity near New York. It paid $15 an hour to perform daily evaluations of food and beverage products. To apply, you had to live nearby and have no food allergies, dietary restrictions, or food intolerances.

3. The organizer: Get paid to clean closets

If you think folding laundry is fun and are the proud owner of a label maker, then you can make extra money on the side helping the messier people of the world.

You can register with services such as Jop and TaskRabbit, set up a profile and rates, and start organizing. Rates can vary from $20 to $100 or more an hour in New York City. You can also use job search sites such as Craigslist or Care.com. There are part-time organizational jobs available all over the country with rates around $10 to $15 an hour.

If you’d rather start your own business, create a website or social media page to showcase before-and-after pictures of your work. Want to go the extra mile? You can become certified through the Board of Certified Professional Organizers or take classes through the National Association of Professional Organizers for credentials.

4. The sports fanatic: Get paid to be a sports official

Sure, it’s great to watch your favorite sports teams battle it out each weekend. But don’t you just want to be part of the action? While landing a gig as a referee on the pro level is tough, you can still call out strikes, fouls, and penalties and get paid for it. Here’s how to make money if you’re a sports fan.

Whether it’s high school or college level, referees are needed for all sports. The National Association of Sports Officials recommends reaching out to your local sporting association to determine how to become a referee, official, or umpire. Depending on the sport, you’ll likely need some sort of training and pass an assessment to be put on the roster.

To become a football referee in New York, for example, you must attend a minimum of six interpretation meetings of the local chapter of the New York State Association of Certified Football Officials, Inc., and pass the Annual National Federation Part II Rules Examination.

“I think refereeing is a side-job if you enjoy sports,” says intramural ref David Whitaker. “It gives you a front row seat and puts you in the action. You need a keen eye and the ability to handle conflict, and if you have those things chances are you will enjoy yourself.”

You can earn as much as $1,000 a week or $8,000 to $9,000 a season at the high school level — more if you move up to the college level. The best part: Games typically take place on nights and weekends, and won’t interfere with your regular work schedule.

5. The law lover: Get paid for jury duty as part of a mock trial

Do you have every “Law & Order” episode memorized? Then put your amateur legal knowledge to use. Courts will often stage mock trials via online and have mock jurors virtually sit on the cases. Lawyers will send participants case information and a questionnaire to fill out to see what verdict they would vote for. Then participants are paid for their time.

Companies such as eJury, Jury Talk, and Online Verdict all hire average citizens to act as online focus groups. Members receive up to $60 for 20 to 60 minutes of work. There’s no guarantee that there will be cases for you to complete once you sign up, but eJury members average about one case per week.

No matter your interest, there’s a great side hustle out there that would suit your passion. Think about what you enjoy doing and start researching part-time jobs in those fields.

If you’re entrepreneurial, start your own side businesses. Grant Sabatier saved $1 million by the time he was 30 by cobbling together side hustles. One of his favorites? Flipping mopeds.

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