32-year-old Joel Young was working as a pastor and church planter when he realized he was $50,000 in debt.
Over a period of a few years, the father of two, along with his wife, had accumulated close to $10,000 in credit card debt. On top of that, they had a car loan of $12,000 and even more in medical debt from expensive surgeries.
After reading Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, Young was inspired to face his $50,000 debt head on. He started by taking the debt snowball approach to his debt (a signature of Ramsey’s “baby steps”).
While having a strategy in place was helpful to get started, he was looking for ways to get out of debt faster.
“More than anything we decided to get intense about eliminating the debt and start working extra on the side to speed up the process. Once we got serious, we explored every possibility we came across to pay down the debt,” Young says.
So he started to side hustle to earn more money. To get started, Young signed up with Fiverr, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers, with some gigs starting at five dollars.
Making money through Fiverr
As it turned out, getting started on Fiverr to make some extra cash wasn’t as hard as Young had thought. Before becoming a pastor, Young was a musician. He had all the recording equipment from his music days and had some voice classes under his belt, so he decided to try out voice acting.
In a short time, Young was able to secure gigs and make extra money. “Things really started to pick up after my first month or so on the platform,” he says. “I advertised my voiceover gigs with a video on my user page and people started requesting full videos in addition to my voiceover work.”
As the requests rolled in, Young created a different gig just for videos. Within a year’s time, Young made $34,000 from his videos. He didn’t have the latest or greatest technology — he used what he had to create his products.
He recorded on his iPhone and shot in his bedroom. He purchased a $20 lapel microphone and repurposed some old lamps to serve as studio lighting.
After doing many gigs and making a good income, he decided to invest some of his profits and upgrade his equipment. “After about a year, I had saved enough to buy some professional camera equipment, which took my services to the next level,” he explains.
“Doors began opening from there. I did a video for a company that created some great animation software, for example, and they sent me a free copy as a part of my payment. So I started building videos with it and within a couple of months it was a huge part of my total income,” he says.
At this point, Young had diversified his income streams on Fiverr, offering videos, voiceovers, and animation.
Through his side hustle, Young was able to pay off his $50,000 in debt in a mere 18 months. Young now earns $20,000 per month, proof that freelance jobs can sometimes lead to big bucks.
Advice for others in debt
Though Young’s story is extraordinary, you can also leverage your talents to earn more money. “You may have skills to leverage that you don’t even realize are special. If you have a passion or you’re looking for some extra spending cash, setting up and running a seller profile on Fiverr is fast and easy,” he says.
The best part? Freelance work can help you earn more, have a flexible schedule, and help you pay off debt. You don’t have to feel stifled about what to offer and worry about creating something revolutionary or hyper-unique.
“I always thought that if I couldn’t do something extremely unique, no one would hire me, but the reality is, you don’t need to do something groundbreaking to be marketable,” Young says. The secret? It’s all about communication and quality.
“It’s possible to differentiate yourself by how you serve and communicate with people. If you give people a high-quality product that they’re proud to show others, you’ll be successful,” he says.
For anyone that wants to get started with a side hustle to earn more and pay off debt, Young suggests looking at what you already own.
“Look around at what you already have and what you already do and find a way to offer it to other people and monetize it. I launched my business with an iPhone and my voice — sometimes the solution is right in front of you,” he says.
You don’t need to invest a lot of money or time to earn your first extra dollar. You just need passion, commitment, and perseverance. Those qualities, coupled with side hustling, can help you pay off debt and create a new revenue stream. And who knows — maybe even another career.
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