Side Hustle Economics: How Much Can You Really Earn?

side hustle

Side hustles are everywhere these days. As the gig economy has picked up over the years, all of a sudden the idea of taking on a “second job” has gone from something you only do when seriously in need of extra cash to a regular part of life. You could even say it’s become trendy.

As someone who’s always looking for ways to diversify my income and create a more financially stable future, I often think about side hustles. But I can’t help but wonder, is the money worth the time? Can I be as successful as the people who earn thousands of dollars outside of their day jobs?

Extra money is great — it can rescue a tight budget — but some side hustles require a lot of time, and even a sizable financial investment. That’s why it’s so important to do the math before jumping in. Here are some numbers to help you find the right side hustle for you and see how much you can earn.

Common side hustle ideas

First of all, let’s talk about what kind of side hustles you can do. There are many things you can do for extra money, including jobs that some people do full-time but which offer flexible hours. Below is a list to help you find something you like or even generate some ideas of your own.

  • Become a bartender, caterer, or server.
  • Become a Tasker for TaskRabbit.
  • Clean houses.
  • Do data entry.
  • Deliver for companies like DoorDash, Instacart, Postmates, and more.
  • Drive for Uber or Lyft.
  • Offer your services as a landscaper or even handyman (or woman).
  • Pick up seasonal work in retail.
  • Rent out your car on Turo or Getaround.
  • Rent out your home on AirBnB.
  • Take on part-time work as a babysitter or pet sitter.
  • Teach courses (such as test prep) or become a private tutor.
  • Work as a freelance designer, editor, web developer, or writer.
  • Work as an interpreter or translator.

As many options as there are here, this is only the beginning. Deciding on a side hustle is a lot easier to do when you think about activities you like or skills you’ve picked up over the years. If you can find side hustle work that you enjoy, or at least feel comfortable doing, it might not feel like extra work at all.

But how much can you make? And is it worth the time commitment? We took a look at data on median earnings for various jobs from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale, Earnest, and some of the companies involved in these side hustles to find out.

Average earnings by side hustle type

Online lender Earnest anonymized data from tens of thousands of their loan applicants to find out just how much people might be earning from their side hustles. As well as uncovering earnings, the report shows which side hustles in the sharing economy were most popular.

Earnest discovered that 85 percent of people in the study take in an average of $500 per month from their side hustles. AirBnB ranked head-and-shoulders above the competition in terms of the most profitable side hustle. TaskRabbit came in second, and Lyft in third.

But beyond just the money, what kind of side hustle would you most enjoy doing? Here are different groupings of side hustles you could try, as well as how much they can earn.  The list is broken down by how much you can earn if you prefer to work from home, if you love being around people, if you want to earn money off of what you already have, or if manual labor is your jam.

Opportunities you can do from home

Have speedy internet and a reliable computer? Prefer to spend your moonlighting hours in the comfort of your own home? Check out some of these options.

  • Customer service representative: Help people via phone or email for approximately $15 per hour.
  • Data entry specialist: Type your way to approximately $14 per hour.
  • Proofreader: Spot grammar and spelling errors for about $17 per hour.
  • Resume writer: You can earn about $20 per hour.
  • Social media manager: Your earnings will be based on experience, but come in at approximately $15 per hour.

As you can see, the earnings vary quite a bit — and your monthly take-home will depend on how much extra work you can get and do. The good news is, with work like this, you won’t have to invest much of your money since you can use the technological resources you already have.

And if you do need to upgrade your computer or other equipment, it could be tax-deductible. Just remember you also have to pay taxes on your earnings (as you will with all side hustles).

Side hustles for the ‘people’ people

If you’re a people person, the idea of going from an eight-hour workday to sitting at home in front of your computer all night might seem too draining to be worth the extra cash. Here are a few opportunities that will serve your extroverted ways and bring you some added income.

  • Babysitter: Revisit your teenage job roots for about $10 per hour.
  • Bartender: Serve drinks for an average of approximately $10 per hour.
  • Brand ambassador: Represent your favorite companies at events for about $15 per hour.
  • Pet sitter: Pets are people too, right? You can earn about $10 per hour.
  • Tour guide: Show off your hometown pride for an average of $11 per hour.

Like the work-from-home options listed above, you can take on these out-of-home side hustles for little to no financial investment on your part. And the ones that tip have the added benefit of instant gratification — if you want to become a waiter or waitress for your side hustle, you’ll get to take home cash every shift you work (and you might even be able to get a free meal as well).

Rent out your assets

And for those who prefer their side hustle income to be more of the “passive” variety, renting out the assets you already own can be a great way to do it.

  • Rent out your car: You can let someone else use your car when you’d have it parked and earn about $700 per month if you use a service such as Turo.
  • Rent out your room or home: Depending on the desirability of your location and the type of home you have, you could earn an average of $400 per week for renting a room all the way up to $800 per week for renting an entire home.
  • Become a rideshare or delivery driver: Okay, this one is more active than passive, but you can use your car to earn about $13 per hour.

Of course, if you don’t have a car or spare room to rent out (or the desire to rent your home out and leave each time), then these options won’t work.

Manual labor for those who just like to get stuff done

Love to work with your hands? Manual labor side hustles can help you get some exercise as you pad your bank account:

  • Fix things around the house: If you’re skilled with tools and already own a set, you can fix yourself up with around $17 per hour.
  • Housecleaner: Clean your own home and get nothing, but clean others’ and you could earn approximately $10 per hour.
  • Lawn care: Homeowners already care for their own lawn — do you want to do it for your neighbors, too? Take home around $12 per hour.
  • Mover: If you have a truck and can lift, you can earn about $11 per hour to help people move from one home to another.
  • Paint houses: You’ll have to purchase painting equipment, but you can earn approximately $18 per hour.

Unlike the previous side hustles, you might need to invest money into tools and materials. Costs will vary based on the side hustle you choose, but you might not want to spend more than you can earn back in a reasonable amount of time — and then, only if you’re booked solid on jobs.

Capitalize on side hustles that earn you more than money

Out of all the side hustles, the best ones provide you with more than extra money. They also enable you to grow skills that you can use as stepping stones for your career or even start a business. Or they can simply provide you with enjoyment or fulfillment.

When you’re living on a tight budget, it’s easy to get stuck in the things you have to do to make it work. But if you approach the “second job” with an opportunistic mentality instead, then hopefully the extra work can benefit your life in various ways.

And if you need a little more inspiration on the way, read these seven side hustle blogs to help you stay inspired and earn more money, and use our marketplace to find the right side hustle for you.

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