The side hustle era isn’t just a way to earn extra cash — for many, it’s become a new way of life.
Recent data from Bankrate shows that roughly 45% of all U.S. workers have some form of side gig. The trend is particularly popular among Millennials, with nearly one in two relying on the practice to boost their earnings.
The term ‘side hustle’ dates back to the 1950s, where it described the option to make money from a passion or hobby. That definition is still mostly true today, though it’s significantly expanded to include seemingly infinite ways to earn extra money.
No matter how you define the side hustle era, one thing remains clear: it’s trending hot and shows no sign of slowing.
Why Do People Love Side Hustles?
For many people, side hustles provide much-needed income. But for others, starting a side gig is the first step toward something bigger, better, and yes, more profitable.
Bankrate notes that despite a strong economy and record-low unemployment, many workers are still living paycheck to paycheck. Nearly three out of 10 people with a side gig are using the funds to help cover regular living expenses, a result attributed to flat wages and a rising cost of living. Some call it a “shadow of the earlier financial crisis,” where unemployment reached as high as 10.2% in October 2009 — and many are still trying to recover financially from the fallout.
Regardless of your current financial situation, the side hustle economy is helping budding entrepreneurs get their feet wet in business ownership. It’s opened the doors for thousands of people to follow their dreams of starting a business and becoming their own boss — a dream shared by 62% of American workers.
Side hustlers rely on their secondary roles to gain valuable experience at low cost and low risk, all while building their resume in the process. They use their side gig as a test to see if they have what it takes to turn their passion into a full-time revenue stream while retaining the security of a steady paycheck.
And with the rise of creative- and skills-based networking platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, and Guru, clients for your professional services have never been more accessible.
Most Popular (and Profitable) Side Gigs
The term ‘side gig’ can encompass a myriad of jobs, ranging from creative roles to tech skills to hobbies and more. Odd jobs like dog walking, babysitting, pet sitting, lawn care, and cleaning are some of the more traditional options. But in our digital age, the opportunities have grown exponentially.
Let’s look at some of the most common side gigs that are bringing in big bucks:
Apps like PostMates are changing food delivery as we know it. You can sign up to become a driver and receive delivery fees plus tips to boost your income.
Airbnb is arguably the biggest disruption to ever hit the hospitality industry. The average Airbnb owner earns about $924 per month.
Social Media Management
Many small businesses don’t have the time or know-how to do their social media presence justice. As a side gig, you could earn as much as $1,500 a month!
Website Design & Management
Website design has gotten easier and more DIY with sites like Squarespace and Weebly. But ready-made tools are still no match for good design choices. Website creators charge as much as $80 per hour, or $as much as $500 per project.
Blogging is a major industry — any business with a website can put the power of blogging to work! Professional writers charge anywhere from $25 up to $200 for a well-written blog post, depending on length and subject matter.
Driving for Uber or Lyft
If you have your car and are on the road anyway, why not help to pay for your auto expenses? Becoming a driver for Uber and Lyft can earn between $12-$17 per hour, depending on your local market.
The e-Learning industry is experiencing a moment, and side hustlers can cash in. Companies like VIPKid connect you with students to tutor and pays $16-$22 per hour.
The term ‘digital marketing’ can be broken down into a multitude of subterms: SEO marketing, PPC advertising, social media, email marketing, sales funnels, landing pages, e-books, webinars, and white papers, to name a slight few.
Pick the ones you’re good at and offer them as a side hustle service. The average salary of a freelance digital marketer is $66K, but even in a part-time capacity you could clear a couple thousands dollars a month.
Personal Chef Services
We’re living in an age where fitness and health are becoming more top of mind. More people are asking for transparency in food and beauty products, are keen on exercise, and even wear athleisure clothing everywhere they go in case the opportunity to work out presents itself.
In such a health-minded world, personal chef services are poised to thrive. You can offer healthy meal planning, shopping, food prep, and in-home cooking for busy professionals and make anywhere from $35 to $50 per hour.
How to Start Your Own Side Hustle for Extra Cash
Are you seeing dollar signs in the side hustle landscape?
Starting your own money-making gig on the side isn’t hard, but it does take time and commitment.
For starters, you’ll want to choose a gig you do well and can be happy with. Many people end up loving their side gig more than their 9-to-5 job, which is contributing to the growing freelance revolution.
You’ll also want to research potential barriers to entry, such as startup costs, equipment needs, time commitment, and required skills to succeed. If you don’t know something that you’ll need to know to be successful, see if there’s a course you can take to learn that skill — learning is power.
And once you start your side hustle, check out my guide on how to turn your side hustle into a full-time gig, along with these: