Author: Selena Maranjian | December 10, 2019
Consider a side gig for extra cash
Most of us would love more money, but we often don't act on that desire, as we feel busy enough with our current job and other responsibilities. But you can make some significant extra money on the side in lots of ways, and some of them might actually appeal to you. And once you've got extra cash, consider investing your long-term dollars in stocks -- perhaps for retirement.
Here are 50-plus ways you might generate additional income for yourself. See which strategies sound like ones you might try.
1. Answer an ad
This is one of the simplest strategies to employ -- just answer an ad for a business that's looking for part-time help. It might be for a job waiting tables or working a cash register, but no matter how unglamorous it might be, it will turn some of your time into money. Working just two four-hour shifts a week at, say, $12 per hour will get you nearly $100 per week -- and about $5,000 per year. You might do even better than that, such as if you wait tables at a fancy eatery and collect some hefty tips.
There are millions of children in this country, and many of them need babysitters from time to time. You might sit for neighbors' kids, or put up flyers or online notices advertising your services. How much might you earn? One national average figure is $16.75 per hour for one child. You can charge more for two or more kids, and you may also earn more if you're an experienced adult instead of a teenager, and especially if you know CPR or have some other applicable skills. Babysit for six hours per week earning, say, $20 an hour, and you're looking at $120 per week, or more than $6,000 per year.
3. Renting out your home -- on a short-term basis
A newish way to make money is by renting out part or all of your home via services such as Airbnb.com, VRBO.com, Homeaway.com, or FlipKey.com. Depending on the location and characteristics of your home, you may be able to charge a significant sum, and the main work involved is cleaning up before and after your guests depart.
4. Renting property on a long-term basis
A more old-fashioned way to make money renting property is to buy one or more homes to rent out to tenants -- typically for a year at a time. This seems easier -- and more lucrative -- than it often is, as landlords have to pay for maintenance, repairs, property taxes, and insurance, and their cash flow is halted during periods when their property is un-rented. In addition, dealing with tenants can sometimes be troublesome.
5. Selling unneeded items
If you have an attic, garage, basement, and/or closets full of stuff you're not using and don't need, you may be able to reap a lot of cash by selling them. You can hold a yard sale, of course, but there are many more options online, such as Craigslist.com, eBay, or Amazon.com. Thinning out your belongings can also help position you to downsize into a smaller and less costly home, if that makes sense for you.
6. Web development
If you're savvy with computers and coding, you may be able to charge $50 or more per hour helping businesses with their websites. You may actually create a corporate website, arranging it to work efficiently, building databases, and designing the site structure. More specifically, for example, you might build a page that collects information from site visitors, enters it into a database, and then sends a communication to the visitors.
7. Web design
A side gig related to web development is web design. While a web developer focuses most on a website's back-end, a web designer will focus on its front-end -- the user experience. They will design the site to be attractive and also functional. Many small businesses need help with web design, and you may even be able to win some business by approaching some and offering to improve their sites.
8. Moving people
Americans don't stay put as much as they used to. Millions of people relocate each year, for new jobs, for retirement, or just because they want or need to. Many of them need help packing up their belongings, loading it all onto a truck, and moving it. You can help with that, if you're strong, whether you have a truck or not. The task of loading and unloading items professionally is known as "lumping" -- and you can do an online search for lumper gigs, or you can check out sites such as SimplyHired.com or Indeed.com.
If you love preparing foods for people to enjoy, you might like doing some catering work on the side. It's a gig you might even do with a friend. Perhaps start by doing some jobs for people you know, and then you might start getting referrals. It will help if you have some culinary training, of course, and you'll also want to look into any laws regulating caterers in your area.
Transcription is another money-making opportunity, and one you can work at without leaving your home. You might do medical transcription, listening to reports by healthcare providers and typing them out, or various other kinds of work, such as transcribing conference calls that accompany corporations' earnings reports. Companies that you can work with include TranscribeAnywhere.com and TranscribeMe.com, and you may be able to earn $15 to $50 per hour, depending on the kind of work you do and how well you do it.
12. Graphic design
If you're a creative, artistic sort and you're versed in design-related software such as Adobe Illustrator, you may be able to make money on the side by designing for others. You could design brochures and flyers, wedding invitations, and even website pages.
13. Pet services
People with pets have all kinds of needs that you may be able to meet, such as walking their dogs, dog- or cat-sitting, and even grooming animals. Look into opportunities at sites such as Rover.com, PetSitter.com, and DogVacay.com.
14. Social media
If you're a whiz at social media, having accumulated many followers on Twitter, Instagram, and similar sites, you may be able to make money by offering your savvy skills to small businesses -- and perhaps even large ones. Many companies want to develop and capitalize on social media followings, but they don't know how to go about it. You might get paid for managing their accounts and posting to them regularly.
15. Handy-person services
A good handy-person is likely to always be in demand. If you know how to fix leaky faucets and toilets, patch holes in walls, replace doorknobs, and do things like that, you may be able to make money by doing such small jobs for people. You might do related work, too, such as painting, wallpapering, and removing wallpaper.
16. Personal chef
Many busy people these days don't have the time or talent to prepare meals at home, and they don't want to eat out too frequently either. Personal chefs are a perfect solution, and you might make some extra money by contracting with a handful of clients to deliver a certain number of meals each week -- or to prepare them in the clients' homes. You might cook for their dinner parties or family gatherings as well. Many personal chefs earn between $35 and $50 per hour.
17. Childbirth services
If you become a doula -- by getting trained in childbirth -- you can make money on the side by getting hired by expectant parents to prepare them for the big event and to be there with them as well -- often in their own homes. Doulas earn between about $600 and $2,000 per birth, depending on whether they're servicing a small town or big city.
18. Game playing
There are various ways to make money with games. Obviously, there's gambling, as poker, blackjack, and other games offer winnings -- though those winnings exist because of many other players' losings. A safer bet, if you're a dedicated gamer, is to try to get paid for play-testing new games. A little Googling might turn up some possibilities to investigate. At sites such as BoardGameGeek.com or VideoGameGeek.com, you could look up game designers and publishers to contact.
20. Junk hauling
If you're strong and have a truck or van that you don't mind getting dirty, you can bring in some extra money by hauling junk. Specifically, you would advertise your services in removing people's unwanted items, such as things they can't drive to the town dump on their own. In some cases, you may be able to resell some of those items.
21. Playing music
If you play an instrument well, you might make some money by forming a band or group to perform at nearby restaurants or bars or at various events -- or by performing solo. Some churches will occasionally hire musicians, too, for special services.
22. Teaching music
You can also make money with your musical skills by teaching. You might teach kids or adults to play the piano or guitar or some other instrument, or you might offer voice lessons. Piano teachers often make around $20 to $60 per hour, while voice teachers earn around $15 to $95 per hour, with both gigs averaging around $35, per PayScale.com.
23. Signing things
Teaching music requires skill, but you can make money on the side just by being able to sign things -- if you become a notary public. The rules vary by state, but you can expect to pay between $100 to $500 to become a notary public and start advertising your services. The National Notary Association reported in 2017 that half of part-time notaries were averaging up to $250 per month (that's $3,000 per year), with the other half earning more.
24. Teaching courses online
If you have deep knowledge of one or more subjects, you can make money teaching online, such as at a site like Udemy.com. Some instructors there are making a lot of money, but many are just making a few thousand dollars a year -- or less. Still, even that can be very helpful. The money you'll make will depend on how many students take your course, which will depend, to some degree, on how in-demand a topic it is, and how well marketed it is. Note that once you do the work to create a course, you can most likely re-use much or all of it later.
25. Get tasks done
If you like variety, consider looking into websites that connect income seekers like you with people who need various tasks done. These sites include TaskRabbit.com, Fiverr.com, GigWalk.com, App.Spare5.com, EasyShiftApp.com. Tasks can range from changing a hard-to-reach lightbulb to running an errand to assembling furniture someone ordered online, and some of the websites specialize in tasks you can complete from home, such as making phone calls or looking things up.
If you like driving and have a clean car, you might try making extra money by driving for a ride-sharing service such as Uber or Lyft. Don't expect to make a mint, though -- one estimate is that drivers average between around $8 and $12 per hour. Still, even earning $10 per hour can amount to $120 per week if you drive 12 hours per week, and that's more than $6,000 per year.
If you know your way around a woodshop, you may be able to make money crafting furniture and other wooden items and selling them -- perhaps online, or at nearby markets. IF you're very good, your work could command a lot of money, once you find some profitable channels through which to sell it.
28. Consulting for businesses
Consulting can be a way to make a meaningful sum on the side, if you have some business insights that companies will pay for. For example, you might be savvy about fundraising for non-profits, or you might have a talent for finding good workers for a certain industry. Think about what you have to offer to what kind of company, and what problems of theirs you can solve. A little Googling about how to go about starting a consulting business will turn up some sound advice.
29. Use your voice
If you frequently hear about what a nice voice you have, and even if you don't, you might want to look into doing voice-over work. This is a serious career for some people, and you could pursue having it be your career, but that will take considerable effort. Alternatively, at sites such as Fiverr.com, you can offer your services at a reasonable rate per hour, perhaps starting with a low rate until you've gotten some takers.
30. Personal training
If you love spending time at a gym and you know what you're doing there, you may be able to make money as a personal trainer. You could work part-time at a gym or you could simply find some clients to work with on your own. Many personal trainers earn $50 or more per hour, but it's not the kind of work you just start doing. Look into it further, as you'll likely need some kind of training and certification. The effort may well be worth it, though. If you log eight one-hour sessions per week, in evenings and/or on weekends, that could be worth $400 -- adding up to more than $20,000 per year.
31. Flipping houses
If you like (or think you'd like) buying and selling houses, and you're handy, you might profit by flipping homes -- buying, fixing them up, and then selling for more than they cost you. This can require a lot of skill, to repair or renovate the homes, or it can require a lot of money, if you'll be hiring others to do the work. Still, this activity can generate a lot of extra moolah on the side.
This money-making venture is far less of a sure thing than many other items in this long list. But if you love podcasts and have a good idea for a podcast of your own, you might want to give it a try. If your podcast catches on and many followers listen, you can start profiting by it.
33. Editing and proofreading
There's a lot of freelance work out there for those with the needed skills. For example, you might be a freelance editor or proofreader. Sites such Upwork.com, Freelancer.com, and even Fiverr.com connect those who need editing and proofreading services with those who can provide them.
If you've had some success raising money through grant-writing, or if you're willing to learn how to be a successful grant-writer, you may be able to make some good money on the side by offering your services to companies needing them. It can be worthwhile to read some books on the subject or take a course in it, and consider offering your services for free at first, if you're new to the business. Once you have secured a grant or two, you can build on that success and start charging, or charging more.
35. Computer repairs and troubleshooting
If you know your way around a motherboard and you're adept at troubleshooting people's problems with their computers, you might find yourself in high demand. Lots of people find themselves not knowing what to do when they encounter various problems, or they simply need help accomplishing some task, such as setting up a VPN service or installing a back-up hard-drive.
If you're a shutterbug, you could try selling your photographs. You might approach this by taking and loading lots of photos into stock photography sites such as iStock.com, stock.Adobe.com, Alamy.com, and shutterstock.com. Alternatively, you might offer your services photographing weddings and other events. Wedding photographers can earn several thousand dollars per gig -- but you'll need good skills, an impressive portfolio, and some happy clients to get to that point.
37. Sewing services
If you enjoy sewing, think about making some money on the side via your sewing machine. You can offer your services doing alterations, or you can do custom work for people, such as making bridesmaid dresses or children's clothes.
If you like to garden and you have ample space, you may be able to grow a nice side income -- by selling your produce at a farm stand on your property or at farmer's markets or elsewhere. You could even take it a little further, and sell jams, canned goods, and other things you make with your bounty.
39. Renting out your driveway
If you can offer a place for someone to park their car, such as in your driveway, you can make some easy money -- as long as it's conveniently located. (You'll also want to make sure that it's legal to rent out parking spaces where you live.) Look into sites such as Pavemint.com and parkeasier.com. You could have customers who pay you a few hundred dollars per month if you're near their workplace or home, or you might charge $10 to $20 or more for a few hours of parking, if you're near a stadium or other place where lots of people need to park.
40. Freelance writing
Those who enjoy writing may be able to make some money on the side doing freelance writing and perhaps even becoming a contract writer. How much you can earn will vary widely, as some kinds of jobs pay more and some kinds of writers (such as those with many bylines) can command more. Even if you earn just $50 per short piece you write for an online site, doing four of those per week would be $200 -- equivalent to $10,400 per year. You can look for gigs at sites such as Upwork.com, Fiverr.com, and Freelancer.com.
41. Creating clever designs
If you're clever and are good at coming up with funny phrases, jokes, and illustrations, or profound thoughts or images, you might capitalize on that by uploading your designs to sites such as Teespring.com, Zazzle.com, RedBubble.com, and CafePress.com. Then people can find them and order merchandise such as mugs, shirts, and more -- emblazoned with your design.
42. Coaching for school teams or refereeing
If you love working with kids, you might want to check with local schools to see if they need any coaches for any sports you know well or if they need anyone to head up any other after-school activities, such as an Academic Decathlon team or a debate team. Perhaps look into becoming a referee for any sports you know well, too -- that's a way to make some extra money while being active and participating in a sport you enjoy.
43. Call center work
Look into doing call center work, if that appeals to you. Some call-center jobs can be done from your home, making them extra convenient. These jobs don't tend to pay lavishly -- you may only earn $8 to $10 per hour to start -- but even that can be helpful. Work 12 hours per week earning $9 per hour, and that comes to more than $100 per week and more than $5,000 per year. If you have certain special skills, such as those that could let you be a tech support person, you may be able to earn more. Try Googling terms such as "call center jobs" and see what possibilities you find. Typically, you'll need a landline phone and Internet access, at a minimum -- a quiet room in which to work is also good.
Like creating podcasts, blogging is a way to make money that can be hit-or-miss. You'll need to offer compelling content and to reach a lot of interested readers in order to be successful. If it works out, it can be a very satisfying and even fun way to make money. The money generally comes in via advertising and/or affiliate marketing. For example, if you have a blog about travel, you might collect some advertising income from ads that run on your web pages, and you might also link to travel-related products on your blog -- perhaps even writing about them. You might write about how best to pack lightly for a trip, and then link to some great travel gear you recommend, with the links leading you to get a small percentage of every sale that occurs through the vendor (such as Amazon).
45. Preparing tax returns
Few of us love taxes or tax season, but if you don't mind filling out tax returns and you're good at it, you might make some extra moolah by preparing returns for others. Some companies, such as H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt Tax Services, and Liberty Tax Services, hire seasonal preparers and offer training for them as well. You'll do well to have an accounting degree, of course, but those without that background who take the time to get up to speed on basic tax return preparation may be able to prepare plenty of simple returns.
46. Renting out your car
If you don't want to rent out space in your home or to rent out your driveway or a garage berth, you might just rent out your car itself. After all, it probably sits unused for many hours of each day when it could be making money for you. There are various websites facilitating such transactions -- such as Turo.com, Maven.com, and Getaround.com -- look into them if you're interested. The company you rent your car through will typically take care of insurance, in case a driver runs into trouble. You might do best with this strategy if you live in an area that welcomes lots of visitors.
47. Knitting and other crafts
If you're a crafty sort, you can make money on the side by selling your wares online or at farmers' markets, craft fairs, and other locations. Online, look into sites such as Etsy.com and perhaps eBay.com, where you can maintain a store and sell to a wide range of buyers, with the website taking a cut. There might even be some stores near you that will sell some of your offerings under their roof, also taking a cut. What should you make and sell? Well, the possibilities are myriad -- you might make sweaters, jigsaw puzzles, jewelry, soaps, candles, leather goods, paintings, ceramics, or all kinds of other items.
48. Direct selling
Remember the Fuller Brush Girls of yore, selling brushes door to door? They're still around, and you can join their ranks. You might also sign up with a direct-selling company such as Avon, Mary Kay, Tupperware, and The Pampered Chef, which will also have you selling their wares to friends, family, and all the customers you can find. Each company has a different compensation structure, and varying start-up costs. Do some digging online, such as by Googling the term "direct selling companies," to find a bunch of contenders, and focus on the kinds of products that you connect with the most. Some additional companies to look into include Rodan + Fields, Scentsy, doTERRA, Pure Romance, Red Rock Traditions, Stella & Dot, Traveling Vineyard, Thirty-One, Beach Body, Jamberry or Color Street Nails, Kids Bee Happy, Monat, and It Works! You'll often make the most money by enrolling others as salespeople.
Many people make good money on the side by performing in various ways. If you love to sing, you might sing at holiday services at churches, or at weddings. You might be a performer at children's birthday parties, dressing as a beloved character or doing magic. You might even get a gig singing at a restaurant, or you could try street performing, perhaps dazzling passers-by with some music or magic.
50. Lots of other things
There are actually gobs more possible ways to make extra money. A little digging online will yield even more ideas -- such as cleaning houses, doing personal shopping for others, house-sitting, teaching yoga, inspecting homes, sharpening knives, and detailing cars. Use these suggestions as a jump-off point to begin looking into generating some easy (or relatively easy) passive income for yourself.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Selena Maranjian owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Etsy, and Twitter. The Motley Fool recommends eBay and Uber Technologies and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $18 calls on eBay and short January 2020 $39 calls on eBay. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.