Life is expensive. And these days it can be hard to make enough to enjoy the little extras, or even make ends meet, with just the earnings from a day job. This is where the side hustle comes in. Make money from your hobbies and skills like writing, crafting, and being handy.
There are websites out there that will match freelancers with potential clients, such as Fiverr and Upwork. The problem with these sites is that the pay is often abysmal. Fiverr, for example, pays $4 for every task (yes, everything costs $5, no matter what it is, and the platform keeps a $1 fee). And if you own a house or condo in, say, Toronto or Vancouver, ain’t no way you’re paying your mortgage with those rates. Yes, there are people who claim to do well with these sites but they are few and far between, and for every $1000 one person makes there is another making nothing.
And that drives market rates down, meaning everyone then finds themselves struggling to get paid fairly for decent work.
That being said, there are still people who do understand the value of good work done by reliable and talented people, and it’s possible to find these people online, through your own connections, and in your communities.
You will, in most cases, have to market yourself on your social media and through word of mouth. But the effort is often well worth it. Sometimes people wind up making a living just with their side hustle.
Here are 17 potential side gigs and what they pay.
House painting – People always need other people to paint stuff, from porches to rooms to entire houses. You can charge anywhere from $15-$50/hr for this service.
Etsy shop – Do you knit awesome baby booties, or create cool taxidermy? Do you love to scour vintage stores? Sell your own creations, or resell sourced items on Etsy. It’s not a guaranteed income. Some people make nothing or next to nothing, but others claim to be raking it in. You need to research your product market and, like all other successful businesses, devote a lot of time to marketing yourself.
eBay – If you’re an expert in or connoisseur of something with a secondary market, like clothing or art, eBay can also be a good way to make money off that expertise and knowledge.
Childcare – If you’re good with kids you can look after them and charge $12-$15/hr. Children are very popular things to have. There are probably some in your neighbourhood.
Virtual Assistant – Virtual assistants are assistants who work remotely and basically take on any extra task that can be done offsite, from bookkeeping to customer service to ordering flowers for the anniversary the client forgot. Rates range from about $12-$50/hr depending on the skill required and the complexity of the task.
Walk dogs – The dog walkers in my local park are so busy it’s crazy. They are always there in the company of several furry friends. If you charge about $12 for a half hour walk and $20 for an hour-long walk and walk 10 dogs – or, say, five dogs twice a day – that’s between $120 and $200 a day, which is pretty good.
Freelance writing – Like the market for other skills, the market for freelance writing has been largely decimated lately by sub-par writers doing terrible work for people who don’t want to pay anything for it. Rates have suffered dramatically. But really good, experienced writers who know how to market themselves can still make a good living from their services, and inexperienced ones can charge between $20-$50 an article. Is there something you’re an expert in? Offer your services writing about that.
Translation – English to French translation is always in demand (not so much the other way around). And, of course, there is a market for just about any language. Again, some websites will lowball you on pay, but if you can get the word out and build a reputation, you can charge about $1 a word, which, if you work fast, can add up to about $60/hr.
Transcription – There is a pretty good market for transcribing recordings. Working for yourself you can charge $1 per recorded minute of transcription (this isn’t $1 per actual minute at $60 an hour, but per recorded minute, which is different). Working for companies that provide this service pays less, as they charge the same and take a cut.
Teach music – If you can play and teach an instrument, you can charge about $50/hr or $25 for a half hour. Excellent, in-demand musicians can charge much more.
Tutor – Is there something – math being the first thing to spring to mind – that you know well enough to help others learn in a private setting? This pays depending on your level of education and experience. If you’re a student yourself you can charge about $12 – $20/hr. A very experienced and certified teacher can ask for around $85/hr.
Clean houses – House cleaners can charge $20-$25/hr, or, say, a flat rate of about $150 a day. Working for agencies will pay much less than that, but in big cities like Toronto, there are freelance house cleaners doing quite well for themselves. I have several friends who do this as a side gig.
Gardening/handyman services – I have two friends who started a handyman/gardening service – essentially offering any service they could reasonably provide for $25/hr. And through word of mouth alone they were soon so busy they couldn’t keep up with demand. People don’t want to mow their own lawns, rake their leaves, clean their eaves, wash their cars or windows, or do their own painting, plumbing, or small electrical tasks. So, if you are qualified and willing to do these things, and can get the word out, you can do really well.
Bartending, serving – It’s not an easy gig. You have to be fast, a people person, and often up for late hours. That said, there are almost always serving gigs to be found, and bartenders and servers can make a lot of tip money. If you’re interested in one-offs or occasional shifts, there are social media groups on Facebook where companies post the need for occasional staff for catering gigs and more. Seek them out and get yourself added.
Airbnb – Rent your space when you’re away, or a room in your home when you’re not. I would never do this. Strangers coming and going in and out of my house is basically a nightmare for me. But lots of people do this to pay down the mortgage and help finance other things. If you’re OK with having endless strangers sleeping in your beds and using your bathroom, this might be a good option for you.
Create a smartphone app – Can you see a problem that needs solving, and can you come up with the app that will solve that problem? Thousands of people have done this. You might make a little money, and if you hit on something that solves a huge problem or has mass appeal you can become a bazillionaire, like those Uber guys.
Use your skill, whatever that is – One of my friends brings in a few hundred dollars here and there doing makeup for bridal parties, weddings, and other events. Another makes cakes and sells them for, again, a few hundred dollars. Can you make balloon animals or paint children’s faces at parties? You know what you’re good at. Maybe there’s a market for it. Use your imagination and ingenuity.
You won’t know what you can do with your skills until you try.