Updated July 2017!
Let’s talk about side income. Ummm… what’s not to love?
A lot of my posts focus on saving you money in unexpected places because “a dollar saved is a dollar earned,” but the other part of growing your wealth and net worth is generating more income. There are so many ways to generate income on the side that it shouldn’t matter if you’re a 9-to-5 worker bee, a stay-at-home mom, a student, or recently unemployed. Combined with smart budgeting tricks, you can absolutely achieve your financial goals by getting a little creative.
Despite my career success I am not too proud to take on odd jobs, peddle my unwanted clothing online, play the market research subject, or pick up some dog poop to make a little cash on the side. While side income may no longer be essential to my survival, it still gets me that much closer to realizing my financial dreams and psychologically liberates me to splurge once in awhile.
Below are 15 simple ideas for generating extra income that I’ve vetted and can personally recommend based on my own experiences, observations of others’ success, and in-depth research. I chose them primarily because they have good ROI (Return On Investment, the “investment” being the time you spend doing the work and the amount of monetary compensation being the “return”).
I have done my best to ONLY include income generating ideas that could realistically bring in more than minimum wage. Why do it otherwise? They are “easy” because almost anyone can do them, but don’t be fooled — work is work so you’ll still need to bring your boss lady A game and a “can do” attitude:
1. Get paid to clean out your closet.
2. Dogsit for other people on Rover.com.
Or if you’re short on time just walk their dogs occasionally. Setting up an account on Rover.com is fast and easy, and they just take a 15% cut of your fee. You’ll also get $20 when you sign up to use for your own dog sitting needs!
3. Become a Task Rabbit or Handy Professional.
If you do work with Handy you can earn “up to $22/hour as a cleaner or $45/hour as a handyman.” Their top professionals make more than $1,000 a week, and the schedule is entirely up to you.
Have other talents you’d like to share for profit? Become a “tasker” at TaskRabbit. Sample tasks include: cleaning, laundry, cooking/baking, sewing, shopping, delivering items, putting furniture together, heavy lifting, computer help, scrapbooking, writing/editing, and the list goes on and on. You set an hourly rate and TaskRabbit takes a 20% cut.
4. Rent out your car on Turo.
If you work from home often or your car is just sitting in your garage, you can rent it out for a few days or even up to a month for pre-screened drivers. Turo is a favorite of mine, having used them off and on after relocating cross country recently. Uber and Lyft rides can add up and Turo is much more affordable than doing a short term car rental through Hertz or similar. Another alternative is Relayrides. Both companies keep ~25% of the total rental fee, but they also cover the liability and insurance on your behalf.
5. Become a Taxi Driver.
Ever considered driving for Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar? It does require you to have a valid driver’s license, a clean driving record, and a reliable vehicle, but I actually know people who have quit their jobs to do this full time. I believe these companies generally take a commission ranging from 5 to 20% of the fare, but you’ll need to review each program individually for yourself.
6. Rent out a parking space.
You can easily do so using Parking Spotter. If you own your home or have an extra parking spot that you don’t use, you may be able to rent it out daily, weekly, or monthly to someone who needs it. Especially in densely populated cities like Los Angeles, apartment rentals sometimes don’t include a designated parking spot, or maybe they only include one spot and you need another spot for your roommate or significant other. The national average cost for a monthly parking spot in the United States is currently $150.81. You can expect to pay an average price of $15.38 for a daily parking spot. (Source: Colliers International, 2007)
7. Sublet your home.
Ever wanted to dabble in the bed & breakfast industry? If you’re going on a long vacation or have an extra room, you can make a little extra cash by temporarily subletting via Craigslist or Airbnb. I recommend using Airbnb to minimize the potential for scams, as well as to better insure your home and valuables against damage and theft.
8. Get online cash rebates and coupons.
This is one of my favorites and it really works well! If you sign up with Ebates for free, not only will you get a sign-up bonus and access to special coupons, but you’ll also earn cash back when you shop at the online retailers you already would have. For example, you can get 5% cash back for shopping at Amazon or eBay, 8% at Sephora, and Macy’s, 20% at Teleflora, or even up to 15% back when you buy deals from Groupon or LivingSocial. There are hundreds of online retailers in their database, so don’t forget to check Ebates before you shop online!
9. Be a subject for market research and focus groups.
Marketers need your feedback to make strategic business decisions and they get that through surveys and focus groups. Often these are done in an office environment, but sometimes you can find web-based or phone interviews as well. To register and see market research opportunities in your area, I recommend Focusgroup.com. Companies typically don’t want you to do more than one study for the same product category in a 3-6 month period, but you can often earn $50-$200/study either in cash, check, or pre-paid debit card depending on the firm.
10. Become a Brand Ambassador.
This is a great side job if you’re an outgoing person willing to represent a brand, hand out product samples, and answer basic questions about the product or service. I can personally recommend the CMT Agency for their professionalism and quality of events because I used to work for them, but there are other agencies as well. Compensation can be very lucrative (up to $35/hour) and sometimes you get product perks, too. Once I was an ambassador for L’Oreal cosmetics and each ambassador wrapped up the event with multiple goodie bags full of free makeup on top of our regular fee.
11. Pick up odd jobs and gigs on Craigslist.
A good friend of mine relocated to Austin and quickly found some seasonal part-time work for the local food trucks servicing the crowds at SXSW. She did such a great job that it then translated into full-time work with multiple food truck vendors competing to hire her.
12. Provide tours for people visiting your city.
If you register as an “Insider” guide with Vayable or Verlocal.com, you can lead your own themed tours/classes and be paid to create a unique experience in art, fashion, design, eating, drinking, architecture, history, outdoors or any other cultural experience. Know the best places to get specialty donuts around town? Create your own tasting tour with fun cultural highlights along the way. Want to teach a class on creating a succulent plant terrarium? Provide knitting lessons? The options are limitless.
13. Cook and host meals for others.
Do you enjoy cooking, making new friendships, or hosting dinner parties? Then you might consider becoming a host at EatWith.com or Mealsharing.com. You choose the menu, the date/time, number of guests, and set a price per person to cover your time and food costs. Guests may be local neighbors, or even travelers visiting your area from other countries.
14. Sell your handmade specialty items online.
If you’re crafty, think about selling on Etsy or even becoming a DIY kit designer for Darby Smart. I have sold homemade costumes during Halloween, for example. And I have bought homemade jams and chocolates, burlap banners, paper products and custom jewelry for numerous baby showers and gifts.
15. Fund loans for others.
via LendingClub.com or Prosper.com. The idea, according to Prosper, is that you can become a social lender and “help hardworking families escape the credit card trap, fund an entrepreneur’s dream, or finance a dream wedding — while earning a healthy return.” With investment returns averaging 9% on your loan, it’s much better than the current rates for high-yield savings accounts or CDs. As with all investments, there are still risks involved and you should research this option carefully prior to making any financial decisions as I am not an investment professional and make no guarantees of a loan’s success or rate of return.