You’ve probably read posts like this before – a laundry list of theoretical opportunities to earn extra money on the side. But we’re going to do something different here. Below is a list – albeit a short one – of income earning side hustles real people are doing in real life. That is to say that I know that they work.
Four are being done by close friends of mine, and one is a side hustle that I have myself. They may or may not be for you, but at a minimum, they are indications of what can be done.
1. Be a waiter.
I will be the first to admit that this is not a side gig that I would consider myself, but then again I’ve never tried it. Not so for my friend Dave. A few years back he started a business as a professional speaker, but needed an additional income to help pay the bills while he made the transition. Since he’d been a waiter when he was in college, stepping back into it was a natural move.
He was able to earn several hundred dollars each week while he built his business. During slow periods with his speaking business, he increased the job to full-time status, sometimes earning over a thousand dollars a week.
There are two things that made this work for Dave. The first was that he was doing something that he had done earlier in life. It wasn’t something he’d done in many years, but it’s still something familiar . . . a job he knew he could do. The second was his choice of restaurants to work for. Based on his previous experience, he chose high-end restaurants that were likely result in above average tips.
If you have ever been a waiter or a waitress in a previous life, you may want to take another stab at this if you are looking for an additional income source. It can be lucrative income if you have the need.
2. Be a bee removal specialist.
You read that right. My friend Jack runs a waste disposal business. He markets for customers, and assigns the jobs out to various subcontractors who do the actual hauling. But Jack is always looking for new avenues of business, for new ways to earn money. He’s found that as a bee removal specialist, and I bet that’s one you never thought of!
Unlike Dave, Jack had never done this in the past – it was just an idea that he thought of. In combing the classified ads, he came across someone trying to sell bee suit. This is a uniform made of thick material that covers most of your body, making it difficult for bees to sting you. Maybe he bought it for $100, and once he did, he started a locally-based website to advertise his services as a bee removal specialist.
Is he actually a bee removal expert? Nope. But that didn’t matter. He reasoned that people are afraid of bees, and too terrified at the thought of trying to remove a bee’s nest from their property that he could make some money charging people to do it for them.
He was right.
He does not make a lot of money on the side venture, but he does get a job or two per month at a few hundred dollars apiece. Armed with his trusty bee suit, and a garbage bag, he’s all set to slay bees for fun and profit.
I’m certainly not recommending this side hustle to anyone, but there is a lot to be gained from how Jack came into his venture. He stumbled across something most people would pay no attention to, and realized that he can use it to perform a service that no one is willing to do. Follow his example by looking to provide a service that you have a skill for – or the tools – and see if you can turn it into a money-making side hustle. Something unusual is always best because there is less competition.
3. Be a landscaper.
My friend Carlos is in his own business as a painting contractor. The area where we live however is extremely competitive for this business. Carlos supplements his painting business income with landscaping work.
He has a pickup truck, a lawnmower, hedge clippers, and an assortment of other landscaping tools from his own property. He got himself one customer, and then another, and parlayed that into a side business that now has several customers. He is able to use this side venture as a steady income in-between the higher-paying, but less frequent, painting jobs.
Carlos took a job that he was doing at his own home, and offered his service to other people. It was nothing more complicated than that. Once you get a couple of customers, they refer other people your way, and before you know it you are in business.
4. Be an income tax preparer.
This has been my side hustle for the past four years. My main occupation for most of that time has been professional blogging and freelance writing, providing blog posts to several other websites on a regular basis. I have supplemented that income by doing seasonal income tax preparation.
Just like with my friend Dave, when I needed an extra source of income I looked back on what I have done in the past. Early in my career I worked as an accountant at a couple of different CPA firms. While I’m not a CPA myself, I got a good deal of experience working with them in learning how to prepare income taxes. I was out of it for a number of years, but did some heavy review and got back into it working with a small local CPA firm.
The work is only seasonal, but the rate of pay is excellent. I purposely chose to do tax work through a CPA firm, rather than the national tax-preparation firms like H&R Block. It wasn’t just that I had direct experience working with that kind of business, but also that I knew that it would be easier to build an ongoing relationship. And I knew that the pay would be better as well.
Think if you have some skill you acquired in your past – or even the present – that you can earn some extra money with. For me it was tax-preparation, but for you it could be something that you’re done, even if you haven’t done it in a long while.
5. Be a garage sale reseller.
I have another friend – who does not want his name used – who resells items from garage sales. His inspiration for the idea? He read the book The Garage Sale Millionaire and decided to give it a try. And you know what? It worked!
Now he spends his Saturday mornings cruising around looking for garage sales, and buying anything he thinks he can sell later at profit. He may sell an item for $30 that he paid $5 for at a garage sale. Some days he finds plenty, and sometimes he comes home empty.
I’m guessing he makes a few hundred a month for his side hustle, but then he only spends a few hours a week at it. But there are some fringe benefits too. He’s able to find plenty of items that he uses personally. In fact many of the gadgets he has in his house are garage sale replacements for the ones that broke. A $20 TV, a $10 microwave. All in good working order.
By doing what he’s doing, he has learned how to spot bargains, how to negotiate, and how to market and sell. I think those skills will help in any business he chooses to go into.
And who knows . . . maybe one day he’ll write his own best selling garage sale millionaire book and really cash in.
In each of these situations, the side hustler found a niche uniquely suited to his skills and abilities. If you’re looking for a side hustle of your own, follow these examples and see where it leads.
Do you have a side hustle to recommend, especially one you’ve done successfully yourself? Leave a comment!