The Ultimate Guide to the Best Side Jobs: Freelancing, Creative Gigs and Other Ideas to Make Extra Money with Side Work

Last Updated: July 6, 2018
 

Why you should consider a side job

Whether you’re working to pay off debt, want to build your own business, or are looking toward other financial goals, chances are you’ve heard of the side hustle: Simply put, side jobs offer a supplement to your full-time income, often in the form of very part-time opportunities you can cobble together during your free time. Side jobs give you control over your own earning potential by allowing you to make more money beyond your typical 9-to-5 salary.

Much more than the old work-from-home schemes that required an “initial investment” (or uncomfortable door-to-door sales), today’s side gigs, freelance jobs, side hustles – whatever your preferred terminology – rely heavily on your own gumption, skills, and, often, the internet.

Make no mistake: many of these side gigs require planning and perseverance. But, they have the potential to add serious padding to your bank account – and even to eclipse your full-time income, given time and a bit of luck. How’s that for a side job?

The key, especially when working online (aka telecommuting), is in your positioning: as a serious writer, you don’t want to compete with the $1 per blog post “writers”; as a web designer, your skills are worth more than a $5 job on Fiverr; as a tutor, you can reach beyond your own community. Have faith in your skills and in yourself, and you can do great things with your side hustle.

We’ve compiled a list of the best side jobs, be they freelancing jobs or no-experience-needed ways to make some fast cash. And hey, if none of these ideas call your name, check out our list of the best on-demand jobs and side hustles. And now, for our favorite (and most profitable) side hustles:

Side Jobs: The Basics

18+ million Americans have taken side jobs

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18+ million Americans have taken side jobs. (Screenshot via BLS)

If you’re searching for your first side job, you have questions. Luckily, we have some answers.

Who has a side job?

Many, many people! Did you know that 46% of professionals are interested in part-time work, especially side jobs that allow them to work remotely part of the time? What’s more, as of mid-2017, 1 in 2 millennials have a side hustle and 18.5 million part-time workers in the U.S. reported working part-time for non-economic reasons. This means that they took on part-time work not because they couldn’t find full-time work, but because they wanted the part-time job to earn some additional cash, find ways to fill their free time, meet new people, or for some other reason.

What are the best side jobs?

We’re not trying to be cryptic, but the best side jobs are the ones you’ll enjoy (at least, most of the time). Especially when you’re already working a full-time job, it’s important to take on side jobs that don’t feel like drudgery. Do something you love. Because, who knows? Your side job could someday become your primary job.

Where are the best side jobs located?

As far as non-telecommute side jobs, the best opportunities are in big cities and tourist attractions. After all, the denser the population, the more opportunity to sell your skills and/or time. That said, some of the side jobs on our list are online opportunities, so you can make bank from anywhere with a good internet connection.

How much do good side jobs pay?

Like full-time salaries, pay for side jobs jumps all over the place, from about $10 per hour to $100+ if you have a highly developed and desirable skill set.

How can you make yourself more hirable when looking for a side job?

Obviously, past experience in a given field – elder care, web design, etc. – will give you a leg up in the hunt for a side job. But don’t let little or no experience stop you: earn a certificate, training, or similar credentials as a way to get your foot in the door with a given company, and you’ll soon be climbing the side-job ladder.

Who are the top employers for quality side jobs?

Finding a side job can be as easy as turning on your computer or as adventurous as heading out into your community. For the former, you can connect with potential clients via online websites (ex. Upwork) or your own websites; for the latter, you’ll have to scroll the online yellow pages and word-of-mouth to determine who’s in your area (and who’s hiring). We’ve also peppered a few national employers into our list, to give you a good place to start.

Side Jobs: Labor Gigs

warehouse side jobs

Side jobs in labor are a great way to pick up some extra cash

If the labor life is the life for you – or, if you just want a side gig that gets you out, moving, and interacting with other people – then you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of labor positions you can take on as a side job. These gigs run the gamut, from part-time warehouse jobs, to on-demand moving services, to general labor with local contractors.

The even better news: most labor side jobs have flexible schedules, since these companies often operate during unconventional hours (including, in some case, around-the-clock). So, no matter what your full-time work looks like, there’s likely a labor side hustle you can fit in to your free time.

Delivery

Earning Potential: $10-$15+ per hour
From on-demand delivery services, to flower deliveries, to laundry services, to restaurant meal delivery, the workforce needs part-timers to do the actual legwork. The sky’s the limit on this one, so search your local classifieds and job listings to see what’s available in your area. You may also have luck with national delivery services, including Amazon Flex, Roadie, and Shyp courier services, while some cities have localized delivery services, such as DeliverLA in the Los Angeles area.

General Labor

Earning Potential: $10-$15+ per hour
No matter where you live, there’s always someone who needs muscle with a good work ethic. You may be called upon to help prep or clean up a construction site, to canvas a neighborhood, to rake leaves, or to complete many other tasks. The only sure thing: this side hustle will pad your bank account year-round. Check out Wonolo for general labor opportunities in your area.

Merchandising

Earning Potential: $10-$20+ per hour
If you have the people skills for a retail setting, then merchandiser side jobs could be perfect: you’ll work closely with shop owners to stock shelves, perfect signage and displays, position products, and educate workers on those products. And, depending on your experience and skill set, you may be able to boost your earning potential with additional admin responsibilities, such as re-ordering stock, negotiating pricing, and even analyzing sales figures. You can score local merchandising gigs through Wonolo, as well.

Warehousing

Earning Potential: $10-$15+ per hour
Whether you’re available to cover the graveyard or just want to pick up some extra weekend hours, warehouse operations never sleep: you can stock, pick, assemble and prepare goods for shipment, whenever your schedule allows. Hours and job availability are even better during seasonal spikes, especially between Black Friday and New Year’s. If you’re looking to pick up some warehousing shifts, Wonolo is your go-to source for local gigs.

Side Jobs: Freelance with Skill

Freelancing as a side gig

Work that side hustle, boost your earning potential!

The quickest path between you and extra cash is to use the skills you already have, whether you’ve picked them up on the job, in your free time, or years ago at school.

As a part-time freelancer, especially if you work online, you’ll have the flexibility to complete jobs on your own schedule, as time permits. The great thing? Freelance jobs are as varied as your skillset, so there’s an opportunity out there for almost anyone. That said, some freelance gigs are more competitive (ex. freelance writing) while other require a bit more hustle (ex. freelance web designers need their own awesome website to showcase their work).

Whatever you do, be sure that you’re not stepping over an ethical line: Don’t poach clients from past or current employers. And, even if you don’t have a non-compete clause in your employment contract, don’t compete with your employer. That’s just bad business.

If you need to get experience in any of the following fields, do your research: for most, there are very reputable online classes, courses, certificates, and other learning that will not only prep you for the job, but also provide some credibility and boost your earning potential.

Adult Care Giver

Earning Potential: $20+ per hour

While babysitting always comes to mind when you think about making extra money, you should know that adult caregiving is the next frontier: this fast-growing field is a must in today’s world, where far-flung adult children can’t take care of their parents’ everyday needs. While you can’t quite set your own hours, you can work odd hours – whenever you’re not at your 9-5. Start by looking for some basic training, contacting a local caregiver agency, or looking into online companies like Care.com or ElderCare.com.

Babysitter or Nanny

Earning Potential: $10-$25+ per hour

Earning potential as a babysitter or nanny depends largely on where you live (and your credentials), but the good thing is that this is one side job that’s always in demand. And, if you’re willing to work as a night nanny (stay overnight and tend to crying infants), overtired parents will gladly pay you a premium. Start by checking out Care.com and Sittercity.com.

Blogger & Writer

Earning Potential: $20+ per hour

Do you have a way with words? If so, you’d be well-suited to a bit of freelance writing and blogging. Depending on the client, you’ll be assigned anything from proofreading/revisions to full-on writing: editorial pieces, blog posts, email newsletters, marketing materials, and more. Check out writing gigs on Freelancer.com, Guru, and Upwork.

Bookkeeper

Earning Potential: $15+ per hour

More and more companies have gone part-time (and/or virtual) to fill their bookkeeping needs, so why not leverage your love of numbers and attention to detail? Bone up on using QuickBooks and other popular bookkeeping/accounting suites, and you’ll be well on your way to tracking accounts receivable/payable, amortization, and reconciliation. Don’t just look for jobs in your area; post your services at local chambers of commerce, business meetings, and more.

Community Manager

Earning Potential: $20+ per hour

Are you a people person? Take your skills onto the world wide web, as an online community manager! Most positions are part-time, taking just a few hours per week, during which time you’ll manage social media (post interesting tidbits, interact with followers, etc.), create and review reports, write minor content, and more.

Data Entry

Earning Potential: $15-20 per hour

If you have great attention to detail and like to work independently, why not try your hand at data entry? Specialists can tackle data from a wide variety of fields, so you’ll never lack for work, as long as you work well under deadline and keep your data perfectly organized. Again, don’t just look for jobs in your area; post your services at local chambers of commerce, business meetings, and more.

Freelance Consultant

Earning Potential: $50+ per hour

If you’re an expert in your field, why not branch out and offer that expertise to small-business owners? Whether you’re a marketing guru or a social media whiz, your skills can be leveraged to provide professional consultancy – often, in monthly packages that net you a steady side income. While this is often an online job, it doesn’t have to be: plenty of local businesses need your skills, too.

Graphic & Web Design

Earning Potential: $25+ per hour

If you have a background in digital design, you can parlay your skills into a profitable side gig in web design and/or graphic design. There’s a huge market out there for anything from budget blog designs to complex websites, so whatever your niche, you’ll have a buyer. Again, while this is often an online job, it doesn’t have to be: plenty of local businesses need your skills, too.

Party Planner

Earning Potential: $20+ per hour

If you have a knack for planning parties (and decent people skills), you can easily get started on party planning for others. Start small, say with kid’s birthday parties or paint & sip nights, before diving into huge and complex affairs (with their equally huge and complex guest lists, not to mention frazzled hosts), like weddings. Inquire at local event venues.

Photographer

Earning Potential: $15+ per hour

Shutterbugs, you can turn your hobby into cold, hard cash! If you have a huge stash of 5-star photos, consider taking them online to sell as stock photography on sites including 123RF, DreamstimeShutterstock, iStock, and Getty Images via Flickr. Alternately (or, in conjunction with stock photography), you can also try your hand at building a photography side business as a family photographer, engagement photographer, or even a wedding photography (note: a much harder niche to break into!).

Virtual Assistant

Earning Potential: $20+ per hour

If you play admin assistant by day, why not rake in the bucks as a virtual assistant (aka VA) during your free time? You’ll work online with clients to do all the virtual admin tasks they require, be it managing and answering emails, loading up social media posts, transcription, and tracking hours.

Side Jobs: Leverage your Knowledge

Side hustle infographic

Infographic via New York Post

You don’t have to be a teacher to turn your knowledge into a profitable skill: if you’re an expert on any subject (and have the patience to teach it), you can share your expertise and make money in the process.

Give Local Tours

Earning Potential: $50+ per hour

If you’re an expert in your region, whether it’s a hopping tourist city or a quiet hometown, transform your passion – history, food, wine, art, etc. – into profit. You’ll have the freedom to offer tours only during your downtime, and sites like Airbnb Experiences, Shiroube, ToursByLocals, and Vayable will help connect you with travelers to your area.

Online Coaching

Earning Potential: $25+ per hour

If you coach people in your day job, why not in your side job? And we’re not just talking about fitness coaching, either: if you’re a successful blogger, coach newbie bloggers. If you know online marketing inside and out, share that knowledge. Sites like Clarity.fm, as well as Google hangouts, Skype, and other online communications tools are a great launchpad.

Tutor / Give Lessons

Earning Potential: $10-$30+ per hour

Yes, we’re talking straight-up tutoring: if you’re still great at trigonometry, or know your musical scales backwards and forwards, or reign at chess, or are fluent in a second language, or can throw some mean pottery, you can tutor kids (and adults) – both in your community and further afield, thanks to communication tools like Skype and WyzAnt.

Side Jobs: Monetize Arts & Crafts

Crafts, art, and music aren’t just a hobby; they can be a great way to make money, too. So, whether you’re a champion knitter, an artisan soap-maker, an amateur jewelry maker, or an avid sewist, chances are someone will love what you make.

You can start by selling your crafts online, at sites like Etsy or Amazon Handmade, but don’t stop there; local craft shows (find craft fairs in your area), your own website, and even local consignment stores can also be a great place to sell your handmade goods.

So, what can you sell? Here are a few ideas to get your creative wheels turning. But before you start, do be sure to do some research, check out different price points, and stoke your creativity to make something different from what’s already out there.

Digital Wares

Earning Potential: $25+ per hour

If you’re a designer (or just great with Adobe Illustrator), you can do more than web design: you can design and sell digital invitations, icon sets, scrapbooking sets, and more. Etsy has a great digital marketplace, so feel free to browse for a push in the right direction.

Handmade Cards

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

Commercial cards aren’t cheap and yet, they lack the personal touch and quirky uniqueness of their handmade counterparts. It’s no surprise, then, that there’s a decent market out there for beautiful, handmade greeting cards, especially of the niche and customized variety.

Holiday Crafts

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

We all know it’s true: rational adults go crazy for holiday décor. If you love a good holiday, you can make bank on creating whimsical decorations, from multi-colored Easter goodies, to spooky haunted Halloween items, to sparkly beauties for Christmas.

Sewing

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

Translate your love for needle and thread into something more – money! Whether you’re great at altering clothes, crafting wallets and bags, or creating spectacular dresses, costumes, and other intricate wearables, there’s a market for your skills.

Woodworking

Earning Potential: $25+ per hour

The world seems to have lost its know-how for woodworking, but everyone still loves a good hand-carved item. So, if you’re great with a knife (or a power saw), turn your talent into marketable items, like walking sticks, miniatures (fairy doors, dollhouse items, etc.), and other crafts made with wood.

The [Craft] World is Your Oyster

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

Handmade crafts offer an incredible forum for indulging your creativity while making money. So, if you like to screenprint t-shirts, do it! If you want to craft jewelry, there’s a market! If you have a talent for hand-lettering, that’s all the rage. The truth is, if you make it someone will love it (and eventually, buy it).

Side Jobs: No (or Little) Experience Required

For when you need fast money, or when you want more of a side-job than a second job, there are plenty of gigs to earn money without the mental drain (or years and years of “experience required”). Here are a few of our favorites:

Be Part of a Focus Group or Research Study

Earning Potential: $100+ each

Especially if you live near a university or research hospital, paid research studies (find them at FindFocusGroups.com) can be a great (and yes, safe!) way to make some extra cash. Also keep your eye out for calls for focus groups, including online focus groups (a quick google will pull up some preliminary options), which typically pay a decent flat rate for your participation.

Caterer’s Assistant

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

Caterers keep wacky (often, weekend) hours, which means their assistants do, too. And, since most caterers have a list of potential assistants, you can pick the wacky hours that best work for your schedule. Typical assistant positions include servers, bartenders, and other event staff so, while you’ll probably have to have some experience to snag a position, you may be able to get your foot in the door with a warm smile and a great attitude.

Dog Walking

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

Stretch your legs and make extra bucks as a dog sitter. You can market your skills on your own (check out Rover), or partner up with a doggy daycare or boarding facility, but however you structure your dog-walking biz, you’ll soon be walking your way to a fatter bank account.

Rent an Extra Bed

Earning Potential: $50+ per day

From an air mattress in the living room to palatial private pads, people around the world are making extra bucks by renting out their extra space. Sites including Airbnb, HomeAway, and Flipkey make it easy to list your space and attract renters, but if you’re willing to do a bit more work (and take extra safety precautions), Craigslist can also work out.

Ridesharing

Earning Potential: $10-$20+ per hour

Ridesharing through services like Lyft and Uber is on the rise. The great news: all you need is a sunny disposition and a new-ish vehicle, and you can take advantage of this opportunity to seriously supplement your income.

Run Errands

Earning Potential: $10+ per hour

Believe it or not, you can really, truly get paid for running errands. The catch? They’re not your errands! Instead, use apps like Agent Anything, Door Dash, Postmates, or TaskRabbit and make some dough by running other people’s errands, whenever your schedule is free.

Start a Service Business

Earning Potential: $15+ per hour

If it’s a service, someone’s buying it. Why not start your own micro-business, offering to wash + detail cars, mow lawns, rake leaves/shovel snow, or any other service your neighbors might take you up on? You can set your own hours to some degree (you can’t shovel snow if there’s no snow on the ground, for instance), and you’ll typically make more money without a middle man to take a cut of your hard-earned cash.

Additional Resources on Finding the Best Side Jobs

If you’re looking for more insight on how to land the perfect side job, visit the following resources:

The truth is, there are limitless opportunities today to earn additional income via side jobs. Whether you’re after some extra going-out cash or have big dreams of saving for a house (or paying off student loans, or buying a car, or …), the sheer variety, availability, and flexibility of side jobs – both in your hometown and via the internet – make it possible to achieve your financial goals.


Angela Stringfellow

Angela Stringfellow is a writer with 10+ years of experience. She focuses on news, trends, and insights in marketing, business, and technology.

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