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15 Ways To Earn Extra Money With Side Gigs

Published January 5, 2022

6 minute read

By Dave Roos

Key Takeaways

As you learned from the previous articles in our “Retire at 55” learning path, it takes a sizable nest egg to be able to retire comfortably at 55. The quickest way to save that kind of money is to do two simple (yet often difficult) things: lower your spending and earn more money. In the last article, we shared some “super saver” tips to cut back on monthly spending. Now let’s look at ways to earn extra money ($500 to $1,000 a month), without asking for a raise.

Put Your Secret Skills to Work

Even if you continue to earn your primary income from a 9-to-5 day job, you can earn extra income by monetizing your hidden talents and skills. Do you speak another language? Was your undergraduate degree in graphic design? Here are some ways to put those skills to work as a freelancer or gig worker.

Graphic Design

Talented graphic designers are in high demand to create company logos, online and print advertisements and promotional materials. Two great places to find freelance graphic design gigs are 99 Designs and Upwork. The only downside is that both charge fees that reduce your total payment. Community job boards like Craigslist are free, but have fewer listings.

Website Customization

Do you have experience making customized websites through services like Squarespace, WordPress, or Wix? There are businesses, nonprofits, schools and individuals who will pay you to build them a slick and functional website. Fiverr and Upwork are good options for finding website design work if you don’t mind the fees, and Craigslist is great (and free) for connecting with local clients.

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Freelance Writing

The web runs on content, and everyone from large corporations to small-business owners to fitness bloggers needs fresh material. The greatest need is for SEO-optimized articles that will rank high in search results and drive traffic to the client’s website. If you’re a fast researcher and engaging writer, you can make extra money as a freelancer. To find work, try sites like Problogger, Fiverr and our old friend Craigslist.

Teach a Foreign Language (or English)

Did you grow up speaking another language or get a college degree in Spanish, German or Mandarin? Put your language skills to work as an online language tutor. With video chat, you can tutor clients across the country or around the world. There’s also strong demand worldwide for native English speakers with experience teaching English as a second language (ESL). To get started, check out language tutoring websites like Verbal Planet and italki.

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Tutor in Math, Reading, Science and More

Do you have teaching experience or are you simply a genius in a certain subject area (or areas)? Then share your knowledge as an online tutor. Whether it’s high school students preparing for the SATs or college kids struggling with calculus, there is a need for one-to-one online instructors. TutorCarter is a great option if you don’t have classroom teaching experience, while Tutor.com is better for professional teachers, college professors, or industry professionals.

Audio Transcription and Translation

If you’re a fast typer, try your hand at audio transcription and closed captioning. All you do is watch a video or listen to an audio recording and type down every word that’s spoken in the recording. Or if you are fluent in a foreign language, you might be asked to translate subtitles into English, or from English into another language. A great place to find transcription and translation work is Rev.

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Fixing and Flipping Cars

If you know cars inside and out, you can make good money buying rundown cars and trucks at a discount, fixing them up and selling them in much better condition. You need to have an eye for a good deal on a “fixer upper” and the tools to make it “like new” again, but it can pay off to the tune of several thousand dollars per vehicle. Autotrader, eBay, and Craigslist are popular places to buy and sell used cars.

Side Gigs That Don’t Require Special Skills

If you own a car and can follow GPS directions, you have what it takes to earn some extra scratch as a rideshare driver or food delivery person. But there are other flexible gigs as well that allow you to earn extra money in your spare time.

Rideshare Driver

Heard of these little companies called Uber and Lyft? They are so successful because they came up with a killer business model that not only makes it super easy to hail a ride, but also provides flexible income for drivers. Uber wages range from less than $10 per hour (after expenses like gas and Uber’s cut are deducted) to closer to $20 in high-demand markets, according to Yahoo.

Food Delivery Driver

The same technology that upended the taxi industry has transformed food delivery. Instead of being a full-time pizza delivery guy, you can deliver food from dozens of different local restaurants on nights and weekends. DoorDash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub are the biggest names in the food delivery business and hourly wages average $15/hour according to Indeed.

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Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

Busy pet owners need help walking Fido while they’re at work. And what about when they go on vacation? Somebody needs to keep the kittens and cockatoos fed and out of trouble. If you’re an animal lover, there are ample opportunities to make some extra money walking dogs or working as a pet sitter. Advertise your services on websites like Wag! and Rover. Hint: Make the most money as a boarder, which means keeping animals overnight at your place.

Retail Arbitrage

This is a fancy term for a simple business model. Retail arbitrage means buying items on discount at local stores and selling them online for a profit. For example, the local Wal-Mart is selling a certain doll for $9 on its discount rack. You buy 20 of them and sell them on Facebook Marketplace for $15 each. It sounds easy enough, but it takes time to seek out discounted products and an eye for products that will sell. Use the Amazon Seller app (free on iOS or Android) to scan items in the store and see what they’re selling for online.

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Earn Passive Income for Stuff You Already Have

The best way to earn extra money is by doing nothing at all! Here are some cool passive income sources, some of which are not well known.

Rent Out a Room

Rental properties are a tremendous source of extra income, but not all of us can afford an investment property. Do you have a finished basement with its own bathroom and entrance? You can rent that out as a studio apartment or vacation rental. For long-term rentals, it’s best to advertise on a real estate site like Zillow. For shorter-term vacation rentals, the go-to is Airbnb.

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Rent Your Extra Space as Storage

This is a cool option if you have extra room on your property in a basement, garage or storage shed. Sites like Neighbor let you rent out that space for other folks to stow their stuff. Stow It is specifically for folks with enough space to store cars, boats, RVs and other vehicles.

Rent Your Backyard as a Dog Park

Dog owners are always looking for a pet-friendly spot to let their dogs run free. If you have a fenced-in lawn, you can turn it into a dog park using Sniffspot. Equip it with some tennis balls and a fire hydrant and you’re in business.

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Rent Out Your Pool

You might have a backyard pool that no one’s using. Apps like Swimply and Swimmy allow you to rent it out to families by the hour. The average rate is $45 per hour, but some of the posher pools charge as much as $200. Hosts earn between $5,000 and $10,000, the Wall Street Journal reported.

What’s Next?

A side hustle is great, but what if you could make the same money without doing the gig? Our next article will give plenty of advice on how to get a raise at your day job plus other ways to earn more in your career.

Contributor

Dave is a freelance journalist who has contributed hundreds of articles to HowStuffWorks since 2007, with a specialty in personal finance, economics and business. Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he attended Duke University where he earned the B.A. in comparative religious studies that has served him so well.

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