“Simply put, side hustles are freelance businesses that can generate you cash outside of your normal work hours.”Ramit Sethi, “How to Make Extra Money“
Ah, the famous “side hustle.”
According to Google Trends, interest in launching a side hustle has surpassed interest in getting a second job:
While a second job comes with all the rigidity of regular employment, a side hustle is often more flexible.
A side hustle can also be more entrepreneurial and lucrative than a typical second job.
And whether you call it a side hustle, gig work, freelancing, running your own small business, or moonlighting, sometimes the best (and only) way to reach your financial goals is by earning additional income.
More Income to Reach Your Financial Goals
While there’s hyperbole in the quote above, in many ways it’s accurate. There is a limit to what you can cut; sometimes you simply need to earn more.
You might seek additional income to responsibly afford a vacation or upgraded home.
But you also might be in crisis, and truly need money to make ends meet, pay off a debt, or save enough for an expense that’s non-negotiable.
Perhaps you want to start something small that could potentially become a full-time small business.
Or perhaps you simply want a change of pace – a job that requires more or less mental or physical effort.
While more money is always good (and sometimes absolutely necessary), choosing a side hustle is easier said than done.
Realistic / Lucrative / Worthwhile
Many of the most commonly suggested side hustles aren’t lucrative, realistic, or worth your time.
For example, many articles about side hustling suggest becoming a YouTube star. That’s neither realistic nor as lucrative as in the past.
Likewise, not all side-hustles are worth your time. For example, the often-suggested side-hustle of filling out surveys typically pays dollars per day or less.
And Priceonomics reports:
Some 84% of all gig economy workers make less than $500 per month—but in particular, workers at Getaround (98.3% under $500 per month), Fiverr (96.3%), and Etsy (95%) have especially high percentages of low-earners. Reasons for the low income could vary—some workers may be simply trying the platform, or put in very few hours. Lyft, Taskrabbit, and Airbnb seem to beat this “84% under $500” average.
Finally, keep in mind the total time it takes for your side income:
“It takes some time to get the dog leashed up and back inside that isn’t included in the 30 minutes so you have to give yourself 45 minutes to an hour per dog.”Business Insider
Indeed, there’s an increasing awareness that a side-hustle isn’t always healthy.
Before starting a side-hustle, you might be better served by asking for a raise, seeing how you might advance at your current job, or changing your job or career entirely.
Passive Income vs Side Income
Passive income typically comes from money you invest in the stock market, real estate, royalties, and so on. Earning “passive income” is a fundamental goal of the financial journey. After all, when you’re retired you’re living off of passive income – interest from your various retirement accounts.
Side hustle income is generally far from passive. It draws on your mental or physical muscles.
That said, some people pursue side hustle work to earn money to invest in passive income projects, such as real estate.
Caution on Monetizing Hobbies
“Leisure is in the eyes of the beholder.”Brigid Schulte, Rewire
The idea is that “passion income is money you generate by simply doing what you love.”
This is a fantastic idea. Many side hustlers have found ways to make money doing what they love while also earning money. Examples include caligraphy, wood-working, coaching, writing, cooking, and many more.
In the Reddit post “Side income business for FIRE?,” a commenter noted that “In essence rather than creating a second life I just monetized all the actions of my first one.”
But sometimes it’s best to keep your hobby as your hobby.
Rewire mentions how a woman named Laura Vechiarella turned her passion for calligraphy and hand lettering into a side hustle. But now it’s “far more of a job than a hobby.” (That said, she’s continuing her side hustle because it brings her joy despite the business stress.)
“This idea of speaking in marketing terms and flipping all of our ‘fun’ into ‘side-hustles’ is disturbing. We NEED hobbies to keep going on our main task. Without hobbies, we don’t get time to get ‘out of the trench’ and look at our work from 10,000 feet (which is where I’ve personally found I need to be to make lasting changes). Plus, hobbies in other areas inform your work.”
For some people, monetizing a hobby is a smart, natural choice. For others, it’s a mistake that will turn something they love into something they dread. Proceed with caution.
How the Side Hustle Ranker Spreadsheet Works
To help you rank and choose a side hustle that works for your goals, we created a spreadsheet comparing 145 side hustle ideas.
These side hustle ideas pay in money, not rewards or points. And we only chose hustle ideas that could realistically net $1000 in three months or less working 15 hours per week.
Further, the spreadsheet allows you to sort ideas by complexity, how realistic they are, monthly earning range, the average time to first $1000, and even introvert index.
You can also edit and sort ideas by entrepreneurial index – that is, how likely you could turn the side hustle into a thriving small business.