The internet is filled with side hustle ideas that will make you pennies. It’s filled with ideas that equate to risky business propositions that may or may not pay off in the end.
This post isn’t like those posts. These side income opportunities actually pay.
If you’re looking for an extra $1,000 – $2,000 per month, pursuing one of these side hustles is more likely to get you there than filling out surveys or hopping on Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Do What You’re Already Doing on the Side
If you’ve got a job that requires some type of expertise—whether that be a degree, past experience or simply an in-demand skill—odds are you can make a fair bit of money freelancing on the side.
Working as a 1099 contractor allows you to set your own hours, your own rates and the ability to only work with clients with whom you have mutual respect.
However, working as a 1099 contractor does present some new issues you’ll need to think about if all you’ve ever done is W-2 work.
First, check your contract with your current employer to make sure that freelancing doesn’t violate your employment agreement. A side hustle isn’t worth losing your 9-5 over.
Second, remember that you will owe business taxes on your 1099 work. Depending on where you live, it can be wise to set aside as much as 30% of the income you bring in for these purposes.
You will also need to educate yourself on paying taxes quarterly. This reminder applies to all of the hustles on our list—not just freelancing in the field in which you already work.
You will need to take these taxes and other overhead costs into account as you set your hourly rate. Note that your hourly rate is going to look much higher than what you’re getting paid at your W-2 position, where your boss is charging clients more than they’re paying you.
his allows your boss to handle those taxes and overhead costs while still turning a profit. You should do the same.
Monetize Your Photography Habit
In an age of smart phones, everyone’s a photographer. But here’s the thing: not everyone is a good photographer.
If you’ve made a hobby of sitting behind the lens, though, you may be able to turn your photography habit into an additional revenue stream.
If you enjoy working with human subjects, there are all kinds of opportunities to work one-on-one with clients. In the summer through late fall, you can market your services for senior pictures or family holiday cards. In the spring and summer, make yourself available for weddings and family reunions.
Every time in between, you can offer professional headshots. Ultimately, advertising is going to be key to securing local clientele.
Another route you can take is selling your images online to stock photo sites. You have to be careful with this, though: Many stock photo sites pay a pittance for your work.
However, there are a few out there that compensate you fairly. Of note are iStockPhoto and DreamsTime.
At iStockPhoto, depending on license and photo type, you can make between $1 and $20 per image sale. If you commit to selling exclusively through iStockPhoto, you’ll be on the higher end of that potential earnings scale.
At DreamsTime, you can earn even more—between $1 and $40 per image sale. Again, you’ll earn more if you commit to exclusively selling your images with DreamsTime rather than spreading yourself out all over the market.
Because both of these sites pay well, they expect more out of their photographers. Make sure the photos you submit to them are quality, or you’re not going to make any money at all.
Get on the Other Side of the Bar
Believe it or not, service industry jobs are one of the most lucrative side hustles around. You may or may not want one of these positions as your mainstay, but as an extra income stream the per hour pay can really help.
One of the most lucrative positions in the service industry is bartending. If you know how to mix drinks and how to handle that uncle who has had one too many, you may be a good fit for this position.
Being friendly also helps as tips are the part of this job that make it so lucrative. Weekend shifts are usually the best in terms of money, but you might have to prove yourself on the weekdays before you are given those coveted time slots.
Deliver for an Actual Business—Not an App
Delivering or chauffeuring for apps is all the rage nowadays. But really, you don’t get compensated very well in these positions, and at this point some of the biggest markets are now oversaturated.
A surprisingly lucrative alternative is going old school and delivering food for the business itself. Delivery drivers don’t typically get paid well per hour, but what you’re looking for are tips.
This job is ideal if you live in a relatively safe area and people live relatively close together. If it takes you 30 minutes to take one delivery, that’s going to seriously cut into your profit margin.
But if the geographic delivery area has a smaller radius due to a larger population, odds are you’ll surprise yourself at how well you do—especially if you can secure one of those coveted weekend night shifts.
Another perk of taking this route instead of playing chauffeur with an app is that the business isn’t likely to care if your car is a beater or more than X years old. As long as it can reliably get you from Point A to Point B, its aesthetics are pretty much irrelevant.
Head to the Nearest Garage Sale
Flipping items is easier than ever in the age of the internet. To be truly successful with this side hustle, you will need a little background knowledge. For example, this couple flipped gold and silver items found at garage and estate sales to pay off over $230,000 in debt, but they had an antique dealer of an uncle to educate them about the finer points of precious metals.
Your expertise might lie in electronic hardware, rare books or collectible toys from the 90’s. Whatever your niche, identifying it and being honest with yourself about the depth of your knowledge base can be the difference between turning a huge profit and hitting a wall of frustration.
Have a skill? It may be a hobby, part of your occupation or just something you were really good at in school.
Whatever it is, odds are there’s someone out there looking to learn it. If you’re on an online tutoring platform, the odds that they’ll find you and pay you to teach them are pretty darn high.
For example, TakeLessons.com is a site that connects tutors and learners, allowing the tutors to set their rate and keep up to 90% of the list price. Currently, if you’re a programmer your competition is setting fees as high as $142/hour.
After TakeLessons.com takes a 10% commission, you’d only have to work 8 hours/month to hit that $1,000 side income goal.
The site is for more than just computer programmers, though. There are tutors across the fields of language, academics, music, performing arts, and more.
If you love sports and want to get involved in your local community, refereeing children’s sports leagues can be a fun side hustle that also provides a little additional income every month.
This job will be seasonal unless you sign up with an agency that provides refs for all kinds of local sports leagues. Pay usually ranges from $30-$50/game.
That puts it a little lower on the list of lucrative side hustle ideas, as even at the high end you’d have to ref 20 games per month to meet the $1,000 income goal. It can be done—it’s just going to take more man hours to get there.
Buy an Existing Website
If you have some basic knowledge of how websites work, shopping around to see who is selling can be a profitable venture. The biggest caveat here is that you’d be better off looking at this as an investment for a passive income stream rather than a side hustle.
Sites typically sell for the amount of income they bring in over the course of one or two years. As a buyer, ideally you’ll be looking for sites that bring this income in via affiliate links rather than sponsored marketing.
Affiliate income tends to be far more passive and requires less maintenance than creating fresh sponsored content. That’s not to say that it’s no work, but it is far less.
Depending on how much you paid for the site, you should have your initial investment back in one to two years. After you’ve accounted for hosting fees and perhaps a little paid help from a virtual assistant, everything is profit from there on out.
Put on Your Smarty Pants
Unfortunately, many schools—especially at the community college level—are veering away from having tenured staff and are moving closer to having majority adjunct staff. Well, it’s unfortunate news for those with a career in higher education, but positive news for you as a side hustler.
Whatever you do in your day job, think about how it may apply in the classroom. Odds are, there’s a teaching opportunity near you at one of these institutions of higher learning. You’re typically working for about three months per semester and the per hour pay isn’t anything to write home about. But if you’re looking for a side hustle that brings in $1,000 per month, this one just barely makes the cut in most regions.
Put Your Professional Network to Work in the Legal Field
Another area that pays decently well and isn’t hard to break into is the realm of expert witnesses.
If you have a skillset or professional experience that may be relevant to a legal case, getting started is as easy as getting your name out there.
If you don’t have any specific skills that would be relevant, you can still get involved by starting a referral business in this field and taking a commission.
Maybe you hit up that old college friend who became a forensic anthropologist, add the computer scientist at church to your roster or enlist your partner’s best friend who just happens to be an HR manager.
Then, you can connect them with attorneys as needs arise in murder, hacking and workplace sexual harassment cases.
One thing to be careful of in this field is that your reputation is everything. If you or one of your witnesses messes up even once, your odds of successfully continuing are slim to none.
Think Outside the Box
No matter who you are, you have skills and experiences that are unique to you. If you get creative enough, you can monetize them. Don’t feel like you have to stick to any pre-formatted list on the internet; some of the most innovative side hustles and businesses are some of the most successful ones.