How 4 Full-Timers Dreamt Up Unusually Creative (and Lucrative) Side Gigs
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Interesting in picking up a side gig to supplement your salary, but don’t think you’re cut out for popular jobs like Uber-driving, food delivery or renting out your place on Airbnb? It’s time to get creative.

These four side hustlers bring home the bacon with offbeat side gigs in a category all their own—and have fun doing it.

The Cricket Salesman

Jeff Neal, 32, Lancaster, Penn.

Yep, you read that right. Neal, a project manager for a commercial painting contractor, launched a website selling live crickets three years ago. While the gig was initially a means to quickly pay off a $6,000 high-interest car loan—which he did in less than nine months—he's grown his business into a solid revenue stream worth keeping.

Getting started: "After searching for some extra-cash opportunities, it dawned on me that starting a niche site might be the path of least resistance," Neal explains. "That niche proved to be crickets: I did research on Google Trends and, by far, crickets were the most searched insect.” Plus, they're inexpensive, easy to raise, require little space and need little attention, he says.

So he launched a basic site that he built himself on e-commerce platform Shopify, promote his low prices on reptile forums and started taking orders from pet owners. His only startup costs were $100 worth of crickets and supplies (like containers, food, lighting).

What he earns: Neal’s pocketing about $700 per month from roughly $2,500 in sales. (The rest goes to taxes, and housing his crickets in a cool space among other expenses, though he’s working on building a more efficient space.) "I have to put in about 10 hours per week," he says. "But it's also a fun thing to do with my kids."

Speaking of kids, Neal’s family just welcomed a new baby in May. So now he’s using his side gig cash to help pay off the mortgage for their new home, which has adequate space for all three kids—and his crickets.

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July 5, 2017

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