A great way to save more money is to make more money. Sure, you can do that by asking for a raise. But you can also earn more by doing what millions of others are already doing: picking up a side gig.
An estimated 12.4 million people are now working independently part-time. And it’s no wonder. On top of the extra dough, working on the side provides a good opportunity to learn something new and take your entrepreneurial skills for a spin. Heck, you might even discover that your side business ought to take center stage and become your full-time career.
“The sharing economy is a powerful way to get started on your side hustle and earn some quick cash,” says Nick Loper, founder of Side Hustle Nation, a site and community dedicated to the topic.
Not sure where to start? These tools and platforms can help almost anyone begin moonlighting—regardless of your specialty.
If you’re creative…
Whether your hidden talent is creative writing, celebrity impressions, singing or something else entirely, sites like Fiverr and Gigbucks can connect you with people willing to pay you for it. You can post as much as you can produce, and sell your skills starting at $5 a pop. That might seem like small change (especially when you factor in the sites’ 20 percent commission), but some people have figured out how to rake in six figures doing this.
Current sellers are offering to design logos, proofread documents, record voiceovers and even perform quirkier tasks like sending buyers a daily compliment for five days. So be creative.
If you’re crafty…
At Etsy, you pay 20 cents to list an item, then when you sell, you’re charged a 3.5 percent transaction fee plus another 25 cents for payment processing. With Amazon, you have to apply to start selling and prove your goods are strictly handmade. You pay nothing to list your products, but shell out 12 percent or 50 cents (whichever is greater) whenever you sell.
If you’re handy…
Don’t mind getting your hands dirty? TaskRabbit can help you make extra cash doing everything from assembling furniture to running errands. To get started, you have to live in one of the 19 cities where the services are currently offered and apply to be a “tasker” (which requires a background check and skills or experience in at least one of 40 categories). Then study the site’s community guidelines because, pop quiz! Part of the application process requires you to answer 11 questions that ensures you’ve read them, and you have to score 100 percent to move on.
Once you’ve passed muster, select the tasks you’re willing to do, which might include painting and plumbing or cleaning and grocery shopping. You set the hourly rate for your service—but keep in mind that TaskRabbit takes a 15 or 30 percent service fee for each job.
If you’re a professional…
Looking for more complex projects and bigger paychecks? Consider Upwork. The site promotes a wide range of freelance jobs in categories like accounting, web development, sales and marketing, corporate law and more—and you can filter your results by whether you want a part-time project or long-term contract, how many hours per week you’d like to work or if you want to get paid hourly or per project.
It’s free to join and create your profile, but Upwork deducts a 10 percent fee from each payment you receive. So be sure you set your rates accordingly.
If you have a car that’s in good shape and insurance…
Turn that ride into a moneymaker with sharing services, like Uber and Lyft. The companies set the rates, but how much you make depends on how much you drive—whether that’s picking up a passenger on your commute home for a couple extra bucks or hitting the city on a busy Saturday night for a windfall.
Uber estimates its drivers earn about $19 an hour on average. Lyft says you can make up to $35 an hour, and offers a handy calculator to help you figure out your own potential income, based on your city and how many hours you want to drive.
If you’re going out of town or have an extra room…
Profit from your place by renting it out via sites such as Airbnb or Homeaway. The former allows you to rent out your place or remain home and rent out spare rooms…if you’re cool hanging out with visiting strangers. It’s free to list and you set your own nightly rates, but Airbnb takes a 3 percent cut. The site can help you price your listing, based on similar listings.
HomeAway requires you to rent out your whole property. It has two payment options for listing properties yourself: You can pay $0 upfront and 10 percent for each booking, or pay $349 a year—no muss, no fuss. (Be aware, however, that some cities have ordinances forbidding homeowners from offering short-term leases, and if you’re renting your apartment, you may not be allowed to sublease it through these services.)
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that Sidecar, a ride-sharing and delivery service, was acquired by GM and ceased operations in December 2015.
February 22, 2016