Earning

70% of Americans want a side hustle: Here's where to start

A majority of Americans ― 70% ― said they are considering adding another source of income.

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Many Americans are reassessing their careers and sources of income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, one-quarter say they are more likely to make a career change to a new field and 27% say they are more likely to start their own business, according to a recent survey of 2,006 adults by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA).

And overwhelmingly, Americans are looking into picking up a side hustle: Nearly three-quarters, or 70%, said they are considering adding another source of income to become more financially stable. Some of the most-considered additional income sources include selling products online, offering freelance services, acquiring certifications for roles such as notary or real estate agent, and picking up a weekend job.

"I think there are a lot of benefits of adding a side hustle," says Roger Ma, a CFP and the founder of Lifelaidout in New York. Beyond just earning more money, Ma says a side hustle can be a way to "test drive new areas of interest" and "gain new skills." This could be an added bonus if you are looking to someday start a business or pivot to a new field.

Here are some of the side hustles people are considering, and how to get started.

Sell items online

More than a third (37%) of NAPFA survey respondents said they'd want their additional source of income to come from selling products on e-commerce sites. If your attic or closet is stuffed with items you could easily get rid of, there's likely a site where you can sell some of them. Here are a few to consider:

  • eBay is an online marketplace for, well, everything. Used records, old workout equipment, car parts ― you name it and somebody has probably sold it there. Figure out which items in your home you'd want to sell and do a search for them on the site to see how much they're going for.
  • Poshmark is a site for selling secondhand clothes and shoes and home goods such as board games and placemats. Often, popular brand names including Lululemon or Calvin Klein sell well there, so see what big brand items you have in your closet and check to see what they're going for.
  • Mercari, like eBay, is an app for selling everything. Seller Dallas Wolford, who was able to make $2,400 on the app within months, recommends selling small items like kitchenware and clothing.

Before you list your items, make sure to read through the fine print. Sites take a cut of your profits to cover their fees, and you may have to cover the cost of shipping yourself.

If you're interested in expanding your e-commerce activities, that will take some investment. You'll need to look for those items, purchase them, and market your inventory. But plenty of people make a continuous stream of income this way. Matthew Fiore, for example, has grossed more than $30,000 selling LEGO online, and Aleah Mazyck has made more than $40,000 selling secondhand clothing on sites including Poshmark and Mercari.

Offer freelance services

More than a third (36%) of respondents said they'd be interested in offering freelance services. Whether you're a pro at graphic design or you can write the perfect speech, sites such as Upwork and Fiverr let you list your services and price points for potential clients to consider.

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Freelance copywriter Stefan Georgi built a million-dollar career out of offering his services. His top tips are to create a portfolio, leverage freelancing platforms like those above, and provide potential clients with samples of your work.

Upwork also posts open freelance gigs, or you can check out sites like FlexJobs to see what part-time flexible work is being offered in your field of interest.

Drive for Uber or Lyft

Although ride-sharing services like Lyft have taken a hit during the pandemic, 13% of NAPFA respondents said they'd consider driving for one as a possible side job. Before the pandemic, one ride-share driver in New York City told CNBC Make It that he earned about $250 for a full day's work.

If you're keen to pick up ride-sharing, Dr. Davis Liu, chief clinical officer of Lemonaid Health, previously told Grow he suggests following these safety precautions to mitigate your risk of contracting the coronavirus:

  1. Wear a mask yourself and require your passengers to wear a mask
  2. Erect a physical barrier, like a plastic sheet, between yourself and your passengers
  3. Keep the windows in the front and back seats open, even if it means just a crack in winter
  4. Wipe down car surfaces with disinfectant wipes or soap and water after every shift

Additionally, "if you're driving for Uber or Lyft," says Danny Lee, a CFP and the founder of Modern Millennial Wealth, "you need to make sure you have the correct type of auto policy to cover you when you're driving, because the car is no longer for personal use." Lee suggests speaking to your insurance agent to ensure you're protected.

Create passive income opportunities

There are many, many ways to earn additional income these days, including some that continue bringing in passive income after some initial effort. If none of the above side hustles speaks to you, consider some of these options:

  • Create a course: Sites like Udemy let you create and upload courses imparting your particular knowledge, with teachers earning money from every download. Chris Haroun has made millions off the site teaching everything from business to content creation. "Everyone has something to teach," he says.
  • Rent your possessions: Various sites also let you rent out items you own. If you're not using your car as much as you'd thought you would, for example, consider renting it out on sites like Turo, where renters make an average of $706 per month, according to the site. If you've got musical instruments or a good studio space, Fretish lets you rent out both. Some DJing equipment on the site is going for $50 per day in Los Angeles, for example.

One thing to keep in mind as you dive into your side hustle: To make the most of that extra money, it's smart to treat it like a business, says Marguerita Cheng, CFP and the CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Maryland. "Make sure you don't spend everything you make from your side hustle, because you may need to set aside money for taxes," she says.

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