Side-hustle success stories: Airbnb and other ways real people made tens of thousands of dollars in 2019

Airbnb Superhost Jon Pierson
Darilee Sims

Everyone can use a little extra cash, and fortunately it's never been easier to pick up the side hustle that's right for you. Some people earn six figures walking dogs, for example, or by working as a virtual assistant.

Here are a couple of the most inspiring side-hustle success stories from 2019.

Airbnb superhost Jon Pierson made more than $68,000

Jon Pierson, a 37-year-old Airbnb Superhost living in Athens, Georgia, anticipated a busy second half of 2019 for his most popular Airbnb property, the Yellow House. The venue typically rents out for $175 per night but he can charge as much as $700 a night during college football season.

In 2018, his Airbnb rentals brought in $34,000 in revenue. But he outdid himself in 2019. As it turned out, Pierson says, he made half of his annual mortgage in just six weekends renting out his house to fans attending football games at the University of Georgia.

Overall, Pierson says, he earned $40,843 renting out the Yellow House this year, which was booked for 291 nights — an 80% occupancy rate. Another one of Pierson's properties brought in an additional $28,000 in revenue. All told, Pierson had his "best year yet" as a Superhost.

"I had a great year — better than I expected," he says. Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs gave him a boost: "It helps to have a good football team!"

This guy makes six figures a year with his dog walking business

Video by David Fang

The 'Financial Panther' had a lucrative 2019, too

Kevin Ha, 32, who runs the personal finance site Financial Panther, has also found Airbnb to be a significant source of income. In 2019, Ha says, he earned more than $15,000 renting out his house in Minneapolis.

Ha also works other side hustles: In addition to renting out his house, Ha delivers food on his bicycle and resells used furniture. Every summer, when students vacate the nearby University of Minnesota, they discard valuable items, including couches, tables, and chairs. Ha swings by, picks up the discarded stuff, and makes a profit flipping it on websites like Craigslist, sometimes to other students.

Gigs like those helped Ha pay off $87,000 in student loans over the course of two and a half years.

"If you can pick up any side hustle and do it consistently over a long period of time, it all adds up. Earning an extra $5 per day adds up to over $180,000 in 30 years," he says. "That's the power of side hustling in today's world."

If you can pick up any side hustle and do it consistently over a long period of time, it all adds up.
Kevin Ha
The Financial Panther

Tips to help you make more money from your side hustle

Here are some tips that may help you identify the right side hustle for you, and how to make the most of it:

  • Plan ahead to capitalize on local events. Opportunities in your area might include a one-time-only event like the Super Bowl or annual affairs like marathons, college graduations, and festivals.
  • Pick up extra work during bad weather. If it's raining, snowing, or just too darn hot, a lot of people are reluctant to leave the house. If you have transportation, that may be a great chance for you to deliver food or provide rides via services like Uber or Lyft. One side-hustle pro, the Rideshare Professor, says a simple rainstorm creates enormous opportunities for drivers. "When it rains, you make more money," he says in one of his many YouTube videos.

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