Emily Starbuck Gerson
Need to make a little extra money? Maybe student loan bills are getting out of control or saving up for a big trip looms. The growing gig economy is ripe with earning opportunities that make it easy to earn money on the side of a day job. According to a survey by Bankrate last year, the average monthly side hustle brought home $686.
However, nearly half of respondents report only making up to $200 per month. How much one makes from a side hustle can vary greatly depending on the route taken. With on-demand platforms such as driving and grocery delivery apps, jobs are always available, but the pay is predetermined by the company, so there’s a cap to how can be made. If you work in a creative field, or if freelancing or consulting using knowledge-based is a skill-set, such as graphic design, website development, tutoring, or even teaching yoga, it’s harder to find work, but you can set the rates and make more.
Opportunities for side hustles are infinite, but here’s expected income with some of the most common ones.
There are an ever-increasing number of apps that allow gig workers to pick up jobs literally 24/7. Pay is set by the platform and is lower than with knowledge-based work, but it’s extremely convenient and you don’t have to market yourself. Keep in mind, however, that providing resources is on you. For example, for gigs that require driving, you supply gas, insurance and car maintenance, so weigh the options to see if it’s worth it.
Giving people rides via Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular side hustles out there. According to some research, drivers typically earn $12 to $15 per hour after costs, but the Economic Policy Institute says with Uber, it’s really closer to $9.21 an hour after expenses. On the plus side, riders can give tips at their discretion.
Some of the most popular gigs are restaurant meal delivery through apps like Seamless, DoorDash, Postmates and UberEats. There are also apps for picking up and delivering groceries, such as Instacart and Shipt. Like the driving apps, customers can leave tips.
Parker Radbourne, a freelance photographer in San Antonio, Texas, says he takes gigs through Instacart because he can make a solid income while maintaining complete flexibility over his schedule. “It gives me the freedom to focus on taking time to figure out what I want to do with my photography,” he says. “It’s not mentally challenging and I spend very little time talking to others, so it is something I can still do when my complex PTSD is bad. Jobs like this don’t give you health insurance, but for me the scales balance in favor of doing it for now.”
Radbourne started off working for Favor, but now prefers Instacart and has made as much as $800 per week. “It really depends on how many hours you work, what locations you work in and which hours you work,” he says. “Before gas, taxes, etc., I usually make anywhere from $300 to $600 a week working 20 to 40 hours.”
If you love dogs, Rover and Wag are two popular apps that pay while spending time with furry friends. Wag is primarily a dog-walking app, but it can also be used for dog boarding or sitting. According to Wag, the average worker makes $12 plus a tip for a 30-minute walk, or for boarding or sitting, a base rate of $26 per night plus tip.
Just like in the traditional jobs economy, the amount of money you can make doing work that requires certain knowledge or experience depends upon your skillset, says Diane Mulcahy, author of “The Gig Economy.”
“If you’re looking at a corporate lawyer versus someone who works at Walmart, the salaries will be vastly different,” she says. “In the gig economy, a knowledge consultant will be able to charge rates that are materially different from someone doing lawn work or cleaning or tasks or driving,” Mulcahy explains. “Even though it’s independent work, it’s still skill-based.”
To help figure out income from a side hustle, a good starting point is to look at what a full-time job pays, Mulcahy says. Here are a few examples of side hustles that require specific knowledge or skills.
With skills like writing, graphic or web design, marketing, social media, etc. clients contract on a freelance or consulting basis. Some of these gig workers charge by the hour, while others charge flat rates. In this type of work, the side hustler usually sets their own rate, which can vary based on their experience, subject matter expertise, scope of the project and the medium.
For example, Upwork, a freelance gig site, reports that their freelance graphic designers charge anywhere from $20 to $150 hour depending on experience, with the average rate around $45 per hour.
Writing and editing rates also vary significantly. According to the Editorial Freelancers Association, freelance editors can charge anywhere from $30-$60 per hour depending on the depth of editing and experience. Freelance writers can usually make anywhere from $40 to $100 per hour, or 20 cents to $2 per word, though this can vary greatly on different factors depending on the client, type of content and the writer’s level of expertise and experience.
Savvy in math? Writing? Make extra money tutoring or teaching. Private tutoring can pay around $24 per hour on average, according to Payscale.com.
Juliana Rossi is an elementary school teacher in San Francisco who works a variety of gigs that utilize her skill set since she lives paycheck to paycheck and doesn’t make enough from her day job to live in the Bay Area. “It’s a great place to live and I love it, but it’s hard being at a low-paying job in the most expensive city in the United States,” she says. She also recently had a very large surprise medical bill due to crummy health insurance, so most of her side gig income currently goes toward paying off debt.
Rossi currently babysits, making $18 per hour, in addition to working at the after-school programs at the school where she teaches. At the after-school program, she makes $12 per kid per class, and she says she’s taught anywhere from six to nine classes per trimester and has had anywhere from six to 14 kids per class.
As a former volleyball player, Rossi also coaches volleyball, which nets her $300 to $800 per month depending on how many tournaments take place in a given month. She also teaches a two-week writing camp in the summer that earns her $1,600.
“I’ve chosen these gigs because of their flexibility with my teaching schedule,” Rossi says. “Teaching comes first and I don’t stop working when the bell rings at 3:15. It was important that my gigs fit with my schedule and that it was something I enjoyed and was relatively simple, because I didn’t want to burn out.”
Once certified by a professional organization, get paid by studios to teach classes or teach independently. For example, Cassandra G. Fragoso, a resident of Orange County, California, does freelance marketing as her primary job. She got certified in Pretzel Kids Yoga, a yoga and mindfulness practice for kids, and got licensed to market herself as a Pretzel Kids instructor. In her free time, Fragoso leads pop-up classes in a local public parks and charges $5 per child.
“My husband and I are entrepreneurs, but when things weren’t cutting it, I found an opportunity that not only could make us money but I’d enjoy,” she says. “In just 30 to 40 minutes, I make $50, and soon, when I raise my prices to $10 per child, with just 10 children I could make $100 per class!” She also recently found an opportunity to start teaching at a studio and might eventually turn this into her career. According to online yoga business DoYouYoga, most brand new yoga teachers make about $35-$45 per class when teaching at gyms or studios.
These are just some of the endless side hustle opportunities out there. Use your existing skills and passions to do some freelance work or consulting, or even make and sell a product or offer a service like hand lettering. Or if convenience is key, check out the Steady app and pick up gigs through on-demand apps that might not pay as much, but are available nearly anytime, anywhere.