I sing to the high heavens about side hustles.
They are powerful ways to up-skill, fill your time productively and of course, bring in a few extra dollars outside of your regular income. If your day-job is wrangling kids around town, a side hustle can still be one of the most flexible ways to earn supplemental income and help contribute to the family’s finances.
I’ve always had side-hustles, although for a long time; I considered them my day-to-day job. Before the mighty side-hustle became a coined, worldwide phenomenon, I was a baby-faced university student running from one gig to the other in order to save aggressively, fund holidays and make rent.
A patchwork of both virtual and physical gigs across the spectrum was, in a way, my full-time job – outside of studying and drinking, of course.
So when the Internet exploded with side-hustle popularity (including thousands of blogs about how to *$TART EARNING MILLION$ WITH DA ULTIMATTE $$$IDE HU$$TLE TODAY!!*), I felt like the Oprah of the movement. By that stage, I actually was in full-time employment, but I had still been keeping the mighty side-hustle going on for the most part.
There really is very little that beats the feeling of receiving money separate from the expected monthly deposit of your regular job. It’s an addictive feeling – and to say it can supercharge your savings goals is the understatement of the century.
So without further adieu, here’s my definitive list of doable side-hustles that you can start today. It doesn’t include things like blogging, and starting a business – because the reality is – those don’t generate money straight away. And if you’re reading this, I presume you want those dollar bills to start rolling right now.
Instead, these are things that require low overheads, not a huge amount of skill and you can start immediately. Happy side-hustling!
Pet-sitting and dog-walking:
My personal favourite. If you love a puppers or two, this one’s for you, as well.
There are an estimated 24 million pets in Australia (which is almost on par with the amount of people in the country, according to the last census) – and with a large majority of these people working, going on holiday or having to run to interstate for emergencies, there’s a lot of furry friends needing companionship.
Some will ask you to have their pet in your home, some will prefer you to go to theirs (residing there, in some cases), and some just ask for you to take them for a little jaunt around the neighbourhood. You set your own rates and availability, and people contact you asking if you’re around. Normally, you arrange a meet and greet beforehand, so they can see how the animal responds to you (and check you’re not a psychopath) which is on your own time, but once everyone is happy – they book you in.
- Finding work: PawShake, MadPaws, list your dog-walking services and a bio of you on a site like Gumtree, or chuck up a flyer in your local area.
- Rates: It varies. I charge around $20 for a dog-walk, $50 for an overnight stay and around $30 per visit either going to them, or them staying with me.
- Tips: Don’t do this if you genuinely don’t like animals. They’re intuitive little things and they’ll know you don’t dig ‘em, which is a waste of time for all involved. If you’re renting, check your by-laws around having pets (or do it… but know you might lose your bond) and be careful with any of your existing pets – you can’t assume they will like every animal that comes barging into their territory.
Oh, baby. This one’s a goodie. Do your civil duty of giving exasperated parents a break of an evening, or help with the afternoon school run when they’re still hanging out trying to meet deadlines at work. Kids, for the most part, are great fun. I love their creativity and unique way of thinking, but again, you have to love this demographic to enjoy this kind of work. Fun fact: I once babysat for a couple in the UK who, when I asked them where they were off to that night, actually replied: “Nowhere. We’re having sex but we needed help with the kids because they always run in on us when we try any other time.” I decided we’d all go get ice-cream very far away that day.
Meet the children beforehand, because some kids require much more time than others, and side-hustling isn’t meant to be stressful. I don’t babysit too much anymore as my copywriting business, Wordy and Smith, and copywriting for Wordfetti keep me pretty busy, but if I do, I’ll ask to meet up with the kids and the parents in a relaxed park setting, so we can sit down and chat properly. It gives me a great opportunity to see how the kids interact with their parents and each other in an environment that’s very exciting for them and that’s usually a great indicator of how they’ll behave with me.
- Finding work: FindABabysitter, JuggleStreet, BabySits, BabySittersNow. If you are into the nanny thing (and looking for a more full-time gig), I met Michelle from MiniNannyAgency at one of the workshops we did at Wordfetti and highly recommend having a chat with her – she is such a gorgeous human.
- Rates: Around $25 to $30 an hour is an average rate, but this will vary on things like age, experience, what’s required of you (i.e. are you going to be hanging out with babies and toddlers, or self-sufficient early teens).
- Tips: If you don’t have the patience of a saint, this one isn’t for you. Kids are unpredictable, emotional and sometimes unreasonable little human beings, and they needs lots of love and attention. This isn’t a “do it whilst doing something else” kind of gig. Also note that you will probably need need police clearance.
Paid surveys and market research:
Opinions are like… you know what. Everyone has one, and sometimes businesses will pay for yours. There are a variety of ways to go about this, whether it be short, paid online surveys, or in-person, roundtable market research discussions. The latter are much better paid, but often only run in major capital cities or work hubs, and you need to attend in-person for an hour or more. All have stringent pre-qualification protocols, so this isn’t something you’d want to depend on for regular side-hustle income… although I’m pretty sure I made about $5,000 over a six-month period a few years back. Just got lucky, I guess!
Online surveys are just a series of questionnaires, taking between five and fifteen minutes to complete. Market research can be interviews, taste-tests, or a business launching a new product and wanting to run the way they market it past a focus group first. They might show you variations of different ad campaigns, or different photos of the product prototypes to see how they make you feel. Writing down: “This tub of chocolate mousse makes me feel sad” feels strangely right – and even more so when they hand you your cash-filled envelope at the end of the session.
- Finding work: PureProfile, PaidFocusGroups and MyOpinions.
- Rates: Online surveys can be anywhere from 50c to a couple of dollars, depending on the time you are allocated to spend on it. Market research is much better paid, and they often reimburse you for your travel. Expect anywhere from $60 to $120 for an hour and a half’s session. More frequently they are paying with gift cards nowadays, but these can still be redeemed at major supermarkets and chains.
- Tips: My friend Lucinda who originally got me into market research (who has an ah-maz-ing candle business FYI) told me, anecdotally, that they prefer female participants between the 24-35 age range as they have the most purchasing power in Aussie households. That’s not to say they aren’t looking for a wide range of profiles but, you know, inside scoop and all that.
Selling stuff around the home:
If you’re not on the KonMari, joy-sparking bandwagon, where have you been? Aside from being super popular, the concept of minimalism is very powerful when it comes to tidying up your personal finances. I first read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up a number of years ago, and as the title would suggest, it literally changed my life. I now keep things very simple and uncluttered in my home, in my work and in my accounts. Making no space for mess and complexity has made so much space for everything else.
One of the key ways to do that is to declutter – and then stop filling your home up with more stuff you don’t need. Go through drawers, under beds, through cupboards, bookcases, boxes, garages, cars and everything else with a nook or cranny, and pull out everything you haven’t been using for more than a year. Ask yourself genuinely: Do I need this? Will I use this? Do I already have one of these? Does it make me happy? If not – list it up for sale. People will often come round to pick them up, handing over their cash, and that saves you a trip to the charity shop bin and helps the environment.
- Finding work: Gumtree, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and specialist sell sites (I’m currently trying to sell my wedding dress on one).
- Rates: The general rule of thumb is to ask yourself what you’d be prepared to pay for an item if you needed it. You can also look at how much similar items have gone for, because the age old adage says that something is only worth what the market is willing to pay.
- Tips: Be prepared to negotiate on price, and to have a degree of your time wasted. Don’t plan your day around someone promising to come around and pick something up, because you have a 50/50 chance they’ll show. Never ever meet up with buyers in unknown and unpopulated places, and if they’re coming round to collect something, use language that suggests you are not home alone (i.e. “yes, we will be home / we should be free then.”) I also ask buyers ahead of time not to bring big notes because I can’t break them and don’t store cash at home. Cashless societies for the win!
Freelancing with your skills:
This one I love on so many levels, because it’s essentially where my business sprouted from. We humans are pretty talented, multi-faceted beings, and at some stage of other, we’ve probably picked up a few key skills that we can use to help someone who either doesn’t have the time or know-how to do themselves. Whether it be writing, graphic design, SEO, digital marketing, web development, public relations, consulting, coaching, event planning, sales, virtual assisting, calligraphy, illustration or managing social media accounts, there’s likely someone out there willing to pay for your skills.
This is the kind of side-hustle that you can start today, as long as your niche doesn’t have huge overheads (like buying product or equipment, as in the case of catering or recording and animating videos). Things that also require huge software subscriptions (Adobe) aren’t ideal if you don’t already have them. Freelancing is great because it offers total flexibility and freedom, and in this game, word-of-mouth travels fast. It’s where almost all of my new leads come from – businesses telling other businesses that I’m a pretty top chick, or my existing clients reaching back out with a new project.
- Finding work: Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr – or specialist sites for your niche. You can also ask in your network, through somewhere like LinkedIn, whether anyone needs help in a specific field for an upcoming project.
- Rates: Most charge per hour, but it depends on the field and specialty and your level of experience – so there’s no one-size-fits-all rate. You can always work out your salaried hourly rate by taking your salary, dividing it by the amount of work-weeks in your working year, and then dividing that by how many hours in your work-week (or, you know, using a calculator like this). Someone who is salaried at $60,000 would earn $28.85 per hour (assuming 52 weeks in their working year and 40 hours per week).
- Tips: You’re likely dealing with people who have, to some extent, deliverables and KPIs – and they’re engaging your expertise with the expectation that you can deliver as you have said you can. Managing clients can be a big learning curve if you don’t have experience in client-facing roles. Goal-posts can change, people can sometimes be unreasonable under pressure and invoices can be paid late. But these things can be navigated around and with experience and the right upfront processes in place, they get much easier.
Broom, broom said the little cash-loving car. Ride-sharing has surged in popularity over the last five years (literally pulling certain people around the world out of poverty), but it remains pretty controversial for reasons of safety and corporate responsibility. Still, if you have a car, and spare time, it can be a nice little income generator for you. I recently found out about Shebah through the Lady Startup Summer Series of podcast interviews, and fell in love. They’re a business doing amazing things and it’s female-only, so if that’s a worry for you, this is a great way to be involved in the process.
Many of these apps even have options nowadays where you can only pick up and drop off people travelling on your normal route. So if you’re heading into work or to a social event, and fancy making a cheeky bit of cash, you don’t have to go out of your way to do so. If you’re into the driving economy, you can also sign up to deliver food, which also has the added benefit of earning you tips and gratuities. Full disclosure: I have never done either of these (but friends have), mainly because a.) Sydney is Satan’s playground for drivers and b.) my husband routinely reminds me that if we ever did food delivery, he’d have to take a personal “bite-tax” out of every one. I don’t imagine we’d last long when all of our reviews came back with: “You ate some of my dinner you drongos!”.
- Finding work: Uber, Shebah, GoCatch.
- Rates: Finder have a decent calculator for Uber, and on their website, Shebah say: “you keep 85% of your fares, and enjoy higher rates than other rideshares. You earn more during peak times, and fares are inclusive of GST and tolls!”
- Tips: Obviously there are safety concerns for women driving strangers around, especially at night – but platforms like Shebah combat this (and honestly, if you haven’t listened to George McEncroe being interviewed on the Lady Startup Summer Series, you’re missing out). Shebah also offer a free financial planning session to all drivers. You’ll get more fares in the capital cities but you have to be comfortable with city driving – and I’m not so convinced on their GPS efficiency, either.
Renting out a car, garage or room:
Never before has the concept of short-term leasing on someone else’s space or assets been so attractive. We live in an age where the cost of ownership is damn high, and you’re ‘in’, the cost of maintenance is just as astronomical. It makes sense for both owners and renters to utilise and benefit from unused or idle assets, and this can take the form of a spare room, a garage or a car.
Car sharing, garage sharing and room-sharing can come at a fraction of the cost of buying or owning outright (and saves them all the ongoing maintenance and management fees), so it’s a very attractive proposition. You call the shots with how you want to offer your assets, including short-term leasing, or, if you have a separate granny flat or home office, as a long-term commercial lease. Garages are great if you have a two-car space, but one car, and live in an area where street parking is difficult or expensive. Before we bought our own car, we regularly utilised the services of Car Next Door and found it to be a great way of getting around when we needed more convenient transport, like for food shopping.
- Finding work: AirBnB, Car Next Door, Spacer, Just Park.
- Rates: AirBnB depends on the area, type of property, whether you’ll be vacating completely or sharing the space and any other perks (like breakfast or a gift pack). You can look at other places in the same area for a better comparison. Car Next Door sticks to about 33 cents per kilometre and will charge a membership fee depending on usage amount. Garage sharing services take a cut of any bookings, and prices vary by location, ease of access and level of privacy.
- Tips: AirBnB has experienced a significant decrease in bookings, at least in Sydney where we live. Many other AirBnB hosts have commented on how few bookings they receive than they used to; but Christmas is always a pretty safe bet. As always, good reviews are golden so try and help your guests or borrowers to have a great experience.
A weekend job:
There’s no shame in doing a little bit of extra weekend work for cash. I’d still happily do anything I did pre-university today, although I unfortunately know a lot of people in my professional circle who wouldn’t. That’s a shame, in my opinion, because it’s not only a great way to boost your income on a guaranteed basis, but you’ll meet some awesome people and learn new skills at the same time. Whether it be barista work, waiting tables, helping at a shelter or sanctuary drive, pool cleaning, handing out flyers at brand events, car-washing, working for a catering company on weekends or doing some admin and reception work – it’s all excellent income opportunity.
- Finding work: Go and call up local cafes, offices and shelters and chat to the managers (stay clear of their busy times!). Hand in your resume or pop up flyers for pool cleaning and car washing in your local area.
- Rates: You shouldn’t be getting paid any less than minimum wage in your country. In Australia, it’s $18.29 an hour, or $694.90 a week. From July 1 it will rise to $18.93 an hour, or $719.20 a week.
- Tips: Be persistent, and try and avail yourself of a weekend if you can. This is really when most places, or 9-5 workers will need your services.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: acting as a mystery shopper to visit a particular shop and provide feedback on everything from customer service, floorplan, product layout, dressing room aesthetic and cleanliness. You take all of this personal intel and write it up in a detailed report that needs to be sent back to the agency within a day – so there is a timeliness component to the task.
There’s two components to mystery shopping remuneration – one is the fee, and the second is the goods you buy that you get to keep (although sometimes you need to buy it with your own cash upfront, keep the receipt and they reimburse you). This can be great if you need something from that store anyway. I’ve heard about Kikki K’s $200 mystery shopping initiative, which is pretty generous – but I’ve personally never done it.
- Finding work: Seek, MysteryShopping, The Realise Group.
- Rates: On average, around $20 in a flat-fee payment, and then the cost of product. This can be capped, though, so keep that in mind.
- Tips: Try and take jobs for shops you actually need to visit – otherwise you’ll end up with a bunch of extra stuff you don’t need (unless you plan on selling it for less than RRP – triple whammy).
Tutoring or translating:
Bit of a whizz in school? Got a knack for maths, science or English? Busy, working parents in your area who could use a hand with their kids homework and study need YOU. Now, this is unlikely to be the hardcore tutoring stuff (like, parents who want their kids to come top 1% of the country in their exams) because this requires either being a teacher or understanding the curriculum requirements deeply, but a little help with basic homework will suffice.
The same goes for parents who want their kids to be able to learn a different language that you natively speak. For this, you’ll want to have your own BYO language learning book so you have some kind of structure to your sessions, and leave plenty of time for back-and-forth practice.
- Finding work: Speaking to local parents at a community meetup or pop flyers up, TutorFinder, Upwork for translation jobs.
- Rates: Around $25 per hour is reasonable, with each session lasting 1-2 hours.
- Tips: You want to be good with kids and be able to engage them in order to help them learn. Some parents will expect you to provide a police or Working With Children check at your own time and expense.
TaskRabbit’s mission statement of “find jobs you love, at rates you choose, make a schedule that fits your life” sums up the whole rent-a-hand gig economy movement. There’s virtually nothing humans aren’t willing to outsource when it comes to things they don’t want to do, so it’s worth scrolling through the jobs just for the laughs alone. You can filter by things that are nearby, and things you genuinely love to do (like organising people’s bathroom cabinets. I think I’d do that for free).
- Finding work: TaskRabbit, AirTasker.
- Rates: Variable (but negotiable), and the better your reviews, the better your chances of being able to do so.
- Tips: Don’t do anything you don’t know how to do (or aren’t licensed to – like plumbing or electrics). Exercise general, everyday caution when going into people’s homes.
With all of these, approach with an opportunist mindset. I’m an opportunist, and this has always served me well. Ultimately, the more you get out there – the more you will find. With some of the lower-priced jobs, take that thinking of: “I don’t want to to head out today for $15”, and consider instead the opportunity cost of not doing it. What else could you find when getting out that will lead to more long-term earning potential?
You might not want to start with all of them, because there is a portion of time you’ll need to dedicate in setting up your profile, and applying for a few initial jobs (you’ll find you get less work in the beginning – but once you build up those testimonials, my experience now is that the offers often come to me). Instead of applying, I vet through around 15 offers for different things per week, and pick whatever I have the time and capacity for.
Remember, if you’re in Australia (as most of these links are for), our taxation system basically lumps all earnings into the same bucket: income. You will need to declare this income at tax-time and your tax payable will be calculated by your marginal tax rate.
If you don’t feel confident in lodging and declaring this income, it is highly recommended that you speak with a personal taxation specialist. There is also a consideration of whether you’ll be running this as a hobby, or a business – in which case, you may need an Australian Business Number (ABN). The Australian Business Register has a good ABN entitlement tool (so you can check your eligibility) but if in doubt, run it past aforementioned accountant.