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Wondering if a side hustle is worth your time?

As it turns out, picking up a side job or two puts you in pretty good company. Whether you’re looking for a way to break into your dream career while keeping your day job, or if you’re hoping to pay student loans off ahead of schedule, there’s at least one good side hustle waiting to help you pad your pocketbook.

Side Hustles vs. Day Jobs: What’s the Attraction?

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a side hustle: Essentially, it’s a second job or maybe some self-employment that brings in a bit of extra income to supplement whatever we’re making on our main job.

Unless you entered the job market back in the days when the standard was stable, long-term employment with great benefits and retirement, you might be interested in earning extra money. You might find yourself feeling curious about side hustles even if you’ve got a full-time gig with all the trimmings.

There are quite a few reasons why people from just about every walk of life find themselves considering side hustles: Perhaps they long to be their bosses and getting a side hustle lets them work toward that goal while retaining the safety and security that come with their regular job. Maybe they have the opportunity to make money with a favourite hobby. Perhaps they have financial goals they’d like to meet. Maybe they long for early retirement. Whatever the case, there’s no shortage of side hustles – and as the following stats show, this is a trend that’s here to stay.

Who’s Looking for Side Hustles?

NBC News shared survey results indicating that approximately 40 % of 18- to 22-year old Americans have secondary income sources and that many of those who responded to the survey said that they enjoyed their side hustles more than their day jobs.  

In all, nearly half of all Americans have at least two jobs. Of those, many are postgraduates. It might surprise you that many individuals who earn $80k or more are among those who work multiple jobs.

In the UK it’s a similar story. London accountants, Accounts and Legal reveal that one in four Brits in full-time employment have taken on at least one side hustle, and by 2030 it’s predicted that 50% of the UK population will have a side hustle.

Side Hustle Statistics

Dollarsprout conducted another survey, asking 867 of their subscribers for information about whether they had multiple income sources, as well as for an insight into the reasons why they chose their side hustles, and how they spend the money they’re making. Check it out:

  • 57% of survey respondents had at least one side hustle.
  • 65% of them were between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • 54 % were female, and 46% were male.
  • 38% were between the ages of 18 and 25.
  • 27% were between 26 and 34.
  • 20% were between the ages of 35 and 45.
  • 12% were between 46 and 60.
  • 3% were over age 60.

A Woman Working Out of a Coffee Shop-Side Hustle

Why Do So Many People Pick up Extra Jobs?

Reasons for picking up a side hustle varied. We checked in with Dollarsprout and Side Hustle Nation for more information.

In Dollarsprout’s side hustle survey, people typically had practical reasons for seeking out extra income:

  • 33% of respondents said they had to have multiple jobs just to make ends meet.
  • 45% use their added income as a source of extra spending money.
  • 22% stash side hustle income in savings and plan to put it toward a major purchase.

Other reasons for having side hustles included more money for travel, dining out, paying down debt, and paying for home improvement projects. Side Hustle Nation’s respondents added more reasons to the list:

  • Replacing current income.
  • Quitting their day jobs.
  • Growing their existing businesses.

Financial goals varied, too. In Side Hustle Nation’s survey, only about 25 per cent of respondents listed specific monetary goals. Here are some examples:

  • Making a profit, even as little as a dollar.
  • Making their first $100 at a side hustle.
  • Making an additional $500 per month.
  • Making an extra $1,000 per month.
  • Making a consistent side hustle income of $10,000 per month.
  • Boosting their income to $50k after taxes.

Which Side Hustles Pay Well?

There’s no doubt about it: There are tons of ways to earn extra cash. But which side hustles pay best? Before we dig into the good side hustle ideas, let’s eliminate a couple of time-wasters.

Unless you’re desperate, there are a few you’ll want to avoid the following:

  • Filling out surveys.
  • Working as a sign spinner.
  • Stuffing envelopes.
  • Playing video games.
  • Anything that makes you shell out cash just to get started.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome opportunities out there, depending on how much time you’d like to invest, the time of day you’re available, and what kind of services you’d like to offer.

It’s worth noting that certain side hustles are available only in urban areas; if you live in a small town or out in the countryside, you’ll probably have fewer options from which to choose. Here’s a random selection:

Waiting tables – This side hustle is tried and true! The base pay is usually terrible, but if you’re good at what you do and you work at a more upscale establishment, you can easily pick up more than $100 in a shift. You’ll earn even more if you’re able to work as a bartender in your spare time.

Tutoring – Play an instrument? Excel at math or another subject? There are tons of tutoring opportunities available and most of them pay very well – upwards of $20 / hour.

Be a virtual assistant – There are tons of VA gigs out there, with opportunities that pay just as well (or perhaps even better than) your boring 9 to 5 jobs. Research your options if you’re considering this track – there are plenty of not-so-great gigs mixed in with the good ones.

Offer space on Airbnb – Have a home with an extra bedroom and bath? Have a summer house or an outbuilding that you can convert into a cute cabin? If so, you can make thousands of dollars per month simply by renting your extra space to travellers. This is a great side gig for anyone who enjoys the idea of working in the hospitality business and in case you’re too busy to handle the day-to-day demands, there are real estate management companies that can take care of everything from cleanup to laundry on your behalf.

Become an Amazon Affiliate – You’ll need a blog, a YouTube channel, or another way to spread the word about your favourite products and get people to visit Amazon. If they buy anything – even if it’s something that you didn’t recommend – during their visit, you’re rewarded with a commission. Many bloggers and YouTubers make an excellent side income with the Amazon Affiliate program. It takes some time to get started, but once you’re set-up, this side hustle can pay well even while you’re busy at your nine to five job.

Should You Quit Your Day Job?

Many of us dream of becoming entrepreneurs. If you’re among the dreamers, then you’re definitely in good company. Hundreds of thousands of professionals augment their incomes and reach for the stars by setting up side hustles that essentially amount to freelancing – either in the careers they’re already in, or in the fields, they find more appealing.

In case you’re in the planning stages and you haven’t yet found your side hustle, you’ll be glad to know that there’s plenty of variety out there. Whether you’re fascinated by the concept of digging up dirt on old family trees and becoming a sought-after genealogist, or if you’re a stellar accountant with a lifelong love of numbers, there’s a market for your skills. The question is, should you leave your day job? If so, when should you do it?

Side Hustle

The truth is that deciding to replace your day job with a side hustle or an entire series of freelancing gigs might or might not be a fantastic idea depending on your circumstances.

Here are some things to ponder if you’re thinking about striking out on your own:

  • Have you replaced the income from your day job with money from your side hustle?
  • Do you have enough money in savings to cover expenses for at least a year?
  • Can you envision yourself enjoying your side hustle in years to come, or is it something you’ll grow tired of?  
  • Is there a growing demand for your skillset?
  • Is your side hustle outpacing your day job?
  • Do you have to work hard to find new gigs or are you turning customers away?

Besides asking these questions (and treating yourself to honest answers), there’s a somewhat troubling statistic to consider as part of your decision-making process.

Nine of every ten startups fail. Discouraging as this is, it’s worth keeping in mind if you’re thinking about striking out on your own.

Which Side Hustles Are Most Popular?

Side Hustle Nation didn’t mention specific percentages, but did offer a rundown of which side hustles their survey respondents preferred and were successful with:

  • Online Businesses.
  • Freelance Digital Marketing. 
  • Amazon FBA & other eCommerce options including reselling.
  • Investing.
  • Self-publishing.
  • Software & Apps.
  • Participating in the Gig Economy.

Other side hustles received an honourable mention in Side Hustle Nation’s survey:

  • Running arts & crafts businesses.
  • Teaching local classes or workshops.
  • Selling print on demand products.
  • Network Marketing / MLM
  • Product licensing.
  • Participating in paid research studies.

Dollarsprout’s survey results were different, partly because they were based on the amount of money certain side hustles brought in. People making more than $200 per month reported participating in the following:

  • 29% relied on the gig economy.
  • 24% were selling services of some kind.
  • 19% were selling new items or reselling pre-owned goods.
  • 9% were participating in MLM marketing.
  • 20% said that they were doing something else.

How Successful Are Side Hustles?

The answer to this question depends on which survey you read. Side Hustle Nation asked people how they were doing with their efforts, offering three basic options.

  • 50% said they had ideas, but hadn’t started yet.
  • 36% said they had gotten their side hustles off the ground, and were making less than $500 per month.
  • 14% said that they were bringing in over $500 per month with their side hustles.

Dollarsprout’s results were more specific:

In all, one of every six side hustlers reported earning at least $500 per month, but 73% of those surveyed made less than $200 / month. Here’s the dollar-by-dollar breakdown, per month:

  • 39% made $50 or less
  • 34% made $51 – $200
  • 13% made $201 – $500
  • 8% made $501 – $1000
  • 6% made $1000 or more

Of these, people who reported working side hustles in the gig economy were most likely to bring in more than $500 per month. People who said they were making money with MLM marketing had the lowest odds of making plenty of extra money, with just one per cent reporting side hustle earnings over $500.

People Working Together on Their Laptops-Side Hustle

Which Side Hustle Is Best for You?

Here’s the thing: No two individuals have the same drive, passion, interests, and opportunities as one another, so choosing the best side hustle is a highly subjective task. If you live in a fairly urban area and you love people, enjoy driving, have the right kind of car, and also happen to have a great driving record, then a gig economy side hustle like Uber or Lyft might be exactly what you’re looking for.

If you’re already good at performing certain tasks and you enjoy them, then you might want to look for a side hustle that pays you for services you perform during your day job. If, on the other hand, you’re hoping to follow your dreams and build a business you’re passionate about, you might have to do some soul searching, get creative, and see what’s out there.

Whatever you decide, be sure to take our advice: Invest time and effort, be patient and persistent, keep an eye on profitability, and don’t be afraid to try new things that appeal to you. The side opportunities are out there: It’s up to you to grab them!

Written By
Emma Williams is a professional writer who has written for the London Evening Standard, The Telegraph and Fox News. A self-proclaimed 'side hustler', Emma enjoys writing for business publications around the globe.

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