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Empowering your money

6 unique side hustles to earn some extra cash

If you have a side hustle, or are looking for one, you’re definitely not alone. One in three Americans have a side job and 24% said they planned to get one by the end of 2021, according to a recent Zapier survey.

The most common reason people get a side gig is to make some extra money, while others see it as a way to test a business idea. Side gigs, though, are not for everyone. You need discipline to ensure your side hustle doesn’t interfere with your regular day job if you have one and you have to be organized to keep track of your time and finances.

“Side hustles are good for someone who is driven, resilient, and self-motivated,” said Ben Bloch, founder of consulting firm, Bloch Strategy, who has hired and worked with gig workers through platforms like Fiverr and LinkedIn. “It’s better if your primary income job has set hours and doesn’t take up most of your energy or time or you could burn yourself out.”

You’re probably aware of well-known side hustles like driving for Uber or Lyft, delivering groceries or food, or finding freelance gigs on sites like Upwork, Fiverr and 99Designs. But here are some lesser-known side hustles to consider depending on your skills and interests.

A young happy college female student sitting on sofa at home, using laptop when studying.
(Photo: Getty Creative) (Halfpoint via Getty Images)

Transcribe recordings

Are you a wizard behind the keyboard? Do typos make you see red? You could make some extra cash as a transcriptionist for services like Rev or Scribie. The benefits include the ability to work from home on your own schedule and to take on as little or as much work as you want. The average Rev transcriptionist only earns $156 a month, but more seasoned freelancers can earn anywhere from $900 to $1,495 a month.

Answer questions

If you constantly amaze — or annoy — your friends and family with your Encyclopedic knowledge, someone might finally pay you for it. That’s especially the case if you work in certain professions or have an in-demand skill.

JustAnswer is an online question and answer site that pays professionals to answer people’s questions. Experts in categories like appliance repair, tax preparation, healthcare, or tech support can “make on average about $2,000 to $7,000 a month,” JustAnswer CEO Andy Kurtzig said. “The folks who are the most active and the most knowledgeable — and whose responses are the most thoughtful, useful, and valuable to consumers — make the most money.”

Teach English online

(Photo: Getty Creative)
(Photo: Getty Creative) (Alistair Berg via Getty Images)

If you have a bachelor’s degree and some experience in teaching, tutoring, mentoring or coaching, you might consider teaching English online. There’s an especially fast growing market for teaching English to Chinese students on sites like VIPKid or 51Talk. You’ll need a desktop or laptop computer, headphones, a reliable internet connection, and a webcam, but not much else. You’ll also probably need to be comfortable getting up early to make up for the time difference. The base pay rate at VIPKid is $7-$9 per 25-minute class with the chance to make $14-$18 an hour if you teach two classes.

Take surveys

If you have some free time and a smart device, sites like Survey Junkie, Opinion Outpost, and Swagbucks will pay you to take surveys. Some of these sites are more difficult to navigate and most require you to rack up points before you can cash out, but it’s a fairly easy way to earn a few extra bucks a day as long as you don’t need to get rich quickly (or even slowly).

Assemble furniture

Putting together furniture is a task that many people dread and will happily pay to have taken off their hands. If you’re handy with a hammer, it can also be a decently profitable side gig. You could go it alone and advertise your services locally through Facebook groups or word of mouth. Or, you could also sign up as a contractor on a site like TaskRabbit, now owned by IKEA, to be connected directly to people who can’t tell which way is up on their Poang chair. Around the holidays, branch out and offer toy assembly as part of your services.

Charge electric scooters

Young man ridding electric scooter
(Photo: Getty Creative) (supersizer via Getty Images)

For a quirky side gig that also helps you get some fresh air and exercise, consider being what’s fancifully known as a Lime Juicer or a Bird Flyer. These are freelance contractor gigs for electronic scooter rental companies like Lime and Bird who pay people to track down, recharge, and return their scooters. You can typically make between $3 to $5 per scooter. You need some stamina to lift the clunky scooters and space to charge them, but it’s a flexible side hustle that also has a bit of a gaming element to it.

Keeping Uncle Sam happy

Before you dive in, there are some nuts and bolts financial issues to consider first. The most important is keeping careful records of your income so you’ll be prepared come tax time. If you’re not used to being an independent contractor or running your own business, that can be tricky.

“The most important thing to remember is that if you’re an independent contractor, taxes — federal, state, Social Security, Medicare — aren’t taken out of your earnings automatically,” said Dennis Moon, head of operations at Roadie, a crowdsourced delivery platform.

If you make more than $400 a year from your side hustle, you’ll have to withhold money yourself to pay those taxes and usually have to pay an estimated quarterly tax.

“I recommend that you set aside 20% to 30% of your pay from each paycheck for taxes,” Bloch said. “That way you won’t be blindsided when you see how much you owe in taxes.”

It’s also a good idea to use a spreadsheet or software to track your side hustle income, expenses and hours, especially if you have more than one.

“That way you can easily see which gig is providing the most income," Bloch said, "whether it’s profitable and if there are any expenses you can write off.”

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