It might sound strange at first blush, but the reality is that starting up a side hustle can be pretty expensive, particularly if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you plan to start mowing lawns or selling t-shirts, there’s no getting around the fact that you’re going to need to spend money at the outset.
But is this the only way? Are there any potential ways to make money that allow you to jump right in without any high costs on your end?
It turns out; there might be. As we are currently in a time of rampant technological growth, today, you need a smartphone to access virtually every corner of the world. As we did some digging, we found that that same smartphone is all you need to put you in a position to find a side hustle that can pay you good money, WITHOUT requiring an upfront cost on your end.
“If you’re looking for a side hustle, that means you need money. It doesn’t make sense for you to spend money to make money. When you go to work, it’s expected that someone pays you.” Kathy Kristof, the editor, and co-founder of SideHusL.com, said.
Listed below are four excellent side hustles that you can start immediately using only your phone.
#1. Dog Walking
A few months ago this year, Grow talked with Kevin Ha of the Financial Panther. During that back and forth, one point, in particular, was brought up—Kevin’s many, many side hustles and what he does to make money.
Of them all, his more successful (and overall favorite) was dog walking. He said that he was getting paid to walk around the city while walking a dog, which he enjoyed anyway.
“The way I look at it: I want to walk around the city anyway. I can do that while I’m walking a dog… I was pretty much getting paid to explore the city.”
Whereas only a few years ago, you’d have to put an ad out in the local paper or ask your local friends and neighbors to put out a good word for you, today is very different. Now, on your smartphone, you can download apps like Rover or Wag! that will connect you with dog owners that are too busy to walk their dogs and will happily pay someone else to do it.
The good thing about a side hustle like this is that like many other essential business fields (think food, real estate, transportation, etc.), that will only grow in popularity. This means that not only will dog walking always be available as a way to make money, but as time progresses, it will become even more in demand.
A clear example of this is Ryan Stewart. Ryan created his dog walking business titled “Ryan for Dogs” as a side hustle. Over the years, he has now easily pulled in well over $100,000 a year walking and training dogs in the New York area.
The beauty of this side hustle is that it can be done by pretty much anyone, regardless of their age, race, gender, employment history, or education. It can be done at pretty much all times of the day and can, depending on the platform, even offer daily payouts.
Here is a quick breakdown of Rover and Wag! so you know what they offer their contractors:
Rover offers dog walkers potentially thousands of potential dog owners based on their area while allowing them to charge their pricing rates as well as schedule. This is a far cry from many other side hustles like food delivery or ridesharing, which dictate your rates and (in some cases) even opt to force you to work during certain hours.
They offer 24/7 support and several safety tips, and different educational tools you can use to grow your business.
For Wag!, dog walkers are offered complete flexibility. This allows them to set schedules for themselves or work with a person last minute if they need a pet walking. While they do not allow setting your prices, they offer usage of their app’s GPS tracking and live chat with the dog owners. Similarly, you can get paid instantly after completing a dog walk using their instant pay.
Like Rover, Wag! offers 24/7 support while guaranteeing up to $1 million worth of damage protection when dealing with an aggressive animal.
In addition to dog walking, Wag! is open to dog sitters, trainers, and boarding. This means, so long as you are a fan of dogs, this is a very viable side hustle option.
#2. Grocery Shopping
Like dog walking -mainly due to the current pandemic- food and grocery delivery hustles are becoming increasingly popular. With apps like Shipt or Instacart, it is possible to make an impressive income merely by shopping for groceries for other people. Similar to the dog walking side hustle, grocery shopping allows for complete flexibility in your schedule. This means that you can start and stop working whenever you feel like it and are not tied to any strict schedule.
Here’s the general breakdown of the concept before later going into more detail:
Once joining any of these platforms through their smartphone apps, you can receive opportunities to shop and buy groceries for a customer. If you accept, you will then be asked to pick up and deliver all of the items ordered by the customer from a select grocer.
Somewhat the smaller brother to Instacart, Shipt is a similarly functioning grocery delivery app that follows much of what I mentioned earlier. Customers will use the app to place orders on what they want, with shoppers fulfilling and delivering them to them. Target repurchased them in 2017, and, as a result, the majority of their deliveries will come through Target as opposed to multiple grocery stores.
Because they are smaller than Instacart, however, Shipt does require a “clock-in” style work schedule. This means that, while you do have a level of flexibility, it isn’t nearly as much as an Instacart or some of the other options. Instead of simply turning the app on and getting orders, you schedule yourself to work during 1-hour blocks (from 3 pm to 4 pm, 4 pm to 5 pm, etc.).
The app works on an acceptance ranking, meaning that the fewer trips you accept, the less likely you are to get a trip. You can also pick up any deliveries that have not been accepted and are currently waiting in the queue.
Based on Kevin Ha’s experience, you can make, on average, between $10 and $25 per order, with each order taking no more than 45 minutes. While tips do indeed play a factor in the higher amounts, keeping these numbers in mind, you can make between $800 and $2,000 extra per month while doing this part-time and between $1,600 and $4,000 a month doing this full-time.
The more famous of the two, Instacart, is similarly available to anyone at least 18 years of age and has access to a vehicle and smartphone. They also ideally require their shoppers to be able to lift around 50 lbs. You can work when you want without worrying about a set schedule or minimum delivery number.
According to Glassdoor, personal shoppers on Instacart were able to earn an average hourly rate of $14. This comes to an additional $1,120 a month working part-time and a minimum income of $2,240 a month working full-time. In addition, shoppers can receive tips from their customers, increasing these numbers even further.
These rates are set to increase further, as, earlier this year, it was reported that Instacart would now increase its minimum job payments from $3 a job to between $5 and $10 a job. Rather than the minimum pricing being the same regardless of the job, it will fluctuate depending on the assignment’s amount.
#3. Sell Stock Photos
The next underrated side hustle for making money comes by way of your very own photo gallery. Sites like Shutterstock or Etsy will offer their users the option to buy or sell images online, depending on your specific business situation.
These websites will sell high-quality images at a premium to allow their brand to stand out and appear more appealing to most businesses. On the other side, if you currently have (or can take) nice, quality photos, you can sell them through these sites to different companies.
Shutterstock offers its photographers between $0.25 to $2.85 per image download. This means that, rather than selling your image to a specific person, you are instead getting a portion of the revenue generated whenever any one person opts to download the image. The company has noted that images that gather enough traction have been reported to bring over $120. If you were an aspiring photographer, this would be an area worth considering, as you could not only see (in real-time) what people like and don’t like, you will be getting paid to do it.
Selling on Shutterstock, as it generally pertains to dealing with businesses and companies looking to tweak their company site, requires high-quality images that are reasonably generic while also aesthetically pleasing.
A great example would be an image of a waterfall. While beautiful and high-quality, because there is no specific personality being presented, this is more likely to be sold when compared to a person standing beside the waterfall.
The more your images can be seen as “open-ended,” the more likely a person or company will imagine their brand “filling in” that space. Conversely, as you add more personality to an image, your potential audience’s smaller and more niche will become.
On Etsy, the process for selling images is reasonably different. Rather than sell to the company and make proceeds off of the download, Etsy works similarly to eBay, Amazon, or Craiglist in that you sell directly to the purchaser, with Etsy only taking a percentage of the sale price.
This has its pros and cons when compared to the more generically run Shutterstock. Because you are more likely to sell to a person rather than a company’s image, it allows for a more incredible amount of freedom and personality in the image. Whereas a person standing in front of a waterfall would be less profitable than an image of just a waterfall on Shutterstock, the exact opposite is true on Etsy.
In exchange for this, as you are dealing with individual people, whether an image sells or not largely depends on what it is, how high the quality is, and how much you are willing to sell it for. A beautiful woman standing in front of a waterfall may sell more than a generic image of a waterfall, but only if sold at a price a person is willing to pay.
#4. Rent Things You Own
While selling things that you own is a viable method of making some quick money, unless you’re buying and flipping items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, you’re going to run out of things to sell sooner or later. In addition to that, items sold second-hand will almost always be purchased at a lower price than when you purchased them. For example, a tv that you bought initially for $900 a year ago will barely make you $700 if you’re lucky. Realistically, be expected to let it go for no more than $500 or $600.
A better method, instead, is to rent out your things. Kristoff argues that renting out things you own is one of the easiest and most profitable ways to make an extra income.
Now, what do I mean by “renting” your items?
I’m specifically talking about specific items that you own that many people may need for a select period. The most readily understood examples include Airbnb, Turo, or CurbFlip. These platforms allow users to rent out their homes, cars, or parking spots at a competitive rate for a select amount of time. Other sites, like Babyquip, allow you to rent out any of your baby items (strollers, cribs, old clothes, etc.) that your children may have outgrown.
By taking an inventory of what you have (items like camping gear, electronics, even an RV), you can make a tidy profit renting them out for other people to use.
3 of Steve Lee’s Vital Tips for Success In Starting a Side Hustle Business
Back in 2015, Steve Lee began picking up side hustles. At the time, on his way home from work, Lee would deliver food using his bike. Two years later, at 32 years old, Lee left his career at a law firm to start blogging full-time and side hustling.
Kevin Ha, at his finance website, the Financial Panther, notes his total monthly income from all of his accumulated side hustles. Including renting out spare rooms in his home, delivering food, and walking and boarding dogs, Kevin earns over $33,000 doing these jobs over the past year.
Below are the Top Three Tips Kevin gives for success with side hustles:
#1. Take Your Time
Steve Lee, in the beginning, did side hustle jobs while also working at a well-known IT firm that net him a salary of $125,000 per year. Why did he start side-hustling? To pay off the $87,000 student loan debt he accrued to get that job at the IT firm.
To pay it off as quickly as possible, Lee worked hard at his job while taking on small side hustles and reducing his overall expenses. After being entirely debt-free, he went into law for a more rewarding career. From there, he bounced from job to job in search of a career opportunity that would be truly fulfilling for him. He would even take cuts to his pay to try out the job and see if it was for him. Eventually, Lee decided to try working for himself.
Between blogging and his different side hustles, Lee now has a monthly income that ranges between $5,000 and $8,000 – giving him an annual income ranging between $60,000 on the low end and just shy of $100,000 on the high end.
When people hear that, they immediately believe that they will make between $60k and $100k when they start side hustling. The reality is that it was a process and was not overnight. Lee says as much, noting that it was only after four years of walking dogs and delivering food that he started seeing the higher rates of returns for his work.
When asked directly about whether he recommends side hustling full time, Lee stated that, while he can live just on gigs alone, he does recommend that people start slow and dabble in a few small things. From there, once they find something that they like, they can then start scaling up their efforts.
Lee also mentioned just how viable side hustles are as a cushion in instances where you hate your current job. He notes that if you currently aren’t happy in your job or career, side hustles can help cover some of the expenses as you transition into something else that you like.
#2. Find Side Hustles that will Compliment Your Life
Lee’s second tip is to ensure that any side hustles you pick can easily be incorporated into your life. In a conversation, he noted that many of his friends and family began picking up similar side jobs, most achieving great success because they were easy inclusions into their daily lives or commutes. As with Lee’s first hustle as a food deliverer, it was an easy inclusion due to working only in the time it took for him to get from work to home.
One of Lee’s longest-running hustles to date (as well as one of his favorites) is dog walking. Ha notes that back when he still worked at an office, he would walk the same dog around for 20 minutes during his lunch break, making quick and easy money while not inconveniencing himself.
Steve Lee notes a similar experience earlier this year in April. While traveling in Dallas, he would turn on his phone and walk dogs there while enjoying the standard parts of his trip.
In his more recent side hustles, working as a grocery shopper, Lee has become more efficient at shopping in his everyday life. He states that working as a grocery shopper is an excellent option as it can easily be incorporated into virtually anyone’s routine.
#3. Find Side Hustles that are Easy and Fun!
This is just as much a practical step as it is a light-hearted one. Lee, for example, makes an impressive $20 to $25 per hour delivering food on his bike.
He states that it is one of his favorite side gigs, not just because of the money but also because of how easy and fun it is. For one, as he’s riding a bike, he does not have to worry about paying for gas or delivering too far from the store. He also enjoys many of the health and exercise benefits that come from biking. Similarly, he knows that he is reducing potential carbon emissions and pollution as he uses a bike rather than a car.
Another great example was charging scooters. Last year, in June, Lee made well over $600 charging electric scooters. He made so much money that he could eventually convince one of his friends to do it as well over the summer.
Even some of the gigs that don’t pay as much, such as taking photos of hiring signs or putting images on Shutterstock, are just so incredibly easy and take such a small amount of your time; it’s worth it to make those extra few dollars.
Kevin Ha notes that both his most profitable and most enjoyable side gigs are pretty easy overall and very fun in their own right. In his particular case, while he makes the most money renting out rooms in his home, his most enjoyable side hustle is still walking dogs. He has mentioned on several occasions just how easy dog walking is as a beginner side hustle and how anyone can do it no matter their situation.
The point is to find a side gig that meshes well with your personality and what you enjoy doing. By doing something simple, easy, and fun, you will be more apt to do large amounts of it while enjoying the process the entire time. This results in you making much more money than others doing the same job while not “burning out” or needing to stop for a while.
Side gigs are only increasing in popularity thanks to our phones and technology. With the tap of a screen and the opening of an app, more and more people opt not to spend their time doing specific mundane tasks, while others are more than happy to charge others to do it for them.
This trend will only become more and more prevalent as time goes on. As such, if you need money, whether a large or a small number of additional funds, there’s no reason why you can’t jump on a few of these gigs and make some money.
Because of the current pandemic, even as it begins to show signs of relaxed restrictions in certain places, now is the best time to take a severe look at some of the different side gigs and hustles that are out there and available for you.
If you’re willing to walk a dog a few times a day, ride your bike to the grocery store a few extra times a week, or even charge a scooter over the coming summer months, you can make money. Not only that, but you can make authentic money that, by the end of the year, if done consistently, can give you a nest egg to start your own business, cushion you in your pursuits for a new job or career, or be the perfect savings for a trip to someplace special.
All it takes is to decide that you will do what needs to be done.. and just do it.
In the final words of Steve Lee himself, “There’s money out there if you’re just willing to try it.”
Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.
–Babe Ruth (1895-1948), baseball legend
Courage is not having the strength to go on; it is going on when you don’t have the strength.
–Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), 26th President of the United States
Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
–James A. Michener (1907-1997), American author
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