Get Your Side Hustle On With These 7 Ideas

Millions of strapped-for-cash millennials are putting their entrepreneurial spirits to good use with the good-old-fashion side hustle.

The sky is the limit when it comes to making money outside of the traditional day job. It’s a good thing too, because collectively Gen Y is facing $1 trillion in student loan debt, according to Entrepreneur.

There’s no illusion that one is going to make a million dollars right out of college, but “don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

Turn a passion into a pursuit for extra cash, pay down student loans, invest in the market, or start a savings account.

Currently, 35 percent of millennials are involved in some type of side business.

So, what are people doing for supplemental income?

Many things, some of which are pretty creative.

Online freelancing

Writing is my favorite gig because it’s fun, flexible, and a great creative outlet.

Proficient writers who are equally good at hustling their work can make $10,000 a month.

For those making that much, though, freelancing is probably their full-time job.

Even if you don’t make a ton of money, freelance blogging on the side can lead to bigger and better opportunities if you’re producing quality work.

The extra cash sure comes in handy, no matter where you are at in life.

“It can be worked into any college student’s schedule and can be a great side income for everyone looking to accelerate student loan pay-off,” writes Alexa Mason, who now earns more than $5,500 a month in freelancing.

Mobile gaming

Turning a childhood passion for computer games into a career may start out as a side hustle.

Dong Nguyen, who created the mobile game Flappy Bird in three days, probably didn’t think he would get rich, but he did.

Photo Credit: giochi Android iPhone/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Granted, he began coding his own video games at age 16 after being inspired by Super Mario Bros.

In 2014, Nguyen said his simple game was earning around $50,000 a day in revenue through its in-gaming advertising.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn a great deal from the successes of people who’ve gone before them.

A prime example is Niantic, Inc. CEO John Hanke, who created 2016’s hottest trend: Pokémon Go.

“A TRS-80 was the math computer in our school when I was in probably the seventh grade,” Hanke said in an interview. “I was hanging around watching older guys and they were playing the original Star Trek game with ASCII graphics. I ended up spending hours and hours in the computer room doing that. A couple years later, I saved up my money mowing lawns and bought an Atari 400 with $500 and a tape recorder to save all my programs.”

Sell Products

Everywhere you look on Facebook, someone is trying to sell something to you.

To make money, you need to sell the products to your friends and family.

These multi-level marketing companies come in the form of Avon, Amway, Scentsy, Rodan+Fields, and doTerra.

People know these high-profile brands, and buy the products.

Multi level marketing (aka pyramid selling) is not a new concept, is completely legal, and is a big-dollar industry.

“Amway’s global sales in each of the past few years have exceeded $8.8 billion,” according to the company’s blog. “Since 1959, Amway has paid out nearly $60 billion in bonuses and incentives to its distributors worldwide – more than any other direct sales company in history.”

Not a path for everyone and not without controversy, the move in recent years to encourage millennials to try their hand at “salesmanship” by selling products has gotten many pushing products on the side.

Tutor children

Are you a music or math wiz? Pass your passion on to kids who could use your help. Tutoring is a legit side hustle – one you can feel good about. Teachers will often tutor on the side after school or during lunch to make extra cash. There’s also online tutoring available via Skype, for example.

Another advantage of tutoring is the ability to set your own rates. Some people make anywhere from $25-$90 an hour, depending on skill level and what the market will bear.

Pet sit

Die-hard dog owners love their dogs more than life itself, so the thought of leaving their beloved pet for a few nights in a cold kennel by himself is truly heart breaking.

Photo Credit: brando.n/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

People would rather hire ‘temporary pet parents,’ or pet sitters, as an alternative to boarding their animal.

After a rather unpleasant and expensive kennel experience, Aaron Hirschhorn found the pet sitting niche to be rather lucrative.

He decided to start his own company after boarding his dogs in a kennel on the West Coast while he traveled to the East Coast.

It cost him $1,400, and one of his dogs was hiding under the desk for two days afterwards.

He rounded up a hundred pet sitters for beta testing, started his own website called DogVacay and convinced investors this was a business worth funding.

Today, the company has collected more than $22 million in venture capital and spans 10,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Uber – Lyft – Juno

The ride sharing economy has boomed over the past several years.

The crazy thing is it’s not just a simple side hustle of driving people around anymore, either.

Photo Credit: Carl/ Flick (CC By 2.0)

There’s a side hustle within the side hustle.

There are people selling tomatoes out the back of their Uber cars, others passing out “life coach” business cards as their passenger gets out, and there’s even a guy trying to rope his passengers into a life insurance pyramid scheme, you name it.

One of the most famous stories is of the guy who came up with rideshare karaoke. Jonathan Guarano bought a camera and a GorillaPod, attached the setup to the dashboard of his silver 2014 Nissan Versa, and asked his passengers to sing along to the music.

The video of him and his passengers singing to the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” went viral with over 4.7 million views.


Etsy is transforming itself from a niche craftseller website into a launching pad for at-home entrepreneurs with the creation of Etsy Studio, which is a marketplace dedicated to selling craft supplies and DIY tutorials.

Etsy is simultaneously adding a new service called Shop Manager to improve the seller experience.

Etsy that up, yo. Photo Credit: Toms Baugis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“It’s the company’s largest expansion ever,” according to Fast Company. “And while Etsy is still dwarfed by the likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace, the Dumbo, Brooklyn-based company attracts a loyal following of 1.7 million active sellers who reaped $2.3 billion in sales in 2015.”

As you can imagine, all of the above side hustles take hard work and perseverance. The money is there for the taking if you want to invest your time and energy…or you can always put off paying back those student loans for another 20 years.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

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About the Author
Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer & social media marketer based in Boise, Idaho. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana and is a former newspaper reporter. When she's not hovering over a keyboard, Melissa can be found in the pain cave of endurance sports.
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