Articles listing ways to make extra money on the side are as old as the Internet itself. As are tips on how to make money from home. But the rise of the smartphone and apps has made earning extra cash, without the commitment of a full-on part-time job, even easier.
While the old methods of getting the word out about your side gig still work, apps and websites have made it easier for you to connect with people who are looking for exactly what you have to offer.
Let’s take a closer look at the top side gigs for the well-connected, 21st-century person.
1. Rent Out a Room Through Airbnb
Perhaps you’ve heard of Airbnb, the website and app that lets weary travelers rent a room (or entire home) in destinations around the world. This a great alternative to renting out your apartment or house outright.
Airbnb hosts are people just like you. They’ve got a spare bedroom or even spare apartment and have decided to let it out.
This short-term rental service can be a way to make hundreds or thousands per month. But it’s not without its drawbacks. Before you decide to let complete strangers crash at your pad for a night or two, think carefully about what leasing through the website really means.
If Airbnb didn’t have its benefits, few people would agree to be hosts on the site. Some of the pros of listing your space on the app include:
- You call the shots. When you list an apartment or room on the site, you can state when it’s available and how many people can stay there. You have the option of vetting people before letting them book or choosing the “Instant Book” option so that you don’t have to constantly monitor your account or email. You’re also able to decide how much to charge per night and can vary your rates based on seasonal demand.
- Insurance is included. Yikes, what a nightmare it would be if a guest trashed your space or if someone got injured while staying at your place. Fortunately, Airbnb provides $1,000,000 “Host Guarantee” insurance as well as liability insurance.
- You don’t have to track down the money. Airbnb acts as an intermediary between hosts and guests, so you don’t have to worry about invoicing or having a guest who never pays. The website collects the money from the guest when the booking is confirmed, then transfers it to you after check-in.
- You don’t necessarily have to have your own space to host. Airbnb now offers co-hosting opportunities, which allows people who might not have their own rooms or apartments to lease the chance to earn some income from the site. Co-hosting also eases some of the strain on hosts, since they can have their co-hosts handle check-ins or other reservation issues during busy periods. Another option is to offer “experiences” through Airbnb, which let you give tourists and visitors a taste of what life is like in your town.
Airbnb isn’t without its drawbacks, and it might not be a very lucrative side gig, depending on where you live. Other cons of using the site include:
- You give up some privacy. If you’re renting out a room in your home, you’re giving up a bit of privacy in exchange for extra cash. That might not be a big deal for some people, but it’s worth thinking carefully about whether or not you want to have strangers wandering about your home at all hours of the day and night.
- There are legality issues in some areas. Probably the biggest issue with Airbnb is that it’s not fully legal in some areas. Some cities or municipalities might have strict rules about short-term rentals, and it’s up to you as the host to know the rules for your area and to follow them. Airbnb conveniently lists the regulations for many U.S. cities on its hosting page.
- Guests can leave you negative reviews. On Airbnb, just like on many 21st-century gig economy sites, a host lives and dies by his or her reviews. While many people are happy to leave 5-star, glowing reviews, you might get the occasional pan or criticism. In some cases, that criticism is warranted and can be something to learn from and adjust for future guests. Of course, it’s always possible that you might end up with a cranky person who’s going to leave you a bad review no matter what.
- You don’t get paid until after guests check-in. Not getting paid until after your guest checks in can be both a good and bad thing. It eliminates the hassle of having to refund any money if the reservation ends up getting canceled. It also means you have to wait weeks or months before you see any money.
- Airbnb takes a cut of your profits. It’s the cost of doing business. Every time someone books your space, Airbnb gets 3% of the fee.
Final Verdict: Worth It
If you’ve got the space, the time, and the customer service skills, listing an apartment or room on Airbnb can be worth it. Just make sure you know the laws of your land and are prepared to deal with the occasional dissatisfied guest.
2. Drive for a Rideshare Company
Rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have made it easier than ever for people get a ride in busy cities and suburbs around the world. These apps are continually seeking drivers to haul passengers around and claim to be a great way to make extra cash for just a few hours of work each week.
If you can’t find a way to live without a car, why not make money from it? Here are a few pros and cons of driving for one or both of the two big rideshare companies.
Pros of Driving
First, the pros of driving for either Uber or Lyft:
- The rideshare app acts as an intermediary. If you were a taxi driver, any customers you’d pick up during a day’s (or night’s) work would pay you at the end of the ride, using either cash or a card. While plenty of people are honest, having just one or two fares skip out on payment or under-tip you can really put a damper on your shift. With Uber or Lyft, the app handles all payment issues, so you don’t have to worry about a fare skipping out on paying.
- You don’t have to be a pro driver. If you know your city or town well, have a relatively recent vehicle (not more than 15 years old), and a driver’s license, you can sign up to drive for either Lyft or Uber. Of course, if you’re a professional taxi driver or hold a commercial driver’s license, that does open up more opportunities for you.
Cons of Driving
And a few of the cons:
- You might have to deal with some unpleasantness. Driving for rideshare apps really requires you to be a people person. There might be some nights when you pick up more inebriated people than sober people, and there might be some messes made in your car. While it’s definitely a good thing that Uber and Lyft drivers keep buzzed or drunk drivers off of the road, you might not be thinking that as you clean up their mess.
- Advertised rates aren’t always what they seem. Uber claims that the average driver makes about $19 per hour. But what you make can be considerably lower depending on when and where you drive. If you’re willing to drive during the late night shift, when everyone needs a ride home from the club or wherever they were, you can stand to make a mint. But if you’re only able to drive during the daytime, your hourly rate is likely to be much lower.
- Wear and tear on your car. All that driving can really do a number on your vehicle, and you’re on the hook for taking care of it. Although you’re able to claim a tax deduction for mileage when you drive your car as a business, that might not be enough to fully cover all the wear on your vehicle.
- There are some legal issues. Although more and more cities are beginning to recognize and regulate ridesharing services and apps, it’s been a rocky road for them. In 2016, the Philadelphia Parking Authority started cracking down on Uber and Lyft drivers. That crackdown lasted a few weeks until the state’s governor signed a law legalizing the services. Before you sign up to drive for any rideshare service, make sure you know the rules for your area and make sure you have all the insurance details ironed out.
Final Verdict: Not Worth It
Unless you really love driving and don’t mind having your rate set by the company you drive for, driving for a rideshare company doesn’t seem worth the hassle, headache, and overall wear on your car.
3. Pick up Odd Jobs with TaskRabbit
The idea behind TaskRabbit is that busy people can hire others to handle basic errands and chores. If you work a flexible schedule or are between jobs, being a “Tasker” allows you to pick up both skilled and unskilled work. Some people have managed to make a full-time living off of the platform.
Pros of TaskRabbit
Some of the positives of working with TaskRabbit include:
- Getting to set your own rates. One of the pluses of signing up to be a Tasker is that you get to decide how much you’ll charge. A few current Taskers interviewed by Money Magazine said that they charged anywhere from $25 to $150 per hour.
- Picking the work you do. There’s a variety of work and projects available on TaskRabbit, from helping people put together IKEA furniture to working events. You can pick the areas you’re experienced and interested in.
- There’s a screening and orientation process. Once you sign up to be a Tasker, you need to go to an orientation session in your city or attend one online. The orientation process is part of the app’s vetting process and can help you become more familiar with the company and with what’s expected of you as a Tasker.
Cons of TaskRabbit
The app isn’t without its cons:
- Customers might not like your work. As with ridesharing and Airbnb, you might end up with an unhappy customer from time to time. Taskers do get reviewed and rated on the app, and a negative review might affect your ability to get work in the future.
- TaskRabbit takes a big cut. Sure, you pick your own rates on TaskRabbit, but the app also takes a pretty hefty chunk of your rate: 30%. That means if you charge $100 per hour, you only really get $70.
- It’s only available in some areas. You can’t be a Tasker all over the place. At the time of writing, the service is only available in 18 U.S. cities, plus London.
Final Verdict: Worth It
If you love doing odd jobs and want a side gig that’s really flexible, signing up to be a Tasker can be the way to go. Just don’t forget to include the 30% cut TaskRabbit takes when you’re figuring out your fee. Otherwise, you’ll end up making a lot less than you expected.
4. Sell Your Crafts on Etsy
Whether you love to knit, make jewelry, or paint, there might be a market online for the things you create. Although there are plenty of online places to sell handmade items, Etsy might be the most well-known. Plus, we’ve covered some great ways to boost your earnings on Etsy.
Pros of Etsy
Here are a few reasons to start an Etsy shop:
- You can make money doing what you love. Starting an Etsy shop lets you monetize your hobbies. Instead of simply making scarves and hats to give to friends, you can sell them and earn money. Selling on Etsy can pay for your crafting hobby, and if you’re successful, help you turn a profit.
- You set your prices and can decide what you sell. You get to decide how much to sell your handmade items for on the platform and can adjust prices based on sales and demand. Etsy does take a cut of your sales, but it is pretty low, just 3.5%.
- It’s a big marketplace. Lots of people visit and buy from Etsy. The site claims to have had 24 million global buyers in 2016 and $2.3 billion in sales.
Cons of Etsy
It’s not without its drawbacks, though:
- There’s a difference between crafting for fun and crafting for business. Burnout is possible after setting up an Etsy shop. Once your hand-knit scarves or handmade jewelry become really in demand, you might find that you don’t even want to make them anymore. Or, you might find that your items are in such high demand that you’re spending all of your time knitting, sewing, or otherwise crafting, and that you’re no longer able actually to enjoy it.
- Limited selling opportunities. Etsy is a store, but it’s a store with limited inventory. You can sell handmade items, craft supplies, or vintage items, and nothing else.
- You have to pay to list items and listings aren’t permanent. Etsy’s cut of your sales is on the low side, but the site also charges $0.20 for every item you list. Listings are only up for 4 months, so if your items don’t sell by that point, you’ll have to either re-list or take them down. The site also charges a 3%, plus $0.25, payment processing fee.
Final Verdict: Worth It (With Some Caveats)
If people are always telling you that you should sell the stuff you make, go ahead and give Etsy a try. Just keep in mind that you might become more popular than you can handle, and keep in mind the variety of fees charged by the site.
5. Offer Nearly Any Skill on Fiverr
Freelance marketplace Fiverr got its name because users of the site originally listed their products or services for just $5. The site has since expanded and now claims to offer services for anywhere from $5 to $10,000. Is it worth your time?
Pros of Fiverr
Let’s take a look at the good things about Fiverr:
- Lets you offer a wide range of services. Fiverr claims to have 100 service categories. Whether you’re a writer, a designer, or a musician, you can find some way to offer your services to the site’s customer base.
- Can be a way to dip your toes into freelancing. Take it from me, a full-time freelancer, getting started freelancing can be tough. You need to find clients, get projects, rinse, and repeat. Signing up for Fiverr can help you see if the freelance life is right for you before you quit your day job.
- Lets you set your rates, with some restrictions. You’re able to choose how much you’ll sell your services or products for. You can price gigs for anywhere from $5 to $995. You also have the option of creating a variety of packages for the same gig or offering certain services for an additional fee.
Cons of Fiverr
Some of the drawbacks of the platform include:
- It takes a cut of your fees. Fiverr takes 20% of your earnings. That can seem like a lot, but considering that it’s handling invoicing and payment collection for you, it might be worth it.
- It’s not without controversy. Some of the services offered by Fiverr users aren’t exactly kosher. For example, Digital Trends reported that Amazon.com was suing 1,000 Fiverr users for agreeing to write fake reviews. If you’re going to market yourself on the platform, make sure you’re only offering services that are legit and legal.
- Some people can’t look past the $5. When a platform is called Fiverr and got its start offering gigs and projects for just $5, well, that reputation has a way of sticking around. It might be difficult to convince buyers on the platform that you’re worth more than $5.
Final Verdict: Worth It (With Some Caveats)
Fiverr can be a good way to see if you like freelancing or a good way earn some extra money from a hobby. Just don’t let the original $5 claim of the site get you down, and make sure you do not agree to do anything illegal for a client.
6. Lease Your Parking Spot
SPOT describes itself as the Airbnb for parking spots. If you happen to own or lease a parking spot in one of a handful of cities in the U.S., you can use the app to lease it to a visitor. It’s a pretty niche market, but if you’ve ever spent more than a few minutes looking for a parking spot, you can see the value of such a service. Or, you can see the value of the service if you’ve spent thousands of dollars to get a parking spot and want to recoup some of that expense.
Pros of SPOT
What’s good about SPOT? There are a few benefits:
- You set your price. You get to decide how much to charge for your parking spot on the app. The app also includes a handy guide to average parking rates by the hour, day, and month, but so far, it seems like that guide is only for the Boston area.
- The app handles invoices and payments. You don’t have to worry about getting the money from renters, as the app collects payments for you. It pays you either monthly or bi-monthly, depending on your preferences.
- You determine when to lease your parking spot. You have full say over when and for how long people can rent your spot.
Cons of SPOT
The app does have several drawbacks:
- There’s a fee. Every time you lease your spot, the app takes 20% of your earnings. It doesn’t charge you for listing a spot, though.
- It’s only available in a few cities. At the time of writing, the app is only available in 10 cities across the U.S., meaning that if you don’t live in Boston, LA, DC, Philadelphia, Miami, Chicago, Seattle, or San Francisco, you’re out of luck.
- The app is only available on iOS. As far as I can tell, there doesn’t seem to be an Android version of the app. What’s up with that?
Final Verdict: Worth It
If you can tick all these boxes: have an unused or underused parking spot in a prime area, live in one of the ten cities, and use an iOS device, it’s worth putting your parking spot up on the SPOT app. The rest of us are just out of luck.
Whether you decide to drive for Uber, list a room on Airbnb, or start your own online craft business, don’t forget that you’ll be considered an independent contractor and will be responsible for taxes on any money you earn. While plenty of apps offer liability and damages insurance, none of them offer basic employee benefits like health insurance or retirement.
Although you might be able to pull in a full-time income from some of these projects, you’re also likely to have to pay extra costs, such as self-employment taxes and health insurance. Always look before you leap when taking on any side gig, whether you plan on earning lots of money or not.
Have you worked with any of these apps or sites? What was your experience like?