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How to Choose the Right Side Income for You


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As you progress in your financial journey, you may notice that something many wealthy people have in common is they have multiple income streams. Whether or not you have a full-time job, creating additional income, either through passive investments or side gigs, can have a huge impact on your long-term financial success.

So you’ve decided you want a second income, but which income stream is right for you? There are so many forms of side income, it can be difficult to choose. We’ve broken down what you need to consider when choosing, as well as the major elements of each option.

Things to Consider

Before you dig into the details of individual income-generators, take stock of what your current assets are and how you can leverage them to create income. Ask yourself:

  • How Much Money Do I Have? Some passive income streams require a large upfront investment, while others don’t cost anything to get started.
  • How Much Time Do I Have? There’s a big difference in the time investment required to generate passive income versus earning a side income from a second job.
  • How Much Knowledge Do I Have? People with certain skill sets, like design or engineering, can parlay that expertise into a side income.

If you’re able to make a major investment of money, time, or knowledge, there are many ways you can monetize your assets to create a passive or side income. Even if you don’t have significant assets, or you’re not interested in taking on the risk associated with a major investment, there are still plenty of ways to generate additional income.

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Mc Side Income Flowchart

Use Your Money

If you have a bit of money saved, you can invest it in a way that will earn compounding returns over time. Depending on how much you want to invest, you can start with something small like peer-to-peer loans or you can go as far as to invest in a business! Just keep in mind that no investment is without risk — be sure to thoroughly research any investments you plan to make before you make them.

  • Try Peer-to-Peer Lending. Sites like LendingClub, Prosper, and others allow you to issue microloans to peers at interest rates up to 8% to 10%.
  • Invest in a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). If you don’t want to purchase a property of your own, an REIT could be a good option for you. You can use platforms like Fundrise to invest in real estate in sums as low as $500 at a time.
  • Purchase Vending Machines. Depending on where you place it, a single vending machine can earn a few hundred dollars per month. Just be prepared to handle maintenance and restocking.
  • Run a Coin-Operated Laundromat. As small businesses go, laundromats are well-known for generating a steady and reliable income.
  • Rent Out Storage Units. If you own a storage unit, renting it out is just like renting residential property, but there’s far less maintenance and wear and tear.

Use Your Time

Those who don’t have enough saved to invest in a passive income stream, or don’t want to take on the risk of doing so, can monetize another of their assets: their time. Like with financial investments, you can decide how much you want to spend based on how large you expect your return to be.

If you only have a few hours each week, consider driving for a rideshare or picking up a local family’s kids from sports practices after school. If you have more time to spare, you can take on an entire part-time job. It’s up to you!

  • Drive for a Rideshare Service. You can decide whether to drive for a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft for a few hours or full time, depending on how much you want to earn.
  • Dogsit in your Spare Time. After initial training, you can use platforms like Wag and Rover to pick up dog walking or dogsitting gigs the same way Uber lets drivers pick up ride fares.
  • Do Odd Jobs on TaskRabbit. Just download the app and choose from a variety of handyman tasks needed nearby.
  • Read Audiobooks. Got a nice voice? Pick up narration gigs on ACX,, or Upwork.
  • Do Mystery Shopping. Companies like BestMark, Intelli-shop, and Market Force will pay you to shop undercover.
  • Babysit. It’s not just for teenagers! SitterCity, Bubble, UrbanSitter, and others will connect you with parents in need of child care in your community.
  • Chauffeur People’s Kids. The Zum app is like Uber for people’s kids. You can pick up gigs driving kids to school, soccer practice, and other nearby locations when parents are busy.
  • Participate in Focus Groups and Surveys. If you want to make money filling out questionnaires online, try Survey Junkie,, User Interviews, or Recruit and Field.
  • Become a Freelance Article WriterWebsites like Upwork allow you to bid on freelance writing contracts that can earn you anywhere from $50 to $500 per article.
  • Rent Out Your Car. If you have a car but don’t want to drive for a rideshare, platforms like Turo allow you to rent the vehicle itself out without going along for the ride.
  • Flip Used Books. Download the Bookscouter app and scan books at local sales to see what they’re worth online in real time.
  • Clean Parking LotsCleanlots offers a guide to setting up a business picking up trash in public. (You’ll get your steps in while you do it too!)
  • Offer Your Friendship Services. That’s right — you can get paid to be a platonic companion through sites like

Use Your Skills

These side income streams require time, but more importantly, they also require a skill. If you have a particular area of expertise, you can leverage your advanced knowledge for monetary gain.

For example, if you have a highly desired skill, you can teach it, either through tutoring or by publishing tutorials you can monetize online. If you have a skill like coding or graphic design, you can pick up extra work in that field in your free time. What will you do with your skills?

  • Write an E-Book. If you have specialized knowledge, writing an e-book allows you to profit without the cost of formal publishing. Plus, once it’s written, you’ll collect revenue for life.
  • Answer Questions. On JustAnswer, you can earn cash for answering questions on topics you’re knowledgeable about.
  • Create YouTube Tutorials. You can collect ad revenue on video tutorials you make about your specialty. Here’s how.
  • Design Logos. Got graphic design skills? Pick up logo design gigs on Fiverr, Upwork, or Sellfy.
  • Sharpen Knives. Once you invest a bit in a knife-sharpening kit and honing your skills, you can offer your services within your community — the best part is every customer will need repeat service a few months down the road!
  • Tutor via Skype. You can pick up virtual tutor gigs on regular freelance sites or specialized marketplaces like, Chegg, or Skooli.
  • Sell Stock Photos. If you have a professional camera and some shooting skills, you can take stock photos and sell them to sites like Getty and Shutterstock.
  • Try Affiliate Marketing. If you build a reasonably authoritative blog on your area of expertise, you can make money by selling affiliate links. Here’s a guide on how.
  • Become a Virtual Assistant. If you have great organizational skills, you can leverage them to pick up a few hours of work as a virtual assistant via sites like Upwork and
  • Get Certified as a Notary PublicLicenses typically cost less than $100, and you can then charge for your notary services.
  • Become an Adjunct Professor. If you have a graduate degree in your specialty, you can teach individual classes at local colleges and universities with openings.
  • Take Up Transcription. If you can type quickly and accurately, sites like Rev, TranscribeMe, and GoTranscript will pay you to transcribe audio for clients.

Final Word

The key to turning a side income into long-term sustainable cash flow is making sure you choose one you enjoy and can maintain. Don’t force yourself to do something you don’t like because you think it will have the biggest payoff — the likelihood is much higher you’ll give it up and wind up with no side income at all. You’re much better off choosing something that suits your lifestyle and interests and collecting on it for months or even years.

When it comes to setting up multiple income streams, a little bit goes a long way!


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Amanda is a writer and content strategist who built her career writing on campaigns for brands like Nature Valley, Disney, and the NFL. She now specializes in personal finance and wealth management content, covering everything from retirement strategies to estate planning to credit card bonuses and beyond. When she's not knee-deep in trends research, you'll likely find her hiking with her dog or with her nose in a good book.