Best Side Hustles for Making Extra Money on the Side

Best Side Hustles: Our Secret to Micro-Hustle Profits

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We spend a lot of time looking for the best side hustles to help us move toward our grand plan to travel the country for a year. We have also put a lot of energy into thinking about how we will save for the trip. Our overarching plan is something of a three-legged stool.

The first leg would be our ongoing income stream. We are very fortunate that our main hustle is location independent. We currently both work from home as data scientists and could do so as easily from Malibu as from Massachusetts. While we hope to reduce our data analytic hours during our journey, they will remain a significant source of income. We also have a primary side hustle writing and working for a poker training site that we hope to continue as we travel.

The second leg is our ongoing efforts with budgeting and savings. As we discussed in an earlier post, we are working hard to determine exactly what we will need to spend each month as we travel, and how to minimize that outlay. We have already found ways to reduce our grocery bill and to spend less money on gas. We will continue to evaluate our spending category by category until we have stripped our spending down to the bare minimum to help us save for our trip.

The third leg will be our savings itself. We have already begun to save for this trip, knowing that we will need a solid cushion in case of emergencies or other unforeseen expenses. Since we hope to play poker as we travel, we also plan to build up a solid stake. We will not be spending our travel money for buy ins. And we plan to keep our regular (non-travel) savings accounts intact.

So where will these savings come from?

Best Side Hustles for Making Extra Money on the Side

Side Hustles

In addition to our data science income and primary side hustle, we have built up quite a number of micro-hustles. Micro-hustles are any side hustles that bring in some money, but not significant income in any given month. We are always on the lookout for small jobs that make the most money with the least time spent.

We have developed a wide variety of micro hustles over the past year, and although no single source has been significant, the income from our Micro-Hustles added up to over $2,500 in 2017.

What are these small side hustles?

Amazon Mechanical Turk – This was our very first side hustle. where we take surveys and do other minor tasks when the spirit moves us.

2017 Income: $660

Fiverr – I have set up a variety of gigs on Fiverr, largely centering around survey design and programming. For this type of work at least, we have found Fiverr very inconsistent. People are generally seeking to pay as little as humanly possible, and whenever we try to raise our rates to a livable level, our inquiries dry up. Nonetheless, we made a few hundred dollars on Fiverr last year, and will at minimum keep my account live.

2017 Income: $479

User Testing – This is a fabulous micro-hustle. User Testing gives you the opportunity to help website designers by testing their user interface while talking your way through the process.  Each User Test pays $10, and takes an average of 10 minutes. That’s $60/hour! Some tests run long and can take 15-20 minutes. On the other hand, some only take 3 minutes ($200/hour for the win!). The catch is that each website is looking for a certain type of tester. I usually don’t qualify for more than one or two tests a day. That’s still enough to add $100 to $200 a month to our savings fund.

2017 Income: $684 (but note that we didn’t find User Testing until partway through the year)

There are other similar websites out there. I have qualified for Try My UI and UserFeel just to name two.  However, I have found their tests to be extremely sparse and we frankly haven’t made any money on either of them. Your results may vary.

RevRev is a transcription website. When I initially qualified, I thought that it had a lot of promise. But then I ran into a brick wall. In order to “move up” to “Revver,” you have to complete 60 audio minutes of poorly paid transcription. To start you are dumped in a wasteland of poor audio quality which makes it quite the challenge to move up to the next level. After struggling through for a bit, I decided that this one wasn’t worth my time. I’m just not a fast enough typist to make even the money that I can land with judicious use of Mechanical Turk. However, I have read reports of others who swear by Rev. So if you’re a lightning fast typist with a lot of patience and some time to kill, this micro-hustle might be for you.

2017 Income: $6

Merch by Amazon – Merch allows you to design and sell t-shirts. The beauty is that the t-shirts are created on demand, so there is no monetary outlay. The trick is that competition is steep on Amazon for those selling t-shirts. And your small cut of the profit means that you have to sell a lot of volume to make significant money in this endeavor. A whole industry has grown up around helping people “Merch,” and there are a number of great resources out there for those who are interested in giving it a try. A couple that we found helpful are Elaine Heney’s Merch Entrepreneur podcast and the book Merch Life. I can’t say that Merch has been wildly successful for us, but we are still holding out hope that our line of poker t-shirts will take off some day. If you have solid graphic design skills and a creative mind, this might be a good side hustle for you.

2017 Income: $45

Red Bubble – Red Bubble is similar to Merch, but offers print-on-demand for a wide variety of products, not just t-shirts. We spent some time uploading designs that we developed for Merch to Red Bubble as well. Our lone Red Bubble sale came over Christmas last year when a kind soul in New Zealand bought one of our clever designs on a throw pillow. So now we like to say that we’re big in New Zealand.

2017 Income: $5

Poker Pilgrims Income – Ultimately, we are hoping that Poker Pilgrims will bring in some income. We envision monetizing through affiliate links, ads, and ultimately products that we will develop to help out our readers. This is one that we’re really looking at for the long-term. In the short term we are putting our efforts into building solid content and making the blog as helpful as possible to others looking for finance and travel advice (or a good card room to play poker!)

2017 Income: $0 (but just wait!)

HQ – HQ isn’t really a side hustle, but it does occasionally bring in a tiny bit of income. For that reason, we are treating it as a micro hustle in our budgeting. HQ is an online trivia app in which you answer 12 multiple choice questions in hopes of splitting the daily prize. We’ve been playing a couple of months now and twice we have made it to the money. It probably wouldn’t be worth the time based on ROI alone, but we are both trivia addicts, so it doubles as a nice little break in our workday. (2023 Edit: HQ, sadly is no more).

2017 Income: $49

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Credit Card Cash Back – The last micro hustle that isn’t. We have a number of cash back credit cards. We of course pay them off in full every month, so that we are never accruing interest. Every couple of months we’ll check in on the rewards we have accrued and transform our cash back into savings for our trip. This is akin to a “spavings fund,” a concept that we first encountered on J. Money’s Budgets Are Sexy, an amazing FI blog that you should definitely check out.

2017 Income: $638

So that’s a pretty big list of our best side hustles. My son jokes that Paul and I have eight jobs. We wish we only had eight jobs! And don’t forget, these are only our current micro-hustles. We obviously don’t have the time to allocate significant efforts to all of these along with our primary job and primary side hustle in any given week. Nonetheless, they add up and help us make extra money on the side that we can save for our trip.

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How We Identify Our Best Side Hustles

We are strong proponents of Your Money or Your Life‘s central tenet that spending time on a task is spending our life energy on that behavior. Time is a finite resource and we need to husband it well. When we work, we need to be making the best hourly rate we can for that life energy. (If you have not read Your Money or Your Life, I highly recommend it. It completely changed the way that I think about work, spending, and how I use my time.)

I always figure out the hourly rate I am earning for each of my micro-hustles. This is how I allocate my work time*. For example, as I mentioned above, User Testing nets an average of $10 for every 10 minute test. Expand that 10 minutes to an hour by multiplying by six, and that equals a $60/hour rate. At $60 an hour, User Testing makes the most money per hour of all of our activities, apart from our primary job. For that reason it is our go-to micro-hustle, and we scan for User Tests whenever time permits.

On the other hand, Rev was only making me about $1.50 for 30 minutes of transcription work. At $3/hour, I quickly decided to let that side hustle go.

To help you out in this endeavor, we have created a Micro-Hustle Rate Calculator which will allow you to easily determine the hourly pay rate for each of your favorite hustles and compare them to one another. You can download this calculator FREE and see exactly where you our on your micro-hustle journey.

If you too are looking to make extra money and find your best side hustles, we strongly recommend  you track your hourly rate. Then let that rate guide you in determining which are your best side hustles and which are not worth your time.

*However, note that sometimes time needs to be put in up front in order to reap rewards down the road. For example, while this blog did not generate any income in 2017, we choose to continue to allocate our time to it toward future returns. (Also, it’s fun!)

Best Side Hustles

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