How to Make Money on the Side and in Your Spare Time

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Who doesn’t want to learn how to make money on the side of their day job? I've put together an epic list of side hustle ideas you can do in your spare time!

Who doesn’t want to learn how to make money on the side of their day job?

If you’re like me, you want to earn more money in less time so you can pay off debt, save for travel, pay your bills without worrying, or just have extra spending money.

Let’s take a second to really think about this. How would an extra $500 per month make you feel?

What would you do with the money? Now let that sink in. Side hustling is hard so we’re going to use this feeling as motivation to start taking action.

Time is a precious commodity and once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back. Instead of wasting your time watching TV, channel your efforts into side hustling for extra cash.

4 reasons to earn money on the side

Still not convinced? Before I get into the exact steps for how to make money on the side, here are some compelling reasons everyone should have a side hustle.

Reason 1: Opens up new career paths

I wouldn’t have discovered my love of being a business blogger if I hadn’t started freelance writing. And come to find out, I do have a bit of a knack for social media and marketing, too.

Writing and blogging have enabled me to open up to the world on a whole different level. Starting a writing gig on the side, not only changed my views, it’s changed my career path.

Two years ago, I was planning to become a tax expert and had already worked for H&R Block as a tax professional for 3 years. I was spending a lot of time working and studying to become either an Enrolled Agent or CPA. But my new freelancing writing career took off, and now here I am!

Reason 2: You reach benchmark financial goals

Of course one of the biggest benefits to having a side job is the extra money. Duh!

After all, you can only cut back your lifestyle so much – until you need to make more money. Along with accomplishing financial goals like becoming debt free, comes a sense of security.

In case of job loss, medical emergency or other life obligations, having a cushion of savings can really reduce the stress in times of financial woes. The benefits of earning money on the side are definitely a plus!

Reason 3: Spend more time doing what you love

Once all your bills are paid and money is put away in a savings account, anything left over can go towards other things. Other fun things, like traveling, spending time with friends, learning to dance or whatever your heart desires.

I already have 3 new traveling opportunities lined up through the summer, and I’m planning to take time off for other fun activities. Without the extra money, time and freedom that side hustling offers, I wouldn’t be able to work hard and play hard.

How to make money on the side of your day job without losing your mind!

Reason 4: Find an escape from the boring daily routine

Most of us spend our lives getting a good education, finding a well paying job and putting in hours and hours of work for a company we hate. Thankfully, I’ve always worked for companies I liked, around people I enjoyed.

Maybe I’m blessed, or maybe I created my own luck. But if you’re one of those people who doesn’t have this luxury, having a side hustle can be the perfect escape from the monotonous 9–5 grind.

Working at a place you don’t like can quickly drain your energy, your creativity and your passion for life. But having an outlet on the side will help reignite your fire and with it, might give you a better sense of purpose.

7 ways to make money on the side

Now that you see why I think everyone should have a side hustle, here are some things I’ve personally done to earn money in my spare time.

1. Become a freelance writer

Writing and blogging is one of the best money-making ventures there is. Seriously! It can take a couple of months to start freelance writing from scratch. However, once you have some good samples in your portfolio you can start earning thousands of dollars on the side.

Yes, THOUSANDS of dollars per month!

In fact, Gina has proven that within a couple months she started earning $4,000 per month as a freelance writer. And I’ve talked about how I earned $3,000 per month, or enough to replace my day job income.

You can get started with a blog for around $200 or less, or simply create a free portfolio using Pinterest. So there’s no excuse for you not to get started becoming a freelance writer today.

Click here to get started doubling your income as a freelance blogger or writer.

2. Work as a Pinterest virtual assistant

This is a fairly new way to make money on the side, but it’s so easy to get started. A Pinterest virtual assistant is someone who manages a blogger or business owner’s Pinterest account.

They can create graphics and other visuals, put together traffic reports and connect the blog owner to other Pinterest users in the community. And the best part is that you don’t even have to be a designer or someone who’s into Photoshop. For reals!

Get started as a Pinterest virtual assistant this week, and start earning anywhere from $500-1,000 per month.

reduce monthly bills

3. Earn affiliate income

Whether you call it referral income or affiliate marketing, earning money as a trusted influencer is a lucrative way to make money in your spare time. I’ve personally proven this as I currently bring in around $2,000 a month from affiliate earnings.

And I’m not the only one!

Michelle, owner of the blog Making Sense of Cents, has showcased how she earns $50,000+ every month from earning affiliate income through her blog.

It’s not hard to get started either. Just reach out to a company who has a product you love, and ask about a referral program.

You don’t even need a blog to get started (although this is a great way to earn affiliate income). Something as a simple as a Facebook group will do! You can even start sharing your affiliate link on Pinterest using well-designed pins.

Let’s say you really love a certain health drink or line of clothing. Find out if that company offers a referral fee and sign up to be an affiliate. Then you can share your link within Facebook groups, or on Pinterest boards. Take it one-step further and write up a review or tutorial of this product on your blog.

Click here to learn more about how to earn money with affiliate marketing!

4. Give yourself a raise today

I know this might sound like a weird way to make money on the side, but stay with me. Sometimes being organized and productive is one of the best ways to increase your earning potential.

By simply tracking every tiny business expense with QuickBooks Self-Employed, I’ve actually improved the quality of my life. For one, monitoring your budget regularly helps you find holes in your spending so you can reduce your overall cost of living.

Don’t have time to spend on negotiating your household bills? No worries! Let a company like BillFixers do this for you. In fact, I recently used BillFixers to negotiate my Comcast bill and AT&T account. With their expert knowledge and negotiating tactics, there were able to save me $365 in one year!

That’s basically like giving myself a raise of $1 every day for the next 12 months. Totally worth it, don’t you think?!

Click here to find out about how BillFixers can reduce your monthly bills and give you an instant raise.

5. Become a brand ambassador

This is actually one of my favorite ways to make money on the side! What’s a brand ambassador exactly? You know the people at the grocery store, or local festivals who hand out samples? Those are brand ambassadors hired by the company to talk about their product and give out freebies.

It’s one of the best jobs you could have on the side, and you can get tons of free food, swag, and even alcohol. This is something my husband, who’s a personal chef in Boulder, Colorado does on a regular basis.

He represents food-related companies at grand openings and new product launches. Basically he gets paid to eat and give out free coffee, tacos and more!

(I know, I’m jealous too!)

How to budget with irregular income

But that’s not the only way you can be a brand ambassador. You can work as a brand influencer too — which is what I do. In the past, I’ve worked with brands like Capital One and QuickBooks Self-Employed to attend local tours, share my thoughts, and publish honest reviews about their services.

I basically have free coffee for life at Capital One Cafes across the country! 😉

To become a brand ambassador, check out this in-depth article. It includes the exact email script you can use to get started!

6. Try mystery shopping

This is another unique money-making avenue that I know works really well. In fact, I’ve personally tried it! Not only that, but my friend Kristin has literally written the book on how to get started as a mystery shopper in her spare time.

What is mystery shopping? Business owners need a way to ensure their products and stores are being properly managed by their team. So they hire mystery shoppers to go in and try the food, take pictures of the store and test the knowledge of the employees.

You can get paid to eat pizza, drink at a local brewery and chat with interesting people. All of which are things that I’ve done in the past to make money on the side.

Click here to learn more about how to earn money with mystery shopping!

7. Sell your services on Fiverr

If you have interesting skills that are in-demand, consider selling them on Fiverr. It only takes a few minutes to create a free account and you can list your services right now. Think of something small that can sell for $5.

Some examples might be:

  • Recording voice introductions for videos and podcasts
  • Creating simple logos or graphics
  • Translating or transcribing short articles
  • Simple tech tweaks for WordPress
  • Whiteboard animations
  • And more!

Getting started with Fiverr is simple and easy! Then you can quickly scale up your services and sell higher-priced packages to current clients.

These are just a few ideas for how to make money on the side without losing your mind. I know they will help you earn anywhere from $500-1,000 extra this month.

Now go get started! How are you planning to use your extra money? 

17 comments

  1. Kraig says:

    What’s holding me back is all three, fear, lack of time and inspiration. I think it’s just because it’s summer that I’m not as inspired to work as much. A bigger part of me wants to relax and have fun in my free time instead of working all the time. I think it will get better as fall approaches. I still do want to start a side hustle. I’ll get to it one of these days! It sure looks like you’re doing well, Carrie!

  2. Sarah says:

    I have two side gigs! One is babysitting, and while I’m certainly NEVER going to have a career in that it’s decent money that I can pay my car loan down faster with. And the second one is blogging. I don’t make a TON of money but what I do make is pretty decent and it’s putting extra cash in my pocket.

  3. IdaBaker says:

    I agree to a certain extent.  A side gig really needs to be a passion for the person doing it.  Trying to balance life’s day-to-day activities, family, kids, household tasks, plus a full time job, takes so much time. 

    So, a second job, which again takes time, needs to be a passion so that interest isn’t lost before it really gets started.

  4. Liezl says:

    Carrie,

    This is a great post – I like to work on my freelance projects because I have a passion for helping people save money. I enjoy it and it doesn’t seem like work to me. 

    I would rather make money from a hobby than spend money!

    • Carrie Smith says:

      Helping people save money and learn from my financial mistakes is a big deal for me too @groceryalerts:disqus It definitely makes all the extra work, worthwhile!

  5. A side gig also prepares you for the inevitable–leaving or getting fired from your 9-5 job. It will happen and a side gig can be a way to keep income going during transition or just go full time into your side business.  

  6. Great post and I definitely love my part-time job (waitressing) because it is a completely different world than the corporate 9-5. As for freelance projects, I always thought I could start doing them but I recently got a job at an amazing company. Catch? I’m not allowed to provide work elsewhere for money :/

  7. Totally agree. I’ve had a side gig for almost three years and it’s so great. Sure it sucks I had to work at night or on the weekend sometimes, but when an unexpected expense occurs I like to know I can make extra money with my second job. Plus it also helps me pay for vacations and social activities so I can enjoy life and relax but not feel eternally poor.

  8. Robb says:

    I think my problem would be focusing on one thing, like how you have one subject – personal finance – that you write about here, I don’t know if I could have that kind of focus (as my personal reading list will attest). I like my job and my profession because it is a challenge and I’m always learning new things, but also like to know I can use my free time for doing and learning about various other things (or watching Deadliest Catch lol). So I’d like to do this but I can’t really think of way. =/

  9. Cevanisky says:

    I want to continue to grow my blog as well and while imhavent earned anything yet, I sure would love to one day.

  10. Having a side gig I feel is very important. I feel that if you have one your now taking back control over your financial side of your life and the pursuit of doing the things that you really want to do in life. Becoming debt free if you want or buying the materialistic things that you would like to have without having to break the bank so bad.

  11. Wendell Clark says:

    I am not sure how to get started or what to do. I feel my passion which is personal finance is very crowded and I would have a hard time finding my niche in this market.

    • Carrie Smith says:

      That’s very true, Wendell. A lot of markets are crowded today, especially the personal finance one. But there’s always room, and a need, for an authentic voice and different perspective. All you have to do is be confident and offer content that’s valuable – with your own twist!

  12. edna smiles says:

    I have a freelance side job that I can’t get time to do because of all the work I have to do at my day job. I used to freelance full time and then I went and got a “real” job, then they promoted me and now I’m stuck in a 60 hour brain drain that saps every ounce of my energy. Can’t even find time to exercise, let alone write. AAK!!

  13. Kristin says:

    YAY to side hustles! I think I’ll always be a hustler – I really enjoy it. I think what’s interesting for me is the ‘why’ I side hustle. My reasons really vary – I used to side hustle because I needed the extra cash for bills. As I got a little older, I was able to use the extra income for an emergency fund. Now I use it for savings as well as spending/vacation money. I think that’s the best part – side hustling can be for so many different reasons!

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