Before the pandemic, individuals could pick or choose side hustles, or how they generated additional income. With social distancing comes the need to get creative in ways to produce income streams.
For the fortunate, there is a new norm of working from home during times of social distancing and stay-at-home orders. For many, the commute to work has changed from multiple hours of fighting for a position on congested freeways to a minute walk down the hall to the new office setup. We have replaced dodging erratic drivers with navigating around legos and figurines. The less fortunate, however, have been pushed out of working for businesses that have temporarily closed its doors. Numerous employees had working hours cut or have been furloughed. Everyone has different situations. If you are looking to have another income stream or replace lost livelihood, a side hustle is an excellent way to do it.
If this is a route you are interested in, I find it important to generate a plan on how you would like to start based on two important questions:
How quickly I need income?
Some side hustles can generate more immediate income while others provide returns that are more delayed. It is important to not expect maximum returns at the start, especially if a blog or website is the route you think you want to go, among others. As your side hustle progresses it will produce more and more money. We will consider these additional gigs into two categories: 1. Immediate Returns and 2. Delayed Returns
Will this fit with my 9 to 5 schedule?
I find it important that these additional revenue streams are able to work around your regular scheduled work hours. This remains true even if you have recently been furloughed or had your hours reduced. I firmly believe that a side hustle is freelance work that provides an additional income stream to the 9 to 5. It is important to focus on being a great at your full-time job before branching out for more work. It should not be on your mind during your daily working hours. Set a side hustle schedule that will work with your family time and that 9 to 5 (or your current primary schedule), but it is possible that the additional work could temporarily be the main income stream until market conditions improve.
1. Side Hustles for Immediate Returns:
a. Sell Unwanted Items
Cleaning out the cluttered storage room or bedroom closet to sell those old items that are not needed is a great start to generate income. There are no start-up costs with this. Platforms such as OfferUp, Nextdoor, LetGo, etc. offer a mobile marketplace to sell your personal items. According to Business Insider OfferUp and LetGo support more than 20 million monthly active users combined. Selling these items not only generates income, but reduces clutter.
Freeing up space and reducing clutter can reduce stress as well. According to Sherrie Bourg Carter, Psy.D, it distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. It is important to not purchase more material items after you sell off the old. This will keep your spending in check and keep your mind in the present. Forbes wrote a great article documenting how this can change your life.
b. Freelance Your Skills or Expertise
Utilize the skills or knowledge that you have gained through your life and monetize. I have numerous colleagues that utilize their expertise to generate income. They do this by creating continuing education courses that professionals take to earn Professional Development Hours (PDH's). As a registered Professional Engineer I have to take 30 hours of continuing education biennial to keep my license active. I have seen some courses cost the attendee anywhere from $20 to $150 on platforms such as SchoolofPE. This is a great opportunity to not only generate extra income, but showcase your skillset to others in your industry and broaden your network.
I understand that continuing education for engineers relates to a select few reading this content. This is only an example to generate ideas. There are platforms like UpWork that connect skilled experts in various fields to companies around the world. This platform bridges the connection of companies' needs to your specific skill set through the website's search engine. According to UpWork, the average hourly rate of the top 100 skills is $43.72.
c. Grocery Shopping and Delivery
Ride sharing services may be taking a hit, but the gig economy is still strong in grocery shopping and delivery. According to Yahoo Finance, average daily downloads from February to mid-March for Instacart and Shipt apps increased 218% and 124%, respectively. This growth creates opportunity for many individuals looking for income.
According to Shipt, shoppers can make anywhere from $16–$22/hour. The shoppers make commission of $5 per order plus 7.5% of the order amount. Using the USDA's moderate cost plan of a family of 4, it would be a weekly order of $207.70. If a shopper completes a $207.70 in 1 hour it would produce $20.58.
The math: [$207.70 * (.075)] = $15.58 + $5.00 = $20.58
2. Side Hustles for Delayed Returns:
a. Start a blog
Blogs that are intended to produce return are not profitable right away, but for writers or individuals looking to advance writing skills or build a personal brand, it can go a long way. It is important to note that there will be start-up costs to purchase a domain and web hosting. You may also spend money on your branding to generate eye popping logos and photos. Blogging can be a great source of income that will be slightly delayed. MillenialMoney made approximately $25,000 in his first year and then $150,000 in his second year. Talk about compound growth!
b. Flipping Furniture
Finding a used piece of furniture that someone is willing to part that is free, or at a discounted price, and restoring it to turn around and sell at a profit is considered furniture flipping. A good location to obtain discounted furniture is at a second-hand furniture store. The great part about flipping furniture is that it can be achieved with a low start-up cost, as most costs will be for the material used to restore the item. An individual can utilize free platforms to market their flipped items.
c. Create Homemade Goods to Sell
Platforms such as Etsy allow you to monetize your passion for creating specific items. Etsy provides over 45 million buyers searching the site for specific items. Like most side hustles, there will be a start-up fee. The platform tries to help you build a brand by allowing you to place a logo, description, and banner. You will spend time and money building your logo and brand. This platform provides foot-traffic to your website, but it does have multiple fees. The amount an individual makes off their shop depends on the market and item.
Determine how immediately you need additional income. Evaluate your schedule and determine if it is a good fit. A side hustle is an additional source of income, and it should not interfere with your 9 to 5 work performance. It is important to evaluate the idea and take a real look at its potential for profitability and an increase in net worth.