Several Thousand Dollars A Year: My 5 Favorite High Reward, Low Activation Energy Side Jobs



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Who doesn’t want to be bringing in more money?

With your financial picture stable, any additional income can fall straight into savings, speeding you faster towards financial independence. The biggest obstacle when it comes to the idea of side jobs, though, is the time and money investment.

Maybe you’re exhausted after a full week of work and can’t imagine slaving away every evening on a brand new business. Or you’re willing to put in the time, but you don’t have the capital to do it. Today’s post is focused on the side jobs that are high reward, low activation cost.

For anyone considering dipping their toe in the water and who wants to start learning about building multiple income streams, these are fantastic ways to start.

Note: I receive no compensation from these companies. They’re just opportunities I truly think are great.


Driving With Uber or Lyft

logo-uber-lyftIf you’ve already got a car, you can jump right into driving in your off time with Uber or Lyft.

While both companies pay drivers by a pre-quoted fare for each ride, you can work out what the average pay per hour is. Lyft’s website quotes as much as $35 an hour. In a study by Benenson Strategy Group, the average Uber driver makes approximately $20 an hour after taxes, vehicle costs, and gas. You can juice that even further by taking note of peak times and only driving then. And if you live in a particularly lucrative area like NYC, your average is more like $30+ an hour after expenses. That would work out to the equivalent of a $60k a year full-time job, but you can cherry pick and not have to sign up for a full-time commitment.

There are also great incentives for new drivers. Uber is offering $500 as a new driver bonus after you complete a certain number of rides. Lyft is offering $600. Spend a few minutes perusing tips from other drivers to give you a head start. There is  a particularly good post here. And many drivers have both apps so they can minimize their down time and have access to the most possible demand. No pings on Uber? Fire up Lyft.


Dogsitting with DogVacay or Rover

logo-rover-dogvacayI’m still in shock that you can get paid to play with dogs for a weekend.

When I was a kid, I used to beg my parents for a puppy and then volunteered at an animal shelter to get my animal fix. Your kids asking for a dog? Have them commit to hosting dogs with you for 10 weekends in a row. You get paid and you get to test drive the idea of dog ownership with your kids. Or love animals but don’t want the responsibility of taking care of them since you travel a lot? Just have your availability set for the days you’re in town.

In NYC, dogsitters are getting between $30-$50 a night per dog, of which they keep 80%.

$80 to play with a dog for a weekend? That’s pretty amazing. Of course, every area sees different market rates.


Renting with AirBnB


Becoming an AirBnB host has come a long way.

AirBnB does a lot around safety checks on both prospective guests as well as prospective hosts, and a guest review system can help you ensure that you as a host will have a pleasant experience with (mostly) quiet and polite guests.

If you live in an area with a lot of tourist activity, this is especially lucrative. I have a friend who AirBnB’s one out of her three bedrooms in her townhome in Seattle, and it more than pays for her entire mortgage each month.

Many folks shy away at the idea of having a stranger in their home and the perceived hassle required to deal with each stay.

But past AirBnB hosts have done the work for you and figured out streamlined systems. For less than $20, you can set a key lockbox outside your house so guests can have keys upon arrival without needing to meet directly with you. Pricing slightly below market is a great way to get initial business and get those first few critical reviews, and then you’re off to the races, likely making a few hundred dollars per stay.


Everything-Goes Tasks with TaskRabbit


You can either build a specialty at a particular type of work or just delight in the totally random mix of jobs on offer on Task Rabbit, but you can earn money with either strategy.

Task Rabbit is an on-demand app where you will see requests for help for anything from folding clothes, to shopping, carpentry, building IKEA furniture, waiting in line, research, yard work, and delivery. Elite Task Rabbits can makes as much as $2,000 a week, but you can dip your toe in the water and just check it out and see what works for you.


Consulting with GLG, HourlyNerd, and Others

logo-glg-hourlynerdMaybe you’re more of an analytical person and can help with research.

Expert networks such as Gerson Lehrman Group are always looking for experts in every field to take calls with clients. A hedge fund might be thinking about an investment in Pharma company X, for example, and want to talk to some pharma reps. Or a client is looking at a project in financial sector regulation. Wouldn’t it be great to talk to you, a senior compliance officer at a major bank and well versed in the Volcker Rule, Know Your Customers, and twenty four other acronyms associated with compliance?

GLG experts typically charge $200-$400 an hour.

Work is not steady given the very niche (and thus generously compensated) expertise unless you put significant effort into building your stream of business and happen to be in a high-demand vertical.

There are a slew of other sites focused on matching experts in a given field with those who are seeking them, so the appropriate site for you may vary.

One interesting site is HourlyNerd, which connects MBAs with clients looking for help with building business plans and doing market research. Nerds typically charge $75-$200 an hour though I believe some of that goes to the site as commission.



The focus on marketplace businesses in Silicon Valley has created a slew of opportunities for us to build additional streams of income outside our regular jobs. While it was not realistic for thousands of us to want to invest heavily in businesses that could take years to get off the ground, we now have options that fall farther on the quicker-reward, stabler expected return spectrum.

Of course, the kinds of success stories you read about generating thousands a month on these sites takes significant work. But these sites also offer a spectrum of effort to reward unlike other options like starting a business that tend to feel more all or nothing.

Here, you can easily find one that fits your interests and allows you to dip your toe in the water. And you may be able to pad your stash by several thousand dollars a year in your free time. 



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