Couple out shopping

15 sweet gigs to make money on the side

Elizabeth Bromstein|

Life is expensive.

If you need to supplement your income, whether you’re already working full or part time, there are myriad side gigs and moonlighting options. Here are 15 things you can do to make extra money.

Mystery shop: This is actually a real thing, and not just a scam offered by all that email spam. Companies will pay you to go to their stores, pretend to be a regular, paying customer, and report back on your experience. According to this Forbes article, the take is about $5-$20 per store visit.

Rent out a room in your home: Thousands of people make money renting out rooms, or whole homes, on Air BNB. You have to be careful with this one though. There are some legal issues to consider, and not everyone is guaranteed to treat your home with the respect you might expect. I would never do it for that last reason alone, but plenty of people do.

Clean houses: One of my friends, who is a full-time student, supplements her income by cleaning people’s houses. She charges $20 an hour, which is nothing to sniff at, and makes a few hundred dollars a month. Sometimes she even does her cleaning late at night, if clients are away, so it doesn’t interfere with her daytime schedule.

Babysit: Babysitters earn about $10 an hour. It’s not a king’s ransom but what are you doing? Hanging out with kids, and a lot of the time, if it’s in the evening, they’re asleep and you’re watching TV. You could have a worse gig. This obviously won’t work if you don’t like children. Many parents will require a police check and a CPR certification.

Set up an online shop: Sell your handmade or vintage items on Etsy. You know those little doggie sweaters you knit, or those beaded earrings you make? Turn that hobby into income. One woman I know makes a few hundred dollars a month in her spare time reselling vintage clothing. Income levels from the site seem to range from nothing to thousands of dollars, though you’d probably have to quit your day job to get that upper end.

Garden: Set up a small side business and take care of those tasks a lot of people either don’t have time for, or simply hate to do. You can charge $25 an hour to mow people’s lawns, pull weeds, and plant things in summer. I thought snow removal might also be an option, but some research suggests I was wrong. Snow is unreliable in most cities, and jobs don’t take much time, so it’s hard to make money.

Walk dogs: Most dog walkers charge $15-$20 for an hour-long walk. If you can get a few clients, you can make a few hundred dollars a month. This one probably isn’t compatible with a day job, since the daytime is when most people would want their dogs walked. But it would work with a part-time or night job. You should be good with dogs, of course, if you want to walk them for money.

Bartend/wait tables: The old standby. Where would actors, musicians and teachers be without bartending and waiter jobs? The income here varies widely. The more expensive and popular the establishment, the more money you’re going to make. A waiter in a quiet, inexpensive bar or café can wind up with less than $20 a shift, while a bartender in a popular hotspot can make hundreds.

Be a VIP host/(ess): One of my colleagues used to work as a hostess in a nightclub. Her job was to greet customers, show them to their VIP table, and chat them up. You get commission on alcohol sales on top of a $10-$11 hourly rate. People can make $100-$500 a night. Men and women alike do this job.

Participate in focus groups: That same industrious coworker has also been paid to taste chocolate “while people watched my from behind a one-way mirror.” Focus group participants are paid to try all kinds of products and give feedback. The gig pays between $10-$150 for a couple of hours.

Teach music: There’s good money to be made giving music lessons. The pay varies widely, beginning at around $12 for a half hour, while one drum teacher tells me the standard rate for private lessons is $50/hr and up.

Write/edit/manage social media: The web needs content to fill its websites, blogs and social media pages. If you can write even a little you can make money. Again, the pay is all over the place. Blogging pays anywhere from $10 to a few hundred dollars a post. Some people charge by the hour, others ask for retainers or a daily rate. If you’re an expert in something, like gardening, or 18th Century Japanese textiles, find somewhere to post about what you know.

Virtual assistant: A virtual assistant does everything a regular assistant does, remotely — maintaining contacts and calendars, setting appointments, keeping books and spreadsheets. There may also be blogging and social media involved. Pay ranges from $10-$60 an hour and you can choose how many clients you want to have and how many hours you work.

Translation: If you write another language well enough, you can make about $25 an hour translating but it ranges by location. In Canada, the highest hourly rate is in Montreal, QC, at $34 on hour, while translators in Fredericton, NB, make a mere $14 an hour. French speakers are in big demand in Canada, but if you speak, say, Afrikaans or Dutch, you’ll have less competition.

Be a walking billboard: OK, I’m not really recommending you do this, but there are people out there getting logos inked on them for money. For example, in 2003 Jim Nelson sold the space on the back of his head to web hosting service CI Host for $7,000. And in 2005, Andrew Fischer auctioned his forehead for temporary tattoo advertising (which is much less insane than permanent) on eBay. He walked around with “SnoreStop[:] It Simply Works” written on his face for 30 days, for which he was paid $37,375. These days there are more body parts on offer than there are advertisers, according to Wikipedia.

Related:

Ten jobs available now that pay double the Canadian national average


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  • Łukasz Dobylewski

    making money on the net is the easiest and quickest thing. But often you have to make an investment, which will return back in first few days. I bougth this e-book http://tinyurl.com/qcs4ha9 and don’t regret. Now I’m making money on surveys. I usually spend two hours on this system and always earn like 10-65 bucks a day, sometimes more. and that’s it :P

  • http://lexemeinc.com Gisèle Palancz

    Translation? I’m sorry but that’s a profession, not a gig. Encouraging anybody to do it is why there are so many bad translations in Canada.

    • Johanne Heppell

      I totally agree with you Gisèle. As a professional EN-FR translator with a master degree and 25 yrs experience, I spend lots of time revising terrible translations (for more than $25/hr) that my clients send my way after receiving complaints from customers, colleagues, associates. In the end, it makes for a more costly process and an unacceptable downward pressure on rates for true professionals like myself.

    • disgustedplantguy

      Same with Gardening. I can’t tell you how many hobby gardeners work I see that is most assuredly not worth $25/hr and needs to be redone properly within a week or two by some one who knows what they are doing.

    • George

      I think the key is “If you write another language well enough”… Let’s face it – ANY job, full-time or part-time, takes competence and we all know people who have no business doing whatever it is they claim to be able to do. Where translators fall down is not realizing that there’s a difference between a literal translation, and writing actual copy in that other language that reads naturally and still imparts the required information. BUT, if you do have that ability, then sure, go for it!