A side hustle is that other thing you do. The one that brings in just a little bit more money. If you’re trapped in a unpaid internship trying to get your year of experience, your side hustle might be your lifeline. I’ve had a lot of side hustles in my life; as a consultant, it’s kind of all side hustle now.
Here are three ways to side hustle. Some are easier than others.
- Fiverr lets you set up a profile and offer services (“gigs”) for fees in increments of $5. Most gigs charge $5, and you’re competing with a lot of highly educated people from countries with a minimal cost of living, so your service needs to be very unique or something you can do very quickly. Fiverr also charges a 20% service fee. I have considered offering mini-coaching sessions through fiverr, but in the end I couldn’t find a way to do it that would be worth it for me and offer actual value to the client. I’ve paid for fiverr services to do formatting tasks that annoy me in powerpoint and excel, and mostly been pleased with the results. Fiverr is very easy to set up, as a buyer or a seller.
- Amazon referrals. If you don’t live under a rock, you know about Amazon referral links. I use them occasionally on this blog. Basically, you use a personalized link to send people ot an amazon product, and if they buy it you get 2% or so of the cost. Amazon referrals have never been all that lucrative for me, but it’s very low effort. I go back and forth on my comfort level with them. I don’t want people to think I linked to something just to make money – and I don’t do that, 39 cents a book or whatever isn’t worth it – but if I am already linking to a book, why not? Right now I make enough from Amazon to pay my annual New York Times subscription, but I pay out of pocket for the Washington Post.
- Self-publishing Amazon singles. I haven’t done this, but I am considering it. I know several people who are making a few hundred dollars a month by selling self-published kindle singles on Amazon. Formatting an ebook is real work (though I suppose you can hire someone from fiverr!) but once your book is out there it’s the holy grail of passive income.
Side hustles that haven’t worked for me:
- Advertising on my blogs. I have never been high-traffic enough to bring in real money in ads. And my traffic stays low because I’ve never wanted traffic to guide what I write. My blog is where I do my thinking, and I want to think about, well, stuff I want to think about.
- Freelance journalism. There was a time when Blood and Milk was getting a decent amount of attention and a couple of international affairs media outlets asked me to write for them. And I tried. But I am a terrible journalist. I don’t have the training and I can barely keep my own opinions out of my articles. Journalism isn’t a side hustle, it’s a calling and a profession. I have found a happy medium with UN Dispatch, where my editor actually added a special section based around what I am good at. UN Dispatch does pay, but I didn’t list it as a side hustle because that kind of work isn’t an option for everyone.