Here are my true life creative side hustles that helped me earn $2,912 last year!
Oh, the joy of the side hustle, the part-time job, the work-from-home gig! People are getting out there and making it happen!
I remember the good old days before I knew about side hustles. Days when I would sit, and binge-watch Netflix or go on a hike, endlessly scroll through social media, Sorry Facebook, not anymore! I’ve gotta go out and make some extra money with my side gig!
Do you want to know the worst part? I love it! You can do it too! Read on to find out about some of the unique side hustles that helped me earn almost $3K in extra cash!
This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may make a commission at no cost to you. Please read my full disclosure for more info
The side hustle ideas that choose
1. Participated in Focus Groups: $575
This can be a great way to earn extra income! Focus groups are fun but can be hard to secure. There are lots of websites that you can sign up to browse companies who want your opinion (usually market research firms), or post through social media.
If you have a flexible job where you can leave at odd times of the day, then this might be good for you! The first one I did was a firm doing research on a random small group of people’s opinions on health insurance companies. We talked for 90 minutes, did a small group activity, and I got $175.
This next one was kinda fun; the great thing was it had great perks! I tested a new DVR hardware piece from a very reputable company. I got paid $400 and also got to keep all the equipment (about $600 worth). Total embarrassing side note; I did give my husband $200 as he had to help me a lot with the programming part of this; he totally earned it as I’m a tech dum dum!
2. Participated in Medical Research Studies: $250
This one is as far from the idea of “passive income” as you can get, but it can be good money! One caveat, you need to have a research hospital in your area. I have completed two studies, one giving a blood sample two times for $150, three months apart, and one providing a single blood sample & urine sample for $100.
When I signed up for these, I kind of forgot that I sometimes get faint giving blood. And yes, during one blood draw, I almost fainted. Yaaaa me! So I don’t think I’ll be signing up for more. One of my friends successfully talked me out of doing a spinal tap for $200. Probably for the best. These can pay from $20 to ones that pay up to $2,400, but those involved a 4-day long hospital stay.
UPDATE: I also recently did a study that tested pain threshold levels. They pushed on my thumbnail with a small machine until I said, “ouch!” It was 15 minutes long, and I got a 445 gift card for a grocery store. Nice!
3. Taste Testings at a Food Development Center: $40
This one would be great, I told myself! I signed up to taste test burgers at a local center that helps small, food-based entrepreneurs get their products developed and into stores. I was pumped to get paid $40 extra income and get my lunch taken care of for the day!
What I got was two half portions of a nonmeat patty (mildly warm) along with a glass of water. Yeah, not exactly lunch. I gave my opinions on texture, taste, aftertaste, expectations of product vs. its name, and what kind of product it is. It was easy, and I’d do it again (but pack a snack for after)
UPDATE: I recently tested a vegan raw salmon made specifically for sushi restaurants! It was okay, it tasted a bit off, and it wasn’t as fatty as raw salmon normally is. But I did get $40, and it took 20 minutes.
4. Rebate Programs: $45
Now this one isn’t as unique as the others, but it still deserves a mention as it’s very easy! For this, I use ibotta, and every year I save up my earnings and cash it out to buy myself a birthday present. I always buy myself a small present, so I would spend this money anyway.
It’s super easy to use and sometimes great high-value coupons! It’s not just grocery coupons but lots of online options too, such as Best Buy, Apple Music, REI, PetSmart, eBay, etc. Since 2014 I’ve made $290.75, not bad! Sign up for ibotta and get $10 in welcome bonuses!
5. Workplace Reward Programs – $175
Many workplaces offer healthy living type rewards. Check with your workplace’s HR department to see if there are any programs.
For my company’s program, I would log my daily steps, go through some health-related webinars, do planks as part of a team, and even eating more whole foods so I could earn points to get gift cards. Don’t be surprised if the gift cards are taxed; ask HR or check your pay stub to see for sure.
With my gift cards, I would always get Target gift cards, so when I had to buy diapers, it wasn’t such a huge bill. (A diaper trip could be anywhere from $50 to $100, so you always need to capitalize on deals, such as when you buy two or spend $75 worth, you get gift cards back).
6. At Home Audio Transcription: $20
This had great potential, but in the end, it wasn’t a great idea, and it started out awesome! I signed up with Rev Transcription, took a test on grammar usage, passed, and away I went! I listened to people talk about walking in space and typed up just what they said.
Using the platform took a tiny bit of getting used to but nothing crazy. I’m a decent typer, and you could earn, on average, $.50 per minute of audio transcribed. If you speak a foreign language, you can make a lot more.
After I nailed the easy audio files, the audio files got a lot harder to interpret, such as strong accents, muffled voices, heavy background noise, etc. During a particularly hard file, I timed it. It took me 9 minutes to transcribe one minute of audio, and if I kept going at that rate, I would have earned $3.30 an hour… no thanks! But, if you have a great ear and are a fast typer, then go for it!
7. Selling Clothes Online: $49
This was a fun and very satisfying hustle idea. I got to kill two birds with one stone, as I cleaned out my closet, and I made an extra buck! I used thredUP, and it was super easy to do. All you do is go online to sign up, choose “cleanout,” and they email you a shipping label. You box your stuff up and drop it off at the post office!
With your earnings, you can choose to get more as a credit to spend online or a little bit less money as a cashout to your PayPal account! They have crazy nice pieces too! Think Rebecca Minkoff bags, Chloe shoes, etc. The best use of your money is buying kids’ clothes, as they are very inexpensive and they have SO MANY choices!
I’ve recently cleaned out about 75% of my closet and sold it all. making way for a simple capsule wardrobe!
UPDATE – now I’ve earned $138.73 total!
8. Selling on eBay: $758
Similarly, this money maker was also a great double hitter as I cleaned out the garage and got money for it! Yet, it was a tad bit harder as I was selling some of my childhood collectibles. Think porcelain figurines and holiday knick-knacks.
It was sad in a nostalgic way, but I was okay with it, as they’d been sitting in boxes for probably 15 years (YIKES), and I knew I wouldn’t ever display them again. My style is much cleaner and more minimal now. The dollar figure above represents 35 items, but you need to consider eBay fees, PayPal fees, etc. I did have to buy a few small boxes and some packing material, so I netted about $580. Not too shabby!
To help you stay organized selling online, grab my online sales tracker to make it easy from step 1! It helps you track all the small miscellaneous expenses that come with selling online.
9. Bank Card & Account Farming: $1,000
So this one is the best way that I made extra cash, and I hardly had to do anything at all! The basic premise of bank farming (or it’s called “churning” as well). It’s when you sign up for a checking/savings account or credit card just for the sign-up bonus, and once you get the bonus, you cancel it and move on to the next deal.
To do the credit card one, you need a good-excellent credit score, and for the bank account one, you need a decent amount of money to be able to set aside in your new account.
For example, for a recent Chase Bank promo, you got $300 for signing up for a checking account and then $200 for signing up for a savings account. I did have to set up a direct deposit for the checking account and then deposit $15K into the savings account (we just moved our emergency fund in there for three months).
For the Capital One Savor card bonus of $500, I had to spend $3,000 in three months. I usually charge 100% of everything I buy in order to capitalize on reward points anyway.
So this one was really easy to complete. I never charge anything on my card if I can’t pay it off in full every single month, so you need to be pretty disciplined with your cc’s to succeed with this plan of action.
Now doing Bank/CC Farming can be extremely lucrative, BUT it can also be very complicated if you do not have yourself very organized with the small details (i.e., waiting period, restrictions, qualifiers, credit score requirements, etc). Please be sure that you research your offers very carefully! Check out the Doctor of Credit for the definitive guide on how to successfully win at this side hustle.
Total side hustle earnings: $2,912
What do you do with all that money?
This sounds like a silly question, as I am sure there are a ton of things that you’d like to do with all that extra cash! Make sure you do something fun (with maybe 15% of it), and then do something responsible with the rest of it! Things like…
- Start saving money for Christmas
- Fill your emergency fund
- Start a sinking fund for vacation, house repairs, car repairs, etc!
Other ways to make money at home:
- Be a freelance writer
- do graphic design work for social media making graphics (Facebook, IG, Pinterest, etc)
- Be a Pinterest virtual assistant
- If you have a large social following, then you can make good money with affiliate marketing
- Have a unique skill? Start a YouTube channel
- Like animals? Be a dog walker with Rover
- Become a flea market flipper and make big money
- Learn how to successfully run Facebook ads for small businesses
- Be an Instacart shopper and deliver food from local businesses
- Sell feet pics – yup, that’s a thing!
Opening a new Etsy shop is a great option for many women! Be sure to set you and your shop up for success by following our 13 golden tips for how to get more sales from your Etsy shop! You can easily work up to making $200 a day in the right product niche.
My very first “side hustle”
I found myself doing all sorts of different things to make the odd dollar here or there. Even though the majority of the things didn’t move the needle very much, overall, they still taught me a very valuable lesson. What is my time worth?
My very first foray into the idea of saving money was in the very innocent pastime of couponing. Oh, little did I know that this innocuous gateway drug into saving money and contributing to the family finances would lead me to where I am today.
That first year I tracked all of my couponing trips. The total spent, the total saved, and at the end of the year, I had saved $12,876 in total, all from couponing. Sure, I bought some stuff I didn’t really need (I just ran out of my five-year shampoo stockpile), but I never went crazy buying 65 hot sauces for only $.04. My purchases were mostly normal, with a few exceptions.
The success of couponing taught me a very valuable lesson, a lesson that I draw on every day. The importance of paying attention to your money and that earning income doesn’t have to come from your day job.
“Do I really need to spend $4.99 on a container of ice cream? If I wait three days, it will be on sale and with a gift card promotion. So all said and done, it will be $2.34. That’s a great deal! You might be rolling your eyes, saying, who cares about a savings of $2.65?!? But you add all those small things up, and it comes to $12,876 in savings. That’s nothing to laugh at!
As a result of my success with couponing, I turned my attention to grander (I thought then) things (insert evil maniacal laugh).
- Sign up with ibotta and get $10 sign up cash as a new customer!
- Earn points on ANY receipt from ANY store and redeem for gift cards with the fetch rewards app.
- Sign up with Inbox Dollars and get paid to read emails, watch videos, and take surveys. Easy peasy!
- Get free gift cards & cash for the everyday things you do online at Swagbucks. Use the link and get a $5 bonus
- Save money on gas by signing up with Upside; it gives you up to $.25 cents cash back per gallon! Use the code AFF25 when you sign up; you’ll get a $.25 cents per gallon bonus!
- Sign up with Cash App and get a $5 bonus when you use code “NRTZMHV.” You have to complete the sign up requirements to get the bonus! Read how to do this here with point #1.
Side hustle ideas to pass by
There are some really popular ways that people make money, but it’s not that profitable when you consider how much time you spend doing the tasks.
- Complete online surveys
- Be a mystery shopper
At the end of the day
As I said in the beginning, none of these things brought in a lot of money. I learned that I can do a lot of different things successfully to earn more aside from my day job. I learned what was worth my time and what wasn’t. What tasks bored me to tears, what my body can and cannot handle, what I can let go of for the sake of simplicity. Yet the most important thing that I learned is to
Quit Majoring in Minor Things!
Yup, I learned that I was mostly wasting my time. They were great things to get started on, but if I invested more time in them I would be limiting myself and my potential. I learned that I can succeed at something slightly odd or crazy. I learned that I wanted bigger and more challenging things to pour my energy into. So I decided to quit it all. Quit earning nickel & dimes and go for broke! So what you are reading right here, is my trade-up. I knew I had it in me to do more, and with this, my earning potential is a lot higher and it a more steady income.
I’m so excited about this blog, and how I can help YOU learn about personal finance! If you want to see how you too can get online then check out the 5 Simple Steps to Starting a Business! My hope is that eventually, I can earn enough passive income to keep me at home with my little one.
All in all, go out there and see what works for you! Just don’t give up on making money! Maybe you hate the first five things you try, that’s okay. Perhaps the sixth thing will totally be your jam! Get creative! These unique ways to make extra money may not sound like your style, and that’s okay. Just try a bunch of different things, and one of them will surely get you fired up for more and you’ll be on your way to financial freedom!
Or you can read about moms just like me & you that are doing an amazing job of being their own boss and working for themselves at home with a small business. Earning extra income can lead to a full-time job!
- ibotta for shopping rebates
- Rev Transcription to get paid to transcribe audio
- thredUP for selling clothes
- Doctor of credit to learn about bank account and credit card bonuses
Articles related to creative ways to make money:
- 75+ Easy & Legit Free Money Hacks
- 17 Money Saving Challenges to Supercharge Your Bank Account
- 5 Simple Steps to Starting a Business
- A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom
- Selling Your Feet Pics and Make Mucho Money