Making It Work and How to Hustle

I’ve been hustling for years, trying to make my non-profit income stretch even further.  When in dire straights, the side hustles have become my main hustles and truly saved me from a life of destitution.  Regardless of your work situation, EVERYONE can make a little money on the side. Even working full time, I have taken extra work in the evenings or weekends, or concurrently with my job.

Think of side hustling as leveraging your income and your social capital. Think of side hustling as creating more relationships and diversifying your revenue stream. I don’t like the idea that if my job ends tomorrow, that I am screwed. Having money come in from a variety of different places solidifies your presence and marketability in a variety of different fields, and allows for growth and income in multiple streams.

For you to make money, there must be a convergence (as Chris Guillebeau says) of your talent and the need in the marketplace. I would love to sing show tunes all day and get paid to eat chocolate, but that isn’t going to happen.

One of my first side hustles wasn’t making money at all. I was living in New York and my boyfriend and I were doing the dreaded long distance thing. He was planning to visit me for two weeks in my crowded, dark, semi-prison like apartment shared with 4 other people. Oh, and there was one bathroom and no living room (I’ve made a few mistakes).  It was my first time seeing him in months and I just wanted to be alone, in a nice, warm comforting place that didn’t remind me of Rikers Island. I also knew I couldn’t afford a hotel. So what did I do? I went to Craigslist of course! Craigslist gets a bad rap, but if I could tell you how many jobs, gigs, relationships, furniture and interesting things have come from that site you would understand it is a magical place.

After perusing the different sections, I found someone who lived three blocks away from me who wanted a petsitter for the Xmas holiday in exchange for staying at her beautiful one bedroom in Brooklyn. Success! Her apartment was something out of a Crate and Barrel catalog and something I could never afford. For keeping her dog and cat alive, we got to have our own little home for two weeks all by ourselves. It was perfect. That same Xmas, I answered a different ad on Craigslist asking for Xmas dinner help. My boyfriend and I ended up at this Italian family’s house that was straight out of a Woody Allen film and ended up with a free gourmet dinner, $300 and a whole lot of memories.

Aside from finding petsitting gigs on Craigslist or from friends (networking really is the best for this), I have found extra work doing a variety of tasks. Here is my list of resources:

  1. Craigslist: I look under the gigs section to find what gigs are open that day. You usually have to respond within an hour, to even be considered. The economy is bad, and there are a lot of people looking for extra work. Occasionally, I will look under the Jobs, Etc, Part Time or Pets listings for more work.
  2. Task Rabbit: I just joined TR a month ago and I’ve already made $230! I’ve worked a holiday party, helped someone test their website and helped someone else move. You can do things locally or virtually!
  3. Brand Ambassador/Event Marketing: Are you friendly? Can you talk to anyone? Can you stand on your feet for long periods of time? I have been working as a Brand Ambassador for over a year now and this has been the most lucrative for me. You know those people handing out free samples? Or those people working concerts giving out free shirts? Those are Brand Ambassadors. Our job is not to sell anything (directly), but to get consumers excited about a new brand and engaged with the product. Pay is usually $15-30/hr. You are an independent contractor, so make note for tax purposes. Going to and signing up with agencies and also adding “Brand Ambassadors of Portland (or _____ city) on Facebook will be a good place to start.  You can often find last minute offers in the Craigslist gigs section. Once you start working, agencies will email you when there is work in your area. Think of any major event in your city, they will need people. You will need an events resume and photos. For the resume, if you are just starting out, put down events you have worked at as a volunteer or in a different capacity.
  4. SitterCity:I haven’t used this site, personally, but I’ve heard good things. If you work well with kids and want extra income, this might be your perfect fit!
  5.  Friends: When your friends know you need extra income, they are likely to ask you if they need something done. I got a pretty steady gig from helping my artist friend with social media and marketing. He doesn’t like to talk to people and I do. I was able to create his social media platforms, increase consumer engagement and talk about his product. From friends, I’ve also gotten more petsitting/housesitting work as well as secret shopper work. Don’t be afraid to ask or mention your situation! People are more willing to help or think of you, if they know the situation.

After all of these, I follow up with a thank you and let them know I am available in the future. Sometimes you never hear from them again. Sometimes it’s next week, or even six months later. The fact is, you have a network and it can be utilized. You have skills that can make you money. You can do a variety of different work and get paid for it.  At the end of the day, you have to be willing to put in the work and TRY.

So, what are you waiting for? What will you use that extra income for? You all know mine is going towards my debt payoff! Post forthcoming.


2 responses to “Making It Work and How to Hustle

  1. Pingback: Side Hustles vs. Relationships | Do or Debt·

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