Note: Some links in this post are for products I use and love. Clicking on them may earn me a small commission if you choose to join or buy something.
A Quick Backstory
Ever since I was a kid, I always beat to my own drummer and knew that I wasn’t likely going to go the corporate path in life. Fortunately, I got the entrepreneurial gene, which runs in the family. My sister Michelle is an accomplished chef and restauranteur and currently owns six restaurants with two more opening in 2017, an oyster company called Cedar Pointe Oysters, and a food-focused collaborative organization called Real Local RVA. I get to work with her on a regular basis through my business Creative Visual Design as I designed and manage all the restaurant websites and social media channels, including review sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook, etc.
When you work for yourself from home or wherever you may be, some people don’t understand how you make money or what you actually do. I’ve dealt with this a lot over the years with jokes like “Oh, you work?” or “You have a job?” I’m used to it so it doesn’t get under my skin, and in all seriousness I actually kinda like it.
If you can make a living doing what you love and the perception to others is that you don’t have a job, you’re doing something right. At the very least, you’re doing what makes you happy or making enough money to sustain the lifestyle you want—whatever that looks like to you. I can be on vacation and still work or earn passive income from many different revenue streams that I will discuss below.
With The Gig Economy going strong, staying in-tune to technology will always provide new ways to make money. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Bots are sure to continue their rapid growth this year and soon many jobs will be replaced with robots, but new companies will always pop up and create additional opportunities and you need to be there to jump on them.
6 Ways I Make Extra Income
Below, I’m going to talk about 6 ways I make extra income aside from my primary job.
1. Sell Things
Are you a photographer or videographer? Set up an account with Smugmug and sell your work.
Do you make something? Set up an account and sell it on Amazon or Etsy. You can also create you own website using StudioPress or StudioPress Sites from WordPress, Squarespace, Shopify and many others. Or just HIRE ME and I’ll do it for you.
Look around your house and find things you no longer want or need. Is it something others would buy? If so, list it on Ebay or Craigslist. My girlfriend Carey is constantly selling her stuff she just isn’t feeling anymore.
2. Host on Airbnb, VRBO/Homeaway, or Innclusive
Opening your home to visitors is a great way to not only make easy income, but to also get to know new people who usually have interesting stories of their travels and life. Once you’ve done it a few times you’ll start to dial it in better and better after each visitor until it becomes second nature. Then it’s just a well-oiled money making machine. I’ve hosted over 120 times on Airbnb and VBRO/Homeaway and just signed up on a new Airbnb competitors platform called Innclusive. Just to give you an idea in 2016 I had a 39% occupancy rate (or, 143 days booked). Cha-ching!
3. Drive for Uber or Lyft
In January of 2015 I signed up for Uber right before I took a trip to Japan and was accepted to be a driver when I returned. I then drove pretty frequently from Jan-Apr, especially when it snowed or there was surge pricing to test the earning potential. I took in $2,550 which worked out to $638/mo before gas and depreciation. My original goal was $500/mo. That’s airplane tickets or gas for a cross-country trip. Uber also pays for 15% of your cell phone if you stay active, offers discounts to different service stations and other car related services.
My primary job as a web designer, aerial photographer/videographer and social marketer gives me the freedom for this secondary type of job to not only work, but it actually made sense. I was able to get out of the home whenever I wanted, met some interesting people, and handed out business cards as conversations would typically lead to what I really did for a living, and a few people even hired me.
If you can get over the stigma that some people have that being an Uber/Lyft driver means you need the money vs. a choice to make some extra income/have fun doing something different, then this is another great secondary revenue stream.
Sign up for Uber and qualify for a guaranteed $240 (as of 4/19/17) in total payout after your first 30 trips. Or if you’ve never used the service before as a rider entering code “uberchadwilliams” or clicking here will take $15 off your first ride (as of 4/19/17).
If Uber isn’t your thing, then sign up for Lyft. This link will also give you $5 off your first ride.
4. Become an Affiliate Marketer
Affiliate Marketing is a good way to make extra income. Look around you and think about what products you use and like. Chances are there might be an affiliate program for that product or brand. Becoming an affiliate allows you to promote products and make a percentage of the sale. I would urge you to only apply to companies whose products you use and truly like. To me that’s authentic and shows you’re not just hunting for clicks, but trying to share awesome stuff while making a little money at the same time.
If you’ve been successful with the first four it’s definitely time to invest it in the stock market, but you’ll want to make sure you have a good broker or have a keen understanding of the industry if you don’t want to lose your ass. I was fortunate to have a father that was a financial consultant his entire life and constantly educated me on the market and putting your money to work. The goal is to invest in high quality companies that have good fundamentals and provide good dividends. If there are some companies you like or believe in and want to throw a little money at them that’s fine, but overall you’ll want to keep the speculative stocks to a minimum. Start small if you only have a little bit to throw at it and build positions over time.
6. Buy an Income Property
At some point in your life you’re taught that diversification of your assets is the smart thing to do. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. An Income property is property bought or developed to earn income through renting, leasing, or price appreciation. Start small and find something in your market at the lower end that you can get a mortgage for and rent for a nice profit. My sister, brother-in-law and I created CMB Properties a few years ago and purchased our first income property. Baby steps.
After posting this I noticed I left off something obvious. Referrals. Sometimes companies don’t offer a traditional affiliate program, but do give you something in return for referring their product to others. Visit their website directly and look to see if they offer anything in return for your referral. Sometimes you might have to signup and look under your profile for a referral link. Here are some examples:
I buy stickers for my business from Sticker Mule. They’re awesome quality and super fast. I get $10 off my next order if you become a customer.
I subscribe to Last Pass, a browser extension and app to manage all my passwords. You get a month free and I get a month free.
Skillshare offers access to thousands of online classes in design, business and more. You get a month free and I get a month free.
The Take Away
If you’re willing to hustle, put yourself out there and try new things, there are so many opportunities to make additional money outside of your main profession.
What are your side hustles?