How to Make Money on the Side and Keep Your Life Front and Center

Here’s the thing about side hustles: they can have a way of bleeding into your day job and diminishing your results, which totally defeats the purpose. That money you’re pulling in on the side suddenly loses its luster when you realize it came at the cost of you losing 3 sales and then bombing a major client presentation.

We often hear the mantra to work smart, not hard. You can nit-pick the wisdom of this formula all day, but you can never dispute the importance of “smarts” in your approach to work. There are far too many martyrs in the world of entrepreneurship who think that they’re excelling simply because they deprive themselves of sleep and have more side hustles than all their buddies put together.

As Jesse Sumrak points out, not all side hustles are created equal. And pursuing them is not always the best solution.

Let’s get something straight from the get-go—side hustles aren’t for everyone. While more and more people are adding gig work to their lives, that doesn’t mean it’s the end-all-be-all solution. If you’re just doing gig work to make extra money, remember there are other ways to make money. You could campaign for a promotion at your 9 to 5 or invest your money. You might even consider quitting your job and launching a startup. Or you may even be able to cut non-essential costs and keep more of every dollar you earn. All that’s to say: you have options.

Yes, there are always multiple routes to giving your bank account a boost. And you may discover that a side job is the best option for your situation. As long as you approach the decision strategically and make sure that it doesn’t impede your other pursuits, it can lead to extra cash and exciting possibilities.

Knowing How to Make Extra Money on the Side

The best ways to make money on the side all share common DNA. So let’s review 5 essential questions to ask yourself as you consider potential side jobs online or other ways to make money on the side from home.

1. Do You Have the Skills?

In order for a side job to be effective, there can’t be too steep of a learning curve. Ideally, it will involve expertise you already possess. In other situations, additional training or certifications might be required. A good rule of thumb is that if it will take more than 3 months to be in a position where you can make money, you should reconsider the plan.

2. Do You Have the Desire?

There are a lot of great side jobs out there that you won’t love doing. So if total enjoyment is your gauge, prepare to search for years without finding the ideal fit.

On the other hand, your side job should be something that gives you satisfaction. As long as you can feel good about the results, you’ll be able to fend off the condition known as “performance leeching.” This is when one of your pursuits, regardless of how well-intentioned, drains your energy and harms the more important areas of your life.

3. Do You Have the Ability?

It’s one thing to be qualified for something and another to actually be positioned to carry it out. Consider your current obligations and then realistically assess whether it will be beneficial to add a side job.

One temptation during this exercise is to only pay attention to your work schedule. But you need to also account for personal wellness and time with loved ones. As members of the entrepreneurial tribe, we have no problem putting in late-night hours when the situation demands, but this shouldn’t become your daily regimen. Make sure you’ll be able to pace yourself and not consistently hit the point of exhaustion.

4. Is It Sustainable?

Certain side jobs are seasonal or have otherwise limited lifespans. But if you’re going to invest the time and energy required to learn how to make money on the side, it’s preferable that the opportunity remain available in the future. Ideally, you’ll be able to adjust your time allotment as your bandwidth allows.

5. Is It Worth Your Time?

If you’re going to dedicate time and effort to your side job, it has to deliver. Run the numbers to confirm you’ll make enough to meet your needs and justify the extra work required.

And this isn’t merely a financial factor. Let’s say you love sharpening lawn mower blades. For whatever reason, you find the process of grinding metal and producing an incredibly sharp edge to be cathartic. If you’re able to make a modest amount of money sharpening lawn mower blades for people in your area, the added benefits you receive from the work could compensate for the fact that you aren’t earning as much per hour.

Guided by your answers to these questions, you’ll be able to ascertain how to make extra money on the side without running into some of the common issues associated with side hustles. If the job would pay well but leave you feeling burned out, give it a hard pass. If the potential is intriguing, but you’d need to train for 7 months before beginning, head for greener pastures.

There will always be sacrifices required to run your side job. But they shouldn’t be a regular component. As long as your side job allows you to keep being your best self professionally and personally, it’s a keeper.

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The Best Side Jobs Online and Other Side Job Options

Now that you know how to identify the best opportunities, it’s time to list out some of the common ways to make money on the side from home. Some of these ideas are low-hanging fruit that could be added into your life with minimal effort. Others would require a more dedicated approach.

With no further ado, here are 15 ways to make extra money on the side:

1. Taking Surveys

Your opinion might be worth more than you think. Platforms such as Survey Junkie and MyPoints allow you to provide input for a monetary output. The payments are often small, but once you figure out the process, you can start to see the money add up.

2. Attending Focus Groups

It’s also easy to make money using the in-person version of surveys. There are focus groups in most areas, allowing you to test products, sample food, or simply give your opinion on a wide range of topics. Just register on a website such as or to get started.

3. Selling Your Photos and Videos

If you’ve got original quality photos and videos, consider uploading them to a stock photo website. Some of these services will pay you upfront for the content, and they’ll all give you a cut of the sale when people purchase your work. The great thing about this arrangement is that it provides passive income, requiring no effort on your part once the content has been uploaded.

4. Selling Your Photo or Video Services

Another way to make side money from your camera is to become a photographer or videographer. Start by advertising on social media or creating a website to promote your services. You might focus on weddings or decide that family portraits are more your style. The point is that if you’ve got the skills, there are usually people in your area ready to pay for them.

5. Becoming a Driver

Lyft and Uber offer the chance to use your vehicle to earn extra money. The biggest benefit of this approach is that you only need to offer rides when it’s convenient, allowing you to tailor the gig to your schedule. And if you live in a high-demand area, the pay can be substantial.

6. Becoming a Deliverer

Another way to monetize your car is to drive for Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, or one of the other food delivery services. You’ll be able to set your own schedule and earn tips for your work. The pay isn’t always great, but this is an easy way to quickly make money on the side from home.

7. Becoming a Pet Sitter

If you enjoy animals and don’t mind getting hair on your couches, you should consider pet sitting. This is a nearly universal need and can provide some edifying bonding time with clients’ pets. Start by announcing your services on social media, then let word of mouth open new opportunities. If the jobs aren’t coming as fast as you’d like, create an account on a pet-sitting website such as Rover.

8. Becoming a Human Sitter

Babysitting might seem like the sole domain of teenagers, but you can make good money by helping parents in your area take care of their children. You can connect with the best opportunities via websites such as, UrbanSitter, and Helpr. It’s often easy to establish a recurring gig with certain families, though you might prefer to take jobs with a more situational approach. As long as it’s okay with the clients, bring your computer to night-time jobs. Once the children are snug in their beds, you can work on other work projects and increase your profits.

9. Starting a Blog

Channel your interests into a blog and start making money from the words you share. Whether your blog focuses on business tips, hotel reviews, or just personal stories from your life, you can monetize it as long as there’s an audience. Two of the easiest ways to begin making money from your blog are using affiliate marketing links within your text and allowing ads from Google and other services.

10. Listing Your Home on Airbnb

Whether you want to monetize your entire home while you’re away on trips or just want to have recurring cash tied to a guest bedroom, platforms like Airbnb make it easy. While the platform will take a cut of every booking, they’ll return the favor by providing damage coverage and insurance. So your risks are low and the earning potential can be impressive.

11. Selling on Etsy

If you have practical skills and like to create things, consider selling them on Etsy. There are tens of millions of shoppers on the platform and it’s possible to develop a following for your products. So if you have custom-made jewelry or artisan knives lying around in your shop, upload some photos, write a description, and see just how much money you can make.

12. Offering Your Helpful Services

By creating an account on TaskRabbit, you can provide specific help to people in your area. Perhaps you’ll help someone move into a new apartment. Or you might be asked to paint a kitchen or replace wiper blades on a car. The possibilities are endless.

13. Shopping Mysteriously

There are multiple services that help you become a mystery shopper for local businesses. Once signed up, you’ll visit stores and then fill out reports regarding the quality of the experience. The pay usually isn’t very high, but you might qualify for additional perks such as free merchandise. And it’s always nice to be able to combine a side job with activities that you’re already doing in your daily life.

14. Freelancing

If you’ve got skills such as graphic design or copywriting, think about offering them to organizations as a freelancer. By taking your services online, you can connect with businesses around the world. And as long as you have the experience to deliver quality results, your pay can actually exceed what you’re making from your day job.

15. Starting an Online Business

Platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce, and Squarespace make it easy to set up an online shop. You can keep everything in-house by creating your products and handling shipping, or selling third-party products through a dropshipper so that you never even have to think about inventory. Either way, running your own store can lead to big rewards.

Did any of these ideas stand out to you? If so, start planning now to see how you can launch it as a side job. This list is certainly not comprehensive, so remember that there are thousands of other potential side jobs online and at home.

For additional resources to help you learn how to make money on the side, visit our library of free masterclasses. Taught by award-winning entrepreneurs, they’ll provide the blueprint for developing your idea for a side job into a money-making reality.

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