Need Some Side Gig Inspiration? Here Are Our Top Stories From 2019

A woman shows affection to two Dalmatians.
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At one time or another we’ve all had this thought: I could really use some extra money.

Well, that’s what side gigs are for, and there has never been a better time to find one. Apps and websites have made finding side work easy and instant, drawing some 50-to-80 million people into the gig economy.

Maybe you’re tempted to join their ranks but don’t know where to start. Here’s a little guidance from some over our favorite side gig stories of 2019.

1. Makerspaces: Community Hubs to Learn New Skills (and Launch New Gigs)

You don’t want any ole side gig. You want one that really has some flair and requires a unique set of skills. Think of makerspaces as your side gig’s testing grounds. 

These community workshops are often tucked away at libraries, colleges and rec centers, and they have equipment for you to tinker with — usually for free. Here’s how to find and utilize makerspaces to launch your next side gig.

2. Side Jobs That Will Actually Pay for College

For decades, the narrative has been: Go to college to land a good job.

But with soaring college costs, that adage has been flipped on its head. Students need to work to afford college these days. Here’s a look at three employers willing to pay for their workers’ college education — part-timers included.

3. Rep Your Community With Airbnb Experiences

People prepare to interact with a bee hive as part of an Airbnb experience.
From left, Olivia Morris, Michaella Markum and Jim Quinlan prepare visit Quinlan’s bee hives at the Florida Bee Farm in Clearwater, Fla., on November 6, 2019. Their visit is part of Airbnb Experience. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

Maybe you don’t have a spare room to rent out. You can still make money with Airbnb through Experiences. It’s a fairly new feature, which allows you to list tours or activities that show off something unique about your city.  

We spoke to two successful hosts — a kayak guide and a beekeeper — to get a sense of what it takes to create and run a successful listing on Airbnb Experiences.

4. Camper Flipper Turns Over Big Profits

Sarah Lemp, a stay-at-home Michigan mom of five, wanted an affordable way for her family to travel. She bought a 1950s trailer and renovated it herself. Once her family outgrew it, she sold it on Facebook Marketplace for a profit. 

That set into motion Lemp’s camper-flipping side hustle, which has earned her $22,000 in profits (and plenty of business opportunities).

5. Want to Start a Side Gig While on Disability? Know the Rules First

For many people with disabilities, working while receiving benefits from the Social Security Administration is a delicate balance. The benefits aren’t always enough to cover necessities but picking up a part-time job or starting a side gig could jeopardize eligibility for assistance.  

We spoke to several experts about navigating the nuances of working while receiving disability benefits.

6. Battle of the Delivery Apps

In this corner, we have DoorDash. And in this corner, Uber Eats.

The top two food-delivery apps battle it out in this in-depth guide for prospective gig workers. We took a look at pay, available locations, driver perks, job and vehicle requirements and more. Here’s how they squared up.

7. Teacher by Day, Furniture Upcycler by Night

Sara Chen, a North Carolina teacher, didn’t start her side hustle for the money. She was searching for a creative outlet, but she found much more than that. 

Chen scans websites for deals on mid-century modern dressers. Then she gets to work cleaning, sanding, patching, resanding, priming and painting them before reselling the upcycled pieces on Instagram or Facebook. Chen finds fulfillment in her newfound furniture-flipping gig. (And sure, the extra $3,000 a month doesn’t hurt.)

8. A Paw-fect Side Gig for Animal Lovers

A woman pets a whippet outside by a pool.
Diana Sanchez pets Allie, a whippet dog, while during a 30-minute visit where she fed the dogs, let them out to use the bathroom and showered them with affection in Tampa, Fla. Sanchez’s side-gig is being a pet sitter for Tampa Pet Sitters. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Love animals? Looking for extra work? Consider becoming a pet sitter.

The gig allows you to get paid to watch over animals while working a flexible schedule. Sitters we spoke to earn up to $300 a weekend. They shared their tips on what it takes to launch a side gig as a pet sitter.

9. Notary Public: A Highly Official Gig

Did you know that notaries are technically public officials? They also get paid for their signatures. 

If you’re looking for a way to make a little extra money on the side — or maybe even land a full-time gig with decent pay — a notary public commission might be a good fit. The startup costs are relatively low, the work is flexible and the credential will give your resume an extra boost. Plus, becoming a notary public offers some pretty good earning potential on its own. 

The secret is to find your niche in real estate, legal or wedding services. Here’s how to get started.

10. Find Other Gig Workers on Reddit

Reddit dubs itself the “front page of the internet,” and it functions like a content aggregator and a forum.

If you know where to look, Reddit can be a great place to get side hustle ideas and feedback. We compiled a list of 15 Reddit side hustle communities, aka subreddits, perfect for budding gig workers and entrepreneurs.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He covers the gig economy, entrepreneurship and unique ways to make money. Read his ​latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.