Use Your Hobbies and Talents to Earn Some Extra Cash


As much as we talk about being frugal, the undeniable truth is that one of the very best ways to gain control over your finances is to make more money. The best way to do that, hands down, is to create an extra revenue stream outside of your 9 to 5 grind. The trick is making it all work together, so that your day job doesn’t interfere with your side gig and vice versa.

Here’s how:

Create an Inventory of Interests, Hobbies, Etc.

Whatever you choose to pursue on the side should, first and foremost, be something you enjoy. A potential freelance job should incorporate the skills and talents you have that you may not necessarily be utilizing at your primary job. Make a list:
• What languages do you speak?
• What are your hobbies?
• What subjects do you know well?
• What sports do you play?
• What are your strengths?

From here, make a second list that includes part-time jobs that cater to your interests. For example:
• Teach basic Spanish to kids after school.
• Start a cupcake delivery service from home.
• Tutor algebra privately.
• Teach creative writing at the local community college.
• Coach youth soccer.
• Build websites.
• Help professors build cooler PowerPoint presentations for lectures.
• Babysit or pet sit in your neighborhood.

Maximize the Web

To find the right part-time gig for you, take advantage of all the resources the internet offers. Here’s a list of top sites that give side-giggers an opportunity to explore their interests (and get paid for doing so): A “handmade marketplace” that provides an affordable outlet for the crafty to cash in. Great at software development, writing, translating, marketing and researching? This site outsources these types of jobs for small, medium and large companies. For the tech savvy and creative, this site offers a directory of freelance openings in the fields of graphic design, writing, development illustration, programming. Sign up to become part of a community of babysitters, nannies, pet sitters, tutors, and senior care providers.

Be Discreet

Avoid discussing your side gig at your real job in the presence of managers, or get clearance before starting a particular side job, if you need to make sure there are no conflicts of interest. Once you’re up and running at this side job, don’t blab about it at your 9 to 5, since you don’t want your boss to worry that it’s taking away from your focus at work. Bottom line: Do your best to keep the two worlds separate.

Track Your Earnings

The IRS requires that we claim our earnings from freelance work, so keep any checks or cash that you receive in a separate folder to refer to during tax season. Additionally, save all receipts for purchases made to support your side gig (a computer, a camera, stationary, baking utensils, or even gas to put in your car for side-gig related travel), because they may help reduce your total taxable income when it comes time to pay Uncle Sam.

Tell us in the comments: Have you ever held a side job? What did you do? How did it work out?

  • Bryanna Renee

    Our town has a rec center that is always looking for new and inventive classes. I’m teaching drama for one weekend and the rec pays $20-30 a head per month. If i get 20 kids (easy here) I will make $400 dollars in one weekend.

  • Sarah

    I’d love some more information about how to handle taxes for freelance work you do on the side! Maybe you could write another article on this topic? Thanks!

    • Rachel

      I’m a student and I’ve worked through most of school but I need to leave my full-time job to focus on classes for my last semester. I want to go on to be a translator/interpreter so I’m interested in doing freelance work in that field next semester, but I have no idea how to get started or what to do about taxes. More info would be great! Thanks.

    • Beth Kobliner

      Sarah, here’s some helpful info on paying taxes on freelance work:

  • kodemonki

    I do contract coding and usability evaluations which more than funds my travel budget :) It is hard to get the time on top of a 40+ hour work week and grad school, but I think it’s worth it!

  • Anonymous

    Readers, what have you done to make more money? Also, how do you handle it tax-wise? Has anyone incorporated and, if so, what were your experiences?nCaroline WaxlernLearnVest’s Chief Content & Community Officer

  • Curly Loopa

    You need to declare “self-employed” income but you can deduct most of start-up costs like folders, pens, flyers, etc. (I’m not a tax expert but I did it with online tax software and it wasn’t hard.) I write articles for an online gardening website.

  • Catz

    I am a programmer during the day and I got my real estate licence so I can make some extra on the side. I have a few regular customers that call me as well as friends and family always call me to get advice and to help them with their real estate. I also make natural and organic lotion, soap and make aromatherapy items that I sell at festivals. This is lots of fun since it’s my hobby and get to talk with lots of people that enjoy the same thing. I have my real estate licence with a virual broker so I don’t have to go into the office – I do all my real estate via email and phone for most part other than the showings etc. I keep all my office supplies including computer stuff as tax deductible as well as all my real estate fees for licensure. All my supplies for making lotions etc are also deductible. Makes christmas gifts nice too since I make custom things for family and friends.

  • dance teacher

    I teach dance classes part-time, and initially my taxes were submitted as self-employed. Like Curly Loopa said, it definitely helped to keep records of travel expenses (gas, mileage, etc.) and other costs so that things would even out. Now we have W2′s, which is easier! rnAlso, I teach in two different cities, and I’m taxed differently depending on the city where I work. I thought this was confusing because I used to live in MA where they don’t have city income tax!

  • Anonymous

    My friend does a lot of cooking on the side. It’s a great income generator for her. Not sure how she handles taxes though.

  • Anonymous

    I work as a speech-language therapist in the public schools full time. I work a couple of evenings filling in for therapists in skilled nursing facilities. I also tutor after school, and work in a summer therapy program.

  • Freelance Jobs

    I generally use DoNanza – simple search engine to find project I can do from home based on my skills and budget expectationnn

  • mak

    I have run a couple of personal businesses and found Sandy Botkin an extremely helpful resource. You can order his book, Lower Your Taxes – Big Time 2011-2012, which I highly recommend, and/or check out his other offerings at his website – TRI ( that helps.

  • Ashley Burton

    I have too many jobs and side jobs. I do three hour wine/liquor promotions (conduct tastings/samples), as well as side catering work! I am always keeping my eye out for a little extra. This information was just what I needed because I have so much going on and I really need to get organized with my documentation. Thanks!