This post is the fourth post in the “From Idea to Product Launch Series“
- Introduction of series and the Chair Cane product developed
- What Product Idea Should I Develop?
- Do I need a Patent or Trademark?
- Should I Quit My job? (and side hustles I tried)
- How to Make a Prototype at Home
- How to get your Product Idea Manufactured
- Inventor Freight Forwarding for the First Time
- 5 Essential Ideas for Packaging a New Product
The short answer is, no. I would wait until either you have a large amount of savings or your product is making enough to pay your living expenses. Quitting your 9-5 is more about timing than a yes or no answer.
I started to develop this idea when I had a full time job. I was laid off in the middle of it and received a bit of severance pay. My plan was to work on the Chair Cane and other projects for a couple of months and then start looking for a job. It was nice to have that time. However, the joke was on me. About the time I began to look for jobs again, there was another round of layoffs at multiple companies and good jobs became hard to find. I was very lucky in having some savings, so I could take time to plan the next move. I was also almost a year ahead in my car payments with a loan that allowed for early payments. I was able to find a prn (as needed/part time) position that I really like and may grow over time. However, I needed more income to pay bills until it did grow.
List of 14 Side Hustles and Part Time Work That Made Sense and Some That Did Not
I will start with what became the most successful and dependable income sources for me. A couple product testing sites were the only things I tried that left me feeling scammed. Maybe I would include some YouTubers that tell you how successful they are but even their thumbnails have a scam vibe. There is a whole section of the internet that is devoted to telling everyone how to get rich quick. They make their money by clicks and some even sell courses. Almost all of the endeavors helped me to learn a skill or lesson that has been useful as I work on other projects. My first two ads for the Chair CaneTM were made on Canva and TikTok. I learned about both of those while I was working on something else.
- Pizza Delivery – I applied to a few places, interviewed at two, and started at one. You get a regular schedule and, with tips and mileage, are paid well over minimum wage, depending on the shift. The down side compared to something like Uber Eats is that you get side work and you may be asked to leave early or stay late depending on business. They have the final say on your schedule, not you. Side work is something like dishes, sweeping, restocking, or taking the trash out. I am still delivering pizza and do not plan to quit any time soon. I like the crew and managers and the money is good for a job where my car does most of the hard labor. I have some chronic fatigue issues left over from Lyme Disease and other things, so energy expenditure is an important consideration for me. I also wanted a job that would leave my days mostly intact so I could accept assignments from the prn job I mentioned above. Be ready for nails in your tires. I can drive the same number of miles for other jobs but pizza seems to be a magnet for nails. Maybe it is just my area.
- GoPuff contract driver – This company has a warehouse full of convenience store and other items. There are no side jobs or inside work. You get an order and an address and you deliver. The tips are not nearly as good as pizza but the company pay structure is higher. The location I work at is not real busy (yet). I usually have time to work on other projects, like the paperwork for my other job. Sometimes I just walk circles around the parking lot for exercise. The down side of this job is that it does not provide a reliable income or schedule. Every week you have to sign up for shifts and you need to be quick and have a good phone connection or you will not get shifts that work with your schedule. They let drivers swap or drop/add shifts as needed, so you may be able to pick up shifts, or drop ones you don’t want.
- Stock Trading – This one is clearly high risk. Early on in my adventure, I sold all individual stocks because I did not want to risk money that I needed in the short term. I also had a bad feeling about what was going to happen over the next year. (This was around October 2019.) The money I had in the account was left over from when I had invested after the housing bubble crash. Buy low, sell high came in to play again during the Corona crash. There was a low cost bank stock that I was familiar with that gave about a 30% gain post crash. It is a relatively stable stock and pays dividends. A cruise line stock made about 40%. I watched it for awhile and got used to its high volatility pattern. I bought and sold that stock a few times and paid a month’s worth of bills with the gains. The market is less jumpy now and I worry about another dip so I have pulled most to cash and will see what the market does around the election and the virus/vaccine. If you see the market take a huge drop and have a few bucks to risk, many platforms have no cost trades available. Please consult a financial professional regarding any risks and options about investing in stocks. Many people say timing the market is not a good long term strategy, or even a good short term strategy. This is not stock or investing advice, just my story and experience. There will be a tax cost at the end of the year.
- Print on Demand product sites – I have seen all kinds of people claiming to make thousands off sites like Teespring, Zazzle, and Society 6. Some of those people have staff or use Fiverr to hire out designs. I wanted to increase my experience with art and design so I did not hire any designers. I did run a few FB ads promoting products. The ads would get a lot of clicks but I am pretty sure that I never made a sale through them. I have made sales on each of the sites and as an affiliate for Zazzle. I am not rolling in cash. It was the type of money that helped me pay for supplies for other projects.
- Product Tester – This one is more for random money a few times a year. There is a brick and mortar testing company within driving distance to me and that is the one that works for me. I have tried various online product testing/survey sites but they never resulted in any revenue. They seemed like a scam. They ask a bunch of questions to see if you qualify for a study and then I was never chosen for one. Every product tester will ask you screening questions but the studies at the websites I tried were over the top. It was like their questionnaires were the study.
- Etsy – I got tired of Etsy and the fees and the saturation of competing items. Some of the products on the site were too underpriced to be coming from a real artist that is paying for supplies and shipping. It seems one way to be really successful on there is to develop a large social media following and to have patience as your site builds up. I ran out of mine. It is an easy platform to use to get your work out there but it just wasn’t a solution for me.
- REV.com – On this site, you type the closed captioning for videos. They give you some training and then you are able to start. There are different status levels based on how many projects you complete and how accurate they are. I started doing this to make a couple of bucks and to improve my typing skills. I did not last very long and only completed a few projects. It is competitive to claim a project that is relatively easy. By easy, I mean clear audio with speakers that are easy to understand with the audio used in the film. Videos that do not include a lot of technical terms that are industry specific. When a speaker lists a bunch of names, you need to be able to spell them correctly so I would end up doing searches for people at the academic institutions that were mentioned on the video. I type slow enough that it took me a long time to finish a video. One complicated video I worked on for hours and missed the deadline. I did get ten dollars for it but I determined that I was better off doing other work.
- Fiverr – I really just started on this platform so I do not know if it will work for me yet. I hired someone off of the platform to do the voiceover for the video on the first post in this series. You can find someone to write an article, edit a video, create a logo, or a number of other projects. I am trying to sell a service using my personal training certification (that I received after being laid off) with the injury rehab knowledge that I also have. I have stopped short of providing an actual medical service because I have no expectation that the website is HIPAA compliant. If you have a skill that you can sell, you can post a gig.
- Pawn Gold – I had an old, broken gold necklace that I had not worn in decades, and a gold pin that an employer gave me over 10 years ago. I was not sure they were worth anything but had some time one day to drop by a couple of shops. The first gave me around $100 for the gold pin I had almost thrown away. They only offered a few dollars for the necklace so I kept it. I happened to be driving past another buy gold place on my way home and they gave me $60 for the broken, light weight necklace. Not a sustainable income source, but if cleaning out some drawers can make a few bucks either through pawn or an online marketplace, why not?
- YouTube with affiliate links – I did not start the channel to make money but after listening to all of the YouTube gurus, I though I might be able to get a few bucks. Huge earnings fail for me for several reasons. I did learn a lot that helped with other projects, including product demos to present to companies and customers.
- Ebay – I tried to sell a couple of paintings and 2 used respiratory suction machines. I tried to give the respiratory machines to charity when I got them but no one would take the used medical equipment because of the liability. The only thing I got off Ebay were scammers asking me to text them and one guy who bought the machines but never paid. It was free to list, so it was just a waste of time, not money.
- Twitch – I never really thought that I would make money but I am listing because some people do. Skilled gamers have the best shot on Twitch. I would guess that if someone has a big fan base on another social media sight, that they could get a fair number of people to follow them over. Once people are hanging out watching the same person, it is like a chat room with its own rhythm. I think I may have had 2 people watching at the same time once, but I am pretty sure it was just random people stopping by and moving on. I was doing acrylic pouring with only one camera on the painting. Most users that I saw have a camera on them and one on the art or game video feed. It is a really interesting site and I learned a TON about streaming and how I absolutely do not want to have hours long interactions on any platform. It is exhausting. The camera and microphone work helped me with a remote job interview for a job I did not get (see photo of interview set up.) I learned about how people are willing to give small amounts of money, in the form of coins, if they appreciate content and bonus if the giving of a coin causes the creator or a programmed bot to interact with them. YouTube live and TikTok live are the only other places I have seen it.
- Care.com – I tried this early on. This site reports to provide a service matching people that can provide in home services to people who need them. The most popular services I noticed were house cleaning, home health aide, and companion care. They can provide background checks, user reviews, a service for payroll taxes, and help mediate disagreements. The reviews of the actual website are mixed. I paid for a background check and built my profile. My skills and my offer were not a great match for what people generally go to that site to find but I thought there was a good size overlap in customer base. I also thought that it would be a nice site to refer people to if they were interested in having me do work for them. I wouldn’t need to build a website and worry about the payment arrangements. I tried to apply for a couple of job listings and never heard back from anyone and no one approached me after their searches. I had zero results. When it was time to renew I pulled my profile off.
- All the other options I have not tried – On demand work aps may be really good but I have not tried any of them. This is largely because I live in an area that is spread out. I would probably need to drive to other areas to make it really worth my time. I may still try one at some point. I have heard that being a notary can be a good side hustle but I am pretty sure you need to market your services and network. I may try it someday but for the moment, I am choosing to put my energy budget to other projects. There seems to be an almost endless list of things that you can get into. Depending on your skill set, equipment, and energy, you can try anything (legal). Yardwork, painting, handyman, personal shopper, house cleaning, care giving, dog walking, power washing, sales, social media star…
- BONUS Extra: Found money – Check for unclaimed property in any state that you have lived or have ties to. I went looking because I knew that there was a HSA account that had been closed and the money sent there. When I called the bank, they could never find my account. Eventually, the account is determined to be abandoned so they send the funds to the state. The first time I searched the state’s database, I found money from the state’s toll system. There had been a few over charges. Clearly, they knew where to bill me, but issued my refund to the state. I have now received both checks. In every state I searched, there is no charge. If you find a claim, just fill out a short form and one day a check shows up in the mail. Nice!
I look at side hustles a lot like fishing. You drop several lines out and see what you can catch. You may find a sweet spot that fits you well and you can then focus only on that. Chances are, you may need multiple lines in the water to catch what you need. Diversify your income streams until your product is clearing enough profit.