9 Top-Paying Side Hustles That Can Pay Full-Time Incomes
Got a passion you want to pursue? Or want to break out of the 9-to-5 routine, be your own boss and achieve your ideal work-life balance? A side hustle might be just the ticket.
“While earning potential varies greatly based on factors like your work experience, career field and industry, there are high-paying side jobs that make it possible to earn as much as or more than a full-time role,” writes Toni Frana, career services manager at FlexJobs, in an email to Money Talks News.
As of October 2022, the median wage for full-time workers is $1,070 weekly, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some side-hustlers say they earn at least that or much more working just 10 to 15 hours a week — once their gig takes off.
Remember, though, gigs generally do not offer traditional employment benefits such as health insurance and paid time off or sick leave.
Side gigs — also known as side hustles or freelance work — come in all shapes and sizes, Frana says. Before you jump in, do a self-audit to determine how much time you truly have available so you can avoid over-scheduling and realistically estimate how much you can expect to earn, she advises.
The following examples have the potential for you to earn around $50,000 or more — even millions — annually, but it might take 40 hours a week or more, especially as you get started.
If you’ve got people following you on social media, you might be an influencer already. You can get paid for swaying your community of followers to purchase products or services you promote on a blog, podcast, YouTube channel, Instagram, TikTok or just about any social media.
TikTok gets a lot of attention as the home of short videos earning content creators millions of dollars through brand partnerships.
“That’s where the big money is now,” says Michael Kahn, who launched the website MK Library in 2016 to highlight various aspects of travel, food and life.
“You don’t need a ginormous audience to make money,” Kahn tells Money Talks News. “Create captivating, authentic video and photo content showing how you’re using a product in your life and you’ll have all sorts of companies in no time offering you enough money for generous income with part-time hours.”
So-called micro-influencers with 10,000 to 50,000 followers can make $40,000 to $100,000 a year, the co-founder of influencer agency Viral Nation told Vox Media. Celebrities make way more.
Content creators work with influencer agencies to connect them with brands. For example, a popular yogurt brand recently offered $3,000 to parent influencers who posted videos of their kids putting toppings on the yogurt, Kahn says.
TikTok has its own marketplace connecting creators and brands. And YouTube offers advice on getting started and monetizing your potential star power, as does Amazon-owned Twitch.
Besides sponsored posts, influencers earn money — or create revenue streams — from online advertising, affiliate links where companies pay you a commission if viewers buy something and sales of products they might make.
If you have expertise in just about any area, you can make money sharing your knowledge through online teaching.
Teachers on Outschool, which offers more than 140,000 live, online classes for kids ages 3 to 18, may earn more than they could in a traditional classroom. Teacher Jade Weatherington told Acorns she started with two classes — one called “Mastering the Five Paragraph Essay” — and expanded course offerings at the behest of parents. Now, she nets $10,000 a month working just 10 to 12 hours a week.
Teach classes on topics about which you are passionate and experienced and, ideally, that you have taught before, Outschool advises. Outschool teachers design their own curriculum and set their own prices and class schedules. Outschool takes a 30% service fee. You don’t need formal credentials, but you do need to pass a criminal background check, the site says.
Udemy, boasting more than 200,000 courses in 75 languages, allows experts and instructors all over the world to publish their own courses on the site. Your earnings depend on your course pricing and the number of students you attract, but one teacher claims she makes $17,000 a month.
You can also try teaching on Fiverr, Thinkific, Teachable, LearnWorlds and other platforms.
3. Competitive video gaming (aka esports)
If you’re any good at Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite or dozens of other top video games, you have the potential to turn professional gamer and garner as much as $60,000 a year or more, says weplayesports.com.
Long gone is the stereotype of gamers as teen boys in their parents’ basements. Instead, people from all walks of life can join this side hustle. Shirley Curry, an 85-year-old grandma from Ohio, has more than a million followers on YouTube where she shares her Skyrim sessions.
Serious gamers compete in tournaments that can offer millions in prize pool money. People watch gamers live on places like YouTube and Twitch. That makes the players influencers, too. Well-known gamers can earn money selling customized merchandise, subscriptions to their game-play streaming, affiliate marketing or by simply asking for donations.
4. Franchise owner
If you want to go into business for yourself but not by yourself, you can invest in a franchise that can be run as a side gig.
For as little as a $50,000 investment, some businesses — such as home health care or dog training — can be run as well-paid gigs, says Jack Johnson, who co-founded the consulting firm The Franchise Insiders with his wife, Jill. Pet care is especially recession resistant, he says.
Semi-absentee owner franchises including fitness, home restoration and restaurants that can be operated for 10 to 20 hours a week in the beginning, Johnson says.
That restaurant wouldn’t be a McDonald’s or a Chick-fil-A, though. “Your chances of getting a Chick-fil-A are less than getting into Harvard,” according to Johnson.
You can also have a 100% passive-income business for around a $100,000 investment, especially if you pay the franchisor a fee, usually 5% of gross revenue, to run it for you, he says. That would be $50,000 on a business grossing $1 million.
5. Auto mechanic
The freedom to set their own schedules, work directly with customers and potentially make up to $70 an hour is driving certified auto mechanics to sign up for app-based gigs through sites like YourMechanic.com.
YourMechanic says pay depends on your location, experience and skills. Mechanics usually go to customers’ homes or offices to work on cars at prices touted as less than what you’d typically pay at dealers and auto repair shops. Services are backed by a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty.
“We focus on basic repair and maintenance work,” YourMechanic says. That includes more than 500 services. Typical work includes brakes, tire rotations, timing belts, alternators, air conditioners and scheduled maintenance like oil changes. Customers can also get pre-sale car inspection reports.
Customers using the YourMechanic app get price quotes from mechanics before they schedule an appointment and can leave reviews of their mechanic’s works.
Remote freelance and part-time virtual bookkeeping gigs can be found on job boards such as FlexJobs, Upwork and Freelancer.
Bookkeepers maintain businesses’ financial records. Tasks may include tracking purchases and sales, organizing receipts, checking expense reports, verifying bank deposits, billing clients, managing past-due accounts and handling payroll.
“They generate the data that gets handed over to an accountant for more high-level analysis,” says Upwork.
Formal training is not always necessary, but many job posts ask for certification. Pay varies depending on the tasks required, but $25 to $40 an hour is common for senior and more-skilled bookkeepers, according to Upwork.
And if you are a CPA, you can expect gigs to pay around $50 to $70 an hour.
7. Business consultant
Turn your area of expertise into high-paying gigs as a consultant reviewing business operations and providing advice to improve performance, productivity and efficiency.
Use your knowledge and experience in finance, sales, operations, human resources, marketing or other areas to earn from $72,000 to six figures annually, says ZipRecruiter. Consultants work across many fields, but IT is particularly lucrative, FlexJobs says.
Consultants go independent mainly to pick their own projects, be their own bosses and enjoy the freedom to work anywhere, says Business Talent Group, which focuses on independent high-end consulting.
8. Tech support
Looking to reboot your career and clear some real cash? HelloTech, the Uber of tech support, claims that its independent techies earn an average of $100 a day.
HelloTech provides customers same-day, on-site tech support services such as mounting TVs, setting up computers, printers, smart home systems and home theaters. Techs troubleshoot devices, deal with security issues and even run cable inside walls.
You’ll need to pass a skills assessment and background check, provide proof of insurance, meet other requirements and, of course, know how to use the HelloTech app on your smartphone to manage your gigs.
9. Etsy seller
You can craft a moneymaking Etsy shop to sell handmade creations, vintage goods and supplies.
It could take time to build your gig into a business with $100,000 in revenue yearly, but many examples abound. In 2021, for example, former higher education administrator Rachel Jones made $150,000 from selling budget planners and savings trackers, she tells Acorns.
If you want to design once and sell forever, look into the burgeoning digital products categories on Etsy. You can design and sell printable cards, digital planners, budget trackers, fitness calendars and other items, leading to a generous passive revenue stream if your items take off.
Think about what you want to sell, how you’re going to make it, how much you want to charge and your shop’s name, Etsy says. Competition is tough on Etsy, but it has tips to get you started and offers help customizing and promoting your shop.
For a look at side gigs to do from home to supplement your regular job income, check these 25 ideas, or these 10 that involve getting out.