The art of the side hustle – Financial Times

Working from home during the pandemic has given many of us time to reflect about life and explore something we might have always wanted to do. 

I started TheHumblePenny.com as a blog and side hustle — a casual extra job or business — while working full-time as a chief financial officer at an investment company, in London. 

It began as a creative outlet and a way to find my voice as a first generation immigrant passionate about helping families understand money better.

Today, after three years, that side hustle is a profitable business and my full-time job, in which I am supported by my wife and a handful of freelancers. In addition to years of savings from my previous jobs, income from the business has helped me pay off the mortgage on our home on the outskirts of London whilst in our mid-30s. 

Even if your side hustle doesn’t generate quite as much money, every £1 could help you pay off credit card debts quicker, invest more monthly, or plan for a holiday.

A poll by Henley Business School two years ago, entitled Side Hustle Economy, showed that one in four British adults has a side hustle, and these people make 20 per cent of their total household income from side hustles. With online activity booming and more people now working from home under lockdown, these figures have likely increased.

So, I’m sharing six side hustle ideas that could make you — or somebody in your family — more than £500 a month. You can apply them straight away wherever you live.

User Testing
Companies create websites and apps daily and they often desire feedback from potential users and customers. 

User Testing is a platform where you get paid for doing such tests. More than 1.2m people did so in 2019, including for top global brands. All you have to do is sign up, give feedback on products, and get paid.

You receive $10 (£7) for 20 minutes’ work, or around £22 per hour. User Testing pays even more for online interviews. Working one hour a day for a month, you would earn £650.

Upcycling
Upcycling is utilising unused or waste items to create something that’s worth more — and worth selling.

Upcycled products appeal to customers as they’re usually unique and can be personalised. Many people are looking for something different when they are cooped up at home. Examples include necklaces made from watch parts, wine bottle chandeliers, and lampshades made from old books.

A reader of our blog in her 30s was so bored watching Netflix that she started decorating empty wine bottles with glitter for the “bling” effect.

After showing them to a few friends, she was asked to create custom bottles for a lockdown wedding ceremony. This led to orders for birthdays and so on. By creating an Instagram profile and sending custom bottles to influencers, she’s now reaching a much wider potential market. A social worker by day, she is now becoming a bottle artist by night and making up to £2,000 per month from it.

Online tutoring
Every parent I know is tired, especially those who have been home-schooling children. 

If you have the relevant skills and experience to offer personal tuition, you could help the youngsters and take pressure off parents. 

The UK tutoring industry is worth an estimated £2bn-£6bn, with a large chunk now online. Maths, English and sciences are popular, although you can also tutor in music, languages and specialist skills like coding.

Searching on Tutor Hunt, a platform for online tutoring, I found that English tuition at primary school level was priced at between £30 and £60 per hour. If you tutored at, say, £40 per hour for three hours per week, that would be £480 per month.

Tutors in the UK are not required to have passed legal safeguarding checks, but don’t be surprised if parents ask you for one. If you are good at the job, you might end up working for a family for years and benefiting from them recommending you to others.

Flipping
Flipping is taking something you have, or can easily buy, and selling it for a profit. Lockdown is a perfect time to look around our homes and declutter. 

A fun approach is the #LessIsNow challenge from the Less Is Now documentary by The Minimalists on Netflix, which involves people choosing which items to clear out.

However, instead of just getting rid of stuff, how about flipping useful things on platforms like Depop or eBay for extra money? I’ve seen people sell things such as antique furniture, or branded clothing and footwear at around a 40 per cent discount to new. If you run out of things from home to sell, you can buy specifically to sell for profit. For example, used musical instruments and consumer electronics such as wireless headphones sell well on eBay with high average prices of more than £200 and £70 respectively. 

Amazon Flex
Amazon Flex pays £13-£15 an hour for drivers to deliver packages in their own time, using their own vehicles. 

You reserve a block of time, make deliveries, get paid and enjoy your work by listening to your own music. Work a day a week and you’d earn around £450 a month. 

Note that you may be required to commit to specific time slots in advance, and you’ll need extra insurance — in the UK, business class three or commercial car motor cover.

Tech virtual assistance
Digital skills can make you money online. Tech virtual assistants who support small business owners are much in demand. You can learn enough in six weeks of YouTube training videos to start (no need for a degree).

Useful skills include: managing an inbox to empty it daily using a traffic light system; understanding WordPress, an online web editing program, and Elementor, a WordPress website builder; copywriting for email and advertising campaigns; understanding email marketing systems such as Convertkit; and mastering Asana, the free project management software. 

You can earn £30 an hour on platforms such as Upwork. Working an hour a day would earn you about £900 per month.

All these are simple ideas. Once you begin, you will quickly have thoughts of your own on how to make the most of what’s possible.

Ken Okoroafor is the co-founder of The Humble Penny website and YouTube channel

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