Skip to main content

Easy Ways to Earn Extra Money by Doing Things You Love

You’re young and broke. Here’s how to turn your hobby into cash.
earn some extra money second job turn your hobbies into income

Photo Credit: Shannon Lee Miller

Millennials might be the most educated generation in the workforce. But we’re also the poorest. And with our gargantuan pile of debt, the need for extra cash is often at the forefront of our minds. Even working up the courage to ask for that raise doesn’t always ease all our financial woes.

Who said your salary only depends on your nine-to-five job? Traditional side jobs such as bartending and waitressing can be pretty lucrative, but they don’t always work with everyone’s schedule, interests, or energy level. Throw in raising a family or maintaining a social life, maybe toss in a complicated travel schedule, and an extra job can feel like an extra impossibility; having a life can feel like a pipe dream.

But what if your extra job looked a lot more like your hobby? Thanks to technology, we have a growing market of collaborative consumption, also known as a “sharing economy.” We buy and sell homemade jewelry on Etsy and advertise photography services on Instagram. Now, more than ever, making money by doing something you already love is a real and easy possibility.

From the well-known to more burgeoning start-ups, these companies commit to making your life a little richer.


Have you taken a class or two on cooking? Do you find yourself gravitating toward exploring recipes on Pinterest? If you’re always looking for an excuse to throw a dinner party, you could be a perfect fit for these two new companies. KitchenSurfing and Dinner Elf aim to connect people with the culinary-inclined. Depending on your client’s desired skill level, you can cook for anything from festive events to family meals. KitchenSurfing focuses on high-end private catering; Dinner Elf focuses on more casual, everyday eating. Chefs range from culinary professionals who have worked in fine dining worldwide to stay-at-home moms with experience in baking to registered dietitians.

​To join KitchenSurfing, you have to fill out an application (apply here); compensation ranges depending on your skill set. KitchenSurfing is available in large metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, D.C. At the moment, Dinner Elf (apply here) is only in Austin, Texas. Both have plans to grow beyond these current markets soon. In order to be eligible, you’ll need a dedicated car and smartphone, basic cooking experience, the ability to pass a background check, some essential cooking tools (e.g. a food processor), and an open schedule around dinner time.


Are you a brilliant photographer equipped with a DSLR and an interesting perspective? Perhaps you have no desire to put the time and energy into making your own website or business? Look no further., a start-up I’ve been working on, aims to make freelance photographers more accessible to those who need them. allows you to book a photographer for birthday parties, bachelorettes, and even to capture a family’s morning routine. works on the premise that people can’t simultaneously be in the moment and trying to photograph it. is currently available in New York, Austin, Denver, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Detroit. If you’ve got an eye, some great photos, and a DSLR, list your portfolio online today. It is free to list your profile, and only profits by taking 10 percent of each completed booking.

Personal Styling

Do you catch on to trends and put together chic outfits au naturel? Are you an enthusiastic, personable shopper who is bubbling to share your shopping secrets? Well, your latent dream to become a personal stylist can come true. Side by Style is a new way to connect the fashion savvy to those who want to revamp their wardrobes. This service caters to people who might not want to dole out hundreds of dollars for a personal shopper affiliated with an expensive brand. Depending on your style, you can guide your clients online or meet with them in person.

The cool thing? The company is currently accepting applications anywhere in the United States. Interested in applying? Be sure to take quality high-res photos—especially if you don’t have a fashion blog or a strong social following. It costs nothing to list yourself as a stylist; Side by Style will only take a cut of the transaction once it’s completed. Otherwise, you’re a completely independent stylist. You set your own hours and hourly rate.


And now for the big, ubiquitous opportunity. Do you have some artistic talent, whether it’s knitting, sculpture, or another art? Are you creating things that are up to the caliber of what you see selling at your local boutique? Consider joining the largest crafting network we’ve all heard of before: Etsy. Etsy is the fifth most visited site in the United States, so you’re sure to get more traffic there than trying to create your own website—at least if you’re just starting out. From making your own soap to designing unique jewelry, selling on Etsy might be a good fit for your creative lifestyle. The best part? Your schedule depends on what works best for you.

Apart from initial costs you’ll need for supplies, costs are pretty low. It’s free to open up a shop, but it costs 20 cents per listing, and the listing only lasts four months. When someone purchases your item, Etsy will take a 3.5 percent cut. If you’re not in the U.S., there may be fees for using certain payment methods depending on your bank. “What’s great is that when you’re just starting out, the fees are worth the convenience,” shares Becca, co-owner of the Etsy Shop Native Maps. “And if your Etsy shop builds a good reputation, it can spark a reliable source of income.”

Other Opportunities

Even if you don’t have a creative passion or hobby, there are tons of enjoyable, flexible ways to make money.

Are you social? Do you have a smartphone and a pretty new four-door car? Have you had your in-state driver’s license for at least one year? If you said yes to all the above and can pass a background and driving record check, you might consider becoming an Uber or Lyft driver. Though be sure to check with your car insurance, as the coverage may change if you become a driver with one of these services.

If you love kids, you might enjoy getting the occasional babysitting gig on Sittercity or UrbanSitter. The background check costs money depending on where you live, but passing it greatly increases your chances of getting hired.

If you need an extra boost toward your mortgage for that new house—with that extra room—consider renting your space on Airbnb. Not only is this a simple way to add to your savings, but it’s also a great way to meet new people and invest in new experiences—enriching your life in more ways than one. There’s no fee to list; you’ll only pay a 3 percent service fee when you confirm a reservation. If you’re a renter, be sure to check with your landlord so that you won’t violate any rules on your lease.

In today’s economy, having just one income isn’t always going to cut it. Luckily social media and technology are embracing this “sharing” culture, and you can benefit. So sign up, and start earning!