Roughly 45% of Americans or around 70 million people report having a side job, according to survey data from Side Hustle Nation. And with inflation costs putting a major strain on Americans’ finances, it’s no surprise that starting a side gig is on many people’s minds.
You’ve likely heard the saying, “It takes money to make money.” Those words often hold true when trying to get a side hustle off the ground. The good news is that some cost far less than others to launch, which is helpful to know if funds are already tight.
If you’re looking to breathe life back into your bank account by starting a side gig, here are some costs to consider to plan ahead.
- $350-$500 for a used laptop
- $50-$100 for monthly internet, depending on speed and provider
“If you’re good at Instagram, graphics designing, writing, bookkeeping, transcription, you can find clients via LinkedIn, Facebook Groups and directly reaching out to potential clients,” said Chhavi Agarwal, a work-from-home expert on Mrs. Daaku Studio. “Depending on the skill set, you can easily make up to $1,000-5,000 on the side.”
And the starting costs? Almost nil. If you have a computer or a laptop with an internet connection, you are good to go. As you grow, you can choose to invest in courses, coaching and tools but your expenditure is relative to what you earn and it will always be your choice how much you want to spend on upskilling.
“On the other hand, if you don’t have a laptop or Wi-Fi connection, that is something you will need to buy. You can buy a decent, secondhand laptop if budget is a concern.”
- $4.63 per gallon of gas (as of July 15)
- 9.55 cents per mile for maintenance, repair and tires
“Occasionally I will have to pick up extra income through side gigs, especially in the current economy,” said Tina Tolbert, travel agent and owner of Hey Mickey Travel. “The two that I tend to turn to the most often are grocery delivery through Spark (Walmart) or Shipt. While this gig tends to pay well, there also are more costs associated. Gas and car maintenance being the main two.”
Teaching English Online
- $350-$500 for a good, used laptop
- $50-$100 for Internet, depending on speed and provider
“The other gig I tend to utilize is teaching ESL online through a company called Cambly,” said Tolbert. “Cambly has both an adult division and a kids division. With adults, you just get paid for each minute you spend chatting with other adults around the world who are trying to improve their English. For Cambly Kids, students are enrolled in a course and you teach the slides that are automatically populated on the screen. This gig tends to not pay as well, but the benefit is that the only real cost is internet access and a computer which most people tend to already have.”
- $400-$600 [based on expert source below]
“To break into voiceover, you must make an initial investment in equipment,” said Vickie Pierre, an insurance copywriter with QuoteInspector. “Expect to spend at least $500 on quality accessories. Naturally, this begins with a good mic – specifically, a cardioid condenser microphone – and something to connect your mic to your computer. This connection is usually a USB cable, but some microphones require an interface that provides phantom power. You will also need a mic stand, a pop filter to help reduce noise, and a good pair of headphones — the kind that cover your ears.”
Pierre added, “These days, purchasing a podcasting kit will get you most of the aforementioned supplies. While you can find some for close to the $100 – $200 range, it’s best to invest closer to $400 – $600 to ensure quality. That being said, higher-quality microphones won’t always be part of these kits. I purchased all of my elements ‘a la carte’ and spent about $500, with $100 going toward the microphone alone.”
Food Photographer for Bloggers
Demand is high for people who offer their skills as food photographers for bloggers. And if you already have photography skills and own the right equipment, it won’t cost you near as much to get started.
Jenna Tranter, food photographer and owner of A Cure for Monday, shared the following breakdown of costs associated with this side gig. Note that some of these costs are initial costs that do not reoccur and others are ongoing.
- Camera and equipment: $1,000-$3,000
- Photo editing software: $9.99/month
- Plates, bowls, flatware, etc: $150
- Props and decor: $100
- Backdrop: $150
- Ingredients: $10-$20 per recipe
Selling on Etsy or Shopify
- Varies according to sales platform and other options
Haley Hamilton Berger, founder of Haley Hamilton Art, LLC has been running her online hand embroidery business since 2017. She started on Etsy and then moved to Shopify.
It’s difficult to estimate the costs associated with selling goods on Etsy or Shopify because everyone’s experience will differ. To help give you an idea, however, here’s a breakdown of costs Hamilton Berger provided for this side gig.
- Transaction fees: Etsy is very high at .20 per listing, then 6.5% of each transaction.
- Shipping fees: These keep getting more expensive. Also, budget for lost/stolen/damaged packages — it’s rare but it will happen.
- Graphic design services: Canva is a popular platform for small businesses, but its Pro version costs around $13/month.
- SEO tools: I use Keysearch for SEO optimization — again $13/month.
- Website fees: While it has lower transaction fees than Etsy, Shopify starts at ~$30/month.
- Domain name: You must buy your own domain and renew it annually.
- Business registration: If you choose to legally register your business, there are upfront and annual costs, depending on your state.
- Packaging supplies: In addition to shipping costs, packaging supplies and branded materials can add up, especially if you’re selling fragile products.
- Digital advertising: Social media, Etsy, Google, etc.
Hopefully, this helps give you a general sense of the various expenses associated with some of the most common types of side gigs. Good luck out there!
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