7 Side Gigs for Seniors

Lawn mower cutting green grass in backyard, garden service.
Donyns / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Ideally our senior years are spent relaxing and traveling, but the harsh reality is that many can’t afford it. Over 15 million Americans age 65 and over — roughly 25% of that demographic — are economically insecure, with incomes below 200% of the federal poverty level, according to the National Council on Aging.

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What’s an American retiree to do? One solid option is to get a side hustle

We all know about driving for Uber or Lyft and selling crafts on Etsy or another online marketplace, but what are some other gigs that are ideal for seniors? And roughly how much can you potentially make from them? Let’s explore. 

Also see other good options for retired people who plan to work.

Self-Publish a Guide or Primer

By the time you’ve reached your golden years, you likely have accrued a trove of knowledge from a profession or hobby that would be useful to those starting out in the same field. Share it by self-publishing a guide or primer online. For profit. 

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“Once you’ve drafted your step-by-step guide — some people even format it as a formal course — publish it on a site such as Kindle Direct Publishing or Barnes & Noble Press,” said Jamison Manwaring, a real estate developer, finance expert and CEO of Neighborhood Ventures. “It will be available for millions of readers to find. Set up a website or social media feed to help market your book and soon you’ll start getting money — typically 70% of the price — every time the book is downloaded.”

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Sell Your Old Photos

A photograph is worth a thousand words — and potentially a thousand bucks (well, maybe not quite that much, but you get the point). You can sell your old photos and make a nice profit. All you need is a quality scanner app on your smartphone. 

“Digitize your old photos or capitalize on the existing ones on your mobile device by uploading them to a stock photography platform such as Stocksy,” Manwaring said. “These aggregators will pay you between 50% and 70% of the money they make licensing your images to content providers hungry for specific photos.

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“Best of all, the right shot will be downloaded multiple times; and, obviously, the more photos you feature on the site, the more regularly your royalty payments will show up in your inbox. In most cases, you’ll still maintain your copyright; and, by using one of these services, you’ll be able to monetize images that might otherwise sit and stagnate.”

Rent Out Your Spare Room or Property

Are you an empty-nester with an extra space you no longer use? Put it to work. 

“Whether it’s a spare bedroom, a basement or even a garage or shed on the property, that space can be turned into monthly cash flow,” Manwaring said. “You will have to spend some time up front vetting an appropriate tenant; but, once you’ve found someone suitable, the arrangement should be hassle free. And if you have a summer home or similar, consider using an online service like Vrbo to rent that property to others when you’re not using it.”

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Become a Virtual Assistant 

You no longer need to be in person to be an assistant. 

“Many businesses and entrepreneurs are looking for virtual assistants to assist them with administrative tasks such as email response, appointment scheduling and social media account management,” said Michael Hammelburger, a CPA and the CEO of The Bottom Line Group. “Seniors with strong organizational and communication skills could work from the comfort of their own homes as virtual assistants.”

Pay varies, but the average salary in the U.S. is $23.92 an hour, according to Indeed.

Tour Guide

Know your city like the back of your hand? Your expertise can help tourists get informed — and help make some moolah. 

“With an average salary of [$34,011] per year in the U.S., tour guide jobs are a great side hustle for seniors who enjoy history and live in the city or near tourist attractions,” said Andrei Kurtuy, co-founder and CCO at Novorésumé. “In addition to being an extra source of income, showing travelers around historical landmarks and spots offers seniors a chance of being both physically and socially active.”


After years in a particular field (or various ones), you’ve developed some serious expertise and can profit off it via consulting. 

“Seniors can use their years of experience and knowledge to offer advice and guidance to others in their industry,” said Tyler Seeger, managing director at Retirement Being. “This can be done on a freelance basis, with seniors setting their own rates and schedules, which can range from $50 to $300 per hour, depending on their level of expertise.”

Mow Lawns 

Lawns have to be mowed. It is simply the reality of properties with grass. You may as well get paid for doing it.

“Mowing grass can be a very lucrative, recession-proof side hustle to earn an additional income. [The job] has a very low barrier to entry and is great exercise,” said Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal. “Lawn care pros can earn up to $40 to $50 per hour by cutting grass, and this can all be done in the evening or even just on the weekends. One can obtain a used commercial mower and trailer for less than $1,000.”

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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