Welcome to the first side hustle report of the new decade! In today’s post, we’ll be taking a look at what I earned from side hustling in January 2020.
To give you a bit of context on what these side hustle reports are about, last year I took a big leap and quit my job to pursue this blog full-time. I’ve gone through a bit of a career crisis over the past few years which ended up with me finding myself pretty unhappy professionally (think living for the weekend and dreading Mondays).
After spending 5 years practicing law in three different settings (biglaw, govt, and non-profit), it became clear to me that it was time for me to move on and work on things that I found more fulfilling. The way I see it, work is just too important and takes up too much time to spend most of that time being unhappy and unfulfilled.
So, for the past year, my full-time job has been this blog, where I’m able to make a humble living from the ads and affiliate revenue that I generate. In addition to this blog, I also do my best to bring in extra income through a variety of sharing economy and gig economy apps. These are apps that I’ve been using ever since I was a big shot lawyer and I’ve always done them because I find them interesting and fun to do. It also helps that all of these gig economy side hustles fit in very well with my day-to-day life.
2020 is shaping up to be a very big year, with some major life changes coming on the horizon. What this means is that my side hustle life is going to evolve, but my goal is to keep doing these gigs every month so you can see what sort of income you can generate, even with a busy schedule.
With all that said, below is a breakdown of my earnings for last month:
Side Hustle Income for January 2020
- Airbnb: $0
- Rover: $462.40
- Postmates/DoorDash/Uber Eats/Amazon Flex/Grubhub: $413.44
- Wag: $33.40
- Bird/Lime: $13.05
- Shipt/Instacart: $43.14
- Selling Trash Finds/Flipping: $136.99
- Job Spotter: $6.79
- Roadie: $30.16
- ProductTube: $20
- Google Opinion Rewards/1Q/Surveys On The Go: $17.43
- User Interviews/L&E Research: $10
- Secret Shopping: $894 of free food
Total Side Hustle Income for January 2020 = $1,186.80
January was a bit of a travel month for me, which allowed me to do a few side hustles that I haven’t been able to do in a while. Most people don’t think about this, but one of the interesting benefits of gig economy apps is that you can use them pretty much anywhere. That means it’s possible to side hustle and make extra income, even while you’re traveling.
In this case, I flew to DC for a few days around the beginning of January to visit my parents. I don’t have a job anymore that requires me to work in one spot, so I was still able to get work done while I was back home – in this case, out of a WeWork since I have access to all WeWorks around the country due to one of the credit cards I have. I also did a little bit of side hustling in DC, including charging up some scooters, walking some dogs, and opening up a local bank account in order to get a $200 signup bonus. I’ll go into more detail about these later in the post.
In the middle of the month, I flew to Austin for my friend Gary’s wedding (he blogs over at Debt Free Climb). That trip worked out really well, as I got to use my Lyft Pink benefits from my Chase Sapphire Reserve in order to get some free scooter rides. I also did a little bit of side hustling there – delivering some food and dropping off some scooters. And I was able to get some blog work done at a WeWork in Austin while I was there.
Naturally, my two trips in January were both essentially free, with the flights and lodging booked entirely with points. I ended up staying at my parent’s house for my DC trip, so that didn’t cost me anything. For my Austin trip, I used my expiring Marriott Free Night Certificates to spend two nights at the Westin in Downtown Austin. It was a solid hotel with a really high cash rate, so I thought it was a good use of the certificates.
I’m going to be grounded for the next few months and likely won’t be traveling anywhere until April – which is a pretty long time for me since it seems like I’m usually flying somewhere most months.
Anyway, that’s some of the more interesting personal highlights of the month. Let’s take a closer look at the side hustle income in January.
Airbnb Income: $0
My wife and I are taking a break from Airbnb for a little bit, which is why our Airbnb income was $0 last month. We’ve been renting out our guest room on Airbnb since 2016 and during that stretch, we’ve only had 1 month where we didn’t do Airbnb at all – back in April 2017 when my wife and I were getting married and couldn’t handle the stress of guests in our house. That’s a long time of continuous Airbnb hosting when I think about it.
2020 is going to be different, as we’re going to be taking a break from renting out the guest room while we’re in the house. There are some reasons that we’re doing this that I’ll touch on in a future post. At the moment, the plan for this year is to either rent out our entire house on Airbnb when we travel or if we can’t get the house booked, rent out the guest room while we travel. I’m fairly confident that, at a minimum, we’ll be able to rent out the guest room pretty much anytime we’re on the road.
What that will mean is that our Airbnb income will take a major dip in 2020. The bright side is that this reduced hosting might mean that I can take advantage of the Master’s Rule this year. It’s a rule that allows you to generate tax-free income if you rent your primary residence out for 14 days or less. I can then take that income and put it into a Roth IRA, making it tax-free forever.
- If you have extra space and want to earn extra income using your home, you can sign up to be an Airbnb host using my referral link.
- Airbnb is also one of the most affordable ways to travel. If you’ve never used Airbnb, sign up for Airbnb with my link in order to get $40 off your first stay.
Rover Income: $462.40
January was a big Rover month, mainly because I had a dog that I watched during Christmas and New Years. I ended up making $308 essentially doing something that I was already doing anyway (I already have to take care of my own dog, so taking care of a second dog isn’t much more work). This dog was pretty funny – a Boston Terrier that was friendly and energetic.
My other dog guest for the month was Cooper, the Toy Poodle that my wife and I have been watching for the past three years. He was 14 years old when we first started watching him and today, he’s 17 now.
The rest of the Rover income for the month came from a few dog walks that I did through Rover. My neighbor found me on Rover back in December and has been requesting the occasional evening walk for her dog. This works out really well because I can also bring my own dog on the walk with me, which basically means I’m getting paid to walk my own dog when I get home from work. It might not be exactly passive income, but it sort of is, in a way.
If you already own a dog, I think it makes sense to sign up for Rover and see if it works for you. You can sign up to be a dog sitter on Rover using my referral link.
Postmates/DoorDash/Uber Eats/Amazon Flex/Grubhub Income: $413.44
We’ve had a really mild winter in Minnesota this year, so it has made doing deliveries a lot easier. I ended up making a lot more than I realized when I pulled the delivery numbers of the month. Below is a breakdown of my earnings on each delivery platform in January:
My strategy this year has been primarily to do a few deliveries during the lunch hour when I’m downtown, then do deliveries on my way home when I leave my coworking space. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you’re doing it, but that money does add up.
I also did a few deliveries while I was on the road. When I was in Austin, my buddy and I were eating at Torchy’s Tacos and after we finished our meal, I decided to turn on my delivery apps to see if anything interesting popped up. As luck would have it, I ended up getting a delivery from Torchy’s going to an apartment building a few blocks away. I picked up the order as I walked out the door, then did a little exploring while I walked this delivery over a few blocks – not a bad way to explore a city. And I made 7 bucks, which covered at least some of the cost of my meal.
Wag Income: $33.40
Wag was pretty slow in January. I’ve been cutting back on Wag over the past year, mainly because I don’t find it as profitable compared to some of my other gigs. I mainly now do it when I’m bored or if I have a dog that I particularly want to walk.
The main advantage that I do think Wag has over other gig apps is that it’s probably the best one to use when you’re traveling. Walking dogs in a new city is a very easy way to get paid to explore. And since you’re walking, it doesn’t require any special equipment (when I’m doing deliveries, for example, I need a bike and a delivery bag). When I was back in DC, that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t feel like doing deliveries, but I was able to get a few Wag walks in.
If you want more information about Wag and how you can make it work for you, check out my Wag post.
Bird/Lime Scooter Income: $13.05
There are no Bird or Lime scooters in Minneapolis since they’re gone into hibernation for the winter, but I was able to charge up a few Lime scooters while I was in DC and Austin. I’ve been feeling kind of scooter deprived lately, so it was nice to be able to get back in the scooter game, even if just on a small basis.
In DC, I used the scooters to go from my parent’s house to the WeWork. There was a drop-off spot right outside of the WeWork, so I was able to ride the scooter for free, then drop it off when I reached the office. I dropped them off late, so I only received half-pay, but that’s still better than nothing – I literally got paid to ride the scooters.
In Austin, I didn’t charge any scooters since I was staying in a luxury hotel and couldn’t figure out how I would get the scooter through the lobby without getting yelled at by the staff. However, another task you can do with the scooters is to drop off broken scooters at a broken scooter drop-off spot. Austin happened to have a bunch of drop-off spots close to downtown, so my buddy and I rode a few scooters there and dropped them off for some extra cash.
One little known trick is that most of the time, these broken scooters aren’t actually broken. They also almost always seem to have a full battery. What this means is that, if you’re a scooter charger, you can basically ride these scooters around for free. That’s exactly what my buddy and I did during one of the days we were in Austin. We took these scooters, rode them around the city for free, then dropped them off at the drop-off spot when we didn’t need them anymore.
Shipt/Instacart Income: $43.14
I didn’t do as much Shipt as I thought I would. Like with the other gig economy apps, Shipt has some interesting use cases since you can do Shipt deliveries even while you’re traveling.
In this case, my interesting delivery for the month was a prescription delivery order from a CVS while I was back home in DC visiting my parents. This order only had to go a few blocks, and for whatever reason, it was offering a huge promo to get this order completed. It only took me a short time to complete this delivery and I ended up making $23 for the delivery. That worked out very well.
If you’re interested in learning more about Shipt, check out my Shipt Review to learn about my experience with Shipt.
Trash/Flipping Income: $136.99
In January, I sold two trash finds that I’ve actually been using as furniture for the past two years or so. We’re converting one of our extra rooms into an office – the room used to have a twin bed in it, but we gave the bed to my sister-in-law since one of her kids switched over to a regular bed. This meant that we needed to clear out some of the other bedroom furniture in there, which included a nightstand and a dresser.
The dresser ended up selling for $30 and the nightstand sold for $10. The nice thing about this is that we used this furniture for years, so the fact that we were able to sell them after using them for over two years was icing on the cake.
The other sales this month were on eBay, where I sold about $72 worth of stuff. These were all things I bought at the Goodwill Outlet, which is where I usually go when I’m looking for cheap things to flip. It’s really not hard to find $50 or $100 worth of stuff if you’re willing to spend a little bit of time there.
Finally, I sold about $24 worth of old clothes that I’m getting rid of. Clearing out my closet is a long-term project, but it’s slowly getting done. My next step is to get rid of a ton of dress shirts – I have probably close to 50 dress shirts that I never wear now since I don’t have a normal job anymore.
Job Spotter Income: $6.79
Job Spotter has taken a big dive due to recent changes with the app. I used to regularly make $10 to $30 per month just taking pictures of hiring signs, but Job Spotter changed their algorithm a little while ago to dramatically reduce what it pays for signs that have already been photographed.
What this means is that, if you take a picture of a hiring sign for a chain restaurant or you’re not the first to take a picture of the sign, you basically only get paid 5 cents or so. I suspect that for most people, somewhere around $3 to $5 per month is going to be more realistic now.
Roadie Income: $30.16
Roadie was very interesting for me this past month. I don’t do Roadie very often, so it’s worth explaining how this app works. Basically, you can deliver anything to anyone using the Roadie app, but the vast majority of the deliveries are lost luggage deliveries from the airport. If American Airlines, Delta, or Southwest lose your luggage, they contract with Roadie to get the luggage back to you.
In this case, my mom came to Minnesota to visit me over a weekend. On the day that she was leaving, I went with her to the airport, then picked up this Roadie gig while I was there. The drop-off location was a house just a block away from a light rail station, so I was able to hop off the train, walk the luggage over to the house, then hop back on the train. The delivery paid $10.16, but for some reason, I also received a $20 bonus when I did the delivery. I have no clue why, but that meant this one delivery paid $30, which made it very worth my time.
ProductTube Income: $20
I made $20 via ProductTube in January. This is an app that I think is well worth doing for most people. It takes almost no time to do each of these gigs, so the hourly rate is really high – I’d estimate it at $60 per hour or more given the time it takes. The only thing that stops me from doing these gigs more is that there aren’t that many of them each month.
Google Opinion Rewards/1Q/Surveys On The Go Income: $17.43
The short survey apps that I keep on my phone continue to be worth my time. Below a breakdown of my earnings with each one in January:
1Q was a little more lucrative than usual because I received a whole bunch of questions during one stretch in the month. You get 25 cents per question you answer and each question takes literally 2 seconds to answer.
I also continued to make a good amount from Surveys On The Go. In 2019, I made over $100 from that app and this year I’m on pace to do that again. I find it pretty amazing how much that app pays given how little time and effort the surveys take.
User Interviews/L&E Research Income: $10
In January, I grabbed one market research gig via User Interviews. This one required me to answer a few survey questions and then I received $10 in an Amazon gift card. The survey only took a few minutes, so it was worth my time.
Secret Shopping Income: $894 In Free Food
This isn’t a side hustle per se, but a lot of people have asked me to include this information to get an understanding of what’s possible with secret shopping.
In January, I went out to eat 28 times and had all of those meals reimbursed via these secret shopping websites. It’s getting to the point where my wife is starting to say we need to cut back on secret shopping because we’ve been going out to eat way too much. It has led to a large decrease in our grocery bill, but admittedly, going out to eat this many times probably isn’t sustainable long-term.
The funny thing about secret shopping is that, just like the other apps I use, secret shopping can also be done while you’re on the road. In this case, I ate three meals for free while I was back home visiting my parents. When I was in Austin, I couldn’t find any food secret shops, but I did snag two drink secret shops that reimbursed me over $100 to buy drinks for me and my buddy. This worked out really well because we were already going out anyway – so the fact that we got our drinks for free was just an unexpected bonus.
The specifics of how secret shopping works is beyond this post, but be sure to read my post on Restaurant Secret Shopper jobs. That post goes into much more detail about how you can use secret shopping to reduce your food budget and still live it up.
And that concludes the January 2020 Side Hustle Report!
January was a solid month, although down compared to months I’ve had in the past since I didn’t do any Airbnb. Cutting down on Airbnb is going to dramatically reduce my side hustle earnings. I suspect that in the future, getting around $1,000 per month of side hustle income is going to be my more realistic target (in the past, I was regularly hitting $3,000 to $4,000 per month of side hustle income thanks to Airbnb).
There are some big changes in store for 2020, so the nature of my side hustling is going to change a bit. I think you’ll still find it interesting, even if the numbers aren’t going to be as big as they used to be.
Be sure to check out my other side hustle reports if you’re curious about how my side hustles work. And feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.