Need money before the holidays? Here are some side hustles
The holiday season is always expensive, but rapidly rising inflation makes it even more daunting this year. That’s nearly a quarter of Americans looking for vacation activities.
If you’re in this group, the good news is that there’s a lot of extra work during the holiday season – things like shopping, cooking, crafting, gift wrapping and party decorating.
Holidays are also high season for pet sitting, grocery delivery and cleaning jobs. And, if you don’t mind serving tables, stocking shelves, or working in a retail store, those jobs also proliferate from October to January.
Wrap, decorate or hang lights
If you want to help people wrap gifts, decorate their homes, or hang Christmas lights, your best bet is to print flyers and start your own website.
Although building a website can seem daunting, simple website builders can get you up and running in an hour for less than the cost of lunch. Do you have photos that show the beautiful decorations and lights you installed last year? Do you have pictures of perfectly wrapped parcels under your tree? That, plus some contact and pricing information, is all you need to get your site started.
Be sure to use the website builder’s search engine optimization tools to designate what you’re doing and where. It’s as easy as plugging in some keywords like “holiday lights”, “package wrapping service” or “holiday decor”. Also plug in your city or service area. This helps potential customers find you when they search on Google.
Finally, link your site to your Instagram and Facebook accounts and any other social media sites you frequent. If you’re not already on Nextdoor, be sure to sign up and post an announcement about your service there as well. Entrepreneurs say this neighborhood-focused social media site is a great place to find referral businesses. So if any of your past clients rave about your past work, ask them to compliment you there.
Those with the passion and skills to make perfect Christmas cookies or gingerbread houses can offer a seasonal cooking class on Tastemade. Tastemade invites chefs – professional and amateur – to register and offer culinary experiences.
You decide when, where and how many people can participate. Classes can be in person, livestreamed or recorded. You also set the price and capacity for your class. And you decide whether to give students a shopping list or include the cost of ingredients in the price of your lesson. If the class sells, Tastemade takes a commission from your earnings.
Make crafts and gifts
If you’ve ever purchased an item on Etsy, you probably know that the site is already on holiday overdrive. This platform sells everything homemade, including clothes, jewelry, and decorations. And winter decorations, welcome mats and gifts are everywhere. Indeed, the biggest problem new sellers face when listing their crafts and gifts on Etsy is breaking through the plethora of other sellers.
The key here is to take a close look at the competition in your niche and find a way to make your product unique or cheaper to drive sales. Obviously, being the cheapest seller can only be justified when you’re always selling for more than your costs and it’s a short-term solution to building up a customer base. If you’re new and need sales and reviews, go ahead and sell at a slightly higher cost. Otherwise, differentiate your product through design, customization and imagination.
Keywords are important here too. Direct is better than smart. Use words that specifically describe what you are offering: Santa’s wreath; Christmas stockings; Hanukkah Menorah; Kwanzaa decorations.
Two-thirds of Americans also travel during the holidays to visit relatives or to enjoy winter vacations. If you don’t mind monitoring homes and pets, you can list this service on Rover.
Pet sitters typically charge between $25 and $100 per night. If you’re new, it makes sense to put your fees on the lower end of this range until you have enough reviews and recommendations to make your pet sitting service stand out. But also be aware that many Rover sitters have higher holiday rates. So visit the site as a consumer before creating your own profile. This allows you to see how your competitors describe themselves, their specialties and the prices of their services. If you can make your offer unique and appropriate for you – high energy dog specialist, cat whisperer, boa boarder, exotic animal lover – you can command a high price and still attract a lot of business.
Buy and deliver
Shipt, Instacart and GoPuff are very busy during the holidays, but it’s better to create an account with Dumpling. Dumpling is also a shopping service, but the service provider is responsible for where they buy, when they buy, and what they charge. Shipt, Instacart, and GoPuff simply send orders through their network, where buyers/drivers determine whether to accept the gig.
Dumpling charges shoppers around $30 a month to start your own shopping business, providing a credit card, personal webpage, and business cards. This lets you schedule shopping trips around your life, not someone else’s. And this allows you to develop a regular clientele and regular trips. You could shop at Costco every Monday, for example. You can tell customers to place their orders by Sunday, allowing you to plan your trip, shop for multiple orders, and deliver everything in one trip. You set your own service fees. Dumpling charges customers a 5% site fee on the grocery order.
Holiday gatherings often spur a rare but necessary deep cleaning to remove months of grime from everything from light fixtures to ovens and bathrooms. People willing to do this kind of deep cleaning can earn big bucks to rush in and make homes shine before the holidays. The best place to offer deep cleaning services is on TaskRabbit.
Staff Waiting Tables/Events
If you have experience bartending, waiting tables, or working at a concession stand, you can sign up with a site called Qwick, which recruits freelancers to host events. The site pays between minimum wage and $30 per hour. Instawork also offers bartender and waiter jobs in 30 cities across the country.
As holiday shoppers empty store shelves, warehouses and retailers need help stocking shelves. If you want to do these jobs part-time, BlueCrew is the best option in California. To comply with the state’s strict freelance law, BlueCrew hires workers and allows them to choose from available shifts and clients.
The best place to search for in-store retail jobs is Indeed, a vast job search site that lets you search by job title, location, and other factors. Currently, the site lists over 11,000 retail job openings in Los Angeles alone. Most jobs are listed with a salary range and basic requirements.
A cool feature here is that you can limit your search to nearby jobs and pay what you want to earn. So instead of browsing all 11,000 open jobs, you can limit your search to jobs within 15 miles of your zip code that pay, say, more than $17 an hour to limit the search to a reasonable number.
Kristof is the publisher of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews money-making opportunities in the gig economy.