Side hustles are as signature to millennials as avocado toast. If you’re looking for something outside the box, with minimal competition but a lot of earning potential, this article is for you.
From dating consultants to holiday errand specialists, there’s a world of cash to be made out there doing quirky side hustles.
Side Hustles Can Be Seriously Lucrative
Side hustles are as signature to millennials as avocado toast. With soaring student loan debt, rising cost of living, and slow wage growth, it makes sense people are looking to make an extra buck.
Today, we’re looking at a list of unusual side hustle ideas you haven’t already seen all over Pinterest. Ideas includes subjective ratings of how lucrative their earning potential may be and pro tips on important things to consider.
1. Corporate Gift Consultant ($25 – $50 Per Hour)
What did your boss get you last year as a gift from your boss? Assuming you did get a gift…
- Did you enjoy it?
- Was it personal?
- Did it feel obligatory, or given in authentic spirit of appreciation?
I’m trying to say this nicely, but I guess I should just come out with it.
Bosses usually suck at expressing their appreciation of their employees through gifts.
However, the value of conveying genuine appreciation for direct reports matters. In fact, research has shown it is often more important than salary in influencing employee engagement and how long they stay with a company.
→ Pro tip: Look for opportunities to educate local business leaders about employee engagement through public speaking.
For this side hustle, picture yourself surveying and interviewing employees to maker highly personalized recommendations, provide a report with options to the boss, and functioning as concierge in the purchase and preparation of gifts on behalf of your client.
To me, that sounds heavenly. The average hourly rate works out to $30 for corporate gift consultants.
But, because the true value of this exercise is keeping critical employees around and engaged, the right gift selection could be invaluable.
2. Public Speaking Coach ($100+ Per Hour)
Several friends of mine are professional, persuasive speakers for a living. They are ideal coaches for folks who need to step up their public speaking game. They’re lawyers.
More specifically, they’re litigators. To my surprise, my humble friends tend to undervalue this particular skill set as a consulting opportunity. But, because they spend so much time in the courthouse speaking confidently and convincingly to represent their clients, it makes total sense to me!
Of course, you don’t need to be a lawyer or work in any certain type of work to help people be better public speakers.
→ Pro tip: English majors, performing artists, social scientists and others from disciplines which celebrate and strengthen soft skills are also phenomenally well-equipped to master this side hustle.
Who might need your help?
- Business executives
- Public relations departments
- Entrepreneurs fundraising venture capital
As an investment in their professional development, it would not be unusual for a corporate client, such as a sales department, to pay several thousand dollars for these services. Working for an individual, you could expect to charge $100-300/hour, depending on your background.
3. Holiday Errand Service – Elf For Hire ($25 – $50 Per Hour)
A few years ago, I had a pretty startling conversation with a woman who seemed to be coming unglued at the holidays. She just had way too much to do and too little time to do it.
I suppose there are two responses to that:
- Be like the people in the Bad Moms movies and say “HARD PASS”
- You can outsource tasks to save your sanity
Well, I guess the third option is to stay the course and overindulge in the punch at Christmas.
People will pay good money for convenience. The holiday crunch time is such a flurry of business, why no put up a few flyers and see what happens? Offer to do shopping, personal tasks like party planning, or personalized gift list curation to ease the stress of it all.
→ Protip: Senior citizens especially need help gift shopping as mobility can be a logistical challenge and most can’t just hit up Amazon.com.
This is essentially a take on a personal assistant gig. Those typically pay $15 per hour, but the at the holidays you can charge a premium for rush orders, travel mileage, and “peak season” demand.
4. Dating Consultant ($100+ Per Hour)
If you’re on a dating app, you know dating consultants are badly needed.
Folks who have mastered the art of dating or specialize in helping couples sort out their priorities are great candidates.
Interestingly, most of the headlines I see for dating consultants are focused on helping men. Don’t women need help, too? What about folks in the LGBTQ+ community? I smell a niche marketing opportunity!
How lucrative this quirky side hustle is boils down to ingenuity and being able to generate interest. If you have the chops to sell yourself as a premium service, you might fetch up to $20,000 a month, too.
5. Meal Prepper (Under $25 Per Hour)
With the growing popularity of meal delivery services (and the $5 billion market they are likely to become) and home grocery delivery, it’s safe to say the verdict is in.
Americans are in love with the idea of simpler yet healthier meals at home.
One of the biggest challenges services like HelloFresh, Blue Apron, Prepped and other services have had over the last several years is retaining their customers. Is price the big barrier? Does it still take too much work? The jury is still out on this, but I’m putting my thumb on the scale.
I think the issue is it still requires too much time. Enter your solution:
Delivery of prepared meals, ready to pop in the oven. The business model is out there for you to copycat — that’s the best part. Take a look at what a few of the meal delivery services charge for their ingredients and delivery to your door, then add a premium for your preparation services.
It might sound silly that 30 minutes would be too much effort, but sometimes the psychological barrier to chopping and slicing is bigger than the objective time commitment. Like the story of the exhausted person I met amid the holiday rush, it’s likely meal preparation during the week even sounds exhausting by 7 PM.
6. Event Venue Property ($100+ Per Hour)
It’s no secret the wedding industry is a cash cow.
Premium locations in urban areas can get away with charging $5,000-10,000 per night for their venue space alone. Add to that a food and beverage minimum, and it’s no wonder the average cost of a wedding in 2017 was about $35,000.
→ Protip: Be sure to look into permitting requirements and liability insurance before putting out a shingle.
A few ideas to try on for size:
- Own a barn? Rustic-chic is a hot trend.
- Have a quirky space people might enjoy? Launch a micro-wedding or elopement destination.
- Urban warehouse? You might have a secret pop-up shop space.
7. Bounce House Rentals ($50 – $100 Per Hour)
When I came home last Saturday with my better half, something on my street caught my eye. It was one of these:
I was so excited I made my boyfriend go around the block to live vicariously through the laughing, jumping, clumsy kids all flailing around in the ball pit inside of the thing.
→ Pro tip: This kind of service would require a liability waiver, no question. Consult a lawyer!
The going rate for a rental is $60-100/hour, depending on the market you’re in. If you have a minimum rental period of 4 hours at $75/hour, you can pay for this specific bouncer ($399) in less than two rentals to some desperate parents in your area who need to keep kiddos entertained during birthday parties this summer.
If you booked every single weekend in the summer, you could hypothetically earn around $4,000 in rentals.
8. Home Filming Location ($100+ Per Hour)
This is an area I admittedly do not have first hand experience with. But, after reading about a two families last year who converted their home specifically for the purpose of renting it out for movie and TV set filming, I’m officially intrigued.
- This family, with small children, might earn $2,400 per day for feature filming in their home.
- Meanwhile, an older couple specifically had on-site filming in mind for this beauty outside Manhattan.
How do you know if your house is perfect for this? For starters, an accessible location, natural light, and elbow space are necessary.
9. Process Server (Under $25 Per Hour)
“You’ve been served.”
That line in the movies is delivered by a professional called a process server. Their job does, in reality, often include the task of tracking down hard-to-find people to deliver legal paperwork for civil courts.
For example, they might deliver:
- divorce papers
→ Pro tip: Look into special skills or certification you might need. Specific requirements vary by state.
Common pay for process servers is $20/hour, but varies considerably by the type of organization employing the server. In many cases, a day in the life of a process server might not be as exciting as it seems in the movies.
But, if you’re an adventure-seeker and have the flexibility to do this on a part-time basis within the rules of your local regulations, it’s possible to make a pretty penny for delivering paperwork.
10. Freelance Visual Merchandiser (Under $25 Per Hour)
If you love holiday window shopping and have a knack for being able to recreate the gorgeous store displays at home, you might have a hidden talent for a side hustle.
I tried to recreate a tree I saw at Macy’s once. Yikes. Visual merchandising is its own specialization in college programs these days.
Retail sales are known to be heavily influenced by psychology and, perhaps unsurprisingly, how products look and the emotions they evoke in a store setting, can certainly impact sales in stores.
This skill is a creative service any talented individual could build a small business around and market leading up to the holidays. Corporate gigs of this nature pay the equivalent of $15 to $20/hour.
→ Pro tip: Price your services as a flat-rate project to maximize profit.
With a few signature offerings and a lot of hustle, you can earn for creating the winter wonderland scenes that make customers buy!
11. Merchandise Flipping (Under $25 Per Hour)
Last fall, someone I know got the hair-brained idea (or so I thought, at the time) to buy up a bunch of high-end shoes he saw at a discount retail store (think: Ross, TJ Maxx, Marshalls) and list them on Facebook marketplace to sell them closer to their normal retail price.
Crazy enough, it worked! (And I ate crow.)
All told, he bought up 9 pairs of shoes at the discount store, sold all of them for more than he paid, and profited nearly $300. It broke out to roughly $40 of profit per pair.
→ Pro tip: Pick variations of the same item type to keep things simple. You can copy/paste sale listings this way and buying will take less time, too. In other words, don’t be like the lead character on Girl Boss and spend tons of time looking for diamonds in the rough.
This hustle requires some working capital, but if you can find a seasonally-specific item (like golf shoes, barbeque grill equipment, or ski gear) your total time to breakeven can be short due to the limited timing of demand.
Lots of Goods
Alternatively, another outside-the-box option for flipping is buying pallets of items and selling items individually.
There’s a place local to me in the Louisville, KY area that routinely gets shipments of name-brand items, which locals quickly snatch up and post to Craigslist and Facebook.
Examples of things I’ve seen in those pallets:
- air mattresses
- box fans
- kids toys
- lawn care tools
→ Pro tip: You could also use this strategy at yard sales in the summer, negotiating a great rate to take a whole section of a yard and reselling what many owners will let go for a song to simply get it out of their house.
The pallets of goods I’ve seen listed are typically between $200-400 each. However, they can often fetch twice to five times as much in sales.
12. Senior Citizen Downsizing Services ($50 – $100 Per Hour)
I recently read a New York Times article about millennials inheriting so much stuff from their parents and grandparents they are boxing up and donating practically entire households of stuff to thrift stores!
To that point, I recently sat down with a relative to review a list of valuables they own and which they intend to pass on to me. It was a really touching moment in the relationship, truly.
In our conversation, we discussed they’d like me to inherent things like:
- 4 complete sets of china
- crystal stemware
- antique furniture
- super random collectibles
- 30 years worth of Hallmark holiday ornaments
But, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff.
I’d really like to avoid the hassle of boxing things up and finding a place to store all of that when the time comes. And, for better or worse, you know I’m not alone.
Millennials and Gen Z value experiences over belongings and environmentally-responsible and socially conscious disposal or re-homing is hot. I can stand to part with a few things I don’t need.
This is where the minimalist movement intersects with senior citizens’ need to downsize as they become less mobile and want to simplify their own lifestyles. There are a few firms in the USA already leading the charge on helping seniors, their kids, and even their grandkids solve this very problem.
The going rate for coordinating the removal or rehoming of items can exceed several hundreds of dollars. It saves families time and mental energy of doing it themselves. According to the AARP, services like this might fall in the $500-1000 range.
If there’s one thing people will pay for, it’s peace of mind.
Maybe you’ve been on the side hustle sidelines until now, but we hope you’ll share with us what your favorite idea was from this list.
Here’s a quick recap of which quirky side hustles could earn the most:
- Low: Merchandise Flipping; Freelance Visual Merchandiser; Meal Prepper; Process Server
- Medium: Corporate Gift Consultant; Holiday Errand Service
- High: Senior Citizen Downsizing Service; Bounce House Rentals
- Very High: Public Speaking Coach; Dating Consultant; Home Filming Location; Event Venue Property
Thanks for reading our list of 12 unique side hustle ideas you haven’t seen before. If you see any that aren’t on this list and should be, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!