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7 Side Hustles I Tried That Helped Me Kickstart a Career I Love

  • In 2018, I quit my full-time job that paid $60,000 a year with no emergency fund.
  • I wanted to be a full-time writer, but had to take side gigs along the way until I got there.
  • I lost money driving for Instacart, and made more from editorial gigs.

Like a


recession

looms in the coming months, I hear more and more stories of friends being made redundant with no emergency funds to fall back on. Having once quit a full-time job that paid $60,000 a year with no savings, I can understand the deep financial panic that ensues.

At the time, I quit my job because I couldn’t handle the toxic work environment anymore, but I also had a dream of becoming a writer. I had no formal writing training or experience, but I sent three cold emails to editors every day. It took a while for my writing job to actually replace the full-time income I was used to, so I had to take on side gigs along the way.

Here are the seven hustles that put food on the table as I built my writing career.

1. Babysitter

Salary: $350 per week

At the time, I was living in Brooklyn while my parents lived in Amityville, Long Island. My parents needed someone to stay home with my 8 year old sister after school, so I stayed with them during the week and came home to my apartment on the weekends. They gave me some money every week to babysit, knowing that I had financial difficulties.

2. Personal Assistant

Salary: $25 per hour

Shortly after my babysitting gig ended, a new neighbor moved into my building who needed a personal assistant for a few hours a week. While I shared a three-bedroom apartment with two other roommates, she had an entire three-bedroom with the same layout as ours, with one bedroom turned into an office.

She mostly asked me to sort through her mail to unsubscribe from promotional junk mail, pick up dry cleaning, and take care of administrative tasks like setting up her energy and electricity bills.

3. Declutter

Pay: $500 for a 1-bedroom apartment

Many years ago, watching “Clean House” on HGTV with queer woman icon Niecy Nash, I learned an important decluttering tip: If it takes more than five seconds to decide whether you should keep an item, you probably don’t need it.

I took this hardcore approach with a client who needed to make more space in their home. Honestly, this was the most fun I had winning $500 because I love organizing and cleaning.

4. Dog sitter

Salary: $500 per week

At this point, most of my friends knew I was struggling financially, so they sent me all the leads on gigs and jobs they had heard of. As a dog-sitter, I was able to stay alone in really fancy apartments in New York, and I treated that time like a paid writing retreat.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I continued to dog sit to make ends meet. Fortunately, my contacts in New York were more than willing to serve as references.

5. Instagram Driver

Pay: After gas, I lost $2 an hour

In Los Angeles, I started driving for Instacart at the start of the pandemic because I desperately needed the money. The work sucked and people tipped badly, but I was able to get cash to buy groceries quickly. After crunching the numbers, however, I realized that I had actually lost money because gas prices in Los Angeles were so high.

6. Cookie Baker

Salary: $13.25 per hour

I started working in a pastry shop in West Hollywood for minimum wage. At the time, I was living in a hostel with 15 other people in a three-bedroom house. Before the pandemic started, the store opened at 3 p.m., so I arrived early to write without any distractions, sometimes even taking job interviews via


Google Meet

in the back room of the store using my phone.

7. Writer

Remuneration: $100 to $800 per project, depending on the project

After sending out hundreds of cold emails hoping to get published, I started pivoting my strategy to copywriting. I knew a ton of entrepreneurs from my time in New York, so I sent daily emails to friends asking if they knew anyone who needed a copywriter — in addition to the three e- daily emails that I wrote.

The writing was really enjoyable, even though it wasn’t the kind of writing I wanted to do. I dove in headfirst, quit my job as a baker, and made over $9,000 in my most successful month as a freelance writer. Since then, I started writing full-time for Insider, and now I’m making more money than ever.

The few times I order groceries on Instacart, I tip them 35% knowing that not too long ago I was in the same position.

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