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There are thousands of side hustles. These might be the 5 best around

woman walking dog along beach
If you love animals and exercise, pet-sitting might be the perfect side gig for you.
(New Africa / stock.adobe.com)

When you research, review and rate hundreds of side hustle platforms, it’s tough not to have a few favorites. My favorite side hustles are more than just places where you can earn decent money. They combine things that have a visceral appeal — food, friends, pets and travel — with platforms that treat both customers and freelancers fairly.

I recommend these side hustles to freelancers — and I also use them as a consumer. Each has an element that makes them stand out from the crowd. This, however, is a personal list, written by an extrovert and food and animal lover. People with different interests might prefer completely different platforms. And there are plenty of good ones to choose from. Of the 450-plus side hustles rated on SideHusl.com, 170 have earned one of our top two ratings.

This article about five of my favorite side hustles is the first in a series of occasional articles.

Pet-sitting with Rover

Rover is among my favorite side hustles because it combines two things I love — animals and exercise. And, it solves problems for both freelancers willing to provide services and the pet owners who need them.

For freelancers, there are a litany of things that make Rover stand out. First, it gets more than twice the web traffic of its nearest competitor, Wag. That means you are twice as likely to find a client here. You write your own profile, emphasizing what you want to do. You only want to watch cats or small dogs? No problem. You do house-sitting but not boarding? Just walks? Just grooming? It’s up to you. And the site encourages smart precautions such as meeting potential dog-sitting clients in advance to make sure the animal is not overly aggressive.

Freelancers set their rates for each service, and post photos of themselves, their space and the animals they’ve cared for. There’s no money due until someone books services. At that point, Rover will collect payment and deduct a marketing commission. Freelancers tell us they can easily make $1,000 a month doing Rover just part-time.

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Meanwhile, if you’re looking for someone to care for your pets, you just plug in your ZIP Code, dates and a few other details — like whether you have a big animal or small one. The site then matches you to a plethora of potential freelancers. I’ve found truly delightful dog-sitters on this site.

House-sitting with TrustedHousesitters

In my household, vacations are a priority. My husband and I take several trips per year and often invite our four adult kids to join us. When you’re booking three to five rooms for each night, lodging costs can eat you alive.

That’s why I was delighted to discover house-sitting sites. These sites don’t pay you. But they connect you with free lodging in cities around the world. In exchange for the free accommodations, you agree to water plants and watch pets. And, of course, you can list your house to be watched by others too. That can save you the cost of a paid pet-sitter, which adds up quickly when you’re taking long vacations.

TrustedHousesitters is the biggest of the house-sitting sites, with millions of people searching for house-sits or sitters each month. (Its nearest competitors have about one-tenth the web traffic.) Trusted also includes nice features in its membership, including giving house-sitters access to a vet. That’s a big deal to those of us with older dogs.

You do have to pay an annual membership fee to connect with a house-sitter or to house-sit. But that fee costs about the same as a night in an inexpensive hotel. And it gives you access to 365 nights of potentially free help and/or housing.

Renting your space through Giggster

I thought there had to be a catch when I was researching Giggster for SideHusl.com’s review. It just seemed too good to be true.

The site says it can rent your house (or car) out by the hour to movie producers and photographers. You’ll make five to 10 times as much as you’d earn by renting through Airbnb. And no one stays overnight.

Some companies help drivers deal with soaring gas prices by paying for every mile they drive. The catch: You have to wrap your car in advertising.

I signed up to discover the catch. But there wasn’t one. In one day, I earned $1,455 — and could have earned considerably more. (I listed my house cheaply to increase the chance of a quick rental since I was waiting on the rental to write our review.)

There are a number of other sites that also rent your space by the hour for movies, photo shoots and parties. And some of them, such as PeerSpace, are better known and more likely to bring in bookings. But Giggster remains my favorite for a simple reason — customer service. Renting a house by the hour is unfamiliar territory for most of us, presenting unique risks and challenges. I have phoned Giggster several times and always reached a real person who gave me great advice. You don’t get that with PeerSpace.

Cooking (and eating) with EatWith

Ever try to figure out what’s in a particularly succulent meal? If you book a night through EatWith, you have the opportunity to talk directly to the chef. This foodie platform connects diners looking for unique experiences with professional and amateur chefs who are willing to host events in their own homes. The site books both meals and cooking classes.

Chefs determine the menu, schedule and how many people they can accommodate. EatWith handles the bookings and takes a commission on each sale. Because these are meant to be extraordinary experiences, chefs charge substantial amounts for these meals — often $100 or more per plate. Even after accounting for expenses, that means host chefs can often earn $500 to $1,000 in a single night. Not bad for a side hustle.

The site’s in-person meals were largely dormant during the pandemic. But that gives new chefs a chance to try this popular platform at a time when there’s a little less competition.

Teaching for Outschool

Outschool is a teaching platform for kids ages 3 to 18. These classes are far from ordinary. I’m encouraging a nephew to take “Gross, Weird and Cool Science — Amazing Facts to Make You Go Ew, What? and Wow!” And I truly wish I wasn’t too old to enroll and learn about animals that can eat their own brains.

This may be obvious, but Outschool classes don’t conform to any particular curriculum. The site gives teachers the ability to focus on niche topics and engage students in imaginative and creative ways. Teachers can earn a nice income while doing it, too. One teacher told me she was earning thousands of dollars a month teaching engineering concepts by playing with Legos.

Teachers create their own classes, based on their own backgrounds, skills and interests. They decide what to charge for each class and how many kids they can accommodate. Their earnings are determined by what they charge and how many kids sign up for their classes. The site collects payment, hosts the online class and takes a commission from each booking.

Kristof is the editor of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews moneymaking opportunities in the gig economy.


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