Want to bring in extra money but don’t know where to start?
Well, you’re in luck. This week, we’re diving into a special Thanksgiving episode on 10 creative side hustle ideas that make real money.
This is the 5th installment of the series, so be sure to check out the previous episodes if you like this format:
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 1 – 2018
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 2 – 2019
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 3 – 2020
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 4 – 2021
Let’s get right to it!
1. Christmas Tree Stand
Starting a Christmas tree stand is a seasonal business that might be a little too late to start this year, but it may inspire you to go scout a prime location for next year.
Andrew said his wife’s aunt already had two Christmas tree stands, which were making her over $100k a year during the holiday season.
Seeing the opportunity to make extra money as a young couple, Andrew had his wife’s aunt connect them with her Christmas tree farm. This got the couple $7,000 of inventory on credit.
The next step was to decide where they were going to set up their stand. Andrew had the perfect idea: a local church!
“We figured maybe some of the congregation would come and be customers,” Andrew said. Plus, churches are typically next to busy roads. It was a no-brainer.
To set up their display, they rented a 100-foot tent for $1,200 a month and put the trees underneath it. They also got a stand sign, tags for the trees, and fencing, among other supplies. These came out to around $3,000.
Getting Their First Customers
Andrew and his wife got their first customers by placing a very large sign by the side of the road, setting up a Facebook page for their stand, and inviting family and friends to come down.
Soon, word about the Christmas tree stand spread throughout town, and people started coming in on their own.
Pricing the Trees
Andrew priced their trees depending on size.
For example, a six- or seven-foot tree cost them around $20. They sold trees this size for $40 to $50. They bought seven- and eight-foot trees for $30, which they then sold for $60 to $95.
“The larger the tree you sell, the higher the profit margins that are available,” Andrew said.
Andrew didn’t stop at Christmas trees.
Before you can sell a Christmas tree, you have to clip the bottom to make it look nice. Andrew’s wife figured out how to make Christmas wreaths from those clippings and sold those for $20 to $35 at checkout.
They also sold the stands they used to display the trees. Depending on the size of the stands, they bought those for $5 to $20 and sold them for $20 to $40.
Lastly, they sold poinsettias as well. “We put them by the checkout desk there and people would grab these giant poinsettias that we would buy,” Andrew explained.
The poinsettias, which cost just $5 a piece, easily sold for $25 a piece in the lead up to Christmas.
By upselling to their customers, Andrew and his wife made about $7,500 in just five weeks. “If you can get a better location, you can make so much more profit.”
2. Stool Donation
Your poop could very well be your greatest untapped monetary resource.
In fact, you can earn $25 to $75 per donation and up to $1,500 per month. You can also receive bonuses for donating several times a week to the same place.
But what’s the value of poop in the first place? Why is it worth paying good money for?
Some programs also use donations for fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), which involves transplanting fecal material from a healthy person to a patient to treat a disease.
So, if you’re in good health and have donated or considered donating blood or plasma in the past, it may be worth looking up stool donation facilities near you.
Stool donation may not replace your day job anytime soon, but it’s certainly not a crappy way to make $1,500 on the side!
3. Reporting Robocalls
Creative side hustle #3 is going after robocallers. This was reported on BudgetsAreSexy.com with the headline “I’ve Made $40,000 going after illegal robocallers.”
Robocalls are unsolicited, automated phone calls that are illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).
The TCPA allows penalties of $500 for each violation — $1,500 for willful violations — each time a company violates the National Do Not Call Registry.
But the process to hold violators’ feet to the fire isn’t always easy, so a lot of people don’t do it. Except for Steve Baus.
Steve decided he finally had enough after he once received 20 robocalls a day in December 2020. After doing some research, he found Doc Compton’s Turning Robocalls Into Cash Kit.
Doc’s background is in consumer credit repair, and his kit (which sells for $47) is chock-full of valuable information on how to go after robocallers.
Thanks to what he learned from Doc’s kit, Steve now has a multi-step process for making money off of pesky robocallers. It goes like this:
- Register with the National Do Not Call Registry. You need to have been on the registry for at least 30 days.
- Entertain the caller (usually an overseas caller) long enough to get transferred to the company’s US-based call center.
- Ask for the company’s name, physical address, email address, and a valid call-back number. (You may need to buy a product to be able to tell who the actual seller is.)
- Send a demand letter via email or certified mail explaining the company’s violation and the penalties they could face if you sue them. Include an offer to settle.
Steve says there’s often some back and forth communication with these demand letters, but the situation almost always ends in the company offering some sort of settlement.
And if the company wants to include a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), they need to pay extra, Steve explained. An NDA can increase the settlement amount by $500 or more.
In total, Steve says he earned around $40,000 from settling 15 cases since 2020. That’s about $2,600 per case!
So while it may take some time to play the game with these robocallers, it can be an incredibly lucrative side hustle.
4. In-Home Lice Treatment
Creative side hustle #4 is an in-home lice treatment from long-time Side Hustle Show listener Pam Skinner.
Pam got inspired to start her business, Picky Pam at the Beach, in 2011, when she saw an ad on Craigslist of a lice removal technician who charged $25 per hour.
After doing her research, Pam found a company in Cleveland, Ohio that had a great lice-killing product.
The company trained her on lice removal for $5,000, and Pam went on to spend another $5,000 to open her own lice treatment salon in Huntington Beach, California.
Pam was paying $1,400 a month for a 1,000-square-foot room. But after three years, Pam’s shop was generating over $375,000 in annual recurring revenue!
In 2020, she switched to mobile and in-home lice treatment due to COVID, greatly reducing her overhead costs.
Her First Customers
To get her first customers, Pam had to think big. She started by giving 10-minute presentations to local parent-teacher associations (PTAs).
Pam said she once presented to 25 PTA presidents, 11 of whom asked her to come to their schools and speak.
Pam also approached school nurses, local pediatricians, and YMCA Boys & Girls Clubs. This allowed her to get a steady flow of referrals, not just one-off customers.
Pricing Her Service
Pam charges $135 for mild cases of lice and $175 for more severe cases. Each session takes her an average of two hours, and she earns about $150 per hour.
Pam also sells lice shampoos on her main website, LiceFreeKids.com, and those cost $35 to $60.
She currently treats about nine families per week. And because she has a pretty low overhead, Pam easily nets $2,700 a week.
Big thanks to Pam for sharing! You can also find her on SchoolOfLice.com, her wholesale website for current and future lice treatment professionals.
5. Baby Name Consultant
Got a knack for coming up with creative and catchy names? Why not turn it into a side hustle? That’s exactly what Taylor Humphrey of WhatsInABabyName.com did.
Taylor, a professional baby namer, started her business in 2015. In 2021, she helped name more than 100 babies, raking in around $150,000.
Some panicked parents even turned over $10,000 so Taylor could help them settle on a unique name for their baby, according to an April 2022 feature in The New Yorker.
Taylor’s rate ranges from $1,500 all the way to $10,000.
On the lower end of that spectrum, you can get a brief consultation and a bespoke list of baby names based in part on an online questionnaire.
On the higher end of that spectrum is Taylor’s premium, all-inclusive service, which she calls the “Full-Service Baby Naming Concierge.”
This service can involve anything from choosing a baby name that’s “on brand” with your business to a deep dive into your family genealogy to find a historic name for your baby.
Get Started Yourself
These naming agencies often hold naming contests, where the winner whose name gets chosen wins a prize money, which typically starts at $100.
6. Backyard Chicken Rental
Eric Strother’s hen rental business in California allows people to experience raising chickens without the long-term commitment of keeping them.
Eric, who works by day as an archaeologist, has raised and kept egg-laying hens for years.
He got the idea to start his business, aptly called Rent Backyard Hens, amid lockdowns, when people were stuck at home with nothing to do.
Eric had heard that a lot of people were adopting pets to keep busy.
Others kept busy practicing sustainability by growing their own food, making their own compost, and trying to reduce waste.
“I thought it would be kind of cool to combine the two,” Eric said.
Eric supplies customers with a starter kit, which has enough organic chicken feed, bedding, and other supplies to last the rental period.
He personally delivers the chickens and the kit to his customers’ homes.
And when the rental period is up, Eric comes to pick everything up, chickens and all.
Customers can rent Eric’s hens by the month. His prices range from $175 to $475, depending on the rental duration and where the customers are located.
To get word out about his business, Eric posted ads on Craigslist and asked his first few customers for testimonials that he could post on his website.
He also reached out to the local paper, ultimately landing his chicken rental a feature on ABC7 News.
The week the feature aired, Eric found himself with a waitlist of customers — a good problem to have if there ever was one.
Scaling the Business
In total, Eric spent about $4,800 to get his business off the ground. He’s made $3,500 of that back and is on track to become profitable by next summer.
Looking ahead, Eric plans to publish a beginner’s manual for new backyard chicken owners.
He’s also considering franchising to expand his customer base, but that will depend on how well his business does over the next few years.
25 Other Unconventional Rental Ideas
What else could you rent out for a profit? Here are some ideas!
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7. Headstone Cleaning
Creative side hustle #7 is headstone cleaning, and it’s from Navene Town of Michigan.
In 2018, then-fifth grader Navene and his grandmother discovered that Navene was a descendant of a man named Oka Town, who was Allegan County’s first judge.
When the two went to visit Oka Town’s grave, Navene saw that the man’s headstone was dirty. He decided to do something about it and cleaned it up.
Armed with D/2 Biological Solution, soft-bristled brushes, and water bottles, Navene set out to give the same treatment to the rest of his ancestry that was buried in the cemetery.
Word about Navene’s good deeds spread, and in 2021, he was featured in a 60 Second Docs Presents Facebook video.
At the time of the video, Navene charged $20 per headstone and donated the bulk of his earnings to charity. But he mentioned that he did veterans’ headstones for free.
Get Started Yourself
A headstone-cleaning service is definitely one of the more unique side hustles out there. But it’s a viable service for which people are willing to pay.
Plus, there’s practically no competition, which means you can create a brochure-style website and a Google My Business listing and expect to pick up traffic pretty quickly.
Another way you can generate interest and build a customer base (tastefully and respectfully) is by building referral relationships with nearby cemeteries and funeral homes.
As for pricing, most services charge $50 to $75 per headstone, but some services clean headstones semi-annually or annually based on a subscription service.
If you charged $25 to $50 per headstone and cleaned even just a handful every month, you’d be adding $250 to $500 a month to your bottom line.
And why stop there? Many things can fall under this category of really specific cleaning services. Think car headlights, garbage bins, dryer ducts — the possibilities are endless!
8. 3D Printing
Anyone with a 3D printer would tell you it’s a lot of fun to build three-dimensional objects out of a variety of materials.
But what many people don’t know is that you can make money with a 3D printer by creating and selling prints.
As Side Hustle Nation’s resident 3D printing expert, Nikko Mendoza, put it, 3D printing is a high margin side hustle.
“It really depends on the niche, but it’s vastly underrated.”
Nikko, who teaches online 3D printing courses, said some of his friends with very specialized 3D printers earn seven figures printing and selling car parts.
Some of his students from his online courses even make $2,000 every weekend selling 3D printed toys, which cost $3 in material to print, for $25 to $30 a pop.
And it’s not just toys either. Nikko shared a story about a lady who made $30,000 in one month selling 3D printed cookie cutters.
So while 3D printing has a higher startup cost than some of the side hustles we’ve covered so far (3D printers can cost as much as $20,000!), turning a profit is easy once you find a niche.
9. Lost Luggage Delivery
Lost luggage is every traveler’s worst nightmare.
Most airlines will compensate you for your lost luggage, but that won’t make the situation any less of a bummer.
Enter Travis Bolton.
Travis is a full-time teacher in the Dallas area who earns up to $800 a day reuniting lost luggage with its owners.
He said he discovered the gig in 2017 when he had been looking for driving/delivery jobs nearby. He found one through a company called Xpress Bags.
Travis uses TikTok as his primary marketing channel. In one video, he walked his nearly 20k followers through one of his days delivering lost luggage.
The process starts with picking up his assigned bags at a storage warehouse and then loading them up onto his SUV.
Travis then uses an app called inRoute to map out his delivery route for the day. He starts with the farthest address and slowly makes his way back.
Not everyone tips, but Travis says he appreciates those who do. He also says his biggest satisfaction is when the owner is happy to see their lost luggage.
10. White Noise Podcast
Creative side hustle #10 is a white noise podcast.
It’s exactly as it sounds: a podcast with nothing but white noise. It might sound ridiculous, but it’s actually a pretty lucrative business model.
The podcast covers everything from white noise to nature sounds and everything in between. At the time the Bloomberg feature came out, it was earning 18k a month from pre-roll ads.
Todd Moore, a Florida Keys resident, launched the show in 2019. Todd says it now gets about 50,000 listens per day — a figure that easily puts his show in the top 25% of all podcasts.
Todd is something of a serial white noise entrepreneur. He launched his white noise podcast in 2019, but he actually quit his cybersecurity job in 2009 to build his own white noise app.
To gain listenership, Todd relies on an SEO-optimized podcast title that includes the keywords “white noise” and “sleep sounds.”
He also reinvests some of his ad revenue into Spotify ads to attract new listeners. Now, streaming content provides the majority of Todd’s revenue.
In addition to his white noise podcast, Todd releases lulling sounds as music tracks, which make money from royalties, and as videos on YouTube.
So while white noise content isn’t exactly new (there are tons of white noise apps and YouTube channels), Todd did well bringing it to podcasting platforms.
At $18k MRR, Todd’s success is also a testament to not only the power of these platforms, but also the importance of identifying your business niche.
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