YNAB BLOG

Three More Ways I Make Extra Money

piggy bank copyA good side gig greases the wheels of your budget, creating a little free cash to accelerate debt elimination or bump up your fun money category.

Since I last posted about earning extra money I’ve developed three new side gigs of my own. I share them to spark your thoughts about adding to your budget’s biggest category.

1. Bookkeeping for a Buddy

When I sold my share of the business to my former partner (and still good friend), he lost his “books guy” – me. He never got into the habit himself, so when it was time to do the books for this year’s taxes, he hired me. Once I’d built his P&L and Balance Sheet for him, I offered to contininue maintaining his books for $100 per month.

He uses YNAB in his personal finances, making it easy to set up a business budget file, share it through Cloud Sync, and keep his transactions current. The gig takes me about two minutes per day, five days per week. And it’s nerdy budget fun.

2. Website Disaster Prevention and Recovery

This is a reasonably simple gig with a technical-sounding name.

My clients all use WordPress (same platform as this blog). I charge them $25 per month, which covers:

1. A full daily backup of their website.
2. Monitoring for malware attacks by hackers.
3. Emergency support if anything on their site breaks.

Sounds complicated, right? It isn’t. Yes, you do have to have the technical skills to fix a broken WordPress site. I’ve been working with WordPress for a few years; I rarely run into a problem I can’t solve (and I’m not a programmer).

The sneaky part of this service is the fact that I just go to third parties to buy the backups and malware monitoring. I set up accounts for each client, tack a little extra onto the price to cover the emergency support part of the business, and bundle the whole thing as my “WordPress handyman” service.

My clients know they could set these services up for themselves, but they choose to pay me because it reduces their mental overhead and time risk. If something – anything – breaks down with their site, they just email or text me and I’m on it. That’s the value-add. Nerdiness for fun and profit.

3. Website Assembly and Customization

The key point with this gig is that it’s not web design or web development. It’s website assembly. People like Adam do website design and development. People like Jesse hire people like Adam.

The niche here is working with clients who need a clean, presentable website but don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in someone with Adam’s experience and ability. They hire me to assemble a functional site from existing components (WordPress plugins and WordPress themes). It’s only a few hours of work for me, so it’s only a few hundred dollars for them. And, again, it’s nerdy fun.

I’ll also have clients hire me for one-off tweaks or cutomizations to their sites. I bill $50/hour for that kind of thing.

I realize many people don’t have the skills (today) to run with my second and third side gigs – but many (most?) of you could do “bookkeeping for a buddy.”

There’s no need to overstate your ability or your value, either. I’m not claiming to be a tax professional (gig 1) or a full-blown web developer (gigs 2 and 3). I’m using skills I’ve developed to save my clients a little time and headache.

Think you could run with any of these ideas to make a couple hundred bucks each month?

23 Responses to “Three More Ways I Make Extra Money”

    • mark

      Ha – hey, shoot me an email. Hopefully Jesse won’t be upset with me over my shameless self-promotion. :)

  1. Mark DeNio

    On a more serious note, talk to your boss at work as well (if you have a good relationship with them). I am doing extra programming work after-hours and getting paid since our work environment doesn’t allow for 2nd jobs. (We’re on call a lot and have to drop everything if a customer has an emergency.)

    At a previous job I walked the main road near the restaurant and handed out coupons to each business.

    • mark

      Great point about talking to your boss. You never know what crack you could fill in their business to make a few bucks.

  2. gpamerritt

    I’m retiring in 666 days (does that mean something) and thanks to YNAB and Mr. Money Mustache, I will have “enough”, although I got a late start and have been part of a single income family for 7 years. I’m not actively seeking a part time gig. I do admire your creativity – and your willingness to ask to be paid for a service you offer. I give away my services for free too often.

  3. Seposm

    Many people have jobs doing what other people can do for themselves. Think about it, you can probably make a hamburger yourself, and chances are it would taste better than McDonalds.They have jobs because they provide a convenience. A maid or a cook is a wonderful time saver and convenience for one person while considered a ridiculous luxury for another. There is nothing wrong with someone making money off of something someone doesn’t really want to do for themselves. Lawn care, snow removal, website maintenance, bookkeeping, cleaning, there is a lady in my community that started a dog poop clean-up service. The premise is the same, find a need and fill it.

    Chances are, everyone has some talent that they can use to bring in extra money. you may undersell yourself for the first couple of jobs until you gain some confidence.

  4. Stacie

    I’ve got some dog sitting gigs coming up that helps add a little bulk to my budget. It started out with a friend asking to watch her pups while she went on vacation, and once word got out that I was available to do it, I had several others ask me. It’s an easy and fun job–basically live at someone else’s house for a few days and take care of their pup, and I love dogs. It’s like a double bonus: money and puppy love!

    I’ve also considered putting my name out there for some free-lance copy editing and “website assembly and customization.” I definitely have the know-how and skills to do it, I’m just not sure how to find “clients”–as a 25 year old not many of my buddies need help in this department. Hmmm. Something to ponder. I’m also an avid cook and if I had the time I would LOVE to cook for someone 5 nights a week! As long as they feed me ;)

    • Seposm

      I have considered hiring a cook for my family under that arrangement, I pay for the food, you cook enough my family and for yourself or your family. I get free cooking, you get free meals that you just have to cook :)

  5. Angie

    Website design and graphic design is my actual job, and I’ve just started freelancing after being in-house for 8 years. Around here, I’m struggling to get people to pay $20, let alone a more appropriate $50/hr. Bravo for you!

    • mark

      Hi Angie –

      Don’t get me wrong – I don’t have people falling all over themselves to pay me $50/hour. I just know I won’t work for less. If it’s a few hours per month, I’ve met my goal for that side gig. If I had to pay bills with the money it would probably be tough to to turn down lower-paying work; I’m fortunately only doing this for supplemental income.

    • Seposm

      Thanks, I have 8 kids, So cooking for that many may be a bit of a challenge, But, if someone loved cooking, it could be an easy way to get paid in goods for doing something you like doing. and with the size of my food budget, I could add a few extra people and hardly notice :)

  6. Chris @ Flipping A Dollar

    I re-sell stuff I get at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets. I’m trying to fully fund my Roth IRA this year using only eBay/Amazon sales, and I blog about it now too!

    • David Harrison

      This is pretty interesting. I have been looking in to doing this myself. Do you find that you need to wait at the door at opening time to beat other flippers to the good deals? Or is it a case of digging deep in bargain bins and in the back of dusty forgotten clothes racks?

  7. Lesley

    How do you market your WordPress services? I’ve built a couple of WordPress sites from templates and I’m pretty good at it, so that might be an option for me too.

    • mark

      I’ve only had a few clients so far, and all through word of mouth. One led to another led to another…etc. One of my clients landed me a gig speaking at a blogging conference next month, which should help fill the pipeline. In other words – no special marketing – just meeting people and trying to do a good job for them.

  8. Beth Anne

    So my dream job is to just be a freelance bookkeeper for people. I really want to market to helping other bloggers/online money makers/freelancers do their books. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there but it’s a nice dream to have :)

    I’ve also done tutoring for people on the side.

    • mark

      It all starts with one client. Make your offer to people who match your ideal client profile until one of them says yes, then let word of mouth bring you more business.

  9. Jesse

    The cool thing about side gigs is they don’t require a grand vision to get started. But you also never know where they’ll take you. YNAB was a side gig :)

  10. Carrita

    I’ve thought about side jobs I could do, but I’m a programmer who is Oncall….so I can get a traditional 2nd job. I’ve thought maybe bookkeeping would work if I could do it on my own schedule. I did bookkeeping for a CPA before college & now I have an ACCT & MIS (double major) degree. I just don’t know how to start.

  11. Sarah

    I would like to start a side job of wedding/engagement photography (with high hopes of it being a full-time gig after a few years of hard work). It’s not really the same thing though because side gigs are things you can do at no extra cost to you – like Mark’s website services or bookkeeping. To even start doing photography as a paying gig, I need to save up for the camera equipment which will be an initial setback, but I feel confident that as long as I save up for the equipment slowly and make sure I’ve got the cash rather than splurging on what I can’t afford, once I start getting 2nd shooter and weekend assistant jobs it will be a good investment and a nice additional income.

  12. Sue

    I just became an accredited financial counselor and am trying to figure out how to market myself in this ailing economy. Eventually, I’d like to help long distance clients via email, texting and Skype.

    I’m finding YNAB is helping ME keep on track and want to refer it to my (eventual) clients.

    Suggestions?

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