Eight months ago, we were side hustle newbies. In fact, I hated the idea of side hustles not long before that. I have since changed my mind and I’m glad I did. Side hustles are a great resource to accelerate your goals and path towards freedom. So that you can start earning extra money we want to share how we made over $1,800 on side hustles in 8 months as beginners.
I Hated Side Hustles
I’ve had a complicated relationship with side hustles. At first, I hated them. My whole life I have gone the traditional path. I worked hard in school, got a degree in Architecture and have a typical 9-5 job. I earned what I have received, but it was still the typical prescribed path.
We even paid off $107K in 33 months without side hustling. We sold a couple things, but it was a small part of our debt payoff and strategy.
I hated this buzz word ‘side hustle’. I thought I was being told I wasn’t working hard enough. Additionally, I thought it was a scam or overblown at best. I wasn’t interested in walking dogs and I was skeptical about making money online.
Mrs. Picky Pinchers wrote a great article about the complicated relationships with side hustles. You can even see my comment at the bottom which gives an indication of my thinking. Although, I was probably not trying to be too negative in that comment, but I certainly had a negative opinion at the time.
So, what changed my mind?
Last year we went to an event for Chris Guillebeau’s book Side Hustle. Erin was a fan and I thought it was fun to go to. One thing he said that struck me was that he believes “everyone needs a side hustle.” My first thought was, “of course you think that, you need to sell books.”
Lost in my cynicism was that he was right. He started to talk about how side hustles are a great way to find freedom and gives you options. By the end of the talk I was on board.
Afterwards, he talked to everyone one on one. We told him about our blog and our debt payoff but felt a bit sheepish that we didn’t have a side hustle. He then wrote this in our book. He wrote “it sounds like you have everything you need.”
Wow! The guy who literally wrote the book on side hustles and a few others like The $100 Startup just said we had everything we needed. That gave us a boost of confidence to take action into our own hands.
So, What Was Next?
That experience was in early October of last year. Earlier in the year, Erin quit her job to stay home with the kids. Our debt payoff gave us a new level of freedom that had started 5 years previously. That transition though left us looking for what was next though. As a result, we set a new goal of financial independence and the freedom Chris G. was talking about appealed to us.
In November, we wrote a post about wanting to develop a separate income source. I started focusing on developing this blog. That is a constant battle, but it inadvertently led to one of our side hustles. Erin read the book and decided to sell something on eBay for $20. That started it all.
We then issued a challenge to ourselves to sell $100 worth of items in one month. The goal was to just wanted to do something. We didn’t think eBay was the end goal necessarily, but we figured taking action was good and we needed a proof of concept.
We fell short, but by the end of the month, we had sold, or had received a bid in place of $96 worth of items. At that moment, we were hooked and ready to make money.
How We Made Over $1,800 On Side Hustles In 8 Months As Beginners
Starting with that first month, we have since ended up creating 3 profitable side hustles. Even when we started on eBay we had no clue that we would be doing the others in a few shorts months. What we liked about eBay was that it introduced us to other avenues for online marketplaces.
They have their similarities, but also specific reasons for why you would sell on those platforms. The side hustles that we established are as follows.
- Selling on eBay
- Digital Downloads on Etsy
- Selling on Amazon (using FBA)
We first started with eBay since that seemed the simplest. I think this is one of the best ways to start generating income. This is especially true for someone trying to get out of debt and needs more money. It is so easy to get started and pretty much everyone has something of value that they don’t need anymore.
I also started to learn about something called retail arbitrage. This is where you buy something for a low price and sell it for more. It is the whole ‘buy low, sell high’ attitude and some people do extremely well with it. We’ve found some success with it and will get further into it below.
Selling Used items on eBay
It all started with that first month making $96 of gross profits. That gave us the boost we needed to keep going. Also, knowing that we publicly had stated that goal helped a lot.
We simply took items from the household and sold them. These were items that we didn’t need any more or had been handed down to us.
We sold used DVDs, figurines, household goods and electronics.
Additionally, we sold some items using retail arbitrage as mentioned earlier. This included a cake pan set we paid $3 for on sale and sold for $15. We bought some text books at the used books sale for $3 – $10 and sold them for about $25 – $37 each.
If you want to start an eBay shop use this guide to do so.
Books aren’t the best thing to sell on eBay. That is why we started an Amazon seller account.
The household items or rare/antiquities are best on eBay. They also have less restrictions than Amazon, so we defaulted to selling on eBay in most cases. It is kind of a catch all for what you can sell.
Is Selling On eBay Passive Income?
It is NOT passive income, but it has aspects of it. In the case of eBay, you list an item, sell it and ship it. All these steps have you actively involved.
The passive side is that once you list it, you wait. Then, when you are at work, you get a notification that your item sold. That is fun! You then see the benefit of the work you put in over the weekend, or sometimes, a few months prior.
Even while writing this, a notification popped up saying we sold an item for $57 that we had paid $15 for when Toys R Us went out of business. Cha-ching!
If it doesn’t sell the first time, and it probably won’t, you can easily relist it from your phone at no cost. Listing are free.
You must be ready to ship it when it does sell though, but you’ll get into a routine.
You can list lots of items at once and then wait for them to sell. If you aren’t in a hurry you can hold out for a higher price but that is up to you. Once we listed a bunch of items it gave us a chance to focus on another hustle.
Results Selling on eBay
Total Months: 8
Items Sold: 57
Gross Profit: $1,242.92
Net Profit: $911.24
Selling Digital Downloads On Etsy
Three months after our $100 challenge I heard about a mastermind the Fire Drill Podcast was holding. It was to take a group of listeners and build an Etsy shop selling digital downloads. Normally, I would have been dismissive of the idea, but something made this opportunity resonate with me.
Because of my November challenge to focus on the blog, I made a commitment to make a series of resources for the blog readers. The first resource I offered was an editable debt thermometer. A few days after putting it up it was featured on Rockstar Finance. I knew I had a hit on my hands.
In the next few months I realized that I was already making digital downloads. In addition to offering them on the blog I could sell them on Etsy. The eBay experience got me thinking in a different way. I had started to look for opportunities I dismissed before.
This time, I wasn’t going to miss my chance though with Etsy so I signed up. I am sure glad I did.
My first week I sold 2 debt thermometers at a price of $1.99 each before fees. I started making other thermometers and finance trackers. After a while they started to sell and pick up steam.
My biggest item is a bundle of my individual finance items. I have found it gives buys the most value and me the best return. A win-win situation!
Are Digital Downloads On Etsy Passive?
Of our three side hustles, this is the most passive. With eBay you have one item and once it is sold, you have to find another. With digital downloads, you can sell an item an infinite amount of times. That way, you can focus on creating new items to sell.
That is huge. It also means that you can take a break and focus on other hustles while your Etsy shop makes you money.
As of writing this article it has been 6 weeks since I made an item because I am focusing on something else. During this time, I just had my most profitable month with $398 of gross revenue.
I am on pace to beat that next month.
If you are interested, here is a comprehensive guide about how to start an Etsy shop.
Results Selling on Etsy
Total Months: 5
Items Sold: 261
Gross Profit: $915.93
Net Profit: $679.17
Selling On Amazon Using FBA
As an extension of our eBay selling we had a lot of books to sell. Amazon is best for books and they also offer a unique program that makes it a bit more passive.
Like eBay, you can sell an item on their marketplace so that when it sells, you ship it right away from your home.
They also offer a service called Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA. This means that you list the item, ship it to an Amazon warehouse, and then when it sells, they ship it. Once it is sent to them, your work is done. Sounds awesome, right?
It is, but they take a higher fee. If you stand to make enough profit, it makes enough sense to do it. That way you reduce your need to ship stuff right away when it may not be convenient for you.
We are starting out slow. We sent 7 books in to sell a month ago. 3 of them sold already for an average price of almost $100. These were textbooks I was able to buy for about $10 each at the used book sale.
If you want to get started selling on Amazon, download the Amazon Seller app and start scanning barcodes. That will give you a good idea of what kind of profit you can make. When you are out shopping and see an item on sale, scan it and see if it is worth purchasing for reselling.
Start out slow though. You don’t want to be buying stuff that doesn’t sell leaving you stuck.
Is Selling On Amazon Through FBA Passive?
This is somewhere in between eBay and Etsy digital downloads. You are still limited by the number of items you have available. We also thought it was a pain to send the items in but it will be easier each time we do it.
The benefit though is that when we get a sale we don’t have to ship it! When you have as much going on as we do then you really want to minimize things like shipping.
It has been manageable so far, but as we move forward, we will try to reduce how much we have to ship overall.
Results Selling on Amazon FBA
Total Months: 1
Items Sold: 3
Gross Profit: $290
Net Profit: $220
What We Have Learned
We have put a ton of work in to these but at the same time, we are so glad we did. The return at first might seem small but that is to be expected. We have gained so much more than the money earned.
We feel a new sense of ability in being able to craft a life that we want. For everything that we have done we have many more ideas.
These 3 sources may not stick around, although Etsy has the strongest future potential, but our approach to trying new things will give us big results. I am confident in that.
Total Profit Overall
Gross Profit: $2,448.85
Net Profit: $1,810.41
Over 8 months we developed 3 income producing side hustles. It wasn’t even until the last month we got the third side hustle going. Let’s see what the next 8 months gives us now that they are all set up.
Also, who’s to say we can’t do more? While time is limited, we have a newfound confidence that we didn’t have before. We need to keep growing and learning and be willing to try new things.
Now, the real question. What side hustles can you start?
Find something that lends itself to your skills but realize that you won’t know everything. You can learn and grow just like we did and still are.
I think you have more potential than you realize, and it sounds like you have everything you need.
I’m still on the skeptical side, but now at least you’ve gotten me interested in Guillebeau’s book!
I hear you. The key is to find the one that works for you and your skills and interests. No need to force it, but if you see an opportunity come up, don’t hesitate to try it. The nice thing with side hustles is that you aren’t stuck doing them forever and they can often lead to bigger things.