Let’s give it up for side hustles. They’re having a moment right now.
There are also big lists of side hustles!
Here’s a look at how the search term “side hustle” has changed over time in Google Trends.
But there are also a lot of misconceptions.
Side hustles aren’t easy.
They’re not dreamy.
They take more time than you think.
They don’t solve all your problems.
They can be stressful.
But most importantly, not every side hustle works for everyone.
And if you’re in the “wrong” side hustle, it’s more hassle than it’s worth.
Side Hustles for Parents
I’m not a fan of the phrase “side hustle.”
It sort of sounds like a scam you run on the side, like going town-to-town selling cure-all tonics that happen to contain unhealthy amounts of arsenic.
If that sounds like an episode of When Calls the Heart, it very well might be.
At the same time, “side hustles” have changed my life for the better, I just prefer to think of them as a business rather than a hustle.
For parents, the key to a good side hustle is finding something that fits your lifestyle and allows you to work around your kids and responsibilities.
The focus shouldn’t be on the quantity of side hustles, it should be based on the quality.
Your spare time is precious, and you want to spend it in a way that’s meaningful.
Even if your sole goal is to earn extra income, you want to do it in a way that’s not soul-crushing.
Also: parenting is ridiculously tiring work.
So, your side hustle should be flexible, allow you to work around an already-tiring lifestyle and allow you to do things that actually mean something to you.
That cuts out a surprising number of the popular side hustles out there, including the ones below.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all parents and some of these work great for a lot of parents, but in general they can present problems.
Popular Side Hustles that Don’t Always Work for Parents
1. Driving with Uber and Lyft
Why it’s popular: ridesharing services are great side hustles because they allow you to work flexible shifts instead of committing to set times every day.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: flexibility is great, but it’s not always feasible for parents to leave the house – especially if there’s a little one sleeping at home.
Lesson: find a side business that doesn’t require you to leave the house.
Why it’s popular: there’s never been a better global market for freelance services, and it’s easy to scale your work to fit your schedule and available hours.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: freelancing is still trading time for money, so if you have limited hours available throughout the week, the amount of work you can get done can be limited.
Also, have you ever tried to start working late at night after the kids go down?
Sometimes it works, sometimes it ends in sleeping at your keyboard.
Lesson: find a side business that doesn’t trade time for money; that is, a side business that earns money even when you don’t work on it.
3. Renting rooms on Airbnb
Why it’s popular: this is often cited as a top side hustle online for those with an extra room in a desirable area that gets out-of-town traffic.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: I’d guess most parents don’t like the idea of strangers staying in their homes around their kids (myself included), and this may be particularly out of the question for households with young kids.
Lesson: find a side business that doesn’t affect your personal living space and invite strangers into your home.
4. Buying and selling stuff
Why it’s popular: buy low and sell high is a staple of our economy, and there are plenty of ways to find items cheap and sell them for more online.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: unless you have super reliable sources of inventory, this is a difficult side hustle to scale up, especially with limited time.
Lesson: find a side business that doesn’t require you to go hunting for inventory or sales.
5. Managing social media for local businesses
Why it’s popular: this is great work for social media marketers who have an excellent grasp of Facebook, Instagram and other networks.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: like freelancing, managing social media is trading hours for dollars, and it can be hard to give your clients all the time you’ve agreed to.
Lesson: find a side business that doesn’t require a set amount of time or work for each client.
6. Selling products on Etsy
Why it’s popular: Etsy has grown into a massive online marketplace, which means there’s plenty of people looking for unique handcrafted gifts and goods.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: Etsy is a massive marketplace and it’s hard to distinguish your products from others – it can be done, but there’s no guarantee someone else isn’t making the same stuff you are, and has been doing it longer
Lesson: find a side business that doesn’t rely on sales – something where you (and not customers) can control the outcome.
7. Become a virtual assistant
Why it’s popular: there are plenty of companies and sites that hire VAs for basic online work, from research to writing to organizational and admin tasks.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: VAs generally don’t make much money, and you may be forced to do tasks when you don’t really have the time to do them.
Lesson: find a side business that pays well and allows you to work on your schedule, not someone else’s.
8. Online surveys
Why: online surveys have been around as long as the Internet, and they’re a low-maintenance way to bring in some extra cash.
Why it doesn’t always work for parents: your time is worth way more than online surveys can pay you. Just don’t.
Lesson: find a side business that’ll pay you your worth and doesn’t devalue your time.
Finding the Ideal Side Business
Now that we’ve seen a few popular side hustles that don’t always work well for parents, we should be looking to build a side business that doesn’t:
- require you to leave the house
- trade time for money
- affect your personal living space
- require you to hunt around for inventory
- require a set amount of time for clients
- rely on getting sales on a marketplace
- require you to work on someone else’s schedule
- pay you below your time’s worth
So what do we have left?
The Side Hustle that Works for Parents
I’m biased, but I believe blogging is one of the few side hustles that works great for parents.
It’s flexible, works with your interests and lifestyle, and eventually adds up to something bigger than its individual tasks.
What I mean by that: if you blog 10 hours a month, eventually you’ll build up a site that makes money whether or not you work on it.
With freelancing, driving, social media management, whatever – the work you do each month doesn’t necessarily carry over into the future.
You have to keep doing work, keep posting on social media, keep freelancing in order to keep getting paid.
With blogging, if you build up your site and decide to take a month off to refocus and refresh, your blog will keep running in the background.
You’re not trading time for money, and you’re making your efforts accumulate over time.
It’s hard to find that with anything else.
A Big Ass Bonus!
One more thing: blogging is building an asset, and owning it.
Kind of like a house or property.
Let’s say you build up your blog to make $500 per month, which is incredibly realistic and may only take a few months.
You have two options at this point: keep the blog going and continue increasing your monthly cash flow.
Or option 2: sell your blog on a marketplace like Empire Flippers.
At $500 per month, you can realistically sell your blog for around $12,000 to $16,000.
You can’t do that with many other side hustles.
You can “sell” your Uber drive time or your freelancing time or all the Airbnb rooms you rented out.
So: your side hustle should add up to something.
Building an asset of any kind is the way to go.
It’s the first step to passive income, though there’s nothing passive about blogging or building any type of business.
It’s a misnomer that downplays the amount of work you’ll have to do.
But if you don’t mind meaningful work, blogging is a great way to build a side business that can help your finances, not take too much of your free time away and still allow you to focus on what matters most: watching your little ones grow up.