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Five Weird Side Hustles That Pay Well

I enjoy home improvement and learning new things. I'm semi-retired and earn extra income from a number of "side hustles."

Juggling side jobs? Here are some that you might consider.

Juggling side jobs? Here are some that you might consider.

1. Become a Notary Public

Working part-time as a notary public can be a profitable side hustle in many areas, especially those where the real estate market is hot, and there is a need for home buyers and sellers to have documents notarized.

I recently received my notary public license, which in my home state only costs $90 for a four-year term, plus a small fee each year for bonding insurance. If your state has a low barrier to entry, as mine does, you might consider adding this side hustle to your mix. While the state often sets fixed fees for services at fairly low rates (six dollars for the first signature and one dollar for each additional one where I live, for example), you may also be able to charge travel and after-hours fees to increase your income. While it doesn't seem like that weird of a side hustle at first glance, the fact that part of a notary's work is to take depositions can make it quite interesting at times. Depositions play an important role in many legal proceedings and typically require the participation of an official who can administer oaths and affirmations, as a notary public does. In doing so, you will most certainly hear some weird things.

There are also online sites where, as a notary public, you can add your business name and number in order to get more leads. Some online notaries are able to work remotely, and this may be a good option for some who can't travel. My own practice does not yet include online work, but I'm considering adding it. With my notary public practice, I typically make between $100 to $400 a month by attending real estate closings and other smaller notary jobs.

As a notary, you will be required to attest to the accuracy of the signer's information, including identity documents, and to read complex documents carefully to ensure that you are affirming the correct parts of the document. For more information on how to become a notary in your area, you might visit the website of your state's Secretary of State office.

2. Design for “Print-On-Demand” Sites

One of my best side hustles so far has been to design for "print on demand" sites such as Zazzle, Teepublic and Cafepress. On sites such as these, you can upload original artwork that you've created, including graphic designs and photos, and place these images into the site's templates that will be used to create products such as shirts, mugs, stickers and even watches.

As an avid climber of mountains over 14,000 feet, or "fourteeners," I've "made" several products from photos of summits, along with the USGS benchmark markers that often mark the summits of these mountains. I never actually see these products or have to ship them to customers, though. Each is created and handled by the print-on-demand site and shipped to a customer, and I receive a commission based on what I choose to set it at for that product. It can be difficult to stand out on these sites, though, so coming up with a niche area can be very helpful.

Try and find a niche that matches a hobby or interest of yours with which you are very familiar. If you love to visit the most off-the-wall places on your family vacation, for example, take photos of those subjects and create a collection of products based on local oddities such as the "giant ball of string." Someone may buy a coffee mug, serving platter or sticker with that design or image. The more unusual the idea is, the greater chance that nobody else is competing with you in that subject area. This "long tail" approach involves making more designs in more niches but can pay out over time.

Keywords are very important in selling products on sites such as Cafepress, so be sure and add the maximum number of relevant keywords that you can. Be sure and monitor the products in your store, and if you see that some are not selling, go into the listing details and try and tweak them so that you get more views.

I typically make around $200 per month from my products on print-on-demand sites, and during the Christmas shopping season, well over $1,000. This amount of earnings didn't just come overnight, though. It took a couple of years of constant work to build a portfolio of designs, of which I presently have around 3,000 on various sites. If you find the right niche, however, you may find success with far fewer designs.

3. Become A Human Guinea Pig

While it doesn't sound very appealing at first, becoming a participant in a medical trial can pay quite well. In most major cities, including where I live in Austin, Texas, there are research companies that advertise for participants in pharmaceutical and medical studies. Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez, whose first film El Mariachi made over $2 million dollars, earned much of the $7,000 that it cost to produce the film by participating in medical trials in Austin.

Some of them are beyond my comfort zone and carry more risk than I'm personally comfortable with, yet others are quite benign. I participated in one clinical trial of a hair loss medicine for which I qualified with my receding hairline. Participants' scalps were examined, and then they were asked to use a topical product at the exact same time each day, not knowing if it were the actual product being evaluated or a placebo. At the end of the survey, a hair follicle count was performed to determine if there was any change. In my case, the product either did not work, or I received a placebo, yet I was still paid $1,200. My expenses amounted only to that spent on gas on a couple of trips to the company office. Allowing companies to perform medical experiments on your body may not be your cup of tea, but if you understand the risk and the nature of the testing, it can be a profitable side hustle.

4. Install Smart Devices

One lucrative side hustle that you can create for yourself is a handyman service specializing in installing smart home devices such as Nest thermostats and Ring doorbells. As more homeowners install these devices now than ever, you can make a few bucks helping them out. The best way for you to get started is to install some of these devices in your own home and for friends and family as you build your skill level. While it may not seem like that weird of a side hustle, there are often unique situations that you will have to deal with in order to get some of these devices to work properly.

There are intricacies in installing these devices that may not be apparent at first glance. For example, to install some smart doorbell devices, such as Eufy, the two low-voltage wires leading to your front door from the doorbell must carry a certain voltage. Older homes may have used doorbell systems with a higher or lower voltage, and in these instances, you must be able to locate the old doorbell control unit, wherever it may be in the attic, etc., and install a new transformer. Having run into these scenarios before, I keep a couple of them handy just in case. As a smart tech installer, you may run into situations where the smart device is unable to connect to WiFi, and you may end up having to install WiFi extenders in the home to get the signal to where the smart device is located.

There are platforms such as TaskRabbit that you can join to locate more of these kinds of jobs in your area. These platforms do charge a fee but are one good way to grow your business. The app-based platform offers a list of jobs in your area, and you can choose to accept the ones involving installing smart home devices and set your own rate. I tried this route at first but now get most of my work through a friend at the local hardware store, who, if asked, gives customers who purchase Nest thermostats my card.

Be aware of local codes and requirements in your area, as some cities don't allow non-licensed persons to do any type of home electrical work, even if it is low voltage.

I typically make anywhere from $100 to $500 a month installing smart thermostats and doorbells, with a minimum charge of $50 per device.

5. Deliver Auto Parts

In most cities, you can often find ads from auto parts dealers, car dealers, and even third-party companies that will hire you to pick up and deliver auto parts, medical samples, and other items.

Beware of these ads since many are scams. I've found that out the hard way. Some companies hire delivery drivers for auto parts, etc., yet they often pay such low rates that they are not profitable to you personally. There are, occasionally, legitimate jobs working firsthand for car dealers and auto parts stores. Rather than pay a mechanic (who may be highly paid by the hour) to go and fetch an alternator for a 2005 Chevy Lumina from a parts house downtown, the company may pay a runner to get it. Often these jobs are paid at a flat rate per trip, not by the mile, and are only profitable if you have a very economical vehicle.

In my own case, the major car dealer that I work for pays me a flat fee for picking up parts from the same parts place, and it's enough to make it worthwhile for me to put the extra miles on my vehicle. I also earn a few dollars by delivering customers' cars back to their homes as part of their VIP customer program after repairs are completed.

While there may be quite a few of these jobs available, they often do not pay enough to justify the gas used and wear and tear on your vehicle, not to mention being required to be ready at a moment's notice. Do some research on the company posting the ad first, look at their employee reviews, and try and work as an employee of the company you are delivering parts or other items for instead of a contractor who gathers a group of drivers and skims a hefty fee off the top.

Other Ideas For Side Hustles

These are just some of the jobs that I personally do on the side to earn a bit of extra money. Writing articles for sites such as the one you are reading this on is another. I also deliver new RVs for a local company that manufactures them. I drive the new vehicles to their destination and either rent a car or take public transportation to get home. When looking for a profitable side hustle, you must consider all the options available to you in your area, no matter how unconventional they may be.

© 2020 Nolen Hart


Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 14, 2020:

You have listed some interesting options for earning extra money. It is good to know that some of these ideas have worked well for you.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 14, 2020:

Nice ideas.