If you’re considering a side hustle, read this article first.  Some hustles are definitely more lucrative than others.

Somewhere in Denver, there’s an accountant who runs a thriving cosmetics business on the side. In Minneapolis, there’s an aerospace engineer who sells cat-themed t-shirts out of her garage.

Meet the side-hustlers — people who’ve set up secondary businesses outside of their day jobs.

The website TheHustle.co did a survey to learn more: What do these side-hustlers do? How much do they make? And how do they fund their pursuits?

A few of the findings:

• 35% of people have some sort of side-hustle

• Real estate is the most popular side-hustle, making up 11% of all secondary jobs

• Real estate is the most lucrative side-hustle ($90/hr)

• Farming is the least lucrative ($9/hr)

• The average side-hustle earns $12,609 on 11 hours per week (~$25 per hour)

• The majority of side-hustles are self-funded

• The average first-year cost of launching a side-hustle is $16,662


The results in this study are based on 3,560 responses from a survey sent out to The Hustle email list between October 3-8, 2018.

Respondents skew slightly male (56% to 44%), primarily based in the US (77%, compared to 33% international), and in the higher-income range.

On average, respondents are 34 years old, have an income of $91k (more than double the national average of $44.5k), and work 43 hours per week at their primary job.

The sample isn’t representative of the average American, but they still give an interesting snapshot of what mid- to high-tier earners do for work on the side.


On average, 35% of respondents have some kind of side-hustle.

Men, those with less than a BA degree, and younger folks are more likely to start a side-hustle.

Interestingly, respondents with a high school diploma or associate’s degree are more, or just as, likely to have a side-hustle as those with a BA or higher.

But the biggest determining factor of whether or not someone has a side-hustle is the industry she or he works in.

Creative professions : particularly those rooted in art and media — top the list here: 8 of 10 graphic designers report having a side-hustle, along with 7 of 10 online media professionals, and 6 of 10 photographers.

These specific skill-based trades lend themselves to freelance work. But they also generally pay less.

Some jobs don’t allow for work on the side. Only 1 in 10 legal services workers report a side-hustle.


The survey asked respondents to categorize their side-hustle in one of 140 industries.

Overall, 30 industries make up 75% of all side-hustles — but a clear winner comes out on top: Airbnb.

Retail (5% of all side-hustles) also has a strong showing, likely driven by online platforms like Amazon and Shopify.

People who work in certain industries are drawn to certain side-hustles: Construction workers are likely to take on side-work with automobiles or furniture; marketers are more likely to start online apparel companies; PR folks tend to turn to side-hustles in writing & editing.


The average side-hustler spends 11 hours per week on their secondary work, and earns $12,609 per year — an average of about $25 per hour.

Real estate comes out on top:

The average respondent made $29k/year from property on just 6 hours per week, good for $90/hour.

Management consulting ($86/hr), investment management ($75/hr), and investment banking ($70) also reported less than 10 hours of work per week.

On the flip side, farming side-hustlers worked an average of 14 hours per week, and made just under $6.8k, or $9/hr. Also: Arts & crafts ($10/hr), music ($11/hr), writing ($11/hr) and photography ($11/hr).


Most respondents (58%) fund their side-hustles out-of-pocket — and a 38% don’t incur any costs at all.

About 19% report staking out some starter money through a traditional bank loan or family and friends. Only 1% seek side-hustle funding from venture capitalists.

For the self-funded, average out-of-pocket investment runs $17k for the first year. Assuming you’re earning the average of $12.6k/year (and paying the 15.3% federal self-employment tax), you’d be able to recoup your investment in about 1.5 years’ time.

For real estate hustlers, 65% incur debt.


Though these side-hustlers are split on liking their day jobs, 76% definitively love the side biz.

Yet, when asked if they’d want to turn their side-hustle into a full-time job, 52% said no.

People cited fears of failure and debt, and the dilemma of leaving a full-time, stable job for an uncertain future.

– Zachary Crockett, TheHustle.co

The most lucrative side-hustles

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