Ways to Earn Extra Income Part 1

Oh extra income… Whenever I publish any of my extra income posts, I usually receive e-mails like crazy. I mean multiple e-mails every hour, and probably over 20 in one day. I love all of your questions and many of you have reasons for why you want extra income. Not all of you have a…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 29, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

Oh extra income…

Whenever I publish any of my extra income posts, I usually receive e-mails like crazy. I mean multiple e-mails every hour, and probably over 20 in one day.

I love all of your questions and many of you have reasons for why you want extra income. Not all of you have a blog but today I’ll be talking about the different ways I make extra money. In future posts, I will be talking about more of a variety as well.

Currently, before taxes and expenses, I am making around $5,000 in EXTRA income per month. I am on track to make around that this month as well. I’m using my extra income mainly to pay down my $38,000 student loan debt as quickly as I can, and after April of this year, I will probably throw most of it towards savings.

I can only dream of where that might go one day. Just last year I was making a couple hundred per month in extra income – and I was ECSTATIC at that time with that. Now my goals keep increasing.

I am big on diversifying how you make your money, whether it be your extra income or your main form of income. This way, if anything does happen, you are more prepared. Also, try not to use your extra income as a way to Keep up with the Joneses! Use it for what you truly what to do with it.

There are many things that you can do to earn extra income. However, there are also many factors to think about:

  1. How much time do you have? Do you have 1 hour each day or 5 hours each day? Maybe you’re only free on the weekends?
  2. How much are you trying to earn? Is your goal $50 a month or $5,000 a month?
  3. Can you do this and also work at the same time? Will your work be sacrificed and therefore you might lose your main source of income?
  4. Do you want to also have fun while making your extra income?


Ways to Earn Extra Income Part 1

Below are some possible ways for you to earn extra income. This will be a multiple series post as of course there are TONS of things that can be done to make extra income. I plan on making more in-depth posts on these individual methods soon, so watch out for those also 🙂 :

Having a Blog

Having a blog is always a great way to make extra money, as long as you have the time for it and put effort into it. They always say that the first year of blogging is the hardest, and if you can make it past that, then you will probably make it. Having a blog is good because it makes it easier for people to see your writing (such as if you want to be a freelance writer) and it makes it easier for people to get in contact with you.

If you are interested in signing up for a blog, you can read my free tutorial here. Anyone can start their own blog in just a matter of minutes. It’s easy to do!

If you do sign up for a blog, click my affiliate link to get your domain and hosting here (you will get a free domain and discounted pricing through my link). And once you have your domain and hosting, also make sure to start an e-mail list. AWeber is great and very easy to use. Not having an e-mail list for so long is something that I definitely regret, but I am glad that I’m finally starting with this so be on the lookout for the signup soon!

Direct advertising, Google Adsense and affiliate links are the main ways that bloggers make their income online.

Here are some posts written by me that relate to having a blog:

  1. How To Start A WordPress Blog On Bluehost
  2. Blogger or WordPress – Tips on How to Move
  3. Tips For Beginner Bloggers Part 1 – The Basics
  4. How To Make Money Blogging


Renting out an extra room

We have four bedrooms in our house and we only use one. So when my sister needed a place to live, we of course invited her to live with us. It’s been working out greatly. She’s been living with us since May of 2012 and pays around $325 per month. She is hardly home so we haven’t really noticed an increase in any of our bills also.

Now, I don’t think we’ll be adding any more roommates. My sister is great (and we all get along very well), but we have definitely had our share of roommate disasters. Someone also lived with us over the summer for a total of two days before we had to kick him out. That was a mistake that I don’t even want to think about again.

A couple of other bloggers rent out their spare bedrooms as well (it honestly isn’t that bad sharing space, I promise!), such as Crystal at Budgeting in The Fun Stuff. She talked about her roommate situation the other day, go check it out!

I do think that if you have room and don’t mind the extra money, then you might want to try renting out your spare rooms. The money for me is easy, so why not?

Related: Become an Uber driver – Spending your spare time by driving others around can be a great money maker. Read more about this in my post – How To Become An Uber Or Lyft Driver.


Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping (click on the link to learn more about it in a post that I wrote) is something that I used to do a great deal of. I don’t do it a whole lot anymore mainly because of time constraints. I always loved doing the food and cosmetics shops though.

Getting free food and makeup? I’M IN! I use Bestmark for mystery shopping and I highly recommend them.


Selling on eBay

I know, I know. I told some of you that I would make a post on selling on eBay. I still need to do that. Anyways, over the summer I sold a lot of things that were in my closet on eBay. I made over $1,000 by selling stuff online.

It doesn’t need to be just eBay, it could be Craigslist (my friend does this and has a lot of success) or specialized websites such as Bag Borrow or Steal (I sold one of my purses to them).


Freelance Writing

In the Fall of 2012, I found myself staff writing for many websites and blogs. I have recently cut this down a bit and now only write for 3 blogs because it was a lot to handle. However, if you have time, go for it!

I now write for two personal finance blogs and for one hotel in the Caribbean. Read my post So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?


Becoming a Virtual Assistant

This is something that I recently started doing. It doesn’t comprise a LARGE percentage of my extra income, but it is there. I like to be diversified just in case anything does happen to one of my other extra income streams (yes I realize that I am not fully diversified because a lot of my extra income is earned online – just in different ways).

There are many things that you can do as a virtual assistant. You can manage the social media of a business, website, etc. (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and everything else), handle the newsletter, work on the website, proofread and edit, do market research, handle emails, and so on. The list is really endless.

Read my posts What Does a Virtual Assistant Do and How To Become a Virtual Assistant.

If you are interested in learning about even more ways, please check out my post 75+ Ways To Make Extra Money.

Are you making extra income? How so? Please share!

Also, why are you wanting extra income?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Which one is the most fun though (income aside)?

    1. Definitely blogging for me!

  2. My main side income is from spreadsheet consulting. I want to make it to pay down debt, save more, and to have extra income for things I want to do.
    My recent post $1000 Cash Giveaway – Structured Settlement Edition

    1. Do you mind if I ask how much you make from that? I'm sure everyone is interested.

  3. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Thanks for sharing Michelle! How much time would you say you devote to being a VA on average? I've thought about doing it myself as well as hiring out to have someone do something for me. I am making some side income from advertising on the blog, and am really looking to get in to some Freelance writing myself.

    1. I don't do a whole ton of VA. Just a couple of hours a week.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to hear more in depth about freelance writing or staff writing and how you made those connections to do so. Did you approach the websites/companies or did they come to you? I would love to get into this!

    1. I was approached and also advertised my services on a personal finance community/website called Yakezie ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Rachel

    Could you possibly write a post more specifically about HOW and WHERE to find these staff writing opportunities? I'm a writer for a living and do freelance writing too, but most of it is unpaid. :\ I find it so hard to find legit, reliable freelance writing gigs! Thanks
    My recent post When Women are Monsters

    1. Haha everyone is asking this! I was approached and also advertised my services on a personal finance community/website called Yakezie ๐Ÿ™‚

      I do plan on going more in-depth on this in a post that is 100% dedicated to freelance writing. It will be going live next week most likely.

  6. Great job! We make extra income in cimilar ways that you do. Our blog has recently been making a considerable amount of money. We each have staff writing gigs (mine at Get Rich Slowly and Greg's is at another pf blog) that pay rather well. I wish I had more time to do other things to make more money…but with the two kids almost every hour of my day is taken up!

    1. That's great about your staff writing gigs! I love staff writing and being able to write about other topics.

  7. I earn extra income from my blog mostly. I want to earn extra income to help my girlfriend pay off her student loans and to rely less on traditional sources of income.

    1. Need to diversify Lance! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. SavvyFinancialLatina

    I would love to earn more side income ๐Ÿ™‚ I am working on transitioning my blog to self host. And hopefully will find ways to make money online.
    What hosting service do you use by the way? Was the transition to self host easy? Did you do it yourself?

    1. Yes go to self host! For this blog I use Andrea at Nuts and Bolts Media for my hosting. She transferred it and made it all super easy.

      I also have another secret blog (no one knows the name!) and I use Bluehost for that. Please use my affiliate link if you want to do that! ๐Ÿ™‚ http://www.bluehost.com/track/senseofcents

  9. missamanda101

    My PT job is fun, but it's taking up entirely too much of my time, so not a lot of money. After working 40 hours a week – in the same building – it's hard to come back in the evenings and on weekends for minimum wage. I've toyed with the idea of finding a different PT job, to gain different skills and work with different people, but scheduling is always an issue.

    Looking forward to Part 2 of this post to see if it sparks any ideas ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post Introducing IWIWIW

    1. I hope Part 2 is helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Honestly, I'd love to be able to do so many "side" gigs that I make enough to pay my bills so I don't have to get some crappy minimum wage job. I mean if I could earn enough through freelance writing and blogging to make as much as I'd make at a minimum wage job…I'd never have to work a crappy job again. That would be amazing.
    My recent post A not-that-nice confession.

    1. C, I hope one day this is very possible for you ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Happy_Homeowner

    I'm investigating all kinds of ways to make extra money for this year as it's a huge financial focus for my goals. Staff writing and VA-type tasks are what I'm targeting now. I'm also a huge fan of sponsored posts/links in old posts and hope to have more in the coming months!

    1. I'm definitely with you on all of this!

  12. laurenab

    The blog is my main source of side income-don't know how I'd do without it!

  13. Pauline @ Reach Financial Independence

    I get most of my extra income via real estate (used to rent 2 rooms in my flat then I moved out and rented the third as well) and online income, on the blog or writing for travel and expat websites. I like to be diversified, as nothing is certain from one month to another.
    My recent post $1000 giveaway! What are structured settlements?

    1. I agree, i like to be diversified and I'm really working on this.

  14. therandompath

    These are great ways to earn extra income Michelle! Can't wait to read more of this series ๐Ÿ™‚
    My recent post Yummy Chocolate Chip Cookies

    1. Thanks! Part 2 shouldn't take too long.

  15. Great post, 5 grand in extra income is a lot. I would like to know how much time is devoted to making this and if there is a lot of pressure associated with the extra effort to make it.
    My recent post Millionaires

    1. There is definitely a lot of time devoted to it. I wake up about an hour early each day and devote this to my extra income, devote almost my whole lunch time, and then work on it after work.

      However, no, there is not a ton of pressure.

      1. I was wondering this same question as Rich– about how much time do you put into your blog? Here is another similar question: About how many entries do you try to write each week? I put minimal time into my blog and only write about one entry per week; I am definitely not making any income from it.

  16. Canadianbudgetbinder

    Thanks for sharing all this information Michelle, I enjoyed this post. One question though. Where does one go to look for staff writing jobs or virtual assisting jobs? Do you put a HIRE ME on your site or is there a place where people advertise "help wanted" or is it word of mouth? Likely all of the above but what do you suggest for someone looking as to where they should start. I would be interested in pursuing this further. Thanks Michelle.
    My recent post CBB December 2012 Net Worth Update-A Look Back Over The Year!

    1. Canadianbudgetbinder

      Looking up the comments I'm not the only one wanting to know this info ha! ๐Ÿ™‚
      My recent post CBB December 2012 Net Worth Update-A Look Back Over The Year!

    2. I think being a part of Yakezie is what helped me the most. I was able to advertise my services on Yakezie and I received multiple e-mails from blog owners. I do think a hire me on a website does help because how are people supposed to know that you are interested?

  17. Someone contacted me directly. I think having a personal finance blog definitely helps because people already have an idea of how I would write for them.

  18. That's exactly what I'm trying to do. If it takes too much time, then I'm not 100% interested just because I have so much on my plate.

  19. I'm with you. I definitely didn't start my blog for the money, so it's interesting to see where it's going.

  20. I agree, I need more passive income! Hopefully one day I can be like Smart Passive Income ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. I was bored with online surveys as well. They just seemed to take up too much of my time.

  22. Newlyweds ona Budget

    can you break it down by percentage? like maybe a pie chart that shows how much of your online income is generated by ads, staff writing, etc? it seems that a lot comes from advertisements, but i hardly ever notice ads on your site! you rock, btw

      1. Happy_Homeowner

        Please send that email to me, too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. edwardra3

    If you include rent payments to us as a side income, then when we move into our new house, we will be getting about $7000 per year. But I don't count it as income because it is used to pay OUR rent. It's only a matter of paperwork that the money sits in our checking account for 24 hours instead of going directly to the landlord.

    1. So do you make any money off of doing what you're doing?

  24. apenny4athought

    Great list, wondering how you got involved with being a virtual assistant
    My recent post The 2013 Spending Plan

    1. I was e-mailed directly about it. There will be a post soon that is entirely dedicated to virtual assisting! ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Tie the Money Knot

    Interesting….20 emails that day, and multiple per hour. Goes to show just how much PF bloggers and readers REALLY want extra income. The reality that there are cash flow opportunities outside of one's official "job" is simply intoxicating for many, and I can understand why!

    1. Yes it seems like everyone definitely wants extra income! I should be clear though, it is not easy work. I spend a lot of time and hours each day on my extra income. I think that's something that a lot of readers don't think about.

  26. I started an office cleaning business with a vacuum cleaner and some window cleaner and disinfectant. I now make a 6 figure income. I've a free newsletter at my website for anyone interested in doing the same.

  27. Kim@Eyesonthedollar

    I want to get through the first year of blogging and see what happens with that. I am just starting to see some money coming in and I think there is a lot of potential. Right now, I have a sweet deal because I own a business and am paying people to work for me, while still taking a salary and that has allowed me to work part time as an eye doctor and do more writing at home. All side income would go toward paying off our debt or saved for travel. I have several ideas for the future that might or might not happen, most involving health care type stuff like consulting with new practice owners or getting them set up to bill insurance correctly. People pay big money for consultants, and lot of them are horrible. We also have rental properties, so I guess I am getting pretty diverse. I don't want the 40 hours a week in an office any more.

    1. Wow that's great! I definitely think you are diverse.

  28. Lindsey

    I make extra income running my own business selling vintage housewares. It actually started out as a hobby that paid for itself and now it helps pay down debt as well.
    My recent post Still spending

    1. Wow that's great! ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. mycanuckbuck

    Hadn't even thought of advertising my services on Yakezie – great idea. I'll have to look into it!
    My recent post 4 Life Investments That You Can Be Saving On

  30. Ornella@Moneylicious

    I've started to notice that becoming a virtual assitance is one way to make extra money. I've had my blog for awhile but I haven't montetized it, yet. Maybe this is something I should look into soon.

  31. doordebt

    Wow, I just wrote a post about side hustles too! I make extra money as a brand ambassador, petsitter, sometimes writer and artist assistant. I would love to make more money blogging, but just got into it and want to focus on content, passion and readership first ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the awesome tips!

  32. Betty C

    I'm just starting to look into some type of income other than my job. So far I haven't see much along the line of what you are doing. I think a lot depends on location. Maybe I'm just not living in the right city.

  33. Cat

    I just wrote this really long comment and then it got deleted! ๐Ÿ™ ANyway, What I was saying is that mystery shopping sounds cool but I’ve never tried it (I’ll have to read your post) and I would be more afraid of spending more money by accident.

    I have a blog and make some adsense revenue but not much. My blog started as a horse blog and then turned into an adventure and random thought blog. I’m trying to find my niche. As of right now it doesn’t matter because no one reads it anyway. The day I log in and there’s a real comment I’ll be a proud blogger!

    But really, online money making is hard. I sell things on ebay and do well. I’ll buy clothes and then wear them a few times and then resell but you’ll never make the original money back unless you’re actually really good at it, so I only buy things that I use and I only sell things that I’ve grown out of.

  34. Cat

    This is great! I could see how you get a lot of repies for making extra money posts, because we all want to do it. I've never tried mystery shopping before but it seems like fun, I would be afraid I would spend more money than I made, but then again I should probably read your blog posts about the ins and outs of it all.
    My recent post My Trip To the Dominican Republic Is Official!!!!

  35. Smart Money Junction

    While making extra income from some of the other sources you mentioned might not be as easy, freelance writing and blogging can certainly prove to be lucrative. Although being a virtual assistant is not too bad either, the payoff isn't really as much as I would like.

  36. Great post, Michelle. I think it's incredible that you pull in $5K per month in extra income. Such an inspiration! I'd love to start freelance writing and your recommendations about mystery shopping and virtual assistance are intriguing, too! Can't wait for Part 2. ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. rajith

    Nice! I definitely think I need to look more into freelance writing, but I've been doing a bit of it for one website and it can definitely be time consuming that's for sure.

  38. I just wanted to thank you so much for your entire blog! You are incredibly inspiring and very helpful on my journey to blogging and creating an income from home. I am a stay at home mom and trying to generate more income for our family. You have been a God send and I really thank you for being so open about how you do what you do! Keep at it and helping others as you’ve helped me!

    1. Aww thank you so much Brittany! I really appreciate everything you said ๐Ÿ™‚

  39. Dale P

    Online surveys are also a legit way to make money. I initially thought that you could only make a few bucks here and there taking surveys, but a lot of people make thousands (per month) doing this.

    I’ve done a few mystery shops too and found that that stuff actually works. Getting paid $25 to get a tour of a gym is not a bad deal.

    I find it is good to sign up with several mystery shop websites and pick shops that coincide with what I need to get done. For example while I was moving from one apt to another I had a chance to do 6 mystery apt shops at $25 each. I did not get approved for the shops in time so I ended up visiting those same apts without getting paid.

    If I would have waited a day or two I could have made about $150 for doing something that I was going to do anyway.

    Same goes for oil changes and tanning etc.

    I once did a phone shop where I had to make three phone calls to new home communities. Each call was about 10 minutes and I got paid $6 per call. Very good way to make money.

  40. juanita

    Thanks for all the information Michelle. Did try to rent a room to 2 different people so plan on blogging about that nightmare and what I would do differently if I decided to do it again. This is really all knew to me so I’m trying to get as much information as possible from it. I don’t intend to make money from blogging but just trying to get out medical information to the public.
    One thing I’ve learned as a case manager is the importance of not living in the moment but planning for the future if you are self-employed. An example: took care of a 60 y/o f caregiver and housekeeper, she did very well and always had a nice car, jewels and clothes she paid for in cash. Always got paid under the table. She became ill with cancer and had no insurance or had never paid into social security and when she died had no money for her burial. Her family benefited from her jewelry and clothes. It would be wise to pay into the govt for your social security and medicare.

  41. Just these things you listed here are bringing in $5000/month? Or these plus other side gigs? I’m curious which single method brings you in the most side cash, on a regular basis.

  42. Michael Belk

    These are some good options. I have tried Mystery shopping. It works just time consuming. I am thinking about freelance work in some capacity.

    You are right about keeping up with the Joneses because extra money will do you no good if you waste it.

  43. Francisco Itum

    I just try, i hope this is true

  44. Earning extra income online is pretty much open to anyone who has a willing mind to change their way of thinking and do the transformation business work in hopes of being a future side hustle millionaire.