Side Hustle

Side hustles are a good way to pad your income, pay down debt and reach financial independence sooner. 

The Internet and other advances in technology have made it easier than ever to start online businesses, blogs, apps and other money making ventures, all of which make for great side hustles. 

In most cases, the barriers to entry for side hustles are low and there is a high likelihood of at least making *some* money. Could you use a little extra cash money?

Beyond the financial benefits, side hustles can be liberating, and in some cases, serve as a gateway drug to entrepreneurship!

My side hustle adventures began when I was a young whippersnapper, and while I took a hiatus from side hustles to make way for my current career, my entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well!

Below are 5 side hustles I had before side hustles were called side hustles.

Additionally, if you’re looking for a side hustle, I included a list of easy options to explore!

How I Got Started With Side Hustles

While I used to just call them side-jobs or odd-jobs, I always had side hustles growing up. 

I learned at a young age how to make a buck and be my own boss. Like most kids, I learned how to mow the lawn and had my daily chores around the house. 

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I could trade a little bit of elbow grease for a few dollars. 

I started hustling when I was in 7th grade (maybe earlier) and continued through high-school and college. (I remember selling Star Wars DVDs to friends at school in 7th grade…)

Like most teenagers, I was the neighborhood lawn-care “expert”. In other words, my dad had a lawn mower, I knew how to use it, and I would cut grass for cheap. 

While I usually had some sort of a ‘formal’ job (W-2 carrying employee), I always had jobs on the side (side hustles) that brought in extra income. 

I was always looking for another way to make money and wound up doing a little bit of everything. As a result, I started my first business when I was 17

While none of my side hustles made me ‘rich’, I learned invaluable lessons about life, work-ethic and entrepreneurship. 

5 Side Hustles I had Before Side Hustles Were Called Side Hustles 

Lawn Mower

1. Lawn Mowing

Who didn’t do this as a kid? I mowed more lawns as a 14 year old than most people do in a lifetime. Lawn care is a relatively simple service I was able to sell at a young age. There are countless other services you can do as a side hustle, and you don’t have to be an expert. For example: home/office cleaning,  painting, etc. 

What I learned from mowing lawns: 

  • Business Costs: Gas isn’t free, and when the mower breaks, you either have to fix it or you’re out of business
  • Procrastination gets you nowhere: There were days that I didn’t feel like mowing. I would wait till the next day, or the next day, and by the time I got around to mowing it took me twice as long because the grass was so long.
  • Service With A smile: Word of mouth is the best and cheapest form of marketing. I showed up, did a good job and had a good attitude. It didn’t take long for the rest of the neighborhood to find out. 


2. Blank-It, LLC (2006-2009)

After a few years of doing odd jobs for people, I realized I could start working for myself ‘full time’. I partnered with a friend and we made it happen, Blank-It, LLC was formed. Our slogan was, “You Fill in the Blank, and We’ll Do It”. And we did. (Paint-It, Clean-It, Fix-It, Mow-It, Build-It, etc.)

At one point, we had a few employees working for us. We were all making good money and running our own show at 17/18 years old. 

What I learned from having my own business at 17 years old:

  • Having a business is hard work: The more customers you have, the more time you spend on the phone, writing invoices, doing payroll, lining up jobs etc. I learned that time is money and there is an important balance between the behind the scenes work and the actual JOB. 
  • Taxes are a thing: We still made good money, but once the business was legit, Uncle Sam got his piece of the pie. 
  • Being your own boss is amazing: While not for everyone, I loved making my own schedule, and knowing that I was 100% responsible for my own paycheck. 

Fish Cleanup

3. Dead Fish Clean-up (2006 or 2007)

If the title of this one didn’t catch your eye, I don’t know what will. This side hustle took place in 2006 or 2007. I was in high school and one day my friend Jeff pitched me a great idea. 

There was a massive fish die-off one spring. As a result, the beaches at the local lake were littered with dead fish. The fish washed up on the beach and smelled awful.

Who was going to clean them up? Us.

We made flyer’s and delivered them to all the houses around the lake. It didn’t take long and our phones were ringing off the hook.   

Words cannot describe what a pickup truck full of dead, rotting fish smells like, but believe me, it was bad. My friend and I laughed about it, all the way to the bank. I think we made $30/hr and the gig lasted a week or two. 

What I learned from cleaning up dead fish: 

  • You can make good money doing what no one else wants to do.
  • There are some smells you can’t get out of clothes…
  • It’s not all about money: the memory of this experience is worth much more to me than the $30/hr we made!

Car Detailing

4. Car Detailing (2005-2009)

 I started detailing cars before I could drive. I paid for an ad in the newspaper classifieds and offered everything (interior/exterior cleaning, wax, tires and wheels, etc.) for $50! (some places charge $200 for a good car detailing)

I was still in school, so I scheduled cars for Saturday and would do 1-2 per day. I made about $10/hr cash, which was much more than I could make anywhere else at my age. 

At one point, I remember sitting down with my dad and telling him “I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life”. Hahaha… I may have been a bit naive, but I liked working for myself, setting my own schedule, and making what I thought was decent money. 

While I’m glad I’m still not detailing cars today, I was passionate about what I was doing and I believed I could make it work. For some people, that’s the hardest part.

As cliché as it may be, you have to believe in yourself, otherwise you’ll never get anywhere. 

What I learned from cleaning cars:

  • People drop a lot of quarters under their seats.
  • A fair price quickly beats out the competition. 
  • Some people only clean their car once every 5 years. 

Snowbama Care

5. Snowbama Care Taxi (2011) 

This was my one-night-stand hustle. Meaning, I only did it for one night, not what you were thinking…

I was a student at Michigan State University (Go Green!), it was winter and there was a massive snowstorm.

People called it ‘snowmageddon’ and ‘snowpocalypse’. The hype was unreal, and the storm lived up to the hype. 

It was the first snow-day for Michigan State in 17 years, and the school had only canceled classes 4 other times in history!

As a result, that Tuesday night in February became a great opportunity to hit the bar, but there was one catch, none of the taxis were operating due to the road conditions.

This is where ‘Snowbama Care Taxi’ comes in. Once my friend and I realized the taxis weren’t going to be operating, we saw the opportunity.

Snowy Road

We developed a plan. Step 1: Make business cards to hand out to people at the bars/standing in line. Step 2: Tell our Friends. That was pretty much the extent of our planning.

I made the business cards on my computer and printed them on regular paper. They had both our phone numbers listed and that was pretty much it… 

As it turns out, people are fairly generous when it’s 20 degrees and there’s a foot of snow on the ground and no other way to get home. 

At the end of the day, we made a few hundred dollars, protected the students in East Lansing from the bitter cold and moved on with a great story to tell. 

What I learned from driving around drunk college students: 

  • People are very trusting, and friendly: I had fun! As a result, I’ve always wanted to drive for Uber. We’ll see if my dream comes true. 
  • Your plan to make money doesn’t have to be complex: Snow day + no taxis = a great opportunity to make $. We didn’t overcomplicate the plan.
  • A catchy name helps…

Why Side Hustles Work

The theme among all of these side hustles is service, hard work and flexibility. 

You can easily make money by doing something your customer either isn’t able or isn’t willing to do.

What service can you sell? It doesn’t have to be complicated!

I was willing to do just about anything. As you can imagine, cleaning up dead fish isn’t glamorous, but $30/hr as a high-schooler is good money!

I learned that if I showed up on time, worked hard and did a good job my customers would keep calling. I enjoyed working for myself and learned a lot about business and responsibility. 

The flexibility of side hustles make them very appealing. Have a few extra hours a week? Pickup a side hustle and make some extra money. 

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You just have to be willing to take the plunge and put in the work. 

Want to Earn Some Extra Money?


Here are 10 side hustles to consider: 

1. Airbnb – Have an extra room in your house? You can rent it out to people looking for a place to stay (and make good money doing so). Airbnb has taken the world by storm as an alternative to hotels. You can become an Airbnb host by clicking here.

2. WAG – Get paid to walk, board and visit with dogs! Apply here.

3. Start a blog – Do you have some free time and a passion you want to share with others? I used Bluehost to get started with my blog. Click here to learn more about starting your own blog with Bluehost.

4. Pet Sitting – In addition to WAG, you can start pet sitting through an app called Rover. Sign up here

5. Uber/Lyft – You’ve heard of Uber/Lyft, and you can make decent money driving others around.  

6. House Cleaning – Charge people to clean their house. Pretty simple, and certainly a demand!

7. Handyman – Know how to fix a light fixture? Paint a room? Clean gutters? These are all things I’ve done for money, and you can too. Start by telling your friends, neighbors and advertising on social media. You’ll be surprised. People are always looking for a handyman (or handywoman)!

8. Etsy – Sell handmade items on Etsy. Learn how here!

9. Amazon – Sell items through Amazon. Click here for more info.  

10. Delivery – You can deliver products through services like Uber Eats, or Amazon Flex.

* For more side hustles, click here*

If you need some extra money, these are all good options to get started. You can start making extra money today — you just have to *do something* about it. 

Wondering what to do with your extra money? Start working on your goals and your path to financial independence! Save, invest, plan for the future.

No matter what you do – remember, side hustles take time and energy.  Make sure you have time and energy to spare, and get after it! You’ll learn a few things, I promise!

Till Next Time!


5 Side Hustles I Had Before Side Hustles Were Called Side Hustles
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12 thoughts on “5 Side Hustles I Had Before Side Hustles Were Called Side Hustles

  • February 1, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    This is a great post! I’m sorry I missed it but glad that the “Rumble” had me take a look. Good luck!

    The dead fish story reminds me of the guy (featured on Rockstar or Budgets are Sexy), who makes a fortune cleaning up parking lots. Then there are all the people Mike Rowe interviews on Dirty Jobs.

    Obviously you’ve never been afraid of hard work. Being an opportunity seeker (I’m stealing from Billy from Wealth Well Done) and applying a good work ethic is a fantastic recipe for success.

    • February 2, 2018 at 1:44 am

      Thanks – I really appreciate that! I remember seeing the headline from the article you are talking about. I definitely felt like Mike Rowe while I was doing it. The smell… some things you just never forget.

      It feels good to work hard and see results, and I’m just getting started! Can’t wait to keep the ball moving in the right direction. Thanks for stopping by!

  • February 1, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    I lived too far in out the middle of nowhere to make mowing lawns a side hustle, but one winter me and my brother walked to the city and shoveled snow until we had enough to buy a video game. Except I did most of the work while he went and visited his girlfriend….

    • February 2, 2018 at 1:46 am

      Haha I love the memories. I worked multiple winters as a snow shoveler. There’s something special about getting up at 3am while everyone else is sleeping to go prep the world for them! Did you (guys) make some money?

  • February 1, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    That’s some serious hustle and entrepreneurship on your part. The dead fish is impressive, but I think running a business – with employees no less – at 17/18 years old is what stands out the most to me.

    • February 2, 2018 at 1:49 am

      I learned a lot, and more often than not, the barrier to entry for starting a business is fear. Everything else is gravy… Anyone can start a business if they have an idea and a little courage.
      Thanks for checking out the post!
      – Jason

    • February 2, 2018 at 1:50 am

      Thanks! I’ll echo what I said to Angela below “more often than not, the barrier to entry for starting a business is fear. Everything else is gravy… Anyone can start a business if they have an idea and a little courage”. I wish more young people would step out on a limb and let their entrepreneurial sprit free!

  • February 1, 2018 at 11:03 pm

    Love this post!! I’m so impressed with your real life hustle stories and the lessons that you gleaned from the experiences. Nice!

    • February 2, 2018 at 1:53 am

      Thanks – I loved writing this post. It brought back so many good memories! Looking back, who cares about the money? And now, even if my memory fades, the stories are cemented on the interwebs!

  • February 2, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I had never heard of WAG, but my sister-in-law would be perfect for that one. I will pass it along!

    • February 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm

      Once upon a time, I signed up to be a dog walker with WAG, but I got busy at work and decided not to follow through. I still might, though – I think it would be fun. I hope it’s a good fit for your sister-in-law!


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