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3 side hustles that could improve your skills and make you better at your job

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Side hustles are becoming increasingly popular. Nearly half, 40% of Americans currently have one, according to a May 2022 Zapier survey of 2,032 U.S. adults. That's up from 34% of Americans in December 2020.

And while making some extra cash may be the most obvious reason to pick one up, there are other reasons to consider doing so as well. Depending on what you choose to do, your side gig could actually help you sharpen the skills you need for your nine-to-five.

Picking up outside work teaches you "how to actually manage your workload without someone else micromanaging you," says Daniella Flores, founder of side hustle blog I Like To Dabble, as an example of one advantage.

Here are three side hustles to consider that could make you better at your job.


One skill it's always good to improve on is public speaking.

"You're going to be called on to give presentations, answer questions, have meetings with your boss, interview for new jobs," says Jen Glantz, founder of Bridesmaid for Hire and the Odd Jobs Newsletter. "The art of public speaking follows you around."

Glantz recommends picking up some tutoring. "It's the art of having to combine skill and teaching with public speaking to get your point across and sometimes even persuasion to get the other person to listen."

You can tutor kids and adults in an array of fields, ranging from a foreign language to musical instruments to calculus. Pick up tutoring gigs on sites like Varsity Tutors, Lessonface, Wyzant and TutorMe, or let your community know you're looking to dive in, in case they know anyone interested in your expertise.

Tutors make an average of about $25 per hour in the U.S., according to Indeed, but this, in part, depends on the subject matter and level of expertise you're teaching at. You could end up making much more. Do a search on these and other sites to see how much tutors in your field and location are charging.

If you want to open up your services to an even bigger group, consider teaching classes on sites like Outschool, where kids take virtual courses on STEM to arts and crafts. One English and essay-writing teacher has made $10,000 per month on the site.

Virtual assisting

Soft skills like scheduling are some of the most coveted among employers and learning how to build systems to manage these and other administrative tasks can make you more efficient at many jobs.

"Virtual assistants are ones that literally take care of all those soft skills for people that do not have the time to do it themselves," says Flores. "Small businesses are hiring virtual assistants every day."

Find virtual assistant jobs on sites like BELAY and Robert Half, look for gigs in virtual assistant groups on Facebook, or create a profile for yourself on sites like Fiverr. These hustlers make an average of $22 per hour, according to Indeed, though, the more specialized you are as an assistant, the more you can charge.

Flores has a virtual assistant who managers their Instagram, Pinterest and Notion (a project management software). They pay her $30 per hour.

Starting an Etsy store

Your job is likely part of a business, large or small as it may be. And "no matter where you are in a company, it's always good to understand basic business principles," says Glantz. Understanding costs versus profit, customer service, how to pivot if something isn't working ― if you can figure out "how to problem solve with these problems, you become super valuable at your company," she says.

To learn some basic business skills, try opening a virtual business on sites like Etsy, Poshmark, Mercari or eBay. You can sell vintage T-shirts you found at yard sales, one-of-a-kind cards you've made for family members' birthdays or digital products like budget planners people buy and print on their own.

Julie Berninger makes $1,000 per month in passive income from her Etsy store, where she sells items like bachelorette party activity lists.

Regardless of whether or not your side gig directly feeds into the responsibilities of your full-time job, you never know where trying something new will take you. "Maybe going through that journey and experience will still teach you something," says Flores.

Check out:

4 side hustles for recent college graduates: One can pay as much as $85 per hour

This millennial mom built a $1 million business by 33—here's her advice to other entrepreneurs

I've made thousands of dollars a month in passive income for the past 5 years: Here's how

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