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One Simple Decision Earned Me an Additional $5,000 This Year

A serious young man working on his computer at home.

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At the beginning of 2023, I added more freelancing work into my regular work routine. I've been a full-time freelancer for over a decade, but I wanted to add a few additional clients through a gig work platform to improve my personal finances.

I landed several repeat clients within several months and had a few one-time assignments. The result was about $5,000 in earnings for the year. It's not a life-changing amount of money, but it was certainly worth the effort.

I earned a little less than the average side hustle

I didn't have a plan for how much I wanted to make and it turns out my earnings were below the average annual side hustle earnings of $5,700. In hindsight, I probably could have earned more if I had devoted additional time and effort to adding new clients.

Instead, I wanted something easily manageable and didn't take too much of my free time. But the extra money still helped me pay down some bills.

As inflation has soared over the past few years, more Americans are turning to gig work to bring in additional income. An estimated 61% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, and credit card debt has reached a record-high $1 trillion.

Picking up some side projects is a good way to help cover rising expenses, and the number of Americans with a side hustle is likely to continue growing. Some estimates show that 50% of employed Americans have a side hustle to supplement their income.

Come up with a plan for gig work in 2024

If you're looking to earn additional income in 2024, here are a few suggestions for coming up with a side hustle strategy:

  • Figure out what you want: You may only want to make a little additional money, or your goal might be to replace a significant portion of your current income. Your goal will determine how you approach the side hustle. Come up with a plan for how much time you want to spend on it each week and how much you expect to earn.
  • Pick a gig platform: There are many great gig work platforms, each with strengths in specific industries. Find the right platform for you, or multiple platforms, that match up with your skills.
  • Learn new skills: I'm currently exploring this option because I want to learn something new, but it's also a great way to boost your earnings. A Gallup poll found that people who learn an additional skill earn up to $8,000 more annually than those who don't.

I don't plan on ramping up my side hustle in 2024, but it was an excellent way to add in some extra income over the past year. If I did it over again, I would have offered additional services to boost my earning potential.

I also would have taken my own advice and devised a real strategy for building my side hustle. Just keep in mind that it can take time to start earning money. It took several months of work before I landed repeat clients.

Be patient with your side hustle and give it time to start earning money. You might be pleasantly surprised with the results, even if you earn less than the average.

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