“Side Hustle” Jobs for Military Spouses: Part 3, Ideas

By Carol Church

In our first installment on this topic, we went over the definition of a side hustle and their pros and cons. In our second installment, we discussed finding the right side job, and do’s and don’ts for success. Today, we present a list of side job possibilities that might work for military spouses–some of which you may not have heard of.

Of course, each job will have its pros and cons, and all require further research. If they will be operating a business out of military housing, spouses need to get advice on what is and isn’t permitted. And don’t forget about taxes, which can be complicated for ventures such as these.

20 Military Spouse Side Hustles

  • Dog walker/pet sitter

It’s easier than ever to get into this due to new websites such as Rover and DogVacay, although companies like this also will take a cut of earnings. Those interested will want to consider their own expertise and comfort with animals of all size and type.

  • Blogger (especially on a niche subject)

While some bloggers are enormously successful, this is typically a low-profit business. However, those with specialized knowledge or marketing and media experience may be able to make this work. Visit ProBlogger for job listings and career advice.

  • Virtual assistant

Those with a variety of proven, useful skills may be able to do well working as a virtual assistant. Sites like Zirtual are for more professional responsibilities that an assistant would handle, such as bookkeeping and travel scheduling. Fiverr offers the chance to do almost anything (legal) one can think of for a “fiver” or more. Taskrabbit is more about local, in-person tasks, such as cleaning or deliveries.

Photospin/Tom Baker
  • “Social selling” companies, such as LulaRoe, Pampered Chef, Jamberry, Avon, etc.

While not everyone is a fan of these systems, which typically involve reselling products to friends and acquaintances through parties or online, they definitely can and do work for some. It’s best to sell something one personally uses and feels passionate about. Take the time to research the particular company of interest, and remember that some of these systems also ask workers to “recruit” others.

Mechanical Turk offers a variety of small, short tasks (such as transcription, photo labeling, or completing surveys) available to do online. While most pay very little, the flexibility and ease of entry is nice, and those who know how to locate the highest-paying tasks sometimes are able to make a decent wage.

Becoming a driver for one of these 21st century taxi services requires a clean record, ability to drive safely (there is a screening) and a car that meets their standards. The company will keep a certain percentage; drivers get to keep any tips. Note that location is a factor; those in populated areas will get more jobs.

  • Fitness instructor, Zumba teacher, yoga instructor, or personal trainer

This opportunity may require investment in training or studio rental, but for some it is very lucrative.

  • Start a house cleaning business

This is a pretty easy business to start up (not a lot of costs) and run out of a home. Those interested can use their network by starting off offering services for people they know, then getting them to submit testimonials and make recommendations. Consider becoming bonded and insured.

  • Tutoring students

Obviously, this is especially suited for those with a background in education, but others with solid knowledge in a subject and good people skills may be able to make this work as well. This business typically takes places at odd hours and may require a lot of travel time and gas money. Startup costs are low.

  • Start a catering business, or work for an established caterer

Many caterers need servers, bartenders and assistants for short-term work, and the pay can be fairly good. Night and evening work is the norm, however.

Starting a catering business is certainly more complex and requires knowledge of and possibly certification in food safety, but those with a knack for cooking and economical food purchasing can do well.

  • Start a gardening or yard work business

This is another one where people may be able to start off working for those they know and parlay that into a business through referrals and recommendations. The startup costs here are high, since workers typically will need mowers, leaf blowers, hedge trimmers, and even a trailer.

  • Selling baked goods, jam, or other prepared foods at farmers’ markets or other events

It’s possible to make a good profit selling prepared foods at events, local businesses, or through the Internet. There are food safety and “cottage industry” laws that affect this business, so those interested need to do their homework ahead of time.

  • Making and selling jewelry, soaps, bath items, candles, or other crafts and selling on Etsy or at local markets
    Photospin/Mykola Lunov

A wealth of articles cover the pros and cons of this business idea. Marketing is generally key, as is creating an attractive and well-priced product. Workers need to be careful not to undersell their time with this option.

  • Bartending freelance for events

Those who are willing to go to bartending school can market themselves as qualified for this and earn money at private events. Personal safety may be a factor here.

  • Babysit or start an in-home child care service

Part-time babysitting for friends and acquaintances is another low-startup business that can pay well. One can also consider working for a site like SitterCity. If the interest is more serious, workers can consider starting a business in their home, which will require vetting for safety and purchasing materials. All caregivers should be certified in CPR and first aid, and those with an in-home business may need state certification.

  • On-site photo booth operator

Though there is a substantial investment, this business can be profitable in the right market and does not require a high degree of technical skill once one has learned the ropes. On the downside, work is typically on nights and weekends.

  • Photography

Though there’s a lot of competition in the market for family and wedding photographers and/or freelance photography, some will may be able to make it if they market well.

  • Short-term positions from the “gigs” section of Craigslist

There are typically many scams in this section, so workers need to beware. However, some report being able to put together multiple part-time legitimate gigs.

  • Sign up with a temp agency

Temping can be an easy and low-commitment way to earn money, though employees have to remember that the agency gets a substantial cut. New online temp marketplaces like Wonolo are an interesting option.

  • Reselling antiques, used clothes, used books, etc. on eBay

Those who are great shoppers or thrifters with an eye for a deal may succeed here. Photography skills and the ability write a detailed description are important, as is the ability to monitor auctions.

This is really just the tip of the iceberg for unconventional “side hustles,” but it’s a starting place. What’s really important is knowing that there are many ways to get around the limitations of the military lifestyle and to contribute to family financial security.

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