[Happy Friday! Still kicking it at the beach, so please enjoy a killer side hustle article today by Jeffro from JasonCouponKing.com. He spent a whole month experimenting with Craigslist gigs and made some pretty good money off it! Hope this gives you some ideas!]
I’m an aggressive saver, and practice and preach a parsimonious lifestyle to my family. But no matter how much I cut back, and how much cash I save, I was always coming up short in my goals.
That’s when it hit me: I don’t have a savings problem, I have an income problem.
I was determined to boost my monthly cash flow so I turned to Craigslist. They have a “Gigs” section where people list menial, 1-time jobs, which usually include things like lawn work and manual labor. You email the ad, and then the person contacts you if they are still looking for someone to complete the work. And that’s what I did to earn additional income. And I documented all of it.
In September 2014, I earned $655 off Craigslist gigs. I worked about 35 hours, which comes out to more than $18 an hour, more than double the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.
Some of my gigs included mowing lawns, spreading mulch, pulling weeds, helping tear down an art display, chauffeuring a person, and demolishing furniture. All the gigs were low-key, 1-day, manual labor jobs and I had full control of the schedule. And best of all, they all paid cash at the end of the gig.
Each gig was like a fling, with very low commitment. And each one had its own personality: some good, some bad. Here’s a breakdown for what went down each time I drove off into the side hustle sunset:
Gig #1: Tear Down Art Display
Time: 1 hour ($40 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars
There was a big art festival about 25 minutes from my house, and I secured a gig helping a lady tear down her display. When I arrived, I had to navigate around pottery displays, paintings, sculptures, food vendors, promoters, traffic attendants, pedestrians, and over 250 eccentric artists before I finally found my gig. Fashion was her art, and it was a challenge to share the same excitement that she had for her creations. But I had to demonstrate good customer service, so I gave her my undivided attention.
She had lots of racks, clothes, mannequins, and other displays that needed broken down, and squeezed into a mini van. The problem was that all her stuff was the size of a truck. I summoned my Tetris skills, however, and eventually made it all fit.
The gig was only supposed to pay $20. But I strategically told my pregnant wife to walk by with our daughter and the emotional bait worked: she generously doubled the payout to $40.
Gig #2: Moving Gig
Time Frame: 12 hours ($14.17 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 1 star
This was above and beyond one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. I went in thinking it would be easy; lift a few boxes, and you’ll be home in a few hours. I was wrong on every assumption.
I met the driver in my area, got in the moving truck, and found out the customer lived 90 minutes away! We drove and drove and drove, until finally pulling up to this massive house, filled with massive furniture on 3 different floors. I was 90 minutes away from my car and in a remote part of the world; there was no turning back. Couch after couch, dresser after dresser, and table after table; that house could have been a furniture outlet store. 2 other guys and I loaded all of it into the moving truck.
After 5 hours of hell, it wasn’t over. We then drove another 30 minutes to her new residency, which was an inconvenient 3 story condo. And not only did we unload everything, we also had to unload a 2nd trailer that she had packed on her own.
The gig took longer than anyone expected. A SWAT team of moving guys were called in for reinforcement. And I just kinda crapped out and found a hiding spot for a little bit until it was time to leave. But this gig was terrible. I didn’t even make $200. I have not done any moving gigs since.
Failed Gig: Paper-Route
Payout: did not commit
I was a paper boy growing up, so I thought this might be a good fit. The guy I met with was a full time carrier and was looking to unload 1 weekend per month off his schedule. He estimated the pay to be about $150-$200 per weekend. The estimated schedule would start at 2 AM and finish by 6:30 AM.
I did a test run. This guy was a chain smoker and an energy drink junkie. I took that as a bad omen. The route ended up being 150 customers over a 43 mile route. And he thought I should have it all nailed down after 2 practice runs. I declined the gig because I thought it would be too much wear and tear on my car, and just too much to remember that early in the morning.
Gig #3: Clean-Up Demolition
Time Frame: 17.5 hours ($14.29 per hour)
Gig verdict: 3 stars
This gig helped push me over the $600 mark that I was targeting for the month. It took place over (4) separate days. It was an old, abandoned building that had just been sold. The new owners wanted the hard wood floors removed from the gymnasium. So, with a snow shovel and crow bar, I pried the wooden planks from the floor, and dumped them into large trash bags. This gig was what I had in mind when I first thought of the gig idea: true-blue grunt work. And there was enough of it to last 4 days.
[Gig note: The contact for this gig started a landscaping business a few months later. He contacted me to help him every Saturday. So, for the past 2 years, I’ve helped him mulch, mow, pull weeds, and other types of yard work. A typical Saturday is about 5-6 hours, with an average pay between $160 – $200.]
Gig #4: Mowed lawn
Time Frame: ½ hour ($50 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars
This gig was easy. It could have been even easier if I didn’t need to haul my own lawn mower out to the gig site. Regardless, it was less than 1/5 of an acre and the guy instructing me was a dufus. I’m not even sure if I mowed the correct spots. But he paid me anyway without inspecting the work. And then a few weeks later, I was asked to come back to mow again. Repeat business is how you stay in business!
Gig #5: Chauffeured some dude
Time Frame: 1 hour ($40 per hour)
Gig verdict: 4 stars
This was an exciting gig to score, because gigs like these sell like hot cakes. They’re easy, low effort, and nearly anyone who drives can qualify. But I was at my job when I saw the post, and he needed to be driven that day. So I knew it would be a tough sell. I sent a quick email with an introduction and some driving history. We went back and forth for a bit because we had to do some coordinating and logistic work, but ultimately we got it figured out.
The gig initially offered only $25, but when I arrived he had a dog and I really didn’t want that furball in my car. I kinda scoffed a little, and asked if he wanted the dog to go to the bathroom first. He sensed my dissatisfaction and paid me $40 before we even left. Apparently scoffing can net you more gains.
Gig #6: Helped Homeowner Clean Up Property
Time Frame: 3 hours ($26.67 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars
This guy needed more than 3 hours of yard clean up. It was like he had just gotten back from a 4 year vacation. Weeds were the size of trees. The lawn was knee high. And the whole property had a musty smell of cat urine, which I assumed was a result of all the edible mice that probably propagated in the grass. I could tell this guy did not study the art of finance because he and his wife had every weathered toddler toy scattered throughout their property (take care of your stuff, people! It’s basic frugality!).
But, on this particular day, this home owner was motivated. The yard work was easy because he had every necessary tool for clean up (which I’m assuming he bought the day before at full price). Regardless of his short-comings, he was a decent human being, and he actually texted me a few months ago asking me if I was interested in more work (don’t underestimate the power of good customer service). I declined because I have a permanent side gig.
But there are 2 things that I noticed from this gig:
A) Don’t be afraid to ask for more money. The gig initially offered $50. But I told him I needed more to justify the trip and the work. So prior to the work, we agreed to $60. But at the end of the gig, he actually gave me $80.
B) It pays to be presentable and well-spoken. He had another person on site from Craigslist, and this was the first time I met someone who hunted for these same gigs. I immediately eyed up the competition: he was mangy, unkempt, and poorly spoken (swearing). After about 90 minutes of service the home owner told this guy that he no longer needed him, reinforcing my theory that there isn’t a lot of quality competition. Even though it’s Craigslist, you still want to treat it professionally.
Gig #7: Modeled as an “Average Looking Dude.”
Time Frame: 20 minutes ($150 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars
Out of all the gigs I performed, I may be most qualified for this one. I met the guy at Barnes and Nobles and he wanted me to wear some t-shirts for his new company. They were big, bulky, unflattering shirts, but he was excited about his new business. I think this was his first go-around in the entrepreneur world because I don’t know why else you’d spend $50 on an unskilled, talentless, average-looking model. But the gig was easy.
The only issue was that he paid me with a check. I never accepted a check before, and I’ve always told people I need to be paid in cash. But I was already in good spirits because I had reached my $600 mark with the previous gig and the check did end up clearing. I still only accept cash though.
The entire experiment was fun and interesting. I increased my weekly income by $164 which pays for groceries and gas, and it got me a solid hook-up for consistent Saturday work going forward too.
If you’re looking for quick cash and can’t offer any skills, I highly recommend Craigslist gigs for your quick monetary fix.
Handsome, debonair, and charismatic. These are words never used to describe Jeffro. But one commonly used word is cheapass. His parsimonious ways have carried him through failed business ventures, side hustles, and strategic decisions from car shopping to couponing. Follow him at JasonCouponKing.com for money saving coupons and an array of other frugal adventures.
**For a list of 65 other ways to make money on the side, check out our entire Side Hustle Series!**