These Families Made Extra Money Through Side Hustles—Here's How You Can, Too

Side jobs have helped Black families gain their footing in a systemically unequal hiring landscape for generations. Here's how to make them work for you.

Mother and daughter work on a business together
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These days, the cost of everything from groceries to gas has gone up. The sky-high prices are hard on everyone. But the rising cost of living causes particular challenges for families who were already struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, that’s disproportionately Black and brown families. Parents and caretakers are doing what they can to stretch a dollar. Often, that means building new streams of income and starting a side hustle.  

One in three Americans has a side hustle, according to research from Zapier. Many families find side hustles offer families opportunities to earn extra income every month that can be used to pay bills, save, and invest for the future. But the side hustle isn’t a new concept in Black families. Plenty of us can recall parents and caretakers using their trades to make extra income amid low wages and racist hiring policies. Today, side hustles continue to be an invaluable resource for Black families. 

Black families find new ways to make money without investing too much time or money upfront to start thanks to social media and the internet. You can build an income stream through side hustles that don't overwhelm your already busy schedule. 

However, it’s important to know all side hustles are built equally. In the desire to make more money, it's easy to get suckered into fancy marketing and big promises from those selling courses, coaching, and consulting on side hustles, especially since the Federal Trade Commission received 2.8 million fraud reports from consumers in 2021.

One of the best ways to learn something is from those doing what you wish to learn. These Black families have built successful side hustles that bring in $5,000 (plus) a month. Here are four practical side hustles Black families could do to add significant income to their monthly budget.

01 of 04

Create your own product.

Ari El Simpson works in IT for a bank, which she has done for 15 years, and her husband, James, is a barber. They started a statement tee-shirt company called Tees Of Life in May of 2020 as a side hustle. Their children, ages 17, 13, and 7, help in the side hustle that creates tee shirts with sassy self-love phrases.

Simpson and her family started this side hustle for less than $100, which has grown to $50,000 monthly. They still press most of the tee shirts themselves, but they've also hired three part-time team members. 

Simpson says this is a side hustle any Black family can do. You can buy a tee-shirt heat press for less than $100 on Facebook Marketplace or Amazon, source the shirts from suppliers such as S&S Activewear for $3 a blank shirt, and market the tee-shirt side hustle on your social media pages. 

Start with a smaller order of tee shirts, market and sell them, and use the profit from those initial sales to buy more. You can continue funding this side hustle and building it to more revenue using the profit from selling in batches. 

Simpson says this side hustle made $6,000 the first month they launched by promoting on their social media networks. It's since grown through paid advertising, but you don't need to pay for advertising to make at least $5,000 a month. 

02 of 04

Get into e-commerce.

Aneesha Smith has been a nurse for 22 years and still works at the bedside. In 2016, she started a side hustle of selling badges for nurses on Etsy. Before COVID began, she and her husband Quandell branched out into creating representative accessories for women, primarily in healthcare. 

The side hustle is called Reflections By Zana, and the Smith children, ages 15, 17, and 25, help with inventory and fulfillment. This is an e-commerce side hustle that sells ID badges, backpacks, zipper totes, and compression socks for healthcare workers. 

The family houses, designs, packages, and ships over 85% of the product line from their home and a small storage unit. This e-commerce side hustle now makes over $10,000 a month selling on Etsy, Shopify, and Amazon. 

Starting an e-commerce side hustle is something Black families can do without a significant investment of time or money. You can:

  • Become an Amazon affiliate and earn money promoting the things you use in your everyday life. You can promote these products on social media. Note: be sure to disclose you're getting an affiliate commission per FTC rules
  • Source products from bulk suppliers and resell them for a higher price on Amazon and other e-commerce platforms. You can find items for low cost in places such as AliExpress and other bulk retailers. 

In 2021, e-commerce sales surpassed $5.2 trillion, which will continue to increase as more people use the Internet. Starting an e-commerce side hustle can be done in a way that the profits from sales grow the income each month.

03 of 04

Take out a loan or budget for seed money.

Rozalynn Goodwin works as a lobbyist for the South Carolina Hospital Association, and her husband, Mike, is a standup comedian. She started a side hustle with her daughter Gabby called Gabby Bows. The side hustle now makes $20,000 a month. 

The side hustle started simply as barrettes because Goodwin and her daughter Gabby were frustrated with the options at the time. Goodwin and her husband initially took out loans against their retirement accounts to fund the side hustle. 

That single product has grown to barrettes in fifteen colors that retail in all 59 states and 13 countries. The side hustle has evolved into a haircare line, a salon, and a mentorship program that's helped fifty other girls start their businesses.

Like e-commerce and other side hustles, you can create a physical product and sell it online. You can source the product from suppliers in developing countries and sell them for a markup online. 

You don't have to take out loans to create a physical product; this can be done on a budget and build an income. The key is to identify either a gap in a market or create something you know others will find value in. 

04 of 04

Turn to established selling platforms.

Coretta Lewis is an HR consultant who started an online side hustle with her wife, Mea, called It's a Family Thing. Lewis has worked a full-time job while traveling for nearly three years with her wife and child. 

The family makes money through affiliate income, advertising on their website, selling courses, and freelance writing. The online-earning side hustle brings in an extra $5,000 a month for the family, only taking about 10 hours a week of their time.

Lewis says the nice thing about online side hustles is that they can be started with close to zero dollars. You can sell information and package your knowledge and experiences into digital information products that are sold and bring in passive income. 

Some ways to make money with online side hustles are:

  • Create and sell a course on almost any topic. You don't need a complete website because you can sell on platforms such as udemy and SkillShare
  • Do freelance jobs. You can manage social media accounts and write or create content for people. If you're unsure where to get customers, you can make free postings on Indeed or freelancing platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork
  • Create and sell digital information products. These can be eBooks, guides, video tutorials, and other products in which you sell information. 

Online side hustles don't require a physical location or inventory to start. You can create an online side hustle in the morning and already have made a few bucks in the evening. 

Starting a side hustle can change your family's future, forging a path for future generations. These Black side-hustling families note that balancing being a parent, employer, and building a business can be difficult. But they say it's worth it because their children see firsthand what's possible. 

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