Economy

26-year-old made $11,000 in 100 days from more than a dozen side hustles—her No. 1 piece of advice

Jackie Mitchell’s goal of saving up for a down payment on her first home might be a common money move, but her method of achieving it wasn’t nearly as conventional.

Mitchell challenged herself to make an extra $100 a day for 100 days, and documented her journey on TikTok.

When she wasn’t working her day job in the nonprofit sector, the 26-year-old turned to side hustles and passive income streams like surveys, focus groups and even playing online games to reach her goal. Over the course of the challenge, she tried more than a dozen different options.

Mitchell and her husband, who hail from Columbus, Ohio, were already saving up for their down payment when she chose $10,000 as a savings goal to tackle what was left. To make that number less daunting, she broke it down into a daily goal — $100 per day.

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Not only did she succeed, but Mitchell ended up completing her challenge 11 days early and made an average of $110 a day, for a grand total of almost $11,000 in 100 days.

“It’s just been so surprising reminding myself that little bits of money make a big difference,” Mitchell tells CNBC Make It. “It’s kind of an encouragement to think that even if you make $5 a day, $5 is way better than $0.”

Here’s what Mitchell learned from her many side hustles, as well as tips and tricks on how to pick a hustle that’s right for you.

How to choose the right side hustle

If you have a specific amount of money you want to earn through a side hustle, the No. 1 thing Mitchell recommends is breaking a big goal down into a small one.

“If you’ve got a goal of paying off a car loan that’s $8,000, try to calculate how much you can reasonably do in six months,” she says. “What does that look like every month, every week, every day?”

While she began posting the challenge to hold herself accountable, Mitchell’s posts have inspired a number of her 125,000 TikTok followers to start their own challenges.

“I really do believe that at least some of the information I’ve been giving can be helpful to at least one person, one single mom, one stay-at-home mom or one college student,” she says. “And if I can help one person earn an extra $100 a month, why would I not post that?”

Find Mitchell’s three tips on how to snag a good side hustle below.

1. Consult side hustle communities

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of opportunities that are available to earn extra cash. For Mitchell, determining which side hustles were worth her time was “definitely trial and error.”

Sites like Reddit proved helpful for learning about other people’s experiences with different side hustles, from what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy to any barriers to entry.

“There’s a really good Reddit called r/beermoney and it’s just what it sounds like — it’s not going to be anything like a remote work from home job that’s going to pay the full-time bills, but it is going to give you a little bit of extra money on the side,” she says.

Through Reddit, Mitchell found survey site Prolific and focus group side hustles. She also used the platform to choose what game offers to use on Swagbucks, an app that pays you to play games.

2. Play to your strengths

Mitchell recommends taking other people’s experiences with a grain of salt. Users in her TikTok comments often hate side hustles she loves, or love the ones she hates. 

In many of her videos, Mitchell does data annotation as a side gig before or after her day job. While it pays well, she says it’s one of the more difficult hustles and might not be for everyone. Requirements include passing an assessment that Mitchell says screens many people out and then editing, tagging and comprehending large sets of data.

“Understanding that everyone is different is really helpful when you get into things like side hustles, because it’s not one size fits all,” she says. “Otherwise, everyone would be earning the same amount at the same rate.”

If you have strong grammar and writing skills, data annotation could be for you. But other side hustles Mitchell used aren’t as demanding, like Swagbucks. She credits her Swagbucks earnings with helping pay for her and her husband’s flights to and from Paris last March. 

“I can do it laying in bed while I hang out, watch TV, do whatever. I think it’s just so easy,” she says. “If you’re going to play a game, why not get paid a little bit for it?” 

3. Be realistic with your time

Making nearly $11,000 in 100 days might sound amazing, but the challenge didn’t come without sacrifices. Mitchell says she was often working on her side hustles an extra three to four hours each day — time that she could have spent with friends or relaxing.

Committing to making side hustle income requires getting serious about how much time you’re willing to put in, she says. If you’ve only got one hour a day, you probably won’t be able to make $100 in extra income, and that’s OK.

“Understand that the trade-off is always either time or money and you can’t always get both,” Mitchell says. “It’s really not bad to value your time over money. Finances are a part of life, but they’re not the point of life.”

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