Side hustles: Weird and wonderful ways to make some serious money

As one firm advertises for people to live in darkness for a month, Felicity Hannah dives into the world of weird earnings

Felicity Hannah
Tuesday 25 February 2020 14:54 GMT
Lady Kit started earning for drag king performances a year ago – now it's a third of their income
Lady Kit started earning for drag king performances a year ago – now it's a third of their income (Lady Kit)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Want to earn some extra cash but don’t fancy a bar shift straight after your day job?

Maybe there’s something more creative or… unusual that you could do. More of us than ever have a side hustle, a job or hobby that earns a little extra cash on the side.

If you want some extra money or you’re looking for a total change of pace and work-life then there are some pretty weird ways to find work. Some fascinating, some very questionable indeed.

Here are just some of the roles being advertised and the gigs being worked, in case you need a little money-making inspiration this week.

Live like Dracula and earn £2,500

There are paid medical trials and then there’s this. The multivitamin brand WeAreFeel is advertising for three people to completely avoid sunlight for an entire month. The deal is that they will only go outside before sunrise or after sunset.

During that 30-day study period, the participants will take the brand’s vitamin products so it can assess whether its multivitamin can make up for a lack of sunlight.

The successful candidates will be picked at the start of March and have to give up daylight for all of April, so if you don’t mind eating your Easter chocolate in the dark then get in touch with them.

Embrace a stage persona

If you’re a creative performer then you may think of your performances as a hobby – but could you make some extra cash that way? Lady Kit (pictured) works as a drag king in their spare time.

“I’d been a drag king fan for while,” they say. “I’m really interested in the history of drag king-ing. The first time I did drag, my sister and I performed a lip sync at a local pub for a charity event and pow! I absolutely fell in love with it – I felt so liberated.”

So is it good side money hustle or just beer money? “Champagne money, baby,” says Lady Kit. After just a year of taking their drag king act onto the stage, they say that almost a third of their income comes from performing.

Teach a kid (in a luxury ski resort)

If you are a talented tutor, teacher or nanny then perhaps you can find some well-paid work in a beautiful or luxurious place and enjoy a paid, free holiday.

For example, a UK family recently advertised on Tutor House to find a tutor for their teenager who would be free to travel to a luxury Val-d’Isère resort in late February.

As well as having free flights and accommodation in a 5* catered chalet in the Alps, the tutor will be paid £2,000 in total to teach maths and biology for three hours in the afternoon everyday for a week, after the existing tutor pulled out at the last minute due to illness.

Since the beginning of 2018, Tutor House has noticed a 78 per cent increase in families hiring tutors to accompany them on holiday. Getting paid to go on holiday seems worth a little bit of work.

Potato grader

No, this isn’t actually a euphemism or a strange new job title for some new digital role. It’s an actual job that is seasonally advertised via the jobs board Adzuna.

It’s paid at the equivalent of £20,000 a year but only for the potato picking season.

Adzuna explains: “After the harvest is complete, potato graders are required [for] further inspection picking out any defects.

“Potato graders are often required to pick out stones, mud, weeds, foreign objects and rotten potatoes or work closely with our machine operators and quality assurance team to ensure the smooth and efficient running of our client’s busy production department.”

Mystery shopper for escort service

Some jobs are hard to advertise and potentially with good cause. A role recently advertised by the escort booking platform Smooci was removed from mainstream advertising boards very quickly.

They are looking for a mystery shopper to book escorts via their app then review and rate them.

Look, we said some of these roles may be questionable.

Embrace your weird niche

In a world of online advertising and internet community building it has arguably never been easier to launch a super-niche business without a premises or expensive start-up loan.

Simon Paine is one of the co-founders of the PopUp Business School, which helped launch 680 businesses in 2018 alone. And some of those businesses have been niche beyond belief.

“There are so many different types of business out there and, well, some are really out there. Probably the most memorable was the zombie fitness trainer who would dress up like it was the apocalypse and then chase her clients around the park. I mean you would run, wouldn’t you?

“But there are so many others from dog masseuses, escape room companies and all of your more normal businesses like cake makers, gardeners and hairdressers.”

“It’s easier now than ever before to reach a niche target market,” adds Alan Donegan, his co-founder.

“We regularly see people with ideas that sound bonkers when you first hear them. We’ve helped a lot of strange people start strange businesses. But sometimes, strange ideas can capture the imagination and bring excitement and joy to a new business idea – and that enthusiasm is infectious.

“Even with a very niche business idea, modern tools like social media platforms make it possible to reach precisely the group of people who will be just as excited as you are about your business idea. Find those first followers and word can spread – fast.”

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