2020 Side Hustle Statistics and Survey Results: Income Levels, the Most Popular Gigs, and Common Struggles

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Ready to dive into some side hustle statistics?

Side hustles are more popular than ever, and I believe there are two driving factors behind the trend:

  1. Proactive desire and unprecedented ability to make extra money — fueled by technology and social media
  2. Economic necessity

In this post, I’ll dive into the latest side hustle statistics and share insights from the latest Side Hustle Nation member survey.

side hustle nation 2019 survey results

General Side Hustle Statistics

How Many People Have a Side Hustle?

45% of working Americans report having a side hustle. (Source) That amounts to roughly 70 million people. 

Among millennials, that statistic rises to 50%. (Source)

Even celebrities are getting in on the action, recognizing the value in diversifying income streams.

Why Are So Many People Side Hustling?

According to Bankrate, 30% of side hustlers need the extra money to make ends meet. Perhaps more encouraging is that roughly 60% use the money primarily for savings or additional disposable income.

side hustle statistics what is money for


The Hustle found that while only half of respondents “loved” their primary job, 76% loved their side hustle.

How Much Do People Make from their Side Hustles?

The average side hustle brings in $1,122 a month (source), but the median income is much lower — just $200 a month. (Source)

How Much Time to Side Hustles Take?

The average side hustler spends 11-16 hours a week on their business. (Source, Source, Source)

Combined with the average earnings, that works out to an average of $16-23 an hour.

Do Side Hustles Come From Hobbies?

Vistaprint found that 27% of full-time workers have started making money from a hobby. Another 55% said they’d like to turn a hobby into a business.

Side Hustle Nation Member Survey Goals

One of the best ways to figure out how to better serve your customers or your audience is to, well, ask them. 

I skipped my (previously annual) member survey of Side Hustle Nation email subscribers last year, so I renewed the tradition in 2019.

My goals were to get some insights into:

  • where readers and listeners are at in your side hustle journey
  • the types of businesses you’re working on
  • what your biggest challenges are

I also wanted to find out about how you first discovered Side Hustle Nation, your #1 goal for the year, and what you’d like to see me cover here in the future.

I always take these responses seriously and they guide my direction in a lot of ways. In the past, the answers to these questions have led me to redesign the site, add a special VIP page, create a Facebook group, hire a podcast editing service and a podcast coach, do public side hustle coaching, get rid of my voice over guy, focus on certain side hustles more than others, and lots more.

My Survey Requirements

Here were my main requirements:

  • Short – I wanted to be respectful of subscribers’ time, and also knew this would improve response rate.
  • Mobile-friendly – Since I was only sending the survey invite via email, it had to be mobile-responsive.
  • Actionable – I wanted to be able to DO something with the results! Not much point in going through this exercise if it doesn’t result in any new action.

The Survey Set Up

Instead of dedicated survey software like Survey Monkey, I went with my tried-and-true Google Forms.

It’s easy to set up and edit, and all the responses get dumped into a handy spreadsheet for you.

I like it because it’s simple and you can choose between multiple choice, free-response, optional questions, and you have decision logic on pagination of where to send people based on what answer they select.

The design may not be the prettiest in the world, but it is mobile responsive.

Oh, and it’s free. :)

My survey this year had 7 questions, mostly multiple-choice, split over 4 pages. I broke up the questions on different pages because I reasoned having all 7 questions on one page might seem intimidating and hurt the completion rate.

Plus Google Forms will show a little progress bar that completionists like me really want to see hit 100% once I start.

Marketing the Survey

I sent out one dedicated email asking subscribers to complete the survey, and sent a reminder a few days later

To give people an incentive to complete it, I gave away two free 30-minute consultations. Here’s the message I sent:

Hey Nick,

Got a minute?

I have a few quick questions that will help guide the direction of Side Hustle Nation.

Your responses help me better understand and serve you and the rest of this incredible “Nation,” plus you’ll have the option to be entered to win one of two free Side Hustle Strategy Sessions with yours truly, just for filling out the survey.

(Regularly not even for sale!)

Please Click Here to Complete the Survey

It should only take a couple minutes and you can even do it from your phone.

Responses are totally anonymous — unless of course you want to enter the drawing for the free Strategy Session.

Thank you so much for your input!

Hustle on,

Nick Loper

The survey invitation went out to more than 65,000 subscribers and in total, I gathered more than 1600 responses!

Congrats to Jeff and Jonathan for winning the random drawing for the strategy session!

(I used this Random Number Generator from Google to pick the winners.)

If you don’t have the email list to send to, you can do one-on-one outreach, or post in relevant FB groups you’re active in.

Question 1: The Baseline

Goal: Figure out where your audience is today so you can create content to best serve them.

My phrasing: “Where are you at with your side hustle today?”

I used this this multiple-choice question to kick off the survey because it would be very quick to answer and hopefully build momentum into the rest of the questions. This was the only question on Page 1 of the survey.

The options were:

  • I haven’t started yet.
  • I’ve started, but I’m making less than $500 a month from my side hustle.
  • I’m earning $500+ per month outside a traditional job.

In previous surveys, I had a couple more granular options, but choose to simplify to just these three buckets this time around.


current side hustle income levels

On the one hand, it’s a little discouraging to see that half the audience hasn’t decided the best course of action yet. Just pick something, I want to yell. It doesn’t matter!

Looking at it with “glass half full” eyes, it’s exciting to see that half the people have gotten off the sidelines. Of those, a majority aren’t yet earning $500 a month though.

And at the top of the scale, about 14% of the audience (a little less than 1 in 6 members) is earning $500 a month or more from their business. Awesome!

The challenge for me is to move people clockwise along this pie; to equip you with the idea, empower you to take action, and show you how to get results and grow your business.

Question 2: The Hustle

Goal: Find out the most common or popular type(s) of businesses side hustlers are working on.

My phrasing: “What type of business / side hustle are you running or are you most interested in? Please check all that apply.”

At the top of Page 2, I used another quick-response multiple choice question designed to build momentum and help me understand the types of content that would be most helpful to focus on.

The options were:


the most popular side hustles of 2019

This distribution is interesting to see, but also something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The “hustles” to the left already have a lot of content created, which is probably how people discovered the site/podcast in the first place.

The hustles to the right, I haven’t created as much content for.

Still, it’s good for me to see the types of businesses people are most interested in and spend the majority of my effort on those.

The top 3 most popular side hustles in this year’s survey were:

  1. Blogging and Online Business, which included podcasting and YouTube.
  2. Freelancing and Service Businesses, which included options like becoming a loan signing agent.
  3. Amazon FBA / Ecommerce, which including other types of reselling as well.

These 3 are unchanged from last year, and because of their popularity, I’ve included them in the subnavigation menu on the site. This lets people access the relevant content in these categories more easily.

In the “Other” column, people named side hustles like:

Question 3: The Pain

Goal: Find out what side hustlers are currently struggling with.

My phrasing: “When it comes to your business or side hustle, what’s the single biggest challenge you’re facing right now? (be detailed)”

This was the second question on Page 2 of the survey, and was a free-response question. The theory is, once you know what your audience is struggling with, you can craft a plan to help them.


biggest side hustle challenges

Even though this was a free-response question, I saw several common themes, and the top 3 responses were unchanged from previous years:

The good news is I love learning and writing/talking about pretty much all of these. And compared with the results from 2017 below, it’s encouraging to see a shift from the “idea” column to the “growth” column.

Results from the 2017 survey

And here’s the truth: time is a universal struggle, even for full-time entrepreneurs. There will always be more things you want to do than there are hours in the day, so it becomes a battle of prioritization.

Other responses included:

In chatting with several Side Hustle Nation members last year, I was surprised how often “mindset” came up. These were issues like fear of failure, fear of success, impostor syndrome, and other self doubts.

Failure is at once inevitable and impossible. You’re certain to experience failures and setbacks, but as long as you live to learn from it, it wasn’t a true failure.

Related: The Hustler’s Mindset: The 10 Traits of Successful Side Hustle Entrepreneurs

According to the book Ask, this is the most important question of all, and allows you to create different “buckets” of your audience. For example, based on these answers I can see buckets related to:

  • Finding your side hustle idea
  • Making the most of your limited hours
  • Growing your business to the next level

For a while I actually had 3 buttons on the homepage leading to “pillar” content for each of those, but made a little shift. (Those links are now a little lower on the page under “How it Works”.)

Question 4: The Discovery

Goal: Discover how people found Side Hustle Nation or The Side Hustle Show, to know which of my marketing efforts are the most effective.

My phrasing: Do you remember how you first discovered Side Hustle Nation or The Side Hustle Show?

The options were:

The purpose of this question was to see what the common points of entry were for new readers and listeners. Yes, it’s a little more selfish than some of the other questions.


Google was far and away the biggest driver here, and I’ve been paying a lot more attention to SEO lately.

The answers to this question also illustrate the value of guesting on other podcasts and building relationships with other bloggers.

Some of the most frequent podcasts mentioned were the ChooseFI and Bigger Pockets Money.

It also showcases how word of mouth is an important but often overlooked channel in online marketing, outpacing the discovery from YouTube, Pinterest, and Amazon.

Question 5: The Goal

With this question, I wanted to find out — in their own words — the audience’s #1 goal for the year.

My phrasing: What’s your #1 side hustle or business goal for this year?


Because this was a free-response question, the results were predictably all over the map. Nearly 25% of people listed a specific montary goal:

  • “Make a profit, even if it’s only $1.”
  • “Make my first $100.”
  • “Make an extra $1,000 per month.”
  • “Hit $10k/month in revenue consistently.”
  • “To make $50k after taxes.”

The revenue goals varied based on people’s responses to Question 1 (where they’re at currently), but for people starting out, earning an extra $500-1000 a month was a really common goal.

The second most common goal was simply to get started. Just over 20% of respondents named this as their #1 side hustle goal, and several used similar language: “Just start the damn thing!”

Other top responses were:

  • Replace my income
  • Quit my job
  • Grow my existing business

These answers are helpful to me in crafting content that appeals to people for where they’re at in their entrepreneurial adventure.

Questions 6-7: How Can I Improve?

For the last couple questions of the survey, I wanted to give people a voice in improving Side Hustle Nation.

How can I make it a more valuable resource? What would you like to learn more about?

Question 6 phrasing:

One thing I wish you’d cover more thoroughly is _________.


This question was also free-response, but there were some patterns that emerged. Among the most commonly-requested content were:

The final question was the one I was most anxious about, but knew it would be important to ask.

Question 7 phrasing:

… and if I’m being totally honest, one specific critique I have is _________.

So one afternoon, I swallowed my pride and dove into a pile of constructive criticism. And people didn’t hold back!

For example:

  • “Your website is ugly.”
  • “You need a vocal coach. Stop swallowing your syllables.”
  • “you seem low energy on the podcast.”
  • “too technical.”
  • “Emails are a little clickbaity.”
  • “It seems a bit unrealistic on the amounts you say can be made for a side hustle.”

Now as to be expected, there was a fair amount of conflicting critiques:

  • “Podcasts are a bit lengthy.”
  • “Shows are too short.” (More people were actually in this column, asking for more in-depth content and even more frequent episodes).


  • “I love that there’s no fluff and hype”
  • “Way too much fluff. Get to the point.”

Some of the frustrating ones:

  • “I wish there was a FB group.” (There is one!)
  • “It’s annoying to keep having to enter my email to download the PDF highlight reels.” (Agreed! Check your email for a message from with the subject line “[Save this email] Your VIP access link is inside”.

And my favorite:

  • “Don’t use google forms for surveys. It’s hacky and you can’t consume the responses in a very good way.”

But after sorting through hundreds of responses, a few votes started to pile up in favor of:

  • Talking slower. Breathe, Nick, breathe.
  • More frequent episodes. I’ll see what I can do.
  • More coaching episodes or featuring people who aren’t “super successful” yet.
  • Making stuff on the website easier to find. Not sure the best way to do this.
  • Pressing for specific details, asking people what they’d do differently, and not glossing over the negatives.
  • Greater diversity among guests in age, race, and gender.
  • Creating my own course.

While some of these answers stung a little to read, they were actually super helpful. I’ve got some concrete actions I can take to improve, and will be working on those this quarter.

I owe a big thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out the survey!

Your Turn

Think you can borrow some of my questions/formats and learn from my mistakes?

Have you run a survey to your audience recently? Did you take action based on the results?

Pin it for later:

side hustle statistics

Stock photos by Black Salmon and Syda Productions via Shutterstock

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4 thoughts on “2020 Side Hustle Statistics and Survey Results: Income Levels, the Most Popular Gigs, and Common Struggles”

  1. Thanks for passing on the results, Nick.

    “Making stuff on the website easier to find. Not sure the best way to do this.”

    Well, you do have a search box on the blog. Maybe move it so it’s on every page? Right under the top menu on the right side would be great, and there’s room. I <3 search boxes, especially on a site like yours with so much good info. I'm sure you could find a coder on Fiverr who'd be happy to help if your theme doesn't make it easy.

    Of course, folks could learn to get Google to give them what they want, too. Try this in Google search: site:https://www.sidehustlenation.com keyword

  2. Thanks for that, I didn’t realize you would be sharing all the results.

    I hate to ask you to do more work, but one thing that would be interesting is a combination of the first 2 questions. How (if at all) does the choice of side hustle relate to how far along the journey people are? Maybe this is a paralysis-by-analysis question and not actually useful, but I am firmly in the “already started” camp so not really worried about that, just curious.

    Even if you don’t have time for that, this was an interesting read.

  3. I am an entrepreneur podcast junkie, but yours is my absolute favorite because it’s so real! I hate chatty podcasts that interview people who made a million dollars 20 years ago! You give real advice that I can actually take action on! I just wish you would go back to your own voice from earlier podcasts and not stop so many times in the middle of a sentence. (It’s distracting and makes it difficult to follow what you are saying.) I am looking for a second act career because I cannot find a job and really appreciate your AWESOME content!

  4. Hmmm very interesting!
    I am a Business Coach for established Entrepreneurs and the same themes exist for them as there were here with side-hustlers
    The main 3 challenges I find in my Business Health Check tend to be:
    Time, Promotion/Marketing (which relates to not having the sales figure they want) and Mindset.

    Also, Business Planning is right up there as something most people don’t score well in.


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