“I WISH I HAD MORE SPENDING MONEY.” – THE COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS OF EVERYONE
IN 1 MONTH, I SECURED OVER 35 HOURS OF PAYABLE WORK, AVERAGING OVER $18 AN HOUR, INCREASING MY MONTHLY INCOME BY $655, ALL FROM UNSKILLED CRAIG’S LIST GIGS. AND HERE ARE THE DETAILS FROM THIS CRAZY SIDE HUSTLE IDEA.
I HAVE 3 KIDS, AND A WIFE. NONE OF WHOM WORK, OR PROVIDE INCOME. WHICH IS OK. I DON’T EXPECT MY 5 YEAR OLD, 3 YEAR OLD, or 3 MONTH OLD TO DO ANYTHING OTHER THAN HUMOR ME. AND MY WIFE IS GREAT AT TAKING CARE OF THE KIDS, AND PREFERS HOUSEHOLD UP-KEEPING OVER CAREER BUILDING. SHE HAS MY FULL SUPPORT, AND IT’S GREAT KNOWING THAT OUR KIDS CAN HANG OUT WITH THEIR MOM ALL DAY.
So here I am, solely responsible for providing the bacon. I work 45 hours a week, Monday through Friday. My salary is decent; it covers our basic needs and a little extra. But just like everyone else, it could always be more. So, one day, I’m lounging around on a Saturday afternoon, self-absorbed with my own dismay of bills and debt, wishing I had more spending money for the family and my personal interests. I decided that I either needed to increase the value of my time, or I needed to increase the amount of time I actually work. My employer pays me well, so I dismissed any consideration for a raise. So I was left with the 2nd option, to increase the amount of time I work. And then it struck me. The time I was using to be self-absorbed, on that Saturday afternoon was the time that I should be converting into productivity!
But I didn’t want a 2nd job. That was way too much commitment. What I wanted was access to menial grunt work. All I needed was someone that needed their lawn mowed. Or someone who needed help cleaning our their gutters. Or someone that needed some weeds pulled. What I needed was a resource that could let me know who was looking for this type of trivial labor. And then it struck me again. There was an outlet to search for these menial jobs, that didn’t require W-9’s, or W-2’s, or any long-term commitment: Criag’s List gigs.
We all know that Craig’s List is a great resource for 3rd party buyers and sellers. But something else it’s great for is posting menial jobs. In every county and in every city, there is a person that doesn’t want to rake their own leaves, or mow their own lawn. Or they just need a second hand when tackling a project. There are tons of household chores that need to be completed. All without long-term commitments, W-9’s, W-4’s, or any other type of paper work. And there are people willing to pay other adults to do these chores. And that’s how I racked up an additional $655 towards my monthly income.
So in September 2014, I pursued my new venture of earning money through menial work. I scoured Craig’s List in my county, and surrounding counties. I secured some gigs. And I missed out on some opportunities. I did a lot of yard work, worked with a moving company for a day, considered a paper route, chauffeured someone for 30 minutes, posed as an ordinary looking dude, assisted a dufus, and a lot more yard work. The jobs were skill-less and dirty, but overall, provided a very interesting perspective on an unconventional way to make money.
From how much time I worked, to how much I made, to rating how much I liked the gig, to rating how much I loathed it; I covered it all. But what was most fun about the entire process was how much diversity there was. Each gig was with a new person, with a new task, and new expectations. There was no commuting-ennui that I sometimes experience when driving to my stable job. And every time I started a new gig, I was delightfully challenged to learn someone else’s vision, so that I could not only fulfill their expectations, but also exceed their expectations. Because when I exceeded, I often earned more than the agreed upon price, reinforcing the idea that great customer service is a true keystone in successful business transactions. But here are some of my interesting take-aways from the process:
THE AVERAGE HOURLY WAGE WAS $18.54 FOR ALL THE GIGS.
This was my biggest surprise, because I earned more than 2.5 times minimum wage, while providing unskilled labor. Had I opted for the traditional side job at a gas station or grocery store, I wouldn’t have earned half of that amount. And to put this into greater perspective, if you earned $18.54 for a 40 hour per week job, that would come out to $38,563 per year, which is the equivalent of a middle income job. There are many professional entry level jobs that don’t offer nearly as much. And all those jobs require college degrees, interview skills, certificates, education, references, and many other skills and qualifications. And while all that’s going on, here I am, earning just as much, while picking through jobs on Craig’s List.
PEOPLE WILL GIVE YOU MORE MONEY IF YOU TELL THEM YOU NEED THE MONEY.
When responding to a gig on Craig’s List, there was a very specific script I would use to solicit the work. I would always mention that I have kids and a stay-at-home wife. Here’s an example:
I know this is leading into a lot of social profiling, but stating that I’m married, with kids, is more likely to leave a better impression with the person doing the hiring. It makes me appear more responsible, because I have these people to take care of. And, it makes me appear less threatening. Which is always a great quality to display when trying to convince people off Craig’s List that they should invite you to their house.
Another scripted response would include my qualifications to do the gig. Sometimes I would mention that I graduated from Temple University. Other times (like the example above), I would mention that I have the appropriate tools and equipment to complete the job.
In this example, someone was looking for a driver for a short trip. I replied, stating I have no DUI’s and zero points on my license. Also, I mentioned my profession. By mentioning my profession, I’m trying to let this person know that if I’m capable of securing and maintaining a full-time job, then I’m more than capable of adequately driving this person to their destination. And of course, I mention the purpose of my inquiry, to secure money for my stay-at-home wife (who was pregnant at the time), and our child.
Sure, I was putting a lot of effort into my emails, trying to convince these people that I’m the best, and most trust-worthy candidate for the gig. But, you have to consider who else is applying for these gigs. Are they people who have full-time jobs, who have degrees, who have families, who maintain the typical profile of a stable and responsible person? Or are they people who might be struggling to find work, harboring questionable backgrounds and a poor work ethic? I don’t know the answer. But in most cases, I’m going to guess the ladder. And if my guess is correct, then I’ve made myself a more desirable candidate, setting myself up to ask for more compensation for each gigs. And for that leverage, to ask for more compensation, is the reason why I’ve systematically scripted out my solicitation to secure the gigs.
DISCUSS AND AGREE UPON MONEY UPFRONT
Luckily, this was not anything I had to deal with. My full-time job requires me to fully discuss and agree upon compensation, before any type of work is started. And I transitioned that prerequisite over to my gig ventures. Something you’ll want to do before starting is figuring out how much you’re willing to do, and how much you want for it. Believe it or not, there is a market value for you. But you have to learn what it is. When I started, I didn’t know my value. I didn’t know how much compensation I wanted for the amount of time and labor I was use. But after a few gigs, I became more selective. I wasn’t willing to do everything for the lowest possible price. And if I felt the person was asking for a lot, I would ask for more money.
Here’s a situation where the other person and I couldn’t agree:
And that was the end of the conversation. The job sounded like it would require way more physical labor than he was suggesting. 30 cubic yards of mulch? That’s huge! Imagine a box that is 9′ wide, by 9′ long, and 9′ tall. That’s a big box, and 30 cubic yards would flow out of a box that size. And this guy wanted it moved all by wheel barrow? Over hills? Ok, fine. I can do it. But, it’s going to cost you. But before I could figure out a price for the labor, I needed to have a few questions answered, which he wasn’t willing to answer. So these are things you have to ask before you get too involved with a gig. These are things you need to know, before you can justify how much you should be compensated. You don’t want to work for 2 hours, and only get $10 out of it. And you don’t want to bust a sweat for 6 hours, and only get $50 out of it either. So, it’s important to value your time, and make sure you’re getting compensated well enough to justify the extra work.
Overall, that’s how I became $655 richer. By utilizing my time, to be productive, instead of just contemplating my financial quandaries. I still do gigs every week, but I’m not nearly as aggressive as I was in the month of September 2014. And it’s not because I don’t need the gigs. It’s because one of my gigs turned into permanent, consistent Saturday work. And just like all my other gigs, the gig-provider and I agreed upon a minimum flat-rate fee of $100 every Saturday. A Saturday averages somewhere between 4-6 hours, so my hourly wage is anywhere between $16 – $25 per hour. But, now that I’m the 2nd year into this same gig, he started paying me a minimum of $140 every Saturday. So my hourly wage has gone up anywhere between $$23 – $35 per hour. So, that was an unexpected perk that came out of the experience. And if this Saturday work opportunity didn’t arise, I would still be aggressively filtering through the gig posts for some menial grunt work, to maximize my time.
And that’s how you put money back into your pocket.