Make Extra Money: How I made $20,000+ in Side Hustle Income in 2013

by Erika Torres


Last Monday marked a milestone: I had earned more than $20,000 in side hustle income in 2013.

To me, this was absolutely nuts. The whole idea of the side hustle income began in October 2011 with a garage sale. I was convinced that earning extra money was the way we were going to be able to afford vacations.

At the time, our budget allowed us to save and pay off debt and afford a “newlyweds on a budget” lifestyle, but if we wanted anything extra than we were simply going to have to make more money–and that’s where the side hustle income came in.

Side Hustle Income consists of any money earned outside of your regular day job. (And just to get this out of the way now–yes, I still have to pay taxes on it.)

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get to the point where I am now.

In 2011, I earned $1,820.24 in extra money.
In 2012, I earned $10,566.97 in extra money.
In 2013, I’ve earned $20,000+ in extra money so far.

Because of the Side Hustle Income, we’ve been able to:

  • Go on our honeymoon to Costa Rica
  • Go to New York
  • Go to Seattle
  • Take weekend getaways to Las Vegas, Temecula, San Francisco and San Diego

Eventually, I started making enough that I diverted money away from vacation savings, and started paying off our debt at an even more accelerated rate, and I’ve also been able to pay off graduate school without taking out any loans.

So how did I make extra money? 

Well, when I started out, I realized I had to make more money any way I could (legally, of course). So I started babysitting and then tried to make money from my blog. Then I started mystery shopping and doing online surveys. Incidentially, I like survey junkie for this – they had a pretty good stream of work and it was easy to qualify.

Basically, any way I could make money online- I did.

As I started making more money, I could stop doing the things that only brought in a little bit of money and instead focus my efforts on the projects that made more money.

Now, my side hustle income largely consists of freelancing and blog advertising, with a few random things thrown in, like selling old books.

make extra money

At this point, I don’t know what the future of the side hustle income is. Unlike others, I’ve never had any dreams of quitting my day job and pursuing online work full-time. To me, it really was all about making extra money to pay off debt and afford vacations–which we’ve been able to do.

We started January 2013 with more than $18,000 in debt. By June, we had paid off more than $12,000. We plan to be completely debt free in January 2014.

I’m sure that if I had more time to devote to expanding my network, I probably could, but between working full-time and going to graduate school full-time, I do the best I can. For now, I am just so content with everything I’ve been able to achieve thanks to the Side Hustle Income.

Finally, there isn’t a lot of great information on the web about proven ways to earn extra money that work for everyone. So if you want a good starting place for side hustles that will work for you, consider grabbing a copy of 555 Ways to Earn Extra Money. Its got solid reviews on Goodreads.com, so its worth checking out.

Let me know if you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them!


Do you have a side hustle income? 


kingmidas February 5, 2019 - 5:31 pm

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Cade May 15, 2017 - 8:49 am

Great read, always looking for extra ways to make a buck. I just wanted to share something I’ve been doing recently. I run an office and have noticed that unused toner was piling up in storage. Looked into returning but that was no good. Tried out the site http://www.tonerconnect.net/ and was impressed. They had quick service and that payout was nice.

Cassie October 16, 2015 - 9:01 am

That’s so wonderful! It’s so great to see that somebody can actually earn money from this. I just started my “side hustling” about a month ago and have not really earned anything yet, I’m still working my way there. My first blog post was published yesterday and I’m working on content to keep it coming – right now I have it going through early November. I hope that through my blog I can earn even a little extra to put toward the $200,000 of student loan debt my wife and I have. Help us and support our cause by visiting our blog at www.diyjahn.com

dave flain March 31, 2015 - 3:46 am

one more option is www. SweetMatrix . com , you can make with it a few extra buck per day

Michelle February 2, 2015 - 12:19 am

Great post! I, too started mystery shopping and have since moved on. I am a field services professional and do this as a full time. I inspect cars, businesses, heavy equipment, foreclosed properties and other real estate, EBT?SNAP food stamp vendors and conduct FDA recalls. My job is portable – I’ve moved all over the country doing this gig”. My hobby mystery shopping turned into my full time job, and it pays!

Myles Money September 5, 2014 - 2:33 pm

$20k is awesome. It’s almost 12 months later… I can’t wait to read the update for this year.

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Paula / Afford Anything December 10, 2013 - 8:54 pm

I JUST wrote a post about how “side gigs” can super-charge your finances!! I should have read this before I wrote that post … I would have cited it as a perfect example of exactly what I was talking about. Like you said, when you started, you started small … and then it grew … and grew … and grew. Congratulations!

brownbrandyfs@gmail.com February 2, 2015 - 12:22 am

That’s what I did with #mysteryshopping. I worked my way up and my “contracts” are highly coveted. I accept the work that I want and make my own schedule. I love working for myself (most days)! 🙂

Money Saving November 26, 2013 - 12:08 pm

Wow – that’s very impressive for side hustle income. Congrats! I hope to be right there with you in a couple years 🙂

I’ve also taken a fancy to buying stuff from yard sales and flipping it on ebay. It’s pretty time intensive though, so I know it’s not a long term solution to building passive income.

Jon@2-copper-coins.com November 24, 2013 - 7:10 pm

Wow, this is an impressive amount for all side hustle income. We are big believers in online surveys and making money online. A whole new market and way to make money has been opened, and those who are savvy enough can take advantage of it. Good luck continuing your quest to make money online.

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David Hutcherson November 21, 2013 - 9:31 pm

I LOVE IT!!!! Congrats to your success. I love the hustle…especially when it is on the side. If you want to share story, maybe we can work something out and have you on the show.

Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans November 21, 2013 - 11:59 am

Wow, $20K in side income is awesome! I’m still doing a ton of research on monetizing my site and making more money online but I know that eventually I’m going to have to actually DO something about it!

Fehmeen November 21, 2013 - 11:30 am

This is pretty impressive. Lots of people only manage to make $20k in their annual income, so for you to make it all in a side hussle, is a big thing. I clicked on the links that explain how you generated your income, and was shocked to see that you placed ‘adsense’ last. To date, it’s been my primary source of income, which is paltry, so I’m going to give the other methods a try (sponsored tweets and blog posts). Thanks for sharing!

Simon @ Modest Money November 20, 2013 - 9:29 pm

Wow…this is awesome and quite encouraging too. Haven’t been freelancing for long myself but am totally loving it and hope with time I can make a decent income from various side hustles.

Bankruptcy Attorney November 20, 2013 - 12:58 pm

Great tips, may I just add, It doesn’t matter how much you hustle if you’re just going to blow up your money the next day. I think everyone should have discipline first when handling money. No matter what age we all need to know that we can face a financial problem at any time. We have to set our mind into saving a percentage of our check no matter what, and to achieve this we need to have discipline other wise we’ll just form part of the big percentage of people who don’t know how manage their money and blows it up the first pay day.

LaTusha November 20, 2013 - 3:23 am

Congrats on your success. I’m working on several side hustles now. My objective is to not only pay off debt but replace my full time income from my day job.

Sally @ TinyApartmentDesign November 19, 2013 - 7:21 pm

That’s awesome! You’ve grown your business tremendously. It’s nice to have the option of “what shall we do THIS money?” when money comes in, and it’s not already earmarked away.

Emily, 3 Bite Rule November 19, 2013 - 5:55 pm

Wow! That is really impressive. I don’t side hustle…I think I just don’t know where to start. I’ve gotten some ad inquiries but they seem kind of spammy and I don’t really know what to look for or ask. Maybe your post made me realize what’s stopping me. Thanks!

Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) November 19, 2013 - 1:20 pm

Awesome job! Huge accomplishment!

Tiff November 19, 2013 - 9:24 am

What a huge milestone. I have made a little over 11k in side hustles this year with the majority being an off-shoot of my full-time job, but selling random, unused things around the house has helped too. Next on my list is selling all of the décor we used for our wedding (and probably my dress too)

Summer November 19, 2013 - 7:42 am

“Everyday, I’m hustling!” That is so awesome. I am officially a stay at home mom now! Yay! I love it, but miss some of the challenges of working. I think everyday about starting a blog, just not so sure what my niche would be…. Would you like to hear about my exciting day of changing diapers? =) So proud of how far you’ve come. I am go to laugh at you (in a kind way, of course), if you finish your masters to become a stay at home Mommy, full time blogger/freelancer. However, I would just be jealous and think you are awesome!

newlywedsonabudget November 19, 2013 - 8:50 am

haha, if it was ever a possibility to NOT work and be able to stay at home with my children, I would TOTALLY do it. Although I do find some appeal in working part-time. Financially, I don’t think we’d ever be able to afford it because we live in a pretty expensive area.

Alice @ Earning My Two Cents November 19, 2013 - 7:15 am

Congrats! What a milestone! I make some side income from mystery shopping but I’m nowhere near an extra $20K from it! How do you set up your direct advertising deals? Is there a company you work with to work out those contracts or do you do them yourself?

newlywedsonabudget November 19, 2013 - 8:47 am

I do receive some direct advertising from advertisers who just find my blog, but I also have partnerships with other bloggers, like Budgeting in the Fun Stuff–I highly recommend partnering with her if you’re looking to get started in direct advertising.

Alice @ Earning My Two Cents November 19, 2013 - 9:30 am

Thanks for the tip!

Well Heeled Blog November 19, 2013 - 6:17 pm

I also have a blogger that I work with that I’m really happy with. Email me if you want more details!

Michelle's Finance Journal November 19, 2013 - 6:43 am

You’re doing so great~ Keep it up and continue inspiring other people~^^

Kelly November 19, 2013 - 6:38 am

Congrats! I’ve been following your blog for two years now and it’s awesome to see your success!! I was inspired from you and others to start a side hustle but didn’t think online methods/blogging was a fit. I considered my skill set (I’m an advisor at a state university with an M.A. In Counseling in Higher Education) and decided to start a private college consulting practice in 2012 (yourcampusmatch.com). Since launching my business in nov. 2012 I’ve made $8000+ and I’m beyond thrilled!!! I enjoy what I’m doing and look forward to what to future holds. Thank you for the inspiration!

Kathleen November 19, 2013 - 5:48 am

Get it! It’s posts like these that make me wish I hadn’t stopped direct advertising. 🙂

Russ Benk November 18, 2013 - 8:53 pm

That sounds great, I am only starting out on my ‘side hustle’ and am just starting to see a bit on extra money roll in. thanks for sharing, I hope to be in a position like yours one day soon.

Russ Benk November 18, 2013 - 8:54 pm

They say it starts off small and increases from there, I sure hope this is the beginning of success for me.

Stevie November 18, 2013 - 5:44 pm

Holy shit, girl! That’s amazing! I bet it feels awesome 🙂

Nick Loper November 18, 2013 - 5:35 pm

Wowzas! Congrats on the huge side hustle milestone!

Such an inspiration.



kelly @stayingonbudget November 18, 2013 - 4:15 pm

Congrats! That is a huge milestone! Great job!

Budget and the Beach November 18, 2013 - 3:33 pm

Thats incredible! I’m curious if it’s affiliates or sponsored posts? Or something else? I totally haven’t be able to convert using affiliates.

Renée (@nickelbynickel) November 18, 2013 - 2:08 pm

Woah, very nice. I’m jealous. I hav ea teensy bit of income with the occasional advertising but I’m really looking to increase it. I don’t need to do it full-time but a few hundred a month would be so awesome. ANyway, nice to read you are doing very well, keep it up!

One Frugal Girl November 18, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Congratulations! Hitting $20,000 is huge! Can you break down your advertising revenue? How much is sidebars, how much is referral, direct advertising, etc?

newlywedsonabudget November 18, 2013 - 2:41 pm

I’ve never tracked my advertising into more detail so unfortunately I couldn’t unless I went back through every single transaction, but I would say the majority is from direct advertising, with a smaller amount being from sidebars.

Jolene November 18, 2013 - 12:47 pm

That is AMAZING my friend!! I am so impressed 🙂

eemusings November 18, 2013 - 12:22 pm

That is incredible!!! Woot!

I haven’t calculated my side income for the year but I think it’s over $10,000.

How much of that is regular and how much do you have to work to bring in?

newlywedsonabudget November 18, 2013 - 2:42 pm

Well, the advertising pretty much takes care of itself, but I probably spend an additional 20-40 hours a month on freelancing. It depends on the month.

Michelle November 18, 2013 - 11:13 am

Wow awesome job! You are doing great!

Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies November 18, 2013 - 9:28 am

Congrats! You’ll soon be able to travel the world on your side money.

newlywedsonabudget November 18, 2013 - 2:43 pm

haha I wish! It seems there’s always something to buy, right? After paying off debt, then it will be a new car to save up for and a house down payment…

Practical Cents November 18, 2013 - 8:17 am

Congrats! It’s great how you’ve been able to grow your side hustle every year. Thanks for sharing.

newlywedsonabudget November 18, 2013 - 2:43 pm

Thank you!

Tanner November 18, 2013 - 7:20 am

Wow, congrats! That is a huge number! My side income (if I may consider it that) would be my part-time weekend job, then rebates and little bits and pieces of promotions. My PT job brings about 3k/yr and all other sources, maybe $700. I haven’t carefully looked at the numbers yet, because they often get mixed with corresponding expenses.

dojo November 18, 2013 - 6:44 am

20K is an amazing number. There are people working full time jobs who make a little more, so you’re clearly doing great. Keep up the good work 😉

SavvyFinancialLatina November 18, 2013 - 6:34 am

Congratulations on the numbers!!!!

Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial November 18, 2013 - 5:41 am

Congratulations, those are awesome numbers! And inspiring, too 🙂 I’m trying to get my freelance writing career off the ground, so seeing stuff like this encourages me, as I know it CAN be done!


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