Here in Los Angeles, I can barely walk down the street without tripping over someone’s side hustle. Selfie-snapping influencers. Freelance photographers. Sign flippers. That girl who sells crystals at a card table near the entrance to Runyon Canyon. Everyone has at least one side gig in the City of Angels these days, if not more.

In this economy, however, you certainly can’t fault people for trying. Cost of living spikes persist, and with the American worker’s median income parking at just over $54,000 last year, it’s going to take more than thoughts and prayers to afford that $7 carton of eggs. A side hustle or outside venture might be your best next step.

The financial challenges of today are amplified for queer people. LGBTQ+ adults are 51 percent more likely to have federal student loans than their nonqueer counterparts, according to research from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. And two-thirds of queer Americans “carry a high amount of financial stress,” per a survey from the Motley Fool in partnership with Debt Free Guys. Not cute.

I get it — personal finance isn’t that much fun to talk about unless you have extra money sitting around to begin with. That’s why, for many of us, the better use of our time and willpower is to explore creating a new stream of income rather than tighten our budget to the point that our quality of life takes a dive. Four in 10 Americans now have a side hustle, according to a report from Zapier, a marketing automation company.

If you want to bring in extra cash this summer, here are five ideas to consider.

No. 1. Offer a Service

Any time you’re trading dollars for hours, you’re offering a service.

In some cases, the easiest foray into being a service provider is to offer a skill you already use at your day job. This could include things like consulting, graphic design, or administrative help. Be sure you have the green light from your employer to offer outside services — you’ll need to confirm there’s no conflict of interest to stay in the clear. Look into an online platform like Fiverr, Upwork, or LinkedIn Services Marketplace to showcase your skills and get matched with people who are actively looking to hire help.

When you’re ready to go all in, set up your own website or social channels, then start jumping up and down about what you do — even if things are a little messy at first. “I definitely encourage new creators to build in public and let people know you’re starting out,” says Daniella Flores, founder of I Like to Dabble, a side hustle resources platform for LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent folks. “Yeah, it’s a little uncomfortable, but people like seeing the real stuff anyway — they don’t want to see a perfectly curated profile. They want to see the messy process of everything.”

No. 2: Create a Product

If you’re crafty, consider creating and selling your own product. This strategy takes longer to monetize than others, since you need to produce a product prototype and some initial inventory to get things up and running. It’s also a chance for you to explore products that are a reflection of who you truly are.

“We see a lot of people starting their own businesses so that they can be their best and most authentic self,” says Chris Davidson, head of Growth Lab, a start-up accelerator for LGBTQ+ founders. Growth Lab is facilitated by the nonprofit organization StartOut, which has built a free online community of over 25,000 queer people and allies since its inception in 2009. “What we like to say is that, if you show up authentically, and you have love and support behind you, you can do amazing things.”

Create or promote a product you’re actually passionate about to keep your fire burning bright. Platforms like Etsy and Amazon will let you sell online, whereas offline promotion might look like jumping in on local farmer’s markets, arts and crafts fairs, or wholesale distribution to local retailers.

No. 3: Monetize an Audience

This is certainly the sexiest idea of the bunch.

In our modern digital world, attention is a currency, and there are several ways to monetize it. You could promote your favorite products and take a commission on the referrals using affiliate links. You could pitch companies and brands for paid partnerships. If you’re shy about selling but are getting all the eyeballs, look into running display ads on your channels to generate passive income.

Companies and influencer marketing agencies agree: Engagement is more valuable than size these days. Many sponsors now prioritize “nano-influencers,” accounts with highly engaged followings of 100 to 10,000 users. Prospective sponsors and brand partners want to see what you can do from a content creation perspective. Use a platform like TikTok or YouTube as your portfolio, and you’ll be more convincing when trying to land brand deals big and small.

You can even get paid to have good taste. If you cultivate a popular playlist on Spotify, platforms like SubmitHub and Playlist Push will pay you to listen to their artists’ songs and consider adding them to your mix for more airtime. The latter pays up to $15 per song review.

Building an audience takes time — stay the course.

No. 4: Explore Reselling

“Retail arbitrage” is a fancy-ass phrase for buying something at one price, then selling it at a markup and pocketing the profit. The resale economy is bigger than you think, and it is fashion’s fastest-growing sector. It’s estimated that secondhand clothing, currently 25 percent of the average American’s closet, will expand to 27 percent in coming years. If you’re a sleuth in secondhand shops, consider purchasing items locally, then reselling them at a markup on Poshmark or eBay.

Also consider doing some spring cleaning if you want to have a few extra bucks in time for summer. Gently used gear in your home might go for a pretty penny in a Facebook group or on Craigslist.

No. 5: Sublet an Asset

Do all of these sound like, well, a whole lot of work? If you’re short on time, but have assets sitting around, you might be able to use them to make extra money.

When we hear “sublet,” we often think of real estate, but the term can also apply to other forms of property. An entire crop of “Airbnb for X” startups have emerged in recent years; you can rent out your pool (Swimply), your car (Turo and HyreCar), and yes, even your bicycle (Spinlister). You need assets in the first place for this strategy to work, but if you have them — and not much time to spare — leasing them on demand can be a way to drum up extra cash.

Be Financially Fabulous

Making your money work isn’t just about numbers — it’s also about ensuring you have freedom and career options if things begin to go sideways.

“One of the most important aspects of financial well-being is the ability to show up as yourself, to not feel like you have to pretend to be someone you’re not,” says Davidson. “Then you can really focus all of your energy on making money and becoming more financially independent versus trying to fit in.”

Starting a side hustle can feel scary at first. Challenge yourself to start before you’re ready, and your efforts will pay dividends for years to come. ◆