How I Earned Over $600 Hustling Craigslist “Gigs”

by J. Money -

craigslist gigs hustle

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[Happy Friday! Still kicking it at the beach, so please enjoy a killer side hustle article today by Jeffro from JasonCouponKing.com. He spent a whole month experimenting with Craigslist gigs and made some pretty good money off it! Hope this gives you some ideas!]

I’m an aggressive saver, and practice and preach a parsimonious lifestyle to my family. But no matter how much I cut back, and how much cash I save, I was always coming up short in my goals.

That’s when it hit me: I don’t have a savings problem, I have an income problem.

I was determined to boost my monthly cash flow so I turned to Craigslist. They have a “Gigs” section where people list menial, 1-time jobs, which usually include things like lawn work and manual labor. You email the ad, and then the person contacts you if they are still looking for someone to complete the work. And that’s what I did to earn additional income. And I documented all of it.

craigslist gigs payouts

In September 2014, I earned $655 off Craigslist gigs. I worked about 35 hours, which comes out to more than $18 an hour, more than double the minimum wage in Pennsylvania.

Some of my gigs included mowing lawns, spreading mulch, pulling weeds, helping tear down an art display, chauffeuring a person, and demolishing furniture. All the gigs were low-key, 1-day, manual labor jobs and I had full control of the schedule. And best of all, they all paid cash at the end of the gig.

Each gig was like a fling, with very low commitment. And each one had its own personality: some good, some bad. Here’s a breakdown for what went down each time I drove off into the side hustle sunset:

Gig #1: Tear Down Art Display

Payout: $40
Time: 1 hour ($40 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars

There was a big art festival about 25 minutes from my house, and I secured a gig helping a lady tear down her display. When I arrived, I had to navigate around pottery displays, paintings, sculptures, food vendors, promoters, traffic attendants, pedestrians, and over 250 eccentric artists before I finally found my gig. Fashion was her art, and it was a challenge to share the same excitement that she had for her creations. But I had to demonstrate good customer service, so I gave her my undivided attention.

She had lots of racks, clothes, mannequins, and other displays that needed broken down, and squeezed into a mini van. The problem was that all her stuff was the size of a truck. I summoned my Tetris skills, however, and eventually made it all fit.

The gig was only supposed to pay $20. But I strategically told my pregnant wife to walk by with our daughter and the emotional bait worked: she generously doubled the payout to $40.

Gig #2: Moving Gig

Payout: $170
Time Frame: 12 hours ($14.17 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 1 star

This was above and beyond one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had. I went in thinking it would be easy; lift a few boxes, and you’ll be home in a few hours. I was wrong on every assumption.

moving gig meme

I met the driver in my area, got in the moving truck, and found out the customer lived 90 minutes away! We drove and drove and drove, until finally pulling up to this massive house, filled with massive furniture on 3 different floors. I was 90 minutes away from my car and in a remote part of the world; there was no turning back. Couch after couch, dresser after dresser, and table after table; that house could have been a furniture outlet store. 2 other guys and I loaded all of it into the moving truck.

After 5 hours of hell, it wasn’t over. We then drove another 30 minutes to her new residency, which was an inconvenient 3 story condo. And not only did we unload everything, we also had to unload a 2nd trailer that she had packed on her own.

The gig took longer than anyone expected. A SWAT team of moving guys were called in for reinforcement. And I just kinda crapped out and found a hiding spot for a little bit until it was time to leave. But this gig was terrible. I didn’t even make $200. I have not done any moving gigs since.

Failed Gig: Paper-Route

Payout: did not commit

I was a paper boy growing up, so I thought this might be a good fit. The guy I met with was a full time carrier and was looking to unload 1 weekend per month off his schedule. He estimated the pay to be about $150-$200 per weekend. The estimated schedule would start at 2 AM and finish by 6:30 AM.

I did a test run. This guy was a chain smoker and an energy drink junkie. I took that as a bad omen. The route ended up being 150 customers over a 43 mile route. And he thought I should have it all nailed down after 2 practice runs. I declined the gig because I thought it would be too much wear and tear on my car, and just too much to remember that early in the morning.

Gig #3: Clean-Up Demolition

Payout: $250
Time Frame: 17.5 hours ($14.29 per hour)
Gig verdict: 3 stars

This gig helped push me over the $600 mark that I was targeting for the month. It took place over (4) separate days. It was an old, abandoned building that had just been sold. The new owners wanted the hard wood floors removed from the gymnasium. So, with a snow shovel and crow bar, I pried the wooden planks from the floor, and dumped them into large trash bags. This gig was what I had in mind when I first thought of the gig idea: true-blue grunt work. And there was enough of it to last 4 days.

[Gig note: The contact for this gig started a landscaping business a few months later. He contacted me to help him every Saturday. So, for the past 2 years, I’ve helped him mulch, mow, pull weeds, and other types of yard work. A typical Saturday is about 5-6 hours, with an average pay between $160 – $200.]

Gig #4: Mowed lawn

Payout: $25
Time Frame: ½ hour ($50 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars

This gig was easy. It could have been even easier if I didn’t need to haul my own lawn mower out to the gig site. Regardless, it was less than 1/5 of an acre and the guy instructing me was a dufus. I’m not even sure if I mowed the correct spots. But he paid me anyway without inspecting the work. And then a few weeks later, I was asked to come back to mow again. Repeat business is how you stay in business!

Gig #5: Chauffeured some dude

Payout: $40
Time Frame: 1 hour ($40 per hour)
Gig verdict: 4 stars

This was an exciting gig to score, because gigs like these sell like hot cakes. They’re easy, low effort, and nearly anyone who drives can qualify. But I was at my job when I saw the post, and he needed to be driven that day. So I knew it would be a tough sell. I sent a quick email with an introduction and some driving history. We went back and forth for a bit because we had to do some coordinating and logistic work, but ultimately we got it figured out.

The gig initially offered only $25, but when I arrived he had a dog and I really didn’t want that furball in my car. I kinda scoffed a little, and asked if he wanted the dog to go to the bathroom first. He sensed my dissatisfaction and paid me $40 before we even left. Apparently scoffing can net you more gains.

Gig #6: Helped Homeowner Clean Up Property

Payout: $80
Time Frame: 3 hours ($26.67 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars

This guy needed more than 3 hours of yard clean up. It was like he had just gotten back from a 4 year vacation. Weeds were the size of trees. The lawn was knee high. And the whole property had a musty smell of cat urine, which I assumed was a result of all the edible mice that probably propagated in the grass. I could tell this guy did not study the art of finance because he and his wife had every weathered toddler toy scattered throughout their property (take care of your stuff, people! It’s basic frugality!).

But, on this particular day, this home owner was motivated. The yard work was easy because he had every necessary tool for clean up (which I’m assuming he bought the day before at full price). Regardless of his short-comings, he was a decent human being, and he actually texted me a few months ago asking me if I was interested in more work (don’t underestimate the power of good customer service). I declined because I have a permanent side gig.

But there are 2 things that I noticed from this gig:

A) Don’t be afraid to ask for more money. The gig initially offered $50. But I told him I needed more to justify the trip and the work. So prior to the work, we agreed to $60. But at the end of the gig, he actually gave me $80.

B) It pays to be presentable and well-spoken. He had another person on site from Craigslist, and this was the first time I met someone who hunted for these same gigs. I immediately eyed up the competition: he was mangy, unkempt, and poorly spoken (swearing). After about 90 minutes of service the home owner told this guy that he no longer needed him, reinforcing my theory that there isn’t a lot of quality competition. Even though it’s Craigslist, you still want to treat it professionally.

Gig #7: Modeled as an “Average Looking Dude.”

Payout: $50
Time Frame: 20 minutes ($150 per hour)
Gig Verdict: 4 stars

Out of all the gigs I performed, I may be most qualified for this one. I met the guy at Barnes and Nobles and he wanted me to wear some t-shirts for his new company. They were big, bulky, unflattering shirts, but he was excited about his new business. I think this was his first go-around in the entrepreneur world because I don’t know why else you’d spend $50 on an unskilled, talentless, average-looking model. But the gig was easy.

The only issue was that he paid me with a check. I never accepted a check before, and I’ve always told people I need to be paid in cash. But I was already in good spirits because I had reached my $600 mark with the previous gig and the check did end up clearing. I still only accept cash though.

In Summary…

The entire experiment was fun and interesting. I increased my weekly income by $164 which pays for groceries and gas, and it got me a solid hook-up for consistent Saturday work going forward too.

If you’re looking for quick cash and can’t offer any skills, I highly recommend Craigslist gigs for your quick monetary fix.

craigslist gigs section

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Handsome, debonair, and charismatic. These are words never used to describe Jeffro. But one commonly used word is cheapass. His parsimonious ways have carried him through failed business ventures, side hustles, and strategic decisions from car shopping to couponing. Follow him at JasonCouponKing.com for money saving coupons and an array of other frugal adventures.

**For a list of 65 other ways to make money on the side, check out our entire Side Hustle Series!**

Jay loves talking about money, experimenting, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his two beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt @ The Resume Gap July 15, 2016 at 5:12 am

Great guest post! I made a bunch of extra cash in college finding gigs like this on craigslist and elsewhere. I did everything from putting up posters for women’s razor blades to attending a focus group about safety hazard signage design to handing out flyers for a concert.

If you live near a university campus, you can also often find a bunch of easy ways to make side money through various experiments and studies. I used to browse the bulletin boards in the psychology and economics buildings to find them. There are always grad students who need people to participate in short research studies and can pay $10 or $20 for half an hour of your time. I’m actually still in one longitudinal study that I started over a decade ago; I fill out a short paper survey every few months and get a check for $150 once a year. Easy income!

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2 Jeffro July 15, 2016 at 5:40 am

Yes! College and universities always have great side opportunities. One of my favorites was acting as a witness during mock trials, to help the law students. The law department gave me a script, and I had to memorize my lines, and then reenact them in front of the jury, judge, and everyone else in the room.

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3 J. Money July 18, 2016 at 6:47 am

So awesome! Haha…

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4 The Green Swan July 15, 2016 at 5:45 am

Awesome post! I never knew Craigslist had a gigs section. This would have been especially great back when I was in high school and college to make some extra money. Very interesting gigs you got too!

And bonus for being paid in cash!

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5 Fiscally Free July 20, 2016 at 6:32 pm

There’s nothing like tax-free, cash payments, however, this seems like a hard way to make $600.

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6 Chris @ Flipping A Dollar July 15, 2016 at 5:50 am

Very cool! Definitely thinking outside he box.

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7 AussieBird July 15, 2016 at 7:01 am

So you used emotional blackmail on one job to double the pay, acted “dissatisfied” on another to increase again (yes the guy should have told you about the dog but he had no other option but to pay you at that point) and hid out to avoid some of the hard work on a third. Not advertising a great ethic here.

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8 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 8:19 am

Angh… I think you’re cherry picking a bit. I didn’t ask for additional payment. They offered. And I would have driven the guy regardless. And most companies encourage breaks after 2 or 4 hours of working. So I had no reservations about hiding out to take a break after moving for 10 hours (the entire gig was 12 hours).

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9 Elliot @ Our Growing Wealth July 15, 2016 at 7:09 am

Great stuff! And a great to way to top up income if you don’t mind a bit of manual labour here and there!

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10 Jeffro July 15, 2016 at 9:54 pm

it’s work I can do on auto-pilot. I didn’t want to get a 2nd job, because I thought that would be too much commitment, and require too much mental effort. So, I just wanted something I that I had full control of the schedule, and something that didn’t require paperwork or commitment. And this was it.

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11 Mike B July 15, 2016 at 7:26 am

Nice work! I must’ve passed over that “gigs” section on Craigslist a dozen times before. The art demolition gig sounds like it required a good bit of motivation to follow-through on, kudos.

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12 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 9:58 pm

The gigs section is tucked down there in the bottom corner, so it’s easy to fly over it. But none of the gigs were that tough to complete (except the moving gig – my wife actually called me up about 9 or 10 hours into that gig and asked what’s taking so long. I told her the story, and she offered to pick me up. But I told her no, because I was so close to the end that I wanted the payment. Making only $170 for 12 hours of brutal work is a little light, but making $0 for 10 hours of brutal work is catastrophic).

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13 Apathy Ends July 15, 2016 at 7:33 am

I had flashbacks to the one time someone paid me to help them move. Nightmare, what wasn’t heavy was expensive and fragile.

I don’t mind manual labor jobs, most of the time they just don’t pay enough as a side gig but I would mow small yards for 25 all day!

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14 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 7:39 am

Yeah, that moving gig nearly gave me PTSD. But I think the customer was the issue. She was very finicky, and downplayed the amount of stuff she had. Even the movers I was working with were overwhelmed with how much additional stuff there was, and how particular she was when unloading everything. I don’t know if all moving gigs are like that, but I’m not going to find out.

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15 Latoya @ Femme Frugality July 15, 2016 at 7:52 am

Wow, this is a great way to pick up a little extra cash. Maybe I can encourage my husband to look and get his hustle on too:)

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16 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Fair warning: if you work on other’s people lawns during the time that you should be working on your own, you’re most likely not going to have time to work on your own. My yard started looking a little shabby by the end of that month.

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17 MARC April 2, 2017 at 3:53 pm

that’s where Latoya saves the day…da..da..da..daaaaaaahhh

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18 Carrie Willard July 15, 2016 at 8:16 am

This is awesome! Sharing this tomorrow on my blog.

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19 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Hey great! Thanks so much!

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20 J. Money July 18, 2016 at 6:50 am

Thanks Carrie! So glad you liked it!

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21 ZJ Thorne July 15, 2016 at 8:37 am

It is amazing the variety of work you can find if you just look at Craigslist and show up. Alas, I am not an average looking man and can’t get those sweet model gigs. Let me know if they want hot dykes with interesting hair ;)

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22 J. Money July 18, 2016 at 6:50 am

Oh, there’s definitely places on Craigslist for that ;)

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23 Rachel @ The Latte Budget July 15, 2016 at 8:44 am

As much as some people are wary about Craigslist, I love it. I have worked a few gigs as event staff for holiday parties (super easy and pays well!)

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24 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 10:06 pm

Ah nice. I never did any staffing gigs off Craig’s List. I did, however, find some staffing gigs off Fusion Event Staffing (fusioneventstaffing.com). It was ok. But it was much more formal, required all the 1099 paperwork, and it took a few weeks to receive your check in the mail. I prefer the Craig’s List model.

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25 FinanceSuperhero July 15, 2016 at 9:17 am

Thanks for the great Craigslist tips, Jeffro. I didn’t even know the gigs section existed.

You reminded me about a gig gone bad from my youth: I was asked to paint a woman’s shed, which sounds standard. The kicker? She bought oil based paint. I am a careful painter, but the few spills and drips took hours to clean up. And the inevitable drips on my skin were a real treat to try to clean.

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26 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 10:07 pm

And I bet that oil paint yellowed and got chaulky real quick. I’m sure you know this, but for everyone that doesn’t know, use water based paints (acrylic or latex) for exterior painting.

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27 Miss Mazuma July 15, 2016 at 10:29 am

I just checked out the gigs section in my area and, let me tell ya, it’s a scary world out there for women!! ;)

That being said, I am amazed that some people don’t look into opportunities that are lurking just beneath their noses. It is so much easier to complain that they can’t find a good job than to go out and break a sweat to make it happen. Good for you for taking the road less traveled! I’ll be moving in the next few months so please keep an eye on the gigs section. It’s only 3 flights of stairs at the back of a very long building. ;)

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28 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 10:11 pm

I always thought of Craig’s List like a legal black market. It can be super sketchy. A gig posting has to have clear details of the job. If the scope of work is vague, then look for another gig. It’s most likely a scam. And when I would schedule a gig, I would always tell my wife were I was going. And I would always let her know the email and phone number of the person I would be working with. Just in case. But all the people I met were fine.

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29 J. Money July 18, 2016 at 6:58 am

I looked too, Miss Mazuma, after first reading this and wow you could be pretty popular if you like “artsy” photography and “experimenting” as a woman! Haha… There’s definitely a shady side to the world…

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30 Money Beagle July 15, 2016 at 11:36 am

Awesome info and another idea I’ve never tried that I have to consider.

The moving thing reminded me exactly of the Seinfeld episode where he has to help Keith Hernandez move.

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31 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 15, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Haha. I was thinking of that EXACT episode as it was happening. Because it made me realize that I would only ever do this again for a very close family member or friend. Never again will I help a stranger move. Because it’s that infuriatingly exhausting.

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32 Jeff July 15, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Very interesting gigs! Maybe I should check out craigslist gigs myself and see if there are any jobs I can perform. :)

It appears that there are a lot of travelling involved in your gigs. Did you take that into account when calculating the hourly rate?

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33 Jeffro @ Jason Coupon King July 18, 2016 at 8:15 pm

Traveling was something I was always on the fence about. On one hand, the time spent traveling is something dedicated towards the gig. But on the other hand, I don’t include the time traveling to my full time job into my work week. So, I ultimately left out the travel time. But, I wouldn’t do any gig that was more than 45 minutes away. My thought was that since I wouldn’t commute for a permanent job more than 45 minutes away (unless I was desperate), I wouldn’t travel for a gig that far either.

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34 Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank July 16, 2016 at 2:45 am

Nice gigs! I am gonna check what is waiting for me there at Craiglist gigs!

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35 Millennial Moola July 16, 2016 at 5:18 pm

Pokemon Go egg hatching walking service does not count, though it’s close to being a section of Craigslist service offered by now

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36 J. Money July 18, 2016 at 6:59 am

Hahaha…. that whole thing is cray

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37 Staci @Streamline365 July 17, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Awesome! We’ve moved enough to know that unless it is a significant sum that’s one job I wouldn’t want to touch! Laughing/cringing at your experience! Too bad she wasn’t a minimalist! Great ideas, I don’t know why Craigslist gets such a bad wrap sometimes. Yes, you can only cut back so much, sometimes making more through hustling is the best way to increase funds!

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38 Aaron @IncomeHoncho July 18, 2016 at 9:38 am

That’s hard hustling right there wow. Was it all worth with the cold hard cash in your hand?:)

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39 Jack July 20, 2016 at 7:38 pm

Fascinating.

I’ve done all sorts of things on Craigslist, but I’ve never looked at the gigs section. I expect you have to be careful about screening to avoid the sketchy ones, but sounds like a great way to pick up some quick money when you have some free time.

Tough luck on that moving gig. Moving is one of the few things I “waste” money on by hiring others to help. Lifting furniture all day is no fun.

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40 J. Money July 25, 2016 at 10:41 am

This was the first year we’ve ever hired movers to help us, but it turned out to be a nightmare :( Double the expected costs and the movers were lazy!!! I swear I didn’t have as much stuff (esp heavy stuff) though from the way they moved it seemed like it – hah. Next time totally doing it myself w/ friends again :(

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41 David @ Thinking Thrifty July 25, 2016 at 5:09 am

I can sympathise with the moving gig. I once made that same mistake, God knows why when I have moved about so much myself and knew how stressful it was. I thought getting paid for it would take the stress away – WRONG! I honestly don;t know how people do it for a full time living, respect to those guys! It still shows that you are literally willing to anything to get money in for you and your family, so much respect for that my friend!

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42 lynn ling July 26, 2016 at 1:35 am

The modelling gig story makes me laugh. The guy probably have lots of funding for his first startup.

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