How to Make Money Fast in NYC

These side gigs will pump up your wallet, because let’s face it, this place is expensive

Photo by Marques Jackson/Filles Garcons NY.

Whether you just moved to NYC, have to cover for your disappearing roommates, or need to pay your exorbitant rent, these side gigs will help you keep up with the crazy costs of this city. I moved to NYC with no money (smart, I know) and learning how to make money fast became a necessary art form. Here’s my top choices, based on experience:

Feel free to ask questions or add your tips in the comments below.

  1. Dog walk/Petsit. Dogs are kind of a big deal in NYC, and with so many wealthy pet lovers stretching from the Upper East Side to Wall Street, you can definitely make a lot, while having fun meeting all the cute pooches. Focus on one neighborhood and make it your target. You can start out working for a dog walking company, or create your own site and services. Apps like Rover are a great way to get clients too (though to be honest, I recommend getting customers then going off the app because they have generally very low rates and lots of restrictions). You can also ask fellow dog walkers if you can help them out by picking up extra clients they can’t take on. This will help build your client base. I walked dogs on the Upper East Side my first year in NYC and made more than I did as a journalist, and it was all in cash.
  2. Drive people or goods. Driving is rare and in-demand in NYC, so if you have a car (or are willing to rent one), you can make a lot. Whether you deliver groceries through services like Freshdirect, or do odd jobs and courier services (you can find clients on TaskRabbit), you can really rake in the money. My mover started as a college kid using a van he had for his band, and now he is so busy with moving gigs, he has a fulltiem business and hired more people to keep up with demand. Driving for Uber and Lyft also can be great for fast income if you’re willing to brave NYC road hazards and some high-strung customers.
  3. Freelance work. When I moved to NYC, I wrote articles online, which helped me earn income through sites like Upwork. NYC is full of creative people, and every creative industry has freelance work. Whether you’re a writer, photographer, videographer, designer or programmer, you can land lots of clients online or locally. Indeed.com is a great way to find part-time gigs and connect with local businesses looking for people in your field. Promote yourself by creating a professional website (I like Squarespace for streamlined, mobile-friendly sites), and let your social networks know about your services.
  4. Consulting. Similar to freelance work, consulting offers your expertise for hire. Now is the time to whip out your business degree and offer to create marketing and business plans for local companies. If you’re a social media whiz, you can offer social media marketing strategies for businesses who need help. My @Runstreet social media helped me land social media consulting gigs, and it’s awesome to get paid for something I enjoy and spend so much time on. Another example is to promote yourself as a HR consultant to help companies with their hiring if you have a background in the industry. Consultants usually charge hourly rates, and make a lot per hour. Factor travel time and research time into your rate to make sure you’re charging enough. You can promote your consulting work to friends and peers, and post on your LinkedIn to attract professionals in your network.
  5. Airbnb. With the high demand for housing and low availability, NYC renting and hotel costs are always high. It’s a great opportunity to Airbnb your apartment. Be mindful of local laws of course and make sure you screen people by checking out their reviews. You can earn money for trips, help pay your rent, and meet lots of interesting people from all over the world thanks to Airbnb.
  6. Sell your services. NYC is a hustler’s dream, so anything you can do, you can sell it. Are you great at painting walls, organizing, doing makeup, woodworking, dancing, or helping people feel comfortable? Whether you list your painting services on Taskrabbit, play violin in the park, or become a tour guide in your neighborhood, the only limit is your imagination. If you create it, chances are there are customers for it in NYC. Airbnb Experiences is a great way to get started if you’re doing something hospitality-related.
  7. Tour guide. Tourism continues to skyrocket in NYC, with 62.8 million tourists visiting New York City in 2018. So instead of getting annoyed by their lack of walking or subway etiquette, offer your expert insight and become a tour guide. You can work for a service, list your tours on Airbnb Experiences, or become a running tour guide for companies like mine, Runstreet.
  8. Sell excess stuff. You probably can’t fit it all in that tiny apartment anyways. Sell your clothes, furniture, tech gadgets, and more on apps like PoshMark and OfferUp, or list them on the gigantic network that is NYC Facebook Marketplace. You can also bring in your clothes to vintage stores, but don’t expect a lot of cash from this, just some subway and food money if you really need it.
  9. Coach. I’m a running coach and found apps like CoachUp helped me find clients in NYC, and you can set your own rates. Also work your network. If you’re a personal trainer, basketball coach, or other coach, let your contacts know about your services, and before you know it you can be training individuals or whole teams. A lady I used to coach on Park Avenue (who I met through petsitting) used to pay me $100 just to wake her up and go for a short run in Central Park in the mornings.
  10. Start a business. The best way to make profit longterm and really take control of your life is to start a business! You can create longterm income with unlimited potential (bonus: quitting that job you hate). There are tons of resources to help you get started for free, including SCORE NYC small business mentors and workshops, WE NYC for women entrepreneurs, and free courses through NYC Department of Small Business Services.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

No matter what you decide to pursue, in NYC, who you know is everything, so put the word out about your services.

What are your best tips for making money in NYC? Do these ideas work well in other cities too? Comment below.

Marnie Kunz is an entrepreneur, writer, founder of Runstreet Art Runs, and longtime side hustler living in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter at @MarnieKunz.