One of my goals this year was to create a third income stream outside of my regular career and the dividends I get from my investments.
I’ve read somewhere (cannot for the life of me find the link) that a very high percentage of millionaires have a minimum of 3 income streams that have and continue to help them build wealth.
All year I’ve been wracking my brain thinking of potential ideas I could do to earn a little extra money of the side.
Ideally, I wanted to think of ways in which I could build some passive income and make money with little to no effort (after the effort to get it all started of course).
While I’ve toyed with a few ideas, I haven’t felt comfortable enough to pull the trigger on them, and thus they have remained tabled for now.
One of my secret hopes when attending Camp FI Midwest in August was that I would be able to get either a little motivation to pull the trigger on some sort of side hustle, or get a great idea from someone there.
Well, my wish was granted!
I teased it in my recap post of the event, but after speaking about it with Kevin from Financial Panther, he convinced me to start up a side hustle!
While this one isn’t necessarily passive income, as you’ll see it requires very little effort on my part and provides me with a little additional income each month.
Without further ado – side hustle #1: electric scooter charger!
Electric Scooter Charger Basics
First off, what are electric scooters? If you’re a millennial you may remember these things growing up:
Think these, but slightly bigger and electric powered!
If you live in a big city, you may have seen these scooters flying around. I know living in DC that several months ago there were virtually none where as recently I see them everywhere I go!
They have really exploded on the scene and present a great eco-friendly alternative form of transportation.
There are two main companies, Bird and Lime, which operate in most of the bigger cities. They provide these fleets of electric scooters and charge people a fee to use them. The fee’s are not too bad from what I’ve seen, and are comparable in price to the bike sharing and metro alternatives (at least in DC).
The companies do not collect the scooters and charge them up themselves, instead they have regular people like you and me sign up to become chargers and do it for them!
Of course, they have to make it worthwhile for the people who sign up to become chargers, and thus where the side hustle aspect comes in: they will pay you to do this!
I would dive further into the details on how to sign up and become a charger, but Kevin has already written a very thorough and detailed guide on how to do this and his experience as a charger so head on over to his site to check it out if interested!
Make Money As An Electric Scooter Charger
Ok, so how do you make money charging these things?
Essentially, the gist is that through an app on your phone, you can find these scooters at any time during the day and bring them back to your place to charge. Between 4am and 7am you are to release them in specific areas that the companies provide, called Bird “nests” or Lime “hubs”.
There is a reduced payout if you release after this time, so ideally you want to drop them off in that time frame.
It’s really as simple as that. So how much money can you make doing this?
This side hustle is really all about how much time and effort you want to put into it.
You can grab as little as one electric scooter at a time, or use a car or van to take dozens or more. The payouts will vary, anywhere between $5-$20, depending on a variety of factors. The higher the payout, the harder it is to find the electric scooter (and thus, typically, more time spent searching).
While searching for electric scooters, I’ve seen people snag them up one at a time, and also seen people with a van that has dozens of electric scooters already in them.
Thus, the earnings potential is really limited by, one, how many chargers you have, and two, how many you want to get (and thus the time you want to put into it).
Bird will start you off with 3 chargers, and if you show you are consistent with charging you can request them to send you more.
After you have released them, the companies will send your earnings straight to your bank account the exact same day, so you don’t need to wait long to see that money.
My Experience Charging Electric Scooters
So what does this look like as a real life example? Here’s the system I have worked out that works great for myself:
Firstly, I only signed up for Bird. Unfortunately, Lime is not in my area, and thus would have been too much of a hassle to go and find those. Also, I never use my car. I’ll only walk to grab these and ride them back to my apartment.
On the days that I get to walk into work, I’ll open the app to see if there are any Birds to pick up on my way home. If there are, great! Now I get to get paid to ride back to my apartment.
If not, I walk back home and wait until later in the day when a lot more become available (usually around 8pm-9pm). Because I live in an area with several massive apartment complexes on my street and surrounding streets, these things are dropped all over near my place.
Once I see a couple scooters pop up as available to charge, I’ll take a walk down the street to go pick them up. This usually only takes a few minutes, and by stacking them on top of each other, I can even grab multiple at a time!
One night even, there were three scooters grouped together right outside the door to my apartment complex. I got $15 to walk outside and bring them in!
In the mornings, I’ll wake up slightly earlier than I usually do and go to drop these things off. There are several “nests” to drop the scooters off within a 5 minute radius of my place, so at max it takes me 10-15 minutes in the morning prior to going to work.
This is ideal for me as after I ride the scooters over to the drop off, I’ve noticed the morning walks help to wake up and get ready to tackle the day!
So just how much money did I make last month charging electric scooters? $310.80!!
Of course, as a data nerd, I had to put together a spreadsheet to track if this thing was worth my time or not. So here’s the look:
And here’s the data in a different format:
$311 for less than 9 hours of work last month? $36/hour? I’ll take that any day!
You’ll have to take my word that I was tracking my time spent right, but I can tell you this is honestly how it’s worked for me.
The first couple times I was new and learning how it all worked, thus it took me more time and was a lower $/hr. Since then though, I got smart and really valued how much time I was spending grabbing these and became more efficient as I learned the ropes. Week ending 9/23 I found a couple higher payout scooters which really jumped up the earnings.
For “working” (riding on scooters and walking) no more than 3 hours a week, with minimal expenses (the electricity I’ll pay for to charge the scooters) that’s not a bad pay right!?
I only have 3 chargers at the moment, and I plan to keep it at that amount. Any more and I’d be spending a lot more time doing this, which right now I don’t have a lot of considering my regular job takes up most of it, plus writing for this blog, working out, reading, etc.
Is Charging Electric Scooters For You?
Now obviously, this side hustle has worked out perfectly for me in my situation, but it won’t be like that for everyone.
You’ll need to live in a big city where these electric scooter companies operate out of. Also, ideally you live in a neighborhood where the “nests” or “hubs” (where you drop the scooters off) are nearby, and where many scooters are available to pick up.
If you live further away, you can always use your car, but this adds a lot more time to it, as well as adding a bigger expense to the side hustle (car fuel and forced vehicle depreciation from driving around).
If you are someone who lives in the downtown area of a city where these all apply to you, this is a side hustle for you! In addition, if you get into work early enough, you can even ride these things into work and drop them off nearby.
Now, not only are you eliminating your transportation expense, you are actually getting paid for it!
For myself, I’m thinking I should easily be able to make $200-$300 a month putting in minimal time. As you saw, I only “worked” for slightly over half the days last month, meaning I could make a lot more if I wanted to do this every single day.
We’ll see how that holds up during the winter months when it’s a lot colder (and theoretically people will use them less) but I’m interested to find out.
I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll do this side hustle forever as things always change, but at the moment it makes complete sense for me.
I’m hoping now that I’m finally making some money on the side, this will give me the confidence to springboard other side hustle pursuits so I can truly start building some other passive income streams.
Do you charge electric scooters? I’d love to hear your experiences with it! If not, is this something you’d be willing to try out if it works for you, or is this comparable to a small side hustle you are currently doing? Let me know if you have any questions on this or are interested!