Side Hustles Are Soaring in 2023, Especially Among Millennial & Gen Z Professionals

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The side hustle or freelancing “on the side” trend is hot and getting even hotter in 2023 – especially among skilled younger professionals. Driven by inflation, layoffs and recession anxiety, along with the increased desire for flexible, work-from-home jobs, millions of Americans are increasingly going to work for themselves. And this freelance workforce is becoming more highly skilled and highly educated. To note: 

  • Within the next several years, as much as half of the American workforce—almost 87 million people—will be freelancing.
  • According to new data from freelance marketplace Upwork, over the past year, 39% of the American workforce performed freelance work in some shape or form (an increase of 3% year-over-year), and chipped in a whopping $1.35 trillion in earnings to the overall U.S. economy.
  • 43% of Gen Z professionals and 46% of millennial professionals freelanced in 2022
  • 26% of all freelancers hold a postgraduate degree—up from 20% last year.

Freelance Boom Driving Expert Applications 

Here at JustAnswer we are seeing this freelance/side hustle boom firsthand in the huge spike in applications to become an online expert – up a whopping 1,369% YOY since 2021. Whereas we might typically average about 1,800 expert applications a week, we received over 6,000 applications in the week of January 2nd this year alone! 

This inbound interest at JustAnswer is coming from just about every kind of professional – from veterinarians, doctors, lawyers, accountants, therapists, even RV mechanics and electricians – seeking to make extra income answering questions online. Most are already actively employed but looking for a side gig, though JustAnswer also is seeing many recent retirees and/or people in between full-time jobs or parents reentering the workforce. 

Top Categories for Expert Applications in 2022 

  1. Homework Help – approx 17,300 applications
  2. Computers – approx 13,500 applications 
  3. Wellness (homeopathy, mental health, pharmacy) – approx 12,300 applications 
  4. Cars – approx 9,900 applications
  5. Appliance/Home Improvement – approx 7,700 applications 
  6. Consumer Electronics – approx 7,200 applications 
  7. Medical – approx 6,300 applications 
  8. Veterinarian &/or Pets – approx 4,000 applications 
  9. Finance – approx 3,600 applications 
  10. Heavy Equipment – approx 1,900 applications 
  11. Law – approx 1,500 applications 
  12. Engineering – approx 1,100 applications 
  13. Appraisers – approx 800 applications 

Biggest YOY Increase in Expert Applications by Category

  1. Appraisal – Up 1,615% YOY
  2. Medical – Up 1,560% YOY
  3. Law – Up 1,528% YOY
  4. Pets + Vets (veterinarians + animal behavior experts) – Up 1,516% YOY 
  5. Wellness (homeopathy, mental health, pharmacy) – Up 1,504% YOY

JustAnswer YouGov Side Hustle Survey 

To get a closer look at this side hustle trend specifically (as opposed to those freelancing without another full-time job), JustAnswer commissioned a survey in November by YouGov of approximately 1,200 US adults. Here are some of the findings: 

  • 27% of adults said they started a side hustle in the past two years– and this number climbs to 46% for Millennials and 37% for GenZ  
  • 43% of respondents said that their employer knows about their side hustle – this number climbs to 53% of Millennials. And a surprising 61% of respondents with an income $80k/year or higher also say their employer knows about their side hustle
  • However – 33% of both GenX and Millennial respondents say their employers do NOT know about their side hustle 
  •  The most common response people gave for taking on a side hustle was by far “it’s an easy way to make easy extra cash” (54%) followed by “worries about inflation” (39%), “fun, especially during working from home” (34%), and “a way to pay off debt” (33%). 

More Than Professional Expertise Needed to Thrive on JustAnswer Platform

According to JustAnswer Head of Expert Operations Tim Whipple, the folks seeking work on JustAnswer these days run the gamut from those who are actively employed and are just looking to make some extra money or use their skill in another way, to recent retirees, or people who are re-entering the workforce who are eager to use their expertise to work from home and set their own hours. 

And while Whipple says some of the applicants are looking to see if they can transition this to be their primary source of income, he notes that “It is almost impossible to do that from day one because new experts have to learn how to get answers in a very competitive playing field. The people who come in looking to make a lot of money fast can often get frustrated and leave.”

That’s because, he notes, “It’s not enough to be an expert in your field – a JustAnswer expert must have good writing skills to quickly put together a helpful, friendly answer. They must have patience to deal with people of all types, asking all kinds of questions and to provide specific steps the customer can take to solve their problem. That’s a unique skill.”

On the flip side, in any category, Whipple says, “The most successful new experts come into it with their primary motivation being “I want to help people using the expertise I’ve gained in my field.”

JustAnswer hired 800 experts last year and plans to add 600-800 more in 2023. 

 For more information on becoming an expert on JustAnswer, visit HERE.


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