There are a plethora of different ways to hit the coveted six-figure income milestone. With enough hard work and persistence, you can literally make $100,000 doing pretty much anything.
For instance, it's possible to buy and sell used items and make $100,000 per year. You can even go collect cans and recycle them all year long and make enough to hit the $100k benchmark. The top earners on Fiverr make millions of dollars per year, selling their services for as little as $5 at a time.
The point is, there are more ways to make $100,000 per year than most people realize. Some of the methods just take more time and effort than others.
In this post, we're going to break down how to make $100,000 per year WITHOUT having to work crazy 100 hour work weeks.
Let's dive into the most effective methods that have the smoothest sailing possible towards our goal of making a $100K annual income.
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The different paths to $100,000/year
There are three main paths you can take to make $100K.
2. Side Hustle
3. Salary + Side Hustle
Side hustles can mean different things to different people. I use the word side hustle as kind of a catch-all word for businesses that can be started on the side.
Sure, you can make $100K opening an accounting firm, steak restaurant, or a self-storage facility. But these aren't really side hustles. These are full blown businesses that require your full commitment and hundreds of thousands of dollars to get off the ground.
In this post, we're not talking about businesses. We're talking about side hustles that can be started on the side BUT… have the potential to grow into full blown businesses over time.
Let's go through each one in more detail.
Salary VS Side Hustle: Which one is better for making $100K?
The most traditional path to make $100K is the conventional salary. This is the most straightforward path because it's the most common one, and it's what we've been taught to do since we were children.
Get good grades, go to a good school, graduate with a good degree, and eventually work your way up to a six-figure salary.
The problem is (or should I say… the good news is…) this method is outdated. It is NOT the best way to make $100K per year anymore.
Trading time for dollars isn't the end goal anymore. Getting freedom over your own time is the ultimate goal (for most people), and is the reason why side hustles are the more attractive path to crossing six-figures.
Also, a salary is capped. You could make $100K per year as a pharmacist, but you can't make $5 million per year as a pharmacist – at least not conventionally.
With a side hustle, how much you can earn is unlimited. And you don't have to trade time for dollars. Yes, you'll have to work extremely hard, and there are more risks to side hustles and business than traditional careers, but your earnings aren't directly correlated to the hours you put in.
You can take days off, and still make sales. You can go on vacation and your business will still operate and generate income.
This is why side hustles are, in my opinion, much much much better than chasing a six-figure salary.
Now that that's out of the way, let's dive in…
Blog your way to $100K
I'll start with the area I have the most experience in: blogging.
Blogging is one of the best side hustles in my opinion.
Because it ticks three of the most highly coveted criteria:
1. It generates passive income
2. It allows you to build an audience
3. You build a sellable asset
I've been blogging since 2012. In internet years, that makes me a dinosaur. I love blogging because I love sharing my opinions and teaching what I know. For me, blogging started as an escape. It started as a hobby because I loved writing.
Today, those blogs that I used to build have grown into a full blown media company. In other words, my side hustle has become my main hustle.
Blogging is a fantastic side hustle because it has the same (or similar) income potential as something like a software app or startup, without the need for learning to code. In other words, anyone can do it, and the amount you can earn is substantial.
There are bloggers out there making millions of dollars.
Blogging takes a lot of time to get off the ground. You likely won't make $100,000 your first year (though many people have). But it's a compounding asset. Everything you do and build for your blog compounds over the years and your income grows higher and higher.
The best part about blogging is that you're building an asset. Blogs and websites are real estate on the internet. Usually, they're sold for around 30x to 40x monthly income.
That means that if your blog makes $100,000 per year… let's do the math.
$100,000 / 12 months = $8,333 per month.
$8,333 x 40x = $333,333.
So you get to keep all the income you make while you're running the blog. And when you decide to sell it, you'll make a cool $300,000.
How to start: Bluehost – the best place for new bloggers to build their first blogs. Get started for just $2.95/month.
The six-figure freelancer
The next best way to make $100,000 per year is freelancing. I love freelancing, and I still freelance to this day even while running my blogs.
Because, like blogging… freelancing also compounds. I have years of experience in writing built up at this point. That means I get to charge a higher rate for my services than I did in the past.
As a result, it's become a very profitable income source for me that would be a shame to just drop and let go at this point.
The downside to freelancing is that you don't build an asset like you would in blogging.
The upside to freelancing is that you can earn $100,000 per year MUCH FASTER than with blogging. You can literally go and call your friends and family and pick up a few clients on Day 1.
If you charge $5000 per month per client, all you need is 2 clients to make $100,000.
If you charge $10,000 per month per client, all you need is 1 single client!
If your services are on the lower end of the price spectrum, and you charge $500 per month, all you need is 20 clients.
With freelancing, the math is simple and straightforward.
Charge what you want, and hustle to get the number of clients you need to hit your milestone of $100K per year.
Make an extra $1000 per month doing simple tasks
Did you know you can make money doing simple tasks on the internet like completing surveys and watching video clips?
If you're looking for faster ways to make supplemental income online without starting a major project of your own, survey sites like Inbox Dollars are a great source of additional income each month.
You won't make $100,000 per year with this exclusively, but it's a convenient way to earn some extra money. For example, you can complete tasks while you're watching TV or listening to an audio book.
It's not the most fun work in the world, but it's probably one of the easiest.
All of them operate similarly and pay you per task you complete. Companies on their platform pay users for surveys and user research data.
You can view a complete list of all of the best survey websites to make money from here.
Add $20,000 in supplmental income delivering food
Food delivery apps like Doordash are growing rapidly. With rapid growth comes rapid cash injection to the delivery driver economy. Where you could only make a few hundred per month in the past, drivers can now make thousands of dollars with food delivery apps.
If your goal is to make $100,000 per year, going full-time solely as a Doordash driver won't get you there. The highest earners on food delivery apps make around $50,000 to $60,000 per year.
The better way to use Doordash would be as a side hustle.
Since the app allows you to set your own hours, you can deliver on your days off or nights when you feel like going out and making some extra dough.
Part time doordash drivers can make between $500 all the way to $2000 per month, depending on the area you're in. I've seen friends make over $500 in a single night.
But we don't recommend quitting your day job and going at this full-time. The best way to get started is to sign up to their platform, try it out for a month or two, and then assess whether this can be a full-time venture.
The best part about gigs like Doordash delivery is that you can choose your own hours. You can take days off, work nights, and do it all on top of a day job.
It takes a few days to approve your account and get up and running, so we recommend signing up now even if you don't plan to start right away. If you're bored on a Saturday night, just sign into your Doordash app, get out there and make a few hundred bucks.
Make $100,000 per year with a high-paying career
Some careers are obviously much better paid than others. Lawyers and physicians both make median salaries that are well over $150,000 a year. Of course, these careers also come with the highest education costs and at least a decade of school beyond high school.
If that’s not for you, consider this: We've compiled a list of the highest paying that don't require a degree here.
These include careers like actuaries, curators (for everything from museums to botanical gardens), economists, geologists and marketing managers. Some surprising well-paid careers include mathematicians (especially those working at government agencies and those holding an advanced degree) and nurses. Keep in mind that most of these careers might not require advanced degrees but they do focus on experience and industry growth – meaning it might take a few years before you get a salary of at least $100k.
Other careers, like finance careers, are more likely to get you to that magic number much faster after graduation. Investment banking, strategic consulting, IT services, and high-tech fields all are likely to pay around the $100k mark once you have as little as a couple of years of experience.
Or if you're looking for something a little bit more unique and “weird” then check out our resource on the strangest jobs in the world. Not everybody wants to do them, but some of them pay quite well.
Get a Second Degree
If you choose the career/salary route to earn your $100,000 per year, then depending on your career and industry, it could be advantageous to continue your education.
Graduate degree holders earn an average $17,000 more per year than people with “just” a Bachelor’s degree.
The difference is more noticeable in some career fields, where master degrees are more likely to get you a promotion, better positions, and a higher income.
For example, the median annual wages for somebody with a bachelor’s degree working in finances is $73,000 but that amount goes up to $101,000 (a $28k increase) for people with an advanced degree. Education is another field where an advanced degree pays off big and those with a Master’s degree earn as much as $89,500 a year or about 19 percent more than those with just a Bachelor’s.
On the other hand, people working in the food science field only earn about $10,000 more by obtaining a masters degree.
For those considering going back to school, it’s worth sitting down and doing some math. Weighing in the costs of a degree + your time investment against long-term earnings is a good way to decide whether the investment is worth it.
Move to a State with Better Salaries and Lower Taxes
No matter what career you’re pursuing, some states will pay higher wages for you to the exact same job.
According to information based on the Census ACS survey results, the District of Columbia has the highest median household income in the country at $82,604. This is an interesting number since Washington DC also has a poverty rate of 15.5%. Still, high income from certain areas drives up the average income, with the high end median reaching an impressive $134,358.
Maryland comes a close second with a median household income of $81,868, plus an interesting position as the state with the second-highest percentage of degree holders (right behind New Hampshire). New Jersey, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Alaska, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Virginia and California complete the top 10 list of states with the higher salaries.
Of course, cost of living plays a role too. Salaries in California are high but the state is also the second most expensive state to live in – a place where the average home price is over $1.2 million and your monthly energy bill will set you back $237 (more than in NY and barely less than in Alaska). In fact, California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are the three most expensive states to live in, so even a high salary won’t go very far there.
Other states, like Alaska, might be expensive but offer tax benefits (like no taxes on personal income –which means that you get to keep a lot more of what you earn). Plus you’ll still earn a lot closer to $100,000 in Alaska than in other states.
Have More Than One Stream of Income
Bestselling author and motivational speaker Thomas C. Corley, who spent five years studying millionaires and how they made their fortune, concluded that “Self-made millionaires do not rely on one singular source of income. They develop multiple streams.”
Even if your goal is not to earn a million but “just” $100k a year, this advice still holds true. Corley’s studies show that “65% of self-made millionaires have at least three streams of income,” with some having as many as five. These are usually a combination of a main income (usually a salaried job) with things like profits from selling and buying, rentals, dividends from stocks, and residual income (such as selling subscriptions or receiving royalties).
For those without additional streams of income, an easy way to get started is with a side hustle. According to research conducted by personal-finance company Bankrate, almost 45 millions Americans had a side hustle in 2019, with the average hustle income bringing in over $1100 per month.
While many workers are using the extra money for basic living expenses, others are saving or investing. Plus, interestingly enough, many are pursuing a side hustle that’s related to a hobby or a passion of their own. More than one-quarter (27%) say they are more passionate about their side hustle than their main job/career.”=
The key to transforming that small side hustle into a steady income revenue? Entrepreneur says it’s all about treating it as a business and having a plan for financial stability. This could mean putting vacation plans aside for a while so you can use your free time to earn more and grow your business.
Wrapping up: Earning $100K seems more within reach now
The 2020's is one of the best times in history to start a side hustle. With the advancement of new apps, technology, and more people working remotely from home, you're given a wave of new side hustle options that people just didn't have even a decade ago. Not only that, but if your job allows you to work remotely from home, that gives you even more time to work on a side business.
You can take the two hours commute time you would usually have and build an income-generating hustle.
If you want to learn more about side hustles, check out our full list of best side hustles here.
Whether you want to pursue a six-figure salary, or start a side hustle, best of luck to you. Success comes from failure. Do not give up. Keep pursuing. It is more within reach than you might think.