‘Many turned to side hustle in pandemic’

A new study shows that many people in the UK took up a side hustle during the pandemic.

Self Employed


One in five adults have started a ‘side hustle’ since March 2020 and almost one in six claim to earn upwards of £1,000 a month from their new venture, according to new research.

The study from insurance provider Aviva found just under two thirds of those who started a side hustle since March 2020 are still active in them today. 37% have returned to their day jobs being their main source of income now that lockdowns are over and normality has ensued.

The most popular ‘side hustle’ people chose to pursue was to ‘sell handcrafted products’ (23%), followed by freelancing (12%). One in nine (11%) turned to art, 9% to photography, while a similar number (10%) tried their hand at being a social media influencer. This was most popular with those aged 16-24 (13%) – no one in the 55+ age bracket pursued this as a supplementary activity. Other, slightly less popular, income boosters included becoming a courier (6%), teaching (6%), driving a taxi (4%) and offering nutritional advice(4%).

When asked what their original motivation was to start a side hustle in addition to their normal, full time job during the pandemic, most say it was financially motivated. Two in five (39%) people said they did it because they saw an opportunity to turn a hobby into an income; others to ‘make ends meet’ (30%); become financially independent (21%) or to pay off debts (18%).  Over a quarter (27%) started their new vocation to empower themselves/ gain confidence and improve their mental health, while 16% just wanted to practise the skills they had attained (i.e. photography, counselling etc).

Aviva says that, on average, side hustlers make around £497 a month from their secondary income, with more than one in four (28%) earning more than £500 a month.

Almost two in five (38%) people used the money they earnt from their side hustle for day-to-day living expenses (rent, food and clothes). One in four (25%) said it was used to save for tomorrow or the longer term (i.e. pensions) – this figure was consistent across all age groups and genders. Interestingly, three times the number of men (23%) to women (only 7%) said they used the extra income they earned to ‘invest in stocks, shares and cryptocurrencies’.

Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva, said:  The pandemic has transformed how we relate to work. Aviva’s research reveals two sides to this story. For some, the pandemic has brought greater work-life flexibility. This appears to have fuelled a boom in ‘side hustles’. For others, the pandemic has brought greater financial strain and this appears to have a fuelled a need to look elsewhere to make ends meet.

“The enterprise is to be admired and the talents are to be celebrated. It’s also impressive that many are looking to use the extra income to bolster tomorrow’s longer-term financial needs, as well as those of today.”

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