3 Side Gigs That Helped Gene and Shay Earn $5,000 in a Month


  • Young millennial couple Shay Edwards (she/her) and Gene Murphy (they/them) decided to move into a van in April 2021.
  • When their van first broke down, they realized they needed to increase their savings in case of future problems.
  • They booked side gigs around the country, began alternate instruction, and focused on content creation deals.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

At the start of the pandemic, 26-year-old Shay Edwards (her) was laid off from her full-time marketing job. She was paying $1,435 in rent for an apartment in Philadelphia, while her partner, Gene Murphy, 33, lived with his mother as he searched for apartments.

Edwards and Murphy discussed what they wanted their lives to look like going forward. They both want to start a family and buy a house someday, but with the high cost of living in Philadelphia, the couple felt saving for their future goals was impossible.

To keep the cost of living down and embark on the biggest cross-country adventure of their lives, Edwards and Murphy decided to get rid of all their belongings and live in a van. They share their adventures on Instagram and TikTok, hoping to add LGBTQ+ representation to the van life community.

“It was a mixture of daily excitement and asking, ‘What have we gotten ourselves into?’ But once you start to understand, it’s such a big achievement, and that’s what makes it worth it,” Edwards explained. When their van broke down and depleted their emergency savings, Edwards and Murphy strapped in and focused on earning money.

Here are three side gigs that helped them earn over $5,000 in a month while touring the country.

1. Different side concerts in each city

The couple used an app called Instawork to find gigs in different cities across the country. Gigs on Instawork range from hospitality, catering, warehouse work, and more. According to records seen by Insider, the couple was able to earn $4,900 in a month, averaging $17.35 an hour from various side jobs.

To earn even more money, they stopped in San Francisco for five months, knowing there would be a variety of well-paying gigs in a busier city.

2. Substitute education

Over the holidays, the couple decided to stay with their parents in Baltimore for a few weeks, and Edwards thought it would be the perfect time to add another source of income to his credit. She got certified to become a substitute teacher, sharing with their Instagram followers, “Substitute teachers are in high demand right now due to the pandemic.”

She also plans to become certified for remote substitute teaching so she can continue to earn money while she and Murphy travel.

3. Content Creation

Edwards and Murphy are paid to take photos with products to share with their many social media followers. They also earn money using affiliate links, which means they get paid every time one of their subscribers views or buys a product using their specific link.

Although content creation is a more sporadic form of income for the couple, it’s still useful when they need to build up their savings.

Previous Money for USA...Auburn wins, UCLA drops to 3OTs | Associated Press National News
Next As Challenger Banks grow, lenders should be nervous