Side Hustle Ideas for Emcees, Hosts, and Entertainers. There’s plenty of them. If everyone were a good public speaker, then it wouldn’t be such a coveted skill. As a follow-up to my previous post on ways to improve your public speaking, I give you this brain-storming list. If you are a good public speaker, you should make money from it. And, I’m not just talking about some spare pocket change. Depending on the gig, emcees can make good money; example: one time, I hosted a holiday party for a couple of hours and made $500.
Note: 99% of the time, these won’t be gigs and side hustles that you just find on a job board. A lot of requires hustle on your end. That is, do some research, find people to pitch to, have a respectable portfolio, convince people of your value, and network. It starts slow, but once you’re established, gigs come easier.
Don’t know what you could do? Keep reading for eight good ideas.
Hosting trivia in restaurants, bars, and pubs has only been growing in popularity in recent years. Take the company I used to work for as an example; when I started, they were only in four states in the Midwest. Now, they’re in fifteen and growing still! They’re not even the only game in town (literally and figuratively). My theory is that bar trivia is so popular among broke millennials, such as myself, due to:
- It’s that magical, four-letter f-word: FREE.
- Putting our overpriced and ‘useless’ educations to the test.
- Getting paid out in beer and bar food.
Somebody needs to host it. Why not you? This is where I started as MC Sylvia D, and I stuck with it for 2.5 years. At the end of it, I was extremely comfortable working with crowds into the hundreds. It’s a skill I took with me to the cruise ship, where I was hosting game shows with audiences up to 5X the size. The pay was pretty good, too. They offered incentives that the more people coming to your shows, the more you would get paid. By the end of my run, I was hosting two shows a week and pulling in an extra $600 per month.
There’s a number of pub trivia companies throughout the country; I personally found mine through playing at their shows, following them on Facebook, and seeing their casting call for hosts. Similarly, you could try trawling your local trivia companies’ social media pages, Craigslist, or just cold-pitching the owner/recruitment people at the companies. Never underestimate the power of a cold-pitch. The worst they could do is ignore it or say no.
Hosting karaoke is similar in some ways to hosting trivia: you need to amp up the crowd, fill in the dead space, and entertain them when nothing objectively entertaining is happening. That may mean talking to the room, but more often than not, it means singing. You don’t even have to be a good singer. All you have to do is sing loud enough so that the audience doesn’t hear crickets chirping. Arguably, that’s what you’re there for when no one is drunk enough to belt out a few bars of Bohemian Rhapsody.
Like trivia, you’ll have to do some sleuthing. Hit up karaoke company’s websites and social media profiles – anything that can get you the contact info of the owner. Or, possibly try to find an in with a current karaoke host: why not bring your friends out for a karaoke night, build up a good rapport with the host, and ask them how they got hired?
I don’t know how it fares outside of the United States, but when I was on the cruise ship, Bingo was immensely popular. It seems like just a cute and innocuous game, but when you think about it, it’s just another form of gambling – and that’s why it will never go away.
When I was on the Bingo Squad (oh, Lord), the whole thing was a gimmick. We had jokes about the balls (heh), phrases we shouted out when a certain number was called, and dances we did when someone won. Essentially, every game was a performance, and it was our job to avoid the stereotype of ‘stuffy Bingo hall where people come to die’.
Scour the activities calendar of local bars and events places to see if anyone hosts Bingo. It may be in-house or they may use a third party for their Bingo services. Do your Internet sleuthing to figure out who’s in charge of Bingo and make sure to pitch your services to get your hat in the ring. If you lean even more extroverted, why not consider Drag Queen Bingo? Unsurprisingly, it’s yet another type of hustle you can advertise for on Thumbtack.
Another niche that’s rising in popularity: art classes. In my area, I can name four different companies off the top of my head. They all have some sort of catch like painting while drinking in a bar and such. I consistently see all four of these companies posting on Craigslist and other job boards looking for art instructors, and I’ve even applied to a few with positive results (I ended up blocking one of the companies because they were so hard up for instructors that the owner wouldn’t stop calling me!)
Depending on your area, you might not be as flush with the artsy people. However, it’s worth a look-see. I might suggest that if/when you’re pitching yourself to these companies, include something that serves the purpose of an art portfolio, like a fleshed out profile on DeviantArt.com.
When I worked on the cruise ship, I gave ‘behind the scenes’ tours onboard. I loved it, despite my limited knowledge on how a ship actually works. Being a tour guide is like a more intimate form of MC-ing: you still work with a crowd, but smaller and more focused on ‘infotainment’. There’s plenty of ways and means to become a tour guide – heck, just a quick Craigslist trawl while I was drafting this post led me to a call for pedicab tour-guides in my city. Another idea is to start pitching yourself to local travel agencies and museums. Art museums will always need docents!
If you really want to DIY your career as a tour-guide and you live in a qualifying city, check out AirBnb Experiences. You’re the tour guide, and you’re in charge from top to bottom of your own tour. You set your rates, market for yourself, pick out the destinations, etc.
God bless the age of the sharing economy. This reaches into the heart of side-hustling: nearly zero cash up front and a good return for doing something you enjoy. You may not have a bustling clientele right away, and it may take a bit of patience and lowered rates. However, take the time to build up good reviews, and it’ll come easier to land clients and book gigs. Plus, what an amazing opportunity to meet people from every corner of the world! I’m definitely signing myself up as an experience host if/when it comes to my city – I’ve already got our three-day itinerary all mapped out.
Events like a silent auctions, galas, charity balls, dance marathons, etc… These are all events that require a host of some sort. Depending on who organizes, they may just choose their own MC from within. However, it happens often enough where no one within the organization wants/is able to MC, and they outsource. Thumbtack.com offers the ability to make a profile for yourself as an MC and Event Host; my alerts are set mostly to face-painting, but about once per week, a new request for Event Host will pop up. Thumbtack.com isn’t the only one who offers this as a freelancing category – check out other sites like GigSalad, GigMasters, and even Yelp.
What’s more is if you can host the event but also plan out the general flow of the event. Does your client want programming suggestions? Have a couple of killer party games up your sleeve to suggest (I’m a big fan of ‘Minute to Win It’ type games). Do they have a speech they’d like you to give? Have canned speeches at the ready for different needs; ex: an ‘inspirational’ speech, a ‘celebratory’/’congratulatory’ speech, a ‘funny’ speech. The point is that if you can anticipate someone’s needs, you’ve proved yourself worthy a hundred times over. Give your client what they didn’t know they needed.
Again, starting out is difficult, but the added benefit of hosting events is that you usually work with a large audience. Everyone at an event you host is a possible future client. The word-of-mouth recommendation is strong with this one, and it’s relatively easy to market yourself. The most popular request for an events host is for…
Forever and always, people will get married. For some reason. While the larger point of a wedding is to get married, I’d like to think that the second and maybe as important point is to throw a kickin’ party. But, who’s going to host the thing? The bride and groom are a bit busy partying and relishing in the new glow of matrimony. That’s where you come in, my friend. If you can spin together a halfway decent playlist for the reception, can introduce the bride and groom by the correct name (it’s a big deal), and can play those silly games on the dance-floor, then you’re starting off on the right foot.
Much like events hosting, everyone at each wedding you host is potentially a future client. Make sure the happy couple has your name and number, and they know that they ought to drop your details to anyone and everyone to help you stay in business.
This is where a referral program or a similar system might come in handy. Offer a friends and family discount so that everyone who books you via a referral from a previous wedding gets 20% off or a freebie of some sort. This type of emcee-ing gig snowballs the hardest where the more gigs you do means the more gigs you land in the future.
Host Your Own Podcast
This one airs on the side of extroverted-introversion, which I’ve blogged about previously. That is, you get to play hostess with the mostest, but you don’t actually have to deal with people face-to-face. As far as side hustling goes, however, podcasting ought to be done for the fun of it, and not with the intention of bringing in some serious cash. Remember how I call my blog income ‘Blog Pennies’? I expect these will be ‘Pod Pennies’. But, I love the idea of podcasting as a side hustle for a number of reasons:
- It’s a relatively low-pressure and harmless way to improve your public speaking if it’s a bit rough around the edges.
- If you’re already a great public speaker and an entertaining host, then your podcast can serve as your portfolio when you pitch potential clients.
- A chance to nerd out about your passions. If I were to start a podcast, I’d totally make one about how cool Latin is.
- Those Pod Pennies.
Unfortunately, a good podcast requires good (and likely expensive) audio equipment. You may, in fact, have to side hustle up some cash to finance your podcast side hustle. Check out LifeHacker’s post for a complete A to Z approach of setting up your own podcast, since I’m only here for the non-technical side of things.
By the way, if you’re good at podcasting, why not stream on Twitch? Try a live podcast to expand your skillset and get out of your comfort zone! Don’t think you’ll have any viewers? Not true. I’ll tune in.
There you have it, fellow emcees! The great thing about being a host is that you don’t have to put yourself in a box and only do one thing. You can adapt to new situations and strengthen your side hustle skills all the more. Did I miss some? Leave me a comment below!
- If you’re going to side hustle, you’re going to need business cards. Check out MOO.com – I only use MOO for business cards; they have such a great selection of cards and paper products that are sleek and unique. Plus, they are affordable, and they give you a dope box to carry your cards around in. Use my link to get $15 off your first order!
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