Gen Z earns six figures as digital side hustlers, new study finds 

  • More than one-third (36%) of Gen Z are struggling to find a corporate job, pushing 31% to explore jobs in social media
  • 45% of Gen Z identify as digital side hustlers and it’s a good look for their finances 
  • More than one-in-10 (13%) Gen Z earn income through social media 

Side gigs aren’t new, but in true Gen Z fashion, the generation succeeding millennials is putting a new spin on what it means to earn additional income – and it’s paying off. 

According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, 45% of Gen Z consider themselves digital side hustlers which, for the purposes of this study, are defined as people who earn additional income online, outside of their day job. This includes things like developing branded content on social media, selling goods on Etsy and Ebay, and growing paid audiences on platforms like Substack and OnlyFans. 

This shift toward earning income online comes at a time when many young people are struggling to find work. In fact, more than one-third (36%) of Gen Z say they’re struggling to find a corporate job, leading many debt-ridden and highly educated jobseekers to share their experience on social media. As a result, many Gen Zers are seeking employment elsewhere with some setting their sights on careers in social media. According to the study, 31% of Gen Z are pursuing, or are considering pursuing, careers in social media because they’re struggling to find a corporate job. 

For some Gen Z, their careers in social media are already underway. More than one-in-10 (13%) Gen Zers currently earn income through social media, including content creation (53%), TikTok Shop (41%) and brand deals (33%). Of those who earn income through social media, more than a quarter do so as a full time job (26%) and more than half (56%) do so in addition to their full time job. For many this is a lucrative way to earn cash. 

According to the study, 47% of Gen Z who earn money on social media say they earn more money through content creation than they do working a traditional 9-to-5 job. This makes sense when you consider 61% of Gen Z don’t believe their pay has kept pace with the cost of living.

So, just how much money are digital side hustlers making? More than one-in-10 (13%) respondents who identify as a digital side hustler say their digital side hustle has enabled them to earn six figures. Others say digital side hustling has enabled them to save money (59%), build an emergency savings (24%), pay down debt and travel (23%). Some have even been able to use some of their proceeds to invest in their futures, including investing (21%), buying a home or saving for retirement (17%).

“Despite a strong labor market, many young people are struggling to find work, which could prevent them from achieving their financial goals, like renting their first apartment or paying down student loans,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “As a result, Gen Z is getting creative about ways to make money with many turning to social media and online platforms to earn some extra cash. Digital side hustles can be a great way for young people to take control of their finances and start making progress toward their financial goals. Whether your digital job is your sole source of income, or extra income on top of another job, make a plan for your money. Like with any paycheck, it’s important to allocate a portion of your income towards essentials, like housing costs and groceries, and put the rest towards savings, paying down debt and fun.”  


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma on February 6 to February 9, 2024 among 2,036 adults aged 18 to 27.