A good side hustle is about building a business for yourself. And today, the best side hustle ideas are those that have potential to earn endless income—something beyond just $1,000 a month.
The calling card of a side hustler is a scrappy, experimental mentality that views resource constraints as a thrilling challenge, not as a sign to give up. Side hustlers come from diverse backgrounds and sell a wide range of products.
Thousands are joining their ranks as people rediscover that saving money and having a full-time job only go so far—there’s a hard floor, while the ceiling for side hustles is almost limitless. But that doesn’t make it easy. So, what goes into the emerging art of starting and sustaining a good side hustle to make money?
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What is a side hustle?
In its most broadly used sense, “side hustle” means any activity outside of your day job that helps you make more money. Technically, this is a part-time job or work done for side hustle apps like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Rover, DoorDash, or TaskRabbit.
But not all side hustles are created equal. A part-time job may be good seasonally, but in slower months, limited hours can mean limited funds. Gig apps like Uber might work for making a couple of extra bucks in a pinch, but these options tend to have payment structures designed to minimize the payout to people providing the service.
24 great side hustles to make extra money
If the idea of side hustling sounds good to you, here are some ways you can start building a profitable business in your spare time today.
- Create and sell your own handmade goods
- Create your own designs for a print-on-demand business
- Start a dropshipping business
- Start a zine and sell digital subscriptions
- Join the gig economy
- Teach an online course
- Start a blog
- Start a YouTube channel
- Become an influencer
- Start a podcast
- Become a freelance bookkeeper
- Participate in paid online surveys
- Become a rideshare driver
- Become a dog walker
- Become a freelance writer
- Become a reliable house sitter and/or pet sitter
- Manage social media accounts
- Become a tour guide for your neighborhood
- Transcribe medical notes and legal proceedings
- Be a user tester for apps and websites
- Start a wholesale business
- Become an affiliate marketer
- Sell digital products
- Sell photography
1. Create and sell your own handmade goods
There’s something satisfying about hobbies that make money. It’s no surprise that many Shopify merchants begin successful small businesses out of a hobby they started doing in their spare time. If you enjoy doing the work, it doesn’t feel like work. Think of something you enjoy doing, even when no one’s paying you. Whether it’s carpentry, knitting, painting, or crafting—these hobbies can serve as the foundation for many unique side hustles.
Almost everyone has a hobby or creative outlet that they’re passionate about. You’re in an especially good position if yours involves making something with your hands. Although creating handmade products requires plenty of time spent learning a craft, it’s one of the best ways to stand out in a sea of commodity products. You can also sell handmade items on Etsy alongside your ecommerce store to connect with more potential customers.
On top of this, sourcing raw materials puts you in a unique position to ensure your manufacturing process aligns with your brand values. In fact, many business owners are using their values, such as creating products containing recyclable materials, as part of their sales pitch. Take Dick Moby, a retailer that makes sunglasses using only oil-free acetate, an eco-friendly plastic substitute.
From bags made of old car seats to vintage radios refashioned as Bluetooth speakers, recycling materials can be a great way to maintain your product’s environmental sustainability while keeping costs low. If you love taking old things and turning them into something new, this may be the side hustle for you.
2. Create your own designs for a print-on-demand business
Print-on-demand businesses are fun, low-risk ventures if you’ve got a passion for design and are looking to dip your feet into the entrepreneurial waters. Shopify apps such as Printful and Printify allow you to easily upload custom designs onto items like t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, canvas bags, pillows, and more, so you can directly import new products into your Shopify store.
When customers make a purchase, items are printed and shipped directly to them from your manufacturer. Print on demand offers one key advantage over manufacturing products in bulk: your supply of products can match and scale with demand without having to make large inventory purchases upfront. And you can still add your own flair and branding to products through your custom visual designs.
On top of this, since the grunt work of manufacturing and shipping are outsourced to a third party, you’ll have more time to work on designing and marketing your business.
3. Start a dropshipping business
If you like the automated aspects of print on demand but are more interested in marketing and operations over creating custom designs, consider starting a dropshipping business. Dropshipping is another online business model where a third party manufactures and ships existing products for you. All you have to do is set up your store, price your products, and market the business.
Dropshipping is also a low-risk opportunity because, again, products are only shipped when they’re purchased, which leaves plenty of room for profit, so long as your marketing expenses are reasonable. With a third party in charge of manufacturing and shipping, dropshipping frees up a lot of time. You can also dropship on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay to reach more customers.
The time you save dropshipping can be spent finding a niche to sell to, marketing your products, reaching new buyers, or helping your customers. With product development and design being noticeably absent from this equation, dropshipping is definitely a side hustle for those who want to flex their marketing muscles.
4. Start a zine and sell digital subscriptions
Ever think about having your own magazine startup? A zine is typically a smaller circulation work. The term “zine” is used to describe any magazine focused on a niche audience, but the primary difference from a magazine is the hand-crafted, independent element that draws on ideas and values not covered by the mainstream media.
For artists, graphic designers, and writers, a zine can be a great online side hustle to showcase and sell your work. For activists, it can be an important way to mobilize people. Zines have a rich tradition of showcasing alternative, underappreciated works of art and literature.
The web has given the next generation of zine creators a platform for sharing new ideas through the form of digital subscriptions. And if you’re good at proofreading, all the better—you don’t have to hire anyone to edit your zine.
With Shopify’s Digital Downloads app, it’s relatively easy to sell digital files securely, while the Lulu Direct app can help with self-publishing physical copies of your zine.
Apps like these help reduce hurdles and time spent running your store, time that can be poured back into your writing, art, photography, or whatever content you choose to base your zine around.
5. Join the gig economy
Got a skill set you can make money online with legitimately? Consider becoming a part of the gig economy. The gig economy is a free-market system where companies work with independent contractors or freelancers rather than hiring full-time staff.
The gig economy saw 33% growth in 2020, growing faster than the global economy as a whole, with roughly 35% of gig workers existing worldwide. Data also suggests gig workers contributed over $1 trillion to the US economy in 2020.
Freelancing has become one of the best side hustle ideas for millennials because of efficiency—it’s now easier than ever for experienced (and up-and-coming) writers, programmers, designers, and other specialists to connect with clients and provide their services from anywhere in the world. You can start by finding jobs on Fiverr, Craigslist, or Upwork and building your skills and portfolio there.
If you’re looking for a side gig from home that provides a lot of room for growth and comparatively quick returns, freelancing might be for you. While freelancing does require you to trade time for money directly, the path to revenue is more straightforward than waiting for a product to pick up traction.
Freelancing is a lucrative side hustle for soon-to-be or recent graduates from high school or college who find themselves getting crowded out of full-time jobs by more experienced peers. For some professionals, working on a project-by-project basis allows them to earn extra cash while building a valuable portfolio and strengthening their résumés with a list of satisfied clients.
Some young entrepreneurs even start freelancing while in school. Services like tutoring and exam prep are so popular in universities among student freelancers that the test-prep market is worth $24 billion. Some students even sell their own study material and lecture notes or teach English.
When you consider that any university sees a guaranteed batch of new customers year after year, it’s not hard to understand why young freelancers have jumped at the opportunity.
Remember that whether you want to get into freelance writing or become a virtual assistant, your network is everything when starting an online side hustle. Get on Twitter to have conversations with people in your industry or get involved in Slack groups and private communities to share tips and tricks. This will help you build a sustainable business from your side gig that you can depend on for income.
6. Teach an online courses
Learning a new trade, skill, or subject is challenging. It requires research, time, and a genuine interest in the subject matter. But chances are there are topics and talents you’re already well versed in, especially compared to the general public. Why not teach them?
Teaching is one of the most rewarding opportunities, and with online platforms like Udemy and Coursera, it’s become easy for experienced teachers to side hustle around the world and connect with enthusiastic students.
The beauty of teaching online is that the subject of your course is limited only by your own knowledge and imagination. Are you an expert on the history of the Roman Empire? Teach that! Have experience in graphic design? Share what you know!
As long as there are people who want to learn from your experience and are willing to pay to have the information packaged and presented in an accessible way, you can make a course about nearly anything.
7. Start a blog
Blogging is one of the most popular side hustles because it can be done from just about anywhere. With just a laptop and a WiFi connection, any location can be turned into your personal publishing den. It may not be profitable right away, but for bloggers looking to build up a personal brand, audience, and portfolio, a blog goes a long way in advancing your career.
In fact, one of the most interesting things about blogging is the roundabout way it may benefit your current career—sharing your work can show employers and hiring managers how you think about problems and what projects you’ve worked on. Getting this knowledge down can help you get discovered or stand out from a barrage of résumés if you decide to apply to a new role.
Like teaching, blogging can be about anything so long as some kind of audience is keen to learn, which means there’s a lot of space to take a deep dive into a subject you’re passionate about. One challenge with this side hustle, though, is learning how to start a blog that makes money.
Page views don’t pay the bills, so you’ll likely need to do some adjacent work, like referring readers to products, offering sponsored posts or advertisements, or even providing a connecting service for blogging to be profitable in the long run. The upside? You’ll have done the hard work of creating an audience already.
8. Start a YouTube channel
YouTube has more than a billion users who watch hours of videos each day. As the popularity of the site has soared, so have the opportunities for creatives looking to craft their own video content.
You can always learn how to start a YouTube channel and talk about current events, perform sketches or music, offer tutorials, or do just about anything else—but the real money is in creating a channel that works alongside your business.
Building an audience big enough to profit from YouTube ads takes a lot of time, which is why it’s better to find a more direct connection to revenue than to wait for ads to become viable. The closer your videos support an existing product, the better, even if that means creating videos before you launch your product.
Take the designer Justine Leconte as an example. Justine is a fashion and jewelry designer who focuses on making sure her clothes are ethically sourced and made. Using her expertise, Justine started a YouTube channel that goes over a lot of fashion how tos. She looks at everything from how to update your wardrobe on a budget to figuring out what colors look best with your skin tone.
Justine’s channel is not only a hub for fashion education, it also helps to educate her viewers on socially conscious fashion. And while educating her now 900,000 subscribers, she is also able to get her brand out to new potential clients. Having a YouTube channel that works alongside a product is a viable way to make a new audience aware of your brand.
But be wary of falling into the trap of over-promoting your product. The key to financial success in this side hustle is creating content that people actually want to watch, and the last thing people want to watch are ads.
9. Become an influencer
Andy Warhol is credited with predicting that, in the future, everyone would be famous for 15 minutes. From fashion models on Instagram to comedians on Twitter, it’s now true that the average person has access to an audience so large that it’s incomparable to anything Warhol would have seen in his time—but not everyone takes advantage in the same way.
This access has provided space for a wave of micro-influencers, especially those on Instagram, who may not be household names but can provide brands with access to very niche audiences.
And if the term “influencer” doesn’t conjure the greatest image in your head, remember that two important jobs of marketing are reach and influence, or getting the right message to persuade the right people. All that means is that influencers are just another audience-driven approach to building a side hustle or business.
While this is not an easy side hustle to kick off, there’s no shortage of creative ways to make money with it. Even if a monetization model doesn’t stick out right away, focusing on audience building isn’t a bad thing. Many Instagram creators had to take time building an audience before their account was able to become profitable and earn passive income.
Take Loki the Wolfdog, for example. What started as an account dedicated to adventurous photos of Loki over time developed into a whole line of products. It didn’t happen overnight, but by consistently posting content that people wanted to see, the creators were able to amass a following of diehard Loki fans.
There are many different types of influencers on Instagram, so this is a side hustle with a lot of room for creative expression. You could specialize in creating content for a specific niche, promote your own freelance services, build your acting portfolio, or just provide witty commentary paired with thumb-stopping photos.
Once you build a following on the platform, you can get into affiliate marketing. Becoming an affiliate marketer means referring products or services by sharing them on your social media channels. If a follower buys through a unique link you provide, you earn a commission every time. Done well, this can be one of your more passive side hustles that earns extra income while you sleep.
10. Start a podcast
Listenership for podcasts has been growing steadily every year. A podcast used to be a must-have for comedians. Then it became a must-have for writers and journalists. Now, podcasting has morphed into a must-have for almost anyone looking to build an online audience for their brand and turn a side gig from home into a profitable business.
There have been concerns that an oversaturation of podcasts could kill podcasting, but data shows the appetite for podcasts hasn’t slowed down. Podcasting, like social media and blogging, has become a staple of the broader world of online content.
Podcasting is comparatively cheap, too. A decent USB microphone (many of which are sold specifically for podcasting) can be purchased for less than $100, and recording platforms like Audacity are free and easy to use. When you want to upgrade your tools to an XLR microphone, mixer, or other accessories to improve quality, you can still produce professional-sounding audio for a few hundred dollars.
11. Become a freelance bookkeeper
Startups have increased in the last year, in spite of COVID hitting the small business world. The US Chamber of Commerce reported that, in the last year, 4.3 million new businesses started across the United States, a 24.6% increase in the number of new businesses started nationally. So the demand for bookkeepers is only increasing.
Bookkeepers are in charge of things like:
- Balancing the company checkbook
- Paying off vendors
- Sending out invoices
- Doing payroll
- Compiling the necessary documents for tax day
Most companies use bookkeeping software programs like QuickBooks and Xero, so you don’t need a degree in accounting to do this job. But it will certainly help you if you go through the certification courses for those programs.
The best part? A freelance bookkeeper gig can be fully remote. If you bookkeep for a green company that has most of their documents digitized, you don’t ever have to go into the office. You can bookkeep for companies based anywhere in the world. And because you’d be your own boss, you can set your own rates and hours.
12. Participate in online surveys
For once, your opinions can finally make you money. There are countless companies and market researchers that want to know what people think of their products and services. One way they find out is by asking consumers to fill out surveys for them. Filling out surveys probably won’t pay your bills, but it can pad your pocket with some spending money for the weekend or for that trip you want to take.
And here’s the kicker: you don’t need to be an expert in anything, and it doesn’t require you to have any sort of certifications or degrees. Just sign up to participate on websites like Branded Surveys or Swagbucks, fill out your interests, and they’ll contact you. Then you get to choose which surveys are worth your time and how many you want to do.
But be warned, there are scams out there and some survey websites require a fee. So make sure to read the fine print before signing up.
13. Become a rideshare driver
These days there are several options for those wanting to drive for a rideshare company. You can always drive for tried and tested companies like Uber or Lyft, but there are also independent options that cater to specific needs or cities, like ZIRO, which is largely based in San Francisco, or Wingz, which specializes in shuttling people to and from the airport.
If you enjoy driving but don’t always enjoy having strangers in your car, you can sign up to drive for delivery apps. With the pandemic still a concern, many people are opting to have groceries and food delivered to them rather than venturing out into crowds themselves. In fact, an IMARC Group study shows that the US food delivery industry made $26 billion in 2020 with 111 million users. And those numbers are projected only to grow higher.
There are a couple things to consider before diving head first into rideshare driving. Where you’re based and what kind of car you drive will largely affect the money you can make. If you’re in a densely populated city like New York or Los Angeles, you can make upward of $1,000 per month. But that is offset by gas prices and whatever maintenance and cleaning your car needs. So make sure to consider all your costs.
14. Become a dog walker
Sixty-nine million million US households own a dog—and fur babies are no longer just pets, they’re part of the family. So as things continue to open up throughout the country and dog owners have to head back to the office, they’re going to want reliable people to check in on their furry loved ones. That’s where you come in.
In the past, the difficulty with breaking into this side hustle was finding clients. But with apps like Wag! and Rover, it’s easier than ever to become a dog walker. Once you’re approved, you can start applying to individual jobs. If you want to get certifications in training or specific types of pet care, you can up your rate and make your résumé more attractive to all those dog mommas and poppas.
As long as you don’t mind holding a poo bag every now and then and doing a bit of walking, as side gigs go, getting paid to hang out with cute pups and explore your city ain’t bad.
15. Become a freelance writer
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68% of writers in 2020 were self-employed, and their annual mean salary was just over $78,000. On top of that, the freelance writing job market is expected to continue to rise until 2030. So freelance writing is not only profitable, it’s also in demand.
With matchmaking services like Writers Work and Fiverr, writers can bid for the jobs that appeal to their skill set. This can mean anything from writing website content and blog articles to copywriting or working on miscellaneous marketing materials. There is something for every type of writing style. You can also look at things like Peak Freelance’s job board to find and apply for new writing gigs.
You get to decide what you want to be paid and what jobs you want to bid for. If you want to make yourself more appealing, you can put up writing samples, complete certifications in the matchmaking service you’re using, and also get good reviews and feedback attached to your profile from past jobs.
16. Become a reliable house sitter and/or pet sitter
By the end of 2021, the TSA reported that the number of travellers passing through one of its checkpoints had more than doubled since the same time last year. And as more people leave their homes for exciting adventures, there will be those that want someone reliable to house sit.
Now, house sitting is a very tailored experience. Some people just want you to drive by every few days, pick up the mail, and make sure the plants are watered. Others might require that you stay on the premises, take care of the pets, do some light cleaning/maintenance, and even make sure to run the cars once a week. So it’s important to know what you’re comfortable with and how much time you can devote to taking care of someone else’s property.
As always, you can find listings for house sitters on Craigslist and Facebook, but there are also matchmaking services like TrustedHousesitters. These sites make it easier for both sides to find the right match without needing to worry about scammers. So in the time it takes you to pack an overnight bag and drive to your client’s home, you can get paid to have a mini-staycation in someone else’s house.
17. Manage social media accounts
Social media has become an integral part of our lives, whether we like it or not. In October of 2021, Kepios showed that an average of 13 new users joined the social media world every second. And with new social media platforms popping up regularly, this number is not likely to subside.
Managing a social media account can mean a variety of things. You could be responsible for something simple like uploading a daily post on Instagram for an individual to managing a company’s entire social media portfolio. But the things that every social media manager must have is knowledge of how social media algorithms work and a good handle on current trends.
The rub is that in order to be considered an effective social media manager, your posts need to generate business and/or followers. After all, that is why you’re getting paid. We all troll social media (probably more than we should), so why not use that to get paid?
18. Become a tour guide for your neighborhood
A study done by Eventbrite showed that 78% of Americans prioritize experiences over products. Hence the boom in travel. And even the way we travel has changed. People are looking not only for the tourist experience, but also the authentic experience of seeing an area through a native’s eyes.
With platforms like Showaround popping up and Airbnb launching its “experiences” section, it’s clear that the demand for a good neighborhood tour guide is on the rise.
But don’t be fooled—it’s not enough to just know where the best pastrami sandwich in town is (Langer’s #19 in LA, just FYI). There is a vetting process before Airbnb will list your tour as an official Airbnb experience. But the nice thing is you can make your tour about anything.
If you’re a graffiti lover and know where all the best graffiti is in the city, you can tailor your tour around street art. Or if you’re a big foodie and know all the hot spots for eats, you’re sure to get people wanting to go on food adventures with you.
Pricing and availability are completely up to you. And you’ll be getting paid to talk about the things you love and share that passion with others.
19. Transcribe medical notes and legal proceedings
Doctors, lawyers, and even policemen use transcription services on a regular basis. For example, according to the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, a primary care physician has anywhere from 1,200 to 1,900 patients at any given time. And with over one million practicing physicians in the US, that’s a lot of unreadable patient notes that need transcribing.
A transcriptionist receives audio files from their clients and types out what they hear. These files are usually medical audio notes or recordings of legal proceedings. So you need to have a critical ear that can decipher mumbling or sift out the voices from the background noise, as well as the willingness to look up any legal or medical jargon that you may not know. But if you have a good ear and quick fingers, this is a side hustle you can do from the comfort of your own home.
It is possible to start transcribing with just a computer and an internet connection. But if you really want to optimize your time, it’s a good idea to up your typing speed to at least 75 words per minute and invest in some hardware. Most transcription companies suggest three things:
- A good pair of headphones ($50 to $100)
- A transcription foot pedal ($30)
- Transcription software that is compatible with your pedal (free).
Once you think you’re ready, start applying on sites like TranscribeMe! or Syncscript. There are many sites designed to match transcriptionists with work.
When you first start out, you’ll find that the pay rate is anywhere from $0.50 to $0.60 per audio minute transcribed, but don’t be discouraged. As you become more efficient in your transcriptions, you’ll start to see the money coming in.
20. Be a user tester for apps and websites
Nothing will halt business faster than a website riddled with issues or an app that doesn’t work. So developers will get testers to go in and push all the links and play with all the buttons to make sure things work before they go live. Guess what? You can get paid for that.
Most sites and apps take about five to 30 minutes to test, and on average you’ll be paid about $10 per test. But that’s also really going to depend on the site and how extensively the developers want you to test it.
There are a lot of matchmaking sites that can connect you to many different types of website and app testing gigs. Some competitive gigs even offer $100 for a 60-minute test, so there is money to be made here.
Just make sure to read your client’s testing parameters thoroughly. Some just want you to fill out a survey afterward, while others want audio and video recordings of you going through their website or app, accompanied by a written report. But as long as you have a computer and a steady internet connection, you’re in business.
21. Start a wholesale business
Wholesaling is when you sell your products in bulk to another retailer (usually at a discount) and then that retailer sells your products directly to their customers at a higher price. For example, J’s Small Batch Hot Sauce is a California-based independent hot sauce company that sells sauce to the Erewhon specialty grocery chain, which then sells it to its customers at a markup.
The wholesale market makes up 6% of the US GDP, which is just over $1.2 trillion. So even though it does take a bit of capital to start this side hustle (you do need something you can send to the retailer, after all), once you have the amount of product you need, it’s definitely worth the investment.
One of the benefits of selling wholesale is that you can piggyback on a retailer’s already existing customer base and resources. Though you still need to market yourself and create a good customer experience, having the reach and established name of your retailers will make the process significantly easier for you.
22. Become an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing is when you advertise someone else’s products or services on your platform and get a commission from any sale that comes from your referral (usually through a unique link or code). This is a great way to combine side hustles.
If you have a podcast or are an influencer or have a store of your own, get into affiliate marketing. It’s a great way to gain some passive income while you’re either working on a different side hustle or working on your passions.
And finding companies that participate in affiliate marketing is easy. Just go to an affiliate marketplace like ShareASale and find the right products for you. But remember the products and services you promote must be in tune with your audience. So choose wisely.
23. Sell digital products
A digital product is a non-physical asset that exists in the digital world. These products are typically downloadable or streamable files like MP3s, PDFs, videos, and templates.
For example, the China-based Iron Man Factory created a template for a wearable, fully functional lifesize Iron Man suit that can be printed by anyone with the right 3D printer and the template, which it sells for $35,000.
Iron Man Factory created that one template and can now sell it an infinite number of times. No need to spend the money making and storing these suits itself. All the information is transmitted online to the buyers.
If you’re a creative in the digital space, this is a great way to make some money. If you’re a musician, music is always needed for movies and ad campaigns. If you’re a graphic designer, websites are always looking for new fonts and graphics to make their site standout.
The possibilities for digital products are endless. And now with NFTs coming into the market, digital art and music have even more potential value in the digital space.
24. Sell photography
There are a bunch of sites like Shutterstock and iStock Photo that are always looking to buy images that can be used on websites and ad campaigns. And as long as the web exists, they will always need new photos, because websites will always need to update and refresh their content.
You can also sell your photography as prints or put them on a mug or sweatshirt. Get your images on something physical and sell them as hangable and wearable art. Getting quality prints of your photos is easy and cheap these days, so there’s a real market if you’ve got the right image.
You also can sell your photography as a service. Photographing weddings alone can be a full-time gig, and that’s not even mentioning concerts, graduations, baby announcements, annual family photos—the list goes on. If you know how to take a good photograph and how to edit one, you have a very marketable skill.
Questions to ask when considering a side hustle
Side hustles are a great way to earn extra income but, like all new ventures, they require a bit of legwork upfront in order to get traction. If you don’t choose an idea that fits your current lifestyle, it’s easy for this extra work to sink to the bottom of your to-do list and, eventually, fall by the wayside. For this reason, unique side hustles often feel less like a chore and more like a creative outlet that places craft and commerce on equal footing.
Although side hustles don’t always become full-time jobs, it’s common for side hustlers to gravitate toward this option once their venture becomes profitable enough. If you want a side hustle that could eventually become your career, here are some things to consider.
1. Does the idea fit your current schedule?
You’re going to be dedicating a meaningful amount of time to this side hustle, so it helps if that time fits into your schedule. A side hustle should be something you can do outside of your 9-to-5 job but that won’t interfere with or keep you from that job.
Things will come up at your full-time job. Some days you may have to pick up an extra shift or work overtime to finish up a project, or you may have obligations like meetings and team-building events. If you want to make sure you put time into your side hustle, it helps to pick something that’s easy to reschedule. Side gigs like dog walking, real estate, or babysitting might seem appealing, but they could be more difficult to arrange around your regular job.
2. Does the idea align with your passions and interests?
Working 40 hours a week is enough to zap most people’s creative energy by the time the day winds down. And after time well spent with family and friends and on personal responsibilities, it’s easy to see just how hard it can be to carve out additional headspace to work on a side project. But it’s these hours tucked away in life’s margins that tend to be the best time to do the focused work needed to get something off the ground. The workday is done, the weekend is still a couple of days away, and since you’ve already watched all the true-crime documentaries on Netflix, your schedule is wide open.
But, try as you might, sometimes you just won’t want to work. That’s why it’s ideal if your side hustle closely pairs with what you’re passionate about, even if it’s not the end-product itself. That might mean you enjoy some aspect of running things behind the scenes or immersing yourself in a new topic or field of interest, or you have a desire to do something to help people. Whatever the appeal, a good litmus test is that you’re drawn to the work when you’re procrastinating on something else—that little bit of enthusiasm can go a long way.
3. Is the idea financially viable?
Although not every hobby should be burdened by the need for profitability, most of us have student loans and bills to pay. By our definition of a good side hustle, we are looking to create some kind of return on time invested. That means your side hustle needs to be financially viable and, over the long term, relatively stable—not just a part-time side job.
Most side hustles aren’t profitable right away, since your primary focus is tweaking your product or service and finding how best to reach your first clients or customers. You want to keep costs low in the early stages and work exclusively on “ringing the cash register” or proving out your idea with a sale so you can see what the numbers look like.
What does that mean exactly? Since the start of any project is completely lopsided in terms of time put in and revenue that comes back out, you don’t need to be as concerned with tracking your sweat equity. But as you make progress and start earning money, it’s important to understand how much it costs you, in time or dollars, to get a client, customer, or sale and ultimately turn your effort into profit. If your resulting margins or hourly wages put you in the red, your side hustle may not be sustainable.
Finding the perfect side hustles for you
An underappreciated benefit of side hustles is that they can act as a sandbox where you learn how to make good money from home legitimately. Making money is a distinct skill, and since most of us rely on traditional careers to pay the bills, it doesn’t always feel intuitive. Side hustles offer you a way to test business ideas and practice in public.
And side hustles aren’t just a tool for making side income. Starting a side hustle is a way to teach yourself valuable skills and help yourself grow as a professional and as an entrepreneur. For writers, actors, painters, musicians, and artists of all types, a side hustle can provide artistic independence, professional growth and, eventually, a profitable way to turn your passion into your career.
Illustration by Eugenia Mello
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Starting a side hustle FAQ
How do I make an extra $2,000 a month?
- Join focus groups
- Take online surveys
- Become a dog walker
- Sell services to local businesses
- Do deliveries for food delivery apps like Uber Eats and Postmates
- Rent out your vehicle on Turo
- Teach English
- Start a bookkeeping business
How do you start a side hustle?
- Write a list of things you are passionate about.
- Figure out if you’ll invest money in your side hustle right away.
- Make time in your schedule to work on your side hustle.
- Create a plan for how to make money with your side hustle.
- Execute on your plan!
How do you find a side hustle?
- Read a to get inspiration and ideas
- Choose a side hustle idea based on your interests
- Do market research to see if your idea is profitable
- Decide if you want to do it full-time or part-time
- Start building your side hustle
What are the most profitable side hustles?
- A dropshipping business
- Selling your own handcrafted products
- Creating and selling your own designs
- Selling services as a freelancer
- Teaching an online course
- Selling digital information products
- Starting an affiliate marketing business