20 Side Hustle Ideas to Start Without Quitting Your Job
Good news, you don’t have to quit your full-time job to earn a little extra money or start a business!
The term “side hustle” has been hijacked by people who took the idea of having a side gig and replaced it with building a business so you can quickly quit your regular 9-to-5 job. But not everyone wants to or can risk ditching the day job. Especially not in today’s economy with the current cost of living.
A side hustle is something you do to earn extra money while you’re working. You do it in addition to whatever your regular gig is, hence the term “side.” But it doesn’t automatically become your main source of income (nor does it ever have to).
These 20 side hustle ideas can legitimately be done while you’re working traditional (or non-traditional hours). Whether you simply want to bring in a little money for Christmas gifts this year or you want to start something that has the potential to turn into a full-time gig, later on, these are the golden tickets.
Hard-to-scale side hustle ideas
If your goal is to bring in extra cash while you grow your full-time career, go to school or make it to Hollywood, then a traditional gig on the side is probably what you’re looking for. Ideal hustles are flexible enough that you can do them when you are available and have time.
But not every side hustle is scalable. Some simply serve the purpose of giving you more money in exchange for a little more of your time. The following eight side hustles are ideal if you just want the extra cash, but you aren’t worried about starting a future entrepreneurial empire.
Make food or grocery deliveries
If you have a car and are looking for something that’s pretty much guaranteed to be available during COVID (so long as you live in a municipality large enough to sustain it), then consider becoming a food delivery driver.
While not the most glamorous side hustle idea, you can make legitimate cash driving for a company like Uber Eats or Instacart. The convenience of delivery is an in-demand service, especially in 2021 (who doesn’t want their groceries to just show up?). In a large city, chances are this can be a solid stream of income.
The downside to making deliveries is that you do need a car available (or a bike in some cases). But unlike taxiing people around, you don’t have to keep it spotless for passengers. You’ll also need stellar time management skills because the faster you deliver, the more money you can make.
Complete online surveys
It’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to become a millionaire from filling out online surveys. But you can absolutely make a little extra cash in your downtime if you dedicate it to sharing your opinion with companies looking for it.
Online surveys don’t provide a lot of extra income, nor are they consistent or scalable. But they’re a popular way to make money online because they can be done while you’re waiting in line, sitting on the train, or watching the latest bingeable show on Netflix.
Most surveys only take a few minutes of your time, and those that take longer usually pay a tad bit more. This side-gig is easy to get into. You simply head to a site like Swagbucks or Toluna, fill out a profile and wait for them to send you surveys that are looking for someone like you.
Drive for Uber or Lyft
Driving for Uber or Lyft isn’t the perfect side hustle for everyone. But if you enjoy driving around and have regular access to a vehicle to pick up and drop off passengers, it can be a great way to bring in extra money.
What makes rideshare driving such an appealing gig is that you only have to work when you want to. Drivers create their own schedules and make money at times that work best for them. There are people who chose to make operating a rideshare car their full-time income.
Unfortunately, this option isn’t available unless you live in a large city that allows services like this to run. In Canada, cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary allow for rideshare drivers, but not all of those with smaller populations allow for more modern transportation options.
You also have to have access to a vehicle that meets the requirements of the rideshare service that you want to drive for. While this varies depending on the company and city, they often require a newer vehicle with at least five seats that are damage-free. However, there are a number of tax deductions you can take when you’re running a sole proprietorship like this.
Sell or flip used products
Chances are, there are a ton of things in your house right now that you aren’t using. They’re tucked away in a box or on a shelf, gathering dust instead of making you money.
Savvy side hustlers use platforms like eBay, Craigslist, Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace, and even Amazon to offload used merchandise for a pretty profit. This isn’t restricted to items you already own either—you can scope out products that you can buy cheap and flip online for a higher profit. Or even use Amazon’s Filled By Amazon program to resell inventory.
The beauty of selling secondhand goods is that you can work in any niche you’re interested in, from books and clothing to kitchenware and vintage furniture. While this is mostly a part-time, off-hours gig, there could be potential to scale if you get savvy with it.
The downside to a side hustle in secondhand sales is that there is a lot of heavy lifting involved. You need to source, store, and market your products. You’re also restricted to the rules that the platform you choose to use has which could include the type or quality of the item.
If you’re knowledgeable about a particular subject (or several subjects), offering to tutor can be a great option to bring in money. Tutoring can pay via session or hourly, and you can easily bring in a few hundred dollars a month.
You can take on private tutoring clients on a local or international level through an online platform like Skype. Or you can connect with a company like VIPKID or Brainfuse that pays an hourly or contract rate but help you obtain clients.
Teaching English is a popular tutoring gig for those who want to work and travel. The online experience could potentially lead to in-person jobs in other countries if that’s something that sounds appealing to you. However, there are often specific requirements to teach English.
Tutoring is not a great option if you’re looking for future scalability simply because tutoring usually happens in a one-on-one or small group setting. Unfortunately, we have a finite amount of time available, and we simply can’t create more to take on additional people.
Provide pet services
If you love pets, providing pet services is definitely on the table when it comes to side hustles. The potential is definitely there, from running a little pet daycare to overnight stays and grooming and walking services.
Services like walking or overnight stays are bound to be a little less flexible when it comes to your schedule because most owners will ask for a set time (or a window of time) where they want the task performed. However, something like grooming services can be booked on your schedule.
This is definitely a side hustle where you’ll want to look into the specific insurance required to watch and groom pets. But it could be a fun part-time way to make money for those that could use a little cuddle time with pets.
Host with Airbnb
Using Airbnb to host a space for a little extra cash can be a good source of passive income for those who want to keep their time free but want to make extra money. Of course, you need a space to host—a room, house or apartment space where people can stay. But if you have one, you’re golden.
You could absolutely cut Airbnb out of the deal and list your space privately, but there are some serious benefits of using sites with a big reputation. Marketing, for one, is a tad bit easier. Guests searching for somewhere to stay have a much greater chance of coming across your platform.
Plus, there is also the added benefit of damage insurance which the company provides, the convenience of using their platform to collect deposits and payments, and customer support access.
Take gigs on Upwork
Upwork is a popular place for people looking to make some extra money online. Whether you can write blog posts, enter data, edit audio, create social media posts or proofread, chances are there is someone on the platform looking for you.
What makes Upwork a great side hustle for people with full-time careers is that there is plenty of work to be done for almost any skill or experience. You bid for projects you’re interested in and breeze past ones that don’t interest you. And, best of all, you can complete projects on your own schedule.
The big downside to Upwork is that they take a pretty significant cut of your pay. While the exact percentage they take depends on how much work you get from a client (the more you do, the less they take), Upwork freelancers just starting out can expect to see 20 per cent go to the platform. They also charge a fee to transfer the money they collect on your behalf to you.
You also need “credits” to bid for jobs on Upwork. While you get credits on a monthly basis, you can pay for more. Freelancers also receive additional credits for getting “interviews” or replies to proposals they send.
Similar sites to Upwork include Freelancer, SolidGigs, and Toptal. You can sign up for an account (in some cases, you need to be accepted) and start looking for contract work you can finish on your own terms.
Scalable side hustles
If you want to start a side hustle now but have the option to expand it into something more later, should you choose to, you’re looking for something scalable. A business that’s scalable means that it can grow into something bigger. That could simply mean creating a solid, steady stream of part-time revenue. Or it could be a full-on business.
There are many factors that contribute to scalability, but one of the big ones is how much of your direct involvement needs to remain versus how much you can delegate or package. For example, if you tutor one-on-one clients, you need to be there for the whole session all the time. But if you build an online course and package it up, you can sell it to multiple people without having to redo the work.
Scalable side hustles are fit for people with an entrepreneurial spirit that aren’t ready or aren’t sure if they want to make it a full-time thing. All of the ones we’ve chosen can specifically be started on a part-time basis.
Start a blog
If you’re interested in the long-term online side hustle game, blogging can be a good choice. While making a profit off of a blog on the first day is highly unlikely unless you already have an audience, starting a blog has a high potential to bring in a steady stream of cash if you’re strategic about it.
Profitable bloggers use a variety of means to create income. From affiliate marketing and advertising to paid partnerships and products, there is ample opportunity to make this a lucrative side hustle. The key is to build a solid brand that your audience connects with and trusts.
Blogging is easy to balance with a full-time workload because you can create content in advance and schedule it to go-live at your desired time. It has the potential to earn you a few hundred or thousand dollars a month, depending on the work you put into it.
The best news of all is that blogging is incredibly easy to get to. The internet is full of easy-to-access guides that can help you set up your first blog. It’s also relatively inexpensive to get off the ground. Unfortunately, the big downside is that you’ll have to put some work in before you see a profit.
While affiliate marketing can be done as part of an income stream for a blog, you don’t necessarily need to have one to make money. When it comes to affiliate marketing, the only thing you really need is an engaged audience who trusts your opinion.
The idea behind affiliate marketing is that you team up with companies you love and share trackable affiliate links to their products provided by them (or through an affiliate platform) with your audience. When someone makes a purchase with your affiliate link, you get a small commission.
You don’t need any experience to become an affiliate marketer—for example, the Amazon Associates program is open to anyone who wants to give it a go. You simply need somewhere to share links for Amazon items you love.
Affiliate marketing can be done on a part-time basis while you’re working a full-time job. Or it can be scaled into your full-time work, depending on how much time and effort you put into it. However, in most cases, it takes a while to see significant results.
Start freelance writing
Freelance writers are those that write on a contract basis for a variety of platforms, from companies and blogs to news outlets, depending on the niche area they specialize in.
Freelance writing is unique in that while many do it as a full-time job, there are just as many that do it to supplement their income. Some writers even choose to focus on pieces specific to their full-time job to help compliment their resume (and pad their wallet).
Freelance writing is a good opportunity for those that enjoy writing, are good at it and are deadline-oriented. The startup costs are quite low, and you have a chance to make your own hours and work when you have free time. In most cases, you simply have a deadline to deliver content, and until then, you’re free to work when you want.
Sell services on Fiverr
Fiverr is another platform popular for freelancers of varied skill sets to make a bit of money online. It has a similar model to Upwork, except that it functions as more of a marketplace instead of a job board.
Instead of bidding for projects, freelancers on Fiverr sell their services. You have the autonomy to take on projects you love and reject those you aren’t interested in. And you can also set the prices of your services at whatever rate you choose.
Some freelancers and gig workers end up using the platform as their main source of income as there is no limit to home much work you can take on or the money you make. That said, while there is no monthly fee, the platform does take a 20 per cent cut of any money you earn.
Become an editor or proofreader
If you have a knack for spelling and grammar, proofreading might be the right side hustle for you. Proofreaders provide the final check on a variety of projects from manuscripts to blog posts, depending on their specialty.
Like proofreaders, editors also need a knack for the finer details of writing, but there tends to be more facets and specialties within the realm of editing. You can be a development editor who looks for plot holes and questions that need to be answered. Or you can edit all of the above for a particular section on a website.
Whether you want some holiday cash or you’re looking to pay off your student loan debt, there is a lot of work for both editors and proofreaders out there. Some jobs can be obtained through platforms such as Upwork and Freelancer, or you can find a part-time side hustle by searching on your own.
For side hustlers, that dream of running their own online retail business but want to keep it part-time, dropshipping is the answer you’re looking for. You run an online store, but you don’t have to keep a physical inventory on-hand or deal with pesky little tasks like shipping.
You can open a dropshipping store with little-to-no experience. All you need is a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce (both of which you can access for an affordable rate) and a niche that you’re interested in selling in.
Once you have a platform to sell on, you’ll want to track down suppliers of products you want to sell. With Shopify, this can be done via plugins right on their platform, or you can source your own products if you have something else in mind. When your shop is set up it’s time to market and watch the sales roll in!
Dropshipping tends to have slightly higher costs than side hustles like starting a blog or creating digital products, but it’s still relatively cheap on the scale of internet businesses. How successful your business is will depend on how much work and strategy you put into it, but it can absolutely be done on a part-time basis.
Teach online courses
While we mentioned tutoring earlier in the post, it’s not a terribly scalable way to teach because it tends to require you to offer sessions on a one-on-one or small group basis. But creating your own online courses can be a great solution for side hustlers.
The beauty of teaching your own online courses is that you can focus on topics that you love and are an expert in. You’d be pleasantly surprised by the kind of online courses that are successful—they’re not always the “how to grow your business” courses that you’d expect.
Knitting, yoga, travelling, and lifestyle topics are all fair game. The real gold in running your online course business is in your passion for and knowledge of the topic and your strategy when it comes to promoting it.
This is the ideal side hustle for those looking to work when they can and want to because it is a one-and-done model. You can make a course once and continue to promote it to future customers for as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.
Create digital products
Digital products, much like online courses, run from that same one-and-done model. Products can essentially be a lite version of a digital course like an e-book or worksheet, though courses are also “digital products.”
The benefit to creating smaller digital products is that you can often create them faster than a whole course (depending on the size). However, you will most likely want to have your own platform to promote and sell them like a website.
E-books are a great example of a digital product, and many topics do well on platforms like Amazon. You can even use Kindle to create the final book, which takes a fraction of the time it would to do it manually.
This is a great option for hustlers that don’t have a ton of time but have the knowledge to share. Creating a single product doesn’t have to take a ton of time but if you market it correctly it has the potential to be wildly lucrative.
Become a virtual assistant
Starting a side hustle as a virtual assistant can help you flex muscles you already have, work on projects you’re passionate about and the hours you want to. It’s a good pick for those that have varied skills and want to add to their resume.
What this hustle entails varies—it can be performing the part-time role of an executive assistant, or it could mean that you specialize in a certain area, like email marketing, and help entrepreneurs connect with their audience. What services you offer are up to you.
Some virtual assistants work full-time, but there are plenty of opportunities to take on flexible, limited-hours contracts for your clientele. The beauty of this type of work is that you can pick up your own private clients, or you can find clients on the platform like Upwork. You set your own hours and rates.
Create social media content
Social media is big business. But it takes a lot of time to create a well-curated social media feed, and there are plenty of businesses out there, small and large, that need a little assistance in this area.
Whether you’re passionate about Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Tik Tok, Facebook, or something else entirely, there’s someone out there that’s looking for a content creator. Why not create content as your side hustle?
The best part about creating social media content is that, in most cases, it can be created and scheduled ahead of time. That means if you happen to have three hours on Sunday and you have a client who needs Facebook content throughout the week, you can make and schedule it early.
It’s a great side hustle for those that can create engaging visual and written microcontent and know their way around the social platform of their choice. There is plenty of opportunity in this field, both on platforms like Upwork or through private contracts.
Offer marketing consulting services
If you have a particular set of skills in marketing, offering your services as a consultant might be a good potential side hustle option. This isn’t the gig for everyone—you need to have knowledge and experience to sell your clients. But if you’re really interested, you can learn.
Marketing consultants have varied backgrounds and specialties. Some work as generalists to help clients create strategies and plan to grow their businesses. Others work in specialized areas like email marketing, social media, or content creation and only perform services in those areas.
Clients for these types of services can be found through your own contacts lists, on marketplaces like Upwork and Fiverr, or you can approach those that you’re interested in working with.
Build websites for clients
Website designers could be considered an off-shoot of the marketing consultant side hustle, but many of those that perform these services have more technical knowledge. This is good if you have a knack for design and skills with website builders like WordPress or Squarespace.
You can work with clients one at a time if you have limited hours, or you can take on multiple projects. It’s a good gig if you want to make your own time—you sign a client, give them a timeframe and work when you’re able to. So long as you deliver good work on time, there’s often the opportunity for more work.
How to choose the best side hustle for you
Decide what time you can dedicate to it
If you work a 40-hour workweek and want to dedicate 20 hours to your side hustle, you’re suddenly working 60 hours in a week.
There are 168 hours in a week, including weekends, assuming you have an eight-hour sleep schedule that leaves you 112 hours to play with. Minus your 60 hours of working time, you have 52 hours left to commute, eat, run errands and binge your latest Netflix show. That’s not a lot of time.
Some people thrive on 60+ hour work weeks, while others need extra downtime to simply recharge. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to figuring out how much time you want to spend on a side hustle, but time management is key.
Figure out how much income you would like to make
You might be an entrepreneur at heart, but most people start a side hustle because they want to make a little more money. Before you get started, you need to decide how much a little more is to you.
Setting goals is an important part of running a business. You might not achieve your income goal in month one, but it gives you an idea of the pricing scheme you should set up and how many clients you need to get.
Choose something you’re passionate about
With a realistic view of how much time you can dedicate to your side hustle and an idea of how much money you want to bring in, you can narrow down what you want to do.
In an ideal world, you want to pick something that you’re passionate about, good at, works within the time frame that you’ve set yourself, and will bring in the money you want.
If you only have six hours per week and the times vary, but you can write fast and would like to pick-up projects as you go, bidding for gigs on Upwork might be a good route. Likewise, if you want something where you know there’s almost guaranteed to be work and you have access to a vehicle, delivering food might be a good option.
You might not be able to check everything off the list right away, but it’s important to know where you’d like to head. Just because you’re planning on adding a side hustle on top of whatever you’d normally do, doesn’t mean that it should be a burden.
With the important decisions made, it’s time to start hustling.
One thing that tends to get lost in the conversation topic when it comes to side hustles is that even something done on a part-time basis is still a business. That means you need to take into consideration whether you want to start a sole proprietorship or a corporation.
That’s where Ownr comes in.