One of the most common questions I hear is how to start a side hustle when you don’t have any good ideas. This is a little list of side hustle business ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I encourage you to add your own idea to the bottom if it’s not on here.
The beauty of these side hustle ideas is that many don’t require a huge initial investment or even necessarily a highly specialized skill-set. And certainly, not all qualify as “business ideas,” but each has the potential to earn you money in your spare time.
If you prefer to view as a sexy slide presentation without the explanation text, check it out here:
Otherwise, dive right into the full list below.
(Note: the list has grown a bit since I originally published it, so the title isn’t accurate anymore!)
1. Affiliate Marketing. Refer website visitors to buy products online and earn a small commission on each sale. This probably won’t make you rich, but can be a viable side business. Please do me a favor and don’t buy into anyone’s sleazy affiliate marketing “program” or “system.” There are unfortunately a lot of slimy salespeople out there making their living taking advantage of newbies.
If you want to learn more about affiliate marketing, check out Shawn Collins’ Extra Money Answer. Shawn is one of the most trusted names in the business and this super-inexpensive guide is filled with practical and actionable advice. And yes, that is an affiliate link. See? That’s how it’s done!
The next step: Check out The 5 Pillars of Affiliate Marketing Success podcast.
2. Airbnb. If you have extra room in your house, you can earn money renting it out to visitors on Airbnb.com. Pretty cool way to make money and meet interesting people from around the world at the same time.
With a little bit of traction, you could even cover your entire rent or mortgage by hosting guests on Airbnb. Have you tried it?
I had the chance to sit down with Scott and learn how he lives rent free thanks to the site.
3. Alterations. Handy with a sewing machine? I believe the market for clothing alteration is ripe for disruption because of a lack of transparency in pricing. I’ve had some suits altered from a couple different places with dramatically different rates.
Free marketing tip: Post flyers at the gym or other places where people may have lost a lot of weight and need their clothes altered.
4. App Development. The mobile app market is hot, but one developer likened it to the gold rush — where the ones who made the most money were the ones selling the gear and the shovels. Similarly, an app developer gets paid whether or not the app goes on to become a hit.
To learn more about app development and some useful tips and strategies, check out my podcast interview with Alex Genadinik, the creator of the Glowing Start business app series. And to encourage new developers, Apple has their own in-depth tutorial you can access for free.
In another edition of The Side Hustle Show, Benny Hsu shares how he made $30,000 in 30 days on the app store, with no programming experience!
5. Baking. Do people love your desserts? Maybe you could provide cake, cookies, or cupcakes to some corporate event in town.
6. Being a TaskRabbit. Task Rabbit is an on-demand errand-running service that enlists regular people to help out. You can earn money in your spare time completing real-world tasks on their unique platform.
7. Blogging. Blogging is difficult to monetize but can be a fun outlet to practice your writing or build an audience around a particular idea.
Click here to learn how Robert Farrington earns $3-5k per month blogging in his spare time!
Want more? Hear the story of how Jim Wang turned his blog from a part-time hobby into a 7-figure business.
8. Bookkeeping / Accounting / Tax Preparation Service. Help other businesses with their accounting and finances. This can be a great option for people with an accounting background from school or from their day job.
9. Building Niche Websites. Building niche sites is a popular side hustle because after some initial research and time investment they can be a relatively hands-off income source. I’m not an expert in this field but I’m happy to refer you to two excellent resources, here and here.
Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits joined me on a podcast episode and shared his exact step-by-step process for creating and ranking a brand-new niche site.
Later, Freddie Mixell explained how he sells off his profitable niche sites to accelerate his earnings and reinvest in his business.
10. Car Wash and Detailing. A mobile detailing service would be a super-low cost startup and you could get clients in bunches at office parks, shopping malls, schools, sporting events, and other places where cars like to gather.
11. Caregiving. This business continues to grow as the population ages.
12. Carpet Cleaning. Carpet cleaning would be a relatively simple and low cost business to start. You could get clients on an annual or semi-annual recurring schedule like the dentist.
13. Catering. If you have a passion for cooking, a catering business has a lower barrier to entry and time commitment than say, opening a restaurant.
14. Child Care. Is it just me, or does “babysitting” sound amateur compared to “child care”?
15. Cleaning Service. It may not be glamorous, but it’s something nearly every business spends money on and usually gets done in the after-work hours.
16. Computer Repair Service. There are more computers in this country (including tablets and smartphones) than there are people. The repair market is very fragmented which means there is opportunity for solo-operators to break in.
17. Computer Tutoring. Some of the computer skills we take for granted are still lacking for portions of the population. If you can find them and sell them on the necessity of technical skills for their careers, there might be a business opportunity here.
18. Consulting / Coaching. Consulting is an ambiguously broad field, but there are consultants for practically every area of expertise. What are you a relative expert in that others might pay for your advice? This is definitely an area we’ll explore in more detail later.
Interested in starting a coaching business? Check out this side hustle interview with life coach Jeremy Blanchard.
Another excellent podcast episode to check out for this side hustle is my conversation with Virginia Roberts, an online dating coach.
19. Cover Letter and Resume Service. Especially if you have experience in HR, there is a massive opportunity to help job seekers with their resumes and cover letters. Since the payoff of landing a job is so high, it can be worthwhile for applicants to seek some professional assistance on their documents.
It would be interesting to see this sold on a pay-for-performance model, where you only get paid if the applicant gets the interview.
20. Craigslist Arbitrage. Craigslist and other markets are still filled with inefficiencies that a trained eye can exploit for profit. There are some great stories of regular people doing just this. For instance, Ryan Finlay of ReCraigslist.com, makes a full-time living buying and selling on Craigslist. I LOVE his story and hope to have him on a future episode of The Side Hustle Show.
21. Customer Service. Some companies are now employing part-time customer service representatives to work from home and handle incoming phone or live chat service requests.
22. Designated Driver Service. If you’re free nights and weekends, you can earn extra cash driving your fellow citizens around. Sign up with Lyft or another driving service to get started.
23. Dog Walking. Yes, some people are too busy to walk their own dogs.
24. Doula Service. Doulas can earn $500-$1000 per birth, if you’re into that sort of thing.
25. Dropshipping. Dropshippers set up their own storefront and process sales, but never touch the actual product. Instead, the items are shipped directly to the customer from the manufacturer or wholesaler.
26. Estate Sale Service. Estate sales are often managed by a third-party company, who takes a percentage of the proceeds in exchange for handling the event. To learn more about this side hustle check out Robert Farrington’s post on Budgets are Sexy.
27. Event DJ-ing. I feel like DJ-ing is something of a lost art in the era of pre-made iTunes playlists, but there are still plenty of events that have a live DJ.
And freelancing isn’t just about trading hours for dollars; in fact, it can be a gateway to bigger more scaleable businesses. Nick Reese shares how.
29. Furniture Making. If you’re skilled in carpentry, maybe people would like to buy your hand-crafted furniture. OK, this one reminds me of Ron Swanson.
30. Ghostwriting. With millions of websites all competing for attention, writing is a service that’s constantly in demand. Someone’s got to create all that content, right?
31. Gigwalking. Gigwalk is a free smartphone app that pays you to complete small tasks in your neighborhood, like photographing the inside of a store.
You might also check out the similar EasyShift app.
32. Graphic Design Service. Quality graphic design is always in-demand, and never before have there been so many outlets on which to sell your skills. The most popular design-focused site is 99designs, but you can check out Crowdspring, Witmart, or any of the freelance marketplaces as well.
33. Handyman Service. This is certainly not a good option for me, but I’m positive someone else with the right skills can make it work.
34. Home Inspection Service. Certification is required, but this is a viable side hustle because the inspections can be scheduled at your convenience and only take a few hours.
35. House Sitting. I’m more intrigued in house sitting as a way to get free accommodations while traveling, but I guess it can be a way to supplement your income at home as well.
36. Human Billboard. If you’re not afraid of embarrassing yourself on a street corner, there are always businesses looking to hire sign-spinners or people in costume to attract attention.
37. Hyper-Local Newspaper. Could you start a small newspaper for your neighborhood? Could you sell advertisements?
Kai Davis and I discuss this idea (among others) in Episode 4 of The Side Hustle Show.
38. Interior Decorating. With an eye for design, interior decorating could be a fun part-time business.
39. Ironing / Mobile Laundry Service. Holy crap do I hate ironing! I’m certain a decent chunk of the population is with me on this one and would be willing to pay to make that problem go away.
40. Junk Hauling Service. This is an especially feasible side hustle business if you already have access to a large truck or van. Bonus points if you can re-sell some of the junk!
41. Medical Transcription Service. Medical transcription, which involves typing out doctors’ recorded voice notes, is often a part-time work-from-home position.
42. MLM Sales. MLM (multi-level marketing) programs are frequently derided as pyramid schemes but some people manage to do quite well with them, often starting out part-time. Amway is probably the most well-known.
In Episode 23 of The Side Hustle Show, Brian Swichkow from CatalystMLM shares his insights on this popular side hustle, and how to do it in a non-scammy way.
43. Mobile Oil Change Service. Save people time by bringing the shop and supplies to them.
44. Modeling. Stock photographers are sometimes in need of subjects for their work. Strike a pose!
45. Movie / TV Extra. Your odds are better if you’re in LA or New York, but there can always be “on location” shoots nearby. Bonus points if you can get your Screen Actors Guild credentials!
46. Moving Service. Moving is never fun, but can be a good way to earn some extra cash on the weekend if you’re strong and don’t mind carrying other people’s stuff.
47. Mystery Shopping. Companies will pay you to verify their in-store or on-the-phone experience, or to spy on their competition. It’s possible to make over $10,000 a year being a mystery shopper.
48. Notary Public Service. Notary certification is granted by the state and the cost is generally less than $100. Once you’re certified, you can charge your own fee to notarize documents.
49. Online Surveys. This industry is rife with scams, so my only advice would be not to pay anything up front to join any company promising paid survey riches. CashCrate appears to be a legitimate operator, and you may find some opportunities on Mechanical Turk.
Hat tip to Kevin Ahlstrand for recommending the Columbia University Center for Decision Studies as another option here, with rates around $16/hour.
50. Party Planning / Wedding Coordinator Service. Put your organization skills to good use.
51. Personal Chef Service. Could you picture yourself making meals in someone else’s kitchen? This could be a good way to break into the food services industry without the time commitment and overhead of starting your own restaurant.
52. Personal Training. People are always looking to get in shape and if you have a passion for fitness, this could be the perfect side hustle.
53. Pet Grooming. Just like their owners, pets require haircuts too. A mobile pet grooming service can be a low-cost part-time business.
54. Pet Sitting. When homeowners travel, it opens up an opportunity for pet sitting services to come by and take care of their animals.
55. Photography Service. This is my wife’s favorite side hustle. Turn your photog hobby into an income stream.
Side Hustle Show guest Mike Newton shared how he scores business photography gigs and actually turned around and wrote a beginner’s guide to photography that generates some passive income for him.
56. Podcasting. With a unique angle to your podcast, you can attract a large following, which can translate into serious sponsorship dollars.
Learn how John Dumas of the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast turned his brand new show into a 6-figure business in just 6-months.
- How much does it cost to start a podcast? (hint: less than you think!)
- How to Get a Podcast to the Top of iTunes in 8 Weeks — With No Audience or “Celebrity” Guests [Case Study]
57. Pool Cleaning Service. If you live in a warm climate with a lot of pools, this could be a fun and interesting side hustle to enjoy the summer outdoors.
58. Proofreading. Do you like to read? If you have an eye for detail you can set up shop on Elance as a proofreader and bid on jobs large and small.
59. Real Estate Wholesaling. In this side hustle, your job is to connect motivated sellers with real estate investors. You earn the difference between your negotiated contract price and the eventual sales price.
I learned about this strategy from Nick Ruiz in episode 30 of The Side Hustle show. The best part? It doesn’t put your cash or credit at risk.
60. Rec Sports Officiating. Recreational sports leagues are often in need of referees and umpires, and this can be a fun way to spend your evenings and earn a little extra cash.
61. RentaFriend. RentaFriend.com facilitates strictly platonic paid companionship. Friends report earning $20-50 an hour to hang out with strangers. Yeah, this sounds a little creepy and weird but I guess if you’re lonely and have got the money…
62. Renting Out Your Car. In select markets, you can rent out your car on a daily or hourly basis to earn extra cash through companies like GetAround and RelayRides. According to their site, the average car sits idle 22 hours a day, so their service is a unique opportunity to capitalize on those idle hours. The company handles all the insurance.
63. Selling on Amazon. Have you always wanted to write a book? Well now you can, and you can get it published for free on the world’s #1 bookstore! I’ve been experimenting with publishing on the Kindle platform myself, and have 3 titles out so far.
In this episode of The Side Hustle Show, expert Kindle author Steve Scott explains how you can get started in just an hour a day.
And don’t miss my chat with Nicklas Kingo, who’s on a mission to build a $4k/mo Kindle business before he starts university — and who outsources most of the work!
One of the most popular side hustles lately has been Amazon’s FBA program, in which you find bargain deals locally, and ship them off to sell on Amazon. One Side Hustle Nation reader reports earning $500 per month doing this in his spare time.
64. Selling on eBay. eBay can be a tough, low-margin, competitive environment, but that’s not to say there aren’t any opportunities left to earn extra cash on the world’s largest marketplace.
65. Selling on Etsy. Etsy is the world’s largest marketplace for unique hand-crafted goods. What can you make?
I recently learned that you can sell digital goods on Etsy, and Kimberly Palmer explained how to set your shop up for success.
66. Selling on Fiverr. Fiverr is one of the greatest sites in the world. The basic premise is “what would you do for $5?” You’ll find everything from hilariously weird and useless gags to legitimate and genuinely helpful micro-business tasks.
Check out these fine Side Hustle Nation posts for more on how to make Fiverr work for you both as a buyer and a seller:
- 15 Ways to Start, Grow, and Expand Your Side Hustle Using Fiverr
- 19 Fiverr Gigs to Help Start Your Side Hustle
- How One Fiverr Seller Earned Enough Cash to Buy a House [Podcast]
I’ve used Fiverr for graphic design, book covers, website optimization, article writing, and even the intro voiceover for The Side Hustle Show. I’m really excited to explore Fiverr as a side hustle business opportunity in more depth here on the site.
Lately I’ve been experimenting as a seller on Fiverr, and have found it a pretty successful avenue for selling non-fiction ebooks.
Getting a little more adventurous with my gigs, I got featured on the homepage and was flooded with orders, ultimately earning $920 in 10 days.
67. Sperm Donor. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a business, but it’s probably more fun than donating blood.
68. Sports Coaching. School teams are sometimes in need of coaching help and this can be a fun and active side hustle.
69. T-Shirt Printing Service. Create silk-screened t-shirts for events and organizations. Bonus points for creating the designs yourself.
70. Teaching Music. With a love for music, teaching, and working with kids, you could start a part-time music teaching business.
71. Teaching Online. Udemy is an impressive online education platform where students can connect with teachers from all around the world in any subject. You can create your own course around a topic you’re an expert in and set your own tuition rate.
To learn more about this cool new side hustle, check out my interview with top-performing Udemy instructor, Ari Meisel.
If you have an existing subscriber base to sell to, you might be able to sell the course directly and not have to worry about losing margin to Udemy. One resource with some great information on creating your own online course for “passive” income is my podcast with Vasavi Kumar.
Another episode worth checking out is Chris Ducker’s interview with David Siteman Garland. Even though the course he’s selling (on selling online courses… very meta) is pretty costly, he shares a lot of great information during their call.
72. Teaching Yoga. A certain level of expertise and certification may be required, but becoming a yoga instructor could be a fun and healthy part-time business.
73. Tour Guide Service. Do you want to show off your city to visitors? You can create your own unique tour experience with the help of websites like Vayable.com, ToursByLocals.com, and LocalGuiding.com.
74. Translation / Interpretation Service. A translation service could be an excellent way to put your bilingual skills to good use. There are always translation jobs on Elance, as a place to start.
75. Travel Agent Service. Are you a seasoned traveler? Do you always know where to get the best deals and the best experiences? It might be surprising that despite widespread access to travel information there is still a healthy demand both for insider travel knowledge and the hands-off experience of letting an expert handle the booking.
Plus, you can put your travel-hacking skills to the test and earn money at the same time with services like FlightFox.
76. Tutoring. Put that education to use by helping students learn in a comfortable one-on-one setting.
I had a chance to sit down with one former tutor who told the story of how he set up classroom sessions to blow up his hourly wage (from $18/hr to $1000/hr) for covering the same material.
77. Vehicle Advertising. According to Adz in Motion, you can earn up to $500 a month by putting an advertising “wrap” on your car.
78. Virtual Assistant Service. Virtual assistants provide administrative support to clients from their home office. If that sounds like a fun side hustle you can set up shop on your own or jump on board with an established VA company like Zirtual or Fancy Hands.
79. Web Design Service. There’s no shortage of crappy looking websites out there. Pitch the benefits of good design and help them out.
Lean how Alex Harris of AlexDesigns carved out a niche and a lucrative side hustle for himself in this industry.
80. Window Cleaning Service. Window cleaning can be a nice little weekend side hustle, and requires minimal startup capital; you may already have a ladder, a bucket, and a squeegee.
81. Working on Mechanical Turk. Mechanical Turk is a service provided by Amazon to help companies complete micro-jobs that sometimes only pay pennies for each one. The good news is they are relatively simple and fast to finish so you may be able to earn a modest side hustle income in your spare time from home. I’m not sure the hourly wage will be anything amazing here but I wanted to include it as an option in case you wanted to check it out.
82. Yard Work Service. Much like the cleaning service above, it’s not the most glamorous side hustle in the world but the fact is nearly every yard in the country requires some sort of maintenance. That means there’s a big business opportunity.
83. YouTube Channel Host. Google (which owns YouTube) pays channel-owners to host their ads on their videos, meaning if you generate a lot of YouTube views, you can earn a lot of money with their revenue sharing program.
Several YouTube users report earning more than $100,000 a year.
84. Reader’s Choice! Help me out by adding your part-time business idea in the comments below!