It’s that time of year again—Thanksgiving!
Since 2018, I’ve celebrated the holiday with an annual roundup of some of the most creative, outside-the-box side hustle ideas and stories that have come across my desk.
These unique money-making side hustles stand out not just for their ingenuity but for the impressive income generated by ordinary people putting their skills, passions, and sheer determination to work.
This is the 6th installment of the series, so I encourage you to go check out the other episodes if you like this format:
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 1 – 2018
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 2 – 2019
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 3 – 2020
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 4 – 2021
- 10 Creative Side Hustles Part 5 – 2022
This year’s list features an awesome mix of unconventional side hustles spanning cleaning, gardening, rentals, social media, and more.
Each profile contains key stats, actionable ideas, and an inside look you won’t find anywhere else!
1. BBQ Cleaning
Jacob Shaidle was just 16 years old when he launched his BBQ cleaning side hustle in Ontario, Canada in 2021.
As a high school student looking to earn money for college, Jacob decided to go door-to-door offering to clean neighborhood grills and smokers.
It certainly wasn’t smooth sailing from there. In fact, Jacob reported that after the first lucky break, the next 50 homes in a row all said no to him.
As he told GlobalNews.ca:
“Even now, I’ll have up to… 200 people in a row say ‘no’”
“It’s all about persevering and looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.”
And persevere he did. By the end of his first year, Jacob had brought in an impressive $12,000 in revenue.
And in his second year, he more than doubled sales to over $16,000 for the season!
That’s an incredible accomplishment for a part-time endeavor. Just imagine earning an extra $16,000 during your summer break in high school.
In the interview, Jacob shared that he expanded beyond just grill cleaning this past year. He now offers other cleaning services like “pressure washing patios, sidewalks, driveways, and car detailing, starting around $150 a session.”
There are lots of opportunities in niche cleaning businesses. Here are other examples from our previous episodes:
- Johnny Robinson’s window washing service
- Josh Belk’s mobile car detailing business
- Brian Winch’s parking lot litter cleanup service
- Erica Krupin’s pooper scooper business
2. Selling Plant Clippings
Gardening can be much more than just a hobby—it can be a way to earn extra cash on the side too.
Brian Aleksivich from TheLotsProject.com gave us a peek into his homegrown side hustle selling comfrey root and crown cuttings online.
Comfrey is a perennial herb that spreads each year, with new plants sprouting from pieces of existing roots and crowns.
Brian says he first learned about comfrey’s propagation abilities from Survival Podcast with Jack Spirko discussing its many uses. He ordered some starter plants, let them establish and multiply, and soon had more than enough to share.
Brian sells his comfrey cuttings on platforms like Etsy, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist. He notes that he harvests each Sunday and ships out orders on Mondays. This tactic allows him to limit the time spent on this side hustle.
And the effort has paid off. Brian reports earning “a couple hundred bucks a week” from comfrey root alone. When you consider this requires just a few hours of work on Sundays, that’s an incredible return.
Brian shared that he and his wife decided to sell their Minnesota farm and embrace the full-time RV lifestyle.
To keep his comfrey side hustle going, he partnered with several individuals to help them start their own comfrey businesses using his root stock and guidance.
Brian offers guidance for anyone looking to start their own comfrey side hustle. On his website’s Services page, you can sign up for a 30-minute consultation to determine if comfrey is a good fit for you.
3. Growing Mushrooms
When the pandemic hit in 2020, many people turned to gardening, baking, and home projects to fill time at home.
For Doug Bronson of Southern New Hampshire, lockdown led to experimenting with mushroom growing.
Over the past years, Doug has grown that hobby into a basement mushroom farm generating $2,000 per week in sales.
Doug told us his startup costs were actually quite high—he spent over $30,000 on equipment and supplies… but he doesn’t regret the investment.
Doug’s first client was a local mushroom farmer named Eric who runs farm tours and sells to restaurants and markets. There is high demand for mushrooms in their area, so Doug started supplying Eric wholesale.
He is grossing about $2,000 a week selling around 240 lbs of mushrooms at $8 per lb wholesale, or up to $16 retail, and it costs Doug only around $1,000 to produce each batch.
Doug is working on increasing his revenue by getting into farmer’s markets, as well as lowering his production costs. He also started a YouTube channel called SpeakeasyMyco to document his progress.
4. Headstones for Pets
Saying goodbye to a beloved pet is always hard. But Rodney Melton is trying to make honoring that lifetime of memories a little bit easier.
Rodney runs an Etsy shop called MeltonMemorials, creating custom engraved pet headstones.
In the last year alone, Rodney brought in over $200,000 in sales from his pet memorial side hustle.
And with the low overhead of running this type of online business, he pockets an estimated 65% in profits.
Rodney does have some upfront equipment costs like laser engraving machines, granite saws, and other tools for etching.
But he saves on his biggest expense: granite. How? Rodney partners with a local countertop manufacturer to pick up their discarded granite scraps.
The stone pieces aren’t big, but they are big enough to craft hundreds of pet memorials sized from bricks to mini headstones.
Since opening his Etsy shop, Rodney has made over 7,500 sales.
Pet loss is an unfortunate inevitability for most owners. But products like Rodney’s pet headstones help keep memories alive.
5. Christmas Light Installation
If those Christmas tunes get you dreaming about festive lights and decor, why not turn your enthusiasm into a seasonal side business?
That’s exactly what Jeff Jurina did over 20 years ago when he launched his Christmas light installation company, Christmas Lights By Design.
Here are some of the standout stats Jeff shared about his holiday hustle:
- $70,000+ in sales each season
- All earned in just 2 months of work
- Startup costs: ladder
- Now also sells installation training
Jeff began simply by going door-to-door in November and offering to put up neighbor’s lights. His only supplies were a ladder and some handouts.
But he provided such a valuable service that word spread, business boomed, and the orders kept flowing in year after year.
These days, Jeff is busy managing his ongoing client lights in addition to selling installation training to new entrepreneurs.
His online course teaches everything you need to know to start your own Christmas light business. Use promo code SIDEHUSTLE to save 10% off enrollment.
Christmas holiday lighting is a nice add-on sale once you’re onsite decorating a client’s home or business for the season. You provide the know-how, and they provide the materials.
You can even rent extra ladders and lifts during your busiest weeks then store them away for the rest of the year.
6. Signature Coach
Here’s a creative side hustle that takes a simple skill to the bank: redesigning signatures.
Priscilla Molina of Los Angeles has built a business around redesigning signatures. On her site Planet of Names, she charges $25-$120 per custom signature.
Each order includes 3 unique signature concepts tailored to the customer’s desired style—simple, professional, and dramatic.
Priscilla says her customers are people unhappy with their current signatures, which no longer match their personality or convey their desired image.
“They’re not happy with their signatures. They don’t relate to who they are. They don’t give the message they want to convey to the world,” she shared in an Associated Press interview.
She earns an estimated $5,000+ per month with her signature redesign service, primarily driven by her TikTok account where she has nearly 1 million followers.
Priscilla’s most popular TikTok videos demonstrate signature styles, like drawing stylized versions of a single letter. This establishes her expertise even for those with no calligraphy skills themselves.
If you think about it, this makeover side hustle model could work for other creative services too, like redesigning Zoom backdrops, fireplace mantels, sales copy, etc.
7. Renting Champagne Walls
You know how much we love unconventional rental side hustles here—something you can buy or build once, then generate income from repeatedly. Past examples on the show have included party inflatables, portable hot tubs, and mobility scooters.
Cheers to this next side hustler who dreamed up a way to cash in on weddings without actually planning any events.
Alexis McDermott is the founder of Wandering Wall Company, a decor rental business specializing in trendy champagne walls.
Alexis builds and rents out wooden walls fitted to hold staggered rows of champagne glasses. Couples can use them as self-serve bars at their receptions. Her walls rent for $450 each and have been a huge hit.
Just two years after launching her side hustle, Alexis has already decorated nearly $30,000 worth of champagne walls and other wedding props.
In addition to champagne walls, she rents seating charts, photo backdrops, welcome signs, and other wedding decor.
Speaking with Business Insider, Alexis attributed much of her success to social media, specifically strategic photography partnerships.
“Social media has played a huge role in my business success,” she said.
25 Other Unconventional Rental Ideas
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8. Selling Your Stock Voting Rights
If you invest in individual stocks, there’s a hidden perk you may not know about.
Shareholders get voting rights in addition to any potential dividends and appreciation, and Preston Yadegar’s company Shareholder Vote Exchange will actually pay you to exercise those rights.
Here’s a quick explainer on how it works:
Public companies hold votes on matters like electing board members and approving policies.
As a shareholder, you get a say through your voting rights.
But many individual investors don’t participate in these votes, even though they could influence outcomes. That’s where Shareholder Vote Exchange comes in.
Preston’s company purchases your voting rights for money, allowing them to cast proxy votes on your behalf. These votes are more valuable for smaller companies, where shareholders have greater sway.
According to Preston, compensation typically ranges from 0.1% to 5% of your share price.
For example, if you owned $100k worth of qualifying stock, you could earn an extra $100 to $5,000 each year!
And it takes just minutes to connect your brokerage account to start monetizing your votes.
This is one of the most unique side hustle opportunities I’ve heard in a while. Even with a modest portfolio, those unused voting rights could represent thousands in found money.
9. Mt. Rainier Watch
This next side hustle is near and dear to my heart as a native Pacific Northwesterner.
Mt. Rainier is the iconic 14,411 foot tall volcano in the Cascade Range. We even have a local saying – “the mountain is out!” anytime Rainier makes an appearance.
Back in 2013, David Lindahl decided to create @isMtRainierOut – an X (former Twitter) account simply posting daily mountain visibility updates.
And slowly but surely, David has grown this single-focus social media presence into a merchandising empire bringing in over $2,000 per month.
It took 5 years of consistent posting before David added any products. He quickly realized how passionate locals were about this legendary peak.
In 2018, he launched eCommerce merchandise like t-shirts, stickers, and mugs.
Today, the @isRainierOut Twitter account has around 38,622 followers. He now generates $2,000 per month in mountain-themed product sales online and at local events.
This is a great example of building an audience around a beloved landmark. Is there a historic building, statue, sign, bridge, or other structure in your area that stirs up community pride?
Find some way to celebrate it, and fans may want a piece of memorabilia to show their support.
10. Batting Stance Guy
Closing out our list this year is a true novelty side hustle.
Gar Ryness gained online fame as Batting Stance Guy, impersonating the batting rituals of professional baseball players in YouTube videos.
Gar himself admits mimicking batting stances is among the least marketable skills. Yet his videos have amassed over 5 million views, earning an estimated $22,000.
At the height of his popularity around 2008–2009, Gar scored TV appearances and a book deal with Scribner.
The book, Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter to Baseball, is still available on Amazon.
While the initial hype has died down, Gar continues to offer personalized videos on Cameo for $25 each, which is what I did for this episode.
Garrett is proof that even the most random, “unmarketable” skills can be monetized.
So take stock of your own quirky talents. If you can make someone smile or marvel at your unique abilities, there is always an audience out there.
Reselling Costco cakes in Mexico – Entrepreneurs were buying Costco sheet cakes in bulk from US stores and reselling them locally in Mexico at a premium. It became popular enough that Costco had to start limiting cake purchases.
Music for pets – became a pretty big operation and ended up selling for 10 million+ relaxing music for pets.
And that wraps up this year’s roundup of creative side hustle ideas and stories!
As you can see from these profiles, there are so many ways to turn skills and interests into cash. Maybe one of these unconventional businesses sparked an idea for you.
- Gusto – Hire, pay, and manage your team all in one place!
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