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 download a PDF version of this post to read later, click the button below:
1. Affiliate Marketing. Refer website visitors to buy products online and earn a small commission on each sale. This is actually how I’ve made the bulk of my living over the last 10 years, so it definitely works!
Note: 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 my chat with Michelle Schroeder-Gardner, who consistently earns over $50k a month as an affiliate — all while traveling full-time.
2. Airbnb. If you have extra room in your house, you can earn money renting it out to visitors on Airbnb.com. It’s a 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?
My friend Jasper travels the world while renting out his Amsterdam apartment.
The next step: In addition to a small portfolio of her own short-term rental properties, Zeona McIntyre has built a side business in “co-hosting” other Airbnbs. She essentially acts as the property manager, coordinating guest check-ins, maintenance, and cleaning, in exchange for 20% of the rent — with none of the risk.
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 Benny Hsu, where he shares how he made $30,000 in 30 days on the app store, with no programming experience!
And more recently, uber successful app-preneur Carter Thomas broke down what he’d do if he had to start over.
5. Baking. Do people love your desserts? Maybe you could provide cake, cookies, or cupcakes to some corporate event in town.
Kathryn, my public coaching volunteer, was hustling hard to start a gluten-free bakery in Portland.
6. Becoming an Adjunct Professor. You may need a graduate degree for this one, but it can be a fun way to share your knowledge with the next generation of students and earn some good money on the side — especially if you can teach online or with pre-recorded lectures.
7. 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.
One user in Atlanta makes a full-time living assembling IKEA furniture!
The platform also allows for virtual work like online research and other tasks that can be done remotely.
8. Blogging. Blogging is difficult to monetize but can be a fun outlet to practice your writing or build an audience around a particular idea.
Want to start a blog of your own? Check out my free 6-part video course on how to start your own site.
9. 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.
10. Brand Ambassadorship. Big brands are always looking for assistance with their on-the-ground marketing efforts, and pay pretty well for the help.
Kenny Azama explained it’s a relatively easy (and fun) way to earn $1000 a month part-time, and could even turn into a full-time gig. When we spoke he was earning $2k a week on a cross-country RV road-trip as a brand ambassador!
11. Building an Authority Website. While niche sites (see below) get a lot of attention, an authority site has a better chance of withstanding the changes in Google’s algorithm and turning into a long-term asset.
You may not even need to be an authority when starting out. My friend Perrin got a new puppy and was disappointed with the information he found online, so he got to work and 20 months later HerePup.com was valued at $200,000.
12. 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. These types of sites generally cover a very specific topic and earn money through advertising, affiliate relationships, or digital products.
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, Kurt Elster told me about several fascinating one-page microsites that earn money with Google AdSense.
Want more? Here’s a step-by-step guide on the fastest cheapest way to build a website.
13. Car Flipping. If you’re a savvy negotiator and know your way around cars, you can buy low and sell high and turn a profit quickly with this side hustle.
14. 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.
15. Caregiving. This business continues to grow as the population ages, and popular sites like Care.com can help match you with customers.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. Child Care. Is it just me, or does “babysitting” sound amateur compared to “child care”? Register on sites like SitterCity to begin building a client base.
19. 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.
Cassandre Poblah actually earned $1000 a month doing this part time.
20. 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.
John Rouda offers monthly IT support and maintenance contracts for local businesses, calling it one of his “for-profit hobbies.”
21. 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.
22. 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?
With platforms like Clarity.fm, you can get started very quickly and earn $60/hour and up.
In this episode, my friend Kai Davis breaks down his step-by-step methods of building a consulting business in 20-hours. Later, Jonathan Stark shared his framework for getting a new consulting business from zero to $5k a month.
23. 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.
24. 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 and stopped by the podcast to tell me about it.
25. Craigslist Gigs. There’s a little section in the bottom right corner of Craigslist (at least at press time) specifically for side hustlers. Check it out and see what kind of gigs you might be able to fnd nearby or online.
26. 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.
27. Dating. The dating site WhatsYourPrice.com actually lets suitors pay women to go on dates with them.
28. Delivery Service. With services like UberEATS you can earn money on your own schedule delivering take-out orders in your town … and you don’t have to worry about keeping your car super clean for passengers.
29. Dividend Investing. This has been one of my favorite ways of “buying cash flow” lately, and is a simple way to get paid over and over again from work you do once.
30. Dog Walking. Yes, some people are too busy to walk their own dogs. Post flyers in your neighborhood or set up a profile on WagWalking.com.
31. Doula Service. Doulas can earn $500-$1000 per birth, if you’re into that sort of thing.
32. Driving. If you’re free nights and weekends, you can earn extra cash driving your fellow citizens around.
One cool “hack” is both companies offer “Destination Mode”, which basically allows you to earn money on your regular morning and evening commute by telling the app which direction you’re headed and only accepting riders along your route.
33. 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.
Next Step: I had the chance to sit down with Anton Kraly who runs Drop Ship Lifestyle and chat about how to get started.
34. Ecommerce. Sell products online through your own store or through Amazon or eBay. In this episode, Will Mitchell walked me through how to find a profitable import product.
35. English Teaching. Earn $14-22 teaching English to young students in China via video chat with VIPkid. A bachelor’s degree and a year of educational experience are the only prerequisites.
36. 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.
37. 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.
38. Focus-Grouping. I made $100 an hour at an in-person focus group. Here are some companies that facilitate them near you and online.
40. 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.
41. 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?
You can start out on your own, or find gigs through the popular aggregating service Contena.
Dayne Shuda even turned his ghostwriting side hustle into a full-blown agency!
42. 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.
43. 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, DesignCrowd, or any of the freelance marketplaces as well.
One fun example of a side hustle graphic design business gone global is Design Pickle, where the founder told me, “I sucked at design.” So instead it became his job to match customers with contractors, and less than 3 years later, the little side project was doing $400k a month in revenue!
44. Handyman Service. This is certainly not a great option for my less-than-handy self, but I’m positive someone else with the right skills can make it work. You might try setting up a profile on TaskRabbit (where I connected with an on-demand handyman) or Thumbtack.
45. 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.
46. 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.
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. Interior Decorating. With an eye for design, interior decorating could be a fun part-time business.
50. Investing in Websites. If you have some idle cash and want to put it to work, buying a pre-existing cash flow may be the fastest path to side hustle income.
51. 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.
52. 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!
53. Kindle Publishing. Selling ebooks on Amazon is one of the income streams I’m cultivating. I love the idea of having my work for sale on the world’s largest store!
From my very first author royalty check in 2012, I keep learning more about self-publishing and am hopefully getting better every time I put pen to paper … or fingers to keyboard.
I generated 20,000 downloads with my first “serious” book launch in 2014, and my latest title earned nearly $18,000 in its first year.
54. Medical Transcription Service. Medical transcription, which involves typing out doctors’ recorded voice notes, is often a part-time work-from-home position.
55. MLM Sales. MLM (multi-level marketing) programs are frequently derided as pyramid schemes — and many of them are! — but some people manage to do quite well with them, often starting out part-time. Amway is probably the most well-known.
My friend Kellie is crushing it as a Beachbody coach, and shares some of her best network marketing tips here.
56. Mobile Oil Change Service. Save people time by bringing the shop and supplies to them. If you’re comfortable fixing cars, you might actually check out YourMechanic.com, which helps match you with customers in need of car repairs.
57. Modeling. Stock photographers are sometimes in need of subjects for their work. Strike a pose!
58. 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!
59. 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.
60. 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.
We live near a place called the National Food Lab and occasionally get called in for taste tests. They pay cash and it’s really easy; just answer a few questions and you’re on your way.
61. 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, or become a loan signing agent like Mark did and make $75-200 for overseeing mortgage signings.
62. 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.
63. Party Planning / Wedding Coordinator Service. Put your organization skills to good use.
64. Peer to Peer Lending. This is one of my favorite side hustles because it’s automated and passive. Yes, it takes some capital to get started, but I’ve been earning pretty solid returns for the last 6 years.
65. 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.
66. 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.
67. Pet Grooming. Just like their owners, pets require haircuts too. A mobile pet grooming service can be a low-cost part-time business.
68. Pet Sitting. When homeowners travel, it opens up an opportunity for pet sitting services to come by and take care of their animals.
69. Photography Service. This is my wife’s favorite side hustle. Turn your photog hobby into an income stream.
Side Hustle Show guest Vincent Pugliese shared how “freelanced his way to freedom” and went from earning $30k a year to $30k in a day.
70. Picking up Trash. Brian Winch has been doing this over 30 years and calls it “America’s simplest business.” He says you can earn $50,000-$100,000 a year for basically walking local parking lots and cleaning up the garbage.
71. Podcasting. With a unique angle to your podcast, you can attract a large following, which can translate into serious sponsorship dollars. It costs less than you think to start and has honestly been a life-changing project for me.
72. 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.
73. Private Labeling. In this side hustle, you identify hot-selling products and bring your own to market to compete with them. There’s an art and science to this, including negotiating with suppliers (often overseas), but Andy breaks it all down for us in this crash course on how to get started with private labeling.
Later, I sat down with Greg Mercer to chat his Amazon FBA product sourcing guidelines and tips.
74. Product Licensing. Who says ideas are worthless? With product licensing you can sell the rights to your idea to large companies, who will pay you royalties for every sale they make from that idea.
I had the chance to sit down with Nate Dallas, who earned $300,000 from Mattel in this way, after licensing an idea to them for a Pictionary spin-off.
Later, Stephen Key stopped by to drop his wisdom on product licensing and why there’s never been a better or easier time to get started.
75. Proofreading. Do you like to read? If you have an eye for detail you can set up shop on Upwork as a proofreader and bid on jobs large and small. I actually offered this service on Fiverr for a while and made some decent money.
76. Raw Land Flipping. This sounds a little crazy, but my guest Mark calls his raw land investing business the best passive income model because he doesn’t have to deal with “problem tenants, rodents, or repairs.”
77. 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.
The best part? It doesn’t put your cash or credit at risk. On the podcast, J. Massey shared some more tips on how to find distressed properties.
78. 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.
79. 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…
80. 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 Turo.
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.
81. Selling on Amazon. 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.
82. 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.
83. Selling on Etsy. Etsy is the world’s largest marketplace for unique hand-crafted goods. What can you make?
My friend Kara started selling wine-themed wedding decor on Etsy as a side hustle and since turned it into a full-time business.
84. 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]
- $10 from a Single Sale … on Fiverr [Podcast]
I’ve used Fiverr for graphic design, book covers, website optimization, article writing, and even the intro voiceover for The Side Hustle Show. 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. Later, I broke down my first year on Fiverr, where I earned an average of $500 a month.
85. Selling on Teespring. Teespring is a print-on-demand t-shirt platform, where you can custom-design your own shirts and sell them through the site.
I created an “Every Day I’m Hustling” shirt and sold enough for the campaign to ship, but didn’t earn much on the experiment because of some not-very-effective Facebook advertising. Still, some opportunity here and a friend of mine is doing REALLY well with this. If you can create awesome designs and reach the right people with good Facebook targeting, Teespring can be very profitable.
On the podcast, my friend Benny shared how he built a 6-figure business on Teespring in under a year — even after a pretty discouraging start!
86. Small Business Marketing Service. Many small companies don’t have the staff or know-how to do all their marketing themselves, especially when it comes to putting their best foot forward online and on social media. You can help them with that, much like Sean does in his business.
87. Software Mogul. Software is one of those “perfectly scalable” business models, in that you can theoretically create something once and sell it over and over again.
The cool thing is, you don’t even know how to write code. Christopher Gimmer built his SaaS business by getting outside help on the technical side.
88. Sperm Donor. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a business, but it’s probably more fun than donating blood.
89. Sports Coaching. School teams are sometimes in need of coaching help and this can be a fun and active side hustle.
90. Swagbucks / InboxDollars. Also not really a business, but you can earn gift cards, cash, and other rewards by answering surveys, watching videos, playing games, and shopping online with both Swagbucks and InboxDollars. At press time, both companies are offering a $5 bonus just for signing up!
91. T-Shirt Printing Service. Create silk-screened t-shirts for events and organizations. Bonus points for creating the designs yourself.
My wife and I have gotten into this ourselves lately, but we’ve been letting Amazon do the printing through their Merch by Amazon program.
92. Teaching Music. With a love for music, teaching, and working with kids, you could start a part-time music teaching business.
93. 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, Scott Britton. He shares how he created a passive income stream on a topic he wasn’t an expert in, in just 18 hours!
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 Ankur Nagpal.
94. 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.
95. 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.
For example, Alex Kenin leads urban hikers through the hills of San Francisco at $50 a pop.
96. 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 Upwork, as a place to start.
97. 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.
98. Tutoring. Put that education to use by helping students learn in a comfortable one-on-one setting. WyzAnt is one of the largest operators in the online tutoring world.
In this post, Matt Fuentes shares how he built his tutoring business up to $1000 a week.
If you already have experience teaching or tutoring, you might consider VIPkid, where you can teach English online to students in China.
99. Vehicle Advertising. According to Wrapify, you can earn up to $500 a month by putting an advertising “wrap” on your car.
Has anyone tried this yet? Let me know!
100. Vending Machines. Matt Miller’s passive income vending machine empire started with just $36 and a bag of gumballs. He’d been flipping used books, but found it took too much time. Looking for something a little more automated, he settled on bulk vending.
101. 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 BELAY or Fancy Hands.
102. Voiceover Acting. Companies are always on the look for professional voiceover talent. Once you start listening for it, you’ll hear voiceover work everywhere.
One Side Hustle Show guest reported turning her voiceover side hustle into a full-time gig in just 4 months, earning up to $3000 an hour in the process.
103. Web Design Service. There’s no shortage of crappy looking websites out there. Pitch the benefits of good design and help them out.
Even though I’m not super-technical, I was able to build out a pretty nice looking site in a few hours using this rapid-launch method.
104. 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.
105. 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. One reader reported earning $21,000 in his spare time over the last couple years.
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.
106. 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.
107. 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.
108. Reader’s Choice! Help me out by adding your part-time business idea in the comments below!