17 Side Hustles You Can Start Even if You Have “No Skills”


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One of the most common questions I get is, “What if I don’t have any skills? Can I still start a side hustle?”

On the one hand, I totally get that feeling.

If you’re a teacher, tutoring might seem like an obvious side gig. If you’re an accountant, you could freelance or start a bookkeeping business.

But not everyone’s skills neatly align with a natural side hustle. So what do you do if you don’t think you have any marketable skills? Is there still a path to earning extra income on the side?

Yes, there absolutely is! And that’s what I’m breaking down in this post: four frameworks to start a profitable side hustle, even if you think you’re skill-less today.

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The Curse of Knowledge

Before we get into those four frameworks, I want to emphasize the “think” part of that last sentence. The curse of knowledge is very real—once you know something, it’s hard to imagine not knowing it.

To test if you’ve fallen victim, ask yourself: If you had to give a presentation teaching something tomorrow, what would it be on? I’ve given talks on podcasting, SEO, email marketing—none of which I learned in school, but certainly know enough about to help others.

You’ve probably picked up some valuable knowledge too after living for decades. Think about what people tend to ask you for help with—that’s an area where you have some perceived expertise.

Still not sure? Ask a few friends “What skill do you think I know more about than the average person?” You might be surprised by their answers. The big idea is to recognize that you’re probably not as skill-less as you might think.

Framework 1: Plug and Play Side Hustles

Plug and Play photo

First up, “plug and play” side hustles. These are often app-based gigs that you can start pretty much immediately and they usually don’t require any specialized skills.

1. Driving and Delivery Apps

You could sign up to drive for Uber or deliver groceries with Instacart. If you can drive a car and follow basic instructions, you’re qualified!

The downside to these apps is that they’re not that difficult—meaning your earning power is limited by the hours you can put in. Still, they can be a quick and easy way to start boosting your income. 

2. Online Surveys

Jackie Mitchell recommended the online survey site Prolific, which specializes in academic research. Check out our full Prolific review to learn more.

If you like filling out surveys, here are some other popular options:

  • Swagbucks – Earn up to $35 a survey with this mega-popular app, and get a $10 bonus just for signing up!
  • Survey Junkie – Take 3 surveys a day and earn up to $100 a month.
  • KashKick – Get paid to answer surveys, test games, and try new products.
  • InboxDollars – Get a $5 bonus just for signing up!
  • American Consumer Opinion – Join millions of free members and earn up to $50 per survey.
  • Branded Surveys – One of the best-rated survey sites with millions paid out.

3. Mobile Game Testing

Jackie also mentioned making money playing mobile games through the Swagbucks app. How this works is you download a new game through the app — hopefully one that looks fun and interesting to you — and you get paid for reaching certain milestones in the game.

Some of these offers can pay $100 or more, which can be a fun way to monetize an activity you may already be doing in your spare time.

4. Paid Market Research

Paid focus groups and market research is one of my favorite side hustles. It pays well ($50-200/hr), and is usually pretty interesting. 

For example, I’ve gotten paid to talk about travel credit cards, video editing software, investing, business banking, and more. 

Here are some of our top picks to get matched up with higher paying market research opportunities.

Best Overall
Best for Industry Pros
  • 4.1
  • Earn an average of $75 per project, and get notified of upcoming studies you may qualify for.

Best for Medical Research
  • 4.5
  • Patients and caregivers can earn $120/hour while helping advance medical research.

Best Overall
4.1

Earn $50-150/hr, with thousands of new studies added each month.

Best for Industry Pros
4.1

Earn an average of $75 per project, and get notified of upcoming studies you may qualify for.

Best for Medical Research
4.5

Patients and caregivers can earn $120/hour while helping advance medical research.

5. Data Annotation

Sites like DataAnnotation and Remotasks are paying people $15-25/hr to help train the next generation of AI tools. While the work itself is somewhat tedious, it does use your brain and you can do it from anywhere.

I actually tested out Remotasks myself and earned $15 for my first hour of work.

6. Sharetown

Another plug and play side hustle is Sharetown. With Sharetown, you pick up and resell returned mattresses and furniture. 

Side Hustle Nation Approved
Become a Sharetown Rep
4.0

Sharetown reps make money by reselling gently-used furniture and bed-in-a-box mattresses. Top reps earn $4000+ per month.

Pros:
  • Low startup costs
  • Great earning power
  • No hunting for inventory
Cons:
  • Requires a truck or SUV
  • Bulky items to store
  • Not available in all areas

You would need access to a truck or van and a place to store the items, but you don’t need to put up the initial cash to buy inventory. Instead, Sharetown takes care of the payment processing and you keep the spread between your selling price and what you owe the company.

Check out our full Sharetown review to learn more.

Framework 2: “Business in a Box” Side Hustles

“Business in a box” side hustles aren’t as simple as the “Plug and Play” side hustles listed above, but they do allow you to follow a specific playbook. You’ll have to do a bit more of your own marketing, but you won’t be reinventing any wheels here.

Business in a box photo

7. Vending Machines

For example, the recent vending machine business episode outlined how you can:

  • source a modern vending machine
  • find a busy location with 100+ people
  • keep it stocked
  • generate semi-passive income

8. Equipment Rentals

The equipment rental business is another plug-and-play model. Rent out mobility scooters like Lenny Tim, or follow the path of listener Brian Rautenberg who listed his rental inventory on CloudOfGoods.com to access existing demand.

9. Product Flipping

Product flipping is a side hustle you can start with the skills you already have. Look for undervalued items on Facebook Marketplace, at thrift stores, etc., and flip those for a profit.

For example, Stacy Gallego shared how she was making $7k a month from her flipping business.

10. Litter Clean-Up Service

Finally, a parking lot litter cleanup service is another “business in a box” side hustle.

If you can walk and operate a broom, you can start picking up litter from local parking lots and retail plazas like Blademir Hernandez outlined.

You can also check out Brian Winch’s Cleanlots training to learn more.

Framework 3: Learn a New Skill

The third side hustle framework is probably my favorite because it’s all about betting on yourself and increasing your earning power over time. And that is to proactively learn a new skill.

This could be a skill that’s closely related to what you already know, or something completely brand new.

11. Knife Sharpening

For example, Matt Rowell was on active duty in the Navy, deployed overseas, and basically learned knife sharpening from YouTube. He invested a small amount of money in some professional equipment and practiced his way to proficiency.

Within a few months, he was earning $200-500 a month from this side hustle, and it continued to grow from there.

12. Mobile Notary Service

Another example is Brian Schooley, who was working a low-paying weekend job to make ends meet. Brian discovered the loan signing agent side hustle, a job that helps real estate buyers and sellers complete the mountain of paperwork required at closing.

He completed the Loan Signing System training, which taught him everything he needed to know about each document in the stack and how to navigate the closing process. Within a few months, Brian was earning $1000 a month from this side hustle, and during the refinance boom, his peak month was over $8000!

13. Web Design Service

We’ve seen people use platforms like Coursera and Udemy to learn all sorts of freelance skills, like web design, proofreading, and bookkeeping.

In web design, Chris Misterek used free and inexpensive online training to land freelance work averaging $3k a month. Later he pivoted into a full-time career at more than double his previous salary.

14. Salesforce Consulting

Finally, I want to highlight Anita Smith, who completely reskilled after getting laid off from her hospitality job during the pandemic. Anita discovered the Salesforce training platform Trailhead.com and eventually joined a program called Talent Stacker to help fast-track her career pivot.

Within a few months, she landed a new remote job, doubling her old salary! If Salesforce sounds interesting to you, Brad Rice has a free 5-day Salesforce challenge you can check out.

Framework 4: Play Matchmaker

Play Matchmaker photo

Our fourth and final framework is to “play matchmaker” — find people with problems, connect them to people who can solve those problems, and take a cut in the middle.

This is similar to an agency model, where you’re not doing the actual work, but handling the marketing, sales, project management, and quality control.

Here are some examples.

15. Residential Cleaning Service

Anthony and Jhanilka Hartzog built a residential house cleaning business, finding cleaners and customers but not doing the work themselves. When we spoke, they were booking around $25k worth of work a month. They’d pay their cleaners 60% of the revenue and take 40% for their own marketing, overhead, and profit.

16. Graphic Design

Russ Perry played matchmaker connecting people who needed graphic design to a workforce of designers at Design Pickle. In three years, the little side project was a multi-million-dollar a year operation.

17. Video Editing

Justin Tan started Video Husky, a video editing service, but didn’t do the editing himself. Instead, he built a team of qualified editors who could keep up with the workflow from clients.

The matchmaker model requires more work in terms of acquiring customers and managing your workforce. But you also avoid the trap of trading dollars for hours which plagues many freelancers.

Are you selling your time or results? Playing matchmaker lets you sell results, with more leverage and scale.

No Skills? No Problem!

Hopefully these four frameworks show there ARE viable side hustle options, even if you struggle putting your finger on any marketable skills today:

  1. Plug and Play Gigs
  2. Business in a Box Models
  3. Learn New Skills
  4. Play Matchmaker

To dive deeper on any of these side hustles mentioned, I’d encourage you to check out the full podcast episodes with these guests.

And if you’re ready to start your own money-making project, head over to hustle.show and take the quick quiz. It’ll build you a personalized playlist of Side Hustle Show episodes tailored to get you started based on your goals and interests.

That way you can add them to your device, learn what’s working for other hustlers, and actually go out and get paid!

Share Your Thoughts!

What’s holding you back from starting a side hustle?

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

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