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Looking for side hustles to make money and take control of your finances?
Congratulations on taking the first step!
Deciding to want more in life is something most people don’t dare to do, but with the right mindset and a solid plan, you can achieve your goals and build the life you’ve always wanted. Starting a side hustle is a fantastic way to pay off debt faster or increase your income, but with so much advice out there, it’s hard to know where to begin.
That’s where we come in. Our ultimate guide to the best side hustles will help you cut through the noise and start making real progress. So if you’re ready to stop playing games and start earning, read on!
Why Start a Side Hustle
As with anything, it’s always important to know why you should do something first.
The million-dollar question is, “Why start a side hustle?”
Starting a side hustle has many benefits, like allowing you to pay off debt faster and earning more money. More importantly, starting a side hustle gives you the confidence most people will never have.
Research shows about 27 million entrepreneurs in the US (14% of the US population). Although this number is higher than before, entrepreneurs are still in the minority. As an entrepreneur, you have complete control over a luxury most US population lacks.
What if you’re happy working at a job you love?
You’d still benefit from having a side hustle. No job is secure, no matter how valuable you are. Many recessions have put some of the most reputable companies out of business throughout history.
Set Realist Expectations
Starting a side hustle is right for you.
However, you may be wondering why everyone isn’t starting one.
There are many reasons why most people never start: They either need help managing their time or are unwilling to do the work. Most importantly, most people don’t tell you there’s no guarantee of success with a side hustle.
Unless you consider filling out surveys or working part-time for Uber to be a side hustle, the odds are stacked against you. The term “side hustle” has become mainstream, but essentially, you’re building a side business. It would help if you didn’t think of a side hustle in any other way. Otherwise, you’re doing something as just a hobby.
As you’re working on finding and building the right side hustle for you, know it’ll be the most challenging thing you’ll do in your lifetime.
So why go through the pain of building a side hustle?
Because of the security and confidence it’ll bring into your life. Whether you work in a career you love or pursue your side-hustle full-time, you’ll feel better knowing you have control over a part of your income. In the case of a market downturn, you’ll be better prepared.
Do This Before You Start
Remember to offer value to others. If you provide more value than your audience (customers) perceive, they’ll happily buy whatever service/product you’re selling.
I tell you this because I’ve made the mistake of starting blogs, thinking I’ll make a quick buck. The result? I made no money and was left frustrated.
I could have done better and provided better content.
Also, change your perspective about what it means to invest in yourself.
Start small by buying a $50-$100 course from someone you trust or read books. Here are some questions you should ask yourself when learning from someone else:
Is this person where I want to be one day?
What are other people saying about this course/product?
Can I afford this course/product comfortably without going into debt?
What’s my most cost-effective option to learn this topic?
Investing in yourself isn’t solely about buying expensive courses. It’s about changing your mentality constantly to want to grow to a new level.
You may only sometimes be able to afford expensive courses, which is fine. You can still learn new things by reading, listening to podcasts, or taking free specialized courses online.
Learn These Timeless Skills
Go to Google and type in “top side hustles” or “best side hustles,” and there’s no shortage of side hustles you can start.
Knowing you have dozens of options may feel good, but this will only hurt you.
Because you’ll browse the lists and get overwhelmed with what to choose, or you may pick a side hustle and quit within a week or two, hoping you’ll find a better one.
A better approach is to focus on learning essential skills that are future-proof. By this, I mean skills that will continue to be in demand.
How do I know?
I’ve interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs and saw firsthand which side hustles worked. The list below is short but contains some of the best side hustles you can start today.
I’ll point you to some of the best entrepreneurs who are crushing it in each field and expanding in areas where I’ve gained experience.
As a rule of reference, creating content with words, voice, and video is a timeless skill.
By learning essential skills and building an audience, you’ll set yourself up for success for years to come.
1. Build a Blog
Building a blog is one of the easiest side hustles to start, but it can be challenging to succeed.
Remember, starting any side hustle is like starting a business.
Most people pick a passionate topic and write their hearts out. They feel accomplished putting out a lot of content but eventually quit. There are many reasons why this approach fails.
First, you must pick a topic people will be willing to pay for. You could be the best writer about tomatoes, but who would buy your product or service? Probably, no one.
Finding your audience
As with any business, you need to find your target audience.
If you are writing for everyone, you’re writing to no one. Take the time to find an audience you feel is the right fit. It’s okay to avoid getting this right during the early stages. You can continually refine your audience as your blog grows.
If you need help finding your audience, choose yourself.
For example, if you’re writing a blog about being productive, target people your age with similar interests.
Setup your blog
Nowadays, you have many options for creating a blog.
WordPress is the platform many famous bloggers and businesses use. The problem with this approach is that it takes time. As an entrepreneur, you’re strapped for cash or may need more money to hire your developer.
Even if you could afford it, spending time and money on building a website that is not guaranteed to succeed isn’t wise. At least not when you have other options.
Instead, why not publish your writing immediately and tap into an existing audience?
Leverage a popular blogging platform like Medium. You write content and monitor how people react to it.
As someone who’s written several posts exclusively on Medium, I can tell you it still takes work.
It goes back to being able to provide value to your audience.
The reality is that your writing will suck at the beginning. You may need to publish dozens of articles before your writing improves. But once you’ve validated that your idea works, create your blog.
You need to write amazing content
With writing, there are no shortcuts. You don’t publish random content and get feedback. You need to publish amazing content that connects with your readers–leaving them slightly better off after reading your article.
How can you achieve this?
Write, write, and write some more. Write until you become a decent writer.
You don’t need to be the next Stephen King, but you do need to find your writing voice. Once you do, you’ll be able to connect with readers and leave them wanting more.
For some, writing will feel natural, and others will struggle with it. But, if writing doesn’t come naturally to you (like me), there’s still hope. If you practice writing long enough, you’ll eventually get better.
Optimize your content
Even if you can write fantastic content, you may still hear crickets after it’s published.
When you write content online, you need to optimize it for Google.
Most bloggers optimize for Google since it’s the largest search engine online. This process is called SEO (search engine optimization.)
Your goal is to create SEO-optimized articles.
SEO is a complicated process; this is a business some decide to pursue. But, at a high level, here’s what you should do with every article you post:
Use a keyword research tool to find top-ranking keywords. Include your keyword in your title, subheads, and the first 100 words of your article.
Create high-quality content to get links back to your site and additionally do link-building outreach. Write your article first, then optimize for SEO to make your content natural and avoid keyword stuffing. Install the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
Get website traffic
Traffic is often brutal to obtain in the blogosphere (online blogging world.)
Writing awesome content won’t guarantee traffic, and high traffic with poor content isn’t any better. So how do you attract more website traffic?
Here are some of the best methods successful bloggers recommend:
Capture email subscribers
Listen to enough business podcasts or books, and you’ll learn your email subscribers are worth gold.
Often, pitching a product to cold leads (audience) is challenging. Think about it: Would you buy something from someone you don’t know? Because these are people who know, like and trust you.
Odds are you wouldn’t. Sure, for some products, this works more effectively. But, as a blogger, you’re looking for more than just quick wins.
Using Medium to write content (highly recommended), you can collect email addresses using Upscribe. Otherwise, you can collect emails using Aweber or ConvertKit.
At a high level, here’s how to capture email leads:
Write valuable content and offer a content upgrade (lead magnet Guest post on popular blogs in your niche and include a link to your landing page in your bio.
Focus on more than just the numbers. Focus on engagement.
It’s better to have 1,000 true fans than 100,000 who barely interact with you.
After steady traffic and a few hundred email subscribers, you’re ready to monetize your blog.
Here are some of the most effective ways to do so:
Offer a freelance consulting/coaching service, write an ebook, or start a membership site.
Make sure to avoid creating a product/service out of thin air; instead, find out what your audience struggles with the most. JLD from EOFire created journals based on the problems his audience had.
2. Start a Podcast
Podcasting is becoming an increasingly popular medium.
There are over ~2.4 million podcasts and over 60 million shows. You may have already listened to a podcast and recognized the value it adds to your life. If you enjoy speaking to others, podcasting may be a viable side hustle.
But how do you make money from it?
How do you grow your audience?
Like a blog, it will take a lot of effort to grow your podcast. First, you’ll need to know who your audience is.
You may either use yourself as an audience or copy an audience from another podcast that is already crushing it. Then, add your twist on how you’ll serve your audience differently.
Name your podcast
Before you run off with the first name that pops into your head, brainstorm an excellent podcast name.
Setup your podcast like the pros
You’ll need the proper equipment to sound like a pro as a podcaster.
You’ll need a good mic and editing software. Invest in an ATR–2100 microphone and use either GarageBand or Audacity (both free.)
Experienced podcasters hire other people to edit their episodes. They record their episodes and let others produce the final edited version with show notes.
It’s not wise to pay hundreds of dollars monthly for a podcast show that generates no revenue.
So, you will need to edit your episodes in the early stages.
One benefit of editing your episodes is that you’ll be able to hear yourself make mistakes, which will help you avoid them the next time you record. Once you can afford to pay someone, you can outsource this task.
Produce amazing content
When launching your podcast, be prepared to get only a few listens.
People who can quickly get thousands of listens can do so because they already have an audience. As I did, you’ll have a small audience when you’re starting from zero.
The reality is that most podcasters will suck when starting. It’ll feel awkward to listen to your voice and be judged by strangers. I did, and I’m still improving.
But the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Track your progress based on the number of episodes you release and the reviews you get. Focus on something other than your number of downloads.
When starting, set a goal to release 20 or more episodes in your first year. Then, from here, review your progress and note areas where you can improve. You can also invest in a coach who’ll help you see things you alone can’t see.
Optimize your content
Like blogs, you have to optimize your podcast episodes for them to be found on iTunes and other platforms.
Here are some key areas you should focus on to help more listeners tune into your show:
Create unique headlines for your episodes.
Create great descriptions for each episode with a link back to your site. Write an excellent podcast description for your show.
In a perfect world, you’d publish a quality episode and receive a ton of traffic.
However, this doesn’t happen by chance.
The reality is that after publishing each episode, you’ll have to promote it. The marketing rule of thumb is to spend as much time marketing a podcast episode as you spend creating it. If you’re juggling this side hustle with a full-time job, promote your podcast episodes as best as possible.
It’s always wise to end an episode with a call to action.
As a new podcaster, one of your main goals is to retain as many listeners as possible. Give your listeners a CTA to subscribe to your show at the end of each podcast episode. Other alternatives include rating and reviewing your podcast.
Once you have a bigger audience, you can begin pitching your products/services.
If you’ve finally built a loyal audience and become a great podcast host, it’s time to make money.
3. Get Paid as a Freelance Writer
If you enjoy writing or already do writing with your blog, freelance writing is an easy next step.
Forget the misconception that freelance writers get underpaid because many earn six figures.
The truth is that earning a high freelance writer’s income will take time.
Develop your skills
Similar to blogging, you have to be a great writer.
You need to be able to write engaging content and headlines. To become a great writer, dedicate at least one hour to writing daily.
Eventually, you’ll be able to write faster and better content.
Decide the type of writing you’ll do
As a writer, you have many options for the writing you’ll specialize in.
For example, you can write blog posts, brochures, newsletters, white papers, annual reports, business plans, etc. If you’re familiar with any type of writing, choose to specialize in this first.
Define your niche
Without a niche, you’ll always feel like a chicken without a head.
You’ll always have to start from zero on topics you need to be more knowledgeable about.
If you niche down, you’ll be able to write faster and provide better quality content. If you’re still determining which topics you’ll enjoy writing about, start with what you already consume (i.e., books, podcasts, courses, etc.)
It’s true. You don’t need to be an expert writer or have years of experience to land your first gig as a freelance writer.
But you’ll need a writing portfolio.
You’ll need to convince prospective clients that your writing is good. You can host your portfolio online via LinkedIn or other online platforms. But it’s recommended that you have your website at some point.
A website will enable you to grow your brand, define your expertise, and attract new clients. More importantly, you’ll build authority by pointing clients to your website instead of someone else’s.
As your brand grows, optimize your website.
Find your ideal client
Most writers need help finding new clients.
They either work with bad clients or quit when they exhaust all their methods. Instead of blindly sending emails to big companies, as most writers do, use LinkedIn.
Optimize your LinkedIn profile by including your writing portfolio and any client reviews. You may also define your ideal customer and target them using LinkedIn’s search bar.
Another benefit of having your website is that potential clients can easily reach out to you.
On the other hand, the upside to using LinkedIn is that many writers have yet to tap into this platform, removing some of your competition. You’ll have to pay to send messages to some people on LinkedIn who are outside of your network.
An alternative is to look for a specific person on other social media platforms or to visit their website if they have one. Find their email addresses using Hunter.io, then send them an email.
4. Start a YouTube Channel
Being a YouTuber may be a great side hustle for you if you’re great on camera.
As with any side hustle, you need to know your ideal audience. Assume you’re unsure who to target and use yourself as an audience.
Setup your Youtube channel
When starting, spend only a little money on equipment.
After a few videos, you may decide not to stick with your YouTube side hustle. Instead, use what you already have and upgrade your equipment as needed.
Produce amazing content
For your YouTube side hustle to succeed, you’ll need amazing content.
Master the basics before doing anything else, and you’ll eventually see success. As Sean Cannell shares in the video above, you must master your thumbnail, title, hook, and content. Show up every day and focus on producing your best videos.
Optimize your content to be found on youtube
Hitting “publish” after spending hours creating quality videos isn’t going to generate a lot of views.
Similar to a blog or a podcast, you need to optimize your content so your audience can easily find it.
Make it your #1 objective to produce quality content, and you’ll eventually get a lot of traffic.
Get a lot of subscribers
Traffic is incredible, but you need it to convert into subscribers.
Otherwise, how else would viewers come back to your channel? To do this, Sean Cannell shares these valuable tips:
Here are some questions you’d need to answer: 1. What is your channel about, and what value does it offer? 2. Who’s your target audience?
You don’t have to know any of this when you’re starting. The reality is that your first videos will suck, and you’re not going to have a perfect audience yet. Sean recommends posting 50–100 videos to get comfortable.
It would be best to monetize your brand when you’ve built a large following and can produce quality videos.
You’d probably make little money if you’d started monetizing your YouTube channel. You’d have few subscribers (if any) and low views. However, you can still earn some income.
Some best ways to monetize your YouTube channel are through advertising, affiliate marketing, and selling your products.
5. Flip Items for Extra Cash
You’ll earn little money when starting any of the side hustles mentioned above.
You can, however, still make money.
Gary Vaynerchuck recommends making extra cash-flipping items if this is the case.
But what if you’re not into flipping?
Do it anyway.
The truth is that earning income from your main side hustle will take time (0–10 years). And if you’re looking to make extra money to cover business expenses (mic, website, software, etc.), a flipping side hustle is one of the fastest ways to earn extra money.
You only need to turn this into a second-side hustle if you want to.
Dedicating a few hours to the weekends will earn you some extra money.
The beauty of a flipping side hustle is that you don’t need a website or business cards to get started.
All you need is an item and a platform to sell it in. The best places to flip your items online are eBay, Amazon, Etsy, Bonanza, and many more.
After researching an item, post it for sale on an online platform.
Then, when someone buys your item, ship it.
In the beginning, you can sell whatever is lying around your house.
But, as you start making more sales, you’ll discover items you prefer selling more than others.
Why should you niche down?
Besides, focusing on a single niche of products is more manageable, and you’ll also gain more knowledge about your specific product. You’ll be prepared to find lower-priced items and understand how to sell them more effectively.
6. Create Online Courses Using Your Expertise
If you’re an expert in a demanding topic, you can earn a substantial income by creating a course.
For example, if you’ve been writing, podcasting, or making videos for some time, you’ve probably built up expertise in many different areas.
But how do you go about creating a course?
Here’s your mini-roadmap.
Create an outcome
If you have an existing audience, gather feedback to understand their pain points better. Use your audience’s pain points to offer a product or service that provides a solution. JLD from EOFire did this and created Podcasters’ Paradise.
Once you have an outcome, create content to produce the desired result.
Research different points you’d like to include and do additional research. Your course doesn’t have to be 100% original, but it should always have your voice. As Pat Flynn states, people don’t buy the information you’re giving them; they buy convenience.
As an expert, you’d benefit from having the trust of an existing audience who knows, likes, and trusts you. Fortunately, you can find almost any answer online with extensive research. The problem, however, is that it takes longer, and it’s hard to know if the content you’re consuming has accurate information.
Presell your course
As an entrepreneur, there’s nothing worse than wasting time.
Sure, losing money is terrible too, but time is something you’ll never be able to recoup. Imagine spending months developing a course only to find out nobody wants it (ouch.) Instead, you can presell your course.
Leverage your existing audience to see if your course idea is in demand. Don’t just take people’s word for it. Let their wallets do the talking.
Reach out to your audience the moment you have your course idea.
Based on your audience’s feedback, tweak your idea until people pay to build this course. For example, if ten people are willing to pay for your podcasting course, create it. By pre-selling your course, you’ll be more confident knowing you’re building something people want.
No more guessing. No more hoping. Only more sales.
Choosing your online course platform is one of the most critical decisions you will need to make.
You have options like Thinkific, Udemy, and Teachable. Thinkific’s free account is an excellent place to start if you’re just getting started.
Build your course
If you’ve already pre-sold your course, you’ve got a deadline to meet.
People are likely to have purchased your course with the expectation that it’ll be available on a specific date. Now, it’s time to break this goal down to meet your deadline. If your course needs to be published within two months, create a plan for how you’ll spend your next few days building it.
For example, spend 1–2 hours daily working on your course’s content to meet your deadline with enough time to make edits.
Launch your course
After releasing your course to the world, you need others to know about it.
More specifically, your target audience. Here are some practical ways to market your course:
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Pulse
The information you’ll teach in your course will eventually be irrelevant.
Take SEO, for example.
Most SEO techniques that were relevant a few years ago are no longer applicable. Google would have made many updates, changing the SEO game.
Know that the information in your course will be irrelevant at some point. So stay on top of your course’s content and keep the information up-to-date.
7. Imagine the Perfect Side Hustle
Forget about finding the perfect side hustle from the start.
Whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or not, starting a side hustle makes you one. The truth is the journey for entrepreneurs is rarely easy. Your journey will have many ups and downs.
Instead, choose one of the side-hustle ideas covered in this article around a topic you’re interested in. Then stick with your idea for a few months. In the worst case, you’ll change your side hustle but develop skills.
When I started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t a writer, nor had I ever built a website. Creating several blogs allowed me to test different ideas and develop my writing skills.
It took me several failures and a lot of writing to discover this was a side hustle I’d wanted to pursue along with podcasting.
The same can happen to you, but you will only know it once you start.
List all your interests
To know what topic you’ll start your side hustle in, create a list of your skills and interests.
For example, if you’re interested in social media and have experience as a marketer, Facebook advertising may be worth exploring. Or, if you’ve always been a writer and currently work in the finance industry, doing freelance writing in finance is another option you can explore.
What medium do you currently consume the most?
A great platform to start your side hustle is one you consume the most.
For example, starting a podcast may be worth pursuing if you listen to podcasts daily. If you watch YouTube videos daily, consider starting your own YouTube channel.
Why take this route?
Consuming a specific medium more than others lets you know it matters more to you. A benefit of this is that you’d be familiar with the format. For example, if you listen to podcasts daily, you’ll know how a podcast starts and ends, plus what keeps an audience engaged.
Grab a sheet of paper or note in your mind which platform you consume the most.
The most crucial step is getting started.
I don’t know the statistics, but most people have big dreams. Yet, only a tiny percentage will take action on their dreams. What is it you’re trying to achieve?
Do you want to quit your job?
Do you want to make a positive environmental impact on our planet?
All of these are great goals, but they’re also big. Instead of chasing big dreams, break them down into actionable steps. To do this, you’ll need to make your goals “SMART.”
I can almost hear you thinking:
“What if I don’t know all the steps?”
Sometimes it may feel like you have so many questions that you need more help. Welcome to the world of entrepreneurship.
My answer is to do the best you can. Make your goals as “SMART” as possible. Take as many steps as you can until you’re stuck. Then, ask for help or find your path.
Success will be inevitable if you work smart and don’t give up.
“I demolish my bridges behind me ― then there is no choice but to move forward.”― Fridtjof Nansen
Most entrepreneurs had major setbacks before they reached success. And unfortunately, the ones you’ve never heard of quit along the way.
Build Sustainable Income and Live Your Ideal Lifestyle
Building a side hustle is one of the most challenging tasks you’ll ever undertake.
Although some side hustles are quicker, the best ones often take the most time and sacrifice.
You came to this article because you were curious about starting your side hustle. Maybe you want to pay off debt faster because your current income is low.
Whatever your reason, you now understand what it’ll take to build a side hustle that generates a sustainable income.
Aren’t there more side hustles you can start?
Of course, but if you keep searching for more side hustle options, you’re missing the point. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, words, audio, and voice will always be in demand. Side hustles around these skills were already covered.
Choose one medium, one topic, and get started.
Setbacks are inevitable; when they arise, have your support group near. Check out our podcast, where we interview entrepreneurs to help you stay motivated!