So you’re looking to earn extra money online.
Deciding to want more in life is something most don’t dare to do.
It requires work.
Whether you want to pay off debt faster or earn more–starting a side-hustle is a great way to make this happen. With the internet, you now have more options than ever before.
Although there’s expert advice online on starting a side-hustle, there’s also a lot of unwelcome advice.
Search “top side hustles,” and you’ll find articles mentioning 40+ ways to earn more money. It’s almost irresistible not to read these articles. Most of these articles suck.
Not because they’re not well written (most of the time) but because they have too many side-hustle options. To make matters worse, most of these side-hustles aren’t reliable.
Do you want to spend your weekends watching tedious videos or filling out surveys?
I’d bet money you wouldn’t because I wouldn’t.
What you need instead is an article showing only the best of the best side-hustles, saving you time and headaches.
Think of this article as your ultimate guide to quality ways you can earn money in 2021 and beyond.
If you’re done playing games, keep reading to find out how you can earn some serious money.
Why Start A Side-Hustle
As with anything, it’s always important to know why to do something.
The million-dollar question is, “Why to start a side-hustle?”
Starting a side-hustle has many benefits, like allowing you to pay off debt faster and earning more money.
But I’m sure you knew this. 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 the minority.
As an entrepreneur, you have complete control of growing your income–something most of the US population lacks.
What if you’re happy working in a job you love?
You’d still benefit from having a side-hustle. The reality is no job is secure, no matter how valuable you are.
Throughout history, there have been many recessions putting some of the most reputable companies out of business.
By now, you may be convinced starting a side-hustle is right for you.
But maybe you’re wondering why everyone isn’t starting one?
There are many reasons most people never start. They’re too busy or aren’t willing to put in the work.
Most people don’t tell you there’s no guarantee of succeeding with a side-hustle.
Unless you consider filling out surveys or working part-time for Uber as a side-hustle, the odds are stacked against you.
The term “side-hustle” has become mainstream, but essentially you’re building a side-business.
You shouldn’t think of a side-hustle any other way; otherwise, you’re making a hobby.
As you’re working on finding and building the right side-hustle for you, know it’ll be one of the most challenging things you’ll do in your lifetime.
Data shows over 50% of businesses fail during their second year.
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 do your side-hustle full time; you’ll feel better knowing you control part of your income.
With a market downturn, you’ll be better prepared.
Before You Start
Before you start your side-hustle, 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’m telling you this because I’ve made a mistake in the past by starting blogs a quick buck.
The result? I failed miserably and provided mediocre content.
Also, change your perspective about what it means to invest in yourself.
Would you be willing to pay for a $1,000 course today if it helped you be better at a specific topic for your side-hustle? Odds are, you wouldn’t.
It is because you don’t yet know the value of investing in yourself.
The more knowledgeable and skillful you are, the more value you can provide. And, the more value you’re able to provide, the more money you’ll be able to earn.
Start small and buy a $50-$100 course from someone you trust. 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?
Am I able to afford this course/product comfortably without going into debt?
Investing in yourself isn’t solely about buying expensive courses. It’s about changing your mentality, continually wanting to grow to a new level.
You may not always be able to afford costly courses, and this is ok.
You’re still capable of learning new things by reading, listening to podcasts, or taking free specialized courses online.
Forget About A Long List Of Side Hustles
Go to google and type in “top side hustles” or “best side hustles,” and there’s not a shortage of side-hustles you can start.
It may feel good knowing you have dozens of options, but this is only hurting you.
Because you’ll most likely browse the lists and get overwhelmed on what to choose, or you may pick a side-hustle and quit within a week or two, hoping you’ll find a better one.
Having too many options slows you down or, worse, stops you from making progress.
A better approach is to focus on some of the best side-hustles, proven to be sustainable in the long run.
How do I know?
I’ve experimented with many side-hustles. I learned a lot, but I also wasted a lot of time.
It wasn’t until I started following other successful entrepreneurs that I settled on one side-hustle (this blog).
I’ve also interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs and saw firsthand which side-hustles worked.
The list below isn’t long but contains some of the best side-hustles you can start today.
You can write articles on each side-hustle alone, but I’ll point you to some of the best entrepreneurs crushing it in each field.
Know the fundamentals first, then pick a side-hustle and get to work.
1. Building A Blog
Building a blog is one of the easiest side-hustles to start, but this doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to succeed.
Remember, starting any side-hustle is like starting a business.
Most people pick a topic they’re passionate about and write their hearts out. They feel accomplished putting out a lot of content, but eventually quit.
There are many reasons this approach fails. First, you need to pick a topic people would pay for. You can 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’re writing for everyone, you’re writing to no one. Find an audience you feel is the right fit.
It’s ok not to get this right during the early stages; you can continually refine your audience as your blog grows. If you’re clueless about finding your audience, choose yourself.
For example, if you’re writing a blog about being productive, target people your age with similar interests as you.
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, it takes time.
As an entrepreneur, you’re strapped for cash or may not have enough money to hire your developer yet.
Even if you could afford to, spending time and money building a website 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?
It is the power of leveraging a popular blogging platform like Medium. You simply write content and note how people react to it.
As someone who’s written several posts only on Medium, I can tell you it’s still difficult. Why? It goes back to being able to provide value to your audience.
Writing will suck at the beginning. You may need to publish dozens of articles before your writing improves.
But, once you’ve validated 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 excellent content connecting with readers–leaving them slightly better off after reading your article.
How do you achieve this?
Start by writing, writing, and writing some more. Write until you become a decent writer.
You don’t need to be the next Stephen King, but you need to find your writing voice. Once you do, you’ll connect with readers and leave them wanting more.
For some, writing will feel natural, while others will struggle with it. But, if you’re not an honest writer (like me), there’s still hope. If you practice writing long enough, you’ll eventually get better.
Optimize your content
Even if you’re able to write fantastic content, you can still hear crickets after it’s published.
When you write content online, you need to optimize it for Google.
In the perfect world, you’d optimize for all search engines, but this would take more time.
Instead, 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, and this is one side-hustle some people 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.
- Create 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 hard to get in the blogosphere (online blogging world).
Writing outstanding 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 business books, and you’ll learn your email subscribers are worth gold.
These are people who know, like and trust you. Pitching a product to cold leads (audience) is often challenging.
Think about it, would you buy something from someone you don’t know?
Odds are, you wouldn’t. Sure, for some products, this works more effectively. But, as a blogger, you’re not looking for quick wins.
Therefore, you need a healthy email list. If you are using Medium to write content (recommended), you can collect email addresses using Upscribe.
Otherwise, you can collect emails using Mailchimp.
On 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.
Don’t focus only on the numbers; focus on engagement. It’s better to have 1000 loyal fans than 100,000 fans who barely interact with you.
After having steady traffic, a few hundred email subscribers, you’re now ready to monetize your blog.
Here are some of the most effective ways to do so:
Offer freelance services like Consulting/Coaching, write an eBook, start a membership site, sell a course, affiliate marketing, etc.
Don’t create a product/service out of thin air; find out what your audience struggles with the most. JLD from EOFire created journals based on the problems his audience had.
Podcasting is becoming an increasingly popular Medium.
Currently, there are over 850,000 podcasts and over 30 million shows. Maybe you’ve listened to a podcast already and see the value it brings to your life.
If you’re someone who enjoys speaking to others, podcasting may be a viable side-hustle for you.
But, how do you make money from it?
How do you grow your audience?
Similar to a blog, it’s going to take a lot of effort to grow your podcast. First, you’ll need to know who your audience is.
Either use yourself as an audience or copy an audience from podcasts 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 in your head, brainstorm a good name for your podcast
Set up your podcast like the pros
As a podcaster, you’ll need the proper equipment to sound like a pro.
You’ll need the right 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 simply record their episodes and let others produce a final edited version with show notes.
Not everyone can afford to pay hundreds of dollars each month for a podcast show not generating revenue.
So, you’re going to need to edit your episodes in the early stages.
A benefit from editing your episodes will be to catch yourself making mistakes. Once you can afford to hire other people to edit your episode, do so.
It’ll free your time to find more guests, promote your episodes, or brainstorm new show ideas.
Produce amazing content
When you first launch your podcast, be prepared to get only a few listeners.
People who can get thousands of listeners quickly can because they have an existing audience.
When you’re starting from zero, as I did, you’ll have a small audience.
Most podcasters are going to suck when first starting. I did, and I’m still improving.
It’ll feel awkward listening to your voice and being judged by strangers.
But, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. Track your progress on the number of episodes you release and the reviews you get.
Don’t focus solely on your number of downloads.
When first starting out, set a goal to release 20+ episodes in your first year. Then from here, review your progress and note areas 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, optimize your podcast episodes for them to be found on iTunes and other platforms.
Here are some key areas you should focus on helping more listeners tune into your show:
- Create unique headlines for your episodes
- Create grand descriptions for each episode with a link back to your site
- Write an excellent podcast description for your show.
In the perfect world, you’d publish a quality episode and receive a ton of traffic.
After publishing each episode, you’ll have to promote it. The marketing rule of thumb is to spend just as much time as you do to create an episode as you do to promote it.
If you’re juggling this side-hustle with a full-time job, promote your episodes as much as possible.
It’s never wise to end an episode without a call to action.
As a new podcaster, one of your primary goals is to keep as many listeners as possible.
At the end of each podcast episode, give your listeners a CTA to subscribe to your show. 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. Freelance Writing
If you enjoy writing or are already corresponding with your blog, freelance writing is an easy next step.
Forget about the misconception that freelance writers get paid little because there are many writers earning six-figures.
Earning a high-income as a freelance writer doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be a great writer and be able to find high-paying clients.
Develop your skills
Similar to blogging, be a talented writer.
You need to write engaging content and headlines. To become a brilliant writer, dedicate at least one hour to write daily.
Eventually, you’ll be able to write faster with better content.
Decide the type of writing you’ll do
As a writer, you have many options for the type of writing you’ll specialize in.
Examples of these are blog posts, brochures, newsletters, white papers, annual reports, business plans, etc. If you’re familiar with any of these types of writing, choose to specialize in it first. But, if you’re clueless on where to start, decide to write blog posts since you’re already familiar with this type of writing.
Define your niche
Without a niche, you’ll always feel like a chicken having no head.
Because you’ll always have to start from zero on topics, you’re not knowledgeable in. When you’re first starting, this isn’t all bad because you’ll discover which subjects you enjoy writing about the most. But, as a long-term strategy, you’ll need to write for niche topics.
If you do, you’ll build expertise in specific niches and be able to write a lot faster and provide better quality content. If you’re not sure which subjects you’ll enjoy writing in, start with what you already consume (i.e., books, podcasts, courses, etc.).
You don’t need to be an expert writer nor 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 your writing is good. You can host your portfolio online via LinkedIn or other online platforms.
But, it’s recommended to have your website.
It is because you’d be able to grow your brand, define your expertise (niche), and attract new clients.
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
It is where most writers stop.
They either find bad clients or find no. Instead of blindly sending emails to big companies, as most writers do, use LinkedIn.
For example, you can type “content director” on LinkedIn’s search bar and filter by people.
The results you’d get here are people who can have dominant power in hiring you to write for their company.
An added benefit of having your website is potential clients reaching out to you.
The upside to using LinkedIn is the number of writers who haven’t tapped into this platform–removing some of your competition.
The downside is the cost of sending many messages to people on LinkedIn who aren’t part of your network.
An alternative is to find a specific person on social media or to check out their website if they have one.
Use Hunter to find their email addresses, then shoot them an email.
4. Youtube Videos
If you’re great on camera, being a Youtuber may be an excellent side-hustle for you.
As with any side-hustle, know your ideal audience. If you’re unsure who to target, use yourself as an audience.
It works because many of the things you like may also be enjoyed by others.
Setup your Youtube channel
When you’re first starting, don’t spend a lot of money on equipment.
You don’t know if you’ll stick with your YouTube side-hustle after a few videos. 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 fantastic content.
Master the basics before doing anything else, and you’ll eventually see success. As Sean Cannell shares in the video above, you need to 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 will not generate many views.
Like a blog or a podcast, you need to optimize your content to be found by your audience.
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 significant, but you need to convert it 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:
- What is your channel about, and what value does it offer?
- Who’s your target audience?
You don’t have to know any of this when you’re starting. Your first videos are going to suck, and you will not have a perfect audience yet.
Sean recommends posting 50–100 videos to get comfortable.
It’s after only you’ve built a large following and producing quality videos that you should worry about monetizing your brand.
You’d probably make a little money if you’d started monetizing your YouTube channel from the start. You'd have few subscribers (if any) and low views.
Here are some ways you can monetize your YouTube channel:
In summary, advertising, affiliate marketing, and selling your products are some of the best ways to monetize your YouTube channel.
5. Flip Items
When you’re first starting with your side-hustle, you’ll probably earn little money.
If this is the case, Gary Vaynerchuck recommends making extra cash-flipping items.
But what if you’re not into flipping?
Do it anyway. The truth is 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), a flipping side-hustle is one of the fastest ways to make extra money.
You don’t need to turn this into a second-side hustle unless you want to.
But, if you dedicate a few hours on the weekends, this will be enough to earn you some extra money.
The beauty of a flipping side-hustle is, you don’t need a website or a business card to get started.
All you need is an item to sell and a platform to sell it in. Some of the best places you can 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 to them.
In the beginning, you can sell whatever is lying around your house.
But, as you make more sales, you’ll discover items you prefer selling more than others. It is when you niche down to these specific types of products.
Why should you niche down?
Besides being more comfortable focusing on a single niche of products, you’ll also gain more knowledge in your specific niche.
It will make you more prepared to find items at lower prices and understand how to sell them more effectively.
6. Create Online Courses
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 doing videos for some time, you’ve probably built expertise in many 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 from them to better understand their pain points.
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.
If you don’t have a large audience, brainstorm different outcomes you’d like to provide for a problem.
Once you have an outcome, work on creating content to produce the desired result.
Research various 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 stated, people don’t buy the information you’re giving them; they’re buying convenience.
You can find almost any answer online with extensive research.
The problem is, it takes longer, and it’s hard to know if the content you’re consuming has accurate information.
As an expert, you’d benefit from trusting an existing audience who know, like, and trust you.
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 working on a course only to find out nobody wants it (ouch). It is why you need to 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 have this course built.
If ten people will pay for your podcasting course, make it. By preselling your course, you’ll be more confident knowing you’re creating something people want.
No more guessing. No more hoping. Only more sales.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing your online course platform.
You have options like Thinkific, Udemy, and Teachable. If you’re just getting started, start with Thinkific’s free account.
Build your course
If you’ve presold your course now, you’ve got a deadline to meet.
Odds are, people bought your course with the expectation 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, break down how you’ll spend your next few days building your course.
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.
Your target audience. Here are some practical ways to market your course:
- Facebook Groups
- LinkedIn Pulse
You’ve spent dozens of hours creating and launching your course. Congrats!
Now you sit back and spend a few hours marketing your course each month while you earn a ton of money, right?
Not if you want unhappy customers. The information you’ll teach in your course will eventually be irrelevant.
Take SEO, for example; SEO techniques having worked a few years ago are no longer relevant. Google would have made many updates, changing the SEO game.
Know at some point, the information in your course will be irrelevant. So stay on top of your course’s content and keep the information up-to-date.
7. Create The Perfect Side-Hustle
Forget about finding the perfect side-hustle from the start.
The journey for entrepreneurs is rarely easy. Whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur, starting a side-hustle makes you automatically one.
And your journey in finding and working on your side-hustle (business) will have many.
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 topics, but regardless, you’ll develop skills along the way.
When I first started blogging, I did not know what I was doing. I wasn’t a writer, nor had I ever built a website.
Creating several blogs allowed me to test original ideas and develop my writing skills along the way.
Fast forward a few years later, and I now write for other companies. Back then, I’d reject the idea of writing for other businesses since I didn’t consider myself a writer.
It took me several failures and repeated writings to discover this was a side-hustle I’d wanted to pursue.
The same can happen to you, but you won’t know until you get started.
List all your interestest
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 in is one you consume the most.
If you listen to podcasts daily, starting a podcast may be worth pursuing. 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, you’d be familiar with the format.
If you listen to podcasts daily, you’ll know how a podcast starts, ends, and 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 I’d assume most people have big dreams.
Yet, only a small percentage of them will take action on their goals. What is it you’re trying to achieve?
Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to quit your job? Or do you want to stop worrying about money?
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?”
“How do I know my goals are SMART?”
Sometimes it may feel like you have so many questions with too little 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.
If you work smart and don’t give up, success will be inevitable.
I demolish my bridges behind me ― then there is no choice but to move forward.― Fridtjof Nansen.
Most entrepreneurs had major setbacks before they’d reached success. The ones you’ve never heard of, unfortunately, quit along the way.
Be Financially Well Off
Building a side-hustle is one of the most challenging tasks you’ll ever undertake.
Most people online promote a side-hustle like it’s something you can successfully build on a weekend.
Although some side-hustles are quicker to build than others, the best ones often take the most time and sacrifice to make. It all boils down to if you’re willing to live a life full of regrets.
You came to this article because you were curious about starting your side-hustle.
Maybe because your current income is low or you want to pay off debt faster. Or, you’re looking to quit your job at some point to do the work you love.
Whatever your reason, you now know the truth for what it’ll take to build side-hustles generating a sustainable income.
And, you have a list of the most sustainable side-hustles you can create today.
Aren’t there more side-hustles you can start?
Of course, but if you keep searching for more side-hustles, you’re missing the point.
As Gary Vaynerchuk said: “Word, audio, and voice will always be in demand.” Side-hustles around these skills were already covered.
Written word, audio, video will always be in play, which platforms to execute that communication style is what should always be understood https://t.co/sPtWLJJ0mq— Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee) March 6, 2018
Imagine earning a sustainable income with a side-hustle you love. You’ve built an audience, gained confidence, and have a bright financial future.
This can be your reality if you’re willing to work hard towards your dreams.
Choose one medium, one topic, and get started. A happier life awaits–what are you waiting for?