Earn Money on the Side with These 20 Hustles

When you’re starting out, it can be hard to see areas where you have an opportunity to make money outside of your full-time employment. For me, that’s actually the hardest part. There’s many hustle ideas out there, but actually finding the motivation to pick one and start putting your time, effort, and money into it – is easier said than done. To help you out with this, I’ve created my list of 20 different hustles which will hopefully spur the side hustle part of your brain into action.

1. Write a book

If you enjoy writing or telling stories, writing and selling books might be an option. You can start with non-fiction by writing about topics that you are an expert on, or that you can research enough to write a book on a less familiar topic that you are passionate about. If stories is more your thing, fiction books would make more sense. Many writers on Amazon write short stories of 5,000 words or less, offer them for free, and once they’ve accumulated a few stories, offer them for sale as a package. Total investment is low, too – just pay a few bucks on Fiverr.com for a great cover. As for potential, it depends. Some books tank, while some do great. It takes a combination of great writing, advertising, knowledge of the platform (Kindle Direct Publishing, for example), and a little bit of salesmanship to get readers onboard. 

Can you do it? The only way to find out is start writing.

2. Sell your creative services (graphic, writing, design)

If you can write, edit, or know your way around graphic design tools, consider offering your services on Fiverr. If you’re not familiar with Fiverr, the premise is simple: you hire people around the world to do small creative jobs for you, beginning at $5. I’ve used this site for book covers, website graphics/logos, and more. The best sellers on Fiverr have thousands of reviews. At $5-30 per sale, that’s not a bad side hustle.

3.  Offer photography services for events

Corporate events. Birthday parties. Baby showers. School events. What do they have in common? People want to remember them (well some do, anyway). If you enjoy taking photos, you can setup your own photobooth for well under $1,000 and begin taking photos at these events. After several events, you’ll break even, and the rest is all profit at that point.

To get started, look at a camera like the Canon Rebel T5 Digital SLR. I began on nearly the same camera 10 years ago, and still have it. While there’s a bit of upfront investment in the photography hustle, it’s undoubtedly one of the most fun side hustles.

4. Wrap Gifts

This is a seasonal hustle, but believe it or not, people will pay you to wrap their presents so that they don’t have to bother. Heck – if you are within 250 miles of central Florida, I will pay you to wrap my gifts around the holidays! My wife and I spent a healthy 10-15 hours wrapping gifts this past Christmas, which I feel would easily be worth $100 if I didn’t have to bother with it. Does it take away from the holiday spirit? Maybe, but I can watch more of The Walking Dead, so I’m cool with that.

5. Create an app for iPhone or Android

The income potential with apps is nearly unlimited. There’s a huge misconception that developing apps requires you to have a deep background in programming. This is absolutely not true. Despite working with computers professionally for nearly 15 years, I am the worlds worst programmer. As of this writing, I am nearly ready to publish my first iOS application, which I developed 100% on my own in about two months.

Protip: If you want to code for iOS, learn Swift, not Objective-C. Swift is a newer, and I think, an easier language to pick up.

If you can read, and watch some basic tutorials (I used this one), you’ll be able to code your first app. Once you get the first one under your belt – no matter how bad it is – you’ll be fully prepared to take a stab at a second, and grow your portfolio. If you really don’t want to program, you can outsource it. 

One thing worth mentioning about app revenue- developing mobile apps is like a garden. You don’t need one app that earns $1,000/month, you need 10 apps that earn $100/month. Of course if you have an app that makes $1,000/mo – you surely won’t be complaining.

6. Blogging

If you really love to write, blogging can be a nice side hustle. There’s a host of different ways to monetize blogs – you can write sponsored posts representing brands (earning thousands per post, if you have a large audience), to selling advertising space, using affiliate links, and more. If you’d like to start blogging, check my article out on creating a website for ebook authors – it’s very relevant to new bloggers as well as authors. Remember, the name of the game here is great content. If you can produce great content, the audience will grow, and revenue will follow.

7. Sell your computer skills

If you know enough about computers to charge people to fix them, this can be an awesome hustle with an extremely low barrier to entry. The difficult part is, most people know someone who can work on computers. If you develop a good reputation, however, it can be very lucrative. Startup cost is minimal as you need (mostly) free software, a reliable computer, and some money for startup materials, such as a website, business card, and advertising.

A possible spin on this is providing computer help remotely. With collaboration tools such as Cisco WebEx, Skype, and more – you can teach people about software or help solve their problems while still in your pajamas.

8. Rental Properties (Condo’s, Single Family Homes)

Alright, one could argue that buying a rental property is a huge investment and therefore not a true side hustle. Did you know, however, that with FHA mortgage loans, you can buy a rental property for as low as 3% down? That means a $120k condo can be had for as little as $3,600. There’s a catch – and that’s that you have to intend to live there for the first year of ownership. This requirement can be satisfied by you or your spouse occupying the property, so if you’re able to be flexible, you could land a solid rental property for a couple thousand dollars, and set yourself up for some nice recurring revenue using it as either a long-term rental, or a vacation rental through sites such as Airbnb, and HomeAway. In addition to the recurring revenue, the capital gains when you sell aren’t bad, either.

The best way to tackle this is to save enough to purchase a property with cash. While this sounds intimidating, it will allow you to snowball your income and build into additional properties.

9. Peer to Peer Lending

It takes money to make money – That’s especially true with Peer to Peer Lending sites such as Lending Club and Prosper. The idea is simple: you become the bank. You approve or deny loans, and set your interest rates. The returns are typically pretty good. Peter at LendAcademy, has been posting details on his lending returns for years, and averages about 8.75% annually in the past year. For a reliable return like that, this might fit better into a long-term plan for wealth, but it’s still very much a viable model in 2017.

10. Start a podcast

Starting a podcast is a relatively easy endeavor to begin. Monetizing the podcast, is a little tougher. As with anything web-based, you need to build an audience. If you’re able to grow an audience, you can bring on sponsors, as well as funnel your listeners to other products on your website. I love the idea of a podcast, but it’s really a labor of love, and I look at it primarily as a marketing tool more than an income generator. That being said, I think a great podcast does offer the ability to monetize your product(s) very effectively.  

11. Start a Mobile Auto Detailing business

I used to spend hours washing, cleaning, and scrubbing my car. Nowadays, I don’t have the time for that, but I still like a clean car. Many people, like me, pay $100-$200 to have their vehicle fully detailed. The prices charged for detailing varies based on how thorough the detail, and what services are provided (wash/wax? Interior only? Carpet?) – but you can start a basic detailing business on the side for the cost of cleaning supplies and some business cards. I think this is potentially one of the easiest hustles to begin earning money on. If you advertise your services, you could easily have your first couple of clients within a week.

12. Be a consultant

This is one of the most compelling side hustles, I think, and offers massive potential for income. It’s even possible for this hustle to replace your full-time job. It goes like this: you’re an expert in something (everyone is), can you sell it to individuals or organizations? If you’re a marketing professional, sell your skills to small businesses for a fee. Many companies spend thousands on consultants without batting an eye…why not spend some of that money on you?

13. Develop a Course

You likely know enough about several topics to teach a course. Even if you don’t, you can research enough to offer a course. You can expect to spend most of your time editing video when developing a course, or re-recording segments. But the beauty is, you get to sleep while making money.

The investment is relatively minor – it helps to have a good USB microphone (assuming your class is using screen captures, or slides), screen capture software, and a drawing tablet (such as the Wacom Intuos line, which I love). Regarding the mic – I highly recommend the Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone– it’s the one I use for side hustles, and also used to create training courses for my day job.

14. Design Websites for $$$

Despite the awesome tools out there that help the non-technical build websites, a LOT of businesses don’t have websites! In the last week, I interacted with two businesses that didn’t have websites. One installed a new windshield in my car, and only had a business card. A quick call to that company could easily yield $500+ for a very simple website. If only I had the time! 

If you want to design websites, here’s my advice: Begin by learning Wordpress really well. Learn some PHP, HTML, and CSS using Codeacademy.com. Your first two or three sites should be for free or very little money. These will be used to build your portfolio. Once you’ve established yourself as a reputable designer, start increasing your rates and building your client base. Top websites can easily cost $100,000+. These won’t be built on WordPress more than likely, but WordPress is a very popular platform, and therefore a worthwhile investment.

Another option, is to build themes for the various content management systems (such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc). This can be a very lucrative and totally passive income stream. Many premium themes sell for $50. If you developed a portfolio of themes, and priced them at $50, your next family trip might be funded before you know it.

15. Flipping sports tickets

This one can be very compelling, but it requires an upfront investment. It goes like this: championship/finals games in most sports offer tickets at the beginning of the season. You can buy these tickets, and if the team doesn’t make the playoffs/championships, you get your money back. If they do, the value of your tickets will skyrocket, and you’ll sell them. If you’re able to stomach the risk AND ensure you’re not violating any terms of service with the ticket distributor of your choice, you can make a very healthy premium here. When the Chicago Cubs (much to my dismay) made the World Series this past year, the cheapest tickets were often $2,000/per seat right before the game. Months earlier, those tickets were a few hundred.

16. Teach something

Can you play an instrument? Do you know a particular software very well? Are you a math whiz? If you know almost anything really well – you can likely make money teaching others. To illustrate this example, take Duane Smith. Duane is a panhandler in South Florida who made millions standing on the side of the road begging for money. He soon realized he knew how to panhandle better than other people. He began offering a training course on how to panhandle. I don’t agree with Duane’s career choice, but, it proves that people will pay money to learn nearly anything. Only in America, folks!

The point is – if Duane can make money teaching people how to panhandle, surely you can teach something too.

17. Be a Fitness Trainer

America is getting fitter. While this might be relevant, I’m specifically targeting the United States here. We’re a fat country. Sorry, it’s true. I’ve got a little more to love, as well, so I’m not knocking people who are heavier. That fact understood, there’s a massive push for the health and fitness market at the time. While being a personal trainer full-time can be risky due to the inherent nature of being a contractor, doing it on the side is a great way to combine something you love with a service to help others. You don’t have to be limited to one on one personal training, either – Gyms are always looking for new group exercise trainers.

Bonus Info: My wife is a huge gym rat (she prefers the phrase “gym unicorn” – she also wanted me to remove this section about her, which is exactly why I didn’t)

18. Pet Sitting

We travel as a family quite a bit. When we do, our number one problem is what to do with our animals to ensure they’re properly cared for. Our solution has been to hire someone to come over and take care of the animals while we’re gone. We pay our sitter about $100 for a week, which comes out to about $40/hour. Not shabby. 

19. Sell on Etsy

Any hustle that earns you money while you sleep is a serious winner with me. Unfortunately, I’m not the slightest bit crafty. If, however, you are crafty, selling your items on a site like Etsy, Zazzle, or Cafe Press, can bring in supplemental income, and depending on your level of success, might even grow into a legitimate business.

20. Handyman (or Woman)

I’m not handy – at all. When I installed my GE Smart Light Switch, it didn’t go well. Let’s just say, 120 volts does not feel good.

But, if you are decent around the house, and can do basic handy work, there’s big opportunity there. Outside of some basic tools, you can essentially start this hustle immediately and begin earning cash. Installing security cameras, fixing drywall, painting, mounting flatscreen TVs, and doing basic plumbing are all items which many homeowners do not want to take on themselves. Anytime you can save someone time or hassle, there will be people willing to pay!

What do you guys think? Do any of these hustles line up with things you’re currently doing? Let me know, I’d love to hear what has been working for you! 


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