21 Best Side Hustle Ideas and How to Get Started

June 18, 2024

By: Emily Harper

21 Best Side Hustle Ideas and How to Get Started

Having just one income from a regular job isn’t enough for many people today. With the cost of living increasing, wages staying the same, and the need for more financial stability, many are turning to side hustles for additional income. Nearly 54% of Americans have a side hustle to supplement their income. A side gig can also serve as a creative outlet, allowing you to pursue a passion project and give you more control over your work-life balance.

A side hustle can be a part-time job, freelance work, or a small business you manage alongside your main job or other responsibilities. These jobs are often called side gigs (or just gigs, for short) or side jobs.

And for some, a thriving side hustle can even blossom into a full-time entrepreneurial endeavor.

With so many potential advantages, it's no wonder that side hustles have become increasingly popular. However, coming up with a side hustle idea, choosing the right one, and getting it off the ground can be challenging. That's where this guide comes in – to help you explore some of the best side hustle ideas and provide tips on selecting and launching the one that best suits your skills, interests, and lifestyle.

5 Expert Tips to Choose Your Perfect Hustle Idea

Before exploring different side hustle options, think about what will make a particular gig a good fit for you and your lifestyle.

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Here are five things to think about when brainstorming side hustle ideas:

1. Passion and Interest

While making extra money is the primary motivation for most side hustles, choosing something you genuinely enjoy is crucial. Working on a side gig that aligns with your passions or interests will make the extra effort feel less like "work" and more rewarding. It will also be easier to stay motivated and committed to your side hustle over time.

Pro Tip: When you’re thinking of side hustle ideas, make a list of hobbies that you’re passionate about. For example, if you love woodworking, you could craft custom wooden chess pieces and sell them at the local Farmers’ Market or on Etsy.

2. Skills and Experience

Play to your strengths by selecting a side hustle that allows you to capitalize on existing skills and experiences. This will give you a head start and make delivering quality work or products easier from the outset. Don't be afraid to get creative in applying your talents to different contexts – many skills are transferable across various industries or niches.

For example, if you're skilled in graphic design from your main job or past experience, you could start freelancing on the side. This would let you use your existing abilities to offer high-quality design services right from the start. Plus, your design skills could be helpful in related fields like marketing or website creation, broadening your job opportunities and potential customer base.

3. Flexibility and Time Commitment

Evaluate how much time you can realistically dedicate to a side hustle on top of your existing work and personal commitments. Some gigs may require more consistent, scheduled hours, while others offer greater flexibility to work as your schedule allows. Be honest about your bandwidth when you’re thinking about side hustle ideas, and choose one that can reasonably fit into your lifestyle without causing burnout.

4. Startup Costs and Potential Earnings

Different side hustles require varying levels of upfront investment for things like equipment, supplies, marketing, or inventory. When you’re looking at the best side hustle ideas for you, it’s good to do some research on the typical startup costs as well as the income potential for each gig you're considering. Aim for opportunities with reasonable upfront costs and earnings that justify the time and effort required.

5. Market Demand and Competition

It's important to choose a side hustle with existing market demand to ensure there are customers for your products or services. At the same time, do research into the competition level and whether you can realistically differentiate yourself and attract customers in that space.

21 Side Hustle Ideas

We put together a list of the best side hustle ideas below, covering a wide range of online, service-based, and product-oriented possibilities—each with its own level of difficulty in getting started.

From the simplest gigs like taking surveys online to more involved commitments like starting a podcast or e-commerce business, there is a side hustle path for almost any interest, schedule, and skill set.

Here’s how our side hustle difficulty rating system works:

Entry-Level

Level of difficulty: 1

  • Very easy to start with low barriers.
  • Requires minimal skills, experience, and startup costs.
  • Only basic access to a computer and internet is needed.

Easy

Level of difficulty: 2

  • Simple to start with moderate requirements.
  • May need some basic equipment, supplies, or transportation.
  • Little prior skill or experience is needed beyond common abilities.

Moderate

Level of difficulty: 3

  • Some skills and experience are required.
  • Needs certain skill sets like creative abilities or freelancing expertise.
  • Moderate startup costs for equipment, supplies, and marketing.

Difficult

Level of difficulty: 4

  • Requires high skills and significant startup costs.
  • Specialized skills/training and expensive equipment are needed.
  • Involves higher risks and barriers to entry.

Very Difficult

Level of difficulty: 5

  • Demands significant investment and expertise.
  • Extensive skills, licenses, permits, and high startup capital are required.
  • Features a steep learning curve and regulatory hurdles.

Ready to check out our best side hustle ideas? Let’s get started!

Online-Based Side Hustles

Online side hustles are great for people with full-time jobs because they offer flexibility to earn extra income on their own schedule. Plus, most online hustles don't require a physical presence, allowing people to work from anywhere with an internet connection.

1. Participate in Research Studies

If you don’t have enough time to commit to a consistent schedule, one of the easiest online side hustles is participating in research studies conducted by universities, companies, or organizations. These paid opportunities typically involve completing surveys, testing products, or participating in online focus groups related to your demographic.

A few paid online survey websites are:

  1. American Consumer Opinion
  2. AOC Marketing Research
  3. Carnegie Mellon University Center for Behavior and Decision Research
  4. Fieldwork

One important thing to remember when deciding which platform to participate in research studies is that each study will pay differently. Some may pay in “coins” that you cash in after you’ve built up to a certain amount, while others will pay in gift cards. However, while the earning potential is relatively low, it requires little effort beyond having a computer and internet access.

- Difficulty Level: 1

- Startup Costs: Low to none

- Other Requirements: Access to a computer, internet connection

2. Take Online Surveys

Like participating in research studies, taking online surveys is an easy way to generate a little extra income from home. Companies and marketing firms use paid survey respondents to gather consumer opinions, feedback, and data. While earnings are modest, it's a no-cost side hustle that only requires a computer or mobile device with internet access.

Sites like Swagbucks, InboxDollars, and Survey Junkie can connect you with opportunities to start your side hustle.

- Difficulty Level: 1

- Startup Costs: Low to none

- Other Requirements: Access to a computer, internet connection

3. Freelancing

The gig economy has made freelancing one of the most popular and lucrative side hustle options. Besides setting your schedule and working from the comfort of your own home, you can also choose what projects you want to work on — giving you complete control of how much time (or how little) you want to commit to.

As a freelancer, you can choose a particular niche to focus on, such as:

  • Social media management
  • Copywriting
  • Graphic design
  • Web development
  • Bookkeeping
  • Virtual assistance

You can turn this side hustle idea into a real business by building a portfolio, creating an online presence, and utilizing freelance job boards and your network to find gigs. Websites like Upwork, Fiverr, and Remote.io are great places to start.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Low to moderate, depending on the equipment and software needed

- Other Requirements: Relevant skills and experience

4. Start a Podcast

With podcast popularity rising, starting your own audio show can be a fun and creative side hustle. Whether you produce solo commentary, interview guests, or explore a niche topic, the key to success is to have interesting and consistent content.

You'll need to invest some initial money in equipment like mics and editing software. However, many people have started a podcast with an affordable mic from Amazon, their smartphone or laptop, and a quiet space at home. Spotify for Podcasters is a great free option for anyone wanting to get started on their first podcast episode within minutes of signing up.

If you’re wondering how to take this side hustle idea and make money — we have you covered! Once you get started, you can partner with different companies and get paid through sponsored advertisements or use affiliate links that listeners can click on while listening to your latest episode.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Moderate for equipment and hosting

- Other Requirements: Interesting content, marketing skills

Ceara Kirkpatrick is a content creator and co-host of the podcast Already Friends. She announced to her TikTok followers that her goal was to turn her side hustle as a podcaster into a full-time career. She profits from her podcast through sponsored ads and affiliate marketing.

5. Launch Print-on-Demand Store

If you don’t want to commit a ton of time to a side hustle and are creative, a Print-on-demand side hustle may be just for you! Print-on-demand (POD) businesses allow you to sell customized products like t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, and more without holding inventory.

It’s a great passive side hustle idea. You can use a service like Printful to upload your artwork or designs to be printed and shipped after a customer orders. The main requirements are skills for creating appealing designs and marketing your custom merchandise on your website, social media platforms, or Etsy.

While there ​​are currently over 228K print-on-demand stores worldwide, if you find a niche, create unique designs and products, and market your online store, you can have a successful side hustle that could turn into a full-time business.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Low to moderate for design tools and marketing

- Other Requirements: Design skills, product research

6. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing involves earning commissions by promoting and selling other companies' products or services on your own platform, such as a blog, podcast, social media, or email list.

To start, you'll need to get accepted into company affiliate programs and receive a unique affiliate link or code to track your sales attribution. Successful affiliate marketers provide valuable content and recommendations related to the products while utilizing marketing strategies to drive people to their affiliate link sites.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Low to moderate for a website and marketing

- Other Requirements: Knowledge of affiliate programs and marketing

7. Become an E-Commerce Reseller

For those willing to put in more effort and investment, becoming an e-commerce reseller can be a lucrative side hustle with full-time income potential. Resellers source in-demand products at discounted prices or from retail arbitrage, then market and resell those items at a profit on platforms like Amazon, eBay, or their online store on their website.

The challenges of this side hustle idea include upfront inventory costs, identifying profitable products, creating listings or a website that stands out, managing shipping and fulfillment, and marketing effectively.

- Difficulty Level: 5

- Startup Costs: Moderate to high for inventory and shipping

- Other Requirements: Product sourcing, marketing skills

Service-Based Side Hustles

Service-based side hustles are popular among people who enjoy working directly with others and making a tangible impact. These include professionals looking to boost their income, students needing flexible work schedules, and retirees wanting to stay active.

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1. Deliver Food or Groceries (DoorDash, UberEats)

On-demand delivery has become one of the most accessible service side hustles available. Companies like DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Instacart allow independent contractors to make food and grocery deliveries on a flexible schedule using their own vehicles, bikes, or e-bikes. Besides maintaining your chosen transportation, it’s a fairly easy side gig to get started with and can fit around your other commitments.

- Difficulty Level: 2

- Startup Costs: Low for transportation

- Other Requirements: Valid driver's license, insured vehicle, bike, or e-bike

Ronald Coleman lives in Hawaii and has worked as a DoorDasher since 2022. After looking at his 1099 for the 2022 tax year, Ronald was amazed to see that he made over $100,000 DoorDashing.

2. Dog Walker

For animal lovers, dog walking can be an easy side gig to pick up. Aside from basic supplies like leashes and waste bags, the main requirements are a genuine love for dogs and the physical capability to walk for extended periods. To get started, you can find clients on apps like Rover or Wag or market your services independently on social media or by creating a website.

- Difficulty Level: 2

- Startup Costs: Low for supplies

- Other Requirements: Love for animals, physical fitness

3. Mow Lawns or Do Yard Work

A simple yet effective warm-weather side hustle idea is providing lawn mowing and yard maintenance services in your local area. Startup costs for essential lawn equipment like a mower, trimmer, and basic tools are relatively low. The main requirements are the physical capability to perform the labor and transportation to get around your community. You can market your services on neighborhood Facebook pages, through websites like GreenPal and TaskRabbit, by putting up flyers or business cards in mailboxes. You can also encourage customers to refer you to their friends and family to help you build a larger customer base.

- Difficulty Level: 2

- Startup Costs: Low for equipment

- Other Requirements: Physical fitness, transportation

4. Pet Sitting or Dog Daycare

Another great option for animal lovers is pet sitting or operating a dog daycare. This allows you to capitalize on your love for pets while providing a valuable service to owners needing pet care. Start-up costs are moderate for supplies like crates, beds, and toys, as well as marketing, insurance, and ensuring you have the proper space and environment set up. Getting certified in pet CPR and first aid can also increase credibility.

- Difficulty Level: 2

- Startup Costs: Moderate for supplies and marketing

- Other Requirements: Love for animals, proper space

5. Detail Cars

If you have an eye for detail and don't mind getting your hands dirty, then starting a mobile car detailing service could be the best side hustle idea for you! Start-up costs involve investing in quality auto detailing supplies and equipment and having reliable transportation to different locations. You can market your services through local newspaper ads, social media, flyers, and word-of-mouth to help you land clients looking for professional car cleaning and protection services.

- Difficulty Level: 2

- Startup Costs: Moderate for equipment and supplies

- Other Requirements: Transportation, marketing skills

6. Photographer or Videographer

Offering photography or videography services can be a rewarding side hustle for those with a creative eye and editing talents. However, startup costs are higher due to the need to invest in quality camera gear and editing software/computers. You'll also need skills for marketing your services, building a portfolio on your website to showcase your work, and staying on top of your niche's latest techniques and trends.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Moderate to high for equipment

- Other Requirements: Creative skills, marketing abilities

7. Local Handyman

If you're skilled at basic home repairs and DIY projects, working as a local handyman could be a great side hustle for you. You'll need to invest in a toolkit of necessary equipment and reliable transportation to get to various job sites. Marketing strategies include creating a website, posting ads, leaving brochures, and getting listed on services like Thumbtack to find homeowners needing your handyman services.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Moderate for tools and transportation

- Other Requirements: Skills in carpentry, plumbing, etc.

Product-Based Side Hustles

Product-based side hustles are great for creative individuals who enjoy making physical items or sourcing unique products to sell. They're a great side hustle idea for crafters, artists, or anyone with a passion for design and production.

1. Start Flipping Furniture

For those with an eye for design and refinishing abilities, furniture flipping can be one of the best side hustle ideas! It involves sourcing unwanted or outdated furniture at low costs from second-hand stores, estate sales, or online listings. Then, you clean up and refinish each piece with paint, stain, new hardware, or reupholstering to increase its value and aesthetics. You can market your items on social media, a website, or by taking the items to your local flea markets.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Moderate for inventory and supplies

- Other Requirements: Eye for design, marketing skills

Jessica May Smith started her side hustle of flipping furniture and quickly grew it into a profitable small business. She shares her experiences on TikTok and teaches her followers how to start their own furniture-flipping businesses. Jessica took her business one step further by creating a Furniture Flip Starter Kit that shows the recommended tools she uses, which are affiliate links.

2. Personalized Gifts and Keepsakes

Customized and personalized products make great gifts and drive a steady income stream. Options include etched glassware, engraved jewelry, embroidered bags or apparel, custom art or prints, or personalized home decor. While supply and equipment costs are relatively low, you'll need creative skills and marketing prowess to successfully productize and promote your custom designs and offerings.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Low to moderate for supplies and equipment

- Other Requirements: Creative skills, marketing abilities

3. DIY Beauty and Skincare Products

Homemade beauty and skincare products like soaps, lotions, bath bombs, and cosmetics have become popular niche items. While the ingredients and packaging costs are relatively low, you'll need to understand proper formulation, manufacturing, and labeling protocols for safely making and selling such products. Creative marketing can help your botanicals-based items stand out in this market.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Low to moderate for ingredients and packaging

- Other Requirements: Knowledge of ingredients, proper labeling

4. Handmade Crafts and Art

For arts and crafts enthusiasts, producing homemade items like jewelry, candles, pottery, needlework, woodworking projects, and more can enable a fun side hustle. After budgeting for your chosen materials and specialized equipment, the key is honing your creative skills while developing an eye-catching brand and successfully marketing your handmade crafts through online platforms, craft fairs, boutiques, and more.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Low to moderate for supplies and equipment

- Other Requirements: Creative skills, marketing abilities

5. Customized Home Decor

From custom furniture to wall art, signs, centerpieces, and more, customized home decor presents another good side hustle opportunity for those with a creative design aesthetic. Depending on your niche, common supplies may include wood, paint, stencils, stains, fabric, and more. In addition to the moderate startup costs, you'll need skills for creating attractive custom designs that can be effectively marketed and sold to homeowners.

- Difficulty Level: 3

- Startup Costs: Moderate for supplies and equipment

- Other Requirements: Design skills, marketing abilities

6. Sell Produce/Plants at Farmers' Markets

If you have a green thumb and available land, selling homegrown produce at local farmers' markets can be a lucrative side business. However, significant startup costs are required for seeds, soil, tools, supplies, and any permitting or zoning required in your area. You'll also need in-depth gardening expertise and the physical labor and time required to grow and harvest quality fruits and veggies to sell successfully.

- Difficulty Level: 5

- Startup Costs: Moderate for seeds, equipment, and supplies

- Other Requirements: Gardening skills, permits

7. Meal-Prepping Service

Starting a meal-prepping service can be a great way to tap into the growing demand for healthy, ready-to-eat meals. This business involves preparing and selling meals that cater to specific dietary needs, like gluten-free, keto, or vegan options. It requires an initial investment in kitchen space, cooking equipment, and ingredients. You'll also need the right food handling certifications. If you're good at cooking and understand nutrition, this could be a rewarding side hustle, offering convenience and healthy options to busy people.

- Difficulty Level: 5

- Startup Costs: Moderate to high for ingredients and packaging

- Other Requirements: Cooking skills, proper licensing

4 Things to Consider Before Turning Your Side Hustle into a Full-Time Business

For some, a successful side hustle can grow into much more than just supplemental income.

If your part-time gig is showing promising signs of potentially becoming a full-fledged business, there are a few key indicators to consider when leaping:

1. Consistent and Increasing Demand

Pay attention to whether there is a steady and growing demand for your products or services. If customer interest keeps growing, your side hustle can support you full-time. You can also think about selling in new places or offering new things to strengthen your business.

2. Steady Income Growth

Check if your side hustle's income steadily grows each month and year. This growth could eventually replace the money you currently make from your primary job. It's also essential to predict how much money your side hustle could make in the future to help you decide if it's a good idea to go full-time.

3. Passion and Fulfillment

Working on something you are genuinely passionate about can be incredibly motivating. If your side hustle brings you joy and fulfillment, it stands a better chance of thriving as a full-time business. Passion-driven ventures often have higher success rates.

4. Potential for Scalability

Think about whether you can grow your side hustle into a bigger, full-time business. This means figuring out if you can increase the amount of products or services you offer without too much trouble. If you have systems and methods in place that can handle more work, it will be easier to make your side hustle a full-time job.

Take Your Best Side Hustle Idea and Start Today

Whatever direction you decide to take, the most important thing is choosing something you're genuinely enthusiastic about and can realistically balance with your existing work and life demands. Don't be afraid to start small and validate your side hustle idea before investing too much time and money upfront.

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As your side gig gains traction, be diligent about marketing and promoting your products or services through online and offline channels. Always keep an eye out for opportunities to grow to help you make more money, and if you desire, turn your side hustle into a full-time venture.

The journey may not be easy, but taking that first step to start your side hustle today can open up exciting entrepreneurial possibilities tomorrow.

So what are you waiting for?

Start brainstorming the best side hustle ideas that align with your passions and skillsets today!

And get ready to hustle – the financial freedom and lifestyle you've been dreaming about may be closer than you think.

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