It’s 2021, and we’re all stuck at home trying to figure out what to do to stay entertained and figure out how we’re going to pay next month’s rent.
We’ve recently learned that full-time work isn’t as stable as we once thought. It’s never a bad idea to have additional income coming in, whether you just need some extra cash or you want to replace your full income.
That’s where a side hustle comes in.
We often think of side hustles as something we do in our free time, but they’re much more than that. Sometimes they turn into full-time gigs we’re uber passionate about and other times, they help us relieve stress by sinking our teeth into something we love.
Starting a side hustle can open up a whole host of doors that weren’t there before. So, if you have little spark in your heart to start one up, there’s no better time than right now. Here are the side hustles we’ll be talking about:
- Online course creator
- Digital product creator
- Virtual assistant
Best side hustles
Side hustles can truly be whatever you want. You can focus on a topic that you really love or start working on something that you’re really good at and enjoy to do.
I’m a writer at my core, so blogging is one of my favourite side hustle opportunities.
Besides this blog, I run several others that help bring in my overall income. The one that I’m most passionate about is my plus size fashion and lifestyle blog, Hello Taee.
This little blog is turning into a mini empire of its own since I added its accompanying podcast, The Fattest Girl in the Room. I also plan to add digital products, select dropshipping items and a membership component in the future.
It’s all part of my master plan.
Blogs are easy and inexpensive to get started on. I started mine with Siteground for $6.99 per month (a steal of a deal) and a domain name from Namecheap that cost less than $15. That’s less than $25 to start a blog today.
I would also recommend adding a $9.99 per month Tailwind plan to push content because it’s one of the fastest ways to grow your audience. Even with that addition, you’re looking at less than $35 to start a blog side hustle.
How do bloggers make money?
There are a number of ways that bloggers can make money—we won’t get into all of them in this post, but two of the most popular are through affiliate marketing and advertising.
Affiliate marketing is when a blogger makes money by promoting products or services for other companies and makes a small commission on it. For example, if you click on that Tailwind link above and make a purchase, I get 15 percent of your first month’s fee. The best part is, it doesn’t actually add anything to the purchase price.
It’s a great way to make money if you have a larger, highly-engaged audience. Hello Taee makes money through fashion links and this blog makes money through affiliates with the different programs I use for my own business and promote. It’s not always the most money, but it does pay off in the long run.
On the other hand, advertising requires you to put ads or ad slots onto your website and you get a kickback when people click through on ads they’re interested in. You can also make money for your blog with product sales, membership components and sponsored posts.
What can you blog about?
The other reason I love blogging is because you can literally blog about anything. If you’re passionate and are ready to create comprehensive and consistent content, you can most likely make money from it.
But if you’re looking for topics that are more likely to make money from, these tend to be higher grossing blog niches:
Podcasting is basically blogging via audio, though there’s a lot more you can do format-wise that can make it interesting for your audience.
Podcasts come in all shapes and sizes. I’m a podcast lover and I happen to have three of my own podcasts (though they’re not all currently running), and I help produce and market a number of other podcasts as well.
My most popular podcast is The Lady Dicks. I create it with my best friend and we talk about haunted and weird history, mostly about places that you can travel to. We also produce a blogging component.
This podcast is relatively inexpensive to make, but it does take a lot of research, audio editing and promotion to get it out there. But we work hard and we have a decent sized audience right now.
It probably costs roughly $1,000 per year to run the podcast, plus the cost of equipment and other tools that we need. We use Captivate.fm as our host, I highly recommended them.
How do podcasters make money?
Most people say that if you start a podcast simply to make money you’ll likely fail—and I agree with this. But I also believe that any podcast can make some real money if you’re willing to work hard and produce a good show and put yourself out there for prospective sponsors.
Just like blogging, there are a lot of ways that podcasters can make money. But here are some of the most popular:
- Audience support through a platform like Patreon
- Sponsorships, ads and affiliate links
- Product sales
What kind of podcast can you make?
Again, just like blogging, there are a ton of different types of podcasts that you can make. And all of them have the potential to make money if you do it right. But some of the more popular genres of podcasts include:
- True crime
- Film and TV
- Personal development
- Current events
If you have daydreams about running your own retail store but aren’t willing to put the cash upfront to open a retail store or something that you have to keep products on-hand, then dropshipping might be the best side hustle solution for you.
This is one of the best side hustles for those who like to source products, write sales copy and create marketing plans and content. It can be a fun journey that has the potential to make you a pretty penny if you’re willing to work for it.
How do dropshippers make money?
Making money dropshipping is pretty self explanatory. You source products, set a sale price and start marketing. People order products and voila, you’ve got extra cash!
The best part about dropshipping is that it saves you a ton of money because you don’t have to purchase the products upfront, nor do you have to pay for storage. It’s a low-cost, easy to run side hustle.
What kind of dropshipping store can you start?
You can start a dropshipping store that sells anything under the sun. But it’s generally understood that niche stores do better than sell anything stores. And there are a few types of stores that tend to see higher successes:
- Specific luxury products
- Pet supplies
- Exercise equipment
- Home theatre and electronics
If you have a skill that you’re ready to start selling right now, then freelancing might be the way to go for your side hustle.
Freelancing is a great way to set your own schedule. So long as you’re comfortable meeting deadlines you can usually do your work whenever you want—if a client is dictating your work times, you’re not really freelancing.
This is a great side hustle opportunity for those that are looking to work on different projects with different people. You’ll get a great variety, which can be a ton of fun.
How do freelancers make money?
Freelancers make money by selling a service.
I started out lot of freelancing writing for publications like Skyscanner and The Frugalpreneur, and have since moved on to work more in the ghostwriting area. When I do this, we agree to a set rate or a cost-per-word rate. I then write the article, hand it in and bill them.
Freelancers can make a pretty penny once they’re well-established, but you do need to do a lot of work finding and maintaining clients.
What kind of freelancer can you be?
You can pretty much freelance in any niche that you want. But there are some areas that are easier to freelance in:
- Graphic design
- Social media
- Video editing
- Audio editing
Specifically interested in a freelance career as a travel writer? Good, cause I wrote a whole post on just that!
Online course creator
Online course creation can be one of the best side hustles for those that love to teach and encourage learning.
It creates a mixed passive and active income, depending on how big your audience is (though you do always want to be growing) and how your course is designed.
How do online course creators make money?
Online course creators make money by selling their courses.
It’s a pretty simple method and one that can remain at least partially passive. You create a course today, package it up and sell it to someone tomorrow or six months down the road.
You do have to actively market your courses. And if you’re planning on creating a course that has a live component, you will have to take a more active role in your course.
What kind of courses can you make?
You can make a course about anything you’re interested in and comfortable teaching. Now-a-days, you can find a course on any subject that you could dream up from creating a budget to packing for your next vacation.
Any course that’s well-made and well-marketed will likely have an audience. But if you’re looking to brainstorm topics, here are some popular ones to think about:
- Marketing how tos
- Business how tos
- Lifestyle how tos
- Mindset and motivation courses
- Program learnings (like using Canva or WordPress)
A coaching side hustle means that you are directly teaching or guiding someone along a path. They want to be better at financial management, you help them create a plan and stay on track.
Coaching is a great side hustle if you like to have face-time with clients and you’re passionate about helping other people succeed in your chosen coaching area.
But coaching does require a lot of one-on-one time, which means you’re only able to take on a certain amount of clients a time. Typically coaches have higher paid fees and use bigger online programs to create the income they want.
How do coaches make money?
Coaches mostly make money though one-on-one coaching service packages or through online coaching courses that they sell. But, as a coach, you can package up your coaching program however you want to.
Typically, coaches get a flat fee or a per-session fee that their clients pay upfront. But some offer longer-term programs and get the fees for that as well.
What kind of coach can you be?
You can coach anything that you’re comfortable teaching, anything that you have more experience than the person you’re going to coach. But there are some more popular coaching niches:
- Career coaching
- Mindset coaching
- Relationship coaching
- Health coaching
- Financial coaching
- Business coaching
If you’re an expert in a particular area or topic, you might want to consider making consulting your side hustle.
This is a great side hustle because you could theoretically start today and make money tomorrow, you just have to find the right clients.
I act as a marketing and podcasting consultant for some of my clients. While it’s a fun side hustle that you can potentially make a big chunk of cash for products in, you do have to constantly be finding clients—even when you think your roster is full.
This is a great side hustle for those who are looking for an active side hustle with lots of client face-time.
How do consultants make money?
Consultants make money by selling a service. They find clients, sell them their service, perform the service and get paid (sometimes they get paid beforehand, it’s really up to you).
Consulting is a pretty hands-on side hustle. As a consultant, you’ll have to connect with your clients and talk on a regular basis. Then you have to actually perform the work you’re hired to do.
This is not a great example of passive income. But you can add passive income like digital products to your roster to help bolster your pay. This can also be a great way to gear people up to sell your higher-priced income.
What kind of consultant can you be?
You can consult on pretty much anything you want to. If people need the services, you can bet there’s a consultant out there that will help them do what they need. But here are some popular niches for your side hustle:
- Marketing or PR
- Legal consultant
- Financial consultant
- Podcasting consultant
- Organization or productivity
- Career consultant
- Image or style consultant
Digital product creator
Digital products are another great side hustle, especially if you’re looking for a more passive income.
You create a digital product like an eBook once, upload it to your site and market it. Then people can purchase it today, three weeks or even 12 months down the road and you make money.
You’ll want these products to look nice and be well-created, but they tend to be fairly low cost to create. You can use a product like Canva to create a product, download it into a PDF or template (you need Canva Pro to create templates) and sell it as is.
How do you make money selling digital products?
Making money selling digital products is pretty self explanatory. You make a product, set a price and list it in your online storefront. Someone then purchases the product and you send it to them.
Voila, you’ve got extra cash!
But like any other product you need to make sure that you market them to the audience they’re built. No one can buy a product if they don’t know it exists.
What kind of digital products can you sell?
Anything that you can package up and sell online (that doesn’t have to be a physical product that someone can touch or hold) can be sold as a digital product. But here are some more popular types of digital products that you can start selling today:
- Audio files like jingles or sound effects
- Stock videos
- Stock images
- Stock graphics
- Patterns or templates
- Paid newsletters
Online courses are also a form of digital product. But I did put them in their own category since they tend to be a main product to sell that creators make additional products like eBooks or templates to support.
Being a virtual assistant is akin to being a consultant in my books. But since most people classify it separately and this is probably not the first post you’ve read on the topic of best side hustles, I wanted to include it separately to avoid confusion.
The term virtual assistant is really open to interpretation, but generally it describes someone who is self-employed who provides administrative, technical or creative assistance remotely.
You can be a virtual assistant that specializes in social media, podcast production or even organizational systems—you can essentially provide any service that you’re really good at and you enjoy working on.
How do virtual assistants make money?
Virtual assistants make money in the same way that consultants make money. They perform a service and bill a client for that service.
You can be a virtual assistant that provides a monthly service. This way you get recurring income that’s easier to predict. Or you can be a virtual assistant that works on a per-project basis.
You can also bill for packages, products or hourly.
What kind of personal assistant can you be?
Like I said earlier, you can specialize in whatever your heart desires as a virtual assistant. But if you’re looking for a few niche topics that are popular, these are typically them:
- Blog assistant
- Social media assistant
- Administrative assistant
- Research assistant
- Marketing assistant
- eCommerce assistant
How to pick the best side hustle for you
If I had it my way, I’d have a billion different side hustles. I LOVE starting and building new projects. In addition to my current roster, I fully have plans to start a book blog, pug-specific dog blog and a retail store through Shopify.
Will I ever get to start all of these? Who knows… but it’s seriously fun to dream about.
Picking the best side hustle for you to start can be a bit of a daunting task. There are so many great choices out there and it can be hard to settle on the one you want to start today.
But the longer you ponder, the more time you’re losing from making your dream a reality. And if you’re itching to get started right now, it can be frustrating.
So, here’s what you should think about when you’re choosing the best side hustle for you:
- What are you most passionate about? If you love food, you’ll probably want to focus on an outlet where you can pursue that. Likewise, if you are really into taking notes and keeping the books up-to-date, then you might want to focus on that.
- What are you good at? If you’re not much of a writer and you don’t want to learn, blogging is definitely not like you.
- What level of interaction do you want to have with other people? A side hustle that involves consulting or being a virtual assistant is going to involve way more one-on-one client care than creating and selling a digital product.
- How patient are you? Starting a blog can take a lot longer to see the money flow in than consulting.
- How hands-on do you want the money making to be? While blogs often take longer to make money, the money they make is way more hands off, passive you could say, than consulting.
- What sounds most appealing to you? Because appeal really does matter.
When it comes to picking the best side hustle for you, you want to take your time and decide on what you want to put in and get out of it. But you don’t want to take so long that you’re overthinking it.
You can absolutely start a side hustle, it’s just up to you what that looks like!
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