Did you know that as many as 45% of Americans have a side hustle now? It’s probably no secret to you—you may even know more than one person who’s working on a side hustle or two at this point.
The fact is, 9-to-5 jobs just aren’t cutting it for many Americans anymore. Even if your day job does cover all your bills, many are left without much cash to spare for extra expenses.
This is where the power of a good side hustle comes in.
Starting a side hustle can help not only ease your financial stress but also open up the opportunity for true personal and financial growth.
But if you’re going to dedicate your precious spare time to more work, you’re going to want to make sure it’s worth it, right? Well, what better place to start your research than narrowing down the best side hustles out there.
In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the top side hustle ideas out there. And I’ve thrown in some extra insights to help you pick the best one for you.
Sound good? Well, let’s jump into it.
What are side hustles?
I’ll kick things off by getting our main definition out of the way: what is a side hustle, exactly?
A side hustle is work you pursue outside of your regular job to make extra cash. They typically involve working for yourself.
Side hustles can give people the chance to grow their skills and pursue something they’re passionate about, all while making extra dough.
But wait, what’s the difference between freelancing and a side hustle?
There’s some overlap, but they’re quite not the same.
When you’re a freelancer, you sell pre-defined services, like graphic design or writing, under a contracted relationship with a client (an individual, agency, or company).
So, your side hustle can be freelancing, and, in fact, many side hustles do involve freelancing—it’s one of the top side hustles out there.
The difference is that:
- Freelancing can be part-time only, but it can also be a full-time career.
- Side hustling can also involve traditional employment, other types of self-employment, entrepreneurship/business ownership, or other money-making projects—it’s not just freelancing.
All it takes to be a side hustle is that it 1) makes money and 2) is on the side of your regular job.
16 best side hustle ideas
Freelancing is easily one of the best side hustles to make money online. It allows you to monetize your skillset on your own time with lucrative earning potential.
It’s also incredibly flexible. With freelancing, you get to choose exactly who you work with, which projects you take on, when you work, and where you work.
And if all that isn’t good enough, possibly the best thing about freelancing is that you get to set your own rates, taking control over your growth.
Yep, you’ll have full dominion over how much you can make. You can determine how much time you want to spend on your side hustle and your monthly earnings goal and set your rate from there.
To get started freelancing right away, I typically recommend signing up for a freelancing platform, like Upwork or FlexJobs. There are a ton of freelance sites out there that facilitate your ability to get projects quickly—walking you through your job proposal, client communication, and all the way to getting paid with ease.
To be successful at freelancing, it does take both hustle and know-how. The hard work will come from you, but you don’t have to go at it alone! It’s my mission to help talented people navigate the world of freelancing and build the lifestyles they want for themselves.
If freelancing interests you, check out my free, 5 day course to discover 5 ways to increase your earning potential with freelancing.
Dropshipping is another lucrative option for a side hustle, but it is one of the more challenging ones!
The way dropshipping works is that you create a storefront online without purchasing any inventory ahead of time. You’ll work with a third-party supplier, only purchasing the necessary items from them when a customer makes an order. Then, the supplier ships the order on your behalf.
Some of your main tasks will include picking a solid supplier, creating an online storefront, and handling all the marketing and customer service.
One of the main perks of dropshipping is that it allows you to become a business owner with little to no investment to get started.
However, dropshipping does take a lot of initial research and set up to do it right, but it definitely can be done well.
3. Social media management
Social media management is a great option for a side hustle.
You can reach out to a local business and offer to run one or more of their social channels for them. This will typically involve regular posting, copywriting, researching and choosing relevant hashtags, and responding to comments and DMs.
But the list can get shorter or much longer, so be sure to clearly define the scope of work you’re willing to commit to ahead of time.
You can spend an hour or two on one account each week, charging anywhere from $25-$100+ per hour depending on the scope of work and the value you can bring.
Whether you’re an amateur photographer or highly skilled, photography could make a great side hustle for you.
Apart from creating a photography service for things like weddings, graduations, headshots, etc., you could also sell prints or add your photography to products, like mugs and T-shirts.
Or you can become a contributor with sites like Shutterstock or Adobe Stock to sell your photos.
As far as downsides to consider, there are initial and upkeep costs for equipment and software. Also, it’s also a pretty saturated field, so you’ll definitely need to have a great eye and market yourself well to stand out.
When it comes to the best online side hustles, blogging is a really great option, especially for those already keen on writing and content creation.
Bloggers have a unique opportunity to get paid just talking (or writing, rather) about the things they’re passionate about. You get to choose what you say, when you say it, and how you monetize it.
You can monetize your blog through sponsorships, ads, affiliate marketing, selling physical and digital products, or all of the above.
Setting up your blog, content, and monetization can take some time, but once you get things going, you can get a comfortable stream of income coming in.
One person to follow to learn blogging is Ryan Robinson. Here’s an interview with him on my podcast, Creative Elements:
I highly recommend Ryan Robinson’s Built to Blog course.
6. Affiliate marketing
Speaking of affiliate marketing, you can start a side hustle solely focused on affiliate marketing through websites or social media.
Affiliate marketing works by letting brand “affiliates” (you) earn a commission for promoting the brand’s products to your audience on a website or your social media accounts.
Generally, it does require having an audience to begin with, though. So keep that in mind.
You can make a lot with affiliate marketing, so it’s definitely one of the best online side hustles to consider. And one of the best things about it is that there’s no cost to get started.
7. Focus groups
Participating in focus groups is a unique side hustle option that tends to pay well for your time.
You can make an extra couple hundred dollars each month just by spending a few hours answering questions and sharing your opinions about a product, service, or concept.
The only con is that it can be difficult to get picked for one.
And some focus groups do require you to go to a physical location in your area, but there are also online only options.
All it takes to get started is googling focus groups in your area or signing up through a popular research partner like Schlesinger Group.
YouTube definitely takes a hustle, but once you get your footing, it’s one of the best side hustles to make money around.
If you can learn to play to YouTube’s algorithm, you can grow your channel quickly and potentially make a ton of money.
YouTube channels can be monetized similar to blogs: typically via ads, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing. Maybe Youtubers also make money by making and promoting products, like their personal brand merchandise.
YouTube also provides an awesome opportunity to talk about and explore your passions.
You don’t need anything too fancy to get going—many YouTubers start out with just their smartphone and a free video editing software. However, depending on the content you want to make, there may ultimately be some equipment and software costs involved.
9. Online tutoring
People always need tutors, so online tutoring is a good side hustle that won’t be going away any time soon.
If you’re knowledgeable on a certain topic, there’s likely a parent or student who’s willing to pay you to help them/their child understand it better.
Even if you feel like you only have a basic understanding of something, you can likely still help a six-year-old out with it.
Or you can help someone practice speaking in your native language.
And the beauty of online tutoring? You can schedule as many or few sessions as you want, and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home.
Ask around to families you know, post your services on your local coffee shop’s bulletin board, or use a site like Wyzant or Chegg to get started.
10. Website building
Website building is a side hustle that requires some existing skills and knowledge (or, at least, a lot of passion), but if you have ‘em, this could be an amazing side hustle for you.
According to GoodFirms, the average cost of building a basic website is $3,200. Yep, that’s $3,200 you could have going into your bank account… potentially each month if you’re able to fit it into your schedule.
A website building side hustle is also a great way to refine your skills and create a portfolio of work for you to show off.
And websites tend to require maintenance, so even after you’re done building it, you could charge a monthly retainer fee to keep things updated for your clients.
11. Airbnb host
Being an Airbnb host is easily one of the most lucrative side hustles—as well as the best money for your time—BUT it comes with the caveat of actually needing to own a property in the first place.
You don’t need to have a separate home for this to work, though. If you happen to have a spare room or even some backyard space (yes, backyard camping Airbnbs are a thing), you could rent them out for a good chunk of change, depending on where you live.
Of course, with Airbnbing also comes dealing with guests, cleaning, spending time building your rental’s profile, etc., but this side hustle could easily bring you in an extra $1,000+ each month.
12. Selling art online
Whether you’re already an artist, artistically inclined, or just handy at using computer software, you could start your side hustle selling art online.
Etsy is a popular route to sell artwork and printables, or you could opt to place your designs on T-shirts and mugs through websites like Society6 and Teespring.
It’s a good idea to build up a social media presence to help promote your art. If you get a good following and your art is well-marketed, this side hustle could provide a decent amount of extra money each month.
Here’s an episode of my podcast, Creative Elements, I recorded with Cat Coquillette about selling art online.
13. eBook writing
If you’re good at writing and looking for side hustles from home, why not start writing eBooks in your spare time?
You could go at it on your own—researching trending topics and self-publishing via Amazon or Apple Books (it’s shockingly easy to do). Or, you could go the freelance eBook writing route, which typically means ghostwriting.
As I mentioned earlier, with freelancing, you can set your own rates and take on the projects you like—this path guarantees an income.
However, self-publishing has a much greater risk but potentially a greater reward too. If your books pick up, you could be making great passive income.
Keep in mind that self-publishing an eBook is not just writing, though; it also takes research, editing, design, and marketing skills to make it successful.
14. Driving/Delivery driving
Driving for Uber, Lyft, or Doordash, etc., is one of the most popular side hustles around.
Why? Because they’re incredibly easy side hustles to get started making money with; all you have to do is sign up.
Keep in mind that you’re likely going to earn much more driving people around than delivering food. But, of course, then you have to deal with people in your car.
Some other things to consider with these are the cost of gas and the wear and tear on your vehicle.
However, if you want quick cash, this could be a good option to jump into in your free time.
15. Dog walking
Love dogs? As far as easy side hustles go, dog walking is one of the best options.
With apps like Rover and Wag!, you can quickly find a gig or two walking dogs in your area. It could make for a great morning or weekend side hustle for some simple cash.
Of course, one notable downside is that you’ll have to leave your home this one. But if dogs and walking suit you anyway, it may be worth the trip for you.
16. Mystery shopping
If you enjoy stepping down aisles and tapping plastic here, there, and everywhere, mystery shopping might be a fun and worthwhile side hustle for you.
What is mystery shopping?
Mystery shoppers (sometimes called secret shoppers) are hired by companies to secretly go into stores to evaluate the location, customer service, products, and overall experience and report it back to the company.
The cons to mystery shopping are: it’s a side hustle that does require leaving your home, and it isn’t going to bring in a ton of cash.
What is a good side hustle? Factors to consider
Now that we’ve listed the best side hustles out there, let’s go over some factors you should consider when picking the right hustle for you.
Your current skillset
When trying to find the best side hustle for you, why not start with one you already have skills for?
An effective side hustle is typically one you’re already skilled in—or one that doesn’t require special knowledge to get started with.
Why? Because it’s not a side hustle until you’re making money. If you already have the skills required to get going, you’ll be able to dive into the side hustle—and grow your bank account—immediately.
Of course, with any new endeavor, learning is still a part of the game—and learning new skills is also a benefit of starting a side hustle!
But it’s going to be really helpful to at least have the base level of knowledge required on a topic if you want to start earning cash quickly.
If you don’t have that base level of skills yet, you’re going to need a lot of passion…
Yes, it certainly doesn’t hurt if you’re passionate or at least interested in a given side hustle too. Having that drive will only help your success.
You’ll be so much more motivated to work on your hustle if it’s something that sparks some degree of curiosity or excitement.
Say you know nothing about website building, and it doesn’t speak to you in the slightest—I say don’t bother wasting your time then. There are plenty of other options, so why not start with a list of the ones that already interest you and narrow things down from there?
Of course, sometimes, a side hustle is just a means to an end. And that’s okay too.
When deciding on the best side hustle for you, it will be worth it to carefully weigh the other factors here, like your skills, the time commitment needed, how much you can make, etc., before diving into one.
Time commitment needed
The best side hustles are flexible. They’re typically online (though they don’t have to be), and they allow you to stay in control of when and where you work on them.
While it’s not a side hustle without the hustle, your side hustle shouldn’t take up so much time that it’s interfering with your regular job or leaving you exhausted and miserable.
Rather, it’s simply a tool you can use to make additional income on the side of your day job.
So, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Your time is valuable. It’s a good idea to pick a side hustle where you’ll have full control over your schedule and can plan ahead how much time you want to spend on it each day or week.
Some, not all, side hustles will require an initial investment. It’s important to make sure you have an understanding of what costs may be associated with a given gig before jumping into it.
For example, if you’re going into blogging, you may need to pay for things like a domain, website building and hosting service, email marketing tool, SEO tool, and more.
So, make sure you plan ahead. Decide if you’re planning to commit to the side hustle for a while and understand your goals for it; are you hoping to grow your side hustle?
Having a plan from the start will help you determine if it’s smart to make an investment, and ultimately if the side hustle will be worthwhile for you.
How much you can make
Perhaps the most important factor when picking a side hustle is your profit potential. The point is to make extra money, after all.
If you’re leveraging your free time for money, you’re going to want to make sure it’s worth it ahead of time.
Many side hustles tend to vary from person to person on how much you can make. It also depends on the gig itself, how much time you’re willing to put in, your skill level, and other factors.
Finally, decide early on whether you’re interested in eventually scaling up your side hustle or not.
Research and consider a side hustle’s scalability factors, like:
- can you differentiate and market yourself with this hustle,
- is it possible to increase your rates/profit,
- can you automate tasks,
- will you need to (and can you) hire others?
And so on.
Some side hustles are great for scaling, like freelancing or dropshipping, while others, like being a delivery driver, are simply “for now” hustles that won’t allow for any growth.
While some side hustles are easier than others, they’ll all require some degree of effort and commitment for you to be successful at pulling in extra cash.
You don’t need to overthink things, though—in fact, you’ll likely end up trying out multiple side hustles—but do your research on a given hustle before diving in to avoid any scams and help you weigh if it’s the right hustle to meet your goals.
This list is full of proven side hustles that people are making money with right now, so take your next steps by picking 1-2 to look into, and have fun hustling.
And if you’re interested in taking your next steps with freelancing, you’re in the right place.
You can start by checking out my How to Start Freelancing article that walks you through the exact steps you’ll need to begin your freelancing career.
Then, don’t forget to sign up for my free course, so you can learn how to make more money freelancing!