How to Start a Side Hustle (And Which One to Choose)
Learning how to start a side hustle could be your solution if you need extra income. There are many side gigs to choose from, although starting a side hustle business does require a bit of legwork.
You’ll quickly find that each sidejob has its own level of time and financial investment to get started. Below is a list of opportunities, including how to start a side hustle with no money at all.
20 sidejobs to start today
Overall, these side hustle ideas don’t require a lot of money or time up front to get started. However, all require you to have the basic equipment to do the job (like a computer and Wi-Fi access for online gigs) or have a unique skill or talent.
1. Stock photographer
Selling stock photography that’s used by other businesses and online publications can be a great sidejob for additional income. Depending on the platform you use, you might get paid for each accepted photo or upload photos to see if they sell. For example, Unsplash pays contributors for each image it accepts into its library, while Getty Images pays you a 15% to 45% royalty per image downloaded.
2. Rideshare driver
Rideshare apps, like Uber and Lyft, let you earn extra income by driving their customers to and from various destinations. Each app has different requirements, but typically you must be of a minimum age, have an eligible vehicle and a valid driver’s license, have insurance and undergo a screening process.
3. Local tour guide
Does your inner circle go to you for recommendations of the best that your city has to offer? If you’re willing to brush up on your talking points — like historic anecdotes and fun facts — this sidejob could be for you. Sites like Viator can help you get started.
4. Pet-sitter or dog-walker
Some pet owners need a pet-sitter while on vacation, while others might require a daily dog-walker to help keep their beloved family member happy. Services like Rover and Wag! let you earn money while meeting new furry friends in the process.
5. Virtual assistant
A virtual assistant remotely helps business owners, teams and other individuals in need of administrative assistance. You can explore this side hustle option through platforms like Wishup, Delegated or Zirtual.
6. Print-on-demand creator
A great side hustle is selling digital, printable assets (e.g., budgeting spreadsheets, annual calendars, bridal shower games, etc). Once you’ve created these printable downloads, sell them on sites like Etsy.
If you have a specialized technical or creative skill, then starting a freelancing side hustle can provide a lucrative income. Whether you offer writing, video editing or design skills, sites like Fivver and Upwork can connect you to new projects.
8. Thrift reseller
Building a resale business can be a good way to increase your income. For example, selling used clothes is a good option — aside from decluttering your own closet to sell online, you could even source goods at low prices from thrift stores. You can then resell these finds on popular apps and sites like Depop, Poshmark or eBay.
Make extra cash by tidying up overgrown grass and shrubs on residential yards and commercial spaces in your local area. You’ll need to invest in your own tools and equipment if you don’t already have them, but once you’re ready, sites like Thumbtack and MeetAGardener.com are helpful places to find customers.
As a dropshipper, you’ll create an e-commerce store that uses the order fulfillment business model. This means that you don’t need to buy inventory for your store; instead, order purchases are fulfilled by a third-party supplier, which you then ship. You can start your dropshipping sidejob on sites like Amazon or open your own Shopify store.
11. Delivery driver
If dropshipping feels like too much to keep track of, you can keep it simple by working as an app-based delivery driver. Depending on the app you partner with, you might be picking up and delivering groceries, take-out food or products. Try this side hustle on apps like Instacart, Grubhub or Shipt.
12. Online course creator
If you’re knowledgeable about a particular topic, whether you’re a houseplant expert or web development guru, you can create an online course to make money. Sites like Udemy and Teachable help you build a course and sell it right on the platform.
14. Airbnb host
Offering your home — whether an entire house or just a private room —can be an effective side hustle operation. You can host while you’re home or offer your home to guests on dates when you’re away on vacation. If this sounds doable, consider becoming an Airbnb host.
15. Errand runner
Start a business as a general errand runner. Tasks might include dropping off packages to a courier, picking up dry cleaning, taking a pet to the groomer and more. If this sidejob sounds like a match, note there are many online sites, like Bark, that can connect you to new clients.
16. Furniture flipper
If you’re crafty and you don’t mind investing a little time (and elbow grease) into your side hustle, consider furniture flipping. This side gig involves refurbishing quality furniture pieces and reselling the final product. You can sell flipped furniture at local flea markets, on Facebook marketplace or on Craigslist.
Another hands-on side gig is offering your time and physical labor. A handyperson might assemble an IKEA bedroom set for a customer, mount a TV onto a wall or do minor home repairs. You can find opportunities through sites like TaskRabbit, Handy and more.
18. Online translator
If you’re multilingual, you can leverage your skills into a money-generating sidejob. Online translators must of course be fluent in reading, writing and speaking a foreign language. Platforms like ProZ.com and Gengo can help you find translating gigs.
You can earn money for transcribing audio into text. Transcribers typically get paid by the audio hour, so it might be best-suited for those who type quickly and accurately. Services like Scribie and SpeakWrite are some places to find work.
You might have had experience back in high school babysitting for a neighbor or even just watching over a younger sibling. If this is something you feel comfortable with, check out a babysitter placement site such as Urbansitter —it might pay better than you remember.
How to start a side business in 5 steps
Whether you’re a dog-sitter or you plan on becoming a full-time freelance writer, you might want to start a business that’s subject to the laws and taxes governing your area.
If you’re going beyond the average delivery service or helper app and you want to start a full-blown business, below are five steps to take. (Or for a deeper dive, see our post on checklists for starting a business.)
- Decide if you need an employer identification number (EIN)
- File the appropriate business licenses and permits
- Select a business structure
- Get insurance
- Develop a system for tracking expenses and profits
1. Decide if you need an employer identification number (EIN)
An EIN is used to file your taxes appropriately and to identify what to pay your employees or contractors as your business grows. Most side hustles do not need an EIN — at least, not at first. However, that can change as your business grows and if you decide to hire staff.
2. File the appropriate business licenses and permits
To run a legal side business, there are licenses and permits you need. Rules vary from state to state and depend on what kind of business you operate. Some of the most common licenses and permits include:
- A home business license. Most states and counties require a home business license if you do any work from home.
- An occupational permit. Depending on what your business is, you may need an industry-specific permit. For example, if you sell baked goods, you might need a food processing and safety permit.
- “Doing business as” (DBA). If you are doing business under a name other than your own, then your city or state may require you to file a DBA application, which usually has a fee.
To find out what licenses and permits your particular business needs, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration site and click on the appropriate state. Likewise, be sure to check in with your local secretary of state.
3. Select a business structure
Most freelancers and side hustlers start out as sole proprietors. And when starting a side business, that’s usually a smart option. Here’s a breakdown of your options:
- Sole proprietorship. Under a sole proprietorship, one person is in business for themself. As the simplest business structure, you don’t have to file any extra paperwork, and there are no legal formalities when you want to change up your business.
- Limited liability company (LLC). An LLC business formation protects your personal assets from business debts. Many freelancers, especially freelance writers or designers, opt for an LLC to protect themselves in case of lawsuits.
- Incorporate. If you plan to grow your business into a multiperson, full-time operation with shareholders and investors, incorporating your business may be for you. New businesses can incorporate as either a C-class or an S-class company.
Check out our full guide to business structures for more information.
4. Get insurance
While many side gigs can be started without a lot of up-front investment, consider getting small business insurance before your side gig gets too large.
Whether you are a dog-groomer, driver, cleaner or computer repair person, insurance safeguards you and your business in case of an accident or mistake.
5. Develop a system for tracking expenses and profits
Managing taxes and income can be difficult. If you want to make your and your accountant’s lives simpler, come up with a system for tracking your side hustle’s finances. Start by doing the following:
- Open a business bank account. The IRS doesn’t require a business bank account for a side business or freelancing. However, a business bank account organizes your bank statements and offers a complete snapshot of all your income and expenses paid for the business.
- Open a business credit card. Similarly, opening a business credit card for business-related expenses makes separating your business versus personal transactions easier. This will make your tax-filing process go a little smoother.
- Keep receipts. Always keep copies of your receipts to help you during tax season when you file your returns. They also help protect you in case of an audit.
- Try business accounting software. A good business software platform can do everything from client tracking to bookkeeping and beyond. There are many choices out there, so shop around.
For more on moving from a simple side hustle to a full-blown small business, check out our list of the most profitable small businesses to start.