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How to Find Your Side Hustle (With 13 Ideas to Start You Off)

Last updated: June 25, 2019
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It’s a distinctly 21st century term: side hustle. People are creating new ways to define careers these days, and the side hustle — a part-time gig that brings in supplementary income — is a big part of it.

Side gigs have gone from a thing a few people did to bring in some extra cash to a major part of the American economy. The rise of remote work and changes in the economy have made side hustles more prevalent than ever, and the jobs are there for the taking.

In this article we’ll look at side hustles, and offer some advice for finding the perfect one for you. We’ll also get you started by offering 13 suggestions for side hustles and answering some frequently asked questions.

What Is a Side Hustle?

A side hustle is a side job, usually part-time, that’s done on top of a regular, nine-to-five day job. In the modern gig economy, more and more people are finding that they can bring in extra money and supplement their income by taking on a gig or creating a side business in their spare time.

This isn’t just a small trend, either — a serious portion of the American workforce participates in side hustles.

A 2018 Gallup poll estimated that “29% of all workers in the US have an alternative work arrangement as their primary job. This includes a quarter of all full-time workers (24%) and half of all part-time workers (49%). Including multiple job holders, 36% have a gig work arrangement in some capacity.”

Over a third of the American workforce has a gig work arrangement. Side gigs aren’t just a tiny trend lead by a few hustlers — side jobs are a big part of work in this country.

What Should You Look for in a Side Hustle?

The perfect side hustle combines what you’re good at with something you’re passionate about.

Work is hard enough as it is, so to be able to thrive with a second gig, you’ll want something that takes advantage of your skill set and know how. If you can pair that with something you love doing or are interested in or something that gives you fulfillment by giving you the chance to be creative or help others, you’re on your way to finding a great gig.

Whether you’re interested in writing, photography, real estate, art, finance, or even spending time with animals, you can find a great side hustle that will keep you excited and motivated.

Side Hustles as Entry Points

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Another way people take advantage of the side hustle is to use it to try and transition into a new career.

Will a side gig bring in much money? Probably not as much money as a full-time job would. But if you can purposefully take on a side gig that will teach you new skills and let you refine those skills — whether it’s in selling real estate, coding, graphic design, or beyond — you can build a portfolio that can one day help you transition into a lucrative new career.

Avoid Burnout

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you’re not burning yourself out with your side hustle. The side hustle’s workload should be less than the amount of work you take on with your full-time gig. A side hustle isn’t much good if you run yourself into the ground trying to do it.

13 Side Hustle Ideas

The best side hustles don’t take much time and have the possibility of bringing in a lot of money. That being said, there is no magic job that can instantly make you wealthy — these all require some investment of time, energy, capital, or your creativity.

1. Rent a Room on Airbnb

Generating rental income is no longer just for property owners or those who can afford a vacation home. If you’ve got a spare room in your house or travel frequently for work, a great way to make more money is to rent your room on Airbnb. Getting set up as a host is easy, and you can start earning money that can help offset your rent or mortgage. Our guide to being an Airbnb host will tell you everything you need to know.

2. Become a Virtual Assistant

High speed internet has made it possible for assistant work to go totally digital, and virtual assistants (or VAs) are becoming more and more popular to hire. Entrepreneurs and small businesses are often looking for organized, focused assistants who can help make their companies (or personal lives) run more smoothly. Read our guide to VA work to learn how you can get started making extra money online.

3. Sell items on Etsy

Etsy is an online platform for selling handmade goods, vintage items, and craft materials. Think of it like a really huge online farmers market, just without the vegetables. You can sell jewelry, thrift store finds, even customized, handmade T-shirts. If you’ve got a crafty side and want to channel that passion into income, Etsy can be a great way to do so.

4. Become an Uber or Lyft Driver

One of the most popular side hustles out there is becoming a driver for an on-demand ride app like Uber or Lyft. Signing up requires a background check, and you’ll need to have a car that’s under ten years old, but these services are always looking for new drivers. Read our guide to driving for Uber and Lyft to learn more.

5. Social Media Consulting

If you have a great online presence and feel comfortable on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can make money helping companies manage their social media. Part marketing, part customer relations, social media work is becoming very important for businesses large and small. You can start with local businesses, but once you build up a client base and a portfolio of work, you can expand and try working with clients all over the world.

6. Freelance Writing or Graphic Design

Businesses are always looking for creative people to help them present a powerful message to customers with both visuals and the written word. Both writers and artists can use sites like Fiverr and Upwork to connect with clients and bring in extra income through freelance work.

7. Dog Walking

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Any place you have people who work during the day, there will be a need for dog walkers. Websites like Care.com, Rover, or Wag! allow you to list your dog walking services and connect with customers in your area.

8. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is the practice of providing customized links to products online, which can earn you a commission if someone follows that link and completes a purchase. For people with large online followings, affiliate marketing can be an excellent source of side income without much active work. Want to learn more about this practice? Read our article on creating passive income streams.

9. Sell Real Estate

While there is initial work — getting a real estate license  — selling homes can be done as a side hustle. Most homes are shown in the evenings and on weekends, and if you have some flexibility with your nine-to-five job, you can be there for closings. Real estate is also nice because in the short term it can be done in your free time, but it can also eventually turn into a full career.

10. Mystery Shopping

A mystery shopper is someone who goes to stores, in person or online, then provides feedback to the company about their service, product selection, and more. It can be a confusing industry to break into, so read our guide to finding reputable mystery shopping companies.

11. Teach Online Courses

High speed internet around the globe — combined with excellent video conferencing software like Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts — means that teachers and students can connect, no matter where they are. Companies like Udemy let you design and post courses that anyone can take, while apps like Cambly pair teachers with willing students who want to learn English. Interested? Learn more by reading our guide to teaching online courses.

12. Online Surveys

Online surveys allow companies to quickly get the opinions of tons of people, and they will pay for people to participate in these digital focus groups. Paid survey sites let you amass points that can be redeemed for gift cards or cash sent to your PayPal.

13. Rent Your Car

Turo is a company that lets you rent out your car to people in your area for an hour, a day, a week, or more. They provide insurance and protect you in the event of any damage. If you don’t use your car often, Turo can provide a steady cash flow and help make saving, or paying off debt, easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve looked at the best way to find the perfect side hustle for you, and given you some suggestions for side hustles you can use to bring in some extra dough. Now let’s get to some FAQs about side gigs.

1. Can side hustles replace my full-time job?

Side hustles are, by definition, part-time jobs. While some of the above jobs can absolutely work as full-time gigs — real estate, driving for Uber, freelance writing, etc. — most of these are designed to supplement your income. That being said, plenty of people are combining multiple side hustles and earning a decent living by doing so. It just depends how committed you are.

2. What’s the best way to save with my side hustle?

The website The Financial Diet recommends putting your earnings directly into a savings account, then only pulling what you need into the account that is linked to your debit card. This extra step can make you more careful about what you spend, and those savings can be used to pay off student loans or credit card debt.

3. What if none of the above jobs speak to my interests?

Have no fear. There are plenty of online resources for side jobs you can consider, including several right here on our site.

Also: Try to be more expansive about something that “interests” you. Say you have a passion for doing puzzles. There may not be a job for “person who does puzzles,” but the skills used in puzzles — problem solving, finding creative solutions, focus, determination — are skills that can be applied in plenty of side hustles, especially work as a virtual assistant.

Finding the Right Side Hustle

Finding the right side hustle is about taking your passion, your skills, and your free time, and channeling that into extra income. This article will give you a good launching point to find the right side hustle for you. So get out there and get earning.

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