Side hustles are among the most exciting new ways people are making money in 2021.
Whether you already have plenty of side hustle ideas you want to pursue, or you’re not even sure how to get started, this post is for you.
We’ll start by identifying some of the most common, easiest, and highest-paying side hustle ideas and then help you identify your own ideas to make extra money outside of your day job.
Side Hustle Ideas that Don’t Require Experience
Not all side hustles require a ton of experience or education. In fact, millions of people are making extra money each month doing side jobs that they learned on the job.
Here are just a few side hustle ideas that don’t require previous experience:
1. Give people a ride with Über or Lyft
Über and Lyft are both great examples of money-making apps you can use to build a side hustle without much prior experience. Of course, you have to be a decent driver and have a reliable car, but with a little training, you can make a lot of money driving people around.
2. Sell on Etsy or other marketplaces
Etsy is a perfect example of one way people are making great side income — and many of them don’t have any skills that would commonly be considered “valuable.” Yet they do well selling niche products to a niche audience.
3. Complete important tasks for other people
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a college degree or years of experience to make good money on the side. That’s especially true if you consider all the money you can make completing tasks on apps like TaskRabbit where customers will pay you to do anything from pick up their dry cleaning to helping them load a moving truck.
4. Shop for & deliver groceries
As long as you can tell the difference between a carrot and a tomato, you probably have all the experience you need to be someone’s personal shopper on Instacart. As a shopper, you’ll receive an order from a customer, go pick out everything they need at the store, and then deliver their groceries right to their house.
5. Flip stuff for major profit
Garage Sale Flipping has become an extremely popular side hustle idea in the last few years. Sure, some people choose to buy and sell real estate, but for your first go-round, maybe think a bit smaller. Research high-value items typically found at garage sales like video games, Lego bricks, or vintage brand toys like Cabbage Patch. Then buy and post on sites like eBay to start building your side business.
6. Sell basic services (don’t reinvent the wheel)
I have a friend who decided to start a side hustle and he landed on window-washing. In his first year, he raked in $18,000 on the side of his well-paying job! If you’re trying to earn money, you can do well by simply brainstorming ideas that already exist in some way. No need to reinvent the wheel.
7. Get paid to walk around (yes, really)
Finally, if you literally don’t think you have enough experience to try any of the side hustle ideas I’ve already listed, there’s still hope. Since most of us have been walking around since we were toddlers*, did you know there are literally dozens of ways to make money just walking around? Sounds crazy but it’s true.
*Note: I recognize some people are unable to walk and I want to be sensitive to that. Many of the side job ideas on the list linked above can be accomplished by simply “getting around”—whether by walking, wheelchairing, or however you get from place to place.
Highest Paying Side Hustles
While the side hustle ideas previously are great if you don’t have experience or don’t want to build up any experience, let’s dive a bit deeper.
I’d like to share a few of the highest-paying side hustle ideas you can explore. This is particularly helpful for people ready to take their side-hustle full-time at some point and become their own boss.
8. Become a freelancer (i.e., charge for your talents)
Out of the 3 easiest ways to make money, the easiest way to earn money on the side is to freelance. You can start earning money immediately, you can rapidly test your offerings, and you can cut through the unnecessary work of productizing and increasing your salary.
One of my favorite personal finance books, “The Millionaire Next Door,” observes that most rich business owners work in “dull-normal” industries: carpenters, dry-cleaners, vacuum services, etc.
The same applies to freelancing. Here are a few real-life examples:
- John Z. did well on his SATs, so he started doing college prep tutoring for high school students. He got as many clients as possible, then started rapidly raising his rates until only his top clients remained. He now charges $80/hour, meaning he can work just 10 hours a week and still earn $40,000 a year.
- Bryce Conway traveled for free using credit card rewards while he was in college. When his friends and family kept asking him for travel hacking advice, he decided to turn it into a side hustle. Now he generates over $25,000 a month in revenue and passive income.
If you think you’d like to start making money as a freelancer, don’t overthink it. Identify what skills you’re good at (possibly what you do at your day job or have done at previous jobs) and then work hard to find clients.
9. Become a consultant (ie: charge for your knowledge)
Like freelancing, becoming a consultant is a great way to build a side business. If there’s something you’re exceptionally good at, chances are there’s someone else out there who outright sucks at it and needs your help.
In an interview we did with expert consultant Pamela Slim, she explains the basics of actually getting started on your consultancy side hustle.
First, brainstorm your niche. Your niche will be found in the intersection of these two things:
- Stuff you’re really passionate about
- Stuff people are willing to pay for Would you be surprised to learn that some people get paid to consult on:
- Planning the best Disneyland trip for your family
- Which outfits to wear to work
The hardest part about being a consultant is finding the right clients. If consulting sounds like something you want to pursue, try reading this:
10. Sell physical products
In addition to selling on Etsy (which we talked about above), there are lots of other highly lucrative side-hustles you can pursue selling physical products online. Ryan and Matt made $160,000 in their first year on the side selling iPhone cases.
Here are two simple paths you can choose from:
You might be shocked by just how much “valuable” junk you have sitting around. Try filling up a box, checking prices, and listing a few things on eBay, FB Marketplace, or Craigslist.
Once you run out of your own stuff, level up to flipping (see idea #5 on this list). Stock and ship items to customers via Amazon
If you’ve got a lot of gently used books in your home, then you’re sitting on some quick cash.
There are lots of ways to make money selling things on Amazon including retail arbitrage (buy low, sell high), book publishing, or selling products with Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon).
How to Generate Your Own Side Hustle Idea
While it seems like finding a profitable business idea would be the easiest part of making money on the side, this simply isn’t the case. In fact, it’s often the HARDEST part of earning more.
After working with thousands of students, the two most common problems people have are:
- “I don’t have an idea!”
- “I have too many ideas. How do I decide?”
And once you have an idea, how do you KNOW if it’s any good?
Finding a solution to these common questions isn’t hard. We’ll walk you through the whole process starting with identifying skills you already have.
For more, try watching this video on generating business ideas:
Identify the skills you already have
If you aren’t some professional with software engineering skills or online marketing experience, that’s okay.
Can you hammer something into a wall? (I’d pay for that.) Can you cook? (I’d also pay for that…in fact, I am.) Can you walk dogs? Tutor kids in 4th-grade math? Help moms with routine tasks?
You can make money on all of these things — good money — without having to have some hard technical skill…as long as you find a market that will pay for them.
I want to go a bit deeper.
People are very bad at identifying their own skills. They’ll say things like, “I dunno….I guess I’m good at writing and communication, and, like, general organizational skills…” AMAZING!! HERE’S a $4,000/MONTH RETAINER!!! (Sorry, won’t happen.)
Repeat this over and over: People pay for solutions, not your skills.
For example, I was on a webcast where I was suggesting ways for people to earn money on the side, and I mentioned that I hate cooking, am not good at it, and would love it if someone cooked for me. I got an email later that night from someone who said, “Ramit, I can help. I can teach you everything you need to know over one weekend, and you’ll know 3-5 great dishes to cook.” I appreciated the offer, but wrote back, “Thanks for the offer! But you don’t understand. I don’t want to learn — I want someone to do it for me.”
Again: People have problems. They want solutions.
They don’t care what you’re “interested” in. Are they too busy to organize their closet? Do they need someone to help them redesign their website? Maybe they want someone to teach their kid how to play the flute.
When you make your offer, you’ll have to deeply understand what the market — your prospective clients — want. And then you’ll be able to turn your service offering into something so compelling…that they’ll actually pay you for it.
Turn your hobby into a side business
If you can’t readily identify any marketable skills you could turn into a side hustle, let’s dig a bit deeper and look into your hobbies.
The answer to this question reveals what you’re passionate about and what people might pay you for. Because we all have something we just love doing on Saturday mornings before everyone else is awake.
I have a friend who LOVES clothes. Her Saturday mornings consist of reading fashion blogs and maintaining a Pinterest account overflowing with outfit and design ideas.
Here’s what I find interesting: She never thought about turning this into a business!
It’s just something she likes to do. BUT I guarantee you that there are a lot of people who’d pay $500 for a style consultation over Zoom that she could do from the comfort of her own home. Some people might even pay her thousands to be their personal shopper.
Something that my friend loves doing for fun on a Saturday morning could be turned into a thriving business with a few key systems (more on that later).
So ask yourself: What do I like to do in my free time?
- Are you at the gym or training for marathons as a hobby? People would pay you for your fitness knowledge.
- Do you love reading dating advice blogs or browsing /r/relationships? You could give relationship advice or coaching to the lovelorn.
- Maybe you like working on your car in your free time. People would pay you to fix their car troubles too!
What you do when you have a ton of downtime is a great indicator of your passions and talents. And more often than not, those passions can be turned into a profitable side hustle idea.
Help Others Overcome Challenges
Is there a very unique and personal challenge you’ve overcome in your life? That may be the key to a very meaningful and fulfilling side-hustle.
For example, have you lost lots of weight? Quit your day job? Escaped massive debt?
These are all things millions of people wish they could do but don’t know how.
You can also get more specific. Have you passed a special certification test in your industry? Or have you accomplished something incredible (like hiking 100 volcanoes).
Don’t believe me? Check out all of these profitable hustles that came out of challenges people have faced:
- CrohnsColitisLifestyle.com. After Dane Johnson was diagnosed with Crohn’s/Colitis, he devoted himself to helping people with the disease achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.
- TreeFranklyn.com. Tree Franklyn always struggled with handling her emotions — until she learned a great system to deal with her sensitive nature. Now she helps women manage their emotions so they don’t feel overwhelmed all the time.
While it may be tough to revisit some of those painful moments, it’s also empowering knowing that you overcame it AND can help others in their struggles too.
Find a challenge you’ve overcome that others want to overcome too and I promise you you’ll find a profitable business idea.
How to know if your business idea is good
What constitutes the ‘right’ idea for a side hustle? There are literally thousands of ‘right’ business ideas out there, but here are 4 key criteria that every viable idea has to meet:
1. A good business idea showcases your skills
Your money-making idea needs to match what you can do with skills you currently have. Skills are tangible, countable abilities that you’ve acquired through experiences on the job, in school, or elsewhere. And listen, stop short-changing yourself. You HAVE skills. Are you really good at math? (Did you know I once hired a math tutor and paid him a lot of money?) Can you play a musical instrument? Are you really good at interior design? Are you in shape? There are a million skills you have, but we overlook things about ourselves all the time.
Find your skills: What are all the specific things you could list on your resume?
Examples of skills:
• Personal training
• Ad sales
• Video editing
2. A good business idea showcases your strengths
Your money-making idea needs to showcase what you’re best at. Strengths are intangible qualities that you have a natural affinity for that make you stand out from the next person with your skillset. This is typically what college kids often cite in place of real experience and these actually matter. For example, I know a woman who openly said she never wants to talk to customers – her strength is working behind a computer and that’s what she likes. Great! Be brutally honest. You might be really good at building systems or turning complex ideas into actionable insights.
Find your strengths: What are the qualities that have gotten you the most praise on the job or in school, or that have made you feel the most ‘in the zone?’
Examples of strengths:
• Developing rapport with others quickly
• Managing multiple people and projects
• Organizing data into actionable information
• Teaching other people new ideas
3. A good business idea matches your interests
Your money-making idea needs to match what you like to do. Interests are the things you love to do, and not just on the job.
Find your interests: What do you read or research in your spare time? Magazines? Blogs? TV shows? What fascinates you most?
Examples of interests:
• American politics
• Live music
• Online gaming
• Street fashion
4. A good business idea has a market that’s willing to pay
There’s an actual market for your idea, meaning there are people who will pay you for your service. A market only exists if there are real people — that you can pinpoint, reach, and validate BEFORE you start offering a service — who are willing to pay you for your service.
How can you determine if there’s a market for your idea? Two quick tests:
1. Check for supply: Is there anyone else offering your service?
Now, a lot of people I know will actually get depressed when they notice there’s someone ‘already doing’ their idea. The competition makes them shrink away. This is the opposite of how I see it. When I see a healthy range of providers for an idea, it tells me there’s very likely a decent market for that offering. It’s good news — not something to shy away from. Since most people are terrible, with some ingenuity you can crush them.
2. Check for demand: Is there anyone out there looking for your service?
Have you ever seen a job posting or help wanted ad for the service you’re thinking of providing? On Craigslist, other jobs sites, or even via word of mouth? These are clear signs of demand in the marketplace for your idea, and that’s also very good news.
In other words, if you think that you can do marketing for local restaurants, you had BETTER interview 15+ restaurant owners to see if they:
- care about your idea,
- value it,
- use the same words you do to describe their problem, and
- will pay you for it.
If you have no demand, you have no business — end of story.
Do your potential customers have the ABILITY and WILLINGNESS to pay?
Your market must have the ability and willingness to pay. And some people and groups are markedly bad markets. Let’s take a look at 3 examples.
- For example, if your idea is to offer services to non-profits (let’s say grant-writing), you might as well give up now. That is because most non-profits have neither the ability (they have no money) nor the willingness (because they are cheap and short-sighted) to pay, even though technically it would improve their organization.
- If your goal is to sell some video-game service to kids, think again. While they may have the willingness to pay, they generally don’t have the ability.
- And the CLASSIC bad idea is, “Let me sell to mom and pop shops/restaurants/businesses” and help them create a website/do marketing/etc. While local businesses have the ABILITY to pay, they don’t have a willingness to pay, mostly because small-business people are often treading water and, in the words of a coffee-shop owner where I write, “too busy to do marketing.” Yes, it’s irrational, but it’s TRUE. Do not pursue markets where people are not willing and able to pay you.
Even more side hustle ideas (some for everyone)
If the ideas so far in this article aren’t what you’re looking for, consider this: there are good side business ideas for you no matter what life stage you’re in. Here is a quick list of even more side job ideas you could explore:
Best work-from-home side hustle ideas
Here is a list of side hustles you can do from the comfort of your own home:
- Technical writing
- Web design
- Search engine optimizations (SEO)
- E-commerce consulting
- Internet marketing consulting
- Transcription services
- Virtual assistant
- Project management/productivity consulting
Best side job ideas for beginners
Here is a list of services that you can offer as a complete beginner with little or no experience required.
- Transcription services
- Courier services
- Cooking / personal chef
- Technical writing
- Small business marketing
- Business writing (business plans, grants, white papers)
Best side hustle ideas for college students
You can start a lucrative side hustle even if you’re living in a dorm room right now. Actually, that’s how I started IWT over a decade ago. Check out these hustles:
- Video production / editing
- Design (brochures, business cards, logos, newsletters)
- Web design
- Blogging/blog consulting
- Sports / personal training
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Best ideas for millennials
Millennials have a wealth of marketable skills just by virtue of being in a tech-centric generation. My first side hustle was consulting for venture capital firms on how young people were using social media. Here are some other things you can do:
- User interface & user experience (UI/UX)
- Google Analytics
- Programming/web development
- E-commerce consulting
- Tech tutoring (e.g., how to set up and use your tablet)
- Internet marketing consulting
- Fashion / image consulting
Best ideas for moms and dads at home
Parents have some of the busiest schedules and irregular hours of anyone. However, on top of all those responsibilities, you can find a side hustle idea that makes you money. Case in point:
- Personal/virtual assistant
- Pet services (grooming, walking, etc.)
- Home maintenance
- Crafting/personalization services
- Human resources/payroll services
- Project management/productivity consulting
- Copywriting and editing
Best side hustle ideas for working parents
If you’re a working parent, you probably have skills such as planning, budgeting, and productivity. You can easily transform one of those skills into a side hustle such as:
- Travel planning
- Event planning/promotion
- Automobile/motorcycle repair
- Tax and financial planning
- Community management / promotion
- Career help (finding work, optimizing resumes, cover letters, etc.)
Best side hustle ideas for teachers
Teaching and the skills involved are at the core of a lot of thriving side hustles. That’s why professional teachers have an advantage when it comes to hustles such as:
- Presentation design (e.g., PowerPoint)
- Tutoring and coaching
- SAT prep
- College application review
- Productivity coaching
The #1 “secret” to the best side hustle ideas
When I tell people how I built a side hustle to achieve my Rich Life, they always start pitching me on their own side hustle ideas—as if I needed to validate their ideas or something.
But here’s the hard truth: Almost none of those people ever actually take action.
So the secret? Just start.
Get up off the couch in the evening for an hour or two and put some real work in.
Just like interest in your financial investments, slow and persistent work adds up to quite a lot over the long haul.