Side hustle is a bit of a buzzword these days. It’s become synonymous with side gigs and making extra money, but side hustles aren’t just part-time jobs.
Starting a side hustle is a legit way to make extra money, and technology has enabled people with more side hustle ideas and flexibility than ever before. What’s so freaking cool about that is that there are potential money-making opportunities for everyone. Stay-at-home parents, students, those with a part-time job, older adults, and more can all benefit from a side hustle.
Today I’m going to help you understand exactly what is a side hustle and give you a list of my favorite side hustle ideas. You’ll also learn tips for choosing the right side hustle and best practices.
What is a Side Hustle? Definition & 10 Best Side Hustle Ideas of 2021
Definition of a side hustle
A side hustle is work you do outside of your full-time or primary job. It can be any kind of employment— online work, in-person, freelance work, etc. And people typically take side hustles to supplement their income and make extra money.
Whenever someone says they have a side hustle, the most common question they get is “Isn’t a side hustle just a part-time job?” Side hustles aren’t exactly part-time jobs — it’s much more than that.
The point of a side hustle is to give you a flexible way to generate extra income to reach your financial goal faster.
Think about every part-time job you’ve ever had. You might be able to tell your employer that you’re not available on the weekends, for example, but ultimately they decide when you work. Can’t work the hours your part-time job has you scheduled? There’s a chance you’ll lose your job if you can’t make those hours work.
On the other hand, side hustles give you flexibility and control over your schedule and empower you to make extra money in your spare time.
Side hustles are work you do outside of normal business hours. If you work a traditional 9-5, then you side hustle in the morning, weekends, or evenings. For stay-at-home parents, your normal hours are always, so it’s finding time when you can. The point is that side hustles don’t often have set hours.
Examples of side hustles: 10 great side hustle ideas
1. Run Facebook ads for small businesses
This is the exact side hustle I started after I quit my stable teaching job to run this site full time. I needed a way to supplement my income, and I decided to run Facebook ads for local businesses.
Running Facebook ads is a version of digital marketing, and it involves:
- Finding and acquiring clients
- Creating effective ads
- Testing your ads
- Maintaining client relationships
What’s so great about this side hustle is that you can make around $1,000-$1,500/month per client. It takes about 2-3 hours a week per client once you’ve onboarded them and set up their ads.
The flexibility and potential of this side hustle is why I keep recommending it, and because Facebook continues to be one of the best online platforms for small businesses to increase their traffic and visibility. The problem (for small business owners) is that many of the lack them time and energy it takes to effectively run their own ads — and that’s where you come in.
If this sounds like a side hustle you’re interested in learning more about, check out my Facebook Side Hustle Course.
I created the Facebook Side Hustle Course with my good friend and lawyer turned digital marketer, Mike Yanda. Mike started running Facebook ads in college, and he’s turned it into a $30k/month business.
Learn how to make $1,000-$1,500/month running Facebook ads
Running Facebook ads is a flexible side hustle you can run from home without any previous marketing experience.CHECK OUT THE FACEBOOK SIDE HUSTLE COURSE
2. Get paid to take surveys
Online survey companies like Survey Junkie pay you to take market research surveys from your phone or online. The surveys generally take anywhere from 5-30 minutes, and they pay anywhere from $1-$5 per survey.
Surveys aren’t the most profitable side hustle, but it’s super easy money. All you have to do is download the app to your phone, sign up with your email address, and fill out some basic demographic information about yourself.
The survey app will immediately start matching you with surveys that are looking for people fitting specific demographic criteria. Then, you just click on the survey and start answering questions.
You’re getting paid for providing companies with market research data. Companies use this information to improve their products, advertisements, and so on. You won't be matched with every survey because they are looking for people who fit specific demographic data — age, income, race, educational background, etc. Some surveys require you start answering questions before you match, and most survey sites only pay for the surveys you complete.
Again, this is easy, easy money. I typically look for side hustles that have more earning potential, but the ease and accessibility means online surveys may still be worth your time.
Think about all of the time you spend scrolling through your phone. Instead of doomscrolling or creeping on old high school friends on Facebook, you can make a little extra money taking online surveys.
Get paid to take surveys online
You’re not going to get rich from surveys alone, but this is one of the easiest side hustles to start. Survey Junkie is a legit online survey site, and it takes about 5 minutes to sign up.Sign up with Survey Junkie
3. Deliver food for DoorDash
DoorDash drivers average around $15-$20 per hour, and it’s available in over 4,000 cities across the U.S.
Drivers can schedule their hours in advance, which is helpful if you know your schedule. But you can also hop on the app and “Dash Now” if there is a high number of orders and they need extra drivers.
DoorDash uses what’s called the Dasher Pay Model to pay their drivers, and you start earning a base pay that ranges from $2-$10 per order. You can increase your earnings by driving during busy periods or completing challenges. You also get to keep 100% of your tips.
Delivering food is a great side hustle idea if you have a reliable vehicle and spare time. You’ll need to complete a background check and have a clean driving record. It takes about 1-3 weeks to be approved to start side hustling.
Meet the DoorDash requirements?
DoorDash drivers must be 18, have a reliable vehicle, valid driver’s license, auto insurance, a Social Security number, and complete a background check.
4. Get paid to grocery shop
Grocery delivery services like Instacart and Shipt have become incredibly popular over the past couple of years as customers realize how convenient it is to have groceries delivered to their front door.
It’s a really similar side hustle to DoorDash because everything happens in the app. It’s where you schedule your hours, take orders, get directions for pick-up and delivery, and where you get paid.
This side hustle pays around $15-$20/hour, with minimal driver requirements. You just have to be 18 years old, have a clean and criminal record, and access to a car and smartphone.
Want to side hustle for Instacart?
Instacart drivers make $15-$20/hour and keep 100% of their tips. The sign-up process takes about 30 minutes, and most drivers are approved in a couple of weeks.Check out Instacart
5. Work as a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants (or VAs) can be a massive help to business owners and freelancers. I’ve relied on several VAs as I’ve grown this site, and they handle all kinds of tasks, like:
- Data entry
- Social media management
- Inbox management
- Responding to emails
- Project management
- Blog management
- Preparing reports
- Simple digital marketing tasks
- Content creation
- Event management
This is another super flexible side hustle because virtual assistants work remotely, and can complete work in the evening, before going to their full-time job, once the kids go to bed, and so on. Actually, the majority of my virtual assistants are all stay-at-home parents.
Suppose you have experience in project management, executive assistance, customer service, human resource management, or operations. In that case, you’ll already have most of the skills required to start side hustling as a VA.
Want to learn how to start a virtual assistance side hustle?
The Fully Booked VA Course is a comprehensive program that teaches you which services to offer, how to find clients, and keep your business going.Learn more about Fully Booked VA
6. Become a Pinterest virtual assistant
Pinterest virtual assistants are VAs who specialize in Pinterest management, and they make around $500/month per client. They create pins, optimize images, develop a pinning schedule, and do keyword research.
This is one of the best side hustle ideas if you’re already familiar with Pinterest. You’re not exactly getting paid to pin, but it’s a lot of fun if you already use the platform. Your average clients are small business owners, brands, bloggers, and influencers.
7. Proofread for a living
Do you cringe when someone uses the wrong verb tense? Do you scream internally when someone confuses their/they’re/thereIf? If you answered “yes,” then proofreading is possibly one of the best side hustle ideas for you.
Proofreaders make extra money proofreading blog posts, online articles, white pages, email copy, web copy, academic articles, online books, and more.
Freelance proofreaders make anywhere from $15-$25/hour, and you’ll need an internet connection and laptop or tablet.
Want to learn how to start a proofreading side hustle?
Proofreaders get paid to find and correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes. And the Proofread Anywhere Course teaches you how to turn those skills into a profitable and flexible side hustle.Learn how to Proofread Anywhere
8. Start a blog
I can’t talk about side hustles without mentioning blogging. This is my legit, hands-down favorite side hustle idea. Blogging isn’t for everyone because it can take months before you make any money, but it’s a true side hustle because you’re in complete control of when you work and how you make money.
I started this site a little over 5 years ago, and I’ve since grown it into a 7-figure business. I quit my teaching job, my wife retired early, and I get paid to talk about money — which I genuinely love doing.
Following your passions is something you hear people talk about alongside side hustles, but the reality is that getting paid to pursue your passions is more of a dream.
That’s what I love about blogging. Take anything you love doing or know a lot about. It can be food, spreadsheets, traveling, raising kids, home design, working on cars, anything! You can create a profitable blog based on your interests.
Blogging is a slow game overall, but you can build your site in the evenings, on your lunch break, and on the weekends. Whenever you have spare time, you can grow your blog.
Not everyone who starts this side hustle will hit 7-figure income status, but there is still a lot of money to be made online. If this is a side hustle you’re interested in learning more about, check out these articles:
9. Sell on Shopify
Shopify is an easy-to-use platform for setting up and running your own e-commerce store. Surprisingly, running an online shop can become a fairly passive side hustle when you use Shopify for dropshipping.
Let me explain…
Shopify has an intuitive platform that you can use to build your site. There are over 70 customizable themes, a drag and drop editor, and custom domains. You select items to sell on your site that can be drop-shipped (You don’t touch, store, or ship these goods. You’re listing them for sale, then connecting customers with suppliers).
Your site becomes more passive once it’s built because you’re not actively managing or shipping orders — Shopify does this for you. However, you will need to run traffic to your site, and check in to maintain it. You can start your Shopify side hustle for as little as $29/month.
Running a Shopify store is a passive side hustle
Once you’ve built your site, running an ecommerce store on Shopify can turn into a passive way to make extra money.Get started for $29/month with Shopify
10. Sell on Etsy
Etsy has turned into the go-to online marketplace for all things crafty. It’s like a massive online arts and crafts fair where you can find everything from diamond rings, handmade pottery, party invitations, clothes, and so much more.
One of the best things to sell on Etsy right now are printables, like:
- Planner pages
- Wall art
- Business cards
- Printable games
- Clip art
Those are just a few printable ideas, and what makes this such a good side hustle is that these are digital files that you don’t manufacture over and over again or ship. You can sell unlimited copies with virtually no overhead. Selling Etsy printables is a passive side hustle from home because you’re not spending hours handcrafting items.
I highly recommend checking out the free ebook called Seasonal Products Secret if you want to learn about the best-selling products by month. In addition, it teaches you how to capitalize on season trends.
Starting an Etsy shop is a painless process, and you can list your first item for $0.20. Etsy collects a 5% transaction fee plus a 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee once you make a sale.
Want to learn more about selling e-printables on Etsy?
Want to learn more about selling e-printables on Etsy?
Selling printables can become a passive side hustle, and the E-Printables Course from Gold City Ventures teaches you how to create products, start an Etsy site, and more.Learn more about e-printables
How to choose the best side hustle for you
The list above gives you some really solid side hustle ideas, but that’s only a small fraction of what’s out there. To help you sort through your options, here are some things to think about:
1. How much time you can commit
Can you commit an extra 5 hours a week, or can you give 50? There’s money to be made no matter how much time you have, but thinking about your time constraints can help you narrow things down.
You’ve got to think about how much time you realistically have to side hustle. You still need to eat, sleep, drink water, and maintain some semblance of a social life. Putting all of your available time to a side hustle is awesome and can really bring in some extra cash, but burnt out is a reality when you don’t take time to care for yourself.
2. How much money you want to make
Making an extra $1,000 a month is a very doable side hustle goal. That’s just $250/week when you break it down.
Think about what this money is for. Do you have a plan to pay off debt? Are you trying to max out your IRA contributions every year? Or maybe you want to have a little extra spending money. There are side hustles no matter what your financial goals are.
3. What’s your timeframe for making extra money
I’ve mentioned that blogging is my favorite side hustle, but overall, it’s a slow business model. It took me several months before I made any money from my site. If you want a slow burn (or have the time to build a blog on the side of another side hustle) blogging can be a solid plan.
But not everyone has the time to start and grow a blog. Thinking about your financial goals will help you determine your time frame.
4. Your strengths
Besides the wild flexibility, I also love side hustling because you can leverage existing skills. There are lots of great freelancing side hustles — writing, bookkeeping, graphic design, web development, for example — where you can use your skills to make money in your spare time.
Leaning into your strengths and skills can save you time and money when you start a side hustle.
5. What you love to do
The dream is to do what you love, right? While this isn't a reality for everyone, it can help you narrow down your side hustle options. Even a small thing like enjoying driving around can sway you towards a food delivery side hustle.
In all honesty, you can also love what your side hustle allows you to do.
Best practices for side hustles
Once you’ve started your side hustle, here are a few best practices to keep things running smoothly.
Pay your taxes
Side hustle money is real money, so you need to pay taxes on it. That includes keeping track of your income, paying quarterly taxes if applicable, tracking deductions to lower your tax bills, and more. You can learn all about it at How to Handle Taxes for Your Side Hustle.
Make sure there aren’t any conflicts of interest with your other job
To keep yourself out of trouble with your day job, read through company guidelines to see if there are any potential conflicts of interest with your side hustle, like a non-compete clause. You can also set up a meeting with HR to learn more, but don’t feel like you need to disclose too much about your side hustle.
This won’t apply to all side hustles, but if your side hustle is at all related to your day job, it’s worth researching.
Be realistic with yourself
The downside of setting your hours is that it’s really freaking hard to turn off. I still struggle with this because I love what I do and I see the benefit of working even more — my income goes up. But, turning off and taking a break will keep you from burning out.
Don’t feel like you have to side hustle an extra 40+ hours per week. Sure, it might speed up your progress towards meeting your financial goals. But at what cost?
Setting “business hours” for yourself can be a big help, and so is scheduling time off. It’s okay to take a night off or two.
Ease into it, set limits, and take care of yourself
What is a side hustle — the final word
Side hustles are flexible ways to make money on the side of your full-time job. Starting one can help you pay off debt, stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, save more for retirement, set money aside for emergencies, plan for your next vacation, and more.
Learning how to make more money gives you options, and there are so many great side hustle options out there.
Think about how much time you have to commit, how much money you want to make, and what skills you already have.
From there, check out some of the ideas on this list, or read 20 Ways to Make Extra Money in 2021 (Make $1,000 Extra A Month!) for even more ideas.