You’ve been thinking about starting a side hustle for some time now, but how do you know what are the best side hustles for you to choose from?
There are literally hundreds of ways to make extra money. You could start a blog, start babysitting, or sell your unused household items at a garage sale. Or try any of these other 300+ side hustle and small business ideas.
But finding the right side hustle – something that you enjoy doing and that you can actually make money from – isn’t always straight forward. There are a lot of things you need to consider before you invest your time and money into a new entrepreneurial endeavor, no matter what it is you decide to do.
Freelancing, Gigs, Side Hustles – What’s the Difference?
Don’t let the terminology confuse you. There are a lot of terms out there that can be used interchangeably, but they all essentially mean “self-employment”. They are all business ventures that an individual can take on themselves. There are, however, a few distinctions between them:
Consultant – a specialist, someone who gives professional, expert advice
Entrepreneur – someone who creates a new business, who assumes most or all of the risks
Freelancer – someone who sells their work or services by the project, hour, day, etc. opposed to having a salary with one employer
Gig Worker – a short or uncertain duration job that is typically project or task-based
Independent Contractor – someone who is hired by a company for a specific time and at a specific rate, who are not typically eligible for benefits
Side Hustle – a way to make money on the “side” of your full time job that is usually based on a passion or hobby
Solopreneur – a solo entrepreneur; an entrepreneur who works alone
How to Decide What is the Best Side Hustle To Choose?
The best side hustle or business for you to start is one that fits your lifestyle and is something you can commit to without sacrificing your other priorities.
These 15 questions will cover all of the things you need to take into consideration so that you can make the best choice. How you answer these questions will help you decide which side hustle is the best one for you.
Who Do You Want To Work With?
One appealing aspect of starting your own side hustle is that you get to decide who you work with – and who you don’t.
Do you want work alone or with other people?
Do these other people work with you (as in they are your coworkers or colleagues) or do they work for you (as in they are your employees)?
Who Do You Want To Work For?
Although you are “your own boss”, you are still working for someone.
Consulting and contract jobs, for example, may require you to report to a supervisor and may require you to work specific hours.
Gig work, freelancing, and running your own side hustle, on the other hand, are more client and customer-focused. You still have to make them happy and deliver as promised, but you have more control over which gigs you accept and which clients you work with.
But even within the gig economy, you might be working for a larger organization. Signing up with platforms such as Etsy, Fiverr, Lyft, Airbnb, and Instacart will require you to follow their rules and guidelines if you want to get paid.
Where Do You Want To Work?
You can make money online with a lot of the best side hustles, meaning you can pretty much work from wherever you want. But not all side hustles are done online.
Some will require you to work from your client’s homes or businesses (such as house-sitting, pet-sitting, and doing home renovations). And some will need a dedicated office or place for you to conduct your business from (such as opening your own salon or store).
So where do you want to work? Online? In person? On the road? A combination of these options?
What Do You Need To Do the Job?
The skills and qualifications needed for each business and side hustle idea will vary.
Ideally the right side hustle for you is one that matches your skills, but will also teach you new ones.
Most side hustles require basic, common skills that most people already have or can easily learn. (Check out these 30 Places to Learn New Job Skills for FREE!) But there are some that require specialized training, certifications, licenses, or permits.
Make sure you look into what is needed to do the job and that you can meet these criteria before diving in.
Do You Have the Right Space and Equipment?
On that note, do you have the specific equipment, tools, computer programs, or software needed for your side hustle? If not, how easily can you get what you need?
For driving jobs that require you to use your own vehicle, do you have access to a reliable one and the proper insurance?
For the side hustle and small business ideas that allow you to work at home, do you have the right set-up? Do you have the space needed for a shop or office? Or to store your inventory, tools, or supplies?
When Do You Want To Work?
If you are considering self-employment as a way to better control your work-life balance, you’ll want to pick something that works for your lifestyle and your own schedule.
For example, with many side gig jobs like food delivery or anything in the wedding industry, you need to be available when there is a demand – which usually means working evenings and weekends.
Whereas side hustles like freelance writing and social media marketing are much more flexible and allow you to work at any time of day (or night).
How Often Do You Want To Work?
Deciding the best side hustles for you will depend if you are looking for something on a temporary, part-time, or full-time basis.
Be sure to consider the amount of time each option takes vs. how many hours you want to work. Because some side hustles can take up a lot of your time!
I easily spend at least 20 hours per week running this blog to try to make extra money online.
Is There Enough Demand?
Think about where your paying clients are. If you live in a small community, the chances of you having success as a DoorDash or PostMates Driver, for example, is significantly lower than it is for someone living in a major metropolitan area, as your earning potential and growth potential are limited.
On the other hand, if your work can be done online, where you live doesn’t really matter as much. But you still need to be sure there are enough people that are interested in your product or service.
What Is Your Timeline?
Do you need to start making money, like yesterday? Or are you looking to set yourself for something more long term? Because that matters.
There are some side hustle businesses that you can start as soon as you decide to, while others can take months or even years to get set-up.
Just as some side hustles are a great way to make money fast as they pay right away, but others will require a lot of extra work before ever becoming profitable.
While it is also possible to earn passive income from your side hustle (such as earning ad revenue from your YouTube channel or recurring sales from your course or ebook), it will take time to get to this point.
What Laws and Regulations Do You Need To Follow?
You legally need to follow all the laws and regulations that apply to all businesses – even as a new business, and even if the business is just you.
Again, this could mean you are required to have specific training, licenses, or permits.
But this also applies to things like registering your business, accounting, taxes, copyright laws, liability, health and safety, insurance, employee laws, and zoning.
Navigating this aspect of side hustling and self-employment can be very complicated, so it’s strongly advised that you get some help with this from a lawyer, accountant, or small business professional. (There’s more on this below, too.)
What Are the Start-Up or Investment Costs?
How much money do you have to invest in starting your own business? Do you have a healthy budget or do you need something that is free or inexpensive to start?
What Level of Risk Can You Take?
Trying to make money on your own by starting a side business will come with some level of risk.
Something like flipping real estate is a lot riskier than starting a lemonade stand or taking online surveys, for example, as it requires a large investment and the real estate market is unpredictable.
How much risk are you willing and comfortably able to take will be a big deciding factor when it comes to picking the best side hustles.
Why Do You Want To Start Side Hustling?
The reason behind wanting to start your own side hustle or small business really influences which one is the best for you to choose.
Are you monetizing a hobby to earn extra cash in your spare time? Are you experiencing a financial emergency and need extra income however you can get it? Maybe you’re tired of working for someone else and ready to test out entrepreneurship?
Or maybe you’ve been convinced by online business owners or side hustlers that all you’ve got to do is start any random one and you will instantly start to make extra money. Maybe even enough to quit your day job.
While it is possible to have a lucrative side hustle, there are a lot of scams out there! And even more false promises.
Do you really think that if it were possible for everyone to get paid 6-figures each month working in their free time that we wouldn’t all already be doing so?
So if you are looking to start a side hustle as a way to get-rich-quick, you will be disappointed. There’s also a real chance that instead of making more money, you will lose money.
Will It Be Successful?
Unfortunately, this is a really hard question for anyone to answer. There are a million factors that will determine if you are going to have a successful side hustle or not, but only so much you can control.
You want to set yourself up for success as best you can by choosing something that is within your skill-set, that you enjoy doing, that is realistic for your situation, and is something that is in demand and people are willing to pay you for.
Can I Get Help Starting a Side Hustle or Small Business?
How involved setting up a new side hustle or small business will be depends on how you answered those questions above. As mentioned, some ideas are going to be easy to get up and running in no time. But others will require a lot of time and energy just to get started.
The good news is there is a lot of information out there that can help you start whatever endeavor you choose to pursue.
A simple search online of “how to become a [your idea]” or “[your idea] + freelance/side hustle” will also give you articles and links to online job postings that can be useful when you’re first getting started.
You can also contact your local Small Business Associations, Entrepreneur Centers, and Chamber of Commerce for guidance and resources (usually for free).
And of course, you can always take a course – online or offline, for free or paid, self-paced or scheduled classes, etc.
Launch Your Side Hustle Course
If you’re looking for help with deciding what the perfect side hustle job is for you, what steps you need to take to successfully (and legally) earn extra money, and have under $100 to invest, I highly recommend taking Daniella’s Launch Your Side Hustle course!
Daniella made $30,000 last year from her side hustles and turned what she’s learned into a complete beginner’s guide. But even as a long-time blogger, I came away with new ideas and ways to improve my own side hustle and make more money.
Take your answers to these questions into consideration when trying to decide what are the best side hustles for you. Do your research and get help where you need to.
I’m sure you’ll do well with whatever side hustle you decide to start.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.