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, babysit, or sell unused household items at a garage sale.
But finding the right side hustle – something you enjoy doing and can actually make money from – isn’t always straightforward. There are many things you need to consider before investing 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 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 a company hires for a specific time and at a specific rate, who is 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 Side Hustle to Start?
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.
1. 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)?
2. 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 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.
3. Where Do You Want To Work?
You can make money online with a lot of the best side hustles, meaning you can 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?
4. 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 matches your skills but will also teach you new ones.
Most jobs require basic, common skills that most people already have or can easily learn. But some 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.
5. 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? Do you have the space needed for a shop or home office? Or to store your inventory, tools, or supplies?
6. 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 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.
On the other hand, 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).
7. 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 how much time each option takes vs. how many hours you want to work. Some side hustles can take up a lot of your time, !
8. Is There Enough Demand?
Think about where your paying clients are. If you live in a small community, your chances of success as a DoorDash or PostMates driver, for example, is significantly lower than it is for someone living in a major metropolitan area. Your earning and growth potential are limited by the demand.
However, if you can work online, where you live doesn’t really matter as much. But you still need to be sure enough people are interested in your product or service.
9. 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 hustles that you can start as soon as you decide to, while others can take months or even years to 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.
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 a course or eBook), it will take time to get to this point.
10. What Laws and Regulations Do You Need To Follow?
You must legally follow all the laws and regulations that apply – 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 from a lawyer, accountant, or small business professional.
11. 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 need something inexpensive or free to start?
12. What Level of Risk Can You Take?
Trying to make money on your own by starting a side business will come with risks. How much risk you are willing and comfortably able to take will be a big deciding factor when it comes to picking the right one.
For example, flipping real estate is much riskier than starting a lemonade stand or taking online surveys, as it requires a significant investment, and the real estate market is unpredictable. But you’ll never make thousands of dollars with surveys.
13. Why Do You Want To Start Side Hustling?
The reason you want to start your own venture influences which is the best choice. 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 promised that all you’ve got to do is start any random side hustle, and you will instantly make 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. So if you want to start a side hustle to get rich quick, you will be disappointed. There’s also a real chance that instead of making more money, you will lose money.
14. Will It Be Successful?
Unfortunately, this is a tricky question for anyone to answer. A million factors will determine if you will have a successful side hustle or not, but there’s only so much you can control.
To set yourself up for success, choose a side hustle that aligns with your skill set, brings you enjoyment, fits your current circumstances, and is in demand with a customer base willing to pay for it.
15. Can I Get Help Starting a Side Hustle or Small Business?
As mentioned, some ideas are easy to start quickly, while others require a lot of time and effort before they become profitable. The good news is there is a lot of information out there that can help you with whatever endeavor you choose to pursue.
A simple search online of your idea will 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 have the option to enroll in a course, whether it’s online or offline, free or paid, self-paced or scheduled classes, and so on.
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!
Your Side Hustle Cheat Sheet
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re in the mood to change your job. Maybe you’re just thinking that it’s time to start your own thing. If you’re thinking about starting your own business, the best place to start, at least today, is with ChatGPT.
Side Hustles for Couples
Imagine the possibilities of creating a side business as a couple – a venture that generates extra income and brings you two closer together. Here we unveil a collection of side business ideas tailor-made for couples like you. It’s time to turn your shared dreams into reality, boost your finances, and create a life you love – together.
Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN, Credit.com, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.