How to Make Money

Side Hustle Inspiration: 15 Popular Part-Time Businesses

Updated May 4, 2016
by Nick Loper

As the Chief Side Hustler at, I have the best job in the world. Each week I get to chat with amazing and inspiring part-time entrepreneurs and experiment with a variety of different business projects.

Recently, I asked more than 300 followers of the blog and podcast what they did to earn money outside of their traditional jobs, and these are the most popular side hustles they reported.

Full disclosure: one of the most popular responses was “I don’t have one yet.”

Let this list serve as your inspiration to get the creative juices flowing! Surely you can put one of these business ideas into action.

Which of these are you working on? Which could you start?

1. Freelancing

Freelancing took the number one spot, with writing, graphic design and web development among the most common services offered.

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2. Self-Publishing

The democratization of publishing through Amazon Kindle and other platforms has made this a popular side hustle.

You can write in your free time and upload your work for free to the world’s largest store.

3. Blogging

I was surprised to see blogging rank this highly on my survey, since a blog can be very time-consuming and difficult to monetize.

Still, bloggers can earn money through advertising, affiliate marketing and sponsored posts.

4. Consulting

Consultants are often paid hourly or on a project basis for their expertise in a particular area.

If you have a depth of knowledge on an industry, you’re already halfway to a new side hustle as a consultant; now it’s just a matter of getting in front of the right clients.

5. Crafts, Jewelry and Art

Side hustlers are a naturally creative bunch, so it comes as no surprise that selling homemade jewelry, original art, and other handicrafts made this list.

You could sell your wares at local markets and craft shows, through your own website, or on a marketplace like Etsy.

6. Ecommerce and Dropshipping

Beyond simply building a blog, an online store has a much clearer business model: you’ve actually got products for sale!

For inventory, you could create the items yourself, buy wholesale goods or find a dropshipping vendor.

With dropshipping, you never have to touch the inventory — you process the order and the distributor ships the item directory to your customer.

7. Amazon and eBay

Retail giants Amazon and eBay rely on customers (you!) to help source their inventory, and some side hustlers report earning $500 a month or more finding items on clearance locally and re-selling them through Amazon.

8. Software and App Development

To build your own software application or smartphone app, you’ll either need some technical know-how or some outsourcing fortitude — on top of a good idea.

Still, the appeal of a product with low-to-zero marginal cost is enough to draw many side hustlers down this path.

9. Coaching

These days there are coaches for everything, and people who demand peak performance from themselves hire life or business coaches to hold them accountable and make sure they stay focused in the right direction.

No gym shorts or whistle required.

10. Marketing Agency

Under this category, the specializations of social media, content marketing and search engine optimization came up quite a bit.

This is a way to sell your expertise and your service to help other companies gain more exposure online.

11. Teaching — Offline or Online

Relevant and useful information is always in-demand, especially if others want to know what you know.

You can teach your skills offline, even if you don’t have a degree, or create an online course on a platform like Udemy.

12. Health and Fitness Services

For this category, I included everything from personal training, to running coaches, to meal planning services, to yoga and boot camp instructors.

Living a healthy life is a near-universal goal, so tapping into that massive market could be a lucrative side hustle.

13. Photography

Photography is my wife’s side hustle of choice, and has the added benefit of letting you write off all your fancy camera gear.

For a hobbyist photographer to turn pro, it only takes one paid gig.

14. Real Estate

Real estate investing remains a popular side hustle and is an excellent way to build long-term wealth.

The problem is it generally takes heaps of cash to get started and you might have to deal with property maintenance and problem tenants.

15. Network Marketing and Multi-Level Marketing

The allure of network marketing is understandable: sell someone else’s proven product, create a big downline, and sit back and cash the checks.

The reality may not be so rosy for most participants, but MLM eked into the Top 15.

Honorable Mentions

Among my favorites that didn’t make this list were a ventriloquist service, being Santa, officiating weddings, a snow plow service, and doing iPhone repairs.

If you’re looking for ways to earn extra cash, there is certainly no shortage of opportunities!

Nick Loper is the Chief Side Hustler at, a growing resource and community for part-time entrepreneurs. On the top-rated Side Hustle Show podcast, Nick and his guests explore a different business idea each week.

by Nick Loper
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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