Need Extra Income? Take Your Pick From the 25 Best Side Hustles of 2021
Side hustles, also known as side gigs, are paid projects you do outside your main job. They can be a great way to pay off debt or earn more money on the side.
They can also be a means to tap into unused skills and explore your passions. And if you really want to get creative, you can use a unique side hustle as a testing ground for a business idea.Looking for a ready-made side hustle? Or maybe a creative gig you can use to carve out a niche for yourself outside of your full-time job? Either way, you’ve come to the right place. We curated the best side hustle ideas we’ve come across.
How Much Money Can You Make With Side Jobs?
The short answer: It depends.
For one, it matters if you want to make a little money, work a part-time job or full-on replace your full-time income.
Each side hustle recommendation is paired with our best tips and other resources to help you get started. Plus, we’ve included an earnings estimate based on side hustlers we’ve interviewed, industry reports, wage estimates and a healthy dose of reality. (Just because an app says you can earn up to $30 an hour doesn’t mean that’s likely.)
Depending on how much money you want to make in your spare time, you can “right-size” the amount of freelance work you take on.
Jump to a side hustle: Ride-Share Driver | Food Delivery Driver | Grocery Delivery Driver | Package Delivery Driver | General Freelancer | Freelance Writer | Graphic Designer | Virtual Assistant | Freelance Social Media Manager | Social Media and Search Engine Rater | Pet Sitter | Babysitter | Airbnb Host | Airbnb Experiences Host | Notary Public | Wedding Officiant | Online Tutor | Online English Tutor | Crafts Seller | At-Home Clothes Cleaner | Flipper of Goods | Online Course Creator | Competitive Gamer | T-Shirt Designer | Audio or Caption Transcriptionist.
The 25 Best Side Hustles
These side hustles can be done outside your 9-to-5 and are mostly available nationwide, year-round. Some side hustles are easily obtainable, some will take some planning and setup but provide passive income, and others offer opportunities to hone specialized skills.
All of them are tried and true. And we have the resources to help you get started on your side-hustling journey.
Here are our picks for some of the best side gigs — some of which you can begin and make a few extra bucks (and then some) pretty much immediately.
Use your car and your smartphone to chauffeur people around your city and earn some decent cash on the side. Uber and Lyft, the most popular ride-share companies, are always looking for drivers.
To qualify, you need to be at least 21 years old, have a valid U.S. driver’s license, proof of car insurance and vehicle registration, a four-door vehicle that seats five people, and the ability to pass criminal and driving background checks.
Pay is based on a ride-by-ride basis, plus tips, that can translate into a handsome hourly wage once you get the hang of it. Earnings are largely determined by tips and how many rides you complete each hour.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $15 an hour or more including tips.
Driving strangers around isn’t for everyone. So, try meal delivery instead. Most food delivery apps and services work the same: A customer places a food order with a local restaurant, you drive to the restaurant, grab the order and take it to the customer. You get paid by-the-order plus tips.
Gig delivery services DoorDash and Uber Eats dominate the market nationally, and they are generally considered the best ones because they’re the most consistent. You may have smaller delivery options in your area as well like Postmates, Bitesquad, Caviar and others. Compared to ride-share driving, the car requirements are less stringent. You’ll still need a valid driver’s license, insurance and the ability to pass background checks.
Earnings are largely determined by tips and how many deliveries you complete each hour.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $15 an hour or more including tips.
Some people hate going to the supermarket, which is why grocery delivery services are on the rise. Not to mention, the pandemic created a surge in demand for these services.
Instacart and Shipt are the two largest players. They hire armies of gig workers who go shopping, pick out requested items and deliver them to customers’ homes. In some locations, DoorDash offers limited grocery delivery services, too.
As a grocery-delivery driver, you may have a higher earnings potential when it comes to tips. But the work is more laborious compared to other driving-based side hustles.
Earnings are largely determined by tips and how many deliveries you complete each hour.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $15 an hour or more including tips.
If you’d rather your car not absorb the smells of your gig, you can also deliver packages on-demand. Amazon Flex is the main package-delivery gig provider. You can find some package-delivery gigs through Postmates or TaskRabbit as well, but those two apps encompass a host of other services.
Amazon Flex stands out from many other app-based side hustles in that, per Amazon, most drivers make between $18 and $25 an hour (depending on location, tips, etc.). You can sign up for “blocks” or shifts for a finite amount of time, which allows you to better estimate your daily earnings.
You need to be 21 years old, hold a valid license and have proper auto insurance to qualify.
Vehicle requirements vary based on the type of delivery. For Prime Now orders, any reliable car will do. A larger vehicle may be required for Amazon.com orders.
If you have specialized skills and want to make some side money using them, join a freelance network. Marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork are a good way to test the freelancing waters. The websites help you find gigs and connect with clients.
As a freelancer you get to decide who you want to work with and how much to charge for your services. The most common types of freelance services in online marketplaces include marketing, customer service, virtual assistant work, administrative support, web and software development, and writing.
Makeup tutorials and personal training are popular gigs you can do in person or online, as well. If you have a brand or huge fanbase, you can earn more money — and maybe parlay that into bigger earning endeavors by being an affiliate marketer or operating your own online store.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: About $20 an hour. More for specialized work.
Freelancing is sometimes synonymous with freelance writing. Sure, the general freelance marketplaces like Fiverr, Upwork and content mills are decent places to start. But successful writers pivot off of them quickly and start pitching directly to the publications and websites they want to write for.
Once you’ve built up a few clips, it’s good to specialize in a niche topic that interests you. Usually, the more focused your topic and deeper your expertise, the higher your rate. Overall, rates are dependent on the industry (journalism, fiction, marketing, etc.) and the prestige of the publication or website.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: 30 cents to $2 per word.
Don’t sell yourself short. Here’s how to figure out what to charge as a freelancer.
Becoming a successful graphic designer won’t happen overnight. But if you have an artistic eye, creativity, the people skills to negotiate and Adobe Creative Suite, designing can be very lucrative.
The opportunities to design are plentiful. Other freelancers need logos, small businesses need brochure templates, websites need pleasing graphics, restaurants need menus. The list goes on, and there’s a lot of growth potential.
Starting out, you may find yourself earning around $20 an hour for small-scale projects. But as you hone your artistic skills, the more selective you can be with your side projects. It’s common for skilled designers to make well over $100 an hour.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $20 to $150 per hour or more based on skill level.
Virtual assistants often handle administrative work like organizing workflows, scheduling meetings and filing documents. But as this remote side hustle becomes more popular, higher-level tasks are often part of the gig.
These days, it’s typical for virtual assistants to also provide graphic design, copywriting, bookkeeping, translation and other services. Almost a virtual jack-of-all-trades. If you can provide these secondary skills, then you can also bump up your hourly rates.
You look for these gigs on Upwork, Fiverr and VA-specific job boards.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: About $20 an hour.
Small and medium-sized businesses, now more than ever, need to have an online presence. But many business owners simply don’t have the time to keep up with their business pages on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And it shows.
You can use that to your advantage. It can be quite obvious which businesses have left their social accounts to languish. Frustrating for customers. But for you? It’s an opportunity to reach out to the business, offer your services and make money using your social media skills.
You can offer businesses a mix of help with branding and customer service — with prices way more appealing than an agency.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: About $20 an hour. Potential to scale into a business.
You’re surfing the web anyhow. You should make money doing it.
Several companies are willing to shell out the cash to get your opinions on advertisements and other content primarily on social media and search engine websites.
All you have to do is scroll through search results or social media feeds for a few hours per week. Sometimes on your phone. Sometimes on your computer. These popular micro-jobs are typically available at Lionbridge, Sutherland Global and Sykes.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $10 to $19 an hour.
Pet sitting is the perfect side hustle if you’re an animal lover. The work is flexible, ubiquitous and you get to play with some adorable pets. What more could you want?
The old-fashioned way of socializing at dog parks and pinning up bulletin board ads is one route to build up clientele.
If you want to jump right in, try Rover or Wag — the two of the most popular pet-sitting apps. They work like many other gig apps. You sign up, create a profile and get matched with people in your area who need their pets taken care of. You can choose what services you want to offer, too: walks only, pet and house sitting or pet boarding. It’s a solid way to set up a steady stream of income.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $12 to $20 an hour.
Are you an animal lover with a reliable vehicle? You might be able to make $10,000 a month as a pet transporter.
Babysitting is an old side gig standby and might be the first experience some of us had ever making our own money. It’s not just for teenagers (though it certainly can be).
Be sure to discuss safety protocol related to COVID-19 up front before taking a babysitting gig.
Obviously, word of mouth recommendations and personal contacts are an easy way to start finding side gigs. Care.com and SitterCity are popular online options. Both websites offer free and paid accounts to help you find gigs nearby. You can also use the sites to show off any relevant credentials and competencies such as a CPR certificate or American Red Cross coursework.
Such experience is a great way to get a leg up on competition and put parents’ minds at ease.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: About $15 an hour.
Have a spare room? Might as well try to make money on the side by listing it on Airbnb.
If you’re a good host with a desirable dream home, you could add hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to your bank account per month. What makes a space desirable is cleanliness and proximity to nightlife or tourist destinations.
Cleanliness, especially during the pandemic, is paramount. Be sure to outline the safety precautions you’re taking on your Airbnb listing.
It takes some effort to curate a private space, establish rules and set up your listing, but after that, all there’s left to do is assist interested travelers and clean up when they leave. You get full control over how much you charge per night and what nights the space is available. Airbnb takes a cut per each confirmed booking — usually 3% but could range as high as 20% depending on the area and type of listing.
Many successful Airbnb hosts use side hustle earnings to offset the cost of their mortgage or other bills, sometimes entirely. The coronavirus has no doubt slowed travel-related activities. So don’t expect your earnings to offset your mortgage payments immediately.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $50 to $250 per night.
Airbnb is well known for its on-demand renting services. In 2016, the company launched Experiences, a standalone service that allows locals to list interesting activities for groups, usually tourists, to take part in. Experiences offer a great side hustle option for charismatic and interesting locals.
If you know your locale well — all the good eats, breweries and a bit of history — you could host a walking tour. Or if you want to get really creative, you could curate date-night experiences for visiting couples. During the pandemic, safety is key, and you’ll want to detail the steps you’re taking to make sure everyone stays healthy.
You can attach an Experience to your existing Airbnb rental account, or you can create a new account just to host an activity. You can charge whatever you want, and Airbnb takes a 20% fee.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: Varies by duration and group size.
A Notary Public is actually a formal government designation. The “Commission” (or term) usually lasts about four years, and it’s a side hustle worth considering.
As a notary, you can make money on the side by signing legal documents such as wills or power of attorney forms — even school- and sports-related forms. You’ll need to be 18 years old and complete the appropriate application with your state. Only about a dozen states require some form of training or exam.
We highly recommend finding a specialization to increase your earnings and eliminate competition from banks and UPS branches that offer notary services. For example, you can find a niche in real estate as a Notary Signing Agent and charge more for your services, shooting your earnings potential up to hundreds of dollars per document packet.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: 50 cents to $10 per signature — up to $200 per signing for specialized notary services.
As a wedding officiant, sometimes called marriage officiant, you get paid to celebrate with people who are experiencing one of the most memorable events of their lives. What’s more, you’ll have an active role in helping people tie the knot, leading the ceremony and eliciting the vows and the “I do”s. Many officiants find the side work highly rewarding.
This is a true side hustle. It has little chance to creep into your day-to-day schedule as there are limited amounts of weddings (and Saturdays).
Consider doubling-up on your side hustle by becoming a notary as well so that you can certify the wedding certificate.
The requirements to become an officiant vary by state and sometimes even by county. In most cases, you will need to be ordained. But you can score those credentials quickly online through the Universal Life Church Monastery. Just ensure they’re recognized by your local government first.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $250 to $500 per ceremony.
Tutoring was a side hustle before we called second jobs side hustles. With a host of websites to choose from, it’s easier than ever to find students and make money. Most tutoring websites work like marketplaces: You fill out a profile that lists your subject expertise, education, experience and hourly rates. Then, you can reach out to students or vice versa. A few websites will do the matching for you based on a preset schedule.
But not every online tutoring company works like that. Some more formal companies may conduct interviews and administer screening tests, similar to on-site tutoring jobs.
Common tutoring topics include core K-12 subjects (math, English, science, reading and social studies), as well as SAT/ACT prep and college-level courses.
As you get the hang of tutoring online, we recommend gravitating your side hustle away from the tutoring platforms. Try to establish a student base on your own — with sessions that you can host independently over video-conferencing platforms like Skype and Zoom.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $10 to $25 an hour with potential to scale.
Teaching English online is becoming a mainstay in the world of virtual side hustles. It’s one of the best side hustle ideas if your day job is a grade-school teacher, as your skills and credentials are a natural fit.
Most companies will require you to have a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL/TESOL certification. (The acronyms mean basically the same thing — Teaching English as a Foreign Language and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.)
Be wary of groupons for teaching certificates: Not all online TEFL or TESOL programs are the same.
Be wary of Groupons for teaching certificates: Not all online TEFL or TESOL programs are the same. You won’t always need those credentials, anyway; it ultimately depends on the company. Also, take note of any location restrictions (for instance, California residents may not be eligible to teach for some companies due to local government limitations).
Beside requirements, most gigs operate the same way: You’ll be teaching English to one or more students typically located in China.
As a result of the distance, peak hours tend to be in the early morning or late evenings. When you first start teaching, you’ll earn around $16 per hour with bonuses that can quickly add up to $24 or more.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $16 to $24 an hour.
Not all side hustles are service-related.
Consider selling your art, crafts and other homemade goods online. Thanks to Amazon Handmade, Etsy, eBay and other e-commerce platforms, you have several ways to get your creations out there.
Each website comes with its own pros and cons, but you should experiment with multiple ones to find the right customers. No matter which one you choose, be sure to factor in the seller fees, cost of materials and shipping expenses into your sales price.
You can also host free tutorials on YouTube or social media channels to answer questions, expand your reach and sell more products. Or, create a niche blog and become an affiliate marketer.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: Based on item sales. Potential to scale into a business.
Doing laundry is at the top of most people’s hate-to-do list. That’s where you come in to save the day with your clothes-cleaning prowess.
In apartment complexes especially, people might not have washers or dryers. Driving to a coin laundry is not only laborious but time consuming. The sell — for you to drop by and pick up their clothes and bring them back clean and folded — is pretty simple.
To get started taking on clients, you’ll just need your own car, a washer, dryer and space to fold the clothes up neatly. If you already have that, this is one of the best side hustles that doesn’t require a ton of start-up costs or specialized skills.
Care.com, Laundry Care and TaskRabbit are solid websites to get your side hustle rolling. We always suggest building up clients outside third-party websites, and you can do so by advertising your services near coin laundries and at apartment communities that don’t come equipped with washers and dryers.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: About $20 an hour.
Flipping goods on the side has probably crossed your mind at some point in time. Maybe you found a scuff-less pair of Doc Martens at GoodWill, and for only $15? You could make a huge profit reselling them.
Turns out, many people make a living off doing just this. Thrift stores and garage sales can be treasure troves for those with a good eye for profit. You might also find great deals at local retail stores, too. Flipping new items is often referred to as retail arbitrage. Different name, same premise.
Whatever the case, when you find a great deal, there are plenty of websites that can help you make money off your purchase. Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, thredUP, Instagram, eBay and Etsy are all great places to start your flipping side hustle — or just pawn off one-time items. If you restore, enhance or upscale the item in some way, even better.
Just be sure to match the product to the best website. Those Doc Martens might not do well on eBay but might make a killing on Poshmark.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: Based on item sales. Potential to scale in a business.
If you’re an expert of a subject, topic or skill and want to make some passive side hustle income, consider creating an online program. Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, provided by companies like Udemy and Teachable allow teachers and professionals to instruct students wanting to sharpen their skills.
In addition to academic subjects, professional and homesteading skills are welcome. Put your unique skill set to use for your business!
As an instructor, you can create the courses, which consist of audio, video, a PowerPoint-style presentation, practice assignments and exams. You charge a fee to enroll. The longer the course, the higher the pay. Depending on how students sign up, your earnings will fluctuate. (Did they enroll directly through your registration link? Or did they use the website’s search function?)
Online course creation isn’t for everyone, but this popular side hustle can provide a solid income source for those who have the know-how.TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: Based on length of course and enrollment.
The video game industry is booming during the pandemic, and more people than ever are playing video games. If you have developed some serious skills in popular titles, you can turn your hobby into a lucrative side hustle.
Like video games themselves, real-money gaming competitions are becoming more popular. For amateurs, websites like GamerSaloon, MLG GameBattles and World Gaming offer ways to make money on the side: by crushing your opponents in online tournaments. Prize pools for these sites can vary from $1 to $500.
Trending competitive games include Dota 2, the FIFA series, the Call of Duty series, Madden, Counter-Strike and League of Legends. Once you get a few notches under your belt, you may qualify for esports competitions, which are typically held by the developers of the popular competitive games. Earnings from those tournaments can reach seven figures.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $1 to $500 per match for online competitions; $35,000 or more for professional esports tournaments.
You have ideas for catchy slogans or eye-catching graphics. Why not put them on a T-shirt?
Print-on-demand services such as Merch by Amazon, Printful and Redbubble allow people to upload their designs and sell products without dealing with the hassles of inventory and shipping. Each shirt is made to order, and the designer receives a percentage of the sale.
No graphic design skills needed for this side hustle. They certainly couldn’t hurt, though.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: Passive income based on item sales. Potential to scale into a business.
A transcription side hustle can be a good, low-barrier fit for some people looking to make a little side money online. You’ll just need lightning-fast typing skills with high accuracy.
Allegis Transcription, TranscribeMe, Rev, Net Transcripts and Lionbridge frequently recruit transcribers to work on-demand during a flexible schedule.
Basic transcription gigs are usually related to insurance claims or court cases. But you can also find a side hustle transcribing lyrics for songs and captions for movies — especially if you have second-language skills.
TPH’s Earning Potential Estimate: $15 to $25 per audio hour.
What The Top Side Hustles Have in Common
We’ve spoken to countless people with side jobs and found commonalities in gigs that are successful. Here are a few elements we think your next side hustle should include.
1. Schedule Flexibility
Don’t let your side hustle interfere with your day job. In fact, some companies have policies in place that prevent you from taking on an extra gig.
Be sure you’re in the clear to start a side hustle and that the hours complement your main job’s schedule. Try not to overdo it, too. You may be tempted to take on a ton of work on the side in the excitement of setting things up but find out that it’s too much to handle in the long run. Set aside some spare time to get started, and then you can ramp up once you have a handle on the business.
No matter what you end up choosing for your side hustle, you should enjoy the work on some level. Seek out the best side hustle that fits your personality and interests because it’s going to take up a lot of your free time. Otherwise, it might be hard to justify the extra cash — and you could risk burning yourself out.
3. Low Cost of Entry
When choosing a side hustle, it’s important to consider how much it’s going to cost to get it off the ground. Some part-time side hustles, such as those that are app-based, can be done right away, while others, like selling goods online, may need more time and money up front. If the project is ambitious, ease your way into it. Don’t dig yourself into a money hole before you even get started.
4. Fulfills a High-Demand Need
This is a big one. It’s easier to get started with a side gig you don’t need to hard-sell anyone on.
For instance, if you live in a pet-friendly apartment complex filled with busy young professionals, you could start a dog walking service. You won’t need to go far out of your way to find clients (you can advertise online in your resident portal or Facebook group), you’ll earn extra income and you’ll get plenty of fresh air and exercise. (Plus, being a dog walker = plenty of puppy cuddles.)
Think of a service people need — and most importantly, will pay for — that you could provide. Your great idea could bring in quick cash.
5. A Means to a Professional or Personal Goal
The best side hustles don’t only help you make more money. They also help you achieve your goals.
Paying down student loans or learning new skills to help you land a better full-time job are both great reasons to get a side hustle. However, side hustles can also lead to endless work and burnout if you don’t set boundaries. That’s why you should establish a side hustle exit plan: a clear end point or at least a pausing point where you can re-evaluate why you started your gig and see if you need to change course — or maybe even scale it up to full time.
What Skills Do Side Hustlers Need to Have?
Finding or creating a great side hustle is important, but that’s only half the equation. Every side hustler needs a certain set of qualities to succeed.
You’ll need to be a self-starter in order for your side hustle to succeed. It’s up to you as the sole employee to create your own workflow and stay motivated so your products or assignments get done on time.
It’s going to take a little while before your side hustle gets up to full speed and — hopefully someday soon — make you a lot of money. The money doesn’t always start flowing immediately. And know that, if your side hustle doesn’t work out, you can always reset and try something else.
3. Willingness to Learn
You’re never too old or too experienced to learn something new. Even if you know the skills or subject matter of your potential gig already, starting a side hustle itself is a learning experience. And if you want to try something completely new, you’ll obviously have to take the time to hone your skills. Your side hustle experience can not only earn you money in the short term, but the skills you develop can also help you advance your career — even if you don’t scale your idea into a business.
You’ll be better off knowing from the beginning that you’re going to make mistakes. This may be your first attempt at side hustling while balancing a day job and a personal life. There will be long nights and a lot of trial and (probably more) error. If your side hustle isn’t going how you planned, the faster you can forgive yourself and cut your losses, the better.
Are You Ready to Start Your Side Hustle?
Whether you pursue your side gig as a part-time job or freelance endeavor, it can be empowering to develop a recurring income stream. And who knows? It could be the catalyst to starting your own business on your own terms.
Of course, your second gig doesn’t have to become a second job, either.
Whether you want to dedicate a few minutes a day to earn extra money (online surveys) or work a few jobs (writing resumes and walking dogs) to pay off your student loans, feel free to create a schedule that works for you.
If you want, you can control your own time and how much money you make. Start selling, work on that extra income and then retool if necessary.