I am a huge proponent of the side hustle. Whether you’re planning on creating a do-it-yourself career or just looking to make a little cash doing something you love, side hustles are the perfect opportunity to do so.
I firmly believe that a side hustle is something that should not only make you money but be something that you’re genuinely passionate about. As much as money adds to the ability to live, it’s important to me that my life isn’t consumed or directed by it. So, in my mind, the amount of money you make should matter less than the amount of passion you have for what you do.
But I am also a firm believer that if you focus on a side hustle that you’re truly passionate about you’ll do it exceptionally well. And if you do it exceptionally well, you will make money at it. I might be wrong (though, let’s be honest, I so rarely am) but that’s why I make sure that any side hustle I’m partaking is either something I’m incredibly passionate about or is something that has a direct link to helping me
The Reality of the Side Hustle
Side hustles are a real talking point as the economy turns to less of a traditional workforce to fill roles. Intuit Canada predicts that 45 percent of Canadians will be self-employed by next year, and for our neighbours to the south are predicted to have 42 million self-employed workers by 2020.
Now I might be making a big leap here, but I’m guessing these people aren’t just going to up and leave their jobs, they’re going to start small with a side hustle and grow it into a full-time gig that can support them while they travel, spend more time with family or otherwise do what they love… without having a boss
I have no real data and statistics to rule these the best side hustles for this year, or for any year for that matter. I’ve chosen them simply because they’re relatively easy to start, have low start-up costs in most cases, are rising industries and I genuinely think they’re cool.
Start A Freelance Writing Side Hustle
A freelance writer is exactly what it sounds like. Consider the field of writing as the old Wild West and a freelance writer as a hired gun — one that uses a computer, prose and some good search engine optimization instead of an 1873 Winchester Rifle (yes, I did have to google that).
A freelance writer makes money writing, but instead of working in-house for a single publication, they’re free to roam the seven seas of the writing world (which is more like thousands of blogs, publications and company websites) to work for hire.
I know all about freelance writing because what started as a side hustle for me is now my full-time job. And I won’t lie to you, it’s not a walk in the park. Freelance writing is hard work, but if you want to make a living writing, it’s well worth it.
Freelance Writing Pros
- You get paid to write
- You get to choose what you write and who you write for
- It’s pretty easy to get your foot In the door
- You can do it part-time or full time
- And you can do it part-time until you’re ready to go full time
Freelance Writing Cons
- The industry is a little volatile, publications are going under every day but new ones pop up to replace them
- You have to constantly be on the lookout for new jobs and pitch calls
- A lot of companies pay writers poorly
- Getting steady pay full-time takes time
Freelancing is a side hustle that you can quite literally start today with no additional costs. My best advice for getting started on your freelance writing side hustle is to start writing right now. Seriously do it… right after you finish reading this post because I’ve got a lot of other freelance ideas for you!
What you need to get started
- A computer or tablet
- A steady internet connection (and an email account)
- A love of words and a solid understanding of how to use them (or the passion to learn)
- A portfolio (you can start small)
- The guts to get out there and start pitching!
I would also suggest a separate business account, the proper licensing for your jurisdiction and a tad bit of SEO knowledge. But alas.
I promise I’ll do a full post in the next few weeks about how to become a freelance writer.
Maybe you do dream of writing as a side hustle but you’re not so keen on writing for other people. That’s where a blog comes in. It’s an entire platform dedicated to sharing what you want with your audience (also presumably people who want to read the things you want to write about). As long as you’re willing to work hard and wait for the dolla dolla billz to roll in, then blogging might be the perfect side hustle for you.
Yes, bloggers can make money — a lot of them do. That said, even more of them don’t. So in addition to wanting to share your words with the world, you need to have some genuine business acumen. But blogging is a long-term game when it comes to making money. Unless you already have a built-in audience, and if you do you go girl, you’ll need to put in the time and effort to build one.
- You control the content
- You control the brand
- You control the audience (relatively speaking)
- Basically, you control everything
- Unless you have startup funds, you need to wear a lot of hats (writer, editor, web designer, social media manager etc.)
- You’ll need a quick lesson in website design (basic design is easy though, so you’ll be fine)
- It’s a long-term money maker
- You’ll need to build an audience
- You need to write, a lot
- You need to be consistent with content to build an audience
I am both a blogger and a freelance writer and if I’m being honest with myself (and you) I like blogging better. For some reason I have this idea in my head that there’s a limit on the good ideas I’ll come up with (there isn’t and quite frankly most of them aren’t even that good) so sometimes I write an amazing client article and think man, I wish I’d written that for me. That said, blogging and freelance writing really compliment each other well. And let’s be honest, blogging doesn’t currently pay my bills #herestohoping.
I like blogging because the start-up costs are low. Don’t get me wrong, you can actually start a blog for nothing but you’ll sacrifice in a few areas like having your own domain name and a little less control. Though, you can always change it later!
What you need to get started
- A computer or a tablet
- A blogging platform
- A blog concept, it’s good to have a niche
- A way to promote your blog
Everything else you can learn along the way — the rest of us do!
I also promise to do a full post on blogging in the next few weeks!
Make Money Podcasting
Podcasting is one of my absolute favourite mediums. I rave about podcast to everyone I know. And, in addition to being a freelance writer and blogger, I’m also a podcast. I host a weekly true crime comedy podcast with my two best girlfriends called The Lady Dicks, where we dick-tect historical stories filled with true crime tales and peculiar paranormal occurrences.
I used to sit listening to podcasts thinking how badly I wished I could have my own podcast. Then one day I simply decided to start one. I’ve started and stopped several podcast throughout the year, but The Lady Dicks is just over half-way through our second season and still going strong. So fingers crossed it’s here to stay.
I get asked all the time if podcasting can really make money. And yes, it can. But how much and how it happens varies from podcast to podcast. I can tell you honestly that the Lady Dicks do not make a lot of money, in fact, we most recently decided to shut down our Patreon page which had a tad bit of money coming in because we’re planning on breaking off from the typical podcast crowd and doing something a tad bit different.
But yes, a podcast can be a side hustle that makes you a bit of money. They make money in a few very predictable ways — advertising, via donations, membership-type programs (like patron) and merchandise sales — that’s about it right now. But many podcasters I know make a decent amount of side-hustle money.
- It’s a lot of fun
- There’s a lot of room to be creative
- There tends to be increased audience engagement
- The community is really supportive
- There is a lot of work involved. And I mean A LOT.
- Audience growth can be slow
- You need to actively promote
- It’s a long-term game money wise
Podcasting can have a low or high startup fee, depending on what you’re going to make, how much help you need and what you want your end product to sound like. We started the Lady Dicks with about $300 from my bank account. We bought a board, some microphones, a domain name and hosting. I did (and still do) the research, writing, editing and promotion. So our month-to-month cost sits at about $25.
And we didn’t need to pay that much. We’ve changed our set up a lot since the beginning, and quite frankly, right now, the equipment we use to record costs under $100. That said, keeping your podcast low-cost means doing a lot of the work yourself and that means spending time.
What do you need to get started
- A microphone for any person recording
- A device to record it to
- A way to edit it (Audacity is free)
- Hosting (think $10 to $20 per month)
That’s it. You don’t actually need anything else. But, if you wan to get fancier you can hire people to help you.
Note to self: also make sure you write a full blog post on podcasting!
Get in Front of the Camera
Some of the world’s most popular YouTuber make millions of dollars a year. No, that’s obviously not the majority of them but it is possible. If you’re a person who loves to be in front of the camera then YouTube is for you.
YouTube is similar to podcasting and blogging, in that you’re making your own content but it’s different because you’re creating videos. Which, in my mind, are a lot more work. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who absolutely love to do it.
I am not a YouTuber, so all of this information comes from research and second-hand experience.
- Get in front of the camera
- YouTube audiences are easier to grow than other platforms audiences (I’m looking at you blogging and podcasting)
- Again, you have (relative) content control
- You can focus on content you love creating
- YouTube can also be a long-term money game, though I’ve heard of people being able to monetize quickly
- While it’s not a lot, you are somewhat limited on the type of content you want to put out
- Making a video is more time consuming and requires more (or maybe just different) effort than some of our other content creation choices
- Video making can be expensive if you don’t have access to the right stuff
I can’t tell you exactly how much it takes to set up a YouTube channel and start making videos because I’ve never done it myself. Though, I can tell you video editing can take a bit to learn. That said, presumably, you could do it for nothing with your phone, a free video editing app and YouTube — but from my understanding, those aren’t the videos that make money. That said, if you look around in your community I bet you’ll find access to free or inexpensive resources that can help you.
What you need to get started
- An idea
- A camera
- Editing software and knowledge
- An internet connection
If you get fancier than that it’ll cost you a little extra cash. Though, you can always step up your game once you have an audience!
Side Hustle Yourself Some Students
I’m not going to lie, creating online courses is one of my goals for this year. So I’ll keep you in the loop for how it goes in practice. This side hustle idea is for people who have great ideas and something to genuinely teach — something that people want to pay for.
That said, you can make money teaching anything. Seriously, people have proven that! People teach everything online from a class on learning to yoga and even making cakes! Whatever your heart desires to teach if you’re good at it and come up with a stellar marketing scheme then you can make it happen!
One of my favourite things about creating online courses and the biggest fiscal reason why I’m interested in them is that they can help create a passive income. Your course can presumably make money for as long as you have it up. It just takes some good marketing for that side hustle.
Online Course Creation Pros
- You can teach whatever you want
- You have full creative control
- Teaching can be really fun
Online Course Creation Cons
- It’s not a no-cost startup
- It can be time-consuming
- You have to do a lot of marketing
- There is a learning curve to figure out how to do it
Creating online courses does, in the scheme of things, cost money to begin with. We’re not talking about taking out a bank loan kind of money but there is some cash involved. You’ll need a hosting program, then whatever programs you need to actually create your content — whether that’s access to powerpoint, microphones or video production software.
All-in-all though, a membership through a site like Teachable is only around $50 a month. So it’s not unattainable. And your first course isn’t going to be perfect, so you can still do this side hustle with lower costs.
What you need to get started
- A course idea
- A marketing strategy
- A hosting platform
- Lots of time
Like I said, online course creation is one of my 2019 side hustle plans, so I’ll keep you updated on how it goes!
Side Hustle Some Subscription (Boxes)
One of my long-term dream side hustles is to create subscription boxes. I’ve been fascinated with them ever since I noticed them starting to pop up all over the place. It’s by no means an immediate goal of mine considering I have no idea what type of services I want to provide, nor do I know anything (besides the minimal amount that I’ve researched) about creating a successful subscription box service.
I recently fell in love with FabFitFun (I posted a review on the FabFitFun Starter Box in case you’re interested in) and subscribed (it’s research, really). I love the idea of getting a “present” every few months simply because it’s something I want.
But, from what I can tell subscription box services take a lot of planning and know-how to get into. So, if this is a side hustle you want to pursue you’ll need to do some of your own research. But with that in mind, this is what I’ve found out so far:
Subscription Box Pros
- They seem like such a fun idea
- You get to put a little love in the box
- Share some of your favourite items with the people you serve
- Test new products, who doesn’t love that?
Subscription Box Cons
- It seems like a lot of leg work
- You’ll definitely need some money
- The business end can likely get very complicated
- You’ll need a lot of space
- You’ll need to do a ton of networking which can be intimidating
All things considered, subscription box services have the most expensive startup costs on my side hustle list. While I can’t tell you what they are because I don’t know, logistically speaking, I know they’re there. Plus, you’re going to need partnerships with companies which are likely to take a lot of legwork and convincing.
What you need to get started
- An audience
I honestly don’t know what else, but someone please tell me!