How to Start a Side Hustle: 9 Part-Time Online Business Ideas

Side Hustle Business Ideas #1: Start Dropshipping

Dropshipping Side Hustle

Dropshipping is hands down one of the most popular side hustles—and for a good reason. You can launch your online store without buying or storing a single product—instead, when you make a sale, the dropshipping service packages and ships your customer’s order directly to them.

Meaning that this side hustle involves next-to-no financial risk.

As you’ve probably already guessed, you’ll spend the majority of your time handling the marketing of your online store as well as tasks relating to customer service. As such, if you have any experience in the digital marketing world and boast an entrepreneurial flair, then this could be the ideal side hustle for you!

Tips for Dropshipping Success

If you’re considering dropshipping as a part-time business idea, take on board the advice below.

TAKE TIME TO MASTER THE ART OF DIGITAL MARKETING

Decent marketing is the lifeblood of any dropshipping business. As such, you’ll need to dedicate a little bit of time and effort into educating yourself on the subject.

There are tons of blogs, video tutorials, and online courses that explain how to successfully launch and manage high-converting social media ads, how to drive traffic to your store, and how to transform website visitors into paying customers so search for these resources online. Here are some places to start:

  • How to Start a Profitable Dropshipping Store Webinar
  • Learn How to Start a Dropshipping Business with EWCart

In addition to learning about the best practices surrounding paid-for social media ads, we also suggest learning SEO. In the long run, the higher you appear in search engine results (like Google), the more visitors you’ll attract and, consequently, the more sales you should make.

This means optimizing your web pages and publishing high-quality content on your site—which is where tactics like keyword research and content marketing truly come into play. They may take a little bit of time and energy, but these marketing methods don’t cost much to implement, so they’re definitely worth considering!

OPTIMIZE YOUR ONLINE STORE FOR CONVERSIONS

There are plenty of things you can do to entice website visitors to become customers. Here are just a few strategies we suggest looking into:

  • Use scarcity and urgency-based marketing tactics to encourage sales
  • Add customer reviews to your sales pages to build credibility
  • Ensure that your website is completely user-friendly for both desktop and mobile users
  • Use attractive imagery to engage with your audience

DON’T UNDERPRICE YOUR PRODUCTS

When you use high-quality dropshipping apps and services you’ll usually get access to products that are relatively close to their wholesale price. As such, there’s typically enough wriggle room for you to generate a healthy profit (while factoring in other expenses like marketing, website hosting, any tasks you’re outsourcing, etc.).

Therefore, as long as your prices are set at the standard market value adopted by other ecommerce sellers, you should be fine. So, take a look at your competitors’ stores and get a feel for the average price of their products and then take into account your expenses and overhead costs to see if you’ll be able to price your products at the same rate.

With the right tools, you can automate the majority of your business—which, when you’re running a side hustle alongside a 9 to 5, it’s basically essential. Not to mention, the more tasks you automate, in theory, the quicker you’ll grow and scale your dropshipping business. What’s not to love about that?!

Side Hustle Business Ideas #2: Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing Side Hustle

If you have high-grade writing chops and an ounce of business acumen, then freelance writing could be the perfect side hustle for you!

You’ll have to work hard to try and get your first couple of clients but once you’ve done that, it only gets easier.

Best of all, once you have a few recurring gigs and a writing schedule in place, you’ll be able to predict your future income more accurately than some of the other side hustles we’ve listed.

A Few Tips for Budding Freelance Writers

If you want to make a real go of freelance writing, take note of the following tips.

PITCH DAILY

Until you have your ideal number of clients on your roster, you’ll need to send pitches every day.

Yes, every day.

You could pitch sporadically, but this would take way longer for you to start earning.

To get started, set yourself a realistic goal—perhaps five pitches per day, two before work and three when you get home. Setting manageable targets makes the process less daunting.

There are tons of online job boards out there dedicated to advertising gigs just for freelance writers, some of the more notable ones include:

In addition to these excellent platforms, we highly suggest sending cold pitches to businesses who aren’t actively looking for writers but could benefit from your services. You might be amazed at how effective this is!

STAY POSITIVE

Don’t dwell on rejection—not every pitch you send will be accepted and that’s totally normal! As hard as it might be, you need to take out any emotion you attach to your pitches. Remember your new business is a side hustle so don’t let rejection stifle your progress.

MARKET YOURSELF

It’s not just pitching that can score you clients, there are plenty of other methods you can use to secure paid writing gigs:

  • Start Guest Posting: There are plenty of websites out there that will pay guest bloggers for their content. Plus, you’ll get a byline which works wonders for getting your name out there within your niche.
  • Optimize Your Twitter & LinkedIn Profiles: Be active on both of these platforms to network and get more eyeballs on your work.
  • Comment on the Blogs You Want to Write For: This is one of the simplest ways of making yourself known to the relevant editors.
  • Launch & Optimize a Website: This gives you a platform to be active on and a place to share and promote your work.

Side Hustle Business Ideas #3: Affiliate Marketing

Freelance Writing Side Hustle

There’s plenty of potential to make a lot of money affiliate marketing but you need to find a high-converting product to sell, as well as a reputable and trustworthy partner to work alongside. Otherwise, you don’t stand a chance of making a profit. It really is as simple as that.

If you’re looking for affiliate programs to join and start earning revenue from, check out our article of the 100+ Best Affiliate Programs for Ecommerce Entrepreneurs.

Top Tips for Affiliate Marketers

Check out the following handy hacks to kickstart your affiliate marketing business:

USE COST-EFFECTIVE MARKETING TOOLS

Use a marketing tool like Mailchimp to build an email list, distribute your content, and send newsletters—all of which work wonders for strengthening your relationship with an audience of people interested in the affiliate products you’re trying to sell.

You can also use a social media monitoring device like Mention to track what customers say about the brand you’re partnering with, so you always stay one step ahead of the game.

We also suggest familiarizing yourself with Google Ads. This resource helps you track and analyze the success of your affiliate marketing initiatives. With this info at your disposal, you can then make the necessary improvements to your campaigns and consequently, generate a higher return on investment (ROI).

REWARD SUCCESSFUL REFERRALS

Word of mouth is one of the most straightforward ways to boost sales—and affiliate marketing is no exception to this.

In light of that, try launching a customer referral program. This may sound a tad complicated, but you can use a plugin like ReferralCandy to do all the hard work for you. This app enables its users to create their own system for rewarding customers who refer their products and services, earning them more sales.

This is how it works: Your customers get a unique referral link to share with their friends, family, colleagues—or whoever else they think would be interested in what you’re offering. Then, when they make a sale, they’ll receive whatever reward you’ve advertised!

You can even promote your referral program using ReferralCandy’s interactive widgets and engaging email templates—how awesome is that?!

COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY

Ask whoever’s running the affiliate program you’re selling from whether there are any assets of theirs you can use to help market their product(s). More often than not, these companies have ebooks, blog posts, sales pages, etc. that have proven to convert so it’s always worth using their resources to start with and branching out from there.

Side Hustle Business Ideas #4: Be Part of the Gig Economy

Gig Economy Side Hustle

Do you possess a skill that could easily lend itself to the gig economy? For instance:

  • Graphic design
  • Animation
  • Social media management
  • Web development

You name it, there’s a good chance you can package your skills as a “gig” and sell them on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork.

This is an excellent opportunity for anyone boasting an array of skills that could be monetized. For example, you could be sketching a logo for a client one day and then creating a beautiful powerpoint presentation for someone the next!

By offering a plethora of skills, you’ll always be doing something different, making it hard to get bored.

How to Make the Most Out of the Gig Economy

Here are a few secrets to making money out of the gig economy:

REMEMBER: REVIEWS MATTER

The success of freelancers on platforms like Fiverr and Upwork are mostly dependent on both the number and quality of your reviews so if you’re just starting out, consider offering clients an incentive to publish an honest review of your work. The aim is to get the highest possible rating so future customers don’t feel you’re a risk to hire.

BE TRANSPARENT

As a freelancer, it’s essential that you’re fully transparent in each and every area of your business—from your work processes to your costs to turn around times, and everything else in between. This helps to ensure that you meet (and hopefully exceed) your clients’ expectations.

PUBLISH A BEAUTIFUL PORTFOLIO

Publish a portfolio that showcases your very best work. DON’T be tempted to display every single project you’ve ever completed. It’s far more manageable for prospects to digest the quality of your work when it’s streamlined so just select a few pieces you think will impress potential clients the most.

Side Hustle Business Ideas #5: Start Blogging

Blogging Side Hustle

Blogging is an ideal side hustle for anyone hoping to work from home or travel around. Just purchase your own domain name and website hosting, and you’re ready to start developing a brand on a platform that’s actually your own.

We suggest picking a niche you’re passionate about and centering your blog posts around topics relevant to your chosen industry.

Examples of popular blogging niches include:

  • Fashion
  • Beauty
  • Wellness
  • Food & Drink
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Investing
  • Sports
  • Entertainment
  • News

You could start a blog about virtually anything! By niching down, you’ll find it much easier to market your blog and build a loyal following of readers.

But How Do You Make Money?

There are an abundance of ways to monetize your blog—namely via affiliate links, selling sponsored posts, and adding an ecommerce store onto the side of your blog.

When you first start out, don’t expect to make a dime. It’ll take time, effort, and patience to see the fruits of your labor. But, if you keep at it and continue to grow your audience, within a couple of years, you could start to see some pretty decent results!

Best Blogging Tips for Beginners

If you’re a blogging newbie, heed the advice below.

GET FRESH TOPIC IDEAS FROM YOUR READERS

Generating new topics for blog posts can be a challenge (to say the least!) so read through the comments your readers leave you and see if they’re asking any intriguing questions. This doesn’t have to just be on your blog, check your social media profiles too, then when you have your ideas, write a blog post answering their queries!

Don’t have an audience yet that’s commenting or suggesting blog post ideas? Check out other bloggers in your niche and see what their followers are commenting on their posts. You might be able to find some post ideas there, in the meantime!

GET TO KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Before you start creating content for your blog, get to grips with your target audience. When you do this, you’re far more likely to write blog posts that engage and resonate with readers.Note: Use Facebook’s Audience Insights to create a more accurate customer avatar. This is an entirely free resource which allows you to dig deep into the interests and demographics of your target market.

BUILD AN EMAIL LIST

You’ll want to start growing an email list from the very beginning because this is one of the simplest and most cost-effective ways of interacting directly with your readers.

Be sure to split test different copy and designs to see which combinations result in the most conversions. It’ll take a degree of trial and error to find out what converts the best—but trust us, it’ll be worth it!

Side Hustle Business Ideas #6: Sell Information Products

Digital Products Side Hustle

Do you boast an area of expertise people want to hear about? If so, you should consider creating and selling information products. By information products we mean online courses and ebooks.

But, before we get too carried away, you should bear in mind that out of all the side hustles on this list, this one requires the most amount of research, time, and marketing skills to pull off.

Handy Hacks for Selling Information Products

If you haven’t created an info product before, the tips below are well worth remembering.

CHOOSE THE SUBJECT OF YOUR COURSE/EBOOK WISELY

You’ll want to create an information product within a niche where consumers have a significant problem—so much so that they’re willing to pay money to find out how to resolve it.

As a general rule, the most profitable niches lie in topics on health, wealth, and relationships. When you think about it, this makes sense because the majority of us want to improve ourselves in all three of these areas.

RESEARCH YOUR COMPETITION

Once you have a topic in mind, snoop around to see what your competitors are selling and how they’re marketing their products but do not be tempted to copy.

Instead, use this research to fuel you with inspiration and to get a feel for what works and more importantly…what doesn’t.

While you’re conducting this research, ask yourself: How can I build on these products? What can I offer that my competitors don’t? Doing this helps you to work out what your unique selling point (USP) will be.

YOUR SALES COPY SHOULD FOCUS ON THE BENEFITS

By sales copy we mean any text in your marketing materials that communicates to prospects what you’re offering.

You don’t need to be Hemingway to craft top-notch copy; instead, just focus on articulating the problem(s) your customers are suffering with and how your product provides them with the solution.

In short, these are the benefits of consuming your product—makes sense, right?

Side Hustle Business Ideas #7: Become an Instagram or YouTube Influencer

Influencer Side Hustle

These days it’s never been easier to create a personal brand using Instagram and YouTube. You just need to think about what you have to offer your viewers—perhaps you’re terrific at applying makeup and could post tutorials? Maybe you’re fantastic at baking cakes? Or, you could possibly provide new entrepreneurs advice on how to start their business?

Whatever your talent is, you can use Instagram and YouTube to elevate yourself as an influencer within that niche.

There are plenty of ways you can monetize these platforms:

  • Selling sponsored posts
  • Collaborating with brands to bring out products together or do events together
  • Selling your own products or using affiliate links

However, just like blogging, you need to be aware that you won’t make money straight right away and as such, you’ll need to be prepared to invest some time into growing and nurturing your following.

Tips for Becoming an Influencer

Want to be an influencer on social media? Here are a few pieces of advice to put you on the right track.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Post similar sorts of content—content that’s relevant to your niche—consistently. You’re far more likely to grow your following if your audience knows what to expect from your brand.

BE AUTHENTIC

If you want to become a successful influencer, it’s imperative you remain genuine and transparent with your audience. After all, no one likes feeling like they’re being lied to. So, build trust with your followers by being honest about whatever you’re sharing.

DON’T RISK YOUR REPUTATION

Building authority as an influencer hinges on your reputation so don’t ever be tempted to push a questionable product or service for the sake of a few extra dollars. It’s really not worth risking the entirety of your business. We suggest only ever selling and talking about things you 100% believe in and stand by and operate by the principle that if you wouldn’t recommend the product to your family or friends, then don’t recommend it to your followers.

Side Hustle Business Ideas #8: Become a Virtual Assistant

Virtual Assistant Side Hustle

For those of you unsure about what a virtual assistant (VA) actually is, they’re assistants that work remotely. VAs take on all manner of tasks—namely, administration, social media management, bookkeeping, etc.

As more and more entrepreneurs launch online businesses, there’s been a rise in demand for virtual assistants. After all, once a company starts to grow and expand, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for business owners to do everything. Consequently, outsourcing becomes a necessity.

How to Become A Virtual Assistant: A Few Handy Tips

If you’re considering becoming a virtual assistant, you’ll find the following advice useful.

DON’T SOLELY RELY ON UPWORK & FIVERR

Most virtual assistants find their first clients on platforms like Upwork and Fiverr—and there’s nothing wrong with that—however, we encourage you to go out on your own. Have the confidence to work as an independent contractor.

We recommend this for one simple reason: You can earn way more money this way.

If you’re unsure of how to get the ball rolling, start by joining a variety of Facebook groups for businesses, entrepreneurs, and online brands. Then, offer your services (be sure to read the description of the group first to ensure you’re not breaking any rules!)

LEARN THE BASICS

Before launching this side hustle, ensure that you’re equipped with the necessary skills to do the job justice—for instance:

  • You need to be comfortable using either Windows or Apple devices
  • It’s essential that you can type more than 45 words per minute (after all, time is money!)
  • You’re proficient using the internet and email
  • You understand basic social media marketing principles
  • You understand the basics of creating engaging newsletters
  • You boast excellent time management skills
  • You’re trainable, teachable, and can follow instructions

FIND CLIENTS

To score your first few clients, you’ll need to market yourself.

So, first things first, add you and your brand to all national and local business directories. You’ll also want to update your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles to ensure prospects know precisely what’s on offer. These platforms are also fabulous for extending your professional network and getting a feel for how other VAs market themselves.

We also suggest checking out the Society of Virtual Assistants, this is a well-established and robust network that provides sound advice, support, and info on finding VA work. It was initially set up back in 2005 by a group of Scottish virtual assistants and there are now over 1,000 members!

Side Hustle Business Ideas #9: Sell Your Photography

Photography Side Hustle

Are you a budding photographer? Do you love taking beautiful snaps in your spare time? Do you boast basic Photoshop skills? If you’re nodding your head as you’re reading, then selling your photography online might just be the perfect side hustle for you!

Interestingly, if you enjoy taking high-quality pictures of your local villages, towns, and cities, you might be able to sell your work to nearby newspapers and publications.

You can also utilize sites like Foap to sell pictures you’ve taken on your phone.

Alternatively, if you plan on uploading and selling images on a stock photography site, be aware that it’s somewhat of a numbers game. By this we mean, the more snaps you upload, the higher the chance that people will find you. Ensure that you’re using the correct tags so that the right people to stumble across your photos.

As you may (or may not) be aware of, there are plenty of stock sites where you can display and sell your work. For instance: iStockPhotoDreamstimeShutterstock123RFGetty Images via Flickr—just to name a few!

Advice for Selling Photography Online

If you want to start selling photography online, you should be aware of the following:

GET A WEBSITE UP AND RUNNING

Arguably, your own website is the best place to sell your photography online because there are tons of perks:

  • You can set your own prices
  • There’s no third-party taking a cut of your sales
  • You have total control over the display of your work and the terms and conditions you set

If you don’t have a website yet, never fear, because it’s easy to get one up and running—especially if you use EWCart. There are tons of guides and videos on Google that’ll guide you through the process.

CONSIDER SELLING ON ADOBE STOCK

Adobe Stock is one of the most prestigious photography marketplaces on the web. With over a decade of experience behind them, they have plenty of industry expertise. Not to mention, the royalty shares on offer are also higher than the majority of other platforms (20-60%)—win-win!

Once you upload your snaps to Adobe Stock, they automatically become part of their library. This means they’re also available for purchase on other Adobe applications like Photoshop and Illustrator.

Best of all, Adobe Stock doesn’t demand that they become the exclusive seller of your images so you can keep your options open and market your snaps elsewhere.

SELL YOUR PHOTOS VIA SHUTTERSTOCK

Shutterstock is another popular platform for selling photos online. With millions of consumers browsing Shutterstock’s library, it’s a great place to boost your exposure. In fact, they claim to have paid over $500 million to their contributors!

We also love that Shutterstock allows you to protect the copyrights of your work, so it’s down to you what rights you enforce on your images.

Plus, they also give credit to the owners of each and every photograph on their library—which again, is a huge perk for anyone trying to build up a brand.

Every time your content is downloaded by a Shutterstock customer, you’ll earn anywhere between 20% to 30%, and just like Adobe, Shutterstock also doesn’t tie you into selling exclusively through them—so you have nothing to lose by registering with them!

How Do I Decide Which Side Hustle is Best for Me?

If you’re tempted by a few of the business ideas we’ve discussed, you’ll need to narrow down your options (at least to begin with) so we’ve listed a couple of questions to help you do that:

WHERE DO YOUR PASSIONS LIE?

To make a real go of your side hustle, you need to love what you do, otherwise you’re going to struggle to keep up the momentum.

When you’re working a standard 9 to 5, you already spend a great deal of time and energy on your day job, so you’ll need to be really motivated to make a success of your side hustle. As such, it’s essential to have a passion for your business. Try writing a list of all your interests and passions and see whether any of the above ventures coincide with what you write down.

IS THERE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

If you’re working a day job, make sure that whatever side hustle you opt for doesn’t present a conflict of interest. Otherwise, you may create a recipe for disaster!

General Advice to Note

Last but not least, we have two final nugget of advice for you.

SCHEDULE TIME FOR YOUR SIDE HUSTLE

The more effort you put in, the swifter you’ll see results so schedule some time each day to help you move forward with this venture.

Also, having goals for what you want to achieve during specific time periods will help you to track your progress!

DON’T NEGLECT YOUR DAY JOB

Whatever you do, don’t neglect your day job. While you’re there, invest all your energy into the work you’re being paid to do. The last thing you want is to lose out on a reliable stream of income because you’re spending your boss’ time working on your side project!

Conclusion

If you like the idea of making a few extra dollars each month, what are you waiting for? A side hustle is a perfect solution!

Not to mention, you can also use this opportunity to learn something new, develop new skills, and extend your professional network. So, have fun with it—who knows where this new venture might take you?

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