17 Proven Side Hustle Ideas for 2021

I know what you’re thinking. 

Another clickbait post filled with the same old rehashed ideas.

I bet you need one of those like a kick in the proverbial, as my good ol’ grandad used to say (often without the “proverbial” bit).

But you’re curious. Just a smidgen. 

You want to see what I’ve got for you. Why? Because you want to launch a profitable side hustle – you really want it – but you haven’t found the right strategy yet. 

Let me dispel your doubts. This isn’t a post like the others. I’m not going to recommend you start taking surveys or rent your room on Airbnb (although Airbnb does feature a little later on).

These methods are real. They require you to create something of genuine value and market it effectively. What’s more, every single one can be used as a jumping board to something more serious. 

But there’s a caveat.

They require work. Granted, it’s not going to take weeks and months. But you need to focus and commit. Some methods also require a little up-front investment. 

If you apply them, there’s a serious chance you’ll make money fast, maybe even in the next twenty-four hours.

Sound good? Let’s get started.

1. Sell Coaching With Facebook Ads


If you’re a coach, advertising on Facebook is one of the quickest ways to find clients.

If you’re not, why not become one? 

Turning paid traffic into profit is a dependable, consistent, and scalable business model. And with coaching, you don’t need to spend time creating anything. You can get yourself out there right away. 

Here’s the method:

  1. Research similar coaching services – Before you start, use Google to find existing coaches in your space. If you’re thinking about offering writing coaching, for example, search for “writing coaches”. Pay attention to how they pitch themselves and what resonates with you. This kind of research will give you a good idea of what’s working along with some inspiration for your own copy and ads. 
  2. Create a basic sales page – You don’t even need a site to set up a sales page. Open an account with an email marketing platform like MailChimp that allows you to build and host a landing page. Follow a proven template when crafting your page and offer a free coaching call to visitors in exchange for their email address.
  3. Launch a Facebook ads campaign – Setting up a Facebook ads campaign is a lot simpler than most people think. Facebook guides you through the whole process, and you only need as little as $5/per day (or less) to start experimenting. Your goal here is to use ads to drive traffic to your sales page. 
  4. Contact any leads that sign up – Once you start to receive email addresses, contact people to ask them if they want to book a free session. If they like it, offer a paid option. You can, of course, pitch paid services directly without an introductory session. 

As you get used to the Facebook advertising platform, you can experiment with different features like custom audiences, video ads, behaviour and interest targeting, and more.

2. Freelance on Upwork


It takes minutes to set up a profile on Upwork and start applying for jobs. 

So which are the easiest opportunities? 

Every quarter, Upwork releases rankings of the top twenty fastest-growing skills on its marketplace. These skills are in-demand and well-paying.

And there’s always work for writers, translators, proofreaders, developers, designers, marketers, accountants, and more. 

But there’s a trap a lot of would-be-freelancers fall into. 

They think they need to offer cut-down rates to start earning good money on Upwork.

And it’s a completely false belief. Here’s a tip: spend some time reading about what makes a great Upwork freelancer profile. Your profile can make up for an initial lack of reviews and an empty portfolio. Which means you don’t need to slash your rates.

3. Sell Handmade Products on Etsy

Etsy Homepage

There’s no better place than Etsy to sell your creations.

Whether you have a passion for making jewellery, handbags, or Buddhist-themed eye masks, it’s easy to sign up and reach millions of customers. 

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Head over to Etsy and sign up for an account
  2. Set up your shop by clicking the “Sell on Etsy” button in the top right of the screen and complete the onboarding process. You’ll choose a name, list your first item, and set your payment preferences. 
  3. Prettify your storefront (use PixaBay to find some nice photographs) with a header and profile image.

“So what about getting visitors to my shop?” I hear you cry. 

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you should do to ensure eyeballs on your newly-minted handiwork: 

  • Optimize your listings for the Etsy algorithm – Whenever a visitor to Etsy searches for a product or hits a category button, an algorithm kicks in and returns the most relevant results. Rankings are based on two main factors: relevance and popularity. As a new store, you don’t have much control over the second one. But you can ensure your listings appear relevant for popular search terms. Here’s a great guide about optimizing your listings. In a nutshell, you need to identify popular keywords and include them in your title and description, along with adding them as listing tags.
  • Pay for Etsy ads – Etsy ads are great for driving traffic to your store if you’re just starting out. You’ll get more sales, reviews, and likes, which will have a positive knock-on effect on your search rankings. What’s more, if you find you’re making a profitable return with Etsy ads, you can quickly scale up.
  • Send your product to influencers for reviews – One easy way to generate attention for your products is by reaching out to influencers and asking them if they’re interested in writing a review. By sending out a few freebies, you could potentially get thousands of new visitors.

Here’s one more quick tip: check out Etsy’s best-selling items to get an idea of what’s popular. Just resist that urge to buy everything in sight.

4. Create a Udemy Course

Udemy Homepage

You might be thinking, “ I don’t have time to create a whole Udemy course!”

But you don’t need six months and a film studio. You need a Google Slides doc, a microphone, and some screencast software. That’s it. 

Udemy courses only have to be thirty minutes long. And if you’re passionate about a topic, creating a half-hour crash course should be a doddle. 

Get Your Free Checklist: How to Stay Healthy as a Freelancer

A science-backed, 13-point checklist to help you stay happy and healthy.

(Opens in new tab)

Udemy walks you through the whole process. Once you’ve created your course, submit it for approval and wait for it to go live! You’ll soon be the proud owner of an online course. If you’re short on ideas, take a look at Udemy’s best-selling topics.

5. Sell Prints of Your Artwork

Art Marketplace

Gaining fame and recognition as an artist is hard. It takes time and serious effort. 

And it’s near-impossible to reach the rarefied heights that the likes of Damien Hirst and Jackson Pollock occupy.

But it is possible to make a decent living. Sooner than you might think. 

The problem with original artwork, however, is that it takes a long time to sell. If you’re charging anything near the price you deserve, your creative endeavours are unlikely to constitute impulse buys.

So how do you get around this? 

Selling prints is an effective and straightforward way to make money from your artwork.

There are also many online marketplaces where you can sell your designs on products like cushions, mugs, lampshades, and more. And it will all be handled for you. You just have to take some photographs and hit the upload button – well, there are a few more steps, but you get the idea. 

Here are a few of the best sites to check out:

  • ArtPal – ArtPal is a big online marketplace where you can set up your own gallery and sell prints (along with the original piece) in several formats. 
  • Saatchi Art – Saatchi describes itself as “the world’s leading online gallery”. There’s a lot of competition, but the site also draws a large audience too. The platform is geared to selling prints alongside original work. For maximum exposure, it’s best to offer an original piece. Oh, and the site has a non-exclusivity policy, so you can list your work elsewhere. 
  • Society6 – Society6 turns your artwork into designs for an array of products, from cushions to phone cases. You can also sell prints in different ways, such as with frames, on metal, or just as straightforward posters. 
  • Displate – Displate converts your art into magnet-mounted metal prints. The format is becoming increasingly popular as a way to hang pictures without damaging the wall. 
  • RedBubble – RedBubble is similar to Society6. After you’ve uploaded your work, you can sell numerous products, from baby one-pieces to vinyl stickers. 

The key to making money as an artist is multiple income streams. You won’t be able to buy that custom-made studio in the country overnight. But with steady promotion, a strong body of work, and commitment to your followings on social media, you’ll be there soon enough.

Be sure to read the T&Cs if you’re planning to upload the same art or designs to multiple sites.

6. Directly Pitch a Service to Companies

Hunter.io Homepage

Ever heard of “account-based marketing”?

The term refers to a common strategy in the business-to-business world. Rather than advertise broadly (such as with a Facebook campaign) and pursue leads that pass on their details, account-based marketers target companies directly. 

Essentially, the whole “ad campaign” is geared towards a market of one. 

So the question is simple: can you provide a service that at least one company will be interested in?

Are you a proof-reader, for example, able to edit a website’s copy?

Do you provide inexpensive and exclusive photography for certain industries?

Are you a social media marketing wiz with a penchant for revitalizing inactive Facebook ads accounts?

If the answer is yes, follow this roadmap: 

  1. Identify and rank high-value accounts.
  2. Research the company and identify decision-makers. Find their email addresses using a service like Hunter or LeadCrawler
  3. Write a tailored email. 
  4. Hit send. 

You might be thinking, “But my passion doesn’t appeal to businesses.” 

Well, just hold up a second. You can get really creative with this one. 

Have a passion for real ales? Pitch a corporate team-building beer day. The twist? All the beer’s non-alcoholic. 

Are you a newly qualified yoga teacher? How about a drop-in lunchtime yoga session at half price?

Discovered a calling for fire-dancing? What about a show at the next company conference? Contingent on the appropriate health and safety certificates, of course.

7. Create a Cool Infographic and Submit It to Relevant Sites


Here’s the basic method: create an infographic, submit it to relevant sites with a link back to an opt-in page where you collect email addresses, and pitch those subscribers an affiliate offer

The first thing to do after you’ve chosen an idea for an infographic is to check if there are any related affiliate products on a marketplace like ClickBank.

Once you’ve done that, you can get to work with the fun bit. 

There are loads of free online tools like Canva for making beautiful infographics.

When you’ve finished your masterpiece, host it on your opt-in page and start reaching out to sites asking if they would like to post it. Here’s a handy tip for getting your infographic accepted: search for sites that have already published infographics about your topic. How? Use Google’s “search by image” function.

Google Image Search

Find a popular infographic then reverse search it to find all the sites that re-published it. You’ve now got a list of targets that are likely to post yours too. Generating traffic doesn’t get easier.

8. Buy a Website on Flippa


OK, so this strategy has a relatively large up-front cost. But if you’re passionate about a topic and have a little money to invest, it can be incredibly lucrative.

You’re basically going to buy a ready-made “passion business” that you can improve and grow with your expertise and commitment. 

I’ve used Flippa for a few years to sell my own sites and prospect new ones. Here’s my advice: look for a well-built site with high-quality links making in the region of $20 to $50 a month. That will cost you between $200 and $1000.

Follow the steps below:

  1. Head over to Flippa.com. 
  2. Hit the “browse” tab. 
  3. Enter some keywords related to your passion, like “gardening” or “yoga”. 
  4. Filter the results to find sites making between $20 to $50 monthly profit. 

If you commit to growing a website out, you’ll get your investment back in no time. You’ll also have a great asset and start earning money right off the bat. 

Familiarise yourself with some best practices for evaluating sites before taking the plunge. 

9. Become a VA (Virtual Assistant)

Upwork Virtual Assistant

What comes to mind when you hear the words “virtual assistant”?

I’ll bet you picture somebody sat in their home office scheduling appointments for a distant executive. 

But virtual assistants do so much more. In fact, there are dozens of different VA jobs

Here are just a few:

  • Administration 
  • Online research
  • Social media accounts management
  • Customer service 
  • Editorial tasks 
  • Website management 
  • Finance tasks 
  • Online marketing

It’s worth pointing out the difference between freelancers and virtual assistants. If you’re uncertain about freelancing, you might be better suited to VA role. 

A virtual assistant supports clients. And support is the key word. As a freelancer, you’re usually responsible for a broad, well-defined project tied to a set of clear outcomes. 

Get Your Free Checklist: How to Stay Healthy as a Freelancer

A science-backed, 13-point checklist to help you stay happy and healthy.

(Opens in new tab)

As a VA, you help to streamline these big tasks by completing smaller jobs. A VA, for example, edits and publishes posts whereas a freelancer writes them. Freelancers are often paid for results whereas VAs usually charge by the hour. 

If you prefer to take a less central role, working as a virtual assistant could be ideal. 

Just head over to Upwork and start applying.

Here’s one more quick tip: check out Gina Horkey’s website. She provides loads of great information )along with a paid course) about getting set up as a VA.

10. Become a Medium Writer

Medium Homepage

Medium is easily one of the best places for writers to earn extra money. It’s an active platform with tens of millions active users, all of whom want fresh content. There are no set-up costs and you can start earning in a few hours.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Join the Medium Partner Program. Once you’re enrolled, you’ll earn money whenever somebody reads one of your articles.
  2. Submit your posts to popular Medium publications. This step is absolutely key. Getting published means your content will reach significantly more users. It also boosts your chances of going viral.
  3. Maintain a steady writing regimen to build your number of followers. Many of your articles will continue to earn money after the initial “hit”. When you publish regularly, you’ll build up your recurring passive income along with your base of readers.

I love Medium, and I’ve earned money from pretty much every article I’ve published on the site. It’s straightforward, hassle-free, and a great way to begin building your readership.

11. Run a Kickstarter Campaign

Kickstarter Homepage

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. If you’re an artist, filmmaker, photographer, musician, or anything in between, it could be perfect for you. 

The idea is to raise money to create a finished product. You might want to do something like print the first batch of your graphic novel, take an album to press, produce a film…you name it. 

“Backers” are people that pledge money. Most are looking to purchase a product before it’s widely available, and will support you in exchange for one of the items you’re making. 

You can factor in your costs, so not everything needs to go on production.

Once your project is approved, it will be visible on the Kickstarter site. You should reach out to press and bloggers and ask them to publicize your campaign. 

Remember, Kickstarter is for helping creators finalize a product. If you’re just beginning, it probably isn’t for you. But if you’ve already laid some groundwork, it could be an ideal opportunity. 

Learn more about the process by clicking here.

Disclaimer: On average, it takes 30 hours for Kickstarter to approve your project, so you might not quite meet the 24-hour mark. But it’s pretty close.

12. Launch a Local Event With Eventbrite

Eventbrite Homepage

Ever thought about running your own event?

I think events are one of the most underrated business opportunities for people starting out. And platforms like Eventbrite make selling tickets a doddle.

So why are events such a good idea?

Because there are lots of publications and sites dedicated exclusively to promoting them. 

You’ll need to reach out. But I guarantee you’ll be surprised at the number of positive responses.

Contact as many media outlets as possible. Local libraries, newspapers, online listings…anybody and everybody that might be interested.

Whether you want to run a landscape painting class or an opera-singing intensive, all sorts of passions lend themselves to events. 

And if the idea of standing up in front of a room full of people scares you, just start off small. Cap the number of attendees at ten. As your confidence grows, increase the class size.

13. Become an Online Tutor

Tutors.com Homepage

If you’re passionate about a subject and have a teaching qualification, and sometimes even if you don’t, online tutoring is a great way to consistently make money while maintaining control of your time.

There are lots of fantastic tutoring sites that take care of all the promotion for you. The range of subjects you can pick from is equally extensive, from piano to archaeology, and you can work with either adults or children (or both). 

Most platforms work on a similar basis. First, you set up your profile and wait for approval. Then customers can connect with you. You’ll discuss their educational needs, which could be anything from preparing for an upcoming exam to learning a new instrument indefinitely. You’ll charge an hourly rate and be paid at the end of every month.

Here are some of the best platforms:

When you’re considering different platforms, bear in mind that many are location-specific. The best opportunities will usually be on sites catering to people in your country.

14. Upload Your Photography to a Stock Marketplace

Shutterstock Homepage

Stock photography sites are always looking for top-quality images. And while photography is a highly competitive industry, there’s also big demand.

Selling stock photography isn’t going to make you an overnight millionaire. But it can provide you with a decent side-income without demanding too much of your time

You don’t need to upload thousands of photos either. Photographer James Wheeler makes hundreds of dollars every month with around 350 pictures across a dozen sites. 

But before you dive in, familiarize yourself with what sells. Head over to some of the top sites and filter images by popularity. You can browse popular images and categories on sites like PhotoDune and Stockfresh.

Here are some of the leading sites to get started with: 

Some stock sites have high standards, so don’t be disheartened if your photos are rejected initially. As the saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and push that shutter button again. 

15. Create a Font, Logo, Vector or Jingle

Monotype Homepage

Stock marketplaces aren’t just for photographers. In fact, a host of sites cater to creatives of different stripes. Whether you have a penchant for typography, advertising jingles, or eye-catching logos, you’ll find a virtual stall to sell your wares. 

There are marketplaces for all of the following:

  • Fonts – You have two options when it comes to fonts. You can showcase your font on a site like MyFonts (Monotype) or DaFont (where you can include a link to buy a commercial licence), or you can approach a foundry (a company that creates and sells its own fonts) and give them distribution rights in exchange for a commission.
  • Vectors – Vector art is very popular among web designers because it’s “resolution independent”, which means it can be scaled to any size without loss of quality. There are many marketplaces dedicated to vectors, including VectorStock (a personal favourite of mine), Vecteezy, and GraphicRiver (Envato).
  • Logos – Logos are big business. If you’re artistically-minded and have graphic-creation and editing skills, they could be a big opportunity. Check out sites like BrandCrowd and LogoGround
  • Stock Music – Music for commercials, budget films, Youtube videos, and more has to come from somewhere. And the source is unlikely to be a hundred-person orchestra. In the majority of cases, it’s indie musicians. Great stock music sites include stockmusic.net, AudioJungle (Envato) and Musicbed (scroll down and click “Become an Artist”). 

Don’t worry if the suggestions above don’t excite you. You’re not limited to the four options described above. You can sell WordPress templates, graphics packs for Photoshop, templates for Powerpoint and Google slides, email designs, textures, social media icons, and more.

As always, make sure to check the T&Cs regarding exclusivity. Not all sites allow you to upload to other platforms.

16. Start an Airbnb Experience

AirBnB Experiences

Got a passion for foraging?

Is your head overflowing with knowledge about your home city?

Or do you just dream of the day you can spend all your hours cooking up new vegan recipes and teaching them?

Get Your Free Checklist: How to Stay Healthy as a Freelancer

A science-backed, 13-point checklist to help you stay happy and healthy.

(Opens in new tab)

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then starting an Airbnb Experience might be the way to go. 

By hosting an experience, especially if it’s in a city or holiday town, you’ll gain access to thousands of potential customers.

Just visit the “Experiences page” and follow the on-screen prompts. Simples.

17. Start a Local Business and Submit to Directories

Yelp Homepage

About six months ago, a good friend of mine got married.

Afterwards, as they were settling down into what I assume was domestic bliss, I got a message on WhatsApp.

It read: “Know anything about ranking a local business on Google? Monica wants to start giving piano lessons.” 

Fortunately, he’d contacted the right person. Over a one-hour Skype call, I outlined the basics of Google local search optimization and showed the happy couple how to set up a business profile. 

Fast forward to the present day, and Monica (my friend’s wife) is hiring employees because she can’t manage all the demand on her own.

You can do the same thing too.

If you have a location-based business idea, whether it’s teaching music, running yoga classes from your living room, or coaching clients one-on-one, local Google listings can often drive significant traffic. 

What’s more, the vast majority of business owners don’t have a clue when it comes to optimizing for local rankings. That leaves an enormous opportunity for you. Here’s a great article on Search Engine Journal that outlines the basics.

Google Local Search results

The verification process usually takes around four days.

But you can start submitting your business to directories right now. The more directories you’re listed in, the higher you’ll appear on Google (it’s one of the ranking factors). 

Here are five to get you started:

You might be thinking, “I don’t have a business.” Fear not! I’m in the UK, and it usually takes less than 24 hours to register a company. Check legalities in your country, but there’s a strong possibility you’re good to go.

Bonus: Busk

Okay, this is a bit of a silly suggestion.

I nearly didn’t include it because I felt most people would skim over it. And I thought “17 Ways to Make Money…” sounded better than “18 Ways…”. Maybe that’s just me. 

But if none of the suggestions above ring true, then give it a go. 

I currently live in Manchester. Like any big city, it has its share of buskers. Most of them are musicians.

But there are others too. 

Like the chap in the square in front of the library who sits behind a desk with a typewriter and a sign that reads: “Poems for donation.”

Or the performer who stands dressed entirely in white, still as a rock, waiting for someone to put a few coins in his cap. 

I’ll leave the rest up to you.


I’m going to make an assumption. 

When you read through the examples above, a little voice in your head kept popping up: “Not easy enough. Next.”

You were looking for something that doesn’t require any effort. 

I know this because it’s exactly how I used to feel. I knew that the get-rich-quick schemes and snake-oil cure-alls wouldn’t work. But I still wanted something that wasn’t too hard.

If you’re not in that group, you’re lucky. But I bet most of you recognize the feeling. 

Well, here’s some advice:

Kill that urge. Right now. 

Not because you’re not going to find something that’s easy. I’m sure there are shortcuts out there. 

Kill it because you don’t really want something easy.

What you’re yearning for is meaningful, important work that exhausts you in the best possible way.

Maybe you’re just looking for a little side -income. Great. Or perhaps you want an completely new career. That’s cool too. All of these suggestions can be used as a jumping-board to something bigger.

Whatever the case, commit to putting in the effort in spite of what that little demon in your head might be telling you.

You’ll be so glad you did.

Get Your Free Checklist: How to Stay Healthy as a Freelancer

A science-backed, 13-point checklist to help you stay happy and healthy.

(Opens in new tab)


4 thoughts on “17 Proven Side Hustle Ideas for 2021”

  1. Some genuinely interesting and unthought of ideas especially for a fine artist Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *