If you’re like one of the many people looking to be an entrepreneur, you might be wondering how to choose the best side hustle. While there is no one and only perfect side hustle that fits everyone, there are a few questions you’ll want to ask yourself to try and find the right gig work for you.
What is a Side Hustle?
At its simplest, a side hustle is just something that you do on the side to earn a little bit of extra money. Also called freelancing or gig work, there is a wide range of occupations or time and money commitments to side hustling. A side hustle can be something you do very occasionally all the way to something that would be considered a second full-time job.
Finding the right fit
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all side hustle that will be perfect for everyone, there are many different things that you can do to earn extra money. Here are a few of our top ways to make money at home, no matter your age or skill level:
- Become a virtual assistant
- Find and sell used items
- Become a transcriptionist
- Rent out your home or car part-time
- Delivery driver (Uber / Lyft / Doordash / Grubhub / Postmates / etc)
- Tutor students in your area
These are just a few ideas that you might want to consider. Most people learn if they like something by actually doing it. So the best piece of advice is to just pick something and try it out. Set aside some time and make a space for entrepreneurship in your budget and go for it.
Set goals and expectations so you can regularly review how your side hustle is going and whether it makes sense to pivot into something else. The worst case is that you find that it isn’t a great fit and isn’t worth your time or money. But if that happens, you at least know a bit more about what types of side hustles will or won’t work for you. And in the best-case scenario, your side hustle may become so successful that you can turn it into your full-time job.
How much time, space and money do you have?
As you look through the list of possible side hustles you choose from, one thing that you’ll want to ask yourself is how much time, space or money you have. Different side hustles have different requirements for each of those three things. Becoming an Uber driver or tutor takes a good amount of time, but not much money or space. If you’re looking to do retail arbitrage and find products to resell, you’ll need time, money AND space.
Consider how much money you might need to put down and how that fits with your overall financial situation. The old adage about how “it takes money to make money” does generally hold, but you’ll also want to consider the potential risk and reward to see if it’s something worth considering. If you’re a stay-at-home mom looking for a side hustle, you also need to consider how you balance your entrepreneurship with your child care obligations.
Is it active or passive income?
Active income is money that you make by actively doing something. Many “traditional” jobs where you go to work for 8 hours a day are active income. You can’t easily double your active income without doubling the amount of time and work that you put in. Passive income is where you make an initial investment and get money on a recurring and ongoing basis.
Side hustles can generate both active or passive income, depending on what the gig is. Being a tutor or a rideshare driver is mostly active income. The amount of money that you put in is limited by the amount of available time that you have. Writing an ebook or recording a podcast can be considered podcasting. That’s because once you write the book or record the podcast, your revenue comes in as people buy your book or download your podcast. Becoming a landlord is another way to generate (mostly) passive income.
The Bottom Line
Finding the best side hustle for your lifestyle is somewhat a matter of trial and error. With so many different ways to earn extra money on the side, there’s bound to be an option for just about everyone. Considering your available time, money and available physical space are some good questions to ask yourself.
Looking at your timeline for earning money is another great idea. Do you need extra money right now, to solve an immediate financial crunch? Or are you more interested in finding a recurring income stream to supplement or replace your future income? Try out a few gigs and see how you like them. One nice thing about many side hustles is that they don’t take a lot of initial investment — that lets you try them out, see how they fit, and then decide on the best next steps for you.
Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of PointsWithACrew.com, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.