What’s stopping you from starting a side hustle?
Many people say they don’t have the money to start a side business.
Sometimes it does take money to make money. Or it could just be a matter of finding the right low-cost side hustle for some extra income.
If you’re hesitant to start side hustling because you don’t have a lot of money, don’t be. There are plenty of low-cost sides hustles you can start for under $100. Many are also flexible so you can make extra money outside of your normal working hours.
Check out this list of 21 side hustles with low startup costs. You can get started on many of these side hustles today with no upfront costs.
1. Be a Virtual Assistant
Business owners need help with all kinds of tasks. While certain tasks are important to their business, these tasks might not be the best use of their time.
For example, entering expenses into QuickBooks is important, but it doesn’t drive revenue. Business owners need to work on generating revenue rather than administrative tasks.
Many entrepreneurs are happy to pay a virtual assistant to do things they don’t enjoy, don’t have time for, or don’t know how to do.
Here are some tasks that often get outsourced to a VA:
- Social media account management
- Email management
- Creating and editing blog posts or social media content
- Scheduling and calendar management
- Data entry
- Light bookkeeping duties
The business owner has more time to focus on their business. The virtual assistant gets to work from home and gets paid. It’s a win-win for everyone.
There’s little investment upfront, but to be successful, you must be organized, detail-oriented, and a good communicator. Strong computer and organization skills are a must. The more web-savvy you are, the better.
Most business owners are aware they need a social media presence these days. Very few have the time, staff, or knowledge to build and manage their accounts. They’ll happily pay you to grow their brand, generate engagement, drive leads, and support their customers via social media.
To be successful, you should be very familiar with popular social media platforms. A personal or business profile you can point to as proof you know what you’re doing will give you credibility until you can gather testimonials.
Other skills you’ll need include:
- Excellent time management skills. You’ll have a lot to stay on top of managing multiple accounts across several social media channels for multiple clients.
- Familiarity with scheduling and social media management tools like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Edgar.
- The ability to create content that speaks to a brand’s ideal customer.
- Top-notch customer service skills. Customers often look to social media for help or answers about products and services. You’ll need to respond quickly and professionally in your client’s brand voice.
- Data analysis skills. You’ll need data to guide your strategy and show value to business owners.
Social media marketing is a high-value skill. If you have a knack for getting attention on social media, you could make it your full-time gig.
3. Build Websites with WordPress
I started developing websites on the side while I went back to school. It became a full-time business for me while I transitioned into a new career.
I don’t actively seek clients these days, but I still help friends with their WordPress issues or customizations free of charge or for friend prices if they insist on paying.
It’s very possible to earn four figures a month while working your full-time job. Starting out, I charged $1,500 for a basic WordPress site of up to ten pages. You can definitely build a ten-page website in your off hours if you know WordPress.
My first website jobs were for a pizza place I used to frequent, a picture framing business referred to me by a friend, and a hobby blog a former co-worker hired me to create.
You can find clients locally as I did. You can use freelance job sites like Upwork. When you come across a website in obvious need of a facelift, you can reach out to the site owner with your pitch.
4. Become a Freelance Writer
The business world is always in need of people who write well.
If you enjoy writing and have a talent for it, freelance writing is an excellent side hustle. Here’s why:
- There’s plenty of demand
- No or low barriers to entry
- Startup costs are very low
- You can set your own hours
- The work can be done from anywhere
- You can charge what you’re worth
- There’s potential to make a full-time income
The types of writing that are always in demand include:
- Blog posts
- Sales pages and landing pages for the web
- Sales letters and other marketing materials
- White papers
- Case studies
- Email newsletters
- Product descriptions for e-commerce stores
- Press releases
Pick a niche if you can since freelance writing is so broad.
You don’t need a specialized degree to start. Your credentials are much less important than your ability and your writing samples.
5. Publish Kindle Books
Even if you’re not the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you can still make good money self-publishing ebooks.
I’ve often thought of giving this a try as I enjoy writing and the upfront investment would be low. I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, but if I were to start this side hustle today, this is what I would do:
- Find a non-fiction topic that seems underserved. I believe non-fiction offers a better opportunity for an unknown author, especially if the book solves a problem for the reader.
- Check out the books already published on the topic. Pay close attention to the lackluster and negative reviews.
- If my knowledge of the topic is not enough to fill a book, conduct research, and take good notes on anything relevant I find.
- Write the book myself. I know some people outsource, but I have a hard time letting go. I would probably end up rewriting a lot of what I got back from a ghostwriter, defeating the purpose of outsourcing.
- Make or pay someone to create an eye-catching cover. People do judge a book by its cover, despite their parents telling them not to.
- Repeat the process with another topic and book. I think it would be very difficult to create a steady income with just one book. The most successful Kindle authors I’ve seen have multiple books to their name, with some having 20+ titles.
The great thing about authoring Kindle books is that there’s zero risk. You might spend a bit for a cover design or some editorial help, but you won’t go broke over it. The downside is there is a significant upfront investment of your time and you might not make a cent.
I say if becoming a published author appeals to you, give it a shot. The low startup costs and the potential to earn a solid side income are there. You might even hit it big and quit your job one day.
6. Become a Proofreader
Does seeing your when you’re is the correct choice drive you crazy? Do you notice all the grammar and punctuation mistakes that show up in your inbox every day? If so, proofreading on the side might suit you well.
A love of reading and an appreciation for the written word is important if you want to start a proofreading business. You’ll need excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills too.
If making money reading books and other written materials sounds like your cup of tea, check out freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and PeoplePerHour. Freelance proofreaders routinely charge $30 an hour or more for their work.
7. Narrate Audiobooks
When I really want to catch up on my reading, I don’t reach for a book or my Kindle. I reach for my earbuds.
I love audiobooks and I’m not alone. With sales of audiobooks booming, there’s opportunity. If you enjoy reading and can speak clearly, you could earn extra money narrating audiobooks.
You don’t need voice training or a professional studio setup. If you can produce clean audio and provide some demo recordings for authors to check out, you can get started.
Spring for a decent studio microphone to plug into your computer if you don’t have one. You can get a good mic for under $100.
For recording and editing software, Audacity is 100% free. If you’re on a Mac, Garageband has all the features you need.
If you provide audiobook narration through Amazon’s platform, you can opt for a one-time fee or per-sale royalties. You can also post a profile on freelance websites like Upwork and Fiverr to get clients.
8. Create an Online Course
Nowadays, you can learn almost anything online. In fact, many people turn to the internet first when they want to learn a new skill. You can learn banjo, crochet, coding, cooking, graphic design, yoga, and whatever else you can imagine.
If you have a valuable skill or hobby that interests others, you can make money by creating and selling an online course. Creating your own course is a potentially lucrative side hustle. Course creators knowledgeable about in-demand topics can make six figures.
You don’t need to be the world’s foremost expert on a topic. You only need to be a few chapters ahead of someone just starting out. If you know more than a beginner, create a course targeted at newbies.
Most courses are video based. That means you’ll either have to be in front of a camera to share your expertise or you’ll need screen recording software if you’re creating something like software tutorials.
Don’t obsess over gear. Your phone and a tripod are all you need to get started. If you need screen recording software, Screencast-O-Matic and Wondershare DemoCreator are both affordable and have many of the same features as more expensive programs.
Hosted platforms like Teachable let you keep a higher percentage of sales, but you’re responsible for promotion.
Both options handle the technical details like billing and video hosting for you. You might have to answer some questions or update the course from time to time, but it can become a mostly passive income stream.
9. Start a YouTube Channel
YouTube gives anyone a platform to share their knowledge, opinions, and creativity through video. Why not you?
Starting a YouTube channel is free. Good lighting and sound are important, but you don’t have to invest in top-of-the-line equipment when you’re starting out. If you have a phone that takes decent video, you can get started right away.
If being on camera is not for you, there are plenty of faceless YouTube channels you can start. For example, you can review products showing just your hands, upload drone or GoPro footage, or record tutorials with screen recording software.
You can make money through Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, and sponsorships. It will take time to build an audience and a steady stream of revenue, but there are YouTubers making millions annually.
While there are pros and cons to being a YouTuber, the bottom line is it’s a low-cost side hustle you can start today and end up making a life-changing amount of money.
10. Give Lessons in Person
Despite the ease and convenience of online learning, some things are best taught in person. There are also many people who prefer face-to-face instruction and interaction over online courses.
If you know something people want to learn, get paid to teach. It can be a sport, music lessons, cooking, dancing, arts and crafts, a language, or anything else people want to learn. Overhead costs are low and could go down to almost zero if you have steady clients and don’t have to travel far.
With a little entrepreneurial spirit and some hustle, you can find clients near you. Sign up as a teacher on Lessons.com, and post ads in the Lessons section on Craigslist. Spread the word among friends and family with business cards or through Facebook.
11. Tutor Students
Parents are always looking for tutors to get their kids through tough subjects. If you have extensive knowledge of a subject or subjects, consider tutoring. The low startup costs and high hourly pay make tutoring a highly profitable business.
When I first met my wife back in college, she was tutoring math and freshman composition at $25 an hour. Where we live, tutors are charging $30-$60 per hour for most subjects. SAT prep starts at $50, with some SAT tutors charging as much as $100 an hour.
You can find tutoring gigs by connecting with local schools or teachers, advertising online via Craigslist and Facebook, or using Wyzant, a site that connects tutors and students for online lessons.
12. Teach English Online
Cambly will pay you $10 to $12 an hour to chat with students online in English. That’s not a life-changing amount of money, but it’s flexible and you don’t have to commit to a minimum amount of hours.
You only need a smartphone and the Cambly app to teach. No certification, experience, or degree is required. Cambly pays teachers once a week via PayPal.
13. Provide Translation Services
If you can read and write in more than one language, you can make extra money translating documents.
All kinds of businesses need translators to get their sales materials, internal documents, and websites into other languages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, translators make an average of just under $25 an hour.
14. Start a Transcription Side Business
Transcriptionists convert audio files to text. They type what they hear and proofread the text for accuracy. The kinds of audio files that people pay to have transcribed include podcasts, interviews, lectures, and more.
It sounds simple enough, but it can be challenging. Low-quality recordings, multiple speakers, thick accents, and people talking over each other make accurate transcription more difficult.
If you have a legal or medical background, transcriptionists who specialize in legal or medical transcriptions tend to earn higher rates.
In terms of startup costs, you really don’t need to spend much to get started if you already have a decent pair of headphones. Transcription pros use specialized audio playback software like Express Scribe Pro, which comes with a foot pedal. The foot pedal allows you to pause, forward, and rewind audio files without taking your hands off the keyboard.
None of the tools above are required. If you do decide to pursue transcribing as a side hustle, they’ll make your life easier.
15. Drive with Uber and Lyft
You’ve probably used a ridesharing service instead of a traditional taxi service at least once by now. For those that don’t mind driving and love meeting new people driving with Uber and Lyft can put extra money in your pocket.
Getting started is pretty easy. You’ll complete a few steps online to confirm that you and your vehicle meet a few basic requirements. Once you pass a background check and fill out some forms, you’re ready to go.
There are costs associated with becoming a driver like gas, maintenance, tolls, car washes, and self-employment taxes. Uber and Lyft currently classify drivers as independent contractors. That means all of that is on you.
Despite the expenses, driving for these companies is a solid side hustle with decent pay you can do in your spare time.
16. Deliver Food and Groceries
Getting food delivered to your house has never been easier. Whether you’re in the mood for a meal from your favorite restaurant or you want to save time by cutting out trips to the supermarket, there’s an app that can make it happen.
For side hustlers, companies that are built around these apps are always in need of delivery drivers. DoorDash, Uber Eats, Instacart, and Shipt offer you flexible schedules and the chance to make $15-$25 per hour delivering food.
You can work with more than one as well, giving you the option to choose which deliveries to make based on distance and how much they pay. For example, you can combine driving for DoorDash with Uber Eats to increase your hourly rate.
The same caveats about independent contractor status for rideshare driving apply to food delivery driving in terms of expenses and taxes.
17. Do Tasks Through TaskRabbit
TaskRabbit provides a simple solution for both people who need odd jobs done and folks looking to make extra money. Tasks available include general handy stuff like assembling furniture or mounting a TV, short errands, yardwork, cleaning, help moving, and more.
To become a Tasker, you must be at least 18, have a valid Social Security number, and consent to a background check. You also need a smartphone, a checking account, and a $25 registration fee.
Once accepted, you’ll create your profile, listing your skills and tasks you’re interested in doing. You set your own rates, but TaskRabbit provides some guidance on the going rates for each task in your area. Potential clients will reach out to you with the work they need to be done.
18. Sell What You Make on Etsy
Etsy is the place to go for handmade items, clothes you won’t find in stores, printables, and anything crafty. People shop Etsy for a wide range of products including:
- Knitting and crochet patterns
- Custom and hand-carved signs
- Wooden boxes
- Handmade jewelry
- Vintage clothing
- Cards and invitations
- Printable calendars and planners
- Personalized gifts
- Wall decor
- Homemade soap
That’s just a small sample of what’s available. If you’re into arts and crafts, browse the site to see if there’s anything you can make and sell. If you’re not crafty, but you have graphic design, print design, or any type of digital art skills, selling digital downloads on Etsy could be a nice side hustle.
Setting up your Etsy shop is simple and free. It costs $0.20 to list an item. Once you make a sale, there’s a 5% transaction fee. Etsy Payments, which allows you to accept any of several payment options, has a fee of 3% + $0.25 per transaction.
19. Flip Furniture
A lot of furniture that gets discarded is in OK shape or at least fixable. A little sanding, fresh paint, or some new hardware, and it looks brand new.
The thing is, most people don’t want to take the time to fix or restore their furniture. They’d rather drag it out to the curb or call someone to haul it away. Then they go out and buy something new.
It doesn’t take that much skill to make a profit. If you can sand, paint, and turn a screwdriver, that’s enough to get started.
The business model for this type of business is simple: buy the product at a low price, fix it up, and sell it for more than you paid. Your purchase price determines the amount of profit you can make. Find unwanted furniture cheap at yard sales, thrift stores, on Facebook or Craigslist, and maybe even on the side of the road.
Look for products always in demand like desks, coffee tables, and dressers with easy-to-repair flaws. Wobbly legs, scuff marks, and missing hardware are simple fixes. A fresh coat of paint can make an old piece look brand new.
Make sure anything you pick up is real wood, not particle board or fiberboard. Fake wood furniture is machine-made and cheap when it’s brand new. It’s worthless secondhand.
There are several websites and apps to sell furniture. You can use Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, or Offerup to sell your pieces locally. If you’re willing to ship, you can try Chairish, eBay, or Etsy.
20. Walk Dogs or Pet Sit
My wife and I much prefer to use a trusted pet sitter to walk and look after our fur babies rather than sticking them in a kennel when we’re away. Help pet owners like us by offering dog walking or pet sitting services.
Where did we find a reliable pet sitter with references? Rover.com.The site matches dog owners with local dog walkers and pet sitters.
If you’re a dog lover, there might not be any better side hustle ideas for you than getting paid to spend time with dogs. You can set your own hours based on your availability. Services you can offer include walking, boarding, doggy daycare, and drop-in services.
How much you can make depends on where you live and which services you offer. You can set your own rates, but make sure you’re in line with what others in your area are charging. If you can offer boarding services, sitters who offer to board earn twice as much according to Rover.
If you love animals and are interested in another source of income, sign up as a sitter and set up a profile on Rover.com. Your profile will be reviewed then you’ll need to pass a background check before your profile goes live.
21. Rent Your Stuff Out
Who doesn’t own a lot of stuff they’re not using all the time? Put some of it to work for you. Renting out your stuff is easy to do, it’s helpful to others, and you’ll be earning back the money you paid for the item.
Here are a few things you can rent out for profit:
- An extra room in your house – If you’ve got a guest room but no guest, consider giving Airbnb a shot. It doesn’t take long to set up, you can vet potential guests thoroughly, and you can make a few hundred dollars every month.
- Your car or truck – Turo is an online platform where you list your car and when it’s available, then rent it out to customers that have been prescreened. Fluid Truck works similarly to Turo, but it’s for trucks and cargo vans only.
- Your bike – Make extra money renting out that unused bicycle of yours with Spinlister. The website claims you can make up to $500 per month. You can also list surfboards, snowboards, and skis.
- Clothes and accessories – There’s a healthy rental market for designer clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories. If you have clothes that are just sitting in the back of your closet, check out StyleLend and Rent My Wardrobe.
- Tools, sporting goods, and other items – Monetize your attic or garage with Loanables and FriendWithA. These platforms make it possible to rent out just about anything you own, but don’t use daily. Popular items include tables, sports equipment, power tools, snow blowers, camping gear, electronics, and more.
Final Thoughts on Side Hustles With Low Startup Costs
Increasing your income with a side gig is a smart way to meet your financial goals faster. Your side hustle can be a part-time job, something you’ve always wanted to try, or a business you want to launch. Having a side hustle can mean a few extra bucks every week or a new full-time career.
You don’t have to dip into your savings or go into debt to start a side business. You can leverage gig economy apps and hiring platforms or use your existing skills to freelance. There are plenty of opportunities that won’t interfere with your full-time job and cost less than $100 to start.
So which side hustle will you choose?
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