21 Best Side Business Ideas to Start While Working a Full-Time Job

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best side business ideasMost entrepreneurs I know didn’t start their businesses by going all in. Instead, they did something else while learning the ropes.

Some tried different side hustles while they were in school before figuring out what they eventually wanted to do. Others used the expertise they gained in their career to venture out on their own.

One reason you’ll see many entrepreneurs take this route is that it takes time to “learn the ropes”.

There are so many aspects to launching and running your own business that you’ll need to learn and gain experience before finding success.

If you’re thinking of becoming your own boss but aren’t sure what you want to do yet, here are some side businesses you can start while working full time. They’ll give you the security of your current job, so you won’t be afraid to make mistakes and take risks in your new venture. Along the way, you’ll be able to save extra cash as well.


Once upon a time blogs were for hobbies. They were a way for people to express themselves creatively or share what’s happening in their lives.

While those things are still true today, blogs have evolved so much that now you see people making over a $1 million a year from their blogs. Sure, you can call them unicorns.

But, more and more, I’m seeing people turn their blogs into full-time incomes, to the point that they can quit their jobs and support their family. In many cases, blogging allows them to earn more than they did in their old jobs.

Best of all, they get to do something they’re passionate about. After all, most blogs are centered around your interests and passions. This is why you see many travel and cooking blogs. They’re fun hobbies that can now let you make a living off of them.

One of the biggest benefits of blogging is that you can do it anywhere. As a blogger, you can literally work wherever and whenever they want. This lets you travel the world while making a full-time or even a 6 figure annual income.

What could be better than that?

Be an Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing is one of the best way bloggers make money. It’s essentially helping companies sell products that you use and like.

By recommending these products to people who visit your blog, you’ll be able to earn a nice commission from each sale.

Companies pay anywhere from 5% to 60% commissions on the items your blog readers buy from you. So, if you’re able to sell big-ticket items that cost say, $200 or maybe even $500, then you can take in a good chunk of extra cash just from that sale.

Imagine how much you can bring in if you sell a few more of these items over the course of a month.

Social Media Manager

Social media is a huge business. Everyone from Kim Kardashian to Nike monitors their social media accounts very religiously.


Because a large chunk of their audience and customers visit their social media accounts to see what they’re doing. This makes platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest big business if you know what you’re doing.

If you know how to manage one or more of these platforms, bring in new followers or make existing followers engage more, you’ll do great as a social media manager.

Because some bloggers and small to medium-sized companies don’t have the time or expertise to do this, they hire people to do it for them.

That’s where you come in. For a fee, you can manage their social media accounts or handle ad campaigns to help them get more followers.

Make Extra Cash By Filling Out Surveys

You probably weren’t aware that you could get paid just by answering surveys.

Well, you can. In fact, there are a lot of legitimate survey companies that pay you good money to fill out these online questionnaires. Sites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie are just a few among the many companies online that pay cash for every survey you fill out.

Virtual Assistant

The title may not sound too appealing. But, don’t let the word “assistant” fool you.

Virtual assistants can make upwards of $1,000 to $3,000 a month depending on who you work for and what skills you have.

Except for some very specific employers, most virtual assistants are “jack of all trades”. That’s because they’re great a being able to do a lot of different tasks. Everything from data entry to proofreading or uploading articles to websites fall under their job description.

If you have specialized skills like being able to edit photos or videos, you’ll be able to charge much more for your services as well.

Graphic Design

Thanks to the web, graphic designers will always have work. From what I see, it’s just a matter of being able to match talent with demand.

This makes you very valuable if you have an eye for design.

The thing is, all sorts of design has a market. You can specialize in creative art, drawing, colors, editing photos or making graphics for the web.

That said, knowledge of software is tremendously important. The industry standard is Adobe’s lineup of products. This includes Photoshop for photo editing, Illustrator for digital graphics and InDesign for posters and layouts.

Being a graphic designer also gives you options. You can offer your services as a freelancer, work part-time for a company or sell your own art online.

Create Your Own Online Course

Do you have any knowledge or expertise in a specific topic that people want to learn?

If so, then create your own course and sell it online.

This is a great side business opportunity because it allows you to help other people move up in their job or make a full-time living on their own.

Platforms like Teachable and Udemy allow you to upload your own courses so that anyone can sign up for them. All you need to do is create the course outline and videos. They’ll take care of the rest, including website management, payment processing, and all the other technical stuff.

The thing is, you can create a course on anything, as long as there are people willing to learn it. This can be photography, yoga, gardening, publishing an ebook, time management or how to create an app.

Publish an eBook

Back in the day, getting a book published was difficult. If you couldn’t get a publisher to take your work, then you were out of luck.

That’s not the case anymore.

Now, you can write your own novel, short story, instructional or children’s book and publish it yourself. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing lets you self-publish your book and sell it on their Kindle store. All you have to do is set up an account and follow the formatting instructions to upload your work.

Be a Web Developer

Thanks to the digital age, any skill in web development is an asset. At its core, knowing, HTML, CSS, Javascript is essential.

Programming languages like Python, Php, and Java are likewise great skills to have if you want to earn more money. These are the most in-demand programming languages employers look for. And, they also pay the most.

As a programmer, you can initially do freelance work for small businesses. Once you’ve built a solid portfolio, you’ll be able to attract higher paying customers like large online e-commerce stores and publishers.

Teach English Online

Probably one of the simplest gigs is teaching English. As long as you know conversational English, you’ll be able to get the job done.

Of course, you will be able to charge more if you really know your grammar, phonetics and all the other stuff they taught us in 3rd and 4th grade English class.

Along the way, you may also want to get your ESL (English as a Second Language) certification.

Having this gives you access to higher paying hourly jobs in Asia and the Middle East where the demand for learning English is huge.

Rich nations like China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the UAE, and Qatar are some of the countries that have a lot of students, employees and professionals wanting to learn English.

Do Some Freelance Writing or Proofreading

Freelance writing is something anyone can do. And, before you say that you’re not a good writer, let me stop you from dismissing it.

While being a good writer may help, it’s not necessary for freelance writing. The only exception here is if you’re writing novels or literary pieces.

Other than that, it’s all about what you know.

This is why you’ll see the most profitable freelance writers are those who are amazing at researching topics or those who have specific expertise.

This is where your experience, talent, background or current line of work comes in.

Blogs and websites are looking for writers who know their topic.

So, if you’re a registered nurse, you’ll easily be able to stand out when writing for a health blog. Similarly, if you travel a lot, you’ll be able to write for online travel magazines like Conde Nast or Travel + Leisure.

That’s because you have unique knowledge and experience on those topics that other people don’t have. More importantly, these are things that their blog’s readers value the most.

Besides freelance writing, there’s also proofreading. This is another side business idea that’s in demand thanks to websites and blogs.

Be a Copywriter

A copywriter is a somewhat a variation of a writer. But, in a specialized way.

While freelance writers write about certain topics, copywriters are focused on helping you market and advertise your business.

Essentially, they’re great in making publicity material that will help readers learn more about your product. Just as importantly, effective copywriters are able to drum up audience interest for your products.

Like most jobs, copywriting can be difficult in the beginning. That’s because beginner copywriters don’t get paid much. The key is to get your work out there.

Once you’ve established yourself, you’ll be able to charge a lot more.

In fact, there are a lot of copywriters who aren’t just making a full-time living from it, they’re making over $10,000 a month doing so.

Be a Podcast Pro

If you have the personality for it and like talking, podcasting is something worth exploring. Podcasts work much like radio talk shows, except they’re online.

This lets you talk about topics that people are interested in. And, along the way grow an audience.

Having a loyal podcast audience opens many avenues for you. This includes charging for advertisements within your podcast and even launching your own book or products later on.

Tutor Students for Their SATs

Were you good at school? Or, do you like teaching kids?

If so, then tutoring is the perfect side hustle for you. This lets you help youngsters with schoolwork and learning.

If you know the right people, you may be able to earn upwards of $75 to $100 per hour. Lots of parents want their kids to excel in school because it allows them to get into good colleges, which in turn helps them land better jobs.

When it comes to tutoring, SATs, ACTs, AP exams and other standardized college tests are big business. This is why you’ll see numerous publications and test review services offered by Barron’s, The Princeton Review and McGraw Hill.

Do Some Babysitting for Neighbors and Friends

Taking care of younger kids is something we’ve all done before. You’ve probably had a few babysitting gigs when you were a teen or in college.

This is a great side gig that can actually turn into a full-time business. Once you get the hang of it, you can scale up and hire other babysitters to work for you. By then, you’ll be able to manage them and bring in more cash while doing less of the work yourself.

Sell Your Own Creations on Etsy

If you are great at arts and crafts, then you may want to turn your hobby into a side business. This is the dream job since you’ll be doing something you love.

What’s great about it is, you can create your crafts at home and sell them online. Etsy is a huge marketplace where DIYers sell everything from necklaces, T-shirts, and furniture they made or designed themselves.

Best of all, you don’t have the leave the house. This lets you spend time with your kids while doing something you really enjoy to support them.

These online businesses you start from home have the ability to grow to the point where you’ll be able to quit your job and make a full-time income from them. I know because I have many friends who’ve done it.

Wedding Photographer

Do you have a great eye for taking pictures? If so, why not make money on the side as a photographer?

Thanks to social media, photography is in big demand. This is especially true if you can produce high quality, professional looking photos.

Sure, there are social media pros who are able to take incredible selfies. But, for the most part, there Instagram stars all have their personal photographers.

Bloggers also use photography services quite a bit. You’ve probably wondered why some blogs have such great self-portraits of the blogger in the home page or anywhere else in the blog.

Well, those were professionally taken.

Of course, there’s also wedding photography which pays a lot of money. According to SnapKnot, you can make between $2,500 to $10,000 per engagement. The amount does depend on a few factors like the city you live in and the types of services you offer.

In most cases though, expect the average to run between $2,500 to $4,000 per wedding.

The best part about it is, most weddings happen on weekends because guests have 9 to 5 jobs on the weekdays. So, the schedule won’t conflict with your day job.

Use Your Car to Make Money

If you own a car and like driving it, then you can join rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft to make extra cash on the side.

This is a great job because you can do it during the evenings and weekends depending on how much free time you have. And, it doesn’t get in the way of your 9 to 5 job schedule.

That said, make sure to check your numbers and the costs involved before jumping in. Uber and Lyft claim that their drivers take home $25/hr. and $35/hr, respectively.

But, that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not according to the drivers themselves.

Online financial magazine The Street notes that you’re more likely to earn between $11.48 to $15.97 per trip. And, after expenses that comes out to between $8.55 and $11.77 a trip.

The range varies depending on where you’re located, which service you’re driving for (premium and luxury services like Uber SUV and Uber Black pay more) and surge pricing.

Then there are the two biggest variables.

  • How many hours or trips can you make?
  • How much do you get in tips?

These 2 factors, especially tipping can put you over the top.

Personal Trainer

Are you passionate about fitness and love working with people? Then being a personal trainer is an amazing side hustle for you.

What’s great about being a personal trainer nowadays is that you can get clients on and offline. If you have the time to visit local gyms or fitness centers, you’ll be able to find some people who’ll be willing to hire you.

But, I also know a few fitness trainers who help clients online. They’re able to create a personalized workout and diet programs for their clients and track their progress via Skype and emails.

The best part about being an online trainer is that you can help a lot more people. Your reach is limitless since you can use the internet to help anyone no matter where they are in the world.

Build Your Own App

Apps are everywhere. Because we do everything with our phones nowadays, it all comes down to figuring out what app can you make to:

  • help others
  • is useful in solving their problems
  • or something that can entertain them

The best thing about apps is that you don’t even need to know how to code!

Yup, it’s true.

It’s a common misconception that if you work in tech, software or apps, you should know how to do programming. That’s not true at all.

Steve Jobs is probably the most well-known tech icon who didn’t code. This was something his partner Steve Wozniak mentioned some time ago, “Steve didn’t ever code. He wasn’t an engineer and he didn’t do any original design, but he was technical enough to alter and change and add to other designs.”

For me, the last line is the most important thing. It’s Jobs ability to see things that were already there, be it an MP3 player or mobile phone, and figure out how to make it something many times more desirable.

That’s why he is among the most successful visionaries the world has ever seen.

The thing is, Steve Jobs isn’t alone. There are other successful entrepreneurs who’ve built tech companies we all know about and use today. Here are just a few.

  • Tim Westergren who founded Pandora
  • Reid Hoffman who founded LinkedIn
  • Sean Rad who founded of Tinder

The list goes on.

This is why you’ll often see companies founded by at least 2 or 3 people. And, the reason why a lot of computer science and computer engineering majors in Stanford partner with MBA students. The combination gives them the tech know-how, ideas and the business side of things.

This is important because there will be one person who comes up with the idea and the other who’ll be great at executing it.

Whether you’re the programmer or the creative, there’s always a place for you in the digital age.

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