For many of us, 2020 was a rude awakening from the lifestyles that we have been used to living. Many small businesses were forced to shut down, thousands of employees were laid off, and entire industries have suffered. People are realizing that the only ones they can rely on for steady income are themselves. But, recognizing a problem is only step one. Learning how to solve it is the next step. To help make things easier for you, we have compiled this list of 2021 side hustle ideas.
When coming up with this list, we focused on side hustles that fit certain criteria. The majority of entries on this list can be carried out from home, as long as you have the necessary equipment. We also chose to exclude options that are particularly time-intensive, such as the gig economy (driving for Uber, delivering food, etc.). We also leaned towards ideas that anybody could do if they are willing to spend the time learning the craft. These items do not require any natural talent or skills, just curiosity and work ethic.
2021 Side Hustle Ideas: Commerce
#1 - Dropshipping
Dropshipping is a product fulfillment model where one business (the merchant) advertises and sells another business's (the supplier's) products. Once a customer places an order with the merchant, the merchant places the order with the supplier and the supplier ships the product directly to the customer. This allows the merchant to focus on marketing and sales without investing in inventory or warehousing. You can do it from the comfort of your living room.
Dropshipping is what our business, DropCommerce, focuses on. Instead of selling lackluster, generic products that are shipped from some factory in Asia, we only partner with real North American suppliers. This allows us to offer very fast delivery times, top-notch customer service, and higher quality products. Our software can be integrated with Shopify and BigCommerce stores, and we plan to expand to other platforms in the near future.
If you're interested in learning more about DropCommerce, then come join us for a 14-day free trial completely risk-free. All you need to do is click on the button below!
#2 - Print-on-Demand
Print-on-Demand (POD) is a business model where one party creates designs for merchandise (t-shirts, mugs, hoodies, etc) and then markets and sells them. When a customer purchases something (like a t-shirt), the order is sent to a 3rd party print-on-demand supplier who then prints the design on the item. The supplier also ships the order directly to the customer, so the seller never has to touch the inventory or go to the post office.
This business model allows the seller to sell custom merch without investing in any inventory and enables the supplier to custom merch to hundreds of sellers. There are two main ways to do print-on-demand. First, you can host your designs on marketplaces like Teespring, Etsy, or Amazon. Second, you can set up your own store through a platform like Shopify and use an application like Printful or Printify.
What's great about this side hustle is that it can be very passive if you use a marketplace. You don't need to market your designs if you don't want to. Just upload the design, set up the listings, and move on to the next project. You won't make much money off a handful of designs, but once you have a few dozen (or hundred) listings active you can bet you'll make some money. You don't have to know graphic design either, you can use web software like Canva or PlaceIt. There are plenty of guides on Youtube to get you started.
#3 - Retail Arbitrage
Retail arbitrage is a term for when you buy products from one place and flip them for a higher price through another sales channel. If you are able to find a product on clearance for $50 at the local Walmart, but it is still selling on Amazon for $125, then you have a potential margin of $75 before expenses. If you buy multiple units, the margins may increase even further. The reason that a customer would buy it at the $125 price instead of $50 at Walmart is that not everyone knows where to find the lower price, or is willing to put in the effort to get it. Some people value their time more than their money.
Retail arbitrage is a bit of a grind-y side hustle compared to some of the other 2021 side hustle ideas on this list, but it works. It won't make you rich overnight, but it can definitely add a few hundred dollars to your income every month if you do it correctly. Your success will come from purchasing products at the right price since the market price will generally not be something in your control. If you want to get started, Youtube is a great place to learn how to research prices. eBay is a great place to sell items, and so is Amazon. You can source products from anywhere, even garage sales. It's a fun side hustle, and you will learn to love the chase.
#4 - Rent Our Your Car or Spare Room
If you have a nice car or spare room that you aren't using very much, you should consider renting them out. It's not a solution that will work for everybody, but it is at least worth mentioning. There are car-sharing platforms like Turo or GetAround (they vary depending on where you live) that will pay you for letting other people borrow your car, and Airbnb allows you to turn your spare room or empty apartment into a hotel. These are great side hustle options that will turn possessions that you already have into mostly-passive money-making machines. Obviously, this might not be practical during Covid-19, but in the long-run things will go back to normal. Don't like strangers? Strangers are just friends that you haven't met!
#5 - Buy and Flip (or Hold) A Revenue-Generating Website
A lot of people forget it, but websites are assets. Websites can easily become businesses if you find a way to monetize your traffic. But, not everybody is tech-savvy enough to build a revenue-generating website. Luckily, you don't have to be. You can simply purchase one that is already working and maintain it. There are several website marketplaces where you can browse listings of websites and online stores that are up for sale, but the one I use the most is Flippa.
On Flippa you can browse all types of internet-based businesses like blogs, review websites, e-commerce stores, apps, and more. However, you need to be able to manage what you are purchasing. If you are buying a Shopify store, you should know how to manage one. If you're buying a blog, then hopefully you know how to use WordPress (or whatever it's using). There are websites that get most of their traffic from organic search (i.e. Google searches) which are a good start for beginners. Search engine optimization (SEO) takes a long time to develop, and you will likely be able to maintain the traffic without much effort.
Once you buy a revenue-generating website, you can either hold it for the cash flow (i.e. the income it produces), or you can try to flip it. In order to flip it, you'll need to spot a way that you can improve it. Maybe you know how to help market it, optimize it for SEO, or improve the conversion ratios. Then, once your website is making more money, you can sell it for a higher price than you bought it at.
#6 - Sell Arts and/or Crafts on Etsy
Whether or not you have much artistic talent, you probably have enough to create and sell products on Etsy. For those who aren't aware, Etsy is a giant marketplace for handmade and vintage products. There are millions of products and millions of people looking for them. You don't have to worry about driving web traffic to an online store because people are already browsing on Etsy. It has a more authentic and traditional vibe than products on eBay.
If you're an artist, then you have probably already figured out that you can sell your art. You can develop your own unique style, find your niche, and get paid to do what you love doing. However, if you aren't artistically talented, you can still make and sell products on Etsy. You can make homemade candles, soaps, or jewellery. There are all types of products on Etsy, so have a look around and see what interests you. This side hustle has a high earning potential and could lead to you opening your own store one day.
2021 Side Hustle Ideas: Content Creation
#7 - Create an Online Course
Creating an online course is an excellent side hustle because it allows you to separate your income from your time. You aren't required to attend the course every time someone signs up. It doesn't matter to you whether you enroll 100 students or 1000. Most of the work occurs in the beginning of the process, and you'll only need to do updates and marketing after you launch.
But I know what you're thinking: "I can't create an online course, I'm not an expert in anything!". False. Even if you aren't an expert in something, you can still teach what you know. If you're a 7/10 in graphic design, there will be plenty of people who are a 2/10 and would be willing to pay you to get them to a 6/10. And when you think about it, you'll be more incentivized to get to the 8/10 level yourself if you know that you are planning to create an online course in the near future. It gives you a reason to go the extra mile.
If you're looking to create an online course, you should check out UDemy and Thinkific. Both of these are platforms for creating courses, but uDemy also acts as a marketplace for consumers to find them. You'll need to make the course as compelling and interesting as possible, so make sure to do some research before you launch. Oftentimes, the difference between a successful online course and a failure can be traced to the title, the images, the promo video, and the description. After all, you could have the best course in the world, but no one will notice if they don't sign up. Get them in the door.
#8 - Blogging
Blogging is one of the most basic types of content creation. I'm sure you know what it is already, but it is basically a website with written content that people find interesting or valuable. You could start a blog based on your own life, based on a topic (i.e. sports, business), or to accompany an existing business (like the website you're reading this on). If you're a good writer, or willing to learn how to improve, then this might be an option you want to consider.
There are a few ways to make money through blogging, and most of them required advertising. You can use affiliate marketing, which is where you send your traffic to third-party products or services in exchange for a cut of the revenue they generate. For example, if I create an article reviewing a book, I can use an affiliate link that sends the user to Amazon when it is clicked. This link tracks who sent the customer to Amazon and what that person purchases. There are many different affiliate programs, so you'll want to research each one to see how the fine print works.
The second option is to include ads on your website. These are those clickable banners and images that you see everywhere. They are usually powered by Google or another ad platform, and pay you on a per-click basis. The third option lies in sponsorships. If you have a successful travel blog, then certain hotels or other travel-related businesses will be willing to sponsor you to write about what they offer. This is true for many industries, and you can often combine it with affiliate marketing. The blog will become your platform to connect with your audience, and that can be extremely powerful in the long-term.
#9 - Start a Youtube Channel
Youtube is the world's second-biggest search engine, and there are hundreds of videos being uploaded every single minute. It is an exceptional platform for building an audience and can be a great source of income as well. You have a few options for what kind of channel you want to create. You can start a montage channel that exclusively uses other people's content (e.g. videos like "Top 10 Tik Toks 2020). Or, you can also start a channel based on a niche (e.g. a sport like Football) and record videos of yourself for it (e.g. John Doe's Weekly Football Updates). In general, you will want to come up with a niche for your channel and stick with it.
There are a few ways to make money through Youtube. First, you can build your audience to the point where Youtube unlocks monetization features. This is what allows you to put ads in your videos that pay you every time a user views it. The second option is to do sponsored videos. If you have a channel reviewing yoga mats that people use to evaluate options, then some yoga mat producers might pay you to do a video that focuses on reviewing their product. The third option is through affiliate marketing. This is where you partner with a business in your industry, send traffic to them (i.e. "click the link in the video description"), and receive a cut of whatever revenue they generate for the partner business.
There are plenty of Youtubers who make >$1 million per year through their channel, and there are 1000x more who make absolutely nothing. Your location on the scale between those will depend on the value you create.
#10 - Podcasting
Podcasting is another entry on our list of 2021 side hustle ideas that focus on content creation. A podcast is a digital file that is released to the public that offers some sort of story, narration, or interview. It is usually released in installments, like a tv show. Most podcasts are audio-only, although you will find some podcasts with video as well.
A podcast is a great way to create a platform, build an audience, and create a brand. They can be extremely lucrative if they blow up in popularity, as we recently learned with Joe Rogan's famous $100 Million deal to host his podcast on Spotify. But even if you aren't a celebrity like Joe Rogan, you can create a podcast that is educational or informative (hopefully both) and make a living from it. Don't believe me? Here's an article about a man who quit his job to work on his True Crime podcast. He was earning $5000-6000 per month back in 2019, and the beauty is that this has likely continued to increase as he produces more episodes. Your episodes will exist forever and continue to pay you long after you have decided to focus on other projects.
#11 - License Your Photography
Are you an amateur or professional photographer? Because if so, you might be able to license your photography. Basically, people will pay you to allow them to use your photos in what they are doing. It might be for a blog, or a corporate website, or a course. It doesn't matter. If you want to use an artist's work, then you need to secure permission from them. Photos are protected by copyright law.
There are many different websites that you can list your photos on. Getty Images, ShutterStock, and Adobe Stock are all some of the big players in this market. This is a very passive entry for our list of 2021 side hustle ideas because it requires very little upkeep. Once the photo is uploaded to the marketplace, the next time you'll be contacted is when someone is sending you money to use it. If you're able to get a high-quality photo of something rare, then it might just take a single photo to put 5 or 6 figures in your bank account.
#12 - Write an eBook
Writing an eBook is on our list of 2021 side hustle ideas because of how passive it can be. It involves about 50% writing and 50% marketing. But, you won't have to print extra copies if you end up selling 10x as many copies as you were planning. It requires no extra work on your part.
What makes an eBook different than a regular book is not only the fact that you can sell an unlimited amount of copies. They usually satisfy different needs. Regular books are long, and can take years to write. eBooks can take a few days or weeks. eBooks are designed to help the readers with something, or provide some short-term value. For example, you don't need to write a 300-page published novel on what you learned from travelling South America. You can distill those lessons into a 50-100 page eBook with some great content and value. Get your eBook published on Amazon, and you're all set. All that's left is marketing it, which we'll leave up to your expertise.
2021 Side Hustle Ideas: Providing Services
#13 - Small Business Consulting
Do you have a lot of expertise in an area that businesses often struggle with? Or maybe you have experience running a business in some capacity. If so, you can likely get paid to act as a consultant for small businesses. These businesses are often run by small teams or even a single entrepreneur. They don't know how to do everything, and they will pay you to help them save money. This creates an opportunity for you to help them with something you have experience in, and get paid while doing it. It might take a bit of re-branding to get your image aligned with what people are looking for, but that will work to your advantage since it is what keeps your competitors from ever getting started. Even an hour or two can of consultations can result in a few hundred dollars of income!
#14 - Become A Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant is basically a freelancing administrative assistant that works remotely. These are professionals who are location-independent and are able to help busy entrepreneurs and businesses manage their affairs from anywhere in the world. You can work with all different types of companies, helping them with anything from social media to customer service. This is typically done on a contractual basis (i.e. you are not an employee). You are also usually required to have your own laptop and smartphone. Although there is a lot of competition from English-speaking professionals in lower-wage countries (e.g. India, the Philippines), there is still a demand for skilled people who are working in a North American timezone. You can get started on Upwork, Fiverr, or by learning about the next steps on Youtube.
#15 - Become a Freelancer (Graphic Design, Web Design, etc.)
While we're on the topic of freelancing, it's worth noting that you can also be a freelancer in nearly any type of service industry. If you have some skills or experience (or both) in something that people are looking for, you can freelance. This can be one of the best 2021 side hustle ideas for graphic designers, web designers, bloggers, or anyone else that knows how to build things. And since employers aren't required to pay freelancers benefits, vacation pay, or the other usual deductions, they are usually willing to give you a higher rate of pay than you would have received as an employee. Cha-ching!
#16 - Become a Tutor
If you have a Bachelor's or Master's degree, and you were a high-achiever when studying, then you can likely get paid to tutor others. You don't have to be amazing at it either. If you were able to get an A- in a class, then a C+ student will be grateful if you can help get them to a B+. You don't have to get them to the A+ level. Furthermore, there are probably a lot of people who are taking your major as a minor. Sure, you know all about business and finance because you studied it for your entire degree. But, that sociology major who is taking a business minor is out of their depth. They would greatly benefit from having someone in their corner who knows a bit more than they do.
Tutoring can be done both online and in-person, and can make anywhere between $20-$80 for a one-hour session.
#17 - Teach English Online
Are you a native speaker of the English language? Do you have a bachelor's degree, or any experience tutoring or teaching? If so, this might be the ideal side hustle for you. There are millions of people around the world looking to learn English. This presents native speakers with an opportunity to teach others about the language and to get paid while doing it.
You can teach English online or in-person, but online is definitely the bigger market. There are plenty of organizations that you can work with such as VIPKid, BabelFish, and Skooli that already have students looking for English teachers for 1-on-1 sessions. They tend to pay $12-$25 USD per hour, depending on your experience and credentials. All you need to get started is a computer, a webcam, and an internet connection!