businessman preparing for his side gig

Life has never been easier on those of us who want to supplement their income. If you are old enough to remember the pre-Internet era, take a second to thank the heavens for the present moment. Back then, you had to get out of the house, hunt for potential clients in the neighborhood or squeeze the narrow real-life social network in the hope that a side hustle will turn up. Nowadays, all you need to do is perform a one-minute search on Google. It won’t land you a gig straight away, but it will give you a pretty good idea about your chances.

Of course, it may also lead you astray, serving you vague and abstract ideas without providing any real, actionable advice. Powerful though it is, Google isn’t an honorable servant of the truth, nor should we expect that. That is why I decided to do a thorough research, a little bit of sniffing and testing, so I could present to you 7 best online side hustle ideas.

Wait… No Surveys? Why?

In case you didn’t notice before, take a quick look at our website’s URL. Yep, surveys are there. And obviously, we think they are cool. So why not include them here?

True, they do qualify for a side hustle. And a pretty carefree one, provided you don’t end up in a scam scheme of sorts. But they still won’t make it to this list, for three main reasons.

Firstly, this whole site is mainly about surveys. It’s packed with reviews of every single survey site that I’ve ever come across. So, if you’re here for the surveys, I figure there’s more than enough content on that account.

Secondly, taking surveys will only make it worth your while if you’re really persistent. If anyone tells you that you can pocket a few hundred bucks every month off of a single survey panel, they are lying. I’m not saying it’s impossible – on the contrary. All I’m saying is that you would have to combine at least five or six decent and legit panels, and give them a couple of hours every day.

Each and every one of the side hustles I will walk you through is enough on its own. No need to spill your life juice on looking for another extra to an extra.

The third and last reason is that you can’t turn surveys into a full-blown business that will make you your own boss.

Before we go on, yet another note to get things clear. Driving Uber or Lyft, or renting your property on Airbnb definitely qualify as a side hustle, but we won’t include them here. You will only get recommendations for gigs that you can do from the comfort of your armchair or bed. Our goal is to find the most hassle-free activities. So, if you’d rather go offline, we’ll cover that in one of our future posts.

Business man with binoculars looking for side jobs

Best Online Side Hustle Ideas in 2020

Writing (and You Don’t Have to Be Hemingway!)

What you do: If you’re good with words, writing blog posts such as this one shouldn’t be too difficult. And every single business needs blog posts! Or carefully crafted emails, which is the job of a copywriter. And don’t worry that you’re not Hemingway – apart from his simple, down-to-earth style, Hemingway isn’t very relevant to commercial writing. Your job isn’t to woo anyone with your luscious style and brilliant syntax, but to sell an idea or a product as best you can. And there’s a plethora of free online resources and magnificent blog posts about how to write for online auditorium, so you don’t even need any formal education.

Pros: There is no upper limit as to how much you can earn. That is, of course, if you do it right. Many full-time writers manage to reach six figures income, and it’s not just another bedtime success story. You can work at your own convenience, as long as the client’s timetable doesn’t suffer.

Cons: Most clients aren’t ready to pay well unless you’ve already made a name for yourself. The thing is, they have the whole wide world at their disposal. And however cheap you are, there’s always someone cheaper who will still do the job just fine. Even if you’re brilliant at what you do, the marketplace is full of other brilliant people. In other words, you’re competing with millions of other writers.

Where to start: Textbroker or Contena are good platforms to start, but there are hundreds of others out there. Fiverr, for example, isn’t just for $5 gigs like its name may lead you to believe. You can set your price way higher than that! Grammarly is a good proofreading tool with a great free plan. And speaking of Hemingway, this tool that goes by his name will improve your style significantly!

Teaching ESL to Worldwide Students

What you do: Teach English as a Second Language to kids or adults from all over the world. And some of the platforms will have you even without a bachelor’s degree in English! All you need is a fluent English, either native or full working proficiency, and loads of enthusiasm and patience. The companies will often provide you with working materials, textbooks and curriculums, so you don’t have to sweat it.

Pros: Manage your own time – you can work as much or as little as you want. And the only time frame you need to respect is that of your pupil. Minimal investment – it boils down to having a laptop, a decent headset, and a quiet working environment. (And clothes that don’t resemble your PJs. Don’t forget that you’re a teacher!)

Cons: You may have to work at the dead of night, at least sometimes. If you’re in the U.S. and your little pupil is in China, it can be hard to coordinate the time zones – and you’re the one who has to make concessions.

Where to start: VIPKid or DaDa if you’re a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree. QKids or SayABC or Cambly will readily accept those of you who don’t have a degree.

Podcasting

What you do: Podcasts have largely stepped into the shoes of radio, relying on people’s ever present wish to listen to interesting materials while going about their daily business. They are a wonderful opportunity for enthusiasts in just about any niche. In a way, podcasts are audio blogs that provide you with virtually unlimited potential. If you have a friend or colleague who shares your love for the subject, including them as another host would work even better. And don’t worry if you don’t have a perfect voice – after all, anyone’s voice sounds awkward and funny to themselves. 

Pros: Scalability – if everything goes well, you could turn this into a full-time job. There are loads of ways to monetize including sponsorships, crowdfunding, affiliate marketing, boosting the sales of your existing products, etc. Very low starting costs – you can buy a decent microphone for under $50. And that’s pretty much all you need at the beginning!

Cons: Hours and hours of free work before you start monetizing, which is why this is only a good side hustle for enthusiasts.

Where to start: The unlimited plan on SoundCloud is pretty cheap and it offers various sharing and embedding options. Another nice hosting options is LibSyn. When you hone your skills, it’s strongly recommended to submit your podcast to iTunes. As for software, Audacity is one of the top programs for recording and audio editing, and it’s absolutely free to use!

Translating, Proofreading, Transcribing

What you do: If you’re a fast typer, transcribing could be your cup of tea. Proofreaders need to know their grammar and be extremely detail oriented. But they will also have powerful tools to make their lives easier, such as Grammarly.

Pros: Work for ten hours or ten minutes a day – it’s up to you. Naturally, many of these gigs will come with deadlines, but you will still have an enviable degree of freedom in managing your own time and commitments. 

Cons: Say hello to the freelancer’s anxiety. One easy gig may bring you $500, the next one measly $5. If it’s just a side income, it doesn’t matter. But if you decide to go full-time with this, you need to be aware of this existential issue. Plus, you always have to hunt for new clients and dread the feast and famine cycles.

Where to start: TranscribeMe or SpeechPad for transcribers, Translate, UnBabel, OneHourTranslation for translators. Oh, and Upwork and PeoplePerHour for all of youse!

Become a Virtual Assistant (VA)

What you do: If you have any experience with administrative tasks, this could be a nice little part-time job with potential for full-time should you ever desire it. Many busy people will only require your services for an hour or two each day. And what would you be doing? Nothing out of the ordinary, and maybe even nothing that you aren’t already doing for yourself. The tasks and duties include managing email correspondence, booking venues and stays for travel, managing to-do lists, answering phone calls, managing social media.

Pros: Determine your own pay rate – there aren’t any prescriptions or limitations as to how much you can earn on this. If you’re really good and sell yourself even better, clients will appreciate it. The investment is ZERO – that is, if you have a laptop. Of course, if you really want to, you can buy courses and tools, but it’s really optional.

Cons: It can get a bit dull, especially if your responsibilities include bookkeeping or accounting. If they’re dull for you, they will be dull (and time consuming) for your client too. That’s why they will most likely fall upon you.

Where to start: Upwork is always a good place to start with part-time jobs. You just need to create an account, sniff around the Jobs section, and figure out how to stand out.

Etsy-ing Your Craft

What you do: Are you already making cute items, jewelry, clothes, home decor, paintings, or just about anything else that isn’t more of the same generic stuff you can find in any store? If yes, you might as well make your own Etsy virtual store and sell it to an audience comprising of nearly 40 million active customers. But Etsy isn’t the only platform that does it – you would do well to multichannel your selling and use Amazon Handmade, eBay, and similar platforms.

Pros: It’s relatively cheap to start. You need to pay for those product listings, invest in a good website as well as awesome product photography. But that investment is still nowhere near any other business costs. Exposure to a huge audience – handmade is very hip these days, and more and more people are buying it.

Cons: It’s only profitable if you’re already into craft. Don’t even dream of learning how to crochet just so you could turn it into a source of income eventually. It can be hard to stand out. Those 40 million active buyers I mentioned above have a counterpart in 2,1 million sellers. That’s not a small number, and even your best might not be good enough to beat it. It can take quite some time to really make it. Just like dropshipping (scroll down for it), you will need at least months if not years of daily effort to get going.

Where to start: Etsy’s own blog would be the most logical resource base.

person in front of a laptop thinking about a business idea

Dropshipping

What you do: Can you imagine selling various items for profit without ever dealing with actual merchandize? Yep, it’s a business you can start with a small investment. All you need is a niche website and a decent audience genuinely interested in the products. The gist is that your website is basically hunting for and attracting potential customers thanks to its awesome content. Naturally, your price includes a certain markup. When customers place an order, you don’t mess with warehouses, stock lists, packaging, sending. You just need to forward the order to the supplier and they’ll take care of everything. Your profit is a kind of reward for your successful promotion of the product that the manufacturer or distributor wouldn’t have sold otherwise.

Pros: If done right, it can turn into a full-time business of your own. What better feeling than handing in your notice and becoming your own boss? The starting cost is very low, compared to other businesses. No need to splurge on office space, warehouses, or any space other than your room (or bedroom). All you need is a budget for your website and some advertising to get the initial follower base. Much of it is automatable – with adequate tools and software, your workload would significantly decrease.

Cons: It could absorb significant time – more than doing mere writing or translating gigs. You can’t tweak your daily workload to a mere half an hour because you’re beat. That would translate to a lousy customer experience, which is a huge issue.

Where to start: There isn’t a single platform that would make it all possible, but check these free Woocommerce theme recommendations for your WordPress website. Apart from Woocommerce, there’s also Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, and more.

Conclusion – One Thing That ALL of These Jobs Have in Common

When I say one thing, I am not referring to the “PJs or underwear” dilemma.

It’s way more serious than that, and you’d better keep it in mind. Namely, for all of these side gigs to start bringing you money, you will need A LOT of patience. Don’t get discouraged if money doesn’t start pouring in after a week or two. All good things take time.

And if you’re still more eager to earn a dollar here and now than to invest in a long-term, risky project, you can always turn to online surveys.