Now for the completely strange and unexpected: Jon Colgan, founder and CEO of fintech startup CellBreaker, used his background in sustainability to help finance his business. “I also studied sustainability in school and became enamored of using worms to compost. As a third revenue source, I sell worms,” he says. “I discovered that happy worm populations double every 90 days. My worms are always happy. So, I started selling worms and vermicompost on Craigslist and by word-of-mouth.”
If you keep your money hidden in the attic or earning close to nothing in a savings account, you might want to consider putting it to better use through smarter investing as your side business idea. Sure, there are plenty dangers to look out for, but most personal finance experts will advise you to start learning about the stock market if you want to grow your wealth, and to avoid jumping too heavily into trends like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies without proper understanding.
If editing and advising college students on how to write compelling 500 word essays on topics such as "You were just invited to speak at the White House. Write your speech," seems like a compelling business idea to allocate your free time towards, trust me—tons of parents will pay you to edit admissions essays and offer constructive feedback for their children. Be careful not to blur the ethical line of actually writing their essays, but serving as an editor to help them convey their message can become a great side business idea that has the potential to spread by word-of-mouth referral in your community.
I don’t know about that working for free thingy. Even if an affiliate bought from me, I would still make them an offer on something highly discounted, such as a downloadable .pdf file, an informative YouTube video with AdSense in it included in a pdf file or ask them to share the video with everyone so clicks could be accrued, and the list goes on. Working for free online is not an option. lol
Have a knack for staying organized? If you're a jack of all trades, you should consider working as a virtual assistant as a side business idea. You can find great gigs on Elance, Indeed, or Upwork. It can be an awesome way to rub shoulders with some very important people, build up your professional network, develop in-demand new skills (like creating GIFs and VR videos), grow your side business idea and you'll have the added perk of being able to start this as a home based business idea. Becoming a virtual assistant can be a particularly great side business idea if you're hoping to travel the world while making money online as a digital nomad.

A carpentry business is ideal for those who enjoy working with their hands and building things. It’s ideal for those who enjoy preserving and restoring historic landmarks as well as creating new ones for future generations. Those who take pride in their work and a sense of satisfaction in helping customers utilize space more effectively will enjoy this type of business.
Next you will want to create and display your pins. The Selz store builder makes it easy to show off your work, while the stylish web design options will help your store to stand out from the competition. You can choose to sell hard enamel pins or soft enamel pins, or both if you desire. In the beginning, though, it’s generally best to choose one or the other to avoid being overwhelmed.
Then you can move into more actionable online courses like Modern Web Design on CreativeLive and Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy will teach you everything from foundational web design knowledge to earning your first freelance income as a web designer. On top of that, you can take even more immersive courses and learning experiences with access to direct instructor feedback and personal mentorship with platforms like Treehouse, LinkedIn Learning and General Assembly to get up-to-speed even quicker with this career path and listen to my podcast interview with Ian Paget about how to become a freelance designer as a side business idea.
Every website owner (including myself) hires copywriters to write content for things like about pages, FAQ's, or blog posts. Hourly wages for novice copywriters are not very high, but with some experience and a growing portfolio, you can become a freelance writer today and soon be charging more than you make at your full-time job if you find the right clients and brand yourself as an expert with this side business idea. Check out one of my most talented friends, Jory Mackay, for an example of someone who's doing a great job of positioning himself as a premium service-provider with his freelance writing side business idea. Then when you're ready to start cold emailing potential clients, pick up my free downloadable freelance proposal template and get started today.
Wedding photographers command premium rates. After all, you are capturing one of a couple's most important life moments, making it a very lucrative side business idea. Many professional wedding photographers charge between $2,500 - $10,000 (or more) to shoot a wedding, so it's realistic that this side business idea could quickly blossom into becoming a full-time endeavor with the right happy clientele base that's willing to refer you to their friends and family. Check out the Complete Wedding Photography Experience over on CreativeLive to get up to speed on everything you need to launch a successful wedding photography business.
Detailing cars is a great way to make a few extra dollars. You can start this business with a few supplies and some networking. You can start in your local neighborhood, advertise on Facebook, and offer discounts during holidays. This is a great gift people can give new graduates or dads for Father’s Day so be sure to mention this when trying to sell people on your service.

A survey company creates, distributes, and analyzes surveys for a variety of businesses or special interests. The purpose is to collect feedback before deciding to alter policies or processes to improve efficiency and overall satisfaction. Owners may either work on a per-case basis, or choose to specialize in a specific niche. For example, a survey company that only administers surveys to students about their professors.
Something else I recommend is taking the free 7-lesson mini-course on general transcription offered by Janet Shaughnessy of Transcribe Anywhere. This will help you to understand if you're a good fit for a transcription career, what you can potentially earn, and also where to get started. Janet also has free legal transcription mini-course if you're more interested in going that route.
My events are seasonal (May-December here in Massachusetts) and some vendor fees need to be paid months ahead of time to secure a space in a well attended show. This is a great opportunity for peer to peer lending! My best fairs cost between $125 to $250 to get in, but I can make $1200 or more at those shows. My 2 sisters invest in my biz early in the year so I can pay those vendor fees during my slow season (Jan-May) when I don’t have much income from my biz. I pay 10% interest on their investment, which is usually about $1500, and pay them back by the end of December. 10% is much more than they would get leaving that money in their bank account. If I had the funding, I would go to farmers markets and fairs and talk to the crafters/vendors about my peer to peer lending services because most of the vendors I know struggle with paying those fees which are due during their slow season.
Similar to selling on Amazon, eBay is a place to make money selling just about anything you can think of as a side business idea, with the added excitement of using the auction selling model to sometimes get way more than you expected for that antique baseball card you picked up at a local street fair. To turn your eBay selling into a legitimate business idea, look for opportunities where you can buy in-demand products at a discount—and later sell them for a profit. Eventually, you can even take the lessons learned from your eBay store and build a full on blog or eCommerce business like what the team over at Gear Hungry has done.
Many people’s interest in music goes beyond just listening to it. A lot of people who enjoy listening to it are also interested in learning how to play an instrument. A music lessons business gives novice musicians a way to learn to play an instrument, and it provides more seasoned musicians with advanced training to help them improve their musical abilities. A business may offer private or group lessons in home or classroom settings.

It’s always great to get new sheets, blankets, pillow cases, and comforters, but going to the store and picking through options can be tough, especially for consumers with limited time. This is where your online store can come in, providing customers with quality products and the convenience of purchasing online. This is a win-win situation for the customer, and for you.
Got a thing for numbers? Plenty of companies need to hire talented contractors who are good at data analysis, making this a potentially lucrative side business idea if you have the right credentials and experience. Platforms like Upwork and Digiserved are but a two of many websites that are great for freelancers with an analytical prowess, looking for extra work as a side business idea around their full-time jobs.
An online driving school (also called a “traffic school”) can be started by anyone who has an affinity for creating web-based services, who is also willing to go to the trouble to be legally certified by a state authority. Schools that offer in-class instruction needs certified teachers who are skilled in public speaking. If getting up in front of a crowd of strangers to explain things does not intimidate you, you would be very good at this. Most driving schools also offer on-the-road training, which requires instructors to be both patient and firm with students, so as to help them learn how to drive while avoid making dangerous mistakes.
I didn't even know if I were capable of "creating a second income," but I feel confident, after reading this book, that yes, indeed, I can do just that. The book is divided by chapters, then sections of chapters, such as "Starting the Right Side Business," and then goes on to list and provide information about common side businesses that one might consider when choosing the right one for oneself.
Have you cracked the code for landing higher paying jobs at the drop of a hat? If you have a knack for helping your friends or co-workers navigate the process of finding their dream job, nailing an interview, negotiating a better salary or getting a raise at their current day job, other people would be willing to pay for your help too—making this a great side business idea that doesn't take too much time. Get started by sharing your advice on a personal blog and becoming a career coach on platforms like The Muse and Coach Me where there's already an existing audience of people looking to make a move in their careers. From there, keep your focus on helping people get real results, building case studies to support this side business idea, and eventually charging for the results you're delivering clients.

Don’t freak out about not being able to code just yet – you can build and sell websites on Flippa without any coding experience. Flippa is a marketplace for buying and selling web businesses, apps and domain names. It’s a godsend for savvy entrepreneurs that are always brimming with ideas for new hustles. In essence, this is how it works: you brainstorm a startup idea, secure a catchy domain name, use a WordPress theme to build it out and make it look appealing, and then sell it in an auction on Flippa. Alec Larson has been doing this for some time, and claims to be making $1,000 to $1,500 on Flippa every month. There’s no clever secret behind this – you come up with compelling ideas, flesh them out and sell them to eager entrepreneurs. The essential upfront investment is minimal: starting a website will cost you $2.45 a month, including a free domain name registration, plus your time and effort to put the pieces together. Certainly worth a try.

You need to wait until after you've chosen your business structure to finalize your name, since you may have to put an abbreviation after your name to symbolize that structure. For example, if you decide to create an LLC for your photography business, you may decide to name it "Pholly Photos," but if you've organized your business as an LLC the official name would have to be "Pholly Photos, LLC."


Once you have a regular audience (ideally in the thousands), you'll start to develop a lot of value to potential advertisers. Let's say your podcast frequently talks about life as an outdoor photographer. A natural fit would be to reach out to relevant magazines, gear companies, and camera brands to see if they'd be interested in advertising on your podcast of targeted listeners. The more niche your podcast topic, the better for future sponsorship opportunities.
This list offers some great ideas and inspiration for folks looking to increase their income. There’s really no reason that anyone with some ambition, a good work ethic, and “people skills” can’t earn some extra money (or a full-time income) pursuing some of these self-employment ideas. I’ve done a little research, myself, to compile a list of small business ideas, and stumbled upon a few possibilities which you didn’t cover:
×