To avoid any confusion, I want to make it clear first that virtual assistant work is not always non-phone, but it can be. Virtual assistants tend to do a little bit of everything, just depending on their skills/expertise. So if you are good at various non-phone tasks (social media marketing/moderation, writing, graphic design, research etc.), then you may be able to do work for some of the companies below putting those non-phone skills to work. I also want to make clear that even when you do phone work as a virtual assistant, lots of times it can be arranged so you're making the calls during times of day when it's convenient for you.
If you think you’re busy now, wait until you have a company to run. Even side businesses take up loads of time, especially in the beginning stages when you are just setting up your systems and trying to attract customers. You’ll be working after your day job during the week and most likely on weekends too. This will limit the time you have for your family and personal relationships. Think carefully about the time commitment and consider what it will take to start your business.
Domain name trading has been around for the last couple decades, and while most slam-dunk names have long been sold off (Insure.com went for $16 Million in 2009) there’s still plenty of others that you can get your hands on for relatively cheap and broker as your side business idea. But beware: some experts doubt the long-term viability of this business idea, so you shouldn’t quit your day job just to put all your effort into this one without some successes already in the bag. To get you started, here are some tips from GoDaddy, arguably the world’s largest and most famous repository of domain names. Imagine owning desirable domain names for the next decade's most innovative companies.
If you are looking to make a positive impact on the environment and animals, a pet waste removal business is for you. This is your chance to eliminate unsightly and potentially dangerous animal waste. Your services will add to the visual appeal and safety of local properties. If you have a passion for animals and cleanliness, this is the ideal business.
If sales and marketing isn’t your forte you can use a platform like Upwork or Freelancer.com who have large active audiences already looking for your skills. The kicker there is that these platforms tend to take a significant cut of your fees. If you want to keep 100% of your dough you can handle the sales process yourself and start by reaching out to local businesses or focus on a specific niche.
Says Abbey Finch, who used freelance writing to help fund her startup Scribe Space, “I also surprisingly got a lot of luck using Craigslist and Odesk to find new work. I did everything from writing for a local, free newspaper covering town council meetings to writing how-to guides for eBay. I’ve written for lawyers, doctors, home improvement specialists, a wedding band, and so much more.”
If you have a fondness for taking pictures of smiling families or laughing children blowing bubbles, consider becoming a stock photographer and selling your images to a stock photo company like Unsplash, ShutterStock and iStockPhoto as a side business idea. You’ll get royalties every time someone licenses an image you’ve submitted. To really be successful, build your own photography website to be able to showcase your portfolio and start getting higher-paid private corporate work.
You will want to research your shopper and go in with a very clear sense of your target audience. Are you looking at hip, young parents; or excited grandparents? Will your products be cute, funny, or simply stylish? Narrow down exactly what you want to sell, then market your online store hard. Getting shares and testimonials from happy customers will be huge.
When you’re operating a business part-time, realize it probably won’t grow as fast as a full-time business would. Many side business owners get discouraged because it takes so long for their businesses to grow. Generally, a business’ growth is directly proportional to the amount of time put into it. So when you can only put in a few hours a day plus weekends, it will take longer to get up to speed.
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.
Take the time to develop your skills at either making your own music, or becoming a pro at mixing, and your side business idea of dj-ing local events could turn into a much bigger endeavor. Though you'll first need to command a solid knowledge of sound design, mixing and music production before expecting to land your first gig with this business idea, as developing an entirely new skill set is not for the faint of heart.
Firewood!!! I live in a semi-rural area about 1/2 hour North of Newcastle, Australia (houses on normal blocks, 1/2 acres blocks, “lifestyle” type blocks). A few people here will deliver a trailer load of cut up firewood for various amounts of money locally and into the more residential areas in the city. If you have the room to store firewood to season and a log splitter, its a good side income (for winter). I also know a lady who was struggling to find work after moving here. She started doing before and after school care and earns more doing that, than she did working full time in an office previously.