16 Side Hustle Ideas for Busy People (That Actually Make Money)
Everyone is either talking about it or doing it: Side Hustles. There have never been so many different ways to make money, from making a few extra bucks, trying out a couple of side gigs, or doing small work from home jobs here and there.
Yet, what if you’re already working a regular 9-to-5, aren’t you already way too busy? How do you find the time to do all of this hustling… and still enjoy living your life? Well, that’s where our custom-tailored list of side hustle ideas comes in!
Lots of side hustles focus solely on the “hustle” part. For example, you’ll find suggestions all over the internet about becoming a driver for Uber or Lyft ridesharing and Amazon Flex or Prime Now delivery services. In addition, GrubHub and DoorDash are popular services for restaurant delivery. But what if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to do all of that physical hustling — What if you already work a full-time job, therefore only have a few hours a week to dedicate to side gigs?
And… how about those of us who *ahem* may or may not relish the thought of interacting with people 24/7? Because, for some of us, dealing with people can be downright exhausting. Whether you do it all day long at your day job or you’re a SAHM who has to answer 457 questions from your kids every day, the last thing you want to do is take a job talking to people for hours on end. Well, this list of side hustle ideas is for you.
Why Some Side Hustle Ideas Just Don’t Work
Additionally, some people may not have the flexibility or convenience of doing extra work outside of the home. There could be many different reasons for this, such as:
- Not having reliable transportation
- Caring for children or older family members
- A physical or emotional disability keeping them at home
- Unpredictable or longer hours during their full-time job
- No familial support for working an additional job
I’d like to play devil’s advocate to the high-powered motivational gurus who say things like “Your Only Limit is Yourself” and “If You Want it Bad Enough, You’ll Find a Way to Do It.“
I call total BS on that sentiment because many people are over-stressed, overworked, undervalued, and underpaid.
When you’re already teetering on the edge of financial chaos, you will grasp at whatever lifeline you feel you’re capable of grabbing hold of. And it’s unhelpful for a self-proclaimed money expert to declare you’re just not working hard enough.
The Anti-Social Media Influencer
In addition, I’d like to throw something a little bit controversial out there. Some people (not naming any names) just don’t like … other people. There, I said it.
Because there are those of us who just really value our “alone time.” So working 40+ hours a week for someone else and then having to dedicate another 10-15 hours for an external side hustle — will not last very long.
You can only force yourself into uncomfortable situations for so long before you finally throw your arms up in the air and yell, “Screw it!”. (or another similar phrase). Human interaction overload can send some anti-social butterflies into an anxious tailspin.
Like, if you need me, I’ll be locked away in my bedroom for the next two days, recovering from all the “people” -ing I’ve had to do lately. So leave a pizza and a few bottles of water by the door. And maybe a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. As long as I have my phone, my laptop, and my dogs — I’ll be pretty self-sufficient. Okay, and maybe my Kindle. That’s all I’ll need. But don’t worry about me, because I just need to recharge for a while. So build up that outer shell of protection that’s chipped away after too many back-to-back in-person events.
The Introvert Advantage of an Online Side Hustle
If you happen to be a people person, then much of the above probably did not make a whole lot of sense.
But if you found this article because you’re looking for ways to make money online — without a lot of human interaction — then there’s a good chance you know what I’m talking about.
Because there are ways to make extra money on the side, on your terms, on a part-time basis.
And it is possible to work from home, at your own pace, and on your schedule, without having to leave the house whatsoever.
Now, don’t get me wrong — it most likely will not make you rich.
Let’s just say that again —
It is doubtful that you will become rich off of a part-time, online side hustle.
Others may tell you differently. Most likely, they are trying to sell you something. But I don’t want your money.
I mean, I could use some money, but it’s not yours that I’m after.
What I’d love is for you to read my articles and pass them along to your friends.
But I’m not selling anything, and II don’t have a course, an ebook, or online coaching sessions.
I’m sharing this information to get it out there to the people who have one (or two, or three) too many bills.
Or are strapped for cash due to an unexpected expense. Or maybe they went a little too crazy this past holiday season and are still trying to dig out from under their credit cards.
I’ve been there, you’ve been there, we’ve all been there. And if you haven’t … then you’re probably a Kardashian or something.
Side Gigs That Require a Lot of Hustle, with Little Gain
When so many online articles offer “99 Easy Ways to Make Extra Money on the Side” or “Top 25 Side Hustle Ideas to Make You Rich”, it can be utterly discouraging to find side hustle ideas that can work for you.
Because so many suggest side hustle ideas such as tag sale/flea market flipping, selling handcrafted products on eBay or Etsy, or selling wholesale on Amazon FBA, where you have to package and mail these items out.
Flipping rental properties, renting out your vehicle, house sitting/pet sitting, house cleaning (when our own houses may have dust bunnies that should be paying rent by now). Again, these are all notably profitable side hustle ideas. But they also require a fair amount of time, physical activity, effort, and extra money sitting around.
Side Hustle Ideas That You Can Do from Home
Okay, so if you’ve made it this far and you’re still with me, then I can only assume you’d like to hear more.
We’ve established the difference between in-home, online side hustles and external, physically busting-your-butt side hustles. Neither concept is right or wrong; it’s just a matter of preference.
And I prefer the flexibility of working at home, according to my schedule, especially since my day job is also from home. If your regular 9-to-5 has you out and about, then your preference may be different.
For example, I have a friend who does amazingly well with a mystery shopping side hustle. So well that she is currently writing a book about it, she travels around the state quite a bit and can cash in by scheduling several shops back to back. That’s a perfect way to maximize efficiencies and get the best bang for your buck (+ better gas mileage).
But if you have a situation that’s better suited for working from home, then read on for some different side hustle ideas.
7 Side Hustle Ideas to Work Entirely from Home
The following side hustles can be done entirely from home, according to your schedule. While there is a certain level of effort involved — you can make your hours. Plus, you can do as much or as little as you’d like.
First, let’s start with an obvious one, to get it out of the way —
1. Online Surveys
Who hasn’t tried online surveys? I think out of all the side hustle ideas out there, “taking surveys” takes the cake in terms of getting a bad rap. Online surveys have gotten some negative press over the years simply because they’re the absolute most straightforward way to make a little bit of money. Emphasis on “little bit.” But, it’s still money.
Because all you have to do is provide your opinion—something every one of us has. The hard part is finding a company that will pay you top dollar for the least amount of your time. And for my money, I’ll take my chances with Survey Savvy every time. Why? Because Survey Savvy has consistently sent me the most surveys in the $1, $2, and $5 price range out of all the companies I’ve tried.
Most other companies will either give you pennies or award points you need to accumulate & convert into a few dollars. Additionally, joining the Survey Savvy team will allow even more money-making opportunities. For example, their Cash for Junk Mail program and also various online research communities.
2. IntelliZoom Panel
IntelliZoom is kind of a cross between an online survey and website user testing. You’re assigned a task, which usually involves evaluating a website. All steps of the task are recorded with either screen recording software, webcam video, or both. You walk through all of the task steps, answering questions and explaining your thought process. They want you to “Think Out Loud” to understand the average customer mindset. And the reason I specifically include this company here is that the payout is $10 per study. With other online surveys or web testing sites, you might be lucky enough to stumble across a $10 examination. But it isn’t something offered consistently.
3. Kindle Self-Publishing
Are you more of a creative type? If you love to write stories, you should consider self-publishing on Amazon. You might think getting a book published would be a complicated process, but it isn’t.
Using the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, they take care of all of the technical details. You upload your completed document, add a cover image and description, and Amazon takes care of the rest. As a result, many people make a great side income by writing short stories. And the beauty of this is — once you have your book listed on Amazon, it will stay there for years to come, earning income with no additional work on your end.
4. eJury Member
If you watch prime time television, you may have seen the popular CBS show “Bull,” starring Michael Weatherly. It’s a courtroom drama about a trial-consulting firm assembles mock juries to help predict potential trial outcomes. Sound interesting? Well, you can have the opportunity to do the same thing entirely online.
eJury.com brings together online juries and focus groups to help attorneys develop their case strategies based on valuable data and information that YOU provide. You can sign up to be an eJuror right on the website and will be contacted once a qualifying case becomes available. A typical case consists of a written description — facts, diagrams, pictures, and questions. The average case study takes 35 minutes, and you are paid $5 – $10 per case, depending on length.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing, if done correctly, is pretty much a “set it and forget it.” A certain amount of work is required upfront, and then after that will be passive income. So what exactly is affiliate marketing? It’s basically when you vouch for a product or service, recommending it to others. And then that company offers you a reward for bringing in new customers. Depending on what the company sells, it could be a specific dollar amount, a free product, or a free service. And it’s something everyone can do, even if you don’t have a blog or professional online presence.
I’m sure you’ve heard of cashback or refund programs like Ebates (aka Rakuten), where you get money back from making purchases online. But did you know you can also make money as an Ebates affiliate? You sign up through their affiliate program and are given your affiliate link. Then you promote your link on social media or by email to family and friends, and yes, even on your blog, if you have one.
And for every person who signs up through your link with a qualifying sale, you will earn $25. That’s huge!
And it’s also why so many people promote Ebates online. It’s a heck of a lot easier to earn $25 referrals than to reach $25 cashback after making online purchases.
Fun fact: Ebates has been officially renamed/rebranded to “Rakuten,” which means “optimism” in Japanese.
6. Selling Photos & Stock Footage
If you were to look at your phone right now, how many photos do you think would be on there? I just looked at mine, and I have 668 images, plus 104 videos. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if you could somehow make money on a few of these photos? Of course, I don’t mean by selling out your bestie or posting a bunch of selfies online. But if you have high-quality photos (in focus, non-blurry) of outdoor scenes, foliage, nature, animals, flowers, sunsets — you name it — you can make money by selling them online.
Websites like Shutterstock, Pond5, iStock/Getty Images, and Fotolia will pay you for your still pictures or stock footage (short video clips). Each company has its specific guidelines. But in general, they look for quality photos that are generic and seasonal, which others can then purchase for commercial or personal use through their website. Also, if there are people in your pics or footage, then a model release form also needs to be completed.
7. Merch by Amazon
One of the quickest and easiest ways to sell a physical product online is through Print on Demand. This means you provide a design, and the POD company takes care of the printing, shipping, and customer support. Merch by Amazon is the platform I recommend for getting started with POD since it’s user-friendly and extremely popular. I mean, everybody has shopped on Amazon one or two times, right?
All you need to start selling on Merch are a few creative ideas and an app to mock up your design. There are so many designing apps out there, accessible for computers and also for smartphones. Some free and popular programs are GIMP, Canva, Stencil, Over, and WordRabbit.
5 Side Hustle Ideas that are Mostly Passive Working from Home
This next group of side hustle ideas can also be done from home and are very close to being entirely passive. Some additional work may be involved, but something that can be handled while multitasking.
1.ThredUp Clothing Consignment
The only real work involved with this side hustle is washing and folding the gently used clothing you plan on selling online. ThredUp will mail a shipping bag and postage-paid shipping label right to you (in what they call a “Clean Out Kit”). You place all items in the bag, seal them, and schedule a free pickup from USPS or FedEx.
Upon receipt, ThredUp will inspect all items, determine prices, then list them for sale. And as each item is sold, you’ll receive the cash into your linked account, which is way easier than listing individual items online on eBay and then having to ship purchases to buyers yourself. In addition, ThredUp takes all of the grunt work out of the process for you.
2. Scanning Receipts
This is something you need to remember to do, but it’s pretty quick & no thought is involved. So the next time you spend a day grocery shopping or erranding, make sure you save those paper receipts! There are several smartphone apps where you can scan your receipts for cash. So remind everyone in your family to keep their receipts as well. I do this at home — everyone drops their paper receipts on the kitchen table, I scoop them up & scan them into all of my apps.
Some of the most popular receipt scanning apps are Receipt Pal, Receipt Hog, and Fetch Rewards. You gain points for scanning paper receipts and connect an email address to include email receipts from online purchases. Depending on how frequently you scan, it may take a few months before you can cash in. But again, this is such a low amount of effort. And you’re doing the shopping anyway, so already have the receipts. Instead of crumpling them in a ball and throwing them away, make them go a bit further for you and cash in.
3. Search Bar Rewards
How often do you use Google to search online? Once a day? Several times a day? Well, some companies will pay you for using their search engine. Two examples that immediately come to mind are Swagbucks and Bing. One of my peers uses Bing exclusively for searches to accumulate Bing Reward points.
He has teenagers who play video games on Xbox. And apparently, you can use your reward points to pay for your Xbox Live monthly subscription. He said he’d used points to pay for an entire year of Xbox Live upfront and has done this for several years.
Now that’s impressive — solely from doing online searches that you’re going to do regardless. So instead of asking someone to “Google it,” maybe rather say “Bing it“!
4. Picky Domains
Picky Domains is a site I’ve recently discovered and have been trying out. I included it in this post because I thought it was a fun concept, and I’d never heard of this side hustle idea. Customers sign up with Picky Domains when they are looking for brand name or domain name suggestions. They provide a brief business background and layout of the parameters — like associated keywords and a maximum number of words or letters.
And as a Picky Domains contributor, you would suggest names that they might like. If the customer picks your suggestion, you get paid between $20-$75, depending on the type of order. In addition, you can make a small amount of bonus money even if the customer likes your suggestion but ultimately doesn’t select it. If you have a creative streak and are good with words, it should be easy to make dozens of recommendations for each company. Something you can do while watching TV at night, with really no effort involved.
5. Amazon Influencer Storefront
Suppose you are active on social media, whether Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest, you may want to consider becoming an Amazon Influencer. This is slightly different from their affiliate program because you get to create your storefront on Amazon with a custom Amazon URL as an Influencer. (With the Amazon affiliate program, you have a unique link to specific products that you place in other online locations.)
When you set up your storefront, you’re curating all of your favorite Amazon content to display in your store. And you can create separate Idea Lists that serve as categories. For example, you can create an Idea List of Best Summer Reads, Must-Have Hair Care Products, or Cutest Dog Halloween Costumes. Then you can share your Amazon storefront link wherever you have an audience or followers. And when customers shop through your storefront, you earn money on qualifying purchases.
2 Working Mainly from Home, Minimal Human Interaction Side Hustle Ideas
Here are some side hustle ideas where you can make money from home but may need to engage in a small amount of human interaction, which wouldn’t be an everyday occurrence but may happen every once in a while.
1. Online or Telephone Focus Groups
Online Focus Groups are a great way to make money from home by providing your opinion. They’re similar to online surveys, except they pay a lot more. Like, it wouldn’t be challenging to locate an opportunity where you can make from $50 – $200. But in general, you need to qualify for a particular demographic.
So you more than likely will need to complete a short survey upfront to make sure you fit the criteria required for the focus group. For example, the focus group may take the form of an online community or forum, where they want you to post your opinion on something. Or a company may mail you a product to use, and then you need to tell them what you thought about it. It could even be a brand new smartphone app that they’d like you to try out & give your opinion on.
A lot of this communication will be done entirely online. But sometimes, companies may offer phone interviews, where you need to talk to an actual person to answer questions. There are even in-person focus groups, like the ones you see on TV in car commercials. When you register with a research organization, you typically set your preferences — whether you prefer online, text, telephone, or in-person focus groups.
A few organizations where you can sign up for focus groups are Find Focus Groups, Survey Squad, and User Interviews.
Another not-so-common suggestion for working from home is to be a Census Taker. I know what you’re thinking — There’s no way I’m going door-to-door, counting everyone who lives in each house.
But hear me out. I know this is not generally one of the things listed in side hustle ideas for introverts.
That’s only one aspect of what the Census Team does. And I only know this because I got the chance to speak with a 2020 Census Recruiter a few weeks ago when I attended a local ChooseFI meetup. So while they do have door-to-door Census Takers, there are also plenty of online research positions, where you can work from home, part-time. In addition, they train you how to use online tools to verify the information.
In certain situations, you may need to drive to a location and take a picture of a house or building. This would be in situations where they cannot validate that someone lives in residence. For example, in the case of foreclosures or if a previous resident has passed away. But the majority of this verification can be done online.
If you check out their website, you can see the pay grade that applies to your location. So, for example, in the county where I live, the pay would be $21 per hour — which is not bad at all, right?
2 Passive Side Hustle Ideas
These following few side hustle ideas require no effort and produce passive income. But they may not be for everyone. In addition, they need a certain level of transparency, allowing these companies into your daily online behavior. So if you’re a little hesitant about “Big Brother” watching you, these may not be a good fit for you. However, if you don’t mind sharing a few of your online habits, you can cash in by receiving money for doing nothing.
And I will tell you. I currently participate in both of these side hustle ideas. (But then again, my life isn’t interesting, so they’re probably not discovering a ton of helpful information!)
1. Digital Reflection
With Digital Reflection, you get paid for having a hardware device connected to your computer router. In addition, you earn quarterly bonus payments for validating any online devices used in your household (laptops, cell phones, tablets). The company website gathers data to create research reports for businesses worldwide, and the announcements never contain any personally identifiable information.
As far as the pay, you’ll receive $20 for signing up and installing their device, the “internet meter.” Then you receive $5 for each month that the meter is plugged in. So every quarter, you get a $20 bonus. And they also throw out a few extra bonuses every once in a while for installing updates and validating your information. I’ve been a member for roughly a year and a half and have made $365 for doing nothing but keeping a device plugged in.
2. Savvy Connect
Similar to Digital Reflection, Savvy Connect pays you money when you connect their program to your devices. They collect data as you surf the web and track online search, shopping, and entertainment trends. And in return, you earn cash rewards. Savvy Connect is part of the Survey Savvy program.
Side Hustle Ideas: In Summary
Working a side hustle doesn’t have to take every spare second of your day. Especially if you already have a full-time job. Because your time is just as important as money, and you need to have a healthy balance between work time, fun time, and downtime — or else you may find yourself in an unhappy situation.
Also, if you’re not a super-social go-getter, you don’t have to work the hustles that put you out in the spotlight. Because there are tons of ways to make money on the side, and the side hustle ideas in this post are merely scratching the surface on how you can earn extra income.
This article is originally on Savoteur
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