15 terrific side hustle ideas to try and how to get started

Elena Prokopets
Written by Elena Prokopets
on July 27, 2023 17 minute read

You have a lot of marketable skills (or you’re ready to try something new). Full-time work, retirement or whatever your case may be, earning some extra cash in a satisfying way has started to sound tasty.

The internet has plenty of open calls for remote, project-based work, but it’s not always simple to hit the ground running. Whether you’re looking for some extra moolah or a creative outlet for your professional interests, a side hustle can be a rewarding answer to both.

Today we’ll provide you the structure you need to get started, and maybe even inspire you with a fun idea or two as well.

What is a side hustle?

A side hustle is a casual job you do to make extra money.  It’s not the same as a part-time job, as this still involves an employer handing out tasks. In contrast, a side hustle is freelance or project-based work that puts extra money in your pocket. 

On average, side hustlers work 13.4 hours a week.

Aside from giving you extra income, and control over your work, an online side hustle also 

provides near limitless flexibility — tackle some on-demand work or schedule recurring projects in between other life and work commitments. 

How much can you earn from a side hustle? 

Your side hustle income will depend on your niche, experience and time commitment. A Bankrate survey says that Americans make $810 per month on average from their side hustle. A 2022 Zapier report, in turn, puts the median income at $12,689 per year, with 1 in 5 side hustlers earning above $15K. 

Increasing your rates or allocating more hours to your gigs may provide higher earnings, with the potential to turn your casual side hustle into perpetual self-employment. 

16 online side hustle ideas for beginners (and how to start) 

Ready to get hustling?

Each of the following 16 profitable online side hustle ideas share these things in common: 

✅ Require less than 10 hours per week 

✅ Bring in at least $1K per month 

✅ Can be done from anywhere 

Website testing 

Website testers assess all features and design elements to ensure that everything functions as it should and no wonky layouts or buggy buttons would spoil the users’ experience. 

As part of the gig, you’ll be asked to click buttons, check forms, and do other types of probing to see if any of your actions would break the website. A website test may also require you to screen-record your actions or provide extra feedback during a video call.

If you have a keen eye for detail, patience for thorough tasks and advanced browsing skills, this is a solid side hustle idea to pursue. 

💰Income potential: $25 to $120 per test. 

How to become a website tester?

Website testers need no special education, but they should have a basic understanding of user experience (UX) and web design principles. Better paid website testing gigs may require some coding knowledge (HTML, CSS, JavaScript), but you can always upskill later. 

You can find paid website testing gigs on UserTesting, TestingTime and Tester Work. Or pitch your services directly in online entrepreneurship communities on LinkedIn or Slack. 

Ecommerce product photography 

Photography does the selling in ecommerce: 90% of Etsy shoppers name “quality of images” as the main factor for purchase. That’s why large ecommerce brands and independent store owners readily spend on high-quality visuals.

That’s where you come in with your services.

Product photographers create carefully curated flat lays and crisp hero images to attract and compel potential buyers. Apart from shooting content, you should also have good photo retouching skills and a visual aesthetics streak to implement brand guidelines. Past experience in merchandising or brand marketing roles in retail comes as a major plus too. 

💰Income potential: From $150 per set of 5 photos. 

How to start a photography side hustle

To get started as an ecommerce product photographer, you’ll need the minimal gear:

  • Decent camera 
  • Tripod
  • Backdrop 
  • Photo editing software 

An adjustable light source and a box of various props are also nice-to-have. You don’t need a course in photography or editing if you already get compliments on your Instagram photos. Although, you may want to brush up your skills in lighting, editing, and framing. Depending on your budget and preferences, you may also want to invest in extra lenses and studio accessories. 

Create a sample portfolio of product images to publish on your website and social media. Start reaching out to local small businesses and Etsy sellers with your offer. Network and engage with brands you love on Instagram. 

You can also register on freelance photography platforms like StudioNow or Bark. Or sell some of your product stock photos online on sites like Dreamstime or Shutterstock. Networking with ecommerce marketing agencies is another great way to score occasional gigs. 

Social media content creation 

Content is the reason people hang out on social media. It entertains, educates and compels to purchase: 85% of Gen-Zers say social media influences their buying decisions. 

To keep their content production machine going, over 70% of in-house marketers and 68% of agencies rely on freelancers. If you can brainstorm engaging post ideas and make candid Reels or educational YouTube videos, consider a content creation side hustle. 

Most content creators have under 2 years of experience and work about 9 hours per week on content development, according to an Adobe study. Moreover, 60% of global creators earn at least half of their monthly income from content creation. So there’s both fun and money in this gig. 

💰Income potential: Between $50-$110 per hour on average. 

How to make money as a content creator 

Content creators make money through: 

  • Content commissions 
  • Sponsorship deals and ads 
  • Community support (Patreon, donations) 
  • Digital and physical product sales 


You can always experiment with one income stream — creating content for other brands — and then switch to influencing (aka building your personal brand and loyal following). With some passion, dedication and diligence, content creation can be a very well-paid side hustle. 

Virtual assistant 

A great VA helps their clients reclaim extra time from operational work and refocus on core business tasks and growth activities. The range of responsibilities can vary a lot — from general chores like data entry and appointment management to more specialized support with marketing, sales or website development.

You don’t need specialized training or formal qualifications to become a virtual assistant. Maybe you’re great with Excel or Notion. Or you have a Google Ph.D. in doing online research. All of these are marketable skills you can sell to busy business owners. 

That said, a specialized skill-set can bring you better-paid side gigs. Email management, landing page creation and online payment management are specialized services VAs may offer for more money. See what services other virtual assistants provide, then consider what kind of skills you can pitch or learn to stand out. 

💰Income potential: $25-$35 per hour on average. 

How to run a virtual assistant side hustle

Begin by deciding on your main service offer(s). To make them more attractive, create several tailored packages for specific:  

  • Industries (e.g., fitness studio owners) 
  • Tasks (e.g., social media management) 
  • Commitment levels (e.g., 10h per week) 


Make a list of whomever you'd like to work for, what schedule will be feasible, and how much you'd like to earn. Once you have a rough idea of your capabilities and availability, start looking for gigs.

You can also market your services on social media and reach out to various companies.  Cold emailing or LinkedIn messaging various entrepreneurs and business owners is another good avenue snagging your first VA clients. 

Cover art designer  

People pay cover art designers to translate their vision into a memorable, visual design that conveys the main theme of the published work — an album, a book, or another type of product with a central, visual theme. 

Having a specialization such as music artwork or book publishing helps attract better-paid gigs, as well a unique personal style, paired with skills in typography and illustration. Strong communication skills are a must-have since you’ll have to elicit the client’s ideas, pitch multiple art concepts and iterate on concept arts until you hit jackpot. On the pro side, many freelance cover art designers bond with their clients and collaborate with them on multiple albums.

Who knows? You may just even score free tickets to a gig 😉 

💰Income potential: From $350-$6,500+ per cover. 

How to get cover art design gigs 

The best way to get cover art design gigs is to network with your local bands. Offer some pro-bono work to get the first few portfolio items and testimonials. Then advertise your services on popular design marketplaces like Behance and Dribble.  You can also find occasional cover art design jobs on popular freelance marketplaces and remote job websites. 

Voiceover acting

Voiceover artists lend their fine-sounding vocal skills to anyone in need of professional narration or voice acting. Freelance voiceover gigs can vary from voicing corporate auto-responders or training videos to play-active video game characters or audiobook narration. The more skillful you are in doing various tones, accents and styles, the better gigs you can score. 

The rates for voiceovers for animations (under 15 minutes) can reach $10K, while audiobook narrations cost between $200 and $300 an hour. Some of the best voice actors like Tara Strong or Franklin Welker are proper Hollywood royalty, so you have ample room for professional growth.  

💰Income potential: $325 to $1,500 per gig on average. 

How to get voiceover jobs

Start with creating a voice acting demo reel — your main portfolio piece. Show a range of your vocal capabilities and accents. Then start auditioning for voice gigs. Mandy and Voices are great platforms for experienced voice talent. You can also network with video production studios directly to become a “temp” in their books. 

If you’re a beginning narrator, start doing simpler commercial gigs like narrating video scripts for product demonstrations or whiteboard animation videos. In this case, approach companies with an active YouTube channel or open job posts for “instructional content creation” jobs. That’s a strong sign they’re creating training materials and would likely need voice-acting support. 

Podcast production or editing 

Our grandparents had radio constantly on in the background, and now we have podcasts. True crime, pop culture, finance and journalism, there’s no shortage of popular podcast genres to binge. 

Podcasting can be spun in two directions as a side hustle:

  1. You can launch and monetize a personal podcast 
  2. Or you can host, edit or make podcasts for other businesses 


Newbie content creators usually gravitate towards the first option as it allows exercising creative freedom and improving of skills. More experienced pros, on the other hand, side hustle as podcast editors and producers. Compared to video series, podcasts are easier to produce, but they offer similar marketing returns of high engagement, strong information retention and measurable brand consideration improvements for businesses. So many are investing in this area, (ahem, Xolo is “guilty” of that too 😇). 

💰Income potential: $30 to $50 per hour of edited audio. Managed podcast production: $1K to $3K+ per episode. 

How to start a podcasting side hustle

Starting a podcast as a side hustle offers many perks: the ability to talk about things you love, personal brand building and some extra revenue. 

To get started: 

  • Come up with a podcast concept.  Decide your niche, goal for the podcast, desired audience, and topics to cover. The best podcast ideas are based on the overlap of passion and knowledge.  
  • Get the basic gear. To start producing a podcast, you’ll need a mic, a laptop, and audio editing software. Start with a minimal viable kit. Invest in extra gadgets like soundproofing gear or a mixer after your podcast gets some traction. 
  • Create a podcast promotion strategy. Get more listeners to tune in by promoting your podcast on social media using organic and paid strategies. 


  • Think about monetization. Common types of podcast advertising strategies are ads, affiliate marketing, selling a product/service, sponsorships or crowdfunding.

Create engaging content and stay consistent, and you're sure to have a profitable podcast with thousands of listeners! 

Video colorist 

The video industry has plenty of interesting side hustle ideas to explore — from shooting assistants and set coordinators to video colorists and post-production video editors. Video colorists get to work on the early footage to create a moody atmosphere and iconic visual styles, while also watching some of the early film footage. 

Professional video colorist jobs are slightly underlooked as they require a strong knowledge of technical video processing. But if you already know the chops of color correction, grading, and hand-painting, it’s a creative and lucrative job to do on the side. 

💰Income potential: $50-$300 per hour.  

How to find video colorist jobs 

The film-making industry may be a tough one to break into without connections. Start networking with smaller studios and independent directors if you want to do cinematic work. Alternatively, you can always team up with companies producing on-demand video content, corporate training materials or commercials. You can also discover all sorts of video editing gigs at platforms like Backstage


If you’re a fast typer and an attentive listener, why not try transcribing on the side? Transcribers convert spoken audio like interviews or podcast episodes into written text. Some gigs require word-by-word transcription in a specific format (think legal or medical documents). Others also require you to copy-edit the content for clarity or even transform it into a publish-ready blog post or marketing copy. 

A flexible schedule, low entry barrier (you just need a computer!) and ample availability of gigs make transcription a popular side hustle. The pay isn’t too shabby either. Remote transcription jobs in the US and Canada pay up to $90 per hour of audio. Also, you can request extra for difficult transcription cases with multiple people talking, heavy background noise or indistinct speech. 

💰Income potential: $25 to $40 per hour on average. 

How to start a transcription side hustle  

As long as you have a computer and a pair of headphones, you’re good to go. Although paying for a text-expander software could help you get more work done faster. 

You can find plenty of transcription jobs online on freelance platforms and with online transcription service providers. Pitch small businesses directly — think your local legal office or a healthcare provider — as it gives you more room for rate negotiation

Pattern designer

Some people have a natural eye for organizing shapes and motives in a harmonious way. If that sounds like you, surface pattern design is a niche worth exploring. 

As a pattern designer, you have plenty of ways to monetize your art:

  • Create on-demand commissions for brands 
  • Grant non-exclusive usage license for created designs 
  • Sell full copyrights to a company that loves your work 


Apparel, stationary, packaging and home decor companies are among the few great places to pitch your artwork and get paid for it. Many creative agencies also look for freelance pattern designers, who can create art on-demand for their clients or products. 

💰Income potential: $450-$1,200 per pattern. 

How to get started in surface pattern design 

Create a portfolio of around 10 to 15 sample patterns and mock them up on different products, think totes, journals or water bottles. Give yourself some creative room to figure out which product design you like doing best.  

As veteran pattern designer Elizabeth Silver says “ Choosing a product category today and saying you’ll spend the next six months focusing on it does not mean you can’t have that well-balanced variety in a year or two”. 

Then work on getting your pattern designs in front of potential clients. Build a personal website and host your portfolio on a third-party site like Dribbble.  Pitch design clients directly via email, direct messages or on-site submission forms for companies purchasing art. 

Character designer  

Are you an avid gamer and a decent artist? Consider freelance character design. Depending on your skill set, you can start with mastering 2D and then 3D design. 

If you’re a beginner, focus on honing your hand-drawing skills to master simpler character illustrations and animated character design. If you’re a pro (or a motivated learner), build out your portfolio of 3D game character figures. Experiment with a range of proportions, costumes and facial expressions, as well as different motion graphic techniques. 

Then start pitching your services to game development studios, animation companies or even brands with a known appreciation for illustrations. For example, Christian Russeler, a freelance 3D character artist, broke into the industry by contacting a game dev company via a forum and showing them some of his hobby sketches. 

💰Income potential: From $600 to $6K per character, depending on the complexity. 

How to start a side hustle in character design 

Start by creating a portfolio with several different character sheets, showing a range of your creative capabilities. Add characters in your preferred aesthetics to give potential clients a good idea of your style and techniques. 

Plan an outreach campaign. Build a list of target clients: indie game developers, animators, authors and creative agencies aka everyone who may be interested in commissioning your artwork. Reach out with a short letter of introduction, explaining what you do and how you’d want to collaborate together. 

Content localization services 

Bilingual or multilingual people can earn good cash on the side by doing content localization work. Unlike regular translation, content localization focuses more on adapting the texts and content experiences to the mindset and preferences of users in the target market. 

Great content localization specialists help:

  • Convey idioms and clever world-plays
  • Adapt graphics for cultural appropriateness 
  • Convert dates, currencies and unit measures 
  • Select optimal color schemes 
  • Adapt page layouts to translated texts 


…and avoid translation faux pas like KFC's 1980s flop of entering China with an “eat your fingers off” slogan 🤦‍♀️ 

Content localization projects can differ from short video ad campaigns to multi-page website localization endeavors. The beauty is that you can mix short and longer-term gigs based on your availability. 

💰Income potential: Depends on the language pair, but between $0.06-$0.15 per word on average. 

How to get content localization gigs?

Translation firms build up talent pools for different languages, so by connecting with different owners you can receive occasional invites to projects. For more proactive client acquisition, browse jobs on popular freelance dashboards or register with a platform like Xolo. You can also attract prospects by setting up profiles with professional associations such as American Translation Association or the European Language Industry Association

Resume writing and editing 

A compelling resume may help one climb further up the career ladder. But writing one doesn’t come naturally to many candidates. That’s where you can come in with your acute eye for good formatting and content presentation. 

Resume writing is a great side gig to pick up if you have a background in recruiting or HR. You can help your clients land coveted interviews and break into new industries with a professionally-made resume. The time commitment is flexible too. Allocate 2-3 hours per week for intake interviews and a couple more for resume writing or editing. 

💰Income potential:  $200-$400 per resume on average. 

How to do resume writing on the side

Advertise your services where people look for them the most — on LinkedIn. Change your profile to Creator mode and start publishing helpful tips on resume formatting, design and layout. Share some “insider tips” on how people in your field assess candidates and soon enough, you’ll be getting inquiries from interested prospects.

Another option to get resume writing gigs is by freelancing for resume writing companies. Although the rates here may be less competitive and the work more gruesome, since you may not have direct access to the client. 

Data labeling and annotation 

Everyone talks about how AI is taking away jobs, but fewer people speak about how algorithms also create new gig opportunities. 

Enter data labeling — the process of adding extra contextual descriptors and informative labels to data, used for training AI algorithms. Your goal is to parse through the dataset of, say, cat images, and add consistent labels as per the client's requirements (e.g., fur color, snout features, etc). 

This side gig idea may sound boring at first, but it’s well-paid and lets you brag that you’re contributing to cutting-edge AI projects. 

💰Income potential: $10-$35 per hour on average. 

How to find freelance data annotation jobs

Freelance marketplaces and remote job websites have plenty of data labeling and annotation jobs listed at any time. If you want to avoid competing for peanuts with other independents, try approaching AI companies directly. DeepML, for example, has an ongoing call for freelance editors who could help with text data categorization, labeling, and transcreation. 


Fact-checkers do one of the most important, yet far-from-evident jobs. They verify the accuracy, correctness and objectivity of different claims, made in news articles, business reports and non-fiction books. 

Avid readers with a great eye for detail, strong critical thinking skills and zero tolerance for fluff make excellent fact-checkers. If you like conducting online research, investigating various subjects and don’t mind picking up the phone once in a while to hunt down some analog information, this may be an ideal side hustle for you. Apart from helping produce high-quality content, you’ll also do the rewarding job of delivering objective reporting to readers. 

💰Income potential: $40-$50 per hour. 

Where to find fact-checker jobs?

Fact-checkers usually attach themselves to media companies and publishers. To get recurring gigs, build relationships with editors in local newspapers, online media and non-fiction publishing houses. 

Professional references and referrals play a big role in securing new work. Continuously improve your skills and accuracy levels to make sure your name gets passed to new editors. 

How to start a side hustle in 6 steps 

You’ve got an idea for your new side hustle, now you need to get going. Follow these six steps to earn extra cash and build extra skills with your side hustle 👇

1. Determine time commitment 

Time management is a skill every side hustler needs. Missed deadlines will sink your career like an iceberg.

Come up with a realistic plan on when you can work on side gigs. Aim for 1-2 hours per day or longer time blocks on the weekend or in the evenings. Mark those sacred hours in your calendar to avoid scheduling any other things like a dentist appointment or a round of drinks.

Estimate how much work you can reasonably complete during those stretches. Quote your availability to prospects accordingly. 

Get actionable strategies from our no-nonsense guide to project management

2. Figure out how to invoice clients 

To get paid for your service, you’ll need to submit an invoice to your client. Besides the most obvious reasons — compliance and taxation — an invoice helps you keep a record of the money you’re receiving and gives you a better understanding of your cash flow.

That’s when apps like Xolo Go come in handy. With Xolo, you can invoice clients in 186 countries like a registered company, without actually needing one. We provide you with a VAT number and all the infrastructure you need to invoice, accept payments online, manage business expenses and monitor your income. Earn money from your digital side hustle, while we handle the admin and compliance side of things. 

P.S. We answered more pressing FAQs around invoicing.  

3. Register as self-employed 

In most countries, you’ll need to register as a self-employed person to legally provide professional services. Ask your local tax office for information about different legal statuses available to you (e.g., a sole trader/sole proprietor or a single-owner registered company). 

Your tax situation will change too since you’ll have to separately report your self-employment income and pay applicable taxes. To avoid getting a surprise bill, talk to an accountant before the tax season kicks in. 

4. Create a pricing strategy 

Starting a side hustle without a good pricing strategy is like driving with your eyes closed — essentially guessing whether you’ll make it or not. 

Remember: Your price must cover taxes and other operating expenses like software subscriptions or work gear, and you also want to end up with a good profit. 

To figure out a good price for your freelance services, decide on your side hustle income goal. For example, an extra €800 per month. Add a 20% to 30% cushion for taxes and miscellaneous expenses. Divide the total by the number of available hours you have (e.g., 20h/month). This means you need to bill €52 per hour to hit your goal. 

Use this quick formula to work out the approximate pricing per project (e.g., 5h x €50 = €250 minimum for a video color grading job). Progressively adjust your rates based on your expertise and project complexity.

5. Look for clients in different places

If you are doing the same thing as every other side hustler, you’re not going to succeed. Newbies have a hard time standing out at crowded freelance marketplaces and get forced to accept lowball offers. 

Instead of going big, go niche. Register on professional match-making platforms (like Xolo 😉), where you get personalized introductions to serious clients and projects. Become active in online communities within your industry, where your ideal clients hang out. Connect with prospects on LinkedIn and social media, where you can softly introduce your expertise before going for a direct pitch. 

📚Discover under-the-radar strategies for getting freelance clients from our action-packed eBook

6. Develop professionally 

A side hustle is a great opportunity to try out different things and develop a panoply of cross-functional skills. Career paths today are no longer linear. Instead of trying to climb up the corporate ladder, you can create a portfolio career — a collection of roles and income streams you pursue across different companies and industries. 

As writer April Rinne puts it:  “Because [a career portfolio] is not focused on a singular end, it gives you more space — and frankly, more wisdom — to test out different things and find your way.”

Whether you’re new to the workforce or looking for a career change, side hustles give you an opportunity to figure out what type of work fulfills you (and earns you extra cash along the way). 

By picking up different skills and experiences you’re also increasing your hireability. Most roles today require a mix of strong hard and soft skills, and side hustles offer a great way to develop both. 

What tools do you need to start and run a side hustle?

No matter what side hustle you take up, being organized is imperative. Or else you risk getting on the burnout train. Manage your time and projects better with these must-have tools: 

1. Project management software 

Project management tools help you stay on top of your tasks and deliver client work on time. If you want an affordable upgrade from a spreadsheet or calendar app, try: 

  • Asana — a collaborative work management app that helps you visualize your workflow, schedule tasks and meetings, and keeps all the projects organized and on track. 
  • Trello — a beginner-friendly project management app, offering visual dashboards for planning tasks. Organize everything into lists, boards, and cards, and move things around as you complete tasks.

2. Time management app 

Side hustlers need to maximize their productive time and avoid overbooking. If you want to accurately estimate client projects and quote better rates, try: 

  • Toggl —  a convenient time-tracker to launch in the background. Tag which clients, tasks, and projects you work on each day to optimize your personal productivity. 

3. Invoicing and accounting tool

Knowing how much you earn and spend on your side hustle helps you set realistic financial goals. Xolo Go is an invoicing solution that will take care of your expenses, legal invoicing, business bank account and more. With Xolo Go, you can:

  • Invoice clients in 180+ countries without registering a company
  • Manage business expenses and get yourself reimbursed
  • Agree and sign project terms with your customers
  • Receive payments in different currencies


Xolo Go simplifies the otherwise complicated accounting and invoicing process, allowing you to focus on your expertise and get paid effortlessly.

Final thoughts 

A side hustle is a great way to try something new, while also getting paid. It’s also a great way to build up multiple skills (and income streams) that will stay with you even if you lose your current job title or decide to “start over” at any point in your life.

For many, side hustling is also the first step towards full-time freelancing or even business ownership. Although both are optional steps. The beauty of the side hustle is that it lets you experiment with many things at any point in life!

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About Elena

Elena Prokopets writes content for tech-led companies & software development businesses, marketing to them. Her empathy for the customer, expertise in SEO, and knack for storytelling help create content that ranks well and drives industry conversations.

Elena uses Xolo so she can focus on her solo B2B content writing business without stressing over the compliance and admin overhead.

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