Sometimes side hustles conjure up images of low-paying or even free work. You do a little here, you do a little there and you get paid a little. So you might be wondering, “How do side hustles make money?” Thankfully, side hustles are not an internship. The key is selecting a side hustle that offers consistent work and doesn't require a lot of money to start. Charge well for your service, and your customers pay! It's as simple as that.
Once you start your side hustle, you will see that it can become a source of consistent income to help supplement your day job. But you probably don’t want to invest a lot of money upfront, and we get that. That's why we're here to help.
4 Low-Cost Side Hustles
These side hustles are a perfect opportunity to satisfy your entrepreneurial drive and get that side hustle going with minimal investment. We’ve included the breakdown of the costs needed to launch these businesses so that you will know exactly how much to expect to pay upfront before you start raking in the side hustle revenue.
1. Online Workshop Host
Maybe you’ve noticed that everyone’s still on Zoom all the time, whether or not you're back to the office. The proliferation of virtual meetings, online workshops and cyber training has made it very easy for experts in a topic to access students and audiences from far and wide like never before.
The topics you could choose to focus on in your education side hustle can be just about anything, from knitting to math tutoring to hosting a wellness workshop. If you have a particular area of expertise, talent or niche, then this is the perfect low-cost side hustle for you!
How much does it cost to start this side hustle? Zoom and Meta both have platforms for hosting events like educational webinars and workshops. For Zoom, there are a few different annual subscription options, with the lowest being $149 (Pro). A Pro account at $149 would probably be sufficient for you to start your side hustle with live classes that function as meetings. If you would like to host webinars, Zoom has more expensive plans to choose from, with the lowest being $690/year for a license.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, also offers an option to monetize online events through its social media platform. It does not appear to cost any money at the moment, but there are a series of steps that you will need to follow and comply with to be eligible to host paid events on the platform.
Other costs to start an online workshop host side hustle include:
You will also need to consider the following costs:
Web hosting costs: $30/year for shared hosting
Payment processing: 2-3% per transaction
Paid video editing software: $60
You might also want to revamp your office background to heighten your online workshop host brand. Having a stylized bookshelf, wall art or a pleasing view behind you could give your online courses a level of professionalism. This would not cost much, ranging between $100 to as much as your decorating sensibilities require.
There is perhaps no more in-demand business right now than that of a pet sitter or dog walker. This low-cost side hustle can be as busy or as laid back as you make it and requires a very minimal upfront investment. Just watch out because once you start a side hustle as a pet sitter or dog walker, you might have more business than you can handle on the side!
Before officially launching your side hustle as a pet sitter or dog walker, make sure you have your business license if it is needed. The cost of a business license ranges from $15 to a few hundred dollars and will depend on where you will be operating your business.
You will also want to invest in pet sitting insurance. Yes, there is a general liability insurance designed specifically for pet sitters, and it costs about $250 per year. Registering your side hustle as an LLC is the first step in protecting your personal assets from your business liability. You'll pay your state fee, which can range from $45-$500, depending on where you live.
It is a good idea to become a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International. These organizations will offer valuable resources to you, like education, networking and the ability to market your services through their trusted search platform. Membership in the associations is about $150/year. Did you know there are Pet First Aid Classes you can take to help make you a sought-after pet sitter? The Red Cross offers one for $25, which is about the going rate for online courses.
In addition, to market your services to a wide range of new clients, you may consider listing on an app like Rover. These services can help you build a robust client list quickly, but they will charge a fee — about 20 percent per booking. The advantage is that these platforms do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, like marketing, scheduling and payment processing. You also won’t need to pay to have a website if you go with Rover.
One of the great things about becoming a pet sitter is that you don’t need to invest in a lot of supplies, either. Your clients will provide their own food for their pets if you are sitting them, which cuts back on costs. You will really only need a few good leashes, some dog treats and bags for cleanup. This will cost less than $75 at any pet store.
3. Virtual Fitness Trainer
Another hot side hustle for 2022 is the role of virtual fitness trainer. Employment of fitness trainers and instructors is projected to grow 39 percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Becoming a virtual fitness trainer is a low-investment side hustle that will allow you to reach a large number of clients in locations across the globe. You have the convenience and flexibility of helping your clients remotely, which means you can work from home and during the hours that suit your schedule.
It’s relatively easy to begin your virtual training side hustle. How much does it cost to start this side hustle? Your biggest cost will be a personal trainer certification. Most personal trainer certifications can be completed online. These courses vary in level and intensity, but for an entry-level certification, you can expect to pay about $500.
To help reach your clients efficiently and to offer high-quality content, you will want to invest in the right software. Luckily, there are many options of fitness training software on the market to make finding one easy. However, these are not cheap. Three of the more popular personal trainer software companies include:
Trainerize: This allows you to interact with clients, deliver on-demand workouts and more in an easy-to-use interface. Costs are $250/month for unlimited clients but only $20/month for up to five clients.
Nudge: This is a great messaging app built for the personal training community with customizable options. The pricing starts at $25/month for up to 10 clients and goes up to $120/month for 100 clients.
My PT Hub: This is an all-in-one personal training software that allows you to help clients track daily habits as well as deliver content to them. Unlimited clients go for $42/month.
If you already have a computer, then there aren’t many costs beyond your certification and software to become a virtual personal trainer. (Add on the costs for a webcam, lights, etc., that are listed above under Online Workshop Host if you will choose to record video content for your business.)
4. Auto Detailing
The car wash market is projected by many experts to grow to $20.7 billion in 2028 (from $14.7 billion in 2021). To get in on this growth, try launching a side hustle as a traveling auto detailer this year. You won’t need much other than a car, some equipment and a little hustle.
To start a side hustle as an auto detailer, you will want to invest in some mobile detailing equipment, which includes a good vacuum that’s easy to maneuver, a hose, microfiber cloths, buckets and the chemicals needed to wash the car. This can cost about $500.
Next, you will need to make sure you have the basic business licenses and permits necessary to operate. Check your local and state business offices to find out what is required. If you operate your auto detailing business without the necessary permits, you could be fined heavily. Using a service that can help you search your business license requirements costs $99 through us.
For an auto detailing business, it's best to register your company as an LLC to protect yourself from personal liability. Add on business insurance just in case a client decides to sue you for damage done to their vehicle. You can expect to pay between $400 and $1,000 a year for up to a million dollars in liability coverage.
Make marketing your services easy by designing a website and promoting your business on social media and other places. The cost for hosting your website can be $30/year and designing one very simply will cost about $100.
Google Ads can be highly effective in marketing a mobile auto detailing business by targeting locations. The rate for Google Ads will vary based on competition in your area and can be as low as $100/month or cost as much as $500+/month.
How Much Does It Cost to Start a Side Hustle?
As you can see, it doesn't have to cost tons of money to start up a side hustle. These four options can get you up and running for about $2,000 or less. Once you’ve found your financially viable side hustle idea, you can launch your business using Incfile’s Side Hustle Checklist. This will take you through the details of choosing a business structure, picking your business name and how to pay taxes on your side hustle.
Nicole Bowman is a freelance writer who thinks turning research into stories is the best gig ever. She started writing billboards back in 2002, worked in book publishing in New York for many years and now she creates all sorts of engaging content for the web. Nicole lives in Rehoboth Beach, DE, with her husband, two sons and their poodle, Tootsie. She loves the great outdoors, bookstores and tennis.