What is a Side Hustle, and Why Do I Need One?

There are many reasons people choose a side gig, but mostly, it’s to earn extra income. Side hustles bring in, on average, just over $1,000 a month — money that pays the bills…or even changes your lifestyle. Having a thriving side hustle can help you:

Get rid of that student loan debt for good

Travel the world (without maxing out your credit card)

Pay down a mortgage, vehicle or other debt

Finally start planning for retirement

Gain great financial freedom, so you can spend more time on the things you love

Sounds pretty great, right? The best part is, it’s all within reach. You can start a side hustle with very little upfront cash and just a few extra hours a week. Keep reading to spark some ideas and start living that hustle life!

Who’s Got the Hustle?

Think you’re too old, too young, too busy or too tired for a side hustle? Think again! Forty-five percent of Americans have taken on a side gig, and if they can do it, you can, too. Here are some facts about side hustlers and how to find out if you’ve got what it takes (hint: you do).

Millennials make up a majority of side hustlers, with 50 percent bringing in income on the side.

However, a third are over the age of 54, proving there’s no such thing as “too old to hustle.”

A slim majority are women, but the numbers are fairly evenly split.

Those women are most likely to take on a side gig because of the flexibility it offers.

So, whether you’re just out of college or nearing retirement…a work-at-home-mom or a singleton…happy with your full-time job or looking for something more…you can find a side hustle that will work for you.

Want to know if you’ve got the qualities of a successful side hustler? Download our Side Hustle Action Guide and complete the checklist to find out!

How Do I Find a Side Hustle?

Use this page to help your visitors learn more about you. Include images so that folks will recognize you at conferences and events.

1

Come up with a killer idea — if you don’t have any, we can help with that too.

2

Invest in that idea — little to no money and a few hours.

3

Build a strategy for success.

4

Create a business plan.

5

Choose your business structure.

6

Get up to speed on ongoing legal requirements.

7

Prepare for launch.

Our Side Hustle Action Guide takes a deep dive into each of these steps, so be sure to check it out. And if you’re ready to begin, we recommend filing an LLC to make your side hustle legit. You can file for $0 + state fee, and get started right away!

Here’s Your Lightbulb Moment: Top Side Business Ideas

Getting started with a brilliant idea is as easy as flipping the switch on your creativity. Almost anything, done right, can become a side hustle. You just have to figure out what you’re selling, who you want to sell it to and how. Sounds overwhelming? That’s okay. Remember that a side hustle isn’t your full-time gig (at least, not yet). Start with some great part time side hustle ideas and ease into it. Here are some of the best side hustles to get you started:

1

Become a Content Creation Whiz

You’ve got a lot to say, and there are people out there who want to hear it. Being a content creator is a great side hustle job, because the subject matter options are limitless and you get to position yourself as an expert. There’s also very little overhead to get started. Here are some of the types of content you can create:

  • A blog on a subject you know a lot about or something you feel passionate about
  • A YouTube series on anything that interests you and has something to offer
  • A podcast on your favorite topic, featuring an interesting lineup of guests
  • An Instagram influencer, documenting your passion, knowledge or just you
2

Go on a Shopping Spree, Then Sell It for Profit

Looking for easy side hustles that are also a lot of fun? Reselling is a hugely popular option for side hustlers. And if you’ve got a good eye, it can be very profitable. Wondering how and where to sell your treasures?

  • List vintage collectibles on eBay.
  • Set up a shop dedicated to retro jewelry or home decor on Etsy.
  • Restore and sell old furniture on Facebook marketplace.
  • Sell niche products on targeted resale sites, like Chairish, OfferUp or Poshmark.
3

Start Consulting or Freelance Your Way to Financial Freedom

Freelancers can earn big money, plus they benefit from amazing flexibility and the ability to work from just about anywhere. Offer your services on websites like Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer.com. Here are some of the skilled services people are looking to outsource to qualified freelancers:

  • Copywriting and content creation
  • Graphic design
  • Photography
  • Editing
4

Get on Board with the Gig Economy

If you haven’t got the time to brainstorm an idea and put it to work, look to the gig economy, where the planning and process are already done for you. The income isn’t as high as in some other side business areas, but if you’ve got a few spare hours and enjoy running errands, it could be the right pick for you. Here are some of your options:

  • Driving for Uber or Lyft
  • Delivering food or groceries via Shipt, Instacart, Grubhub or DoorDash
  • Pet sitting through Rover
  • Babysitting or nannying via Care.com, Bambino or other similar apps
5

Share Your Expertise

What are you good at? Chances are, someone wants to be as good as you are and you’ve got a lot to share to help them learn. Best of all, sharing your knowledge can bring in a good amount of income. Here’s how:

  • Coach a local kids’ sports team.
  • Give private lessons in swimming, tennis, horseback riding, etc.
  • Offer virtual tutoring services to school kids or college students.
  • Provide independent review/editing services for term papers, thesis papers or dissertations.
  • Offer tips for being a social media influencer that everyone wants to follow.
6

Get in the Property Game

Real estate is a booming business, but you don’t need to be a tycoon to get started. Here are some ideas:

  • Rent out your home on Airbnb while you’re traveling.
  • Turn extra space (like a basement) into an apartment and become a landlord.
  • Offer your services as an independent property manager to local owners.

How to Start a Side Hustle: Make it Legit

Treat your side hustle like a hobby and you might earn a little extra pocket money. Treat it like a business and you might just have yourself a viable source of income that could change your financial outlook. To do that, you’ll need a plan. You’ll also need discipline, creative thinking and laser focus. If you’ve got the right mix of skills and determination, you can pull this off.

But First, Consider This:

Many side hustlers give up some of their recreational time to make their side gig a success. Decide now how much time you’re willing to devote to this endeavor and what types of activities you’ll be willing to sacrifice (and for how long) to give it a go.

Prepping for Launch: Tips for Getting Your Side Hustle Off the Ground

Identify your online business’s unique selling points (USPs)

Whether you’re competing on features, price, quality, speed or something else, your USPs set you apart from competitors and encourage customers to come to you.

Look at who your competitors are in the space

Having competitors is a good thing as it shows there’s a market, but if there are too many, you’re likely to struggle without a really good USP.

Understand your market

Clearly identify exactly who your customers are likely to be, where they hang out and how you’re going to reach them. This will be essential to your marketing, communications, sales and customer support.

Talk to clients

Speak with potential customers to understand what they want from your products and services, and validate this by asking if they would commit to spending real money on them.

Get involved with business communities and discussion groups

One of the great things about side businesses is that there are plenty of great communities and discussion groups. Get involved with them and learn the ins and outs of your chosen market before committing.

Don’t Push Your Business Plan Aside

Side hustles need the same careful planning as any other business. Even better, if you someday want to grow your side hustle into your full-time gig, having a strong business plan in place will make the process much easier to navigate. What makes a great side business plan? It should cover everything from how you’ll market your business, to how you’ll profit from it, to how you’ll continue to grow. While every business plan is unique to the hustle, all should cover the following key points:

1

An executive summary with the most important points from your business plan

2

Your goals and what you hope to achieve with your side business

3

A description of your side business, background information and contex

4

A market analysis and likely demand

5

An overview of how your side business is structured

6

Your online business model

7

How you will market and sell your offerings

8

Financial projections, revenue and profitability

9

Appendices

We’ve got the perfect guide to writing your business plan.

Choose the Right Business Structure and Register Your Side Business

Protect Your Side Hustle with Legal Business Formation

If you’re operating solo (as a sole proprietor), you aren’t required to form a legal business entity. However, if something unexpected happens, doing it alone leaves your personal assets vulnerable to risk. Legal formation isn’t as overwhelming (or expensive) as it sounds, and it provides a shield between you and your business, so your assets remain protected. There are various types of business structures, but these are the most common:

Limited Liability Company (LLC)

This is what we recommend for most side hustlers. LLCs usually have simple filing requirements (and minimal ongoing requirements), they’re often inexpensive and they offer all the benefits you need to keep your hustle (and yourself) protected. When you file a $0 + state fee LLC with Incfile, we handle the paperwork, so you can stay focused on running your side gig.

S Corporation (S Corp)

An S Corp is a tax designation that allows owners to operate a corporation with the same pass-through taxation as an LLC. While it can save on taxes for some business owners, it’s not generally necessary for side hustlers. However, if you want to check, you can use our S Corp Tax Calculator.

C Corporation (C Corp)

C Corps are the largest business entities and can work very well for bigger companies. However, for side hustles and smaller businesses, they are usually more complex than necessary.

Still not sure? Check out our Entity Comparison, and when you’re ready, read our Complete Guide to Starting an LLC.

Time to Do the Hustle!

You’ve got the idea, the plan, the strategies and the business entity. You’re almost ready for launch. But before your side hustle takes off, make sure you consider these business functions that will guide how you operate your hustle.

The Complete "Start Your Business" Checklist

A Clear and Comprehensive Guide to Starting Your Business the Right Way

The Complete

Hustle Helpers
Useful Tools to Get You Started

There is a vast amount of tech tools, apps and services available to business owners to help them market and manage their business. But for side hustlers, you’re looking for something that’s quick to adopt, without a steep learning curve. These are the best tools we’ve found to make it fast and easy to handle bookkeeping and accounting, business planning, emails and automation, and much more.

Ready to Get Your Side Hustle On? 

Side businesses can supplement your income, help you pay the bills during a job hunt or inspire you to work toward becoming a full-time entrepreneur. You’ve gotten this far — now it’s time to take the next step and turn your side hustle into a legit money-maker. Form your LLC today with Incfile for $0 + state fee.