5 Top Side Hustles As pages become more popular – and maybe needed – let’s look at some of the more popular options… and the ones you might want to change.
Through years of experience hosting the award-winning Side Hustle Show podcast, I have to remind myself that all of the business models mentioned can work; it’s just a matter of finding the right one. That’s right.
Many of the popular 5 Top Side Hustles contests are limited to your own time – that is, open dollar time. And that’s fine, but I still want the best return on your investment.
Before you start a side hustle, ask yourself what your goals are. Want to do something else:
$50 a month?
$500 a month?
$5,000 a month?
$50,000 a month?
The route you take will depend on where you want to take it. So let’s get into it.
I will explain some common business ideas and 5 Top Side Hustles and give you some options to consider.
Table of Contents
Offering some service for free is an interesting thing and one that I often recommend to people who want to make some extra money fast. It’s a great way to lose weight and something I did for myself.
The limitation of freelancing or consulting is that you only have so many hours in the day – which limits your earning potential.
Customers may find it challenging to hire you (your knowledge/skills) in exchange for the rewards you offer them. Your skills are a good selling point, but they’re hard to grow if you want to grow.
What to Do Instead
If you want to create something that will grow out of you, consider the structure or design template from the beginning.
What do I mean by that?
Consider starting a freelance writing agency, writing about things.
When designing, consider starting a design organization.
Consider starting a cleaning and hygiene company.
There are examples of all of this in the 5 Top Side Hustles Show archives. For example, Gabe Arnold started Copywriter Today and made $20,000 a month. His opinion? Get someone else to write content and focus on getting customers.
You do not need to be an expert in the business you are starting. Russ Perry, founder of Design Pickle, a popular graphic design service, admitted to me, “I love design.”
It also works in offline marketing. Chris Schwab built a $60,000 per month grooming business in 2 years – but he was unprepared.
2. Taking Surveys
Find a list of ways to earn extra money, and you need to do some research on the internet. (Heck, I even added them as an option!)
These are sites and apps like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, and Inbox Dollar. And while you can make some money doing research and watching videos, I think the profit you make per hour is incredible.
Exceptions: My last three favourite points are:
Respondent – Compete in paid surveys online and in person, often charging $100 an hour or more.
User Interface – Charge more professionally. Check out our full user interview to learn more.
Rare Patient Voice – $100 per hour for patients with rare (and unusual) medical conditions.
What to Do Instead
Instead of insulting the person asking the question, flip the script and feed the vegetarians. Ask people and business owners what their pain points are. What challenges and challenges do they face? How much do they cost?
Once you’ve done your homework, brainstorm. How can you help them cope?
John Luger is an absolute expert at this and has followed this method to sell over $120,000 in rewards. It’s just a simple conversation and learning (hot) facts.
For more information on this topic, I recommend Dan Maxwell’s book, Starting from Scratch. You can do the same in your life. I call it “What is not Content?” How to propose a business.
It’s simple: the way it works is that your brain goes through your day and notices everything that isn’t important. Because it doesn’t affect you, it won’t affect others. Fix that pain, and you have a starting point that you can try.
Presently, don’t misunderstand me – I love publishing content for a blog! The problem is that most people do not do well. I know because I was that person during my first 5 years as a blogger! When I fell in love with the creative process and got into writing, I spent hours making things that no one would ever read.
Most of the blogs I see fail to do business because they don’t:
A clear understanding of value (what is drinking to me, to the reader?);
Plan to generate traffic.
Very good revenue model.
What to Do Instead
Instead of a personal blog, create high-quality, meaningful content on the topic. Consider getting Donald Miller’s book on Building a Story Brand. This isn’t about blogging, but it will help you think about your customer journey and how you can help them.
When I come to your website, it will tell you exactly how you can help me and how you can help me.
With every post you write, think about how you will get people to read it. Will Google be there? Want a comment from Pinterest? Do you want to do a book presentation?
And what is the purpose of the website? Want to earn money from:
Your products and services?
It depends on where you choose to talk about your activities and how you go about your business.
The website model I am looking for to increase traffic time is what I call the “modern requiring store website.” This is the standard of sites like Fine vs. Okay, which went up to $20,000 a month in the first year writing comparison articles.
Check out my free video tutorial on how to start your website quickly and cheaply.
4. Real Estate
Investing in real estate is one of the oldest and most popular industries in the world. And I think that’s why. I mean, it’s great to build a portfolio and get other people to pay them. This can be a way to avoid a rat race and big eggs. But the house is also very easy to screw up.
It is (usually) expensive to get started and difficult to diversify. Expensive and unexpected challenges – like my friend who had to redo her foundation for $90,000! – it can take years off your racing experience.
If you’re dead set on the purchase model and close to a single-family home, go for it. It can work and probably works better if you have multiple buildings.
In addition, you can take advantage of the budget and some tax benefits for stairs.
What to Do Instead
I don’t care much about the direct ownership type, but I see the value of real estate as an asset, so I incorporate it into my portfolio in a number of ways.
For example, I invest in real estate investment trusts (commercial REITs and “eREITs” like Fundrise). This allows me to earn passive income from various sources. And I’ve never had a tenant call in the middle of the night to say their hot water tank is leaking!
Disclosure: If you sign up for Fundrise through my link, I will get paid. My views are my own. Companies like Fundrise allow you to spread your risk across multiple buildings in different locations – with very little investment. I’m talking $10 per first 20%.
(If you don’t like the idea of tenants, you might want to consider the more attractive “land-based” flipping model, which one guest called “the best revenue model.”)
I also have a portion of my portfolio for short-term ground floor mortgage loans that allow you to borrow as little as $10 for a pre-approved fix and flip project.
The downside of all this is that you are trading many of the benefits of real estate investing – leverage, assets, downsizing – for failure. So, choose the path that suits your goals and follow your passion.
5. Network Marketing
Despite a 99%+ failure rate, people still like to market and network for “opportunities” like flies. You know, the kind where a friend you haven’t heard from in years wants to sell you essential oils, jewelry, pots and pans, or, of course, magic potions.
Presently, I’m not saying that every single “direct sale” organization is are trick. I mean, the failure rate for some business models can be very high.
Hell, I got my fair share!
Why does network marketing work so well as a side job?
Since the chances of success in network marketing are so slim, what is the attraction? What makes all the new enrollees feel different?
Indeed, I think there are a couple of reasons:
These companies do a good job of selling dreams (working from home, being your boss, promoting products you love, etc.).
It is a “business in a box,” which does not require creating something from scratch.
Contracts, entry barriers and entry fees tend to be low.
What Makes it Hard to Succeed?
The biggest problem with network marketing is exactly that: your “network.” If you don’t have a way to build a network – an audience of buyers – you’re dead in the water. And since most of the people who sign up for them are not business people or salespeople, it’s hard.
When you finally catch up with your audience, you get up and stand.
On top of that:
You only make a percentage of each sale, and the product must be famous enough to share the results with your upline and the company itself. This can make the product more expensive and harder to sell.
Most items are a one-time purchase, which means you don’t get any money back.
Trying to be someone else’s property risks damaging your relationship.
Demand for “familiar” products will decline.
You are married to a solution instead of solving a bigger problem.
The second comes from Greg Hickman’s advice: “Fine is the problem, not the solution.”
What to Do Instead
So, what can you do other than join a new MLM? I think a few things are possible.
Licensing, Franchising, or Buying a Business
First of all, if the idea of “business in a box” or “business on training wheels” appeals to you, consider licensing or franchising.
Yes, your initial costs will be higher, but your success rate will be higher. You can talk to licensees or other business owners who – unlike network marketing – have no incentive to tell you how good it is.
He recommends products such as Biz Buy Sell and Franchise Direct to see what opportunities there are. I especially like the idea of buying a company that already has a proven track record. This reduces your risk because someone else is doing the hard work – getting things off the ground!
Hustle Show guest Cody Sanchez notes that the SBA offers attractive financing options with as little as 10% down, and they teach the whole class how to buy a small business smartly.
The purchase price is 2-4x annual income, but everything is negotiable.
Johnny Robinson boosted his window cleaning business with the creative discovery of a lucky competitor. The deal they made was only $1,000 less, and some of his future work was from the dealer’s customer list.
Sell Shovels into the Gold Rush
Another thought to consider is that many network marketing companies use a “hot rush” mentality. They focus on fads or hot topics like CBD oil or new anti-aging products.
And as a student of history, you know that the best gold merchants weren’t the ones who dug for gold – they were the ones who sold shovels. When you see the hot MLM that “everyone” is talking about, what buzzwords can you sell in this hot spot?
This is a classic example, but another friend of mine did the same thing when he started an e-commerce business in the oil industry. Ola Collection sells diffuser necklaces and leather bracelets to essential oil customers. In the first 7 months, it was over $100,000 in sales.