If you’re here, you likely either already have a side hustle or are interested in starting one. But how do you know which ones are the best side hustles, and not just major time wasters?
Side hustles are an awesome way to dip your toe into the entrepreneurship waters and make extra money to pay off debt, save, invest, or simply enjoy life. You can utilize skills you already have to create a business which can supplement your income — or even replace it.
The best side hustles often lead to learning new skills that can morph into even more business opportunities.
You can actually see this with Laptop Empires – coming from backgrounds in both digital marketing and blogging presented the unique opportunity to merge those skills into one profitable and even more nuanced business.
Types of Side Hustles
There are endless opportunities out there to start a side hustle, but all of them fall into one of two categories — freelance (quick money) or audience building (long game).
Freelance Side Hustles
Freelancer side hustles are those where you provide a service or exchange your time and expertise for compensation. The benefit of doing this is you begin seeing financial rewards immediately.
The downside of the freelance side hustle is there are limits to the amount of money you can make because you only have so many hours in the day to provide a service. To mitigate this, you can eventually hire a team to support your efforts in order to increase your revenue. But in the meantime, you have to balance the time required.
There are plenty of opportunities for freelancing, but some of the more popular freelance side gigs include:
- Social media management
- Freelance writing
- Facebook ad management
- Web design
- SEO services
- Graphic design services
Getting started quickly is another positive aspect of freelancing. With sites such as Upwork and Freelancer you can build your profile and start accepting gigs sooner rather than later.
Audience Building Side Hustles
An audience building side hustle is when you create content which provides value to a specific type of audience. This type of side hustle offers more scalable and lucrative opportunities. However, these can take much longer to develop.
Over time, you are able to build value and trust with your audience by offering consistent and free content. Eventually, once you have something to sell, the audience is familiar enough with you to trust the value being offered in their for-purchase products.
Some side hustles in this category take months, if not years, to monetize.
Examples of audience building side hustles include:
- Course creation
- Becoming an influencer
Related: The Secret Sauce to Becoming an Online Entrepreneur
What is the Best Side Hustle for Me?
The process to start a side hustle can be very overwhelming, especially if you aren’t sure what you really want to do.
If you already have a marketable skill set or expertise, leverage it into a service-based business. Or, if you just really like talking about a certain topic, such as personal finance, fashion, or fitness, you can start a blog and begin to build an audience, and then work towards monetization.
But if you’re still not sure, don’t worry. Sometimes you need a little nudge and need to be introduced to something you may not be too familiar with.
For example, managing Facebook Ads for local businesses is one of our favorite ways to build a side hustle. But we didn’t always know or understand the ins and outs of running these ads.
Now we have a course, the Facebook Side Hustle, which teaches you how to go from landing your first customer to creating and implementing successful FB ad campaigns. You can make $1,000 per month upon landing your first client – some are landing clients in their first week. We even have students making over $5,000 a month.
Like we said, Laptop Empires started with knowledge at both ends of the side hustle spectrum – me building an audience with Millennial Money Man and Mike offering online marketing services through his agency Red Dirt Marketing Co.
You can learn more about how they turned their side hustles into successful businesses in Episode 5 of the LE podcast, Types of Side Hustles.
Looking for additional side hustle ideas? Check out this video for even more inspiration.
Why You Should Try Both Types of Side Hustles
Most side hustles can add to your income if you are willing to spend time building an audience and/or client base while providing them with high-quality work and products. However, to really maximize your potential for success, we definitely recommend you try both types.
Whichever path you’re on now, add in the other. If you want to build an audience and create content, you’ll also need to make money in the meantime. You can start with a service-based freelancing business to make the money you need to support yourself as you build your long-term business.
If you’re already freelancing and providing a service you are growing your expertise and authority in that area. A natural extension is to start creating valuable content for an audience interested in offering the same types of services you already provide. This authority can drive leads to your business and provide opportunities for additional streams of income.
When I began providing digital marketing services to supplement my blog, I used the additional income to grow the blog through Facebook ads. This was integral for my blog’s growth and success. The marketing income didn’t just fund living expenses, but they were pivotal in the success of Millennial Money Man, and you can see this through monthly income reports.
If you’re selling something to a blog audience, only 1-2% of the audience will purchase what you’re selling. You’ll need 100 times the audience for your sales goal to be successful, which will take time to build.
Knowing Your Limitations with Side Hustles
Knowing your limitations will be the key to your success as an entrepreneur. If you’re wanting to blog as a side hustle and you’re able to work for a year or more without making meaningful money, maybe you won’t need to freelance or keep a day job while you build your blog.
Time, money, family obligations, among other things, can all be potential hindrances in the way when creating the best side hustle. This means it’s important to ask yourself what you want in return because this will help you understand how your limitations might affect your ability to reach your goals.
For example, if you are wanting quick, debt-crushing returns, then you will need to work as much as possible, possibly pursuing multiple side hustle options. The limitations here are hours in your day and whether or not your lifestyle (family included) can handle those demands. This may sound insane, but side hustling at home with small children is possible.
And, when you reach your goal, like eliminating student loan debt, quitting your traditional 9-5 job, or reaching early retirement, you may have a new set of limitations.
Point being though, you can build your side hustles to reflect what you want out of your life, and the sacrifices that come along with that are usually outweighed by the benefits.
Finding the Motivation for a Side Hustle
When talking about side hustles and online businesses, you will hear a lot of people say that you should “pursue your passion” – heck, we even say it. But, you don’t always have to do something you’re passionate about. Yup, it’s OK to pursue something JUST to make money.
There is nothing shameful about being motivated to make more money. This could mean paying down your debt, retiring early, or just going on incredible vacations. All of these sound pretty awesome, and they all take money.
For a lot of side hustlers and online businesses owners, they’re also motivated to break free from traditional jobs because they just didn’t love what they were doing. You can hear more about this in Types of Side Hustles, but neither I nor Mike were in love with our jobs. While it wasn’t unhappiness per se, that discontentedness was motivation to try something new and fulfilling.
If you aren’t content with your present job situation, it’s probably time to do something new. This would traditionally mean putting together your resume and job hunting, but building an online business or side hustle is now a viable option for full-time work.
Remember, you have control over your life and can take actionable steps towards living the life you want.
Okay, let’s talk “my passion” for just a second. Sometimes those motivating factors, like money or hating your job, can actually lead to finding what you really are passionate about.
Mike isn’t passionate about running Facebook ads. He can talk about them all day long but he doesn’t wake up in the morning excited to run Facebook ads. He does, however, wake up excited to share his knowledge and serve his clients, then seeing their businesses grow. This, sort of, found passion is also supporting what else he is passionate about – being a work-from-home dad.
The Bottom Line When Pursuing the Best Side Hustles
Alright, to recap – side hustling, no matter which type you choose can be an incredible way to empower you and your finances. But, if you really want to grow that side hustle money, you’ll need to diversify your approaches, working to provide a service or product and building an audience.
The really cool part is, you get to choose how your side hustle fits into your life and what you want out of it. Ready to find your side hustle? Get started here with our favorite side hustle – managing Facebook ads.
Ask yourself, what is holding you back from starting a side hustle? What skill or skills do you currently have that could be leveraged into a brand new business?
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