How to Choose a Side Hustle

Many people are looking for ways to supplement their income. However, choosing a good side hustle is fraught with challenges. Not all side hustles are created equal, and many fail to generate substantial profits. How you make extra money depends on skills, time, expectations, and other criteria discussed below.   

How to choose a good Side hustle
#10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Side Hustle
1Choosing a side hustle requires a preliminary evaluation of your skills, time, expectations, and financial capabilities.
2A side hustle should align with your skills and lifestyle. It can be carried out online or in person based on preference.
3There are different types of side hustles: service-based, product-focused, time-based, and scalable. Each has its own pros and cons, requirements, and earning potentials.
4Service-based side hustles involve leveraging your skills to offer services needed by others. This could include writing, consulting, tutoring, etc. It involves identifying marketable skills, building a client base, and setting competitive rates.
5Product-focused side hustles involve selling tangible products and require market research, sourcing and manufacturing, and choosing the right sales and distribution channels.
6Time-based side hustles involve directly exchanging time for money, with income potential limited by the number of hours you can work. They are suitable for people with no money or prior experience. It is also the best way to get some extra cash fast.
7Scalable side hustles offer the potential for growth and increased income over time. Strategies to scale include creating evergreen offers, leveraging online marketing, creating passive income streams, and outsourcing or automating tasks. You may need to invest money to grow quickly.
8The success of your side hustle largely depends on the demand, time commitment, location, learning curve, and profitability potential. Unveiling the market gap and offering a unique selling point will increase your chance of success.
9Balancing your side hustle with your primary job and personal life is crucial to prevent burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
10Commitment, creativity, and adaptability are essential to success regardless of the type of side hustle you choose.

The cost of living has been a concern for many Americans, with 67% expressing worry about it due to rising food and energy prices. Based on multiple surveys, 39% to 45% of working Americans have a side job. This article guides you through selecting an in-demand side hustle that aligns with your expectations.

Preliminary Evaluation

The first step is to evaluate your current situation, skills, and resources. This initial assessment will help you narrow the options and decide on a side hustle that best fits your lifestyle and goals.

Matching Skills and Expectations

Start by taking inventory of your skills and expertise. Are you a talented writer, a skilled photographer, or a tech-savvy individual? Consider how to leverage skills to create value for others. It’s also necessary to align your expectations with the reality of side hustling. Are you looking for a quick way to make extra cash, or are you willing to invest time and effort to get a sustainable income stream?

Choose Between Making Extra Money Online and In-Person Side Jobs

Decide whether you prefer to work online or in person. Online side hustles offer flexibility and the convenience of working from anywhere, while in-person side jobs might provide more immediate income and a sense of community. Consider your lifestyle, location, and personal preferences when making this decision.

Can You Invest Some Money Upfront, and How Much?

Evaluate your financial situation to know if you can invest money upfront in your side hustle. Some ventures require initial capital for equipment, inventory, or marketing. Be realistic about how much you can invest without jeopardizing your financial stability.

How Much Time Can You Allocate to the Side Job?

Time is a crucial factor in the success of your side hustle. Assess your current commitments and determine how much time you can dedicate to your new venture. Consistency is essential, so choose a side hustle that fits your schedule without overwhelming you.

By conducting a thorough preliminary evaluation, you’ll be better equipped to choose a side hustle that aligns with your skills, expectations, and resources, setting the stage for success in your entrepreneurial endeavors.

6 Criteria for Choosing a Good Side Hustle

Top Criteria To Choosing A Side Hustle

When selecting a side hustle, you can consider these six factors or criteria:

Demand

The success of your side hustle largely depends on the demand for the product or service you offer. Conduct market research to identify trends and assess the needs of your target audience. Choose a side hustle that addresses a genuine need or solves a problem, as this will attract more customers and increase income.

Time Commitment 

Consider how much time you can dedicate to your side hustle each week. For my side hustles, I usually aim for 10-15 hours per week, which allows me to make meaningful progress without overwhelming my schedule. I ensure that the time commitment is manageable and compatible with other responsibilities.

The statistics show that the amount of time people spend on a side job varies. According to a survey of over 2300 Side Hustle Nation subscribers, the breakdown of time spent on side hustles is as follows:

  • 53.8% spend less than 5 hours per week
  • 23.8% spend 5 to 10 hours per week
  • 13.3% spend 11 to 20 hours per week
  • 7.2% spend 21 to 40 hours per week
  • 1.9% spend more than 40 hours per week.

Another source indicates that 59.7% of side hustlers spend 5-20 hours per week working on their side hustle, with 46.1% working less than 10 hours per week and 46.8% working more than 11 hours per week on their side hustle.

On average, those who work a side hustle spend 13 hours per week on their second job. Additionally, it’s noted that Americans who dedicate 12 hours weekly to their side hustle bring in enough to make over $13,000 per year.

Working Hours Must Fit Into Your Free Time

Your side hustle should fit seamlessly into your existing schedule. If you have a full-time job or other commitments, look for opportunities that allow you to work during your free time, such as evenings or weekends. Flexibility is critical to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Learning Curve 

Choose a side hustle with a manageable learning curve. You should be able to grasp the basics and start making progress within three weeks of focused learning. If the learning curve is too steep, you may find it challenging to stay motivated and make progress.

Location 

Consider the location of your side hustle. If you must be physically present, look for opportunities with a short commute time. Alternatively, opt for a side hustle that allows you to work from home, which can save time and offer greater flexibility.

According to Zippia, the average American commute time is 27.6 minutes one-way, about 55 minutes round-trip. For those with a second job, the commute time may be in addition to their primary job’s commute.

Profitability and Potential for High Returns

Ultimately, the goal of a side hustle is to generate income. Evaluate the profitability of your chosen venture and its potential for high returns. Consider factors such as startup costs, ongoing expenses, and the price point of your product or service. A good side hustle should offer a favorable return on investment and the potential for financial growth.

By assessing these six criteria, you can make an informed decision and choose a side hustle well-suited to your skills, lifestyle, and financial goals, setting the stage for success and fulfillment in your entrepreneurial journey.

Starting a Service-Based Side Hustle

Service-based side hustles are popular for entrepreneurs who want to leverage their skills and expertise to generate income. Here are some steps to consider when starting a service-based side hustle:

Identifying Marketable Skills

The first step will be to identify the skills you possess that are easily marketable and in demand. It could include copywriting, graphic design, web development, consulting, coaching, and tutoring. Assess your strengths and weaknesses to find how to offer a service that provides value to others.

Building a Client Base

Once you’ve identified your marketable skills, the next step is to build a client base. Start by networking with friends, family, and professional contacts to spread the word about your services. To reach a wider audience, utilize:

  • blogging 
  • social media platforms 
  • online marketplaces 
  • networking 
  • paid traffic  
  • YouTube  
  • podcasts

Offer special discounts to attract your first clients and build a portfolio of work.

Setting Competitive Rates

Offer competitive prices to attract clients and generate income. Research the going rates for similar services in your industry and region. Consider your level of experience, the quality of your work, and the value you provide when setting your rates. 

It would help to strike a balance between being competitive and ensuring that your pricing reflects the worth of your services.

Starting a service-based side hustle requires a combination of skill identification, client acquisition, and strategic pricing. 

Aiming for a lower price can work, but it is much more profitable to increase the perceived value of your offer and sell at a higher price.

Examples of service-based side hustles

Some service-based side hustle ideas include:

  • Virtual assistant: Offer administrative services to clients remotely, such as email management, scheduling, and social media management.
  • Tutoring: Use your expertise in a subject to provide tutoring services to students.
  • Pet sitting or dog walking: Provide pet care services for individuals or families in your local area.
  • Freelance writing or proofreading: Offer your writing or editing skills to businesses or individuals needing content creation or proofreading services.
  • SEO consultant: Help website owners improve their rankings and get more visitors.

Each side hustle has its own requirements and earnings potential for success, so do thorough research before you start.

Starting a Product-Focused Side Hustle

A product-focused side hustle can be rewarding for those inclined towards tangible goods. Here’s how to get started:

Market Research for Product Demand

Before diving into product creation, conduct thorough market research to know the demand for your product. Identify your target audience, analyze competitors, and assess market trends. This research will allow you to determine the viability of your product and inform your development and marketing strategies.

Sourcing and Manufacturing Products

Once you’ve validated your product idea, the next step is sourcing and manufacturing. Contact different suppliers and manufacturers to find the best quality and pricing for your product. Consider production time, minimum order quantities, and shipping costs. Gather the required materials and tools to start production if you’re creating a handmade product.

Online Sales Platforms and Distribution

Choose a reliable platform to sell your product. Online marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, or eBay can provide a broad reach while creating your e-commerce website, offering more control and branding opportunities. Develop a distribution plan that considers packaging, shipping, and handling to ensure a smooth delivery process for your customers.

Starting a product-focused side hustle involves careful market research, sourcing and manufacturing products, and choosing the right sales and distribution channels.

Physical venues to sell your products

When starting a product-focused side hustle, there are various physical venues where you can sell your products. Some potential venues include:

  • Local Markets and Fairs: Setting up a booth at local markets, craft fairs, or flea markets can provide exposure and potential sales opportunities for your products.
  • Pop-Up Shops: Temporary retail spaces, such as pop-up shops in malls or other high-traffic areas, can be a good way to showcase and sell your products to a broader audience.
  • Cafés, Restaurants, and Other Venues: Some artists and creatives have had success displaying and selling their work in alternate venues like cafés, restaurants, and banks.
  • Art Shows and Exhibitions: Participating in art shows, street fairs, or community events focused on arts and crafts can help you connect with potential customers and network with other artists.
  • Local Stores and Boutiques: Approaching local boutiques and stores to see if they are interested in carrying your products on consignment or for wholesale purchase.

These are just a few examples, and the best venue for your side hustle will depend on the nature of your products and your target customers. Consider the foot traffic, the audience’s demographic, and the fit with your brand.

Examples of product-focused side hustle

Some product-focused side hustle ideas include:

  • Dropshipping: This involves selling products online without holding inventory. You partner with suppliers who will ship products directly to customers.
  • Selling proprietary goods: If you have an idea for a product, you can create proprietary goods and market them under your brand.
  • Selling on online marketplaces: You can use platforms like Etsy, Amazon, and eBay, depending on the type of products.
  • Create and sell your products: This could involve anything from creating and selling t-shirts to designing and marketing your digital products.

Assess financial viability, time commitment, and potential conflicts of interest with your primary job. 

Side Hustles Based on Exchanging Time for Money

Popular Side hustle ideas

Some side hustles involve directly trading your time for money. These can be appealing for their simplicity and immediate income potential. Here’s what you need to know:

Pros and Cons of Time-Based Side Hustles

The main advantage of time-based side hustles is that they often require minimal startup costs and can provide quick income. Examples include tutoring, babysitting, or freelancing in your area of expertise. However, the downside is that your earning potential is limited by the number of hours you can work, and these side hustles may not offer long-term scalability or passive income.

Ideas for Time-Based Side Hustles

There are numerous options for time-based side hustles. Consider offering services such as:

Here are short descriptions for each of the time-based side hustles:

  • Personal training or fitness coaching: Providing fitness guidance and coaching to individuals to help them achieve their health and wellness goals.
  • Dog walking or pet sitting: Caring for pets by walking dogs or providing pet sitting services while their owners are away.
  • House cleaning or organizing: Offering cleaning and organizing services for residential spaces, helping individuals maintain a tidy and organized home environment.
  • Virtual assistance or administrative support: Providing remote administrative and organizational support to businesses or individuals, such as managing emails, scheduling, and other tasks.
  • Language teaching or translation services: Teaching a language to others or providing translation services for written or spoken content.
  • Freelancing: Working on a per-project basis for one or more clients, offering services such as writing, graphic design, or programming.
  • Part-time, temporary, and seasonal work: Take on employment that is not full-time or permanent, such as working evenings, weekends, or during specific seasons, to earn extra income.

Balancing Time Commitment and Earnings

When engaging in a time-based side hustle, balancing your time commitment with your earnings is crucial. Ensure that your hourly rate is worth your time and effort. Consider setting clear boundaries for your working hours to maintain a healthy work-life balance while preventing burnout.

By carefully selecting a time-based side hustle, setting competitive rates, and managing your time efficiently, you can create a valuable income stream that complements your lifestyle and financial goals.

Scalable Side Hustle Ideas

While some side hustles are limited by the amount of time you can invest, scalable side hustles offer the potential for growth and increased income over time. You can work on book series, product bundles, service packages, and upsells to scale faster.

By focusing on evergreen offers and leveraging online marketing strategies, you can continuously attract new customers and generate passive income.

Creating Passive Income Streams

Passive income streams, such as affiliate marketing, rental properties, or dividend investing, can provide ongoing income with minimal ongoing effort. By building a portfolio of passive income sources, you can gradually increase your earnings and achieve financial independence.

Scaling Through Outsourcing and Automation

As your side hustle grows, consider outsourcing tasks or automating processes to save time and increase efficiency. It can include hiring freelancers for specific tasks, using software tools for automation, or delegating responsibilities to a virtual assistant. By streamlining your operations, you can focus on strategic growth and scaling your business.

By choosing a scalable side hustle and implementing strategies for growth, you can transform your side venture into a significant income source and potentially even a full-time business.

Examples of scalable side hustles

Some scalable side hustle ideas include:

  • Affiliate marketing: Affiliate marketing is a straightforward business model based on two principles: find high-converting products and drive targeted traffic to affiliate links. It is not easy but achievable on a low budget with consistent work. 
  • Selling proprietary goods: If you have an idea for a product, you can create proprietary goods and market them under your brand.
  • Start an e-commerce store: This can involve selling products online through your store or platforms like Amazon.
  • Digital product creation: Selling digital products such as audiobooks, e-books, online courses, or stock photography can be a scalable side hustle.

Assess the market demand, potential for growth, and the resources required to scale the business.

Side hustles according to age groups

Choosing the best side hustle according to age groups is subjective, as it depends on various factors such as skills, personal interests, and financial goals. However, based on the prevalence of side hustles among different age groups, some may be more appealing or suitable for specific age groups.

For example, younger generations like Gen Z and millennials tend to prefer high-growth, high-income side hustles like freelancing, consulting, and gig work. These side hustles often require flexibility and adaptability, which younger people may have in greater abundance.

Older workers, such as those in their 50s and 60s, may be more interested in side hustles that offer a steady income, flexibility, and the potential to make catch-up retirement contributions. Side hustles like life coaching, tutoring, pet sitting, craft selling, and travel agency work are popular among older adults.

Ultimately, the best side hustle for an individual will depend on their unique circumstances.

Side Hustle Prevalence and Earnings by Age Group

Age GroupPrevalence (%)Average Monthly Earnings
18-2424%$533.43
25-3430%$925.95
35-4422%$944.82
45-5413%$891.76
55-647%N/A
65+4%N/A

Side Hustle Market Overview

StatisticData
Overall Prevalence (18-34)54%
Millennials with Side Hustle50%
Gen Z with Side Hustle70%
U.S. Side Hustle Market ValueOver $2.58 trillion
Baby Boomers (59-77) with Side Hustle24%
Gen Z Reporting Side Hustle40%
Millennials Reporting Side Hustle39%
Side Hustlers Starting for Passion37%
Side Hustlers Starting to Do What They Love41%
Young Adults Wanting Side Hustle as Career25% of Millennials, 22% of Gen Z
Reasons for 50+ to Have Side HustleCatch-up retirement contributions, increasing cost of living

Sources:

Final thoughts

Choosing the right side hustle can be a transformative journey, offering additional income, personal fulfillment, and professional growth. You can find a venture that aligns with your skills, interests, and lifestyle by conducting a preliminary evaluation, considering many criteria, and exploring various side hustle options. 

Whether you opt for a service-based, product-focused, time-based, or scalable side hustle, the key to success lies in your commitment, creativity, and willingness to adapt and learn. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come with your chosen side hustle, and enjoy the journey towards achieving your financial and personal goals.


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