Sponsored Content | Brand Spotlight Partner What's This?

What Are the Best Side Hustles?

Photo by Judit Peter | Pexels

Diving into the dynamic world of side hustles, we've gathered insights from entrepreneurs and creators on how they turned their passions into profitable ventures. From a freelancer writer's journey from layoff to full-time writing to leading the photo organizing industry, explore the diverse experiences and potential earnings of our twenty professionals as they share their side hustle stories.

From Layoff to Full-Time Writing

I started my side gig as a marketing content writer when I was laid off from my corporate retail marketing position in 2014. This was the second time in three years that I'd been laid off, and a career change seemed like a good idea. I thought the writing work would keep me afloat while I figured out my next step. The next step turned out to be leading a marketing and communications team for a nonprofit. It was work I loved and found meaning in. However, I also found that I loved the writing work. So, I kept the side gig going throughout my seven-plus years at the nonprofit. I refined my writing style and expertise. I collected a stable of very regular and happy clients. I thought the side gig would be a great way to ease into retirement when I was ready. But a change in leadership changed my plans again. For my mental health, I needed to leave my beloved nonprofit position. As always, my side gig saved me. I'm now a full-time brand strategist and content writer. It's no longer a side gig; it's now my entire future. And I couldn't be happier.

Pam Georgiana, freelancer writer/content creator, Pam Georgiana

Travel Blogging Full-Time

My side hustle sprang from the downtime created by the COVID-19 lockdowns of early 2020, when I made the decision to transform my well-researched travel plans into a full-fledged travel blog—and figure out how to make money from it, too.

The next couple of years were tough—I was balancing a demanding role at a tech company with blogging in every spare moment I had. But I persisted, and in August 2022, I made the leap from corporate life to running my travel blog full-time. Now, my earnings are on track to surpass what I made in the corporate world.

The real payoff, however? I've gained autonomy, independence, and a much deeper sense of fulfillment. I feel like I'm building something with unlimited potential, which has been extremely liberating. It also proves that with hard work and a clear strategy, that side hustle you're dreaming about is not only viable; it can fundamentally change your life for the better.

Isabelle Hoyne, Travel Blogger & Online Entrepreneur, Cultured Voyages

Career Coaching Business Success

While an undergrad in college, I launched my career-coaching side hustle on Fiverr, charging five dollars to provide resume reviews and write LinkedIn profile summaries for job seekers.

Over time, based on my dad's advice, I doubled my prices each time I had a waitlist, from $5 to $10 to $20, etc.

I made multiple business pivots along the way. My business began as a resume review service for anyone looking for a job. I then transitioned into a boutique resume-writing service for tech professionals, and then again toward career and interview coaching for senior managers and executives in Silicon Valley.

In 2017, I left my safe, full-time position at a university to dedicate 100% of my time and energy to my business.

A decade later, I now run a multi-six-figure career coaching business and serve as a trusted confidant to senior managers and executives in tech. My clients have included some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley and the world.

Dr. Kyle Elliott, Founder & Tech Career Coach, CaffeinatedKyle.com

Cleaning Company's Nine-Year Growth

Unlike typical entrepreneurs, my path was not straight out of business school and was crafted with a myriad of experiences, from odd jobs to travel experiences, that enabled me to understand the needs of my community. I'm committed to providing customized and effective cleaning solutions.

My journey wasn't exactly a straight line. A few years ago, if you had told me that I would end up running a cleaning organization, I might have laughed. But life is funny that way, isn't it?

I was 22 years old, working in a call center doing customer service. I would browse the internet in between calls, and I found a Reddit post on how to start and build a cleaning company in 27 days. I followed every step that was laid out and started earning a little revenue from this side hustle, and nine years later, here we are.

I began operations in 2015 and grew from $20k in revenue a month in September 2021 to now doing $300k in February 2024, with an employee headcount of 26 people. I am forecasting $4.5-$5 million in revenue this year. I currently have 350 cleaning teams around the country. I realized I enjoyed jobs that created a tangible outcome.

There is something satisfying when you witness your efforts manifest into something definitive and clear. I started to assist with cleanup, and by the end of this, it not only made the house look great, but I also found the work satisfying. From there, the seed of what would become my current company started to take a definitive shape. I saw the chance to create an organization that was not about cleaning but focused on making an individual's life easier.

Rocky Vyong, Founder & CEO, Calibre Cleaning

Handicraft Passion to Embroidery Shop

I own an embroidery and monogramming shop located in Eastern Kentucky.

I have always been interested in making beautiful things. As a child, I was drawing on every scrap of available paper and building artistic "masterpieces" with pieces of scrap lumber. As I grew older, I discovered handicrafts and eagerly learned how to cross-stitch, latch-hook, and knit. I loved taking raw materials and creating something that existed in my imagination with them. I started machine embroidery in 2011 and haven't looked back since!

What started as one flatbed machine has grown into a dedicated studio with seven multi-needle machines and a recent expansion into sewing and future planning for in-house digitization services. We are pleased to see our growth on schedule to reach six figures this year.

Cassie Mace, Owner, Creator, She's Sew Vain

Working as a College Marketing Adjunct

I'm a PR and Marketing Manager for a college. In the past, I've had side hustles in editing, writing, and promotions, but now I take all that I know and do on a daily basis to teach college marketing classes as an adjunct professor. The department actually approached me with the opportunity, preferring to have business students learn from people in the field, and I started teaching both online and in-class.

I've found that teaching others about what I do has increased my own confidence as well as given me a purpose outside of my tasks. I feel renewed in my work—and adding a second revenue stream doesn't hurt, either. As a professional, it is easy to be worn down in a quest to be successful, so it's a great benefit to get to pause and remember why I chose my profession. I also get a new perspective by focusing on students instead of myself. I highly recommend it!

Lisha Dunlap, PR Marketing Manager, Chandler Gilbert Community College

Photography Passion to Professional Income

I started taking photos back when I was in college, in my second year, and then after college, I started working with my family business, and photography was a side hustle. A few years later, I realized my passion for photography and decided to get a professional diploma in Photography from VanArts, Canada. After completing my diploma, this side hustle became a second stream of income for me. I earn an approximate INR 5-10 lakhs in a year, depending on how many projects I pick up.

Dhruv Mehta, Architectural Photographer, DMP

Piano Playing on Cruise Ships

I am quite lucky to be able to say that my side hustle is playing piano on cruise ships, while running my businesses remotely. I realized I could combine my passion for music with my entrepreneurial spirit through remote work, and I've been benefiting from both ever since!

I am now able to travel the world, entertaining guests with my music, while simultaneously managing my organization and coaching clients remotely. What began as a way to indulge my love for playing piano has evolved into a lucrative side hustle that allows me to enjoy my passion for music (and traveling) while also maintaining my professional commitments.

It has been a great thrill to be able to do this, and I look forward to continuing to do this in the future!

Robert Roth, CEO, Quote For Solar Group

SEO Expertise to Travel Website

My latest side hustle is in the travel space. As full-time digital marketers, my partner and I leveraged our SEO, content, and PR experience to create a website that connects holiday planners with the best deals and local details to book their dream holidays in Andorra.

This primarily came about from my passion for the gorgeous mountain country that I call home. I'm so fortunate to have discovered this place and want to help others do the same. Additionally, accurate and up-to-date information on Andorra in English can be hard to come by. We identified a gap in the market, and a demand that we felt we were able to meet, and started by putting the site together in our spare time.

Establishing our online presence first has given us an in with local businesses that we will continue to grow. While this is still a side hustle in its infancy, the success of our first winter season has given us the motivation to continue pushing—eventually creating an additional business that supports the outdoor lifestyle we love.

Jess Rodley, Bookings Director, Andorra Escapes

Formula 1 Model Reselling

Something that connects my passion for Formula 1 and my search for additional income to work on outside of being the chief editor for an F1 blog is selling models of Formula 1 cars. I know the history of F1 inside and out, and I'm regularly on the hunt for some deals on models of F1 cars. Some people are not aware that their "old toys" are worth quite a lot, and all it takes is being quick about it to secure your hands on some highly valuable stuff. For example, in February, I found an offer for a 1:18 model of the 1972 Emerson Fittipaldi Lotus, with a driver in the cockpit, which usually goes for $250. This one was listed for as little as $35 and described as "Found in the attic during cleaning."

So I order such models, have a look at how they appear, and determine whether they need some minor fixes or cleaning with compressed air. A couple of bright photos, and the model can be relisted for a much higher price.

Now, this is not something super-reliable and relies heavily on being lucky with the hunt, but my most successful month was June 2023, where I made approximately $550 in profit. The only downside is that once listed for the average market price, the models can take time to be sold. Sometimes it takes only a couple of days, but some models I bought, relisted, and had to lower the price as nobody bought them throughout four months.

When I did the math in my Excel sheet, in 2023 I bought 16 models, sold 13 of them so far, and made approximately $3200 in profit. Is it the most profitable side hustle? Certainly not, but it's something that gives me a lot of joy and doesn't feel like work at all. Having the models come and go through my hands, being able to restore them is something I find great pleasure in, and I wouldn't mind doing it for half of the profit.

John Kawecki, Chief Editor, F1 Blast

Nomadic Adventure with UGC Creation

My most favorite and fun side hustle is creating User-Generated Content (UGC) for various brands. It all started from my love for taking aesthetic photos, which naturally led me to explore UGC creation. What began as a passion has now turned into a rewarding side hustle that fuels my nomadic van-life adventure.

Through UGC creation, I've had the opportunity to obtain my favorite products for free, such as delicious hummus and refreshing kombucha, which are essential for my on-the-road lifestyle. This side hustle also allows me to work from scenic backgrounds, capturing captivating content that resonates with their audience. That's right, I don't even have to post my own content. I send the content to them to use on their social pages!

One of my recent brand deals was with a beverage company. They sent me their new drink and paid me $350 for creating three user-generated content videos reviewing and showcasing their product. It was a fun and refreshing collaboration that not only provided me with income but also allowed me to stock up my fridge with fun drinks! Which is a huge deal for me, since fun drinks are a main expense of mine.

This side hustle as a UGC Creator has been incredibly fulfilling, learning how to properly cold-email brands and try a bunch of new products! It also allows me the extra income and resources to fuel my nomadic van-life adventure across the USA!

Josie Stockman, Digital Marketing Specialist, International Business Seminars

Financial Expertise to Virtual Coaching

After spending several years improving my financial expertise at Wells Fargo, I decided to explore a new avenue by venturing into remote financial consulting on freelance platforms. I initially started by offering my services on various platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, using my experience and knowledge to attract clients seeking personalized financial guidance. Over time, my side hustle has evolved into a rewarding endeavor, allowing me to assist individuals from diverse backgrounds in achieving their financial goals. Depending on the workload, I typically earn between $1,500 to $2,000 per month through my consulting efforts. It's been an enriching experience to utilize my skills outside the traditional corporate setting, providing tailored financial advice to those in need.

Michael Ashley, Founder & Business Expert, Ashley Insights

LinkedIn Coaching and Strategy

I started side-hustling when I graduated from college because I was terrible at my full-time job and needed an outlet to develop my strengths. I did blogging, digital marketing, photography, social media management, and resume writing, and now I've landed on LinkedIn coaching and training, and social media strategy.

During undergraduate school, I focused on marketing, so it was easy to transition from marketing products to helping people market themselves with strong personal branding via LinkedIn. Soon after working with 1:1 clients, I led a LinkedIn training for a small group of women business owners and thoroughly enjoyed it! I officially registered my side hustle as a business after I made a couple thousand dollars in the first year and had three to four clients in the pipeline. I still have my business, and I'm working on scaling and growing - it's been a journey!

Portia Obeng, Social Media Strategist & LinkedIn Coach, Portia Obeng LLC

From Web Design to Marketing Agency

I tried my hand at web design in 2010 while making only $200 at my full-time job. That was low, even by Romanian standards.

A newborn passion for web design turned into a freelancing side hustle, which helped me earn enough to quit my job and go full-time into freelancing a year later. Little did I know that those freelancing gigs would become a full-blown marketing business in 2016.

From celebrating my first $100 web design gig to five-figure projects in 2024, that old side hustle became a borderless business serving clients in 15 countries, allowing me to live on four continents.

Gabe Marusca, Founder, Digital Finest

Engineering to LinkedIn Business Accelerator

In 2008, I was suddenly laid off from a Fortune 500 company during the financial mortgage crisis. That was when I decided to always have a backup plan in the form of either a side hustle or my own company.

The first side hustle I created in 2008 was leveraging my engineering degree to launch an environmental consulting business. Since I was successfully using LinkedIn for business development, I launched my second side hustle, which was a LinkedIn coaching business.

10 years later, in 2018, I turned that second side hustle into a full-time company. I reverse-engineered the success of over 500+ clients into a repeatable method to set in motion business development efforts that last for years.

The power of starting a side hustle gets you:

- social proof,

- client success stories, and

- a referral network to launch your business full-time.

Looking back, I am grateful for that initial layoff because it set in motion a path to build up a predictable income stream, growing an audience of over 47,000 followers, and reaching over 15+ million views from content built to last from speaking, video, and podcast opportunities.

Judi Fox, Founder, LinkedIn Business Accelerator, Judi Fox Consulting

Speaking Engagements Turn Professional

My side hustle originally started with speaking engagements. As I began working with clients to develop sustainable work cultures, I received more and more requests to provide advice and tangible strategies to other organizations.

It began virtually during the pandemic, as remote workers needed support to prevent burnout and navigate external challenges. Additionally, I supported leaders with pragmatic approaches to role-model effective allyship within their organizations, leading them to feel well-equipped to support their direct teams. This pragmatic approach and strategy led to speaking opportunities at various conferences, where I shared real-life scenarios and emphasized the importance of tailored strategies in workplace mental health and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB).

Now, speaking engagements have become a core service I offer within my business. By leveraging my expertise and adapting it to meet industry needs, I've been able to turn speaking engagements into a significant aspect of my professional endeavors.

Bhavik R. Shah, Founder & Culture Change Strategist, Bhavik R. Shah LLC

Passion Project Becomes Business

What started out as a passion project quickly turned into a business that promotes faith, courage, and deep inner strength.

My brand is founded on getting back up as many times as it takes and becoming more resilient as you climb up from the valleys and towards the peaks.

Through the fears of cancer, grief, heartbreak, and uncertainty, there's now peace, joy, and a renewing of the mind that comes from unwavering faith.

Being broken was how it started, but it's also what built and restored what was once lost.

Life is a climb, and your life is worth climbing for.

Kelley Tyan, Founder, Addicted To The Climb

Teaching Experience to Coaching Business

I have used my experience in teaching to start a coaching side hustle.

I specialize in coaching young people who are underperforming, disorganized, and demotivated to transform into elite students who are set for success in their exams.

I was fully aware of the value of the skills that I had accumulated over my teaching career, and rather than go down the typical teacher side hustle of tutoring, I wanted to try something different.

By carving out my own niche, I have thrived in the challenge of finding my own path rather than treading more familiar paths.

Ross Crabb, Founder, Academic Performance Coaching

Freelance Business Feasibility Consulting

I embarked on my side-hustle journey by recognizing my strengths, interests, and assessing the level of risk I was comfortable with. For those with a stable support system, like a tenured parent or spouse, diving into building a brand offering sophisticated services to a niche clientele could yield substantial returns, albeit with a longer gestation period for the initial client acquisition. On the other hand, for those with immediate financial responsibilities, opting for a side gig with a broader appeal might mean lower profit margins initially, but the volume of transactions could compensate for it. Regardless of the path chosen, the key is consistent effort—akin to a marathon, where daily practice and perseverance are crucial. Personally, I began as a freelance business feasibility consultant, and while it took me three months to secure my first client, thereafter, a steady stream of opportunities, both new and recurring, ensued.

Debashish Sakunia, Founder, FeasibilityPlus, FeasibilityPlus

Leading the Photo Organizing Industry

I didn't start out to create a new service industry, but that's what happened when I began helping family and friends with the transition from film to digital cameras back in the mid-2000s. I was helping them with emailing photos, making photo books, and moving photos from a memory card to a computer. One day, someone insisted that she pay me and gave me the fee of a professional organizer as an example of what I should earn. Upon arrival at her home, however, I realized it was a MUCH bigger job than I'd ever anticipated: backing up and organizing her digital photo collection, printed photo organizing, scanning of inherited family photos, and conversion of home media as well as album creation for family gifts. I left with a check in my pocket, ten more appointments, and a vision for a new business model.

In 2008, I opened PhotoSimplified to test my small business idea and was amazed at the response from clients! Before long, I was helping others start their own photo organizing business. That's when I had the idea to create an association for this new industry - The Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) was created in 2009 with 50 members. Within two years, it had grown to over 200 members along with our first annual education conference. We just had our 13th conference last month in Columbus and have over 700 professional members and 100 members in training, all over the world, in The Photo Managers (the revised name for APPO).

We have an amazing array of people, ranging from part-timers to those enjoying a second-act career to members who have created significant companies with numerous employees and grossing six and seven figures. They may come from diverse backgrounds, but they all share the same passion for doing meaningful work to help others.

As our membership has grown, so have our offers, which include courses for hobbyists, a Certification program for professional photo managers, and assistance to companies in creating backups and workflows for their images. We've created significant partnerships with companies like Mylio Photos, Epson, and Fuji Film to offer concierge services, assisting customers with their technology struggles.

This work gave me the opportunity to become a published author, with two books on the subject: 'Photo Organizing Made Easy: Going from Overwhelmed to Overjoyed,' and 'A Business Roadmap for Professional Photo Organizers.'

Financially, we grossed over $700K last year, and I anticipate accelerated growth for the next while. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 years old. There is a tsunami of Baby Boomers looking to downsize and do something meaningful with their legacy, telling their stories and passing on their photos and mementos to the next generation. But the younger generations want to save the memories, not the 'stuff,' which has increased the need for the help.

What is most satisfying to me is that we've helped hundreds of thousands of families access their photos, videos, and stories. I'm very proud to have created a profession that offers flexible, rewarding careers for hundreds of people worldwide, doing work they love and making a difference in people's lives. I'm truly thrilled and honored that I had the foresight to start an association model that has given people the training, skills, and certification they need. They have built amazing businesses, much bigger and beyond anything I had ever imagined.

Cathi Nelson, CEO and Founder, The Photo Managers