Updated on 10.19.17

50 Small Businesses You Can Start on Your Own

Trent Hamm

Not ready to quit your day job? Try one of these side business ideas.

In the past, I’ve discussed how it’s a good idea to spend your spare time dabbling in entrepreneurship: It fills your time with something that you choose (and thus you enjoy) and sets up a potential long-term revenue stream. I also discussed how I got a side business going myself.

Featured Work from Home Opportunity

But that was 2007, and quite a bit has changed since then. Where a side business was once a novel idea, it has since become much more mainstream. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, freelancers now make up around 15% of the workforce, compared to only 7% in 1995. And the trend isn’t expected to stop here. The BLS reports that freelancers and self-employed individuals may comprise 20% of the workforce by 2020.

Generating Business Ideas

Coming up with a good idea isn’t a static process; it involves a lot of trial and error. The best way I’ve found to generate ideas is to write and write often. Make lists every day of things that you might enjoy, and try to figure out how you could make money doing them. To help, here’s a list of 50 business ideas you can begin building as you continue plugging away at your 9-to-5.

Each of these ideas is very simple to start, and most can be done as a sole proprietorship at first (meaning you don’t have to file any legal documents to get started, though you will want to do that if it starts to take off). Most of these can be done at home in your spare time, and in your spare space, too.

See if there are any ideas below that fit you well. If you find an idea you like, do a bit of research or seek out a guide on how to get started in that area.

50 Business Ideas to Generate Side Income

1. Auto detailing

Have a meticulous eye for detail and love to get things gleaming clean? Auto detailing is probably a perfect side business for you. In essence, your job is to make cars sparkle inside and out – and many people are quite happy to pay well for this service.

2. Babysitting

Got lots of evenings free? Like kids? Babysitting may be a great side business for you. Keep an eye on multiple children on Friday and Saturday nights and you can earn some easy cash over time.

3. Rent out a room in your home

Have some extra space in your home? Turn that extra bedroom into a “bed and breakfast” room. If you live near any sort of tourist destination, you can try your hand at renting out a room through Airbnb or CouchSurfing.com. You may also find paid hosting opportunities in your community: Sign up to host exchange students, visiting professors to a nearby college, or hospital patients receiving long-term treatment.

4. Blogging

If you enjoy writing, find a topic you’re passionate about and start a website dedicated to covering that topic and anything else interesting you want to talk about. All you need is a computer, some time, and some energy to consistently write. It can start as a hobby and turn into a business over time. And blog hosting can cost less than $12 per month.

5. Buying and reselling on eBay

Thanks to technology, there are more opportunities than ever to buy and resell products for extra money. Plenty of people buy local and in-demand products at a discount and resell them on for profit.

6. Cake and cupcake baking and decorating

Enjoy baking and have a bit of an artistic touch? Learn how to decorate cakes and make them for special events. Sell your creations online via or your local neighborhood Facebook page, or at local farmers markets. Many people are willing to pay others to create custom cakes for birthday parties and special events.

7. Snowplowing

Live in an area with plenty of snowfall during the winter? If so, you could easily start a snowplow business by investing in a plow attachment for your pickup truck or Jeep. If you want to start smaller, you could even build your business by clearing driveways and walkways with a shovel or a snowblower.

8. Dog walking

Dog walking is the perfect side business for anyone who has a few hours to kill during the day. Once you get a few clients, you simply need to pick up their dogs and take them on long, leisurely walks that will tire them out and keep them in shape. Bonus: Walking dogs may help you in your quest to stay fit as well.

9. Freelance writing

If you’re good with words, you might be able to find some work as an online freelancer. A variety of publications need online content in the form of stories, product or service descriptions, and reports, and if you have the talent and skill, you could easily be the one to create them. Fortunately, all you need is a computer and Internet connection to get started.

10. Creating custom clothing

The Internet has created opportunities for people who can sew and design custom clothing for special events. Many people have found success creating custom birthday outfits for babies and selling them on sites like Etsy or eBay, for example. In addition to selling online, you could also market this service to people in your local community.

11. Housecleaning

Many people simply don’t enjoy cleaning their homes and are willing to pay a reasonable price to have someone do the work for them. This is a great way to earn extra money in a flexible way, particularly if you have time off during the workweek. And since you will be working for yourself, you can often choose your own hours, terms, and pay.

12. Pet sitting

When people go on trips, they’re often concerned as to what will happen with their pets. That’s where you step in — offer yourself as a safe place to leave their pets, or be willing to go to their home to take care of their pets. In many cases, people are more than willing to pay a qualified pet sitter in order to avoid sending their pet to a professional kennel.

13. Home daycare

Many states allow people to start an in-home daycare with minimal licensing and paperwork. If you love children and have plenty of time and space at home, this is a perfect business to get into. All you need is a safe room or two for children to play in, some toys and activities, and a whole lot of patience.

14. Cleaning services for businesses

Many businesses and civic institutions need individuals who can clean their offices and common areas outside of normal business hours. If you’re willing to work some nights and weekends, you can build a cleaning side business and get in shape all in one fell swoop.

15. Social media expert

Almost everyone uses , , and these days, but did you know that many companies will pay people to help them manage their social media accounts — sometimes even part-time from home? To find social media jobs, you can start by ing businesses with a social media presence and scanning sites like for opportunities.

16. Gourmet cookie making

If you love baking and are able to keep your hand out of the proverbial cookie jar, making gourmet cookies is a great side hustle with plenty of long-term potential. Start by learning how to execute unique and tasty gourmet cookie recipes, then seal the deal by creating or purchasing professional-looking packaging. Sell your cookies online or to people in your local community.

17. Antique refurbishment

This is a perfect side business for people who love antiquing. Take worn-out antiques home with you, invest the time and care needed to transform those old items into something amazing, then resell them at a profit.

18. Personal chef

I recently met a woman who earned quite a bit of money as a very part-time chef. Once a week, she would go to someone’s house and prepare a homemade meal for their family, then do all the dishes and cleanup work. This gives the family plenty of together time, while putting some cash in the woman’s pocket. If you love to cook, this can be a great opportunity, but you may have to put a lot of effort into searching for clients.

19. Event coordinator

Events like family reunions and large parties are often full of busywork that many people simply don’t want to tackle. That can be the perfect place for you to step in and take charge of the planning and coordination. And thanks to the Internet, it is now easier than ever to market your event planning services.

20. Event DJ

Are you an audiophile? If you have a great sound system and a large selection of music, you’ve already got what you need to hire yourself out as a DJ for various events and receptions. This is a great way to fill an afternoon or evening while also earning some cash in the process.

21. Exercise instructor

Many gymnasiums will trade membership and often a bit more for a person willing and able to teach an exercise class. You can also find people who don’t want to go to a gym and train them at home as a personal trainer. If you’re in good shape, this is a great opportunity to earn some extra money, it can often lead to additional income with one-on-one instruction opportunities.

22. Gardening services

I’ve actually fielded requests from others looking for people willing to do this, so the demand is out there. To put it simply, some people are willing to pay others to get a vegetable or flower garden started for them in their yard so they can have access to ultra-fresh produce without all the legwork. If you have a green thumb and some knowledge about the vegetables that grow well in your area, this would be an easy business to start.

23. Handyman services

Skilled at basic home repair? Let people know that they can call you for small repair jobs like basic plumbing, fixing a broken stair, and other things. You’d be amazed at the simple things people are willing to pay others to help them with.

24. Catering

If you love to cook, take the “Blondie” route and start a home catering business. Catering is a business that’s perfectly designed to reward those who plan well, and it can often fit perfectly into weekends, which could work great if you are trying to build a business outside of normal working hours.

25. Interior decorating

Fascinated by interior design? Have a huge collection of interior design materials around? Many people are quite happy to hire someone to help them decorate their home, and that’s especially true of those who want a magazine-caliber style yet don’t have an eye for design at all.

26. Pet yard waste cleanup

For many people in suburban areas, cleaning up pet yard waste is a real hassle – it’s disgusting, for one. Instead of cleaning it up themselves, they might hire someone to do it regularly, two to three times a week. There are several such services in our area, actually.

27. Knitting, crocheting, or quilting

Skilled at creating blankets and sweaters? There’s a huge market for these types of items – even better, you can usually make them in your spare time whenever you have it. As always, local shops and sites like are great venues to sell such items.

28. Landscaping services

Willing to mow lawns and trim bushes and trees? Many people are quite happy to pay for such services, and the demand is persistent: Nature just keeps growing… and growing… and growing. Not only is this a great side business for a fit adult, it’s also a great way for a teenager to get a small business started.

29. Furniture making

If you’re adept at woodworking and have some basic equipment, it’s easy to get into business making deck furniture. It only requires a few items – a saw, a drill, a sander – and some creativity and passion for working with wood. If you have the tools or just want to turn your hobby into a business, this may be a great small business idea for you. In addition to creating new items, you could also focus on repairing existing wooden furniture or woodwork.

30. Meal-to-go preparations

Remember my earlier post about breakfast burritos? Making meals in advance is a great way to save money for yourself – but you can often prepare these for others as well and sell them for a markup. Prepare eight casseroles, for example, then sell six of them to cover your costs, and you’ve got two free dinners for your family (and maybe a bit more). You can grow this by taking orders from others and finding out what they like.

31. Personal assistant

Thanks to sites like TaskRabbit, plenty of people have learned to pick up work doing a variety of side jobs that other people just don’t have time to do. Common tasks can include anything from picking up dry cleaning to making dinner or assembling Ikea furniture.

32. Pet grooming

Many people loathe bathing their pets and grooming their fur – I know I do. Pet groomers perform these tasks for a small fee – a perfect job for a person who loves dogs and cats.

33. Jewelry making

If you have a good eye for detail work and a lot of patience, homemade jewelry can be quite profitable. As with other items on this list, there are many opportunities to sell such items through local gift shops, craft fairs, or sites like Etsy.

34. Growing and selling produce

Like to grow vegetables? Focus in on one vegetable and sell the excess to grocery stores and at farmers’ markets. My father does this with tomatoes and earns some solid extra money during the summer months. You can do really well, though, if you can grow things inside during the winter – February fresh tomatoes can sell quite well.

35. Proofreading and editing

Have strong English skills and exceptional grammar? You may have opportunities to work as a proofreader from home. Advertising for this can be difficult; seek out those who might actually be able to use your services and advertise directly to them.

36. Scrapbook making

Many people dream of having beautiful scrapbooks but never take the steps to create them on their own. You can step in here – take their ideas and materials and assemble a scrapbook for them.

37. Slideshow making

Many people would love to have a beautiful slideshow to commemorate the passing of a loved one, an anniversary, or a special birthday. With a computer and some select software, you could quickly turn anyone’s pictures into a beautiful, custom slideshow, and profit handsomely for your time and effort.

38. Senior citizen assistance

Many elderly people need assistance with a wide variety of simple household tasks – cleaning, laundry, and so forth. Many adult children of elderly people are quite willing to hire someone to help out their parents.

39. Sewing and alterations

My wife is quite handy with a sewing machine and often hems and modifies our children’s clothes. She could easily take this a step further and offer her services to others, doing basic garment repair and modification for a small price on lazy evenings.

40. Computer troubleshooting

I had some success with this in the past, though I’ve largely moved away from it now. If you have a knack for fixing computers, this is a good place to start.

41. Public speaking

If you’re the type of person who can get the attention of a room easily, public speaking might be for you. Take advantage of every public speaking opportunity you can and you’ll be surprised at the opportunities that make themselves available for you.

42. Soap making and spa products

Making amazing homemade soaps and other spa products isn’t as hard as you might think – it just takes time and patience. Again, people value handmade items like these, which can easily be sold through local gift shops and websites like Etsy.

43. Giving music lessons

If you know how to play an instrument well (particularly the piano or the guitar) and have patience, you’ve got what you need to teach others how to play. Offer lessons in that instrument to others – this can also be an excellent service to barter with, too.

44. Tutoring

Did you major in a subject like English, history, or math in college, or do exceptionally well on the SAT exam? Do you have patience with children? If so, you likely have what you need to tutor kids in particular subjects. Seek out parents or teachers and let them know that you tutor students in a certain subject, and offer materials for them to share, and phone calls will often trickle in. You can get going locally or expand across the country by offering to tutor online.

45. Virtual assistant

Many ultra-busy professionals appreciate having someone who can check and answer their email, organize task lists for them, update their calendars, and other administrative tasks, with minimal interaction. The best part is that you can provide this service from home with a good Internet connection.

46. Website design

Many small businesses in your community could use a very basic web presence to tell others about their business. Quite often, these businesses don’t have a large budget for such things. That’s where you come in – get a bunch of clients from the local community by beating the pavement, create sites for them, and maintain them for a small fee. Get enough businesses and you have a nice side business of your own that doesn’t require a ton of maintenance time.

47. Wedding planner

If you’re one of those people who can’t help but flip through bridal magazines and think about various wedding arrangements in your daydreams, wedding planning might be the perfect thing for you. A great way to get started is to develop a website or blog on the topic, get to know people online, and promote your services at local wedding venues and throughout the community.

48. Affiliate marketing

If you play your cards right, certain types of businesses will pay you to promote their products and encourage sales. If you’re interested in learning more, check out affiliate marketing programs such as Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, LinkShare, and ShareASale.

49. Become a business or life coach

If you’re passionate about the business world or able to influence and encourage others in your own unique way, you may want to consider marketing your services as a business or life coach. Use your passion and expertise to give advice and suggest actionable steps people can take to improve their professional and personal lives.

50. Start a resume writing service

If you’re excellent at crafting amazing resumes that ultimately result in people getting the job, consider marketing those services. Most of your work will revolve around writing, editing, designing, and proofreading, so you will need few supplies outside of your computer and basic software to get started.

These are just some of the many side business opportunities that have grown more common in the past few years. However, there are many more out there already, in addition to some that are yet to be discovered.

As you embark on your new side business or “side hustle,” remember that you are only limited by your own imagination and skillset. Don’t be afraid to be creative, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t succeed.

You never know, unexpected success might be right around the corner.

And once you have things up and running, you might consider a business credit card that offers rewards to help manage your costs.

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  1. Cathy says:

    Wow – I’m doing 3 out of those 50 right now!

    Great list, Trent.

  2. momof4 says:

    Great ideas, though many times with food prep businesses you need to have or have access to a professional or business kitchen. Not sure what the laws are exactly, but a friend of mine paired up with a local restaurant to use their kitchen in order for her to sell her locally famous cookies. She could not run her business out of her home kitchen.

  3. Can you expand on your ideas for proofreading and public speaking? Where might you advertise for proofreading? And what kind of public speaking opportunities are you talking about?

  4. NRB says:

    Great list.

    I am in the process of starting up a housecleaning business on the side.

    My niche is that I use only all natural cleaning products that I make myself…so I guess I could classify it as “green” since most of the ingredients I use consist of baking soda, lemon juice, and essential oils.

    Customers love coming home to a very nice, natural smelling home…as opposed to an antiseptic chemical odor that lingers.

    It’s a little more elbow grease using homemade soaps and such, chemicals DO indeed clean faster, but hard work never killed anyone.

    Once I get a good route set up, I’ll hire someone to take it over, then start another route and repeat until…well…I’ve hopefully grow to the point where I can sell the business and retire.

    We’ll see.

  5. Kim @ money for disney says:

    I love this post! It’s so timely for me. I just gave myself an assignment to brainstorm twenty ways to generate some extra income this month on my blog. This has really helped me get the creative juices flowing.

  6. TEA says:

    Other options are print-on-demand sites online, such as cafepress.com or zazzle.com, where folks clever with visual art or pithy comments can make designs, and offer them on the site’s merchandise, for a cut of the profits. The trade off is less of the profit in your pocket for not having to deal with stock or printing or losing out on something that doesn’t sell, but this makes it a good possibility for someone who has the occasional good idea, but not the time or motivation to make it work on their own.

  7. calixti says:

    I’m a college student moving off-campus this summer–it’s actually way cheaper than the dorms (my projected twelve-month budget is about the same as the cost of a single semester in the dorms), but these ideas look super-helpful in helping make some extra money to save, thanks.

  8. Joe says:

    Two things –

    Refurbishing antiques will reduce their value, often substantially, so be aware of what you are working on before you alter it.

    Also, check with your local town hall with your business idea before beginning. Quite a number of small business require a license of some sort or may require you to collect taxes regardless of the amount of income you pull in (e.x. bed and breakfasts)

  9. Nick says:

    How is Pet Grooming a side business? Anyone wanting to do anything beyond a bath on someone’s pet should either study under an established, professional groomer or attend classes, something usually not offered in your town or the next town over. I wouldn’t even recommend an amateur bathing the animals of strangers due to the liability issues and the fact that people expect a professional job when they pay for grooming. Everytime we bathe, our customers usually want a nail trim as well. What is an amateur going to do when a nail bleeds relentlessly? Even if they do stop the bleeding, if it starts again when the client take the animal home, they’re going to hear some serious gripes and probably a request or lawsuit for vet bills. Not to mention the ear cleaning solutions, eye cleaners, anal gland expression, and the other slew of services that customers expect. Establishing yourself as a groomer should be considered a serious line of work, not a casual side business. The investment in equipment and supplies would not allow a frugal person to take such a job. With clippers at least $100, blades for the clipper at least $30 each, and you will need probably 10 different sizes, and the ongoing replacement of shampoos, flea shampoos, ear cleaners, eye cleaners, etc, a person could not possibly make a side business out of pet grooming. With all of those costs associated with the field, a person doing this on the side will have no ability to undercut the professionals in town, therefore the clients will have no reason to not go with the professional. If anyone wants to make money grooming, either study under an established groomer or take classes.

  10. I actually open bank accounts in order to get bonuses which range anywhere from $25 to $200 per cccasion. It’s not a lot of money, but anything extra helps right?

    I also maintain blog of course, which is fun.

  11. bethany says:

    my main job is as an academic, and I have considered hiring proofreaders in the past – this would be a good place to advertise for these services.

  12. Steve W says:

    Online poker! Have fun and make money. Oh yeah, skill required. But if you are good at the game, you can make serious bucks. Pokerstars or Full Tilt are the most reputable and best managed.

    My wife loves to paint and averages $500 for a single portrait and $2K for a group portrait.

  13. MK says:

    While many of these ideas are good, I think you may be making some of these professions look like they are quite easy, and take no prior skills. Also, many of these you need some type of license.

    While none of these are my particular profession, I feel like your list might be devaluing those who are already in these businesses- selling cookies and candy isn’t as easy as just making some stuff in your kitchen. Grooming dogs isn’t as easy as sending out flyers and washing a dog in your bathtub.

    Being in the wedding business, I do know being a planner isn’t something to just “start” doing. You need to try it out with an established coordinator, do a few friends/colleagues weddings, and go from there- it’s not something to enter lightly- it’s someone’s important day and not knowing what you’re doing could really stir things up.

    I’m not saying that people shouldn’t give these professions a try on the side, but I think a lot of research and thought need to go into these businesses before actually starting one.

  14. paula d. says:

    I have had many of these “side jobs” as real jobs and it takes as much work or more that a “regular” job. I have taught knitting, made jewelry, grown orchids and currently I’m into making sewn knitting bags.

    In the past I’ve been semi successful with all these side jobs, but now that I’ve been laid off my last job, they all seem much more attractive and my enthusiasm for success it much greater than it has ever been. The multiple streams of income is easier when you can do many different types of things. It’s more interesting and keeps me from getting bored.

    Plus, I like my boss!

  15. Dear Samus says:

    I love this list! I’m going to try to do some of these to generate some cash to pay off some debt of mine. Thanks!

  16. Anne says:

    A few people have already touched on this but if you do anything involving food please please PLEASE make sure you know the local rules & regulations associated with handling food for sale to the public.

    Also if you do anything with food or other peoples’ stuff please get insurance first and make sure your personal and professional accounts are kept 100% separate.

  17. Valerie says:

    I have been wanting to start a baking side-business but I’m in NY and it requires a license in order to sell baked goods from your home. And unfortunately I don’t know where to begin to get that. Thanks for the list!

  18. Dwight says:

    I decided that frugality would be my “business”. I work four days a week and spend one day doing things for myself so I don’t have to pay the plumber, I don’t have to pay for convenience foods, I don’t have to commute as much, I don’t pay as much tax….

  19. LauraH says:

    Candle-making is a wonderful thing, particularly if you can trade garden space to a beekeeper for wax. Please, please remember, though, that molten wax is very flammable, and keep a fire extinguisher on hand!

  20. ron johnson says:

    Here is a great business I found. I get paid to give away for free this incredible software that guarentees you the best price on every thing you are buying for info:

  21. Denise says:

    I, too, have done many of these things as side jobs. Unfortunately with the economy tanking, many of these businesses are going under. People are unwilling to pay out money for the “extras”.

  22. Margaret says:

    Great idea comment #12.

    I also had to stop at the cake decorating one. I would LOVE to do this as a side business, but most provinces and states do not permit this from your home kitchen. In my province, to do this from home I would need a second, seperate kitchen. As somoene once said when told they should sell their cakes, I would love to, but that first one would cost $30,000. I know a lot of people do this under the table, but if you are caught, the fines can be in the hundreds or thousands of dollars. I can’t even ask for reimbursement of the cost of ingredients. I am not happy about this, but there it is. If someone is looking into it, you need to get in touch with your agriculture department or public health inspector to start finding out requirements.

  23. This is a great list of ideas! Everyone who contemplates a business, even a “side business” needs to do a bunch of research and prep at the beginning, however! Else, a lot of time and money can be wasted. Some kind of business plan, while it doesn’t need to be fancy and formal, should exist.

    -Adeena Mignogna
    author of “Cute Little Store: between the entrepreneurial dream and business reality” and the new “Cute Little Store 2: what ever happened to that cute little store?”

  24. allison says:

    I stopped at the cake decorating idea. While a wonderful activity, some of the above posters are correct. Because selling food involves risk (think food poisoning, expired ingredients, etc.) decorators need to be licensed. Some states and localities do allow home-based kitchens, but those are few and far between. In many areas a person must work from a commercial kitchen. You must be licensed through the local health department and have your kitchen inspected. Don’t forget liability insurance in case someone does get sick or sues…

  25. Lenore says:

    Despite the regulatory and safety issues that you didn’t know about (and which several comments have addressed), I think this was one of your best articles to date, Trent. It’s timely and helpful advice as many struggle with inflation or unemployment. Perhaps you could do a follow-up on rules and tax regulations for enterprises of these sorts.

    I have an English degree and some time on my hands, so I’ve thought about proof reading or tutoring. I’d like to find one or more high school or college students from low-income homes and help them for free (or very cheap, if they or their parents aren’t comfortable accepting obvious charity). So far I haven’t figured out where or how to hook up with potential pupils, but this post helped me think of some new ideas and may be just the inspiration that gets me going. Thanks!

  26. Jennifer says:

    @Lenore above – you can start finding tutees by posting a well-written ad on craigslist in the “lessons and tutoring” section and also printouts of your ad posted on public bulletin boards around town. That is how I started. Once you have tutored for 2 or 3 different families, the best way to keep the tutoring going is through referrals from those families! At the end of each school year I ask the familes I tutored for (in biology) to keep me in mind for friends with students who are taking biology NEXT year – and I always wind up with phone calls the following September. :)

    To get a good idea of how to write a good craigslist tutoring ad, take a look at a lot of the ones that are already posted there first! This will also give you a good idea of 1) how much you could charge for the subject you are tutoring and based on your level of experience 2) how far you should be willing to travel to and from a tutoring job 3) if you will require extra $ to give feedback over e-mail once in a while (I don’t) 4) many other smaller details you need to consider before you start tutoring. :)

  27. JW says:

    A couple of quick things. First, if you want to tutor students, I would suggest calling the high school or middle school guidance department. I teach HS, and our guidance department is kind enough to keep a running list of potential tutors in different subject areas. This might not be true at all schools, but it’s a place to start.

    Another idea for those who are very detail-oriented, but maybe not inclined to be proofreaders is indexing. All those books that have indexes need someone to create them, and from what I understand the author doesn’t always do this. I don’t have any idea what type of education or training is required for this, but the head of my department does this on the side for a small publisher. She enjoys it and the publisher is thrilled to have someone who does the work well and quickly.

  28. ed says:

    dont forget painting. the start up costs are very small. word of mouth makes it an easy way to get more jobs. a bedroom here and a kitchen there helps boost your income. a great side job. of course you will need some skills and you will soon become faster and more effecient. i started with the minimum gear and graduated to using throw away drops (plastic) and easy clean roller covers.

  29. Bea Helf says:

    Online media consultant Like participating on message boards, Facebook, Twitter, and so on? Become an online media consultant and help people promote things. Start small – help local businesses get a presence on Facebook and set them up with Twitter. From there, you can grow to whatever works for you.

    I have seriously considered hiring someone to not only set this up but teach me what to do. So if you know of anyone…

  30. SB says:

    Like always Trent, an excellent article.

    I have a few thoughts on some of the benefits of a side business that Trent hadn’t pointed out.

    I’ve returned to college as a mature student. I’ve attended classes and have had to pay rent and other expenses like many people. I decided to start a small housecleaning business on the side. In my area I can easily charge $20/hr. This has meant that I can work less hours and it frees up more time for studying. I’m ready to graduate, but I’m going to keep my small cleaning business going on the side.
    There are a few reasons for this. There were benefits that I was not of that aware existed. I have control over my time, I can pick and choose who I work with, and it is a good “back up plan” in case anything goes wrong with other employment. Less hours at my regular job and I can increase hours at the housecleaning. I’ve worked very hard and my clients will be keeping me, even in this recession we are having.
    One more interesting benefit – it has been an excellent way to network as some of my clients are executives!

    Trent, I absolutely love your articles. They are very well thought out and they have made a big difference in my life. Thankyou!

  31. Julie says:

    I used to be a passionate vintage/thrift/secondhand shopper – in fact, I prefer older things to new; they are usually better made, and of superior materials.

    However, I’ve stopped, since buying used items is one of the best ways to get bedbugs. Not only are bedbugs a nightmare, but the expense involved in getting rid of them will more than eat up any money you saved by buying secondhand.

    Trent, you need to acknowledge this fact when you advise people to buy used items.

  32. John Huegel says:

    Don’t forget photography! There are dozens of areas in which a talented photographer can earn money, from pet photography to documenting assets for insurance, local business promotions/brochures, to portraits and local landscape and tourism images.

  33. Sharon says:

    Another couple of things to consider:
    Working at a health club teaching fitness usually requires some certificates: CPR for one, but many will also require training in how to teach , since it is easy to hurt students with improper technique. And it doesn’t just require that you are “fit” and need a little cash.

    And…blogging? Really? I don’t know anyone making moolah out of just blogging. Selling ad space on an active website, sure. But really…”blogging” makes money how?

    I did enjoy your list, even if some didn’t seem as practical as others.

  34. Robin Crickman says:

    Some public spirited folks in my area organized
    a useful approach for people who want to sell
    foodstuffs. They set up a commercial kitchen
    at a city owned facility and rent it out by the
    hour to people who want to make food items for
    sale. The renters do have to complete a vo-tech
    course on safe food handling (not horribly pricey)
    and are limited in which food items they can
    prepare. I know that jams and jellies from
    locally grown produce is particularly popular.
    There is an offer (but not required) for the
    producers to sell through the area farmers
    market as well. This was done in my area to
    assist various ethnic and some counter-culture
    folks in preparing items in demand in their own
    communities, but has moved to a much wider
    audience of food preparers. Maybe some people
    want to work to set up such a program where
    they live; its doing well by doing good.

  35. Margaret says:

    Further to my comment about food regulations — there are some foods that can be made in a home kitchen and sold, but it is a limited list. It’s something you really have to look into (unless, I suppose, you are only selling to friends and family and are sure they wouldn’t report you), and sometimes it is hard to get correct information.

  36. Ann Marie says:

    Cake making–this is how many cakes find their way to Cake Wrecks, I’m guessing. By amateurs who just up and decide they are professional b/c they like to bake and are “artistic.” :-)

    Scrapbook Making–NOT cheap to buy the materials to create scrapbooks. I’m obsessed with the hobby. I know. LOL

    Teaching music–Believe it or not, knowledge and patience are not the only skills you need to be a good teacher. Understanding of learning theories, teaching strategies, music theory, improvisation and ear training techniques, an ability to prioritize curricular goals based on a student’s unique abilities and learning style, and a lot of organization go into this field…

    Just saying. :-) I know a lot of these are popular, as hobbies turned money making venture. And I know a lot of people will make money off of them. But I also know there’s more than meets the eye in many of the fields you mentioned. And I personally would many times prefer to work with someone with true expertise, knowledge, and training… which is why I tend to avoid hobbyist businesses. There’s a lot more I could say here, but it’s longwinded already. LOL

  37. Andrea says:

    I would be leery of recommending Etsy. It has begun to get a flea-market quality to it (and I have been a seller on Etsy since 2007). Furthermore, the sheer volume on the site and abysmal support means that someone’s chances of being visible are fairly low. I would recommend Artfire or 1000Markets if your work is good.

  38. SB says:

    I agree with Anne Marie about teaching music.(#21), I take piano lessons myself and I feel that an instructor should have minimum Grade 10 Royal Conservatory. My personal experience has been that the instructors with some university training or a degree are the best as the have a thorough understanding of music.

  39. Robin Crickman says:

    Another thought; a friend once suggested this to
    me as a way to bring in extra income. If you love
    local history and have reasonable writing skills,
    consider doing family histories. You interview the
    family members, especially the elderly members of
    the family and then you write a history/autobiography for the family. After doing
    a few of these, I suspect that a person would get
    pretty good at guiding interviews and getting to
    the really interesting things for that family.

    Oh, and Trent, I hope you are planning a follow
    on article on how to promote your side business.
    Part of the effort is selecting the right business
    and doing it well, but another big part of it is
    promoting your offering. Tips on how to do that
    inexpensively would sure be welcome.

  40. melanie says:

    I agree with Andrea about Etsy. It’s become absolutely flooded. There are some very beautiful things on there and some sellers do well. But there are some things that I think pull it in the fleamarket direction. The fees can also add up on Etsy as they charge .20 to list on top of their commission when your item sells. With so many people listing all day your it item quickly gets buried on page 2 million and you have to shell out 20 more cents to get back to the front of the line.

    Also because of the new consumer safety laws that went into effect in February it is very difficult to legally sell kids toys. You have to get lead testing done.

  41. Battra92 says:

    The weekly garage sale thing used to be very common here and now it’s outlawed (western MA) since they were essentially tax free stores. They allow you to have two per year by permit. Stupid but whatever.

    Thank God you didn’t say photographer or I would be unleashing the flood gates.

  42. Shelly says:

    A couple of other side jobs:

    Taking online surveys. I usually earn around $10 on a slow month and $50 on a good month just taking online surveys for cash. It does take some effort and time but if you have the time to spare it’s actually somewhat interesting, especially when the survey becomes a product test. I’m actually testing two products right now and will get paid extra for both. Just don’t sign up for any site that claims a significant income or looks fishy — there are definitely some scams out there.

    Some sites to start with: Pinecone Research (when they’re recruiting), Viewpoint Forum, BuzzBack Research, Opinion Outpost, Survey Savvy.

    Mystery Shopping. This is a great side job because you can choose your assignments based on your schedule. I do it now and again, though I’m very picky as to what I sign up for and only go for the ones that truly interest me. I’ve done “alcohol shops” for a restaurant chain before — basically, I go out for dinner and order a drink to see if they card me. The check is paid for, AND I get paid additional for submitting the report. I’ve also had the opportunity to do “theater checks” where you go to audit the trailers that show before a movie.

    Again this is one where you have to be careful, because some companies claiming to do mystery shopping are really just giant scams, but you can find the legal ones at mysteryshop.org or jobslinger.com.

  43. kristine says:

    Wow. Great tips on the survey sites and the art markets, thanks everyone!

    Food prep- serious regulations there- most resellers will want to see your food prep license.

    Babysitting- make sure you do not exceed ratio regulations where you live- 2 infants per adult, 5 toddlers per adult, that kind of thing. And I would want to sit them in the parent’s home, not my own. Reduces liability.

    Isn’t it sad that we have to think of liability all the time? Oh well.

  44. Sumi says:


    I sell on etsy! There is an amazing site where you can get selling tips to make tons of sales.

    Check it:

  45. Kat says:

    Another side job: Teaching Dance

    Quite often you can teach night group lessons in salsa dancing or ballroom dancing at a studio, a club, or at a local cultural arts center. This can be just a few hourse a week and you can expand to teaching private lessons if you have the time.

  46. Hi Trent,

    A long list and yet 50th is not the end.

    But due to your 50 list, what I ever done is tutoring when i was studying at college.

    Now, I am enjoying blogging.

    My next step is learning about web design.

    I just love learning, find something new, improving myself and running business



  47. Jack says:

    Great Post! This summer I am going to start a couple of my own side businesses and a few of the ideas in your article sound really fun and interesting to me. I also think that having the variety of running several small side businesses will help me combat boredom and increase my experiance with entreprenuership. Thanks again for the post!

  48. Daniel says:

    Good list, but be aware Uncle Sam will be there to knock you down before you really get going.

    My wife recently got put out of business by a Health Department that wanted here to shell out thousands a year for the right to sell bread at a local farmers market. You’ll need a commercial kitchen and food permit for any cooked/processed food in most areas.

    I considered making and selling toys, but here federal consumer protection laws make this difficult to do as anything but a large mega-corp. Do you know how many VOCs your toy emits?

  49. plantdetective says:


    Please remove ‘trimming’ trees from your list. Pruning trees is a technical and dangerous profession and shouldn’t be lumped together with mowing.

  50. Sketchee says:

    A lot of the comments remind us that many of these specialized skills need a lot of education, preparation and homework. But I wouldn’t let that discourage you. If you’re planning to get into any of these, just know that it’s a long term investment and not something to start overnight.

    Starting a business on the side and slowly expanding it (if you find it’s something you love) is often preferable to just quitting your job and trying to start a business. My mom started selling food as a caterer and at festivals in DC and Baltimore. It did take a lot of investment in equipment and a lot of homework to pick up on regulations, but she did it.

    A lot of people have talent in music, art, etc and with the right amount of homework could turn these into a business. Definitely learn about insurance, contracts, etc if you’re going into any of this. I’m an artist, blogger and pianist on the side working as a graphic designer in the real world. It can work

  51. Kevin says:

    Starting a computer business is indeed find income. But the important thing to note is this; You must first get an LLC, so that nothing can come against you if you make an unrepairable mistake on someones computer. Saying you have a degree in computers doesn’t necessarily make it so. You have to protect yourself too :)

  52. bonnie says:

    great list but the only thing is the dj
    one i have done research on this for my husband
    and we even called the ones in charge of the music and copy rights on music. you must pay for the music that you bring with them to the dmc i think that’s the name. the way around this is they supply you the music and pay you for the dj time
    other wise you can get in trouble

  53. whoops says:

    landscaping? sure, let me go down to home depot and stand around in the rain with a hundred illegals all waiting for the next pickup to come by and pay us in subway sandwiches. this is something i’m supposed to *want* to do????

    cleaning services for businesses? ugh, okay, another exploitation-rich-environment which is a mainstay of illegals. scrub toilets? no thanks, i have a marketable skill.

    and what are you people going to make in any of these jobs? 5k a year? geez people, i have it on me, no need to demean yourselves.

  54. Tom says:

    Be careful making toys. There are new consumer protection laws regarding lead testing in products intended for children that can make it a very expensive endeavor.

  55. Dave Ross says:

    For most of the business ideas listed above whether it is education, handcrafts, cooking, offering services in general, there is a myriad of so called ‘marketplaces’ out there which can help the most bootstrapped entrepreneur get off the ground for free (assuming he/she knows what he/she is doing!).

    As someone mentioned above, etsy.com for certain handcrafts, eLance or craiglist for professional services…and the less obvious like foodsie.com or bookofcooks.com for cookie making/catering/cake decorating/meals on the go, airbednbreakfast.com for bed & breakfast, or schoolofeverything if you feel you are qualified to teach anything (from piano lessons to yoga).

    The list goes on and on….I would go out on a limb to say that a thousands of folks out there today are probably already making a living from regularly listing on 3-5 of whatever the top sites are on their category (education, food, services, etc)!

  56. Dave says:

    As a freelance designer, I take a bit of offence with the second-to-last one. I often struggle to find clients precisely because there are people out there who think that “web designer” means “anyone who can use Dreamweaver.”

    Good web design is much, much more than finding a free template. Someone who is getting paid to do web work owes it to their clients to know how to code, know standards and best practices, and know the design theory that goes into making a good site.

  57. Aaron says:

    I’m lucky in that I live on an American embassy. People here are simply too busy to do computer work themselves and are willing to pay reasonable rates for nearly anything computer related

  58. Matt Martin says:

    Great stuff here and the comments got some ideas flowing for me. Thanks!

    Going to check out 1000Markets and Artfire now!

  59. TimeForDollars :-( says:

    All of these ideas trade your time for dollars. How many hours do you have in a day? My recommendation is to look for opportunities that leverage your knowledge and allow you to earn residual income.

  60. mushroom-boy says:

    What a great list.
    I have also been using sites like to get paid to blog and some other tech skills

  61. adri says:

    There is a lot of chance I have to choose one to change my life

  62. Mizzle says:

    I’d be hesitant to call knitting (and sewing and quilting) a side *business*.

    I see handknit socks going for $45 on Etsy, and a tea cozy for $30. Unless someone is an extremely fast knitter, these items took at least ten hours to make, and it could very well be many hours more.

    Material costs can hardly be less than $10 (for these two items), which would make the hourly wage $3.50 at most…

    I think people are doing this because they enjoy knitting(/sewing/quilting) and want to recoup some of the cost of their hobby (yarn can be expensive), and because they want others to experience the joy of handmade stuff.

  63. Alex Ward says:

    Christ! Will people please stop suggesting that the average person start web design busineses, REAL web designers spend years honing their craft and making sure that the sites we produce are standards and accessibility compliant, most of us have spent time studying toward a qualifiation to ensure that the work we put out is of the highest quality.

    Its the bedroom webdesigners of the world who think that thanks to movies like ‘The Net’ and the simplicity of sites like geocities that webdesign is easy and are saturating our market with cheap and low quality websites. They are the reason why hard working professionals like me have had to reduce our prices drastically over the years.

    I’m all for a bit of healthy competition but when it comes from someone selling a God-awful website to an unknowing customer for £50, it becomes incredibly unfair as all the pseudo-webdesigners are doing is taking advantage of the customers lack of technical knowledge.

    Its the equivalent of being told to start a side business selling home made cars constructed from cardboard boxes, they may be cheap but they won’t work properly and its as a rediculous a concept to think that someone with limited experience could start such a business.

    Please leave web-design to the professionals or at least go on a decent training course to make sure you know what you are doing.

  64. Karin says:

    Regarding all the different comments here about food prep at home: these are mainly local and state regs, so it depends on where you live. California for one, is very strict. I have a friend in the San Diego area who makes her little bakery profitable by renting her commercial kitchen by the hour to people who make various food products.

  65. Also, grocery delivery :)

  66. Matt says:

    After reading the comments, it seems we’re legislated, regulated, and litigated nearly half to death. The American no longer wears a cowboy hat, but a flame-retardant, hypo-allergenic safety helmet.

    Good article, though.

  67. Xander says:

    Be aware with your local by-laws on some of these. I remember last summer there were issues that came up before city council where people were complaining about neighbours running garage sales every week. They were saying it was no longer a garage sale but a business being run in a residential area.

    And, yes, the ‘merchants’ got shut down.

  68. Marla says:

    Regarding proofreading – It helps if you have a niche. If you’re reading financial stuff (which often entails reading long lists of numbers for SEC filings or annual reports ), your clients will prefer someone who knows a bit about bookkeeping (and can errors in math). Sci/tech publishers like someone who knows something about their particular science or technology. Lawyers like a proofreader who knows what a contract ought to look like. Ad agencies want someone who knows about their specialty (if they have one) or who seems creative (if they don’t).

    In NYC, you can sign up with temp agencies, which will mostly hook you up with law firms (and the occasional ad agency). It’s not a bad way to learn the ropes. However, what with the economy tanking, it’s not as rich a vein as it used to be (and not everyone lives here); and if you deal directly with clients instead of going through an agency, you make more.

    To get clients, put together your resume and email (or regular mail) it with a pitch letter to prospective clients. Try to identify the person running the department in which you’d work.

    Proofing is a good gig if you have any ambitions toward writing professionally. For one thing, your writing may benefit from an improved grasp of its less-creative aspects (punctuation, word-processing, etc.). For another, proofreading frequently puts you in with the sort of people who buy writing.

  69. Marla says:

    Sorry — that’s ” . . . (and can find errors in math).

  70. VK says:

    What a great list of stuff to do. The auto detailing and gardening services sound pretty feasable. Those are very labor intensive jobs, but in this economy, every dollar counts. Hey, after a long hard day labor, the food tastes even better!

  71. Interesting ideas. I’ve had a lot of luck with the gardening service. I purchased a rotary tiller a few years back for myself but I quickly realized that I could make a fair amount of money tilling new flowerbeds and vegetable gardens. Additionally, I grow more food than I can eat because my neighbors have expressed a need for organic fruits and vegetables. My profits pay for the entire garden with plenty of money left over for a nice dinner now and then.

  72. Offended says:

    To follow everyone else’s lead:

    As a current _________ I’m offended you’ve made my livelyhood seem trivial. I work very hard as a ________ and it takes tons of skill and training. Not to mention the Governmental oversite and __________. No one else should attempt my __________ profession as a “get paid for hobby!”

    Trent, great list, sorry you’re getting flamed so much for trying to help!

  73. Jeramiah says:

    I was self-employed before joining my families accounting practice. We still encourage self-employment and family businesses. Yes, there are many laws you need to be aware of… but I would mention that you won’t get anywhere if you don’t try.

    I have sold my services as a handyman, a carpenter, an artist, an art teacher, a yard maintenance professional, an accountant, and a computer technician… among other things. If your services are good, then you will develop a reputation and your business will increase. If you suck… well then you won’t get too far.

    If you aren’t making any money right now… what do you have to lose? Do some research by talking with a local CPA, the Better Business Bureau, and the Chamber of Commerce. They might be able to help you out.

    And don’t forget to check out online outsourcing sites, like elance.com

  74. Devon T. says:

    If you’re fluent in another language, translate!
    My family background is Russian, but I grew up with only English. But there are many family relics that are still in Russian, and I wish I could know what they say!

  75. Andrew D says:

    I’ve got a great side business:

    Phase 1: Collect Underpants
    Phase 2: ?
    Phase 3: Profit!

  76. Will says:

    Dear Alex, Boo-friggin-hoo on your website design rant. Not everyone wants or needs a worthless Flash intro or dBase driven site. Some small businesses might just want a small web presence to get online. You make it sound like you have to go around cleaning up the internet or something. Puleeease, take the elitist, ‘artiste’ snobbery elsewhere.

  77. hahahoho says:

    >72 Agreed.

    I have a side job as a real estate photographer. I have never taken a photography class and everything I know about the field I read online. Welcome to the age of the amateur.

  78. Andrew says:

    I absolutely second Comment #63 by Alex Ward. Telling that nephew who used the Yahoo Site Builder to make a website about his action figures that he’s really good at web design is one thing; telling him to start a business is entirely another. “Design” is the key word in website design. If you have some experience with how sites work then Website Maintenance is a possibility, but if you propogate bad design you are responsible for making the world a worse place.

  79. obamafan says:

    You left out President of the United States of America. You can do it as a sideline when not writing autobiographies. And who needs experience?

  80. Yvette says:

    Thank you for such a comprehensive list. Those were really great ideas!

    Yvette Carey

  81. Moni says:

    Really people..

    the man is giving suggestions. Keep the negative comments to yourself and just “suggest” that people look into his suggestions further.

    Remember, you all were new at it at one point in your lives as well.

    To poster named “Valerie” in NY…go to NYC.gov and look under “Small Business Services”. They have a ton of classes to help you get a business started and licensing.

    Great article by the way. Keep them coming and ignore negativity.

  82. mer says:

    Nice list, started to think about suggesting some of those to couple of friends and relatives ;)

  83. foxmajik says:

    In most states you need a license to handle, prepare and sell food. You can get them online in some places for about twenty bucks.

  84. Bobsoft says:

    This same, or a very similar, list gets written up at least once a quarter and parroted on something like 25% of the blogs out there. It’s been going around for something like 20 years now.

    Let it go, people. Sheesh.

  85. Jennifer says:

    Great list! I started an Etsy shop selling handcrafted pendants. I love doing it and it has been going really well. :)

  86. Ben says:

    To reiterate what Will (76) and and Offended (72) said:

    If you are offering a product which you feel has more value, and therefore should cost more, but you aren’t getting enough business, perhaps it’s because people feel your product is to expensive for the value, or they don’t need the product.

    The web design industry is saturated. If 10 expensive restaurants are built in a poor part of town, and people keep going to the only cheap restaurant, it’s not the fault of the cheap restaurant that the expensive ones failed.

    Not that any of you narcissistics will read this, you’re too busy writing about what’s owed to you and how much you deserve to be making.

  87. Beth says:

    Self-taught or formal education, your portfolio will sell your work, if it’s good, it will sell. If it’s subpar, it will show–be it knitting,landscaping, music teaching or web design. If you’ve got the skills, good for you; your work will show it–no reason to abelittle people because they got the skils through experience rather than college.

  88. Naomi says:

    Trent this is a great list! There are some who will be dream busters and then there are some who say go for it!. Thanks for putting all of the ideas out there. Sometimes knowing too much can paralyze a great idea. These are terrific ideas to start your own business. Great!

  89. Aura Nissa says:

    wow I have thought of doing a few of these, especially being that I am unemployed and most of this work can be paid under the table while I look for a reliable job. I would also suggest freelance photography, if your good with a camera, or notary services.

  90. Great list– everyone should have a sideline gig.

    I firmly believe in Defensive Entrepreneurship– What is Defensive Entrepreneurship?

  91. So many don’t seem like side businesses to me either. Full time wedding pros ( like me ) have seen way too many dissapointed brides when the person who does the wedding item ” on the side ” screws up.

    I actually got into a bit a web design myself too and it’s NOT EASY. I don’t do it ANYMORE and it’s best left to real pros.

  92. These are all great ideas! Another good side job would be to freelance as an efficiency consultant and help homes and small businesses slash their energy spending. A lot of people know that they should cut some things out of their daily/monthly spending, but they don’t always know how to identify what’s wasting their money and what’s worth keeping. Cutting a few dollars a week can really add up to a major savings at the end of the month/year, and you can help people map put a plan to make the necessary changes.

  93. ad says:


    How did you get started in real estate photography (finding clients, setting up the business, etc.)? I have an inactive real estate license (discovered I HATED direct sales…oops) but I did like taking photographs of listings and wandering through homes.

  94. Belinda says:

    I just recently starting a part-time business of making various projects out of used lumber. I design (usually as I go) and paint. Also do some trash to treasure projects. Woodworking is my passion…

  95. Katie says:

    Here’s another one I thought of-

    Resume writing! With all the people out or work right now it really does pay to have a top notch resume. If you have excellent writing skills, keen insight to highlight someone’s skills, experience, and career goals, then you could really help them gain more confidence and more direction in their job search with this business. Also, since this takes a lot of time (to write a targeted resume and cover letter for every job) I am pretty sure there would be many people out there that would be willing to pay for such a service.

  96. Kelsi says:

    I’ve already started the video production thing. My freelance work is merely a supplement to my full-time job at a TV station right now, but some day I hope to transition into exclusive independent work. I’ve only been out of school for two years and I love that my favorite hobby makes money. It is possible, people! =)

  97. noel says:

    great information and car/limo/taxi owner-operator
    may have some credibility too??

  98. Jessie says:

    I just like to sit around and drink beer while I watch other people work….

  99. Nathan says:

    Do not expect to make much money tutoring.

    There are many tutors competing for a few difficult-to-find students.

    Then when you find the students, most can not afford to pay a significant hourly rate and most high school students have a 25% to 50% cancellation rate for their tutoring lessons.

    Most tutoring jobs last one or two semesters, then the tutoring job is gone forever, and you must find another one.

  100. WD says:

    I understand the sentiments of the web design folks – I got started in early 1995 as a freelance web designer when it was brand new. I built about 350 sites, and yup, eventually the saturation and globalization drove me out of business too. I simply couldn’t compete with dudes in Kazakhstan that did it for $5/hr or the work at home moms doing it for play money while DH paid for mortgage, food, health insurance and their software.

    The sad thing is that many clients are not aware or informed of what makes “good” web design and it is not true that a portfolio speaks for itself – in fact, a lot of them are fairly clueless. The lure of getting it cheap is strong for many, and sometimes they had to get screwed out of $500 before they’d realize why they might need to spend $2k. A lot of people do not have an eye for good design, as is evidenced by much of the garbage on the web! At least half of my business came from people who had wasted money on a web designer that didn’t have knowledge of things like information architecture, usability, color theory, writing for the web, search engine optimization, interface design etc. They’d get screwed, ask someone for a referral and get me.

    I still get reputation based leads on a sporadic basis but I don’t market at all any more… its a losing battle in a market this ugly. I miss the good old days, sure… but wouldn’t discourage anyone from making an attempt at it. Hey, if someone with my background has gotten trampled, it seems pretty ballsy to try to enter the web business nowadays… so have at it!

  101. Alberto says:

    Well i think web site design business has to envolve, nowadays its easy to get a free site with a decent template, but we have to focus in get a sales plan, to use the marketing to get more business,

    Offer sites that get a good visualization, search busniess, and make your own web business.

    I love web design, and i am always looking for make more business of it.

    there are too many posibilities. just think out of the box.

    Try to say to your clients that the propouse of a website is to sell, if not it doesnt matter.

  102. Well, I must say that i don’t have any new suggestions for “side jobs” but I mustsay that reading some of these responses was some of the best entertainment I’ve had all week!

    I particulary like comment #72

  103. Jess says:

    I agree that you have to play to market with things like web design, but as long as it’s good enough for the customer, that’s enough.

    I loved the list! I have a few hobbies that I could likely get a few extra dollars out of- cross stitching would be a favourite- and all I’d really want is recoup of materials, and maybe enough for an extra coffee or two. The whole point of hobby-businesses is that you enjoy doing it. If you’re looking for a serious income, then it’s more of a side-business. The two are pretty different. It’s like the difference between a casual job and a part time one.

  104. Julia says:

    @Bethany (#11) – Thank you so much for the tip! I was thinking of offering proofreading services to other students, but was worried that the stream of work would be too inconsistent. I hadn’t thought of advertising to professors. That’s perfect!

    As for other business ideas, I’m surprised that no one else has mentioned bartending for private parties. It can be tough to get a part-time job at a bar if you have little or no experience (unless you know someone), but private parties could be an option for some people. If you’re a student (or recent graduate), you might be able to get work through your school’s alumni association.

  105. Julia says:

    Addition to last post: I looked at Bethany’s site and realized that she’s a PhD student, not a professor. Even better! I have some great ideas for how to position my services on campus.

    To other readers – have you thought about hiring someone for one of the jobs on Trent’s list? How about another kind of work or odd job? Do you have suggestions for people who are looking for this kind of side work? Thanks in advance!

  106. joe says:

    It’s tough to make any business profitable when more and more compromising regulations and personable situations hinder the ability to do so . There are Many ideas on how to bleed honest large companies- and Now any small workforce !! That compromises startup and development- Now even local government need help so bad that their allowing gambling casinos — legal?

  107. Karen says:

    Teaching appears on your list a couple of times, (fitness, tutor, music). I would like to add teaching adult education classes at a local school or church too. I have taken gardening, craft and cooking classes. I know a professional welder who makes more money teaching night classes then he does waiting for union jobs. I used to work for a florist and I have taught classes such as making a holiday centerpeice and arranging supermarket bouquets. I took classes on understanding intrest rates and the stock market and the instuctor suggested teaching classes as a way to make extra $$ to pay down debt. Organic or herb gardening, any kind of cooking, sewing, knitting. There are classes in my area on tarot card reading, self-hypnosis, the power of positive thinking, journal writing, and how to play casino games (with a field trip). Don’t forget basic language courses. Basic carpentry, plumbing, electricity and home repair. Shop Math. Makeovers. Possibilities are endless. How about teaching web design!

  108. Rosa Rugosa says:

    Hey, #53 whoops
    Wow, does that ever sound snotty! “Demean” yourselves? I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has had days at the office that would making pulling weeds and cleaning toilets seem pretty sweet in comparison! In any event, I have the utmost respect and gratitude for the woman who cleans the restrooms and supplies us with toilet paper. I’m glad she doesn’t find this too demeaning, or we would really be in a sorry state of affairs!

  109. Outdoorseaguy says:

    I liked this article as it’s really supposed to get you thinking about things you might be able to do to get some extra income. This will work for some and not for others, obviously. Now that fall and winter have arrived in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve started a small side-business. I take people’s old VHS and cam-corder tapes and transfer them to DVDs, using an old VCR, tape adapter and my existing Mac. Basic transfers and copies, cost $20. More advanced ones where I edit out things or put in titles and transitions are $30-40 per tape. Sure, I have to be careful with fragile tapes, but so many people have tons and tons of video tapes of birthdays and holidays just sitting in drawers or shoe boxes. So yeah, people do start side-business and can make a little money to help pay off those credit cards.

  110. Adrian says:

    I feel this is a list more for people who want to stop working for someone and start working for themselves. With that being said…

    To all of you griping about businesses listed not being cheap to start, not having the necessary knowledge to go about starting one of these businesses, or want a quick fix to your monetary hassles; here are some things to consider.

    First; you will ALWAYS have to spend money to make money!!! Nothing in this world is free and everything takes time and patience. Even if something is going to cost you thousands of dollars for necessary equipment, insurance, promoting, or other misscellaneous items; go for it. But make sure you have a plan and the drive necessary to follow through with the end result. Because if you do eventually you will make what you spent to start it up and much MUCH more. Most businesses start in debt, meaning they submitted a sound business plan to an investor or investors and were loaned the money to start their business.

    Second; not having the necessary info. to start a business of your own in this day in age is NOT an excuse. It’s called the information super highway for a reason. Google, Yahoo, Bing, and ALL other search engines are at your disposal…USE THEM. You can find out ANYTHING just by typing any question and hitting ENTER. If you don’t get the results you were hoping for rephrase and try again. You can find out anything from the necessary items required to start the business of your choosing, the laws in your state for starting a home or other business, what to charge for your services in that particular industry, how to promote a new small business, etc. There is a never-ending stream of knowledge out there there for your taking, promise :D.

    And lastly, there is NO quick fix!!! There is no “easy side business” to start. No matter what you’re going to have to do some kind of extra work to start a side business. You’ll have to pay taxes for that business unless you want to TRY to sneak it past the governments always watching eyes. You’ll have to buy supplies, equipment, promotional resourses(even if it’s only printer ink and paper to print flyers, gas to deliver those flyers, and a website for that business), again etc.

    This is in no way meant to deter ANYONE from pursueing some means of a second income, but is instead meant to let you know that if there’s something you don’t know, you can find it, if there’s something you want go get it, and if you want freedom fight for it. Because having your own business is exactly that; freedom!!! So again in my opinion this isn’t a list for someone working for someone, but a list for those wanting to work for themselves, but it will take time, patience, and research. Stick with the job you have and buy the necessary equipment piece by piece. Once you have the equipment, make or provide your service to friends and family and take pictures of your work and have those people for references and make your business plan if you need one for a business you can’t run from home. Get legal by getting insurance and a business license if you’re required by your state to have those. It could take years to get to that point where you’re ready to start your business officially, and it may take thousands of dollars, but when the end result could be hundreds of thousands or even millions, is that such a bad thing?

  111. anthony says:

    very nice article, many key niches reviewed quite detailed. But i haven’t found any info on scrap metal business!
    For those of you, who is looking for an interesting niche that is not in the list i suggest taking a look at scrap metal, a brief article about it can be found here:

  112. rob says:

    i`d like to go with candle or cookie making….i think cookies but im sure i would have to test some in each batch!

  113. netskie says:

    just wanna ask f there are companies who are offering financial assistance especially if you dont have extra money for starting a business

  114. Go Cougs says:

    Being a college student who plans on owning a physical therapy business down the road, I have been strongly considering starting a small scale business more for the sake of fun and learning than making millions. Some of my friends are very skilled photographers and would like to make some money on their work, but not motivated enough to get their names/work out in the public eye. I have been considering playing the role of their ‘agent’ (for lack of a better word). My plan is to use mostly internet and word of mouth as well as displaying their work in businesses in the communities around where we live. With that background info, do you have any suggestions?

  115. MOHAMMED IRFAN says:


  116. Ken says:

    To the person who put the list together: you can’t do some of the items listed above. Those the relate to food from your home! Catering, cakes, cookies, etc. Check local city and state laws (health dept). Plus they will not approve your home for that type of production!

  117. anon says:

    The problem with this list is that they’re all time-consuming jobs. A good side business is one that pays you for a product that you can sell a million times over, not the time spent in making the product.

  118. elvis says:

    What a great list i will go for candl making and cleanig service.i need somebody to link me with someone who will teach me how to make candle.

  119. Coleslaw says:

    Awesome List!
    I think this is a good idea source. I am sure anyone that takes an idea from this list will do the required homework and research before they jump into it. I don’t think the average Joe out there will just say “Hey I think tomorrow morning when I wake up I am going to be a _________”. If you have the motivation and the time, there is no reason not to take on a side business and be successful at it.
    To all the doomsday prophets out there, HOLY COW! Give someone a chance will ya. This was just a list of ideas, not a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to start up business ______. In my opinion, it sounds like everyone that puts all the reasons not to do something are more afraid of a little competition then anything else.
    I would hope that anyone considering these ideas would look into the requirements and the red tape before just jumping in, but at the same time I say GO FOR IT!! You never know what might happen until you try. “If you aim at nothing you will always hit it”. Look at Famous Amos, he started selling cookies on the advice of his friends and family, now look where he is.

  120. Dave Paulson says:

    Or you can sell your business ideas at my site, people make over 400$ a month! check it out!

  121. M Maslowski says:

    It is absolutely not true that you do not have to file any legal documents to have a sole proprietorship.

    Many cities and towns require a home occupancy certificate or other “home business” license in order for you to run a business out of your home. There may also be zoning requirements. States and counties often require you to file doing-business-as documents if you want your business to have a name other than your own.

    How do I know this? I went through the trouble of starting a strictly-online web design business, making it an LLC and everything, and then Surprise! The town I live in says they “do not allow home business.” Really? In the USA?

    So now what? Break the local law and do it anyway? Move? Do yourself a favor and check with your city or town first.

    So much for encouraging small business in this country. I know for a fact the local “dog walker” works “under the table” – but I can’t start my own home business. Love it.

  122. TheBudgeteer says:

    What’s great about this list is that you can pick more than one side project and see what works the best. Lots of good ideas here to explore.

  123. Kathy says:

    I have a background in art and make my own greeting cards. I have tried to sell them at local shops but have found it to be very difficult because shop owners are used to having professional reps coming in and resent me cold calling on them. I have experienced this many times. I had my own store for years and thought this would be easy, but it isn’t. Etsy has so much competition , and you have to pay too much to sell. I’m always looking for a place to sell my stuff, and that in itself could become a huge draw, providing a place for us all to sell our products. it’s my next goal, takes cash to rent a big place to start, to offer space to others. From what I’ve seen though, it’s so necessary…look at Craigslist! Huge demand for a place to unload STUFF!

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  126. Dean says:

    I love the cookie/candy making idea. I know a lot of friends that were able to use family recipes that were in their family for generations to start their own business. The best part about it is that it starts out as more of a side-business than going full force into a business that could be costly.

    Plus the products are tasty ;).

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