Low-Lift Side Hustles to Start Now

Steve Strauss, Inc. Magazine Small Business Columnist and Best-Selling Author

young woman recording side hustle on phone

This is the Golden Age of the solopreneur. It has never been easier, more affordable, or more acceptable to start a small business or side-hustle.

A new survey from Index by Pinger reveals that 67% of Americans have a small business or do a side hustle or freelance work. And—get this—75% of these respondents also work as an employee for another organization. The survey also revealed another 17% plan to start a business, side hustle, or take on freelance work in the future.

Why You Should Try a Side Gig

Why are side hustles so popular? There are many reasons. Some people want extra cash for a special purchase. Other common reasons include:

  • Testing out a business idea
  • Learning a new skill
  • Creating a second source of income

Whatever the reason, it turns out that now is really a great time to start your side hustle (or develop another one).

Finding The Right Side Hustle

So, how to begin? First, decide what side hustle is right for you. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What do I like to do?
    You won’t stay with your side hustle if you don’t enjoy it.
  • What transferable skills do I have that would be helpful?
    Throughout your life, you have developed particular areas of expertise. The best side hustles tap into that well of experience.
  • How much time can I reasonably spend on a side hustle?
    Be realistic. It’s easy to underestimate how much time even a simple side hustle can take.
  • What do I want to get from this side hustle?
    Make sure your expectations are realistic. While you won’t become a millionaire overnight, your side hustle can point you in the right direction.  

To help get those creative juices going, here are a few of the best side hustles, followed by some general tips on how to get started.

10 Easy, Low-Lift Side Hustles

  1. Fill out online surveys.

Participating in online surveys is an almost effortless way to make money. Start by checking out survey firms accredited by the Better Business Bureau. This way you avoid unreputable firms that may collect data you might not want to share.

  1. Be a Spotter or Mystery Shopper.

Mystery shoppers or spotters visit hotels and restaurants to report on everything from the quality of service and cleanliness to how a product is displayed. The trick here is to find a reputable company to do it with and avoid getting scammed. You should check out Alta 360 Research, which is accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

  1. Manage social media.

Many businesses and organizations, especially small businesses, hire freelancers to handle the time-consuming tasks of posting and responding to posts on social media. This can be a great gig for creative, organized people. You can find jobs on Flex Jobs or Fiverr.

  1. Dropshipping

This involves selling products online with the key advantage of not needing to buy or stock inventory. Instead, you work with a supplier who ships products directly to your customers. The cost to start this business is relatively low as you can use a website builder like Shopify or WooCommerce and use their free trial.

  1. Proofread and edit.

Many businesses regularly need content proofed or edited, and Grammarly and other apps can only do so much. Beyond that, many people still prefer a personal touch. You can register on a site like FlexJobs or Fiverr to find jobs.

  1. Be a pet sitter or dog walker.

Do you love the furry ones? Being a pet sitter or dog walker allows you to spend more time with furry friends and get paid for it. This is one of the easiest side hustles to get into. To get started, check out Rover.com.

  1. Handyman

Repair services are always in demand, and good “handypersons” can often do multiple projects for a single homeowner. And there is the added satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped someone. Check out Thumbtack or TaskRabbit to get started.

  1. Be a virtual assistant.

There is a growing need for virtual assistants (VAs) who can handle everything from scheduling and bookkeeping to social media and marketing. Once you start being a VA, expanding your business by providing more services to existing clients is easy.

  1. Teach what you know.

The online learning field is booming. You can create your own course on a site like Teachable or Skillshare.

  1. Test apps.

It seems there’s a new app “born” every hour, which makes competition stiff. As a tester, you can help app developers create better products. Learn how to get started at sites like UserTesting.com.

How to Start Your Simple Side Hustle

Before you get started, spend a little time setting parameters for your side gigs, including how you can balance the demands of your side hustle with the rest of your life.

  1. Research the market.

Know what you are getting into. What will it cost to start, how much time will be involved, and what can you expect to make? You don’t want to waste time or money on a losing idea.

  1. Define your services.

What services will you provide? If a dog walker, will you also feed Fido or take him to the vet? If you’re a virtual assistant, will you handle bookkeeping but not taxes? Make it clear what you do and what you do not do.

  1. Determine your availability.

This is particularly important if your work needs to be done in a specific timeframe. And remember, a side hustle is just that – it is something that is supposed to be done on the side.

  1. Use apps that make it easier.

An app like Index can be a big help in managing your side hustle. This app gives you a second business number on your existing phone so you can separate your side hustle from the rest of your life. Index allows you to set business hours so you’re not disturbed, and you can set up personalized text responses that are automatically sent when you miss a call. It also lets you manage appointment scheduling and payments and organize customer information in one place. 

  1. Ask for referrals.

This is a particularly effective way to start if you know people who may need the services you will provide. Nothing beats word-of-mouth, right? It’s essential to be clear about what you are looking for. Just asking if “you know anyone who can use my services” is too vague for most people. Instead, asking if “you know any local businesses who could use a new website” is much more specific and easier for people to answer.

So yes, this is a fantastic time for side hustles. And it’s a great time to get started.

Jump in! There’s no reason to wait.

To learn more tips for running and growing your small business, visit the resource page at Index by Pinger.

steve strauss portrait

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is often called “the country’s leading small business expert.” A best-selling author and an Inc. Magazine small business columnist, Steve is a thought leader, global speaker, spokesperson, content creator, and author of 18 books.

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