Are you in the early stages of your start-up? Maybe you’re just starting out as a writer and you need some extra cash for covers, editing, marketing, and all that stuff. Or maybe you’re a full-time student and just need some super simple ways to make money so you can buy beer and books. I got you covered. Here are 10 side hustles that will help you make money online.
Two of these ideas are pretty ridiculous but, hey, I wanted this to be a top 10 list and those crazy ideas popped into my head. The rest are all good though. I promise. If you don’t know which two are the “crazy” ones, they might just be for you…
1. Teach English on iTalki
iTalki.com is a website that connects language learners and language teachers online.
It’s a great site with a super simple interface. It makes it crazily easy to find students.
You can speak at least one language: English. So why not teach it to others and make some side cash?
iTalki really helped support me during my first year out of college when I spent time travelling around.
All you need is an internet connection and Skype and you can make money anywhere in the world.
You gotta start off with a reasonable rate but you can keep steadily raising your price as you get more reviews and experience.
I found that the price people were willing to pay topped out at $50 per hour.
Although you should expect to make $10-15 per hour when first starting out. Make incremental price jumps as your value increases. The key here is that your value must increase first.
That might seem like a negligible amount of money to most people but I think that’s actually pretty good for a side hustle that gives you these benefits:
- No commute (unless walking from your bedroom to your couch counts as a commute).
- Flexible hours – set your own schedule.
- No need to report to anyone. Boss? What boss?
- Meet cool people from all over the world. You’ll become “international” super quickly and you’ll learn so much about different countries and cultures. I made some great friends from being a teacher.
- Learn a very valuable skill. Teaching is incredibly useful and will help you massively in your personal and business life.
- You get more opportunities. A few clients actually gave me well-paying jobs after taking a few lessons with me.
When I needed 3 covers for books last year, I used this hustle to pay for them. I had my eye on 3 covers from GoOnWrite, so I opened up my teaching schedule, filled a few slots, chatted with some lovely people, and boom, I was able to grab them and have my books up on Kindle a few days later.
Here are my top tips for killing it on iTalki:
#1. Study how other teachers do it. Choose a language you’re interested in learning and take some lessons with a few teachers to get over your nerves. You’ll see where the bar is set. You’ll also know what style of teaching you personally enjoy and then you can replicate that yourself. If you want $10 worth of iTalki credits to go towards your lesson, click this link and my referral code will give that to you (plus I’ll get ten bucks of credit too so I can learn French or something).
#2. Make your profile stand out by writing a sales page for your services. Write in simple English and focus on the learner. What will they get when they study with you? What does a lesson look like with you? Also upload a video that stands out. Most iTalki teachers upload a boring video of them talking to their camera and looking nervous. I did something different and made a weird Q&A type intro video that involved me eating a banana and doing a ton of push-ups. That video got me tons of interest and students were always booking lessons because of that video.
#3. Continuously update your skills and find new ways to provide value. I took a Teach English as a Foreign Language Course (TEFL) and became a certified English Instructor. I also experimented with different textbooks, techniques (e.g. role-plays), and structures (e.g. using Google Docs as a shared notebook).
Leverage an existing skill or build up a new one by freelancing and getting paid for it.
To be honest, freelance sites can be a pain to work through. But there is money in it if you focus on helping people and can filter through the bad clients.
I wrote about this here:
Freelancing will teach you way more than 3 years of college will.
- how to make money
- how to spot scammers
- how and when to negotiate
- how to create and maintain business relationships
- how to deliver a level of service relative to what you charge
Last year I was able to pay for design costs after just one job. Someone paid me $1,000 to write their essay and I was able to use that cash to pay a cover artist immediately.
3. Offer a service directly to the source (B2B)
These days I’m way more interested in going straight to businesses I already appreciate and offering to help them.
If you’ve already tried the freelance thing and you’re sick of middle men taking a cut of your cash or arbitrarily shutting your services down, bargain shoppers, or scammers, you can get quality clients by simply approaching businesses directly.
I have yet to do this in person because I live abroad but if you can get a face-to-face meeting I highly encourage it. I actually will try this out in Japan at some point but I think I’ll bring a translator with me the first two times in case I’m so nervous I crap my pants.
Luckily, you don’t actually have to do this face-to-face thanks to the internet.
You can just do this instead:
- Search your area for businesses in your niche. This literally means going to Google and searching for [your niche] + [your area].
- See what you can do for them. If you’re a designer, see how you can improve the design of their site. For example, can you make their site mobile friendly? That’s something more small and medium-sized companies are interested in.
- Grab the head of the company’s email. It won’t be listed on the staff list but the staff list will show the company’s email format. It’s usually something like “first initial” + “last name” @ “company name”.com. Then do some digging for the name you need.
- Send an intro email that focuses on them. Keep it short and say you’ll call in a couple of days to follow up.
- Call – short and sweet – keep it focused on them not you.
4. Affiliate Marketing
You won’t get instant results with this.
But if you’ve got an hour a day after your studies or other job you can start building something that will reward you in the future. You’ll also learn a ton about sales in the process.
Affiliate marketing, simply put, means: you like a product or service, you write about it, then the producer gives you a little cut of the action if you get them a sale.
You probably know about a few different things that can help people. Or you have probably bought something that you can’t stop raving about (case in point: the Wim Hof Method).
You can start a site about stuff you know and make recommendations to an audience of like-minded people. The key is to review stuff that you’ve personally used and love. Then you give honest reviews (customers are more likely to buy if they know the good and bad points).
Once you’ve got a product in mind, you can find out if it has an affiliate program by googling [product name] + [affiliate program].
Then write articles that help people and send them over to your recommendation.
I’m making it sound easy but really you’ve got to do a lot of homework and work through some trial and error.
I’ll write more about this if there’s interest but I’m mainly compelled to talk about writing and stuff that helps your writing.
I made some book suggestions that will help you with copywriting if you choose to go down this route. You can see them in this article:
The thing with (honest) affiliate marketing is that you actually have to spend money now to make money later. You spend money in the form of trying out products and services and then you get money once you’ve reviewed them.
5. Resell shit on eBay and Amazon
I haven’t tried this.
I actually got this tip from Gary Vaynerchuk. He talks about it in this awesome video with The Breakfast Club:
He basically says you can go to the dollar store and find stuff that sells consistently on eBay and Amazon for $10.
I thought this was really cool. I wished that I did this when I was younger. I actually wanted to try it out myself but I said it wouldn’t be the same for me because I’m not in America. I’m in Japan. Boy, did that turn out to be a limiting belief!
I actually went to Japan’s version of the dollar store: the hundred yen shop (100 yen is about $1).
I also went to the three-hundred yen store to find higher quality items.
It is exactly the same in Japan. I took a bunch of photos and then searched online. Even in Japan you can buy a bunch of stuff for a buck and flog it for ten times the price.
If this technique appeals to you, follow Gary V’s advice and, while your friends are watching football on the weekend, go to the dollar store, buy a bunch of stuff that you can make a profit on, and sell it.
6. Write a dirty book
The self-publishing erotica gold rush dried up when people realised you actually have to work to make a decent living in this niche.
You can’t just write 2,000 words of low-grade smut, whack it up on Amazon with a cover you made yourself, and rake in the millions in the form of passive income.
You can, however, do the following and make a consistent $100 – $1,000 dollars a month for years without any upkeep:
- Research erotica trends
- Read widely within the market
- Figure out what readers want from reviews
- Write your own versions, invest in professional covers, self publish, and repeat
If you have a real knack for this genre, you actually can make a bomb. But we’re just talking about a side hustle here. If you want to make a bomb in this genre, you need to stop reading this article and get to work.
Pro tip: Good erotica is every bit as concerned with strong characters, riveting story, and well crafted writing as it is with the nitty-gritty of the horizontal dong dance.
7. Make video testimonials of products on Fiverr (or offer a crazy service)
Fiverr is bottom of the barrel when it comes to freelance sites.
The clue is in its name. You can get any service for just $5 on Fiverr.
But there are people making a lot of money over there. Granted, they treat it like a full-time job and they manage their business like a pro. But if you’re just interested in side hustle money, my suggestion is to offer a video testimonial service.
You can get super competitive and struggle to make five bucks for a complex skill on Fiverr (not smart) or you can do something that will always bring clients to you and takes no time at all (smarter).
Video testimonials are always in high demand. Businesses want fresh faces to review their products so you could get clients super quick with this one.
You just do a 30-second video of you reviewing their product or service and send it over to them.
You can include up-sells to make more than $5 from clients. In fact, this is how the smart businesspeople on Fiverr make a lot of money.
You could offer a 30-second testimonial for $5 but then have the following additional up-sells:
- HD quality – $15
- Add music – $5
- Add text (like website URL) – $5
- Offer a wardrobe selection – $10
- Green screen video – $20 (you can buy a green screen super cheap on Amazon)
I personally won’t review products I haven’t actually used and loved. If you feel the same way, you could always offer a crazy service on Fiverr. There are a bunch of crazy gigs that seem to be doing well. They include:
- Mailing a glitter bomb to anyone you want
- Singing Happy Birthday as jungle boy in the jungle
- A guy dressed as Jesus doing video messages
- Putting your logo in a coffee cup
8. Follow the martingale betting system and win big on roulette
Here’s a (horrible) gambling tip.
Play roulette, online or in person, and use the martingale betting system.
What is the martingale betting system?
It’s basically where you start out by putting a dollar down on red or black. The roulette wheel spins. If you chose red and it lands on red, congratulations. Now put it on black. If you chose red and it lands on black, double up your bet and put it on red again. Fail again? Double again and put it on red again. Keeping doubling and keep putting it on the same colour until your colour comes in.
Disclaimer: Don’t actually do this unless you’re a madman and don’t mind losing a ton of cash for the hell of it. I tried this twice. The first time I left the casino a winner. The second time I left the casino a big loser. I never played roulette again.
9. Be a cam “model”
Ah, another option borne purely out of my need to make this a “top 10” list.
But, hey, you might LOVE this option. I’m not judging.
Man, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to get started on this one. I just know that it’s always an option.
Some people make an absolute fortune appealing to thirsty dudes on the internet who like to watch webcam shows. I say dudes because, come on, it’s mainly dudes watching these things, isn’t it? If you’re a guy and you’re gonna take this option, be aware (if you’re straight) that your audience probably won’t be women.
The interesting thing about this deep, dark internet underworld is that you don’t even have to get your kit off to be a success.
I saw this TV show one time where these two women were making money by crushing food on camera. Then guys tipped them or bought them items from their Amazon wish list and the women lived happily ever after.
10. Ask friends and family if you can help them with anything
I should end on a serious one.
If you need some extra cash, and none of the other methods appeal to you (come on, you thought about the ninth one, didn’t you?), you could always turn to your existing social network.
Hop on Facebook or whatever sparkly newfangled thing the kids are using these days and put out a call to action. Ask around for writing/design/translation work (or whatever you can do) and take advantage of the fact that social media is basically six degrees of separation. Your friends and family might not need anything, but their friends and family might need your help. Or their friends’ friends.
Now go side hustle your way to success
I like that phrase. Side hustle.
The implication is that you’ve got to work at it.
Even when you’re just putting a little extra cash in your back pocket, you’ve got to remember to stay a professional and put in the effort.
If you try any of these methods, let me know how you got on. If you have anything to add to this list, I’d love to know 🙂