How to pick side hustle ideas for someone working full time?

How to pick side hustle ideas for someone working full time?

Side hustle ideas are a popular search term on Google. Multiple articles and posts come up when searching for side hustle or income generation ideas. If you scrape couple of these articles you will realize that almost all of these posts boil down to the same 10 or so ideas. These ideas ranging from selling household items on eBay, freelancing or selling products on Amazon. Every other blog post on side hustle might also be selling their own course on side hustle tips and tricks.

Over the last few years I had tried couple of these ideas too but most didn’t work for me or the income generated was negligible compared to the hours invested, especially when I am working full time.

I took a step back to create a post mortem analysis and the sticking points were the following:

  • I did not have passion for the idea
  • I was only seeing the $ signs and not the work involved
  • I picked the idea solely based on one or two success story I read on Medium or HackerNoon or Reddit
  • My skill set was not fitting that idea

I realized that unless you are passionate and ready to work hard on your idea then it’s really hard to succeed on any side hustle ideas.

Ideas should have passion behind it. If you work on an idea without any passion then you would not be willing to pay the commitment that you need to put a make it successful. Side hustle is not like an hobby but that you do whenever you want to. Side hustle involves a lot of effort especially at the starting phase. Bottomline is hobbies make you spend money whereas you do side hustle to make money. You cannot get distracted and should make a conscious effort to spend time everyday including weekends. Let’s look at an example. You might read an article or reddit post about a successful entrepreneur making $50K or more a year from blogging. You might think about writing a blog just based on the $$$ sign. Let’s say you write a few posts and after working for a year, see around $100 trickle a month. Would you then abandon the project or would be happy that your writing is getting noticed and you are encouraged to write more. If you were just seeing $$$ signs then there is a high probability that you might drop this idea and jump to the next one (maybe selling on amazon).

The other common idea is selling on Amazon. Selling on Amazon involves much more complications than even writing a blog especially if you do FBA (Fulfillment By Amazon). You have to be worrying about getting the right product selection, supplier sourcing and finally you have to work on getting your products noticed by the customers. Add the hundreds of similar items on Amazon, you are looking at investing money and time to make it a success. I’m not being negative right now by saying that it’s hard to do the side hustle but just showing you that work is involved behind the success. Hence the stress on picking a passion project for side hustle.

I have approached the side hustle from a different perspective. I created side hustles based on skill set versus time commitment involved. You can pick the idea based on where you fall in the matrix. I call the table the Hustle Assessment Matrix. Let’s briefly look at the different type of side hustles out there that can generate good income. I am not listing side hustles such as selling your stuff in your house on eBay because there is not a repeatable or consistent source of income.

Side Hustle ideas to make serious money:

  1.  Uber or Lyft driver
  2. Deliver packages for Amazon
  3. Rent spare bedroom via airbnb
  4. Manage social media for local business
  5. Freelancing on Upwork or Fiverr – Graphic design, software design, article writing or virtual assistant
  6. Online tutor – math, programming, language
  7. Writing Blogs
  8. Online course creation
  9. Write an ebook
  10. Produce an audio book
  11. Youtube videos
  12. Instagram influencer
  13. Sell products on amazon
  14. Sell crafts or passion projects on Etsy
  15. Music lessons
  16. Teach driving to students
  17. Create an mobile app or Software As A Service (SAAS) app

Some side hustle ideas takes time (few months) to generate money. For example writing blogs would involve generating content for few months before any $$ pours in. Some side hustle ideas also requires prior knowledge in software development. Software development knowledge gives you flexibility in generating instant income by freelancing and creating projects via sites such as Upwork. Software knowledge can also be leveraged to create mobile or SAAS apps that can generate good monthly recurring income.

Some of the SAAS app ideas include:

  • Small business inventory management
  • Real estate CRM management
  • Time card management
  • SAAS tools for freelancers to include time keeping, billing management and budget planning.

There are many more of these ideas that you can work based on the time investment. Time investment here is not just the product development but also includes marketing and sales. Another often ignored issue is support ticket management and customer support. This will consume much of your time after product release. But based on the growth this might be a good problem to have especially if the business starts scaling and gets close to replacing your current full time salary.

Another area of side hustle is passion projects or hobbies that you spend your time on. Do you like to work on cars or obsessed with organizing your home. If you are passionate about it then you bet there are others who want to do this but not quite sure how or would google about the topic. Go to to figure out if your skill or passions are searched quite often. If so, go ahead and blog about it or make YouTube videos about it. This task would NOT even feel like work to you since you are pursuing a passion project but you would still need the discipline to write or video the content.

Look into this article to get more ideas on one person side hustle app that are profitable –

What if you don’t have long term vision and you want to make money NOW. There are some ideas to generate immediate side income. This would involve trading time for money. There are multiple opportunities in this category to generate immediate income here

  • Freelancing language tutor: There are couple of freelancing jobs paying up to $24 per hr. with up to 20 hr. per commitment on evening and weekends. You can make a nice chunk with such a gig. $20/ hr. for 20 hr. week leads to $3200 per month as a side hustle. Not bad at all.
  • Freelancing on Upwork or Fiverr: Graphic design, software design, article writing or virtual assistant. We already talked about passion projects and coding. You can apply the same skills in software, scripting, or graphic design to help other people build their products and thereby generate immediate income. The limit to charge a client is completely based on your ability and talent but you can pull in good money similar to the freelancing jobs earlier. Once you get good reviews you can increase the rate and might even land a large project with more than 100+ billable hours easily.
  • Uber driving or Amazon delivery: There are couple of gig economy jobs such as driving for Uber or delivery for amazon. These jobs might not product the same ROI after deducting the time spent, cut taken by the company and the other expenses like insurances. Still these might work out for some to make instant money especially for those not proficient in coding or tutoring
  • Teaching: You can also teach face to face such as providing music lessons, driving lessons, or tutoring on language, science or math.

Selling on Amazon is a controversial topic mainly because the folks online seems to make you think that’s it’s easy to do this. If you want make side hustle income then it’s not easy. There are way too many people selling way too many products on amazon. There is work involved in scouting the amazon products list to find a category or product space that is less crowded and then start acquiring the products (local or from China) and then selling those on amazon. Even then you to spend on PPC ads to get eyeballs on your products. There are as many success stories about selling on amazon as compared to the failures. One advice that I would provide if you need to go through this is to have some investment money and then go to Jungle Scout to find some products that you would want to sell. Confirm that the products you picked are not included in the Amazon approval required category. Some of the categories like cosmetics requires amazon approval before selling. I would recommend to stay away from such products. Also read more about selling on amazon at generic sites like Reddit and amazon seller central to learn more before jumping in.

If you skilled in crafts and arts then I would recommend to sell on Etsy. If you can create digital images that should be products then look at café press to see if selling there makes sense. I was planning to recommend Amazon DSP (delivery service partner) business but after further research do not plan to do that. The delivery service business is full time and highly stacked against a novice starting this business.

As seen there are multiple ideas to generate income from side hustle. Let’s put all this together into a matrix based on time involvement and existing skills. Each business hustle can fall in more than one bracket. You can cherry pick your next idea based on the category you fall under.

Blog Summary:

  • Never pick your idea just from a medium post about a hustle success
  • Assess your interest
  • Assess your skill set
  • Assess your situation
  • Inspiration is very important
  • Don’t do it just for the money. If you have to skip your favorite show and work on something, what would it be.
  • Check out the matrix to see if you like any of those ideas.
  • Identify your side hustle and start hustling!

Where does your interest and skill set merge. Side hustle should be seen not as a hobby since hobby will not make you money. The money you make should also be good enough to be worthwhile for the time invested. There are no one options that fits all. There are many success stories in pretty much any of these side hustles including some who have made this full time and able to generate enough money to quit their jobs. What’s your pick?

Skillset Interest Time (in one week) Hustle Ideas
Software Coding ,creating CRUD apps 10 hours or less Freelancing via sites like Upwork charging 20 to 40$ an hr. for programming
Software Coding, creating apps More than 10 hrs * Freelancing via sites like Upwork charging 20 to 40$ an hr. for programming .
* Long term hustle of creating SAAS company
Graphic design Good at photoshop, logo design and video editing Any hours Freelancing via sites like Upwork charging 20 to 40$ an hr. for programming
Language skills Interested in teaching others and lots of patience 🙂 10 to 20 hours Home tutoring, freelance tutoring second job or online language tutoring
Driving Love to drive and doesn’t mind traffic 10 to 20 hours Uber, Lyft or deliver for post mates
Money, researching skills and patience Hunting deals and interested in selling 15+ hours Selling on amazon
Crafts Interested in creating products based on hobbies like woodwork 10+ hours Selling on eBay and Etsy
Creative, social and interested in self promotion Social network expert and extrovert 10 hours Youtube videos or Instagram Influencer
Recognized in the field of expertise, expert in specific hobby or skill set or good marketing skills Interested in teaching 10 hours Online course creation on platforms such as Udemy or teachable
Understand stock and options trading Creating screeners and reading company financials rather than the latest marvel comic 10 to 15 hours a week Stock and option trading
Own your own place or have spare bedrooms Extrovert, love entertaining Less than 10hrs a week Airbnb rentals

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