The 9 Best Creative Side Hustles

 Side hustles are hardly a new concept. Over 44 million Americans make some sort of side income. Most partake in side hustles for good reason — having extra cash is always helpful in some capacity. After all, another source of income can do so many things for your livelihood, such as: 

  • Bolster a savings account; 

  • Add to a retirement account; 

  • Contribute to paying off debt; 

  • Provide a creative outlet;

  • Supply extra spending money;

  • Boost your confidence.

A successful side hustle should be something that you are interested in or at least passionate about. By doing so, it’ll seem less like another job and more so like a hobby that happens to bring in extra cash. It’s worth it to get a little creative and choose a side hustle that will work for the long haul. 

It should be relatively easy to set up the business since you are likely adding it on top of your busy schedule. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that your income must outweigh your operating costs, or the project might defeat its purpose. For any side hustle, make sure that the field you get into isn’t oversaturated, and that the market demand is high enough.

1. Gift Basket Creation

Some of the most profitable markets are those that incorporate some amount of personalization since most consumers prefer personalization. What’s more, humans are hardwired to pick the easiest task available. Gift baskets are a perfect way to cater to these innate tendencies and make some quick coin on the side. 

Whether your customers are purchasing gift baskets for gifting or for themselves to enjoy, they will appreciate the ease of not having to pick out individual items. 

However, you could allow people to customize their gift baskets depending on your product selection. This could lead to the scarcity of certain items, possibly upping their value and increasing sales. Just be wary of how much time and money you have to put into this side hustle upfront. 

To start a gift basket company, you’ll need to: 

  • Pick a niche — like self-care or even collectibles; 

  • Procure baskets — or any container you choose; 

  • Source products — being mindful of profit margins and the ability to mark them up; 

  • Determine pricing — based on basket size and product value; 

  • Host a launch party — or soft launch; 

  • Decide your service area — whether it be local or national; 

  • Find out the best form of marketing  for your chosen location and target audience. 

Of course, there will be individual details that will vary. You may choose to ship your boxes on a subscription basis, or you may choose to provide local, hand-picked items to your surrounding area. 

Regardless, procuring items for special occasions should give you some satisfaction if this is the side hustle you go with. Your profit will vary depending on your sales volume, but you can expect to make around $50 for a luxury gift basket.

2. Meal Preparation

Much like personalized gift baskets, meal prep takes the worry away for your clients. This is something worth paying for, and you may want to offer this service to local clientele. While there is an abundance of big-name meal kits out there, there’s something to be said about locally sourced food. 

With a similar setup to gift baskets, meal preparation services add in the complexity of fresh food. This means that you will have to: 

  • Look into temperature-controlled packaging — to keep perishables safe to consume; 

  • Outline your service area — and figure out a marketing plan; 

  • Determine a means of transportation — or have customers pick up orders; 

  • Decide how much prep you will do for the client — which can range from complete meals to portioned, uncooked ingredients.

You may also want to have a specific niche in mind, such as vegan meal preparation. It depends on how saturated the market is in your area. Do some research, and test out different recipes with friends and family. 

The startup cost for a meal service may run you around $8,000 — so make sure you are serious about providing food for the people. As long as you are mindful of the costs of your food and materials, you should be able to make up to $50 per hour running a meal prep service on the side.

3. Running Errands

Again, location is key here. Running errands around town is something that you do already, and if you don’t mind doing a little extra, it could be a profitable opportunity. Although there are big-name brands in the errand-running business, you may benefit by catering to a local crowd to stand apart from the competition. This may mean a variety of things, but you should: 

  • Figure out what platform to use — or create your system; 

  • Procure a reliable vehicle — or other forms of transport, like an electric scooter, to help you stick out; 

  • Decide a pricing structure — including gas and insurance fees; 

  • Cater to a certain area — or even consider marketing to a certain demographic, such as senior citizens.

Startup costs are relatively low for this side hustle. If you opt to do your marketing and such, that will add a few overhead costs. Even so, you’ll be able to make $20 to $50 an hour depending on the types of errands you decide to offer.

4. User Testing

Becoming an online tester is a more formulaic option that you can do from home. Instead of starting a business from scratch, you can sign up to participate in user testing of digital products. This not only helps other business owners, but it offers you some extra compensation for your time and effort. 

In comparison to other side hustles, there are fewer considerations to be made when you first start, but you should still: 

  • Vet any sites you are looking to test for — especially before giving out your information; 

  • Consider setting up your own user-testing site — and offer your services around market rate;

  • Invest in high-speed internet — and an ergonomic keyboard;

  • Have a basic understanding of technology — and more intermediate or advanced skills for jobs like quality assurance testing. 

Read reviews on other sites, and don’t give a company any money to sign up for user testing. Depending on the complexity of the tasks, you can expect to make anywhere from a few cents to $120 per test.

5. English Tutoring

Tutoring is another side hustle you can do from the comfort of your home. Especially when tutoring English, your students can virtually commute from anywhere. Like user testing, many platforms offer English tutoring services. If you’re interested in teaching English online, consider: 

  • Obtaining a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification — which is usually required instead of education experience;

  • Signing up for a legit English tutoring platform — or marketing your services locally, but this side hustle tends to perform best globally.

Make sure you have a solid internet connection and time to dedicate to your students. If you’re passionate about teaching English and helping out students of all ages this side hustle could be particularly rewarding. It may also earn you up to $25 an hour with little to no startup costs.

6. Selling Items

This side hustle seems obvious, especially with all the platforms cropping up to sell used or crafted goods. However, there are some creative ways to source items. Consider: 

  • Retail arbitrage — buying items at a discount from retailers and reselling for a profit through sites like Amazon; 

  • Upcycling — repurposing old items, such as turning jeans into a jacket with patches; 

  • Modern-day treasure hunting — this could include overlooked items at thrift stores or even gold and other valuables using a metal detector.

When looking for coins and other valuable items in your neighborhood, make sure to be wary of any ordinances that would prevent you from searching in that area or removing items. Aside from purchasing an industrial metal detector and paying for the gas and listing fees, this side hustle is relatively cheap. Your cost of goods will usually be low, so profit margins can be much higher. 

7. Managing Social Media for Small Businesses

If your schedule allows you to take on a part-time gig, you may look into social media management. It’s something that you may be able to do completely from your smartphone, and plenty of small businesses are looking for someone to take over their social pages. If this is something you’re considering, you will want to: 

  • Have some experience with social media — whether it be in an educational, professional, or personal setting;

  • Set up a professional website — or use LinkedIn to showcase your skills; 

  • Look for job postings that specify part-time hours — and even ask around local businesses to see if you can help; 

  • Set clear roles and hours — or else you will find yourself working around the clock.

While your clients don’t have to be close to you in proximity, it may help with social content. However you decide to gain a client, make sure that you set clear boundaries, even with yourself. Working from your phone may lead to over-exhaustion if you never set your work and phone down. Truly part-time social media managers average about $17.86 per hour, but your profits may look different depending on your location and your offered services.

8. Creating YouTube Tutorials

You may have marketable skills, but not everyone wants to start an entire business just to settle for low pay and odd hours. This is why many turn to online creation gigs, like creating videos on YouTube. Although YouTube is one of the most saturated platforms out there, it still has its perks. Particularly, if you have something to teach an audience, you may be able to bring in extra cash for uploading video tutorials. Keep in mind that: 

  • You don’t need fancy equipment at first — but you may want to sit in good lighting and talk clearly;

  • Your channel may grow slowly — so it’s important to have patience if this side hustle is going to be successful; 

  • There are ways to make your videos more visible — such as keywords and eye-catching thumbnails;

  • Your internet needs to be relatively fast — especially if you’re uploading long-form, high-quality videos. 

The startup costs are usually zero for this side hustle — unless you decide to upgrade your equipment in the future. The way YouTube videos earn money is through AdSense, so familiarize yourself with this process. AdSense payouts vary, but you can make around $5 per 1,000 video views. 

9. Starting a Mobile Shop

When most people think of mobile shops, they think of food trucks. In reality, the options are virtually endless. Whatever you have a passion for, do some market research to figure out if it would do well in your area. Then, estimate the costs for the transportation of said business. Some ideas include: 

  • A mobile landscaping business — that would need a van, lawn care equipment, and underground utility detection devices

  • A mobile dog grooming service — that may require a van with plumbing;

  • A coffee cart — that would need electricity and an aesthetically pleasing exterior; 

  • Vending machines — that you can purchase and place in busy locations.

With any of the above mobile gigs, make sure you take into consideration the cost of the vehicle, goods, and your time. Even with the aforementioned mobile services, profits will vary greatly. Be sure to check out other mobile businesses to figure out what you might expect to bring on the side.

Before You Get Started

With any business — even if it’s a side hustle — you’ll need to do the proper paperwork. Most of this is virtual and can be done with a few clicks. The requirements for businesses will differ by type, but you generally need an Employer Identification Number and tax ID for tax filing purposes. Check with your state to find out what you need to file before leaping into the wonderful world of side hustling.