To get in the mindset of finding the profitable ideas that exist all around you, take an imaginary drive down the street and consider what kind of possibilities might appear. All along the way, pay close attention to your surroundings—you never know when a good idea for a side hustle might show up.
The first thing to notice is that you’re not the only one on the road. Who else is driving today, and where are they going? Are they driving to work or running errands? Here you can already spot several options.
Side Hustle Ideas
First, all these people need to get somewhere. If you have a car and live in a city, you can sign up for a rideshare service and drive them where they need to go—even if you shuttle people around for just an hour before you have to get to your job. The good thing about signing on with these services is that you decide exactly when and how much you want to work.
Next, what about the people you see out your window who aren’t driving? Maybe some of them are walking their dogs, lugging bags of dry cleaning, or carrying groceries. Many of these people might be willing to pay good money for help with these things, and there are several outsourcing services you can sign up for today that will put you to work. You can usually set your own rate, and as your reputation grows, you’ll have more work and can charge a higher price. Or you can just start your own service, running around doing errands and collecting a second or third paycheck in your spare time.
After all, a side hustle shouldn’t be just another part-time job. It should make your life easier, not harder.
Maybe you notice a line of people queuing up outside the local coffee shop. Or you see a cluster of cars piling up on the shoulder of the highway, in front of a sign for a full-service car wash. If you continue down this train of thought, asking yourself, What are these people doing, and what do they need?, you can likely spot several other opportunities:
- Deliver fresh coffee to people working in office buildings that aren’t located on top of a high-end coffee shop.
- Set up a pop-up car wash service on the off-ramp of the highway (include a sign: free wi-fi while you wait).
- Create a “life organization” service that helps busy people with planning their week and becoming more efficient when running errands.
Those ideas are fine to start with—but if you look closer, you’ll begin to spot even better and more profitable ideas. After all, a side hustle shouldn’t be just another part-time job. It should make your life easier, not harder.
Here’s an example of a hustle that went beyond the “starter idea” approach of driving people around or washing their car. One day, a California web developer named Steven Peterson was commuting to work in the San Francisco Bay area, alongside tens of thousands of other people. California traffic during rush hour is no joke, and many of those commuters were constantly on the lookout for short- cuts, tips, or anything that would make their commute a little bit quicker and easier. At the time, there was no single, go-to resource where all these people could see traffic patterns and get real-time updates on buses, roadwork, or any other pertinent information. To cut a long story short, Steven built that resource and is now making more than $7,500 a month from it.
See how it works? In this case, Steven combined an existing skill (web development) with a clear need (real-time traffic information) that served a large and active market (San Francisco commuters). Steven now works full-time on the hustle, and it all started with an idea that popped into his head on his morning commute.
Now it’s your turn. Try applying this mode of thinking wherever you go. Whenever you encounter groups of people, ask yourself What do these people need or want? And as you go through daily life, ask yourself, What opportunities are lying in wait for someone to profit from? In other words, look for ways to transform your ideas into valuable assets.
DON’T HAVE IDEAS? TAKE THESE
Side hustle ideas are all around you, but if you need help, I’ve compiled an initial list to get you started. Use them as starting points to inspire something you come up with yourself, tailor or adapt them to your skills or situation, or just steal them as they are.
- Sell your art, crafts, or any handcrafted item on etsy.com
- Develop a travel concierge service to help people when they miss their flights
- Offer online tutoring services in your field of expertise
- Host a networking event (charge a low ticket price and get sponsors to provide food)
- Create and sell a visitors’ guide to your town or city, or build a web resource for tourists, supported by advertisers
- Create an online (or offline) course in some quirky subject you happen to know a lot about
- Publish a blog with a new lesson on a specific topic every day
- Start a podcast and sell sponsorship
- Visit yard sales or thrift shops and buy items to resell
- Offer a simple freelance service—anything from fact-checking to tech support or something else entirely
- Become a home, office, or life organizer
- Manage P.R. or social media accounts for small businesses
- Buy and sell used textbooks to college students
- Sell your musings on business, art, or culture as a freelance writer
- Start a membership website, where people pay a monthly or annual fee to access useful information about a specific topic
- Write and publish a book (if I can do it, you can too!)
Note: many of these ideas won’t work for you. But some might! Go through the list and select any that sound promising. Most important, always be on the lookout for feasible, pro table, and persuasive ideas as you go about your daily life.
Book excerpt reprinted with publisher and author permission.
Side Hustle: Build a side business and make extra money – without quitting your day job by Chris Guillebeau is out now, published by Macmillan. Chris’s first book, The Art of Non-Conformity, was translated into more than twenty languages. His second book, The $100 Startup, was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.