The different types of side hustles

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably already sold on the idea of a Side Hustle – I mean, who doesn’t want an extra source of income? But the hardest part is knowing where to start.

Below I outline the major types of Side Hustles – what the broad categories & economics are. This is by no means exhaustive, but it does cover the vast majority of Side Hustles I’ve encountered and hopefully will get your juices flowing as to what the right fit for you is!

Creating and selling physical/digital goods

  • What it is: overseeing the design, production, marketing, and delivery of a physical product, either through a marketplace (e.g., Amazon, Etsty) or direct (e.g., your own website). Some functions can be outsourced (e.g., using a production partner to manufacture), but you are the owner of the design and product.
  • Examples: selling hand-made furniture products on Etsy, designing baby products to manufacture in China and sell through your own boutique website
  • Income streams: revenue per product
  • Costs: raw goods/inputs, cost of any partners (manufacturers, designers), cost of any software/resources required (photoshop or design software), marketplace commissions/fees or cost of own channel (website set-up/hosting, etc), marketing (SEM, social, marketplace promotions), shipping 
  • Time commitment: low to high based on how much is outsourced – can be very low if you outsource manufacturing/fulfillment, but with much lower profit margins
    • Potential areas to outsource: product design, product manufacturing/production, product fulfillment (shipping to customer), acquisition channel (e.g., marketplace),
  • Who this works for: someone with creative/design experience or ideas

Re-selling physical goods

  • What it is: buying finished products from a manufacturer/wholesaler and re-selling to consumers either directly (through your own website) or through a marketplace (Amazon). Fulfillment can be direct or through a drop-ship vendor.
  • Examples: buying products whole-sale and re-selling through Fulfilled By Amazon, setting up a drop-ship website to re-sell specialty items from AliExpress
  • Income streams: revenue per product
  • Costs: cost of wholesale goods, marketplace commissions/fees or cost of own channel (website set-up/hosting, etc), if using a drop-ship vendor any storage/fulfillment costs, marketing (SEM, social, marketplace promotions), shipping/transportation costs
  • Time commitment: medium to high depending on how much is outsourced – if using a program like FBA, time will be front-loaded on acquiring and re-shipping products to Amazon. If selling directly, time investment will be higher and more consistent
    • Potential areas to outsource: product fulfillment (FBA, drop-ship vendors), acquisition channel (e.g., Amazon)
  • Who this works for: someone with time to track down good deals and build manufacturer relationships

Providing digital content

  • What it is: producing, distributing, and marketing digital written/audio/visual content.
  • Examples:  travel blog with premium travel guides for purchase, product review website with affiliate links, youtube channel, podcast
  • Income streams: advertising fees, affiliate revenue (e.g., linking to Amazon products & receiving a share of revenue purchased), subscription costs, per item/usage cost for premium content
  • Costs: production equipment & costs (low for something like a blog, higher for something like a podcast), website hosting costs, marketing costs
  • Time commitment: medium to high – requires consistent content generation & marketing
    • Potential areas to outsource: distribution channel (e.g., using a youtube/podcast app), advertising platform (adsense), content generation (using 3rd party writers)
  • Who this works for: someone with knowledge/content expertise on a particular area

Selling services

  • What it is: providing direct services to a customer in a 1-to-1 fashion (e.g., directly serving 1 customer at a time rather than providing a lesson that many customers can access simultaneously)
  • Examples: starting a consulting or life coaching business, tutoring others on a particular topic, free-lance design for logos or websites
  • Income streams: by hour or by outcome
  • Costs: any equipment or input costs, website hosting costs (if using your own channel) or commission costs if using a services marketplace (e.g., fiverr), marketing costs
  • Time commitment: high – time is monetized in a 1:1 fashion, so there is no scale achieved without working more hours
    • Potential areas to outsource: using a marketplace such as Fiverr or Upwork rather than creating a website from scratch
  • Who this works for: someone with deep/specialty knowledge/content expertise on a particular area that is more valuable in a direct setting

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