How to find the best side hustle ideas today

Here’s our exact system to find great side hustle ideas. It’s the first step in earning more money through freelancing.

Ramit Sethi

Good side hustle ideas can open the door to unlimited earning potential.

However, we have limited willpower as humans.

Think about how so many of us go about doing something like creating a side hustle:

  • Stage 1: Decide you want to have a side hustle. (“I think I want to have a side business so I’m my own boss!”)
  • Stage 2: Get excited about the prospect of earning more money. (“I can’t wait to do what I love AND get more money! I wonder how much tickets to Cabo are this time of year?”)
  • Stage 3: Try to come up with side hustle ideas. (“But wait, what’s my business going to be?”)
  • Stage 4: Get overwhelmed, dejected, and give up. (“I can’t come up with a good idea. I guess I’ll just keep working for my boss…”)

We’re not going to do that though. Instead, I’m going to show you exactly how you can create your own side hustle AND give you a list of great side hustle ideas as a launching point.

Three questions to find great side hustle ideas

One thing I’m sick of are listicles online that tout the “3,000 best side hustle ideas” but most of them are trash.

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You know the ones I’m talking about too.

  • “Have a garage sale!”
  • “Sell your hair for cash!”
  • “Take online surveys that’ll pay you literally DOZENS of cents!”

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These “hustles” are vague, non-scalable, and just not worth your time. Instead, I’d like you to reframe what you’re looking for. You’re not looking for an idea. You are focused on finding your inner expertise.

What do I mean? We all have skills and talents that are 100% marketable, but most of us don’t even realize it.

I went to this party while I was in college once and there was this guy there drinking heavily. I’m talking seven shots in with more to come. Later, I’m looking at his bookshelf (because I’m a weirdo) and find a neuroanatomy textbook.

This guy was in the process of killing hundreds of his own brain cells — but he’s also smart enough to save another person’s brain cells. You wouldn’t know he was this very talented and smart dude by just looking at him though.

That’s because those skills were his inner expertise — and you have them too.

All you have to do is ask yourself some very simple questions:

Question #1: What knowledge have I acquired?

We pay to learn a lot of things:

  • College degrees
  • Spanish language lessons
  • Yoga classes
  • Guitar lessons
  • Improv classes
  • Writing workshops

We pay for all of this because we know it’s more efficient to learn things by paying money for expert knowledge.

Guess what? You can be that teacher too.

And I know what you’re thinking: “I’m not good enough at anything to teach anyone else.” Look, there are plenty of people who aren’t “as good” as other people in certain skills but they’re still making money off of their knowledge.

Do you think James Patterson is the BEST writer?

Do you think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the BEST actor?

How about that popular Mexican restaurant a few blocks from you. Do you think they have the BEST burritos?

No — but these people are still making money off their knowledge. And there are things that you can turn into marketable side hustle ideas too.

What knowledge do you have to turn into a side hustle?

Question #2: What do I do on a Saturday morning?

The answer to this question reveals what you’re passionate about and what people might pay you for. Because we all have something we just love doing on Saturday mornings before everyone else is awake.

I have a friend who LOVES clothes. Her Saturday mornings consist of reading fashion blogs and maintaining a Pinterest account overflowing with outfit and design ideas.

Here’s what I find interesting: She never thought about turning this into a business! It’s just something she likes to do BUT I guarantee you that there are a lot of people who’d pay $500 for a style consultation over Skype that she could do from the comfort of her own home. Some people might even pay her thousands to be their personal shopper.

Something that my friend loves doing for fun on a Saturday morning could be turned into a thriving business with a few key systems (more on that later). So ask yourself: What do I like to do in my free time?

  • Are you at the gym or training for marathons as a hobby? People would pay you for your fitness knowledge.
  • Do you love reading dating advice blogs or browsing /r/relationships? You could give relationship advice or coaching to the lovelorn.
  • Maybe you like working on your car in your free time. People would pay you to fix their car troubles too!

What you do when you have a ton of downtime is a great indicator of your passions and talents.

Question #3: What challenges have I overcome?

We can turn our most painful and vulnerable moments into a great side hustle.

Don’t believe me? Check out all of these profitable hustles that came out of challenges people have faced:

  • After Dane Johnson was diagnosed with Crohn’s/Colitis, he devoted himself to helping people with the disease achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.
  • When her eldest daughter was born, Jen discovered her daughter had autism. Her life soon became a whirlwind of tough financial decisions and sacrifices. She now uses the knowledge she gained during her experience to help other women find their financial footing as well.
  • Tree Franklyn always struggled with handling her emotions — until she learned a great system to deal with her sensitive nature. Now she helps women manage their emotions so they don’t feel overwhelmed all the time.

While it may be tough to revisit some of those painful moments, it’s also empowering knowing that you overcame it AND can help others in their struggles too.

So what have YOU struggled with that you can help others with too?

  • Did you struggle to lose weight for years and figured out how to get in shape?
  • Are you an introvert who has learned to overcome shyness to become more sociable?
  • Have you failed test after test before learning an amazing study technique?

Find an answer to this question and I promise you you’ll find a profitable business idea.

Action step: Come up with 20 ideas

It’s time to figure out what exactly you’re good at and put it down on paper. We start by doing an inventory of everything — our knowledge, passions, and challenges we’ve overcome.

So answer each question below and come up with a few ideas for each until you have 20 answers in all.

  • What knowledge have I acquired?
  • What do I do on a Saturday morning?
  • What challenges have I overcome?

It’s okay if it’s not an even number of answers (unless you can come up with 6.666667 answers for each one). What’s important is that you’ve put down 20 on paper.

Put aside 30 minutes today and 30 minutes tomorrow to do this. Literally block them out on your calendar and protect that time. You can do this RIGHT now.

Make sure there are TWO distinct times you do this. That’s because when you step away from a problem, you free up a different part of your mind that helps you problem solve more effectively.

Once you’re done, congrats! You’re well on your way to getting started earning money with your side hustle ideas.

How to keep motivated with your side hustle ideas

Many people can get overwhelmed after coming up with their 20 side hustle ideas — and I don’t blame them. Taking your side hustle ideas and running with them takes a lot of time and determination.

BUT I promise you that it’s completely worth it. Three reasons why:

  1. Most people don’t even think to earn more — giving you an edge. Because of differences in skill, motivation, and luck, few people ever try to earn more. Instead, they choose to complain about things they can’t control like the economy and taxes while focusing on things like cutting out lattes to save money.

    So if you’re in that small group of motivated hustlers who do actually earn more, you earn the lion’s share of side revenue. When you pick an area to excel where there’s a built-in barrier to success — like earning more money on the side — the winners get disproportionate winnings.

  2. Mitigate your risks. What if you lost your job tomorrow? Would you have another source of income to fall back on? If not, you’re going to have to dip into your emergency fund … if you have one that is.

    Just like with your portfolio, you know about the importance of diversifying your investments. It’s the same idea when it comes to your revenue sources.

  3. Managing your money and earning more money is a powerful combination. Combine earning more with the automation strategy for saving, investing, and spending that I outline in my book, and you’ll have a powerful financial combination guaranteed to set you up for a Rich Life.

If you’re still nervous about your side hustle ideas, I want to help you even more with a bonus:

BONUS: 42 side hustle ideas for beginners, college students, parents, and more!

No matter your employment, family status, or location, you can find the right business idea to pursue on the side. To help you get started even more, here are 42 examples of great hustles you can start today.

Side hustle ideas for beginners

Here is a list of services that don’t take any special skills or training at all that you can offer to people for money:

  • Transcription services
  • Courier services
  • Cooking / personal chef
  • Technical writing
  • Small business marketing
  • Proofreading / editing
  • Business writing (business plans, grants white papers)

Side hustle ideas for college students

You can start a lucrative side hustle even if you’re living in a dorm room right now. Actually, that’s how I started IWT over a decade ago. Check out these hustles:

  • Video production / editing
  • Design (brochures, business cards, logos, newsletters)
  • Web design
  • Blogging / blog consulting
  • Sports / personal training
  • Child care
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)

Side hustle ideas for millennials

Millennials have a wealth of marketable skills just by virtue of being in a tech-centric generation. My first side hustle was consulting for venture capital firms on how young people were using social media. Here are some other things you can do:

  • User interface & user experience (UI/UX)
  • Google Analytics
  • Programming / web development
  • E-commerce consulting
  • Tech tutoring (e.g., how to set up and use your tablet)
  • Internet marketing consulting
  • Fashion / image consulting

Side hustle ideas for stay-at-home parents

Parents have some of the busiest schedules and irregular hours of anyone. However, on top of all those responsibilities, you can find a side hustle idea that makes your money. Case in point:

  • Personal / virtual assistant
  • Pet services (grooming, walking, etc.)
  • Home maintenance
  • Crafting / personalization services
  • Human resources / payroll services
  • Project management / productivity consulting
  • Copywriting and editing

Side hustle ideas for working parents

If you’re a working parent, you probably have skills such as planning, budgeting, and productivity. You can easily transform one of those skills into a side hustle such as:

  • Photography
  • Travel planning
  • Event planning / promotion
  • Automobile / motorcycle repair
  • Tax and financial planning
  • Community management / promotion
  • Career help (finding work, optimizing resumes, cover letters, etc.)

Side hustle ideas for teachers

Teaching and the skills involved are at the core of a lot of thriving side hustles. That’s why professional teachers have an advantage when it comes to hustles such as:

  • Research
  • Presentation design (e.g., PowerPoint)
  • Tutoring and coaching
  • SAT prep
  • College application review
  • Productivity coaching
  • Accounting / bookkeeping

“I have my side hustle ideas … what now?”

Once you have your side hustle ideas, it’s time to start putting your ideas to work for you — and you do that by finding your first client/customer/person-who-will-throw-money-at-you-for-your-service.

Without your customer, your side hustle ideas will remain just that — ideas. And while it may seem daunting to start selling your skills, it’s actually pretty straightforward as long as you have the right systems.

That’s why I want to offer you my guide to get you started:

Find Your First Client in the Next 6 Weeks

I’ve included some of my best techniques and strategies on finding a client who will pay you money for your skills in less than two months.

Enter your information below and I’ll send you the FREE guide right to your inbox.

Be sure to tweet your results at me @ramit. Check out this one I got from a reader recently:

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 I can’t wait to hear about your awesome side hustle ideas.

Yes, help me find my first client!

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