The best side hustles for 2021 are those that don't involve having to interact with anyone face-to-face. I imagine much like 2020 where I stayed home, 2021 will be the same. Wear a damn mask so we can get out of time out. 😉
These are my best side hustle ideas for 2021:
Be sure to grab my MONEY MAGNET PLANNER (wait for the pop-up!) 🙂 This is only available through Jan 1st. It will be for sale in my shop after that.
I'm all about being real. I'm not going to tell you that one of the best side hustles for 2021 is taking surveys, because it's not. Surveys waste time and are not going to help you build a business.
Surveys also don't pay enough to justify the time spent on them. Of course, that's my personal opinion, but I think you're worth far more than $.25 for doing anything – even clicking a button!
So let's talk about what qualifies as a side hustle for the purpose of this blog post:
- A side hustle makes at least $100 a month, with the potential to make $1,000 or more per month. The only exception to this is if something is truly passive, and is actually a “set it and forget it” type thing. Then, if it only makes a few hundred bucks a month, that's fine. Rinse, repeat, and do whatever that is x10 so you can make a decent income.
- A side hustle doesn't take more time than a full-time job. I'm all about making more and working less. Working smarter, not harder, all that jazz.
- A side hustle is legitimate. It isn't something that will “maybe” make you money. For me, side hustles are very close to guaranteed income.
This means things like forex trading and MLMs are off the table. You will NOT see me promoting an MLM. Ever. They're predatory towards women and I'm not a fan. Doesn't mean you can't make money with one, just means it's not something I'm going to help with. 😉
Tools to get you started with your side hustles
I highly recommend using Canva (that's my affiliate link) to get started with ANY side hustle. You can use Canva to create damn near anything – and it's free. There is a PRO version that I highly recommend, but you can get started for $0.
If you aren't sure how to use Canva, I've got you covered! Check out my free Canva video tutorials on YouTube.
Why are you side hustling?
Side hustles can be exhausting to get started and build up. Knowing WHY you are doing this is important. Are you hustling to pay off debt? To buy a house? To fund your child's sports?
Having a solid WHY is going to keep you going when you feel like being lazy instead. Discipline is needed until motivation kicks in. Sign up for my free daily money motivation texts by texting @dailyhus to 81010.
Driving Side Hustles
If you have a reliable car and insurance, these are side hustles you can do to make some quick cash. Some folks have even turned them into full-time businesses!
Because of COVID, I would not recommend driving for Uber right now. Stay SAFE by delivering groceries or fast food instead. You can do curbside, contactless pick-up AND drop-off.
With all side hustles involving your car, you'll need to make sure you have a valid Driver's License and insurance. Call your insurance company before you begin driving for any company, to make sure you have what is required in your state.
Remember: you are an Independent Contractor. These are side gigs, not weekly paycheck type jobs. You're responsible for all expenses, and taxes.
There are no car requirements to get started with DoorDash. You can even deliver via scooter or bicycle in some cities.
You do need to be at least 18 with a Driver's License, social security number, and a clean background check. It takes 1-2 weeks for your account to get activated after you submit your application to DoorDash.
While DoorDash focuses on delivering from restaurants, InstaCart is for delivering food from grocery stores. It requires more work than just grabbing some food curbside and calling it a day. In fact, in my area you order InstaCart and get your groceries delivered within 2 hours! So that means you're running in, grabbing groceries, and getting them to your clients quickly and efficiently.
InstaCart requirements state you must be 18, have a reliable vehicle, and be eligible to work in the United States. I imagine that means you must have a social security number. You also must have the ability to lift at least 50 pounds on a regular basis (think dog food bags!).
Other delivery services to look into:
- Google Express
- Bite Squad
You can also start your own food delivery service! This requires a little more up front, because you'll need to grow your brand locally rather than relying on apps that have built-in customers, but it IS possible – and can be far more profitable!
Tips for delivery drivers
Grab napkins. If you're driving for GrubHub, PostMates, DoorDash, etc., be sure to double-check all orders and grab napkins and utensils! So many restaurants forget to include them. If you deliver an order without these items, it's on you – and YOU will get the low rating.
Take pictures. There are some slimy people out there. Take a photo of every delivery and text it to your customer right away.
Don't smoke! In your car or anywhere near anything you'll be delivering. I had a grocery delivery once that smelled so badly of smoke, I had to leave it outside for a few hours before bringing it in. You're delivering to people who have allergies, sensitivities, asthma, etc and even if someone is perfectly healthy, they don't enjoy their groceries smelling like cigarette smoke.
And while I don't mind the smell of cannabis myself, it goes without saying that you shouldn't be smoking it and driving. Groceries and food should NOT have a scent upon arrival.
Batch it up. If you can, do a few orders at once. Delivering one grocery order may only make you $7 but if you batch that order with a few others in a nearby neighborhood, you could end up making $50+ in fees and tips.
Save your money! Don't just spend the money as soon as it comes in. Save at least 25% for taxes. I know that seems like a lot but if you end up making six figures this year like I hope you will, you'll need that money saved for tax time. Trust me.
Track everything. When you file taxes next year, every single mile you drive will count as a deduction. All wear and tear on your car, maintenance, etc can count as well. Talk to your accountant for details. These expenses/deductions will help reduce the amount of taxes you owe.
Online Side Hustle Ideas
There are so many online side hustles you can start – TODAY. Most require very little monetary investment, but will take a lot of your time to build up. Think of it as building a house: lay a strong foundation and your house will stand for years to come. Be lazy about it, and your house will crumble.
I love online side hustles especially because I have children, and chronic illnesses. That means I can't always be out and about driving my car, delivering food, etc. I like spending time with my girls and because of my online gigs, I don't have to give that up.
Blogging is one of my greatest passions. It has been since I got my first computer and started a “blog” on expages, and then Geocities, and then Blogger, and finally, WordPress!
The scope of this article is not to cover everything in depth, but to gloss over each topic. Because of this, I recommend if you're interested in blogging – or ANY of these side hustles – you join my Facebook group: Women Supporting Women Entrepreneurs.
I've made six figures with blogging for a few years in a row now. While that isn't the number after taxes… it's a nice income for my family while I only work part-time. 🙂
My best advice when it comes to blogging is to choose something you love to write about. You'll see “gurus” telling you to “choose a niche”, but if you brand YOURSELF, you don't have to do that. So the first step is to decide, are you going to brand yourself and keep the blog forever… or are you going to choose a niche with the intention of possibly selling it at a later date?
Blog topic ideas:
- motherhood (not what I recommend, but it's a popular topic if you can get specific like writing about autism, or why your family is different)
- crafts and DIYs
- homeschooling (2020 blew homeschooling UPPP!)
- recipes (get unique – think vegan, or cheap, or few ingredients)
- travel (yes, even though nobody can travel right now)
- mental health (these blogs are needed, especially now)
Learn more about blogging over on easyblogschool.com
I don't consider blogging and niche sites to be the same, because for me, blogging is more fun and something I can just “write whatever” and make money with. Niche sites are very specific, they stay on topic, and while they may grow faster, they may not grow quite as large. It truly depends on the niche and your unique perspective of it.
My husband, Kevin, and I have started a few niche sites (like World of Caves). They're not as fun for us as blogging is, so they haven't done much. In 2021, we plan on turning them each into an income stream of their own.
With niche sites, you stay specific with the topic you've chosen and you go deep! You learn everything you can about the topic, and post it so your readers can learn as well.
Your niche site should be :
- about a topic you can stand to write 100 articles about
While you don't need to have 100 articles on every niche site, it's important to be passionate – or disciplined – enough to trek through 50-100 blog posts, each being at least 1,000 words long.
Affiliate marketing is where you recommend a product or course, and get a kickback. That kickback depends on the company and your agreement with them, but generally speaking you can expect anywhere from 10% to 40%. Amazon pays the least, at about 4%, while digital items pay the most, at 20-50% each.
While affiliate marketing does best when you have an audience already, you can start with it TODAY on your personal Facebook page! I have a friend who started promoting my courses this week and has already made $100.
Tips for affiliate marketing:
Don't be spammy. Always be real. Mix your affiliate marketing posts in with your regular posts so your feed doesn't turn to junk that people never read anyway. The key to affiliate marketing is to have an audience of people who know, like, and trust you.
When you have that built in, your audience is more likely to buy. That's why it's crucial to only promote products you truly love. Promote one shitty product and you'll lose a buyer FOREVER. Promote a great one, and you've got a loyal customer!!
Always disclose! It's super important to disclose any affiliate link you are sharing is an affiliate link. Not only is it important, it's illegal if you don't. I call people out all the time for not disclosing. It's just slimy!
If you really promote products you love, you'll have ZERO issues saying “hey, friends, this is an affiliate link!” – it's easy.
How do I get paid as an affiliate?
Affiliates usually take 30-90 days to pay out, and pay out via bank account or Paypal, so be sure to understand the terms and conditions before signing up to promote any products. If you want an easy way to get started with affiliate marketing, email me (sadie AT themadmommy.com) with the topic “AFFILIATE!!” and I'll get you invited to my affiliate program.
I pay $45 for every sign up for my Etsy course that costs $127. It's an easy sale because I've got tons of templates and successful students, so it's a no-brainer for those who want to get into creating online. SEND ME AN EMAIL! 🙂
It takes a while to grow a YouTube channel to the point of monetization, but if you go all in – and deliver value – you can be monetized within a few months. I've seen some channels make money within the first 3-4 months, but average is more like a year.
YouTube is similar to blogging where you deliver a LOT of value and a LOT of content for the first year, and that is what pays your bills for years to come. Building up that solid foundation we talked about earlier. 🙂
Writing books and getting them published has never been easier. While I prefer short books (100-ish pages), you can write a novel and publish it as an ebook on Kindle, as well as get it printed via Amazon KDP.
I'll write more about Kindle Publishing and Amazon KDP in the coming months! It's a great way to make a truly passive income.
Learn more about Amazon KDP here.
Print on Demand
You can do print on demand in many ways. I have experience with POD via Shopify and Etsy, as well as my own blog. Print on Demand is where you take a design, apply it digitally to a shirt, and then list it. The print company prints the shirt, mug, hoodie, bag, whatever, when it's ordered, and you keep a small profit.
I'll write more on this in the coming months. 🙂
Selling Printables on Etsy or Shopify
Etsy and Shopify are both very different platforms. Both have their pros and cons. I teach a course that walks you through creating on Canva and selling digital goods on Etsy.
The students who put the work in have made their money back in 1-2 months. Everything past that is profit! Check it out if you're interested in making passive income on Etsy: no income is completely passive, but this one is pretty close once you get everything set up. Work a few hours a week on your shop and you'll be AMAZED at the results.
Etsy pros and cons
Etsy charges $.20 for each listing, but you can get 40 free listings to start if you use my Etsy referral link. 🙂 Yes, you can have more than one Etsy shop (I have several).
Etsy does charge fees (read the Seller's Handbook to learn more), but they aren't outrageous. Just be sure to price your goods accordingly to cover them.
The best part about selling on Etsy? You don't pay the fees until your item sells! Oh wait, that's not the BEST part… the best part is that Etsy is like Google: a built-in search engine. This means from DAY 1 you can have customers that you never would've found otherwise.
Shopify pros and cons
Shopify is a great platform to sell digital and physical items. They charge you up front, either $9 a month (for a “lite” version of a store that you can host on your blog), or $29 a month (for the full version). Either option is viable and affordable if you're putting the effort in.
The downside is, there's no built-in search engine like Etsy so you have to grow your brand organically from the ground up, just like with a blog. It's not impossible by any means, but it does take more time and effort. The rewards can be HUGE, though. Imagine going viral on TikTok and everyone goes to shop your Shopify store! 😉
NOTE: Be careful who you follow for advice. Anyone who says they make a “million dollars” on Shopify, or from blogging even, is making it by selling a course – NOT by selling printables themselves! Those who flaunt 7 figures are always selling you a “how to”. Heck, most of us who reach 6 figures do the same. While there's nothing wrong with that, anyone who is trying to sell you a “million dollar” idea should be avoided like the plague*.
*I don't know if that is a great phrase anymore, considering how many haven't avoided a literal plague in 2020, but anyway… avoid those people! They are dishonest.
Whether you choose Etsy, Shopify, or both, you can sell so many digital items, it's crazy! If it's around a holiday, start with Letters from Santa, or the Easter Bunny, etc.
Virtual Assistant Work
When I was first building my blog, I needed money to pay my bills and blogging wasn't cutting it. I started photographing recipes for other bloggers, writing blog posts, and selling them for $20-ish a piece.
I quickly learned I could make $100 in a day if I put my mind to it. That was far more than I would make at any job after I paid for daycare for my three kids, so I was all in!
I built my virtual assistant business from the ground up, with little guidance. Then, I started teaching others how to become VAs as well. Over the years, I've trained hundreds of successful VAs and now I have a handful of my own assistants who work for me.
What to offer as a virtual assistant:
- photography (food photography, lifestyle photos, etc) – you can even sell bundles of photos you take as “stock photos” to multiple bloggers!
- email help (my email is a MESS when I don't have an assistant)
- social media management
- any administrative tasks
Tips for virtual assistants
Be sure to LEARN what you are offering before you offer it! If you haven't done that yet, go back to square 1 and start over because that is the first step. If you aren't sure how to learn something, choose another task – or be more resourceful. One of the most important parts of being a VA is being resourceful! If you can't Google, YouTube, or take a course to learn something, don't offer it.
Always be honest. If something comes up and you can't deliver as promised, let your client know right away. If you don't know how to do something, let your client know. Don't “fake it til ya make it” in this industry. You will get BUSTED, and busted hard.
Always over-deliver. I teach every single one of my VA students this: always over-deliver. For example, if I'm selling a recipe post to a blogger and I say it has 5 photos, I deliver 7. Or I will add in a pin template. Or I will let them know I'm sending it out to my email list once they publish it. Whatever you can do that is a little “extra”, offer it – it's the cherry on top that keeps your customers coming back for more.
Freelance writing can fall under virtual assistant work, but it's also something you can do without having to do admin tasks, email management, social media, etc. Freelance writing and ghostwriting are the same thing, with the exception of ghostwriting meaning you don't get credit for what you've written.
Freelance writing can really grow your brand, while ghostwriting grows your client's brand.
Just as above with the virtual assistant work, always over-deliver! If I say an article is 500 words, I make it at least 550. It doesn't take me hardly any extra time, and it gives my client more than they asked for. I work this into my pricing.
Physical Product Side Hustles
The side hustles above don't require physical products being shipped out. They're all exclusively digital and don't require much (if any) up front cost. Physical products can create an income faster, but they do require some capital. I'm going to talk about a few businesses you can start for less than $500.
This does not include your LLC or business licensing, as that cost varies from state to state. For example, here in Arizona it only costs $50 a year to register an LLC. In California, it costs $600. Either way, the money you need to front your physical product business can be made by using the ideas above and selling digital products.
It's important to keep your income streams diversified!
Selling on Etsy
My friend started a shop just about a month ago, selling her specialty brownies. She's started to make sales already and is now getting her brownies featured in local shops!
You can sell anything handmade. That is such a broad category, there's no way I could cover it all, but here are a few niche ideas that do well:
- jewelry (one of THE hottest niches on the platform)
- baby showers
- homeschooling/educational supplies
- holiday (Christmas is HUUUUGE)
How to get started on Etsy without a lot of money
When I realized many of my friends wanted to start an Etsy shop but didn't have tons of money for inventory, I created DIY BIZ KIT. It's a business in a box! Basically, you sign up for the course I have, that includes resources to start your business. And, you get 50 pair of earrings shipped to your doorstep to start selling.
I only create and ship 10 kits a week, and no two kits are EVER going to be alike!
Unlike MLMs, you keep ALL the profit. I have one friend who ordered magnets instead of earrings, and she sold out in her local Facebook groups within 24 hours. FIFTY magnets and ornaments.
This was with no social following, no blog building it up, etc. She just snapped a pic and posted them for $10 each in her local group. She paid $105 for all of them, plus the bags to put them in so her customers had a great shopping experience.
If you'd like a DIY BIZ KIT, head over to my landing page and sign up. Don't want earrings? No problem, just let me know what you want when you fill out the form after paying for the course. We will figure it out together and get you selling ASAP.
The keys to selling on Etsy:
- Be unique! Don't try to sell what everyone else is selling.
- Figure out shipping before you start selling. This is a big one.
- Don't skimp on customer service. Make every package special.
- Read the Seller's Handbook. 99% of the questions you have will be answered here, for free.
- Get a mentor. One reason I offer business kits is because so many are clueless when it comes to starting up on Etsy and selling locally. I can help with that!
Some other side hustle ideas to make you lots of money in 2021
There are a million ideas I could share with you that have already been shared, so I didn't include them in the post but am going to do a list here to get you started, if you want to go down those rabbit holes. 🙂
- tutoring online (VIPKid)
- Air BnB
- tour guide (in 2021, perhaps a virtual tour guide – offer guided tours around your city via video)
- pet grooming
- cake and cookie decorating (you could also teach these classes online!)
- buying and flipping (follow Gary Vaynerchuk for inspiration)
- event planning (people would love help with virtual events this year)
- meal prep (cook for new moms)
- dropshipping (great income but be careful of scammy “gurus”)
- OnlyFans (it's a legit hustle, don't knock it til ya try it)
Tons of ideas in this post! I hope you grab a few and RUN with them in 2021.