Affiliate marketing, blogging, publishing a book, flipping items online, renting out property, investing in stock; these are all side-hustles I’ve experienced in the last couple of years. Other ideas – such as social media for local businesses – I do on a day-to-day basis with my work.
With this in mind, I’ve reviewed some of the most popular side-hustles. Each side-hustle will be rated out of 5 stars.
Flipping items on eBay and other marketplaces 📦
Late last year I decided to start selling items online. I resold old watches which were listed for below market value on eBay, as I have an interest in watches. After an initially questionable start (due to ethical reasons, which I’ll disclose in a separate blog post), things went okay, and I was making consistent sales each week.
It’s very easy to start doing. With there being few obstacles in the way of selling, the thrill of making a sale is pretty immediate which helps you get hooked to the process.
Also, the money was quite good. Not fantastic, but good.
Firstly, if you’re hoping to flip an item, it’s often dependent on that item’s quality upon arrival. If the item arrives damaged or not as described, your profit is potentially gone.
Additionally it can be time consuming. Posting items, talking to customers, finding stock; these can all eat up a lot of time, and if you’re working full-time too it can fill your headspace. Ultimately this is why I stopped doing it, as the time aspect turned it from enjoyable to stressful.
Probably worthwhile if you’re working a low-paying job and need some extra cash (you can make a decent amount), but ultimately it is another job in itself so not exactly low-effort or to be considered “passive income”.
Running a blog 👨💻
Before SirThorney I also ran a gaming blog, so I have a longstanding experience in blogging. I write a blog because I enjoy writing, so the monetary element isn’t something that I really take into account, but I have tried to make money through advertising revenue before.
It’s very fun to do, and there’s lots of free website building tools available online making it easy to begin.
There’s fuck all money in blogging. Unless you consistently get over over 5 figures of website traffic per month, it’s not worth it financially. If you plaster adverts all over your blog (which has a few hundred or thousand views a month), you’re going to be ruining the reader’s experience for car seat change.
Also, in order to have a nice website with a custom domain name, you will need to immediately spend money, which you’ll probably never make back in advertising revenue.
Do a blog because you want to, not because somebody that works at a media company said it could make you money. If you’re keen to start your blog, click here to get $25 WordPress credit.
Affiliate marketing 🔗
As someone with a background in online marketing, finding an affiliate link I could effectively market was an exciting opportunity. I did this for my energy provider, but I know other people do affiliate marketing for almost every industry.
Once you figure out how to effectively advertise your link you can potentially make a lot of money. I made several thousand within the space of a year, and only had to spend a small amount of time each week refining the advertising.
There’s often a time limit on the effectiveness of your advertising. Mainly because if you find something lucrative it’s only a matter of time before other affiliate marketers begin saturating your product/service, or the industry becoming more competitive.
After months of effective advertising, the clicks on my PPC adverts fell 90% in the space of a couple of weeks.
Affiliate marketing can be a really lucrative side-hustle, and is worth exploring at the least.
Keep in mind, without having a decent knowledge of how to do online marketing, you’ll probably struggle to effectively do affiliate marketing. As someone who works in the industry, it was a good fit, but someone who doesn’t could easily waste a lot of money experimenting with advertising.
Publishing a book 📚
I’ve published 3 books now, and my last book managed to get to #11 on the best sellers chart for advertising books on Amazon.co.uk.
So, I won’t deny that a book with good purpose can sell, but it’s worth keeping in mind that it’s not easy.
Can be a great way to turn a writing hobby into a product. If you make a good sized book and charge correctly per sale, you can make a tidy profit.
Generating sales for a book can be extremely difficult. Listing a book on Amazon isn’t enough to generate interest; you need to have a great description, an eye-catching book cover, reviews, and an effective promotional campaign.
Not only are you competing with other aspiring authors and hustlers, you’re also competing with major book publishers; and they’re usually more experienced and talented then you.
I’ve seen popular online authors find their books simply fail to generate the expected sales, so the likelihood of being able to overcome the odds as an amateur/wannabe is very unlikely.
If you’re writing to make money, give up. Writing a book takes a long time, and if the purpose is to make profit, you’d be better spending time trying another side-hustle. You can learn more about how to start publish a book by clicking here.
Earlier this year I had some success in investing in stocks (and also some failure). Historically when all the stocks plummet it’s a good time to invest, so I thought I would put some spare cash into the market to see what I could do.
With lots of trading apps now available which do not take a commission on profit, it’s very easy to get started and there’s plenty of free resources online for learning how to invest.
When done right, it’s very lucrative and requires minimal amounts of effort.
You need to have money in the first place to invest it. So if you only have £50 spare you might as well take it to a casino and place it on red, because you’ll be more likely to make £100 there than on the stocks.
Additionally, it’s not quite as simple as it first seems. The buying and selling process is straight forward, but the things between (such as as rights issues – which caught me unexpectedly) can fuck your portfolio up.
If you have money to invest, probably go for an ETF. It’s much simpler, and the risk is minimised in comparison to trying to buy and sell stocks, cryptos or commodities. According to historical data, you’re unlikely to outperform the major ETFs anyway.
If you do understand an industry and believe a company is going to grow within that industry, though, it’s good that you can now easily purchase shares within that company and hopefully enjoy that growth with them.
Renting out property/space 🏘
When I bought my first home it came with a leaky garage I didn’t use. I decided to rent it out, and for over a year I had a consistent £80 come into my PayPal each month. Renting out a room also crossed my mind multiple times, but renting out storage space was much less stress.
Unfortunately I cannot talk about renting living space, but there’s plenty of articles about that elsewhere.
If you’re not using the space, renting it for a fair price can be a really easy way to make a bit of extra cash. With apps like PayPal, receiving payment is also easier than ever.
Trusting someone not to abuse your property is often easier said than done.
Additionally, chasing payment can be tricky.
Realistically renting unused space is free money. It may be boring and not a particularly sexy way to make money, but it is genuine passive income once you find someone to rent the space each month.
Plus, you don’t need to understand digital marketing to get started. If you’re interested in renting out unused space, click here to get started with Airbnb.
Running companies’ social media 💻
As someone that does online marketing as a career, I have plenty of experience in running business’s social media. Whilst I haven’t tried doing it in my evenings as a side-hustle, it’s part of the service we offer clients so I feel somewhat qualified to judge its profitability.
Very easy to do, and there’s no upfront cost for social media posting.
As this is something that everyone tries to sell, so it’s become a gig economy. Lowest price wins if you’re a newbie, and when you’re competing with 16 year old kids who have no bills to pay, you’ll struggle to match their ridiculously cheap prices.
Additionally, most business owners don’t give a shit about social media. Trying to convince a plumber that you should run their Instagram is the equivalent of begging for change on the high-street; as they probably see no value in social media so paying you would just be an unnecessary expense.
To even get the opportunity to pitch to that plumber you’ll need to spend time cold-calling/emailing/messaging, or spend money on advertising yourself – which means you can easily waste a lot of time and resources.
Whilst a nice idea, average companies generally see social media management as an expense rather than an investment. Because of this, it’s not something you can just jump into and expect to immediately make good money from.
If you have an existing network of business owners or decision makers who you can sell to, though, this is an easy way to make some extra bank.
Dropshipping or running an online store 🛒
Whilst I don’t have experience running my own online store, I have helped clients with theirs.
If you’re considering selling cheap shit from China and ripping people off online, please reconsider. Not only because it’s actually pretty hard to sell a cheap looking product for a premium price, but also because it’s unethical.
Building your own brand online is really exciting, and can scale to bigger things in the future (such as being able to replace your main source of income). Additionally, you can sell your online store, as it’s essentially a digital asset you can use however you please.
Of all the side-hustle options this is probably the most lucrative, but also the most time-consuming and difficult.
People are generally apprehensive about ordering off of random websites on the internet, so if your website and product isn’t compelling they’ll simply go somewhere else. For new brands, selling on marketplaces like Etsy or eBay is usually more viable.
Additionally, it’s not cheap to have an online store. The upfront investment in the website is just the first step, you then have to pay for advertising and potentially purchase stock, too.
In my experience the most profitable online stores are those with pre-existing brand awareness. Additionally, it’s important to have a product that’s unique, not something that they can buy from a bigger brand for 20% cheaper.
There are plenty of examples of successful online stores, but there are millions of failures we never hear about.
The optimist in me would say it is what you make of it. The realist in me says that you’re unlikely to make your online store massively successful unless you focus on it like it’s your main source of income, which isn’t really good if you’re coming home from a 9+ hour working day. If you’re keen to start your online store, click here to get $25 WordPress credit.
💸 My conclusion 💸
Ultimately a good side-hustle should be minimal effort and something you can pick up when you want some extra cash, but many of the options above require the amount of effort you should typically apply for an actual career.
Blogging and publishing a book are often romanticised as being this really great opportunity to make extra money, but they’re ridiculously competitive fields.
The most sexy opportunity is affiliate marketing, as you can be creative in how you do this and also make good money. However, affiliate marketing is only as good as the opportunity at hand, so it’s often fleeting moments of success.
Realistically renting out space is the most viable, but also the most boring. It often is the most dull opportunities that are the most profitable. This isn’t a bad thing, as whilst dull isn’t something we actively seek out, it is what we want from a responsibility separate from our working life.