Be Your Own Boss: 37 Side Hustle Ideas
by Brett & Kate McKay
Art of Manliness
Tyler Tervooren did a great two-part series for us on some of the
principles of starting a successful side hustle.
Today, I want
to round out those posts by offering a list of concrete side hustle
ideas for guys who need more specific inspiration on what kind of
“microbusiness” to create. Remember, as Tyler explained, a lot of
men never get started with their side hustle because they think
their idea has to be unique and ground-breaking. It doesn’t. You
just need a customer who’s willing and able to pay for your services
and a strong work ethic to make your business a success.
You might think,
“I’d like to start X business, but I can’t because so many people
are already doing the same thing.” Well, I’ve seen half a dozen
guys try to start a business with the exact same idea, but only
one succeeded, because only one was willing to really hustle. Within
any current niche, there is another niche waiting for you to dominate:
the super responsive, super enthusiastic, non-flaky, on-time, quality
producer. Seriously, how many flaky graphic designers and computer
programmers are out there? Tons. And people who use their services
are frustrated. By making yourself the super responsive, super enthusiastic,
non-flaky, on-time computer programmer, you can put yourself head
and shoulders above your competitors, and easily rack up referrals
and dominate your niche.
Here’s an example:
I had a dead tree in my front yard that I needed cut down and removed.
I called a couple of places. No one answered the phone, so I left
a message. A couple of days went by, no response. So I sent an email
to another guy. He showed up at my front door within the hour and
gave me an estimate. I hired him and he came the next day with his
men to do the work.
The same principles
apply to side hustles. And if you want to turn it into your real
job? Then treat it like one. Take blogging, for instance. People
think they can start a blog, spend an hour each day writing down
their musings about the world, and crap out golden eggs. Yet after
a year they still have two subscribers: their girlfriend and their
mom. I am often asked how I made AoM a success. Well, Kate and I
each worked on it 30-60 hours a week…even when I was in
law school and even when I had a full-time corporate job. Early
mornings, late nights. We treated it like a job…until it became
In trying to
come up with a side business idea, the two richest veins are 1)
hobbies you already do for free, and 2) stuff people are unable
or unwilling to do themselves. That latter category keeps on growing,
as people are increasingly “outsourcing” their lives and becoming
averse to doing little unpleasant tasks and chores themselves. However
you feel about this trend, the market is definitely there for more
and more outsourcing niches.
The ideas below
generally fall into these two categories. Most will allow you to
stick with Tyler’s suggested $100 budget and can be started right
away. Maybe one will pique your interest, or will give you another
idea. Certainly don’t limit yourself to this list.
Side Hustle Ideas
of ____. The Industrial Revolution dealt craftsmen a terrible
blow. But small, independent artisans have been making a comeback
these days. Because of sites like etsy.com,
it’s never been easier to set up a “shop,” and get your wares out
there in front of people. What should you make? Whatever your imagination,
skills, and tools can dream up. There are guys making simple
brushes and keepsake boxes, leather
notebook covers, knives
— you name it.
Got an English degree? It’s good for more than a job at McDonald’s!
(I kid, I kid). You can start freelance editing when you’re still
in school – friends and classmates often need their papers and graduate
school application essays edited. Once you’ve gotten some experience
under your belt, branch out to other things. How do you find clients?
Editor Jeremy Anderberg,
left this helpful comment on one of the previous side hustle posts:
it or not, all my clients have come from three sources:
search for people needing an editor
-Craigslists postings in the Writing / Editing Jobs
-Independent/Indie author’s forums
I found where
the authors are, and went to them! It’s worked great so far.”
designer. It seems like everyone and their mom is a graphic
designer these days, but the number of professional, reliable, and
affordable graphic designers is few and far between. If you have
a goal of becoming a full-time graphic designer who can charge giant
corporations a million dollars to come up with a new logo, start
off by doing projects for smaller businesses. I know many folks
who find clients by offering to do a small project for a business
or website they frequent and enjoy. Once the business owner sees
how awesome the work is, they end up hiring the designer for other
projects. The one thing you can do to set yourself apart in this
niche is to be super-reliable and responsive.
chef/meal delivery. Personal chefs used to be the exclusive
privilege of the rich and famous, but are now a service people of
more modest means are signing up for. You can go into someone’s
home to cook for them a few times a week, or make meals in your
own kitchen that you deliver weekly or daily. The latter option
is often done for those who are on a diet and want someone to prepare
fresh, calorie-controlled meals for them. One thing to note about
this, and any other side business that involves making food in your
own kitchen, is that your state or city may have laws requiring
commercially-sold food to be made in a commercially-certified kitchen.
Getting that certification can be pricey. One way around this is
that some cities offer a community commercial kitchen where you
can rent a slot.
poop picker-upper. Yup, this is really a job. Some people’s
full-time job, actually. All dogs poop, and some people don’t want
to crisscross their yard every week searching for Fido’s droppings.
I actually heard of a guy here in town, Jon
Wood, who started his own dog poop scooping business –Poop 911
— while he was getting his biology degree from the University
of Tulsa. He intended to go to medical school, but his side business
became so successful that his previous plan was soon put on hold,
and now he’s looking to franchise.
maker. There seems to be a bunch of soaps available at
the grocery store, but they’re really all about the same. That leaves
a lot of special niches to be filled — folks looking for super
natural fragrance-free soap, guys who want a unique and manly scent,
and those who’d like their soap to come in a fun shape (like, say,
and eggs) to name a few. Making your own soap isn’t as difficult
as you might think. Let
Bryan Schatz show you how.
writer. Not everyone’s got a way with words. If you do,
start a letter/poem writing service where the client tells you what
they’re trying to convey, and you bring it to life for them.
troubleshooter. Some people (read: older people) find their
computer to be entirely inscrutable, and do not know how to fix
their machines when issues come up. They may know how to turn it
off and on, but that’s often about it. Become a one-man Geek Squad
for these folks.
creator. In this day and age every business needs to have
a sharp-looking, easy-to-use website or blog. But surprisingly,
a lot of business websites still look like they’re stuck in 1999.
Plus, ordinary people often want to start a personal blog, but don’t
know where to begin. In addition to your site creation service,
you can also offer help on making the site easier to find in search
engines and getting connected to potential readers and customers
with social media.
To find clients,
consider combining your website-building know-how with a special
area of expertise. For example, during law school I noticed that
a lot of law firms in town had pretty terrible looking websites.
While I never had time to execute it, I thought about offering these
firms my services, as I could help them both build their site and
offer the legal know-how to create content for their blog.
walker/pet sitter. If people work long hours, they need
someone to come walk their dogs during the day, and if they go on
vacation, they need someone to both walk and feed their pets. There
are people in NYC making six figures a year doing this. Six figures
for walking dogs!
taxi. People use a pet taxi when they don’t have a car
or work long hours, but need someone to take their kitty or pooch
to the vet, the groomer, or to and from the airport. Pet taxis pick
up animals from their homes, and take them to and from appointments.
baths. While all-out pet grooming requires training, you
could specialize in giving people’s four-legged friends a bath.
Many people really don’t like doing this chore themselves.
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© 2012 The Art of Manliness