If you own a camera, starting a freelance portrait photography business could be a very natural way to turn your skills and passions into a profitable business idea. Start with doing free shoots for friends and family to build up a strong online portfolio, get familiar with your gear and the editing process, then you’ll be able to get paid for photographing professional head shots and celebratory family moments as your side business idea. Get started by checking out this men’s portrait photography class that regularly broadcasts for free on CreativeLive.
It’s clear by now that we’re major proponents of leveraging modern software when starting a business, and marketing is no exception. There are hundreds of programs out there designed to help entrepreneurs like you market their budding businesses, from ROI calculators to social media management tools.
Mechanical Turk operates much like TaskRabbit and GigWalk: it’s a corner online where Amazon gathers tasks to be done, people willing to do them, and people willing to pay for them. On Mechanical Turk, you get to do the oddest jobs you can imagine as an online business idea, made possible by a parallel online universe that runs on hits, visits, surveys, reviews, pins, likes, CPCs, reads, and other metrics. But don’t get too ambitious. The small sums being paid out to human Mechanical Turk users rarely add up to anything seriously substantial, even if you invest most of your spare time into it. It’s a better opportunity for internationally-based people with internet access and lower costs of living than in the US. Here’s one person’s account of his former life as a Mechanical Turk talking through how he got started with this business idea and what the experience was really like.
Tradesy helps women turn closet clutter into cash, allowing users to sell items clogging their closets by handling the transaction from the time a photo of the product is uploaded to its delivery to the purchaser’s door. Tradesy brings white glove customer service to the fashion resale space.
For example, you may have worked with electronics as an employee for many years. You may have noticed a demand in your community for a particular form of electrical work, and combining your experience with the market demand can allow you to attract customers.
I loved to collect stamps and coins when I was a kid. In Boston, the dealers’ stores were all side by side on Bromfield street. Today some coin and stamp dealers still have retail locations but many others work primarily online. This is a great business to start part-time and then consider going full-time later on. Or is it just a hobby with the potential for making a lot of money? American President Franklin D Roosevelt would spend many enjoyable hours alone with his stamp collection.
I see this as an arbitrage opportunity. You finance your fitness rental equipment as one package at a low rate, and then you rent it out to your clientele at a much higher rate, providing them a service they can afford. Nice for everyone! My experience in the rental business is you need to pay careful attention to what happens at the end of the rental period—is the equipment still rentable? Is it sellable? And what happens when the equipment breaks down? Work out these details and this could be a solid and very scalable business.
Review the budget you created to determine how much money you need to launch and operate your business until you are profitable. Calculate how much personal money and credit you have available and how much money you’ll need to raise from other sources. Decide how much of your company you are willing to give up in exchange for money from an investor. Contact your local bank to find out how to apply for a small-business loan or credit card.
Companies are increasingly turning to freelance and contract workers to fill the skill gaps in their staff. It’s not hard to imagine that you could build a whole company around providing freelance services of one sort or another. Some freelance gigs pay by the project and others pay hourly, and the rates can vary greatly. But as you gain more experience, your earning potential will soar.
Countless small businesses start out their web presence using a WordPress hosted website (myself included) before needing to upgrade to other solutions for various reasons. Many of them will pay several hundreds of dollars for someone to get their business idea set up online. If you have the patience to learn how to do it yourself, it’s an extremely valuable skill and can be turned into a very lucrative side business idea—especially if you sign up for affiliate programs with companies like Kinsta, who offer high quality managed WordPress hosting plans that allow you to collect fees from the clients you refer their way.
Choose a unique name for your LLC. Choose a name that complies with your state laws and properly represents your business. While there is no exact formula for choosing the best name, you should choose something that is: 
Focus Forward – Read Review – US only, experience needed. Pay is $10 per 15 minutes of sound transcribed, or higher if you are transcribing foreign languages. Get paid bi-monthly with check or direct deposit.
Of course, you can try your hand at building homes and other large endeavors or you can specialize in smaller projects. Maybe driveways? Patios? Outside waterfalls? Closet renovations? There is no limit to what you can do, but to be highly successful or to build a scalable business I suggest you carefully find a highly profitable niche.
But before you can graduate from side business idea and start earning a full-time living as a graphic designer, you’ll need to build your skills—I recommend starting with reading the foundational book Graphic Design School and Steal Like an Artist, the incredible book by Austin Kleon about how to become more creative. To accelerate your education in becoming a graphic designer even quicker, check out the online courses Graphic Design Fundamentals and The Graphic Design Bootcamp.
If you love to cook, take the “Blondie” route and start a home catering business. Catering is a business that’s perfectly designed to reward those who plan well, and it can often fit perfectly into weekends, which could work great if you are trying to build a business outside of normal working hours.
Is your business idea really unique? What value will it generate? Is it something your target audience really wants? Or is it something you think they’d want? Getting answers to these questions is important to determine whether or not your idea works.
Avon – At a time when opportunities are scarce, and finances are tight, you can start an AVON business and EMPOWER your life. As the world’s largest direct selling company and leader in beauty, anti-aging skincare, and fragrances, we make it easy for you to sell and succeed, right from the start. Why Sell AVON? You have your own business; You set your own hours, You determine your family/work/lifestyle balance, Minimum start up investment, No inventory required, and Exclusive Avon Opportunities. See why more than 5 million people around the world are enjoying financial success and personal growth as Avon Sales Representatives. Join today!
But that was 2007, and quite a bit has changed since then. Where a side business was once a novel idea, it has since become much more mainstream. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, freelancers now make up around 15% of the workforce, compared to only 7% in 1995. And the trend isn’t expected to stop here. The BLS reports that freelancers and self-employed individuals may comprise 20% of the workforce by 2020.
I hate being locked out! And I hate how much money I have to pay a locksmith! Let alone how much I have to pay to have locks changed or a better lock system installed! Wouldn’t it be nice to be receiving this money instead of paying it out? Not only is there a constant need for this service, but with more elaborate door systems there is more room for upselling your customers—wouldn’t it be cool to have a keyless lock system?
Today, just a few years later, selling Apps is more competitive. In fact, there are large marketing firms that exclusively focus on marketing apps. Nonetheless, there is still money to be made in making and selling apps.
Helping clients design and decorate their homes can be a fun business opportunity for design-oriented entrepreneurs. And though there are some online tools that can help with those processes, it isn’t as necessary as a keen eye for design.
Earning money on GigWalk is similar to working on Task Rabbit—not a bad side business idea if you’ve got the free time. You get to choose from an amusingly diverse range of jobs from taking snapshots of restaurant menus to counting the items arrayed on supermarket racks. It won’t make you rich though, with payouts tending to congregate in the lower half of their $3-to-$100 range. But, if you’re looking for a steady little side business idea, it can’t hurt doing a strange but fun errand and getting a tip at the end. When you’re bored or a little short on cash, you can access GigWalk anytime, anywhere via their mobile app. Meanwhile, all the jobs specifically vetted for you will be within reach (ideally, just a brisk walk away).
Swagbucks – Read Review – Open to US, UK, and Canada. While this is just extra money or regular Amazon gift codes, there are tons of tasks you can do to earn daily — everything from paid surveys to watching videos. I’ve been a member since 2007 and can vouch for the company. They have paid me many times. It’s definitely a fun site to use.
Start planning ahead. Where do you hope to see your business in 6 months? What about 3 years down the road? Life is full of surprises and there’s plenty that you can’t plan for, but setting realistic goals is still an important practice.
Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter have changed the way entrepreneurs are raising money to fund their new businesses. Whether you want to sell a new software tool or set up an organic noodle bar, you can get people to invest in your business.
You don’t need to have a degree in journalism to be a reporter these days (and pursue this business idea). Plus, there are many news websites that can always use a bit of help on getting local coverage. Some of them, such as The Examiner or HuffPost, will compensate contributors based on ad revenue generated per article written—a great incentive to provide compelling content to news organizations as your side business idea.
Resources I recommend for learning more about this industry include 21 Days to a VA Biz and The Bootstrap VA. Note that both of these books focus on starting your own virtual assisting business rather than working for a company (such as the ones above). For more in-depth training, you can enroll in the 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success eCourse. It will teach you exactly how to start your own VA business, what you need, what to charge, and also where to find clients.
Once you’ve gotten a better idea of what business planning entails, we highly recommend checking out some software solutions. Taking advantage of business planning software is the most efficient way to create a beautiful, thorough business plan.
Investment: You can keep your startup costs lower by operating from your home and starting with part-time hours. Costs may include educational supplies such as toys and books, furniture such as cribs and mats, outdoor playground equipment, cleaning supplies and insurance.
My wife is quite handy with a sewing machine and often hems and modifies our children’s clothes. She could easily take this a step further and offer her services to others, doing basic garment repair and modification for a small price on lazy evenings.
Not everyone wants to tell people that their business is porta potties! That’s OK, you can make good money doing this business. The key is being willing to go out and sell your services to prospective organizations. Once you line up a customer your chance of landing repeat business is huge.
#8 – Pleio – Read Review– is a call service company that seeks to hire workers who can call patients and remind them to take their medications. The process of hiring involves undergoing a screening process, taking a test and doing a mock call. Pay is $15-$20 per hour.
Keep learning, and be adaptable to change. Find buddies, mentors, local business-related organizations, Internet forums, and wikis to discuss the daily details of running a small business. It’s much easier for everyone to perform their core businesses well and prosper when they don’t waste time and energy “reinventing the wheel” on housekeeping.
If you don’t mind parading yourself around in public places as a side business idea, and enjoy a little attention, then working as a human billboard can pay a surprising amount of dividends. Renting out your beard, for example can earn you as much as $5 a day while having a brand logo tattooed on your shaven head for five years could pay as much as $7,000—though this type of earning opportunity is admittedly rare. This business idea is definitely not for the faint of heart, and is a little extreme for me, but nonetheless it’s been done as a side hustle for many people. You can start by holding a placard or wearing a sandwich board. If you think this is a good side business idea, you can go all the way and turn it into a full on small business idea with enough hard work—plus you won’t have to deal with all the issues other more complex businesses have to constantly think about (like reducing churn).
Join Shark Tank’s Daymond John, MailChimp’s Ben Chestnut, Drybar’s Alli Webb, Boxed’s Chieh Huang, Harry’s Jeff Raider, and hundreds of scrappy and trailblazing entrepreneurs at this year’s Grow Your Company Conference in New Orleans, May 30-June 1. To learn more and to register visit Growco Conference.
Today people don’t just change jobs, they change careers. And many people changing careers want to get help from someone who can help them find their dream job—that could be you. You could get up to speed in this field by reading a number of books, and by finding some standardized tests to help analyze your clients’ skills and desires. I once published a book that just listed and described career counseling services in the Boston area.