10 unique side hustles for creatives
Use these 10 online business ideas to find your next online side hustle and starting making money on your own terms.
Your day job just isn’t cutting it anymore.
The pay isn’t that great.
You can’t stand sitting in another meeting that should have been an email.
So you start looking for online businesses that you can start with little time, money, or training.
Your search turns up tons of ideas -- but few actionable steps, real-world examples, or data to back them up.
That’s why we put together this data-backed, example-filled selection of 10 online business ideas that anyone can do.
We really do mean anyone, too. Whether you’re a seasoned creator with a dozen online courses under your belt or you’ve never made money online in your life, every one of these side-hustles is ripe and ready for pivoting on.
Sound good? Then, without further ado, let’s take a look!
Solopreneur-friendly online business ideas
Side-hustle #1: Resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn writer
You may be unhappy with your 9-to-5, but there are plenty of people out there who are looking to find their next employer.
When you consider that 25% of adults use LinkedIn, there are a lot of people who you could help out during their job searches.
If you have experience in a particular field, consider writing resumes for those just entering the industry who don't have all of the insider experience that you do.
Alternatively, you could help existing professionals update their resumes to the latest conventions, like having two-page resumes or having a graphic resume.
Key takeaway: You don’t have to be a career coach or have 30+ years in your field to be a successful resume writer.
Instead, you need to have a way with words, knowledge of your industry, and know-how to make someone’s profile or resume come to life.
Side-hustle #2: Become a virtual assistant
“Virtual assistant” is a catch-all term for anyone who helps small businesses with key tasks.
Companies hire virtual assistants (VAs) to execute an ever-growing list of duties, which include:
- Social media management
- Managing emails
- Proofreading and editing
- Designing and editing graphics
Virtual assistants’ versatility may be one of the reasons why the profession has an 11.60% compound annual growth rate through 2021 and is popular with small business owners from all walks of life.
As an example of just how successful VAs can be, consider Kayla Sloan.
She started off as a freelance writer and virtual assistant in 2014 before quitting her job in 2015 and developing a six-figure business later that year.
Keep in mind that even if you don't want to offer virtual assistant services in the long-term, it can be an invaluable way of getting insight into running other kinds of businesses, too.
For example, this student, blogger, and part-time VA knew that she wanted to work for a successful blog so that she could see how one was run.
Key takeaway: Even if you’re still figuring out which side business is the best for you, consider offering VA services in the interim.
Not only can it help you to develop your skills as an entrepreneur, but it can also give you insight into how real-world businesses are run and expose you to industries that you never even knew existed. (Sounds like you need a virtual assistant instead of becoming one? Then check out these virtual assistant tips to learn how to make the most of a VA, or swing by this review of the best virtual assistant services to find your own.)
Side-hustle #3: Edit podcasts
With how easy it is to monetize a podcast, it's understandably competitive, as well. Creators trying to break into the field will need the best possible podcast even to hope to compete.
Which is why they could use a podcast editor just like you.
Podcast editors can help creators with any number of things, from reducing background and enhancing the audio to editing it for clarity and length.
For example, Sonics Podcasts works with creators to edit and produce their podcasts.
Similarly, the podcast production company Counterweight Creative grew from a one-person podcast production company into a a business with several contractors and $10,000 in monthly revenue hat has worked with smaller brands to powerhouses like Salesforce.
With how many podcasts are out there, there’s nothing stopping you from niching, either.
If helping other small businesses is more your thing, then service small creators who are trying to grow their podcasts or who have only one season published.
Want to mix your side-hustles with your passion? Then specialize in podcasts about vintage car repair, or data science, or watercolor painting -- if you can think it up, there are probably several podcasts out there for it already, and space for yours, too.
Key takeaway: As long as you’re familiar with podcasting best practices and common editing programs, it’s entirely possible to grow a thriving podcast editing side-business.
Side-hustle #4: Narrate audiobooks and articles
Do you have a soothing, NPR-quality voice?
Then you could make a pretty penny from narrating audiobooks.
With audiobook sales rising by 22.7% between 2017 and 2018 and the average person listening to 6.8 audiobooks per year, it’s a wonder that audiobook narration isn’t listed as one of the hottest careers of the year.
Now you may be thinking -- why would someone even hire me to record their audiobook for them?
Consider this: After all the effort an author put into writing the ebook, they may not have the time to record the audiobook version -- and that’s where you come in.
If ebooks sound a little too time-consuming for your schedule, you could try offering article narration for blogs instead.
For example, Medium publications can include Audio Narrations in their articles, though this narration can sound somewhat robotic.
For lengthy, emotionally-driven pieces of data-heavy reports, there are probably thousands of authors out there -- and even more listeners -- who would want to hear it in audio format instead.
Key takeaway: With the explosion in self-publishing and rise of audiobooks over the past few years, there’s definitely a market out there for authors and businesses alike who are looking to transition their written content to audio format.
Side-hustle #5: Create your own ebook
For all of you super knowledgeable but camera-shy people out there, why not profit from your knowledge by writing an ebook?
After all, there were an estimated 957.3 million ebook users in 2019, with this number expected to rise to nearly 1.12 billion by 2023.
And if that’s not convincing enough, the average revenue per user is $14.30, with much of this revenue generated in the United States.
So to put this another way, people really like ebooks. More people will probably read ebooks in the future. And ebooks can give you a decent profit margin if you’re in the right niche.
Now even if you’re concerned that you don’t have enough experience or anything interesting to say don't -- because it's not true.
You could write an ebook about anything, whether it’s more of an actionable how-to stylebook or something that goes through your personal experiences.
For example, online teaching guru Elena Mutonono sells several digital products on her website to help others grow their online teaching businesses.
Similarly, Shawn C.H. Leamon offers an ebook about what people undergoing divorce should know about managing their finances.
But if you’re not savvy about online teaching or financial management, don’t sweat it -- there are ebooks about practically every topic imaginable.
And if you can’t find one, that just means there’s space for you to write it.
Key takeaway: Regardless of what you’re knowledgeable and passionate about, selling ebooks from your own site is just one of the many ways that you can profit from your passion -- and you don’t have to be the next Stephen King to do it, either.
Side-hustle #6: Create an online course
People love to learn.
In fact, they love it so much that the global e-learning market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 7.2% until 2027.
Now if you’ve been thinking of creating an online course but don’t know where to start, this guide to creating, selling, and profiting from online courses in 2019 will give you a super-strong foundation.
Take social media manager, Latasha James, whose A Journey Social course teaches others how to become freelance social media managers, as an example.
Likewise, Full Circle Music’sMusic Production Mastery is focused on those who want a comprehensive look at how to produce and edit music.
If you don’t have the time or equipment to produce a full video course, you could always offer live courses to individuals and small groups instead.
For example, chefs from around the world offer private live cooking classes through The Chef and the Dish so that users can have a more personalized, hands-on experience.
Whether you opt for pre-recorded courses or personalized one-on-one sessions, keep in mind what this entrepreneur had to say: “ We're all more talented than we give ourselves credit for and have skills that others around us aspire to have.”
Key takeaway: Education is a ripe industry to enter, and it’s one without limits. Whether you want your own classroom or prefer to teach online, there’s ample opportunity to profit.
Side-hustle #7: Become a personal stylist
You know how everyone always compliments you on how well-dressed you are?
Monetize your sense of style by helping others become as fashionable as you are -- because if the statistics below are any indication, many of us have difficulty becoming our most well-styled selves.
54% of shoppers have stopped shopping at a brand or retailer’s website because it was too difficult to make the right decision, while 42% of shoppers have abandoned making a planned purchase because there were too many choices available.
Many of those people who are looking for the perfect interview outfit or a new wardrobe for the “new them” just aren’t finding what they’re looking for.
That’s where you come in.
Consider the case of Dr. Charlene Lawson, who offers style consulting in addition to her full-time corporate position.
As with any field, you can niche down to make yourself more competitive, too. For instance, have you worked in the tech industry for years? Then you can offer your personal styling services for interviewees and employees who want to advance their position.
However, don’t feel like business people out there are the only ones who need styling.
Perhaps your specialty is helping new mothers redefine their personal style, or guiding people who’ve recently gone through a major life event to develop a new sense of style to reflect the “new” them.
Key takeaway: If you’ve got style, you’ve got potential to make it as a personal stylist. You don’t need years of experience to help people find their perfect wardrobe or profit from your skills. Just a little moxie will get you far.
Side-hustle #8: Sell physical products online
If you’re debating between selling digital and physical products, we’ve got some bad news: Neither one is objectively better than the other -- in most cases.
While we can’t deny that we have a soft spot for digital product creators, we also have much love for physical product creators, too.
Doing something on the scale of dropshipping may not feasible or profitable for most solo businesses out there, but you can always consider selling handmade clothing, crafts, or specialty foods, among many other things.
Although selling physical products online can be quite profitable, you may want to test a few items first -- such as a few handmade sweaters if you made handmade clothing -- to make sure that your business is viable before spending more on supplies and inventory.
When the results come back -- well, to use a pun -- sweet, then you’re ready to pivot.
Key takeaway: Ecommerce for physical products is competitive, but not impossible to enter as a newcomer. If you want to sell physical goods online, just make sure you test your ideas out on a small scale first before anteing in.
Side-hustle #9: Plan events
96% of newlyweds and engaged couples have said that they found planning a wedding to be stressful -- and I’d wager that number is similar for planning other events, too.
So if you’re someone who has a cool head in stressful situations and a knack for logistics, it sounds like an event planning business is right up your alley.
Though it may seem like event planning is something that people could do on their own, consider this: 45% of event planners had more clients than a year before, according to one study.
And frankly who wants to deal with all of the hassles of planning an event when a pro could help out?
If you choose to specialize in weddings, you could help people plan events from start to finish, from organizing Pinterest boards for their dream weddings to coordinating with vendors, venues, and a million other little things.
To really stand apart though, consider picking a less common niche like planning destination weddings in South America or 100% eco-friendly corporate events.
To see just how profitable niching can be, consider this event planner who has a package for helping couples plan destinations weddings, whereas this event planning company helps people to plan, design, and produce themed events.
Key takeaway: Planning an event is time-consuming and very often more than a one-person job. If you’re good with organization and logistics, you can make a solid living as an event planner.
Side-hustle #10: Become an online conversationalist
Some people just aren’t natural-born talkers.
But fortunately, they have you to help them out.
Research has suggested that people who have substantive conversations are happier -- and by helping others to become better conversationalists, you could impact their overall happiness, too.
But just how could you make money as an online conversationalist?
You could hold open “office hours” where anyone can pay a fee to drop in and chat for 30 minutes.
Or, you could offer more structured conversational coaching for job seekers looking to make better small talk when networking.
Have a knack for explaining abstract concepts or a penchant for grammar?
Key takeaway: The “gift of gab” isn’t natural for a lot of people, but it’s often critical for negotiating raises and conflict management. If you’ve got it, you can make a living helping others find their own silver tongue.
How to find out if your side business idea is worth pursuing
Regardless of which side-hustle you choose, you need to figure out if it’s profitable before ditching your 9-to-5 and sinking your savings in.
That’s where a minimum viable product (MVP) comes in.
An MVP is a pared-down-version of your dream product that has only the most essential and valuable features that your customers could enjoy.
MVPs are also designed so that you can receive maximum feedback about how to design, price, and market a full version of your product later on.
Let’s go back to our online personal stylist example.
To create your MVP, conduct customer research about your audience to make sure that you understand their needs and can create a product that they’d realistically pay for.
After that, create an MVP with only the features that your audience would find immediately useful and valuable -- the nice little extras can come later on, once you’ve proven that you can profit from your product in its most basic form.
Next, use what you learn from these MVPs further refine your product so that once it’s ready for an initial release, it will have been designed with your customers in mind.
But what if you want to do something resource-intensive, like podcast editing?
Don’t buy all of your fancy software just yet.
Start getting your name out there by writing some posts on your website or Medium about how creators can develop better podcasts.
Since you don’t have a physical or pre-made product to share, maybe you could create an explainer video outlining how you edit podcasts and how those edits enhance the program.
Or, like Buffer, you could design a landing page with a link to your pricing page so that interested leads can either a) subscribe to your list or b) purchase your services in advance.
However you decide to present your MVP, never forget that the goal is to learn the most you can about customers’ perceptions and interest in your product before launching the final version -- not to make as many early sales as possible.
Start your online business and make money on your own terms
Profitable business ideas don’t require thousands of dollars in investment and years of training or experience.
Each of the side 10 side hustles that we mentioned today is accessible to a wide audience, including:
- A resume writer for job seekers
- Ecommerce stores, online courses, and ebooks for those who prefer selling products over services
- A virtual assistant for small businesses
- Podcasting editing and audiobook narration for those with a mix of technical and creative capabilities
- Event planning for those with a knack for logistics and bringing visions to life
- A personal stylist and online conversationalist for those looking to become the best versions of themselves that they can be
While starting and running a business is never easy, there are plenty of straightforward business ideas out there that are just waiting to come to fruition -- why not get started selling your digital products and services for free today?