Person walking a number of dogs for their side hustle
Personal Finance

Looking to make a little extra cash to keep up with the financial demands of life? You might be thinking about starting a side hustle, but don’t know where to start. Don’t worry — we can help with that.

Side hustles are ways people make extra money outside of their full-time jobs. They could help you bring in some extra income in your spare time, but they’ve become an increasingly popular route to starting a small business and becoming your own boss — or finding a little financial success and freedom from that day job. The additional money made from a side gig could help you save money, pay off student loan debt, or afford that trip you’ve been trying to take for years.

Starting a side hustle takes a little bit of planning, though. For instance, if you’re interested in starting your own business, you need to make sure you have spare room to house your products before you start selling online or that you have a workspace or computer available if you’re providing a service like accounting or marketing

Here are a few things you could do to turn your hustle ideas into a successful business idea and start bringing in a few hundred dollars (or more) every month.

9 things to do to start a side hustle

Think about what you want to achieve with your hustle idea. Depending on what your plan is, certain steps will be more important than others when you start making plans. These are some best practices to help get you off to a good start and heading toward success.

1. Define your goals

It’s critical to get specific about what you want and why you’re brainstorming side hustle ideas in the first place. Are you looking for extra money to pay off debt? Interested in learning a new skill or fulfilling a passion? Perhaps you’re testing the waters of starting your own business. Creating a specific roadmap that identifies your goals could help keep you on the right path.

2. Identify something you’re good at

The best side hustle ideas stem from a hobby or skill set that’s already part of your life. You might choose something you have a genuine interest in that can be done in the free time, as a start. Ideally, it has the potential to turn into mostly passive income as time goes on.

Are you great with animals? You could become a dog walker or start pet sitting. How about social media? Turn that talent into an affiliate marketer or social media manager role. If you like going on drives to unwind, try food delivery so you can earn money while you relax. If you’re great with words, try freelance writing or teaching English as a second language through online courses. Maybe your specialty is planning and nailing the details. If so, being a virtual assistant is a flexible option.

Whatever it is, make sure your idea will garner enough interest to become a lucrative side hustle.

3. Start small and invest slowly

You might be excited and think that diving in headfirst is the right way to go. But starting slowly may be a better option. Taking small steps in the beginning could save you some money, time, and major headaches down the road. Start by thinking about what a customer would want from a similar service provider and expand from there.

If your side hustle is one that requires a little money to get started, invest money slowly. Spending money you don’t have yet isn’t an ideal way to start making money. And yes, we have heard that you must “spend money to make money.” Invest just enough money to get off the ground, and then you can adjust along the way. Hopefully, you’ll be able to invest more and more as you find clients or future customers.

4. Get one paying customer

Getting that first paying customer is validation for side hustlers. If you’re having trouble landing your first, you might be offering something that isn’t of great interest — meaning there is a lack of market need. Making enough money to thrive likely won’t happen overnight. You must put in some work in the early stages and line up some potential customers. Getting at least one customer to sign on shows that your time and money hasn’t been for naught. If you can’t get that first bite, you may need to rethink your project.

5. Set a realistic time budget

Look at your own schedule and figure out how much time you have to dedicate to your side hustle. Your approach to making money might depend on whether you have a few hours per day or several per week. Treat your side hustle like a part-time job and set enough time aside to accomplish your goals without overdoing it.  

6. Get started now

Once you’ve got your idea and course of action, don’t wait. The sooner you get the ball rolling, the sooner you could create a steady stream of additional income. And take advantage of the many free resources that already exist, like state tax and small business guides.

7. When you’ve got it, market it

How will folks know about your services if you don’t advertise? In order to start selling, you’ve got to spread the word about what you’re offering. Define your personal brand and create a logo and color palette that customers will grow to recognize.

You should also consider creating a website, online store, and social media platforms that potential customers can mine for information. Get creative with digital advertising so you can reach consumers who might not find you organically. Finally, stay up on communication with methods like email marketing to promote changes and new offerings to your audience.

8. Pay attention to feedback

Once you’ve got some customers, keep an ear open to any feedback they might have. Better yet, take time to ask them about what’s working and what isn’t. Online surveys are an easy tool to use. Use those insights to smooth out any issues in the customer experience or refine your current goods or services.

9. Play to your strengths, outsource what you’re weak at

Being good at your side hustle is one thing, but it will take more to truly be successful. If you’re not sure how to market your own business, reach out to a marketing consultant for help. Maybe you’re not great at checking emails and social media messages and you miss questions or service requests. Virtual assistants could help with that and save you some time. Focus groups are a great way to brainstorm what you could be doing better or what changes you should make.

Learning how to start a side hustle

The truth is, nearly everyone could use a little extra money. Dig into and start your side hustle now, and you’ll be able to set bigger goals for yourself down the road.


This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult a professional for specific advice. Best Egg is not responsible for the information contained in third-party sites cited or hyperlinked in this article. Best Egg is not responsible for, and does not provide or endorse third party products, services or other third-party content.


Learn more about managing debt

Financial confidence starts here

We have the information and insights you need to take control of your financial health.

Get started