Entrepreneurship comes with financial peaks and valleys: One month, revenue is flowing in from your online store, and the next, you're racking your brain for how to make extra money to cover expenses. Thankfully, there are many ways to earn extra cash.
Three approaches to help bring in that extra income are: earn cash doing something related to your business; pursue a side hustle in your spare time, on your own schedule; or, seize the opportunity to embrace your passion. Here are some business avenues worth exploring, whether you want to make money online or in person.
16 ways to make extra money
- Selling used items online
- Online surveys and focus groups
- Product testing
- Digital testing of websites, apps, UX
- Research studies
- Renting out a spare room
- Renting out your car
- House-sitting, babysitting, or pet-sitting
- Delivery or rideshare
- Virtual bookkeeping
- Online tutoring
- Selling stock photos
- Transcribing audio
- Mystery shopping
- Teaching English
Before you head out to make that extra cash, however, you’ll need to brainstorm money-making ideas to see which one is the best fit. These 16 side hustles include creative and practical ways to supplement your income while keeping your primary job.
1. Selling used items online
One of the most convenient sources of extra cash may already be sitting in your home. Selling your gently used, secondhand or vintage clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, furniture, and other items is an easily accessible way to make money online.
Marketplaces include Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for local sales, and Poshmark and eBay for online sales. If you have luxury goods, consider online consignment resellers like The RealReal. For more specialized marketplaces, look to Etsy for crafts and Reverb for musical instruments. You can set initial prices, though some platforms encourage users to negotiate or haggle.
Freelancing is a form of self-employment in which you offer your services to clients on a project or contract basis. Freelancers work independently rather than being tied to a single long-term employer and are responsible for finding clients and negotiating the terms of their work, including compensation.
Freelancing can involve almost any task, from writing to coding to plumbing. Whether you work behind a desk or with tools, there are potential freelance opportunities that match your skill set. As a freelancer, you can work on multiple projects at the same time, typically, on a short-term basis. Platforms like Contently, Upwork, Fiverr, and TaskRabbit help match your skills to relevant demand in your area or to online clients. They offer flexibility for you to negotiate pay, including by project or by the hour.
3. Online surveys and focus groups
Market researchers and businesses are often willing to pay to find out what the public thinks or feels about their products or services. You can connect with these organizations via survey sites like Survey Junkie, Branded Surveys, and Swagbucks. Other companies, like Adler Weiner Research, organize focus groups that may meet online or in person. The time commitment for focus groups varies—some take about an hour, while others last all day. In many cases, longer commitments pay more.
4. Product testing
You can also make more money by product testing a variety of items including beauty products and household goods. Just as companies need real opinions about trends and ad campaigns, they also need ordinary people to interact with their products while company representatives observe them.
You can enter the product testing space through Fiverr or Upwork, or testing-specific platforms like TesterUp and UserTesting. Product testers are typically paid a fee for each product they test, though compensation varies from company to company.
5. Digital testing of websites, apps, and UX
Companies also test intangible products like software. As a digital tester, you get to load a website or launch an app and play with all the buttons and links to check usability and ensure everything works before it goes live. You might also fill out surveys on user experience (UX).
Developers connect with testers on sites like UserCrowd, UTest, UserTesting, Userlytics, and Enroll. You can also test video games on platforms like Game Tester. Testers are typically paid based on the number of digital products tested or length of time spent testing.
6. Research studies
Academic and scientific researchers need test subjects for research studies. It may be easier to join an academic study if you live near a college or university since many of these take place on campus, and sometimes over extended periods.
When conducting research online, academic researchers sometimes recruit candidates using portals like ResearchMatch or the Institute of Translational Health Sciences. The National Institutes of Health sometimes seeks healthy volunteers for studies. Universities also advertise projects on department websites. Most research studies pay subjects a pre-set flat rate.
7. Renting out a spare room
Perhaps you’ve rented a room—maybe you were traveling or in college—but have you ever considered putting up one of your spaces for rent?
Whether you have a spare room or an entire house, you can use several platforms—Airbnb, Vrbo, Agoda, or Plum Guide (in the UK)—to list your short-term rental and pad your bank account. You’ll set the price for your rental, but can expect the platforms to add fees. Be sure to read the fine print on these platforms. Make sure to check your local laws; not all properties are eligible as rentals.
8. Renting out your car
Renting out your car using specialized car-sharing platforms such as Turo and Getaround can help you make passive income by letting someone else drive your car for a couple of hours—or days. Check local laws for insurance requirements, and ensure that your car registration is up to date before renting out your vehicle. Like property rentals, you’ll set the price for renting your car, and the platform takes a small cut.
9. House-sitting, babysitting, or pet-sitting
Earn money by looking after people, pets, or property. Luckily, most parents are on the lookout for great babysitters. Pet-sitting is another option if you prefer taking care of fur babies. The job may involve living in a house while the owner travels. If hired as a house-sitter, responsibilities may include monitoring core systems like plumbing, letting in contractors, receiving mail, and being a steady presence for home security reasons.
Sites like Rover and PetSitter.com link pet sitters to pet owners, while MindMyHouse and TrustedHousesitters specialize in the house-sitting market. Most of these sites let you set your own rates.
10. Delivery or rideshare
If you enjoy driving, you might choose to earn money delivering goods or transporting passengers. For this gig, link up with a taxi-style ridesharing service like Lyft, or door-to-door delivery services like Uber Eats or Doordash.
You won’t make a million dollars as a rideshare or food delivery driver, but you’ll enjoy the flexible work hours. An algorithm calculates your payment based on factors like length of trip, time of day, and demand.
11. Virtual bookkeeping
If you know something about accounting, consider starting an online business as a virtual assistant for companies or individuals needing help maintaining their books. Contemporary bookkeeping software allows multiple users to remotely access the same ledgers, allowing you access to your clients’ financials from the comfort of your home.
You can advertise your services on freelancing sites such as FlexJobs and LinkedIn Profinder, or on a more specific platform for bookkeeping gigs, like the Xero adviser directory. You can typically set your rates on these listing services.
12. Online tutoring
As an online tutor, you can work one on one (or in small groups) with students who need help with academic work or standardized test prep. You can also lead online courses, often designed by major college prep firms like The Princeton Review or Kaplan. A solid knowledge base is needed to tutor people online, but if you work for a prep company, they may pay you a flat fee or hourly rate to go through training. If you’re willing, you can venture to students’ homes—in-person tutoring typically solicits higher rates.
Enter this field by advertising online. Once you start meeting clients, you can build a network of clients through parent groups. If you work for an established company, they’ll set your rates; if you work for yourself, you’ll set your own rates.
13. Selling stock photos
Photographers can earn money online by listing their work with a stock portfolio service. Some stock photo services like Alamy and SmugMug pay for an entire library upfront, with no residuals if users license your photos. Other services don’t pay initially but give you a cut every time someone licenses your work. Note that when you sell stock photos via an online platform, you may relinquish the rights to sell them via your own website. The rules will vary from platform to platform, so check the fine print.
14. Transcribing audio
Recent advances have improved the practice of turning audio recordings into written text—but not to the extent that human specialists are no longer needed. These specialists, called transcriptionists, listen to audio files—radio recordings, videos, audio notes, phone calls, community meetings, and even legal proceedings—and type them out to create a written record of what was said.
You can find freelance transcription opportunities on sites like Rev, TranscribeMe, and GoTranscript. You can set your own rates, though clients may establish their own.
15. Mystery shopping
Market research companies hire mystery shoppers to go to particular stores or shops for specific merchandise and report back on their experiences. As a mystery shopper, you might be asked to comment on the cleanliness of a location, your interactions with store employees, or the amount of time you spent finding and paying for an item. You may also be asked to record the prices you paid.
Many companies hire mystery shoppers through a trade organization called MSPA Americas. Taking its classes and getting MSPA certified can boost your candidacy for paid shopping gigs. Payment varies by company, but is often set by project.
16. Teaching English
The world is filled with people who’d like to learn English as a second language. You can get freelance work as an English teacher on a number of online platforms, whether they’re general-purpose sites like Upwork and Fiverr or specialized sites like Skooli. It helps to have a bachelor’s degree, but some programs will train you to teach via an online course. Private English tutors can set their own rates, or team up with companies that set rates for them.
Four ways to make extra money as an ecommerce business owner
- Cross-selling and upselling
- Affiliate marketing
- Subscription services
You might associate earning extra income with taking on a second job, but many ecommerce business owners discover they can make more money without deviating from their core business. Here are four ways to leverage your ecommerce store for extra cash.
1. Cross-selling and upselling
For a simple business idea that aligns with your existing ecommerce work, explore cross-selling—recommending that website visitors buy an item adjacent to the original product. For example, if a person is browsing men’s pants on your ecommerce site, you could feature product links to belts you sell. A related practice is upselling, where you recommend a pricier version of a product they’re already considering, like a leather handbag instead of a vinyl one.
Check out the Shopify App Store to find the right product recommendation app for your store. Here are a few we recommend:
- Zipify One Click Upsell. Built for Plus customers, this app boosts Average Order Values with one-click upsell offers.
- CartHook Post Purchase Offers. Add native one-click promotions including upsells and free gifts to your Shopify store.
- Post Purchase Promotions. Boost revenue with native post purchase upsells and more.
- Ultimate Special Offers. Create one-click offer upsells directly in your store checkout.
2. Affiliate marketing
With affiliate marketing, you earn a commission by linking to a product or service made by another retailer or advertiser. You are paid for the referral if it leads to a sale or another high-action intent, as determined by your affiliate business partner. For instance, some sites pay a referral fee if a visitor puts items in a shopping cart, regardless if they make a purchase in the end. Most affiliate programs are free to join, so there’s little downside.
Start your affiliate program with Shopify
Try Shopify’s Affiliate Program, a network of entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, and creators who send referrals to Shopify. It’s free to sign up for the program—you only need to apply.Learn more
The dropshipping business model lets you sell products manufactured, warehoused, and shipped by outside companies known as third-party dropshippers. You list the products on your ecommerce site, and money only exchanges hands once a customer makes a purchase.
Dropshipping means you don’t need to worry about (and, thus, save money on) warehouse space. You make money by claiming a percentage of each retail sale, split with the dropshipper who sources the product and ships it to the customer. You can sell a mix of dropshipped and non-dropshipped items in the same ecommerce store. If you already have a store up and running, you can add dropshipped products to the roster of merchandise you’re selling.
4. Subscription services
In the subscription business model, customers sign up to automatically receive a product at periodic intervals. This might be household items like toothpaste or vinegar, or merchandise like clothing. It could also be an online service, such as improv classes or a Patreon page for a band. Business owners tend to like subscriptions because they can expect to receive a set amount each month or annually, for example, letting them predict future revenue.
With your Shopify store, you can easily create a subscription offering on your by installing any of the following subscription management apps:
- PayWhirl Recurring Payments. Create, manage, and sell subscriptions through our native platform.
- Awtomatic Subscriptions. The Awtomatic app (Previously Bundle Subscriptions) empowers you to easily add subscription options to your products and is fully integrated with Shopify’s native checkout.
- Assemble Subscriptions. Built by a team of Shopify experts with almost a decade of experience across the platform, this is no ordinary subscriptions app.
- Bold Subscriptions. Built with enterprise companies in mind, Bold lets you customize, manage, and scale a subscription business.
- Recharge Subscriptions. Quickly launch and manage subscriptions for your Shopify store.
- Native Subscriptions. Powering subscriptions payments, seamless checkouts, and recurring orders.
- Seal Subscriptions. Boost sales with subscriptions and automatic recurring payments.
- Appstle Subscriptions. A comprehensive subscription solution that enables you to offer products and services to your customers, on a recurring basis.