From Business Ideas To Successful Side Hustles: 9 Online Business Ideas You Can Build On The Side

Let’s talk about building your next side hustle from a smart business idea.

If you’d love to work on your next online business, having a solid business idea is a good place to start.

Once you can see yourself pushing that business idea to that next level, then, you’re one step closer to turning that idea into a successful side hustle.

Having a side hustle lets you combine your interests, passions, experiences, and resources, in a way that lets the business idea shine and lead to a long-term and profitable, successful business.

To truly build a successful side business, you’ll need to find an online business idea that reflects your lifestyle and work goals. To help you achieve that, here’s my collection of 9 business ideas for you to start while still working a day job, so you can eventually turn your idea into a successful side hustle.

9 Online Business Ideas You Can Turn To A Successful Side Hustle

1. Launch an online store for hand-made items

2. Start a subscription box business

3. Launch an interview-style podcast

4. Build an online following as an influencer

5. Start a passion-based blog

6. Build a graphic design business

7. Launch an ecommerce store selling jigsaw puzzles

8. Become a ghostwriter

9. Start a YouTube channel for your city / town

1. Launch an online store for hand-made items

If you enjoy creating stuff with your hands, why not get more creative by launching an online store for your hand-made items?

Whether you design necklaces, memorable apparel, kitchen napkins, or personalized gifts, you can make money from your hand-made items and run your own online store.

A good way to start is to prepare attractive and engaging photos of your crafts, and upload these, alongside compelling descriptions of your products, on popular ecommerce marketplaces like Etsy, ArtFire, Shopify, or Amazon Handmade.

Once you start selling your items and getting buyers on these marketplaces, you can then build your own store as a separate website so you can fully track and manage your orders, and better delight your customers.

Benefits of selling your hand-made items

  • Get rewarded for your passion. It’s lovely that you’ve been making crafts without getting paid, why not let get more rewards for your efforts?
  • Use feedback from customers to get better at making crafts. We can all use a second opinion to improve what we do, selling your items would let you hear from paying customers on what they’d love to see
  • You decide how much you want to grow. Unlike your regular job where your boss decides how you work, you can choose to produce crafts on weeknights or every other week. It’s totally up to you.
  • Make money with your creative outlet.

Here are some useful resources to help you get started:

2. Start a subscription box business

Chances are you’re already subscribing for a thing or two in your home. Think Netflix, Spotify, or Apple music monthly subscriptions. Subscription boxes are similar.

With a subscription box business, people subscribe to get boxes or packages of items on a regular basis, often every week, month, or season.

With your own subscription box business, you’ll be partnering with brands and businesses, and reselling their wares to your customers, for profits.

As the owner of a subscription box business, you’ll be solving two major pain points for your customers:

  • Giving them that ‘magical feeling’ of opening the boxes every month, and wondering what they’d find
  • Saving time, costs, and resources that your customers would have used to shop for each individual item on their own

You can start a subscription box in a wide range of markets, for example, meal-kits, school supplies, candy, clothes and apparel, accessories, make up, wines, books, jewelry, diets, lingerie, plants, coffee, cologne, fitness wear, flowers, kitchen supplies, baby products, etc.

The choice is totally up to you and depends on what you’re excited to send to your customers.

You can also launch your subscription box business to cater to a certain demographic, for example, subscription boxes for men, kids, women, tweens, pregnant moms, couples, girls, newlyweds, millennial women, from Black-owned businesses, men in their 30’s, women in their 40’s and 50’s, etc.

You can even choose to go broad, sending subscription items that cut across industries.

Curateur (formerly Box of Style), for example, shops for the latest trends of the season, from fashion pieces to lifestyle products and sends them to customers.

Benefits of selling subscription boxes

  • Subscription boxes make some of the perfect gifts, so you can scale your business by selling around events and occasions that happen throughout the year; for example, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.
  • You don’t have to worry about creating your own products. Simply partner with businesses looking to sell, and help them package and sell for higher return on investment
  • You can choose to send it as often as you want. If a weekly subscription doesn’t work with your schedule, you can opt to send your boxes every month, quarter, or even yearly – it’s totally up to you

Here are some valuable resources to help you launch your subscription box business:

3. Start an interview-style podcast

You can start an interview-style podcast to provide a media platform for experts in your areas of interests to get their message out. Rather than featuring as the only expert, you can be the podcast host interviewing successful small business owners in your city or industry, for example.

You can then use your podcast as a way to start a podcast-based online business, meet many experts and accomplished people, monetize your content, build the quality of your network, and land clients for your other business interests.

To start an interview-style podcast, you’ll need:

  • A microphone;
  • A recording software, like Audacity or GarageBand;
  • Headset or earbuds; and
  • A video-chatting software, like Zoom or Skype

These are really the main equipment you need to get started.

Using a video-chatting software will also help you have videos to use for your YouTube channel, so you can share your interviews with podcast listeners and YouTube users at the same time.

As you interview, record, and edit your episodes, you’ll start to get a feel for what works (and what doesn’t) for your industry / interests / niche, and then you can adjust as needed.

To gain listeners and build credibility for your podcast, consider asking your interviewees to share the podcast interviews with their audience, and encourage your listeners to review and rate your podcast on the major streaming platforms, for example, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher.

Benefits of starting an interview-style podcast

  • You provide a platform for experts in your field of interests to share their knowledge and experiences
  • You position yourself and your brand as the media personality bringing these experts together in one place
  • You can grow your audience, monetize your podcasts, and build valuable networks and relationships

To help you get started with interview-style podcasting, use these resources:

4. Build an online following as an influencer

You no longer need to have millions of Instagram followers or YouTube subscribers to start your business as an influencer. This is because more businesses are starting to realize that audience quality matters more than size.

In other words, you can build an online following for yourself, with a close-knit audience who enjoys your work and trusts what you say. The best influencer businesses are those who have perfected the fit between their personal brand, audience, and businesses looking to advertise.

There are various niches that can work for you as an influencer, depending on your interests and experiences. For example, you can be an influencer for technology, design, personal finance, make up, hair, real estate, fashion & style, cooking, crafts, startups, cities, music, etc.

In other words, if you can be entertaining or educative with your content, you can build your online following and business as an influencer.

Benefits of being an influencer

  • You build experience writing, speaking, and communicating with an audience in a way that makes them want to consistently listen to you. Which is a valuable skill in today’s noisy and crowded online environment
  • You build your personal brand, and get rare access to special deals, discounts, and investments unavailable to the general public
  • You can use your influence to market an entirely new brand or business that you own; for example, you can start your own make-up line, as a YouTube beauty & fashion influencer
  • You can parlay your influence into speaking gigs and brand endorsements
  • You’d have built an existing audience that you can use to test new business ideas or start a new media company, for example, moving from YouTube to TikTok

Resources:

5. Build a passion-based blog

Building a blog of any type requires consistency, patience, and that desire to always want to do better. And most blogs are either expert-focused or passion-based. For example, if you’ve spent 15+ years working as a project manager for your company, you can start an expert-focused blog to help other aspiring project managers land jobs in your industry or do well in their careers.

On the other hand, you can start a passion-based blog around a topic / niche / hobby that you’re passionate about. For your passion-based blog, you don’t need to be an expert to start; you simply need to be consistent, patient, and strive to be better with your blog.

A Cup of Jo, for example, is a passion-based women lifestyle blog started by Joanna Goddard in 2017. Joanna was running relationships blog for Glamour.com in 2007, when she started A Cup of Jo as her side project and passion-based blog, writing on there simply as a weekend hobby.

But by 2011, Joanna had successfully built her lifestyle blog into a full-time business, with Forbes naming her website one of the Top 10 Lifestyle Websites for Women.

You can also start your side hustle by working on a passion-based blog. Ideally, you’ll want to have a job or stream of income coming in, as you work on your blog on the side. That way, you won’t feel the pressure to generate money from your blog right away.

When your blog is based on things you’re passionate about, and not so much on making money at the start, it helps you experiment with different blog topics before settling on those topics that you enjoy writing about.

For example, you can start your blog based on your passions in photography, coffee, teas, yoghurts, decorating, home cleaning, burgers, shoes, etc.

When your blog reaches a critical point where it’s serving the needs of its audience, your blog will start to gain traction, which you could then parlay into a full-time business.

Often times, you’ll gain and maintain your readership because your blog educates or entertains your audience, or serves as an online community for your readers.

Even though you’ll be writing about your passions, you’ll still need to be consistent and reliable, so your readers can look forward to hearing from you on a regular basis.

Benefits of starting a passion-based blog

  • It can help you refine your thinking, writing, and communication skills
  • You can use your blog as a creative outlet to share your passions with the world, right from your computer or smartphone
  • You’re not under any pressure to generate income, so you enjoy more freedom on what you write or talk about on your blog
  • Your passion-based blog could potentially replace your full-time job
  • You can use your blog to practice skills you need for your job in a more relaxed atmosphere; for example, writing on your blog helps you become a better writer at work
  • You build a close-knit online community, following, or fans for your blog who share similar interests or passions with you
  • Starting a passion-based blog helps you to get better at delaying gratification, becoming more patient, disciplined, and focused, even when the money isn’t coming in at the start

Here are more practical resources to help you start your passion-based blog:

6. Start a graphic design business

If you enjoy tinkering with creative like images, videos, and text so you can make them more visually appealing, consider starting a graphic design business.

A picture is worth 1,000 words, and more businesses are now seeing the impact of high-quality graphics and design on their ability to capture and retain website leads and prospects.

To get started, create a portfolio of design projects that you’ve worked on; for example, info graphics, website design, or social media pages; then build up your profile on design-showcasing websites like Dribbble, Behance, Coroflot, Fabrik, and Portfoliobox.

Interestingly, the more you engage with the design inspiration and community on these sites, the better your prospects at getting well-paying graphic design jobs.

You can even start your own graphic design blog where you answer questions that prospective clients might have about design and your specific design services.

Benefits of starting a graphic design business

  • More businesses are seeing the need to invest in high-quality graphics, design, and outstanding web user experience
  • You’re getting paid for using your creative prowess
  • You can diversify into data graphics and visualization, which is a rapidly growing field due to the increasing importance of data analytics, graphical business analysis, and emergence of Big Data

Here are resources to help you kickstart your graphic design business:

7. Launch an ecommerce store selling jigsaw puzzles

You can use jigsaw puzzles to relieve stress and emerge with elegant and captivating designs. A lot of movies and TV shows using jigsaw puzzles have also increased demand in the market.

In fact, industry researchers at Research Cosmos, a leading market research firm, estimates the jigsaw puzzle industry at over $9.1 billion, partly because of the lockdowns and the need for parents to occupy their kids with fun and non-screen activities to play with.

If you’d like to start an ecommerce store on a product that both kids and parents love, consider launching a store to sell jigsaw puzzles. There are well over 8 different types of jigsaw puzzles, ranging from wooden puzzles and kids puzzles to 3D, family, and metal jigsaw puzzles.

So, to get started, consider focusing on one or two types of the jigsaw puzzles. For example, you can start with the kids and family jigsaw puzzles, and run social media ads targeting parents of kids that would love the puzzles you offer.

You can also start an Instagram page, with regular posts on teasers, questions, and giveaways to gain engagement and customers for your jigsaw puzzle ecommerce store.

Benefits of starting a jigsaw puzzle ecommerce store

  1. You’ll be helping parents keep their kids actively learning, thinking, busy, and engaged
  2. With many research studies showing the negative effects of screen time on kids and teens, your jigsaw puzzle store will be helping reduce the time kids spend on tech devices, while also developing critical thinking skills
  3. You can sell a wide range of jigsaw puzzles, since customers would want to buy more puzzles, once they’ve solved the initial puzzles that they’ve bought

Here are useful guides to help you get started with your next jigsaw puzzle ecommerce store:

8. Become a ghostwriter

If you’ve ever tried to write a book but struggled to start or finish that project, then you know being a ghostwriter can solve a huge pain point for experts, leaders, influencers, coaches, and other established professionals.

Because the truth is while everyone understands the business and fulfilling impacts of writing a book, a lot of people realize that it’s very hard to do. Enter you, the ghostwriter. If you enjoy writing and distilling someone else’s thoughts into clear, compelling prose, then you can team up with the professionals and experts to turn their thoughts into a published book.

Even more, you can help people write newspaper or magazine features, blog posts, articles, essays, speeches, books, and autobiographies. You can help leaders, business owners, thought leaders, and other fairly busy people to brainstorm their ideas and share their thoughts with the world.

If you don’t mind your name not being on the content your write or who takes the credit for your writing, then you can very well make a full-time income and run your business as a professional ghostwriter.

To get started, get comfortable being able to write in someone else’s voice (based on their past works). Then, start writing guest posts on writing blogs on your ghostwriting services. That way, potential clients can easily find and contact you. You can also use vetted ghostwriting job boards on websites with jobs that pay well; for example, websites like Contena, ProBlogger, Blogging Pro, Scripted, Freelance Writing, NewsCred, and All Freelance Writing.

Benefits of starting a ghostwriting business

  1. You’ll be helping many experts, thought leaders, authors, coaches, and professionals convert the thoughts in their heads into final content pieces like articles, features, books, blog posts, and interviews.
  2. You gain valuable experience on how to write in someone else’s voice – which becomes a cherished career asset for you as you work with brands, businesses, and solo entrepreneurs on amplifying their message and publishing their stories.
  3. You can get a regular column in big-name publications like Business Insider, Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Inc., CNBC, amongst others. Why? Because these publications are always in need of inspiring business / industry tips and techniques, and your experts have these tips in spades, but most of these professionals can hardly find the time to write or pitch these publications. So, your job as a ghostwriter will be to be that bridge between the experts and publications. That way, you get a very high visibility for your work, and can even use this experience to parlay your brand into a well-known name in business writing.

Want to turn your writing skillset into a lucrative ghostwriting business? Take a look at these guides to help you get your business started and running in no time:

9. Start a YouTube channel for your city / town

If you can use your phone to record catchy videos, and then edit later on your Mac or PC, you can start your own YouTube channels that’s focused specifically on your city or town.

Say you live in Cleveland, Ohio. You can start a YouTube channel uploading videos of people, places, businesses, events, and things of interest in and around Cleveland, Ohio. You can even use a low-cost drone or good camera to get a 360-degree panoramic video of the places you’ll be featuring for your channel

Benefits of starting a YouTube channel focused on your city / town

1. Your channel will stand out from the rest of the market, right from the start

A lot of folks are starting a “Me too” channel these days, going after beauty, make up, hair, or money topics. But if your channel is focused on your city / town, it’s hard to copy your style for your city, and so you already blow away a lot of your potential competition, right from Day 1.

2. You can capture the hottest local events and news happening; which can then generate state-wide, national, or global attention

Contrary to what most people think, majority of the news about business, startups, crime, human angle, special interest stories, and politics happen hundreds or thousands of miles away from Washington, D.C. Those stories happen in your city, my city, our towns, suburbs, and local neighborhoods. And your channel can be there to capture everything and report in real-time, for local and national news houses

3. You earn revenue from both YouTube ads and business sponsorships from local businesses in your city

Small business owners like local contractors, law firms, chiropractors, dentists, insurance agents, are always hunting for leads for their business. And once you establish your channel as the YouTube channel for your city, you can generate revenue beyond the standard revenue from YouTube ads. You can work on sponsorships with these local businesses to feature their business on your channel

4. There’d always be things to talk about on your channel

You won’t have to worry about someone else coming to start a YouTube channel in the same city as yours, because there are hundreds of topics you can choose to focus on.

You can feature small business owners (how they started, what they do, and where they see their industry headed), or interview people at local events, or talk about real estate listings and houses in your neighborhood, or sharing past stories and anecdotes about your city, or favorite spots in your city, or a combination of these topics, and more

5. You can reach a wide range of YouTube viewers and subscribers

The great thing about starting a YouTube channel like this is that you’re showcasing your city or town to at least four groups of audience and viewers:

  • Current residents of Cleveland, Ohio – Who might be living in the city, but not know about the places, businesses or events that you’ll be talking about on your channel. They would love to hear and see more about the city that they live in. You can even have a YouTube playlist on your channel where you discuss and analyze the local news and events that happened in Cleveland, Ohio, the past week
  • Past residents of Cleveland, Ohio – Most people move cities because they graduated, they’re switching jobs, careers, or they wanted to move to a place with a lower cost of living. Whatever the reason for the move, Americans still feel the nostalgia of the cities they used to live in, and would love to see their favorite places they used to visit, being featured on your YouTube channel.

    For example, even though I live in Baton Rouge, LA, I was in Baltimore, Maryland for about 2 months, and I loved Baltimore. Now that I’m back in Baton Rouge, I hunt for news about places and local events happening in and around Baltimore. Why? It reminds me of the sweet experiences that I had while I was in Baltimore
  • People trying to move to Cleveland, Ohio – When I’m moving from one city to another, I go to extra length to research about the new city I’ll be moving to. I’d research the best areas to live in, the best school districts, local businesses, cost of living, types of houses and neighborhoods, etc.

    And I’m sure I’m not alone, a vast majority of Americans do these too. Your YouTube channel would give incoming residents the details on what life’s like in your city in video form; much more than text-based blogs and websites that might currently be online
  • People curious or interested in Cleveland, Ohio – I may never intend to visit or reside in Cleveland, but I could just enjoy the way you talk about that city on your YouTube channel, and then can’t wait to see what you’ll share with me on your channel about the latest happenings in Cleveland.

    This goes beyond what any local or national newspaper would tell me, and so I’d subscribe to your channel and pay close attention to every video you release. Why? Because we are all curious creatures – I’m curious, you’re curious, we all are curious species. Which means, your viewing audience is not restricted to your local town / city. And as you make progress in your videos, you can even expand on to other cities or town in your state, to compare one city to the next.

I’ve compiled some handy resources that will help you grow your YouTube channel at every stage, from coming up with engaging topics to creating compelling, eye-catching videos:

How do I build my successful side hustle business?

To launch your successful side hustle business, you need to decide on the business idea you’d like to pursue, based on your interests, experiences, resources, and strengths.

For example, if you struggle to write, but you can speak on camera, consider choosing a business idea here that would use your top abilities, for example, starting an interview-style podcast or launching a YouTube channel for your city.

Once you’ve chosen one business idea, here’s how to start your successful side hustle business, step-by-step:

1. Get started

2. Understand your market

3. Create your product or service

4. Build a website

5. Focus on one proven way, at first, to get customers

6. Listen to feedback from your customers and the market

1. Get started

People think, talk, and dream about doing things, but they never actually start. It’s easy to read, and discuss, and ‘strategize’, but a lot of folks never actually start their business. Don’t just think, do.

Don’t just talk, get started.

If you start your side hustle now, you’d have surpassed the first major challenge that people face in building successful side hustles. And that major challenge is: getting started.

You don’t need any extra reading or resources here, just pick one idea from the nine listed here (based on your interests, instincts, and experiences), and write it down as your next side hustle.

Yes, getting started is that simple.

2. Understand your market

Before investing time, money, energy, and resources into your side hustle idea, you want to make sure you’re ready to serve the market that you have in mind. What makes you good enough to serve this market?

For example, if you’re starting a passion-based blog, ask yourself:

  • What are my passions, and how do I express those passions on my blog?
  • Who will be interested in reading my passion-based blog
  • How do I intend to be helpful to a reader?

The good news is that: you don’t need ‘final’ answers to any of these questions. These side hustles are lifestyle-based, which means you can use your own life to understand your market.

It’s perfectly fine if you can’t truly understand your market, or perfectly serve their needs at first. But you should be able to serve your needs first.

For example, you might want to start a YouTube channel for your city / town, because you always get bored on weekends and weeknights, because you just don’t have anywhere to go. Or you might be jaded about watching the national news, and would like to watch what’s happening in your local area, but at a higher standard than the one you see on your local TV.

So, those are challenges you’re facing, and that’s good enough for you to start understanding your market. In other words, for a lot of business ideas and side hustles, you’re the market.

So, look inwards.

You know what’s missing, you’re currently facing the challenge, so you’re exactly the perfect fit for solving that problem.

And chances are, once you can solve your own challenges because of your side hustles, I can assure you that there are a lot more people going through the same difficulties as you.

But you won’t understand bigger market and audience, until you get started and start understanding yourself first.

3. Create your product or service

If you’re starting an ecommerce store, create your first product. If you’re starting a ghostwriting business, write your first ghost-written article.

Create something, and then put it out there.

Your first product might suck, or not satisfy your tastes. Don’t be discouraged – everyone’s first attempt is always terrible. Once you’ve created your product or service, put it out there where your ideal customers will see it.

Don’t keep working on it, until it’s ‘perfect’, because your first attempt will never be perfect. Once you think it’s good enough, let your market decide.

Talk to your spouse, partner, friends, neighbors, co-workers, who you see as someone who’s likely to want this product. And get their feedback on your product or service.

Ask them:

  • “What do you like about this product?”
  • “What don’t you like about this product?”
  • “What do you wish could added to this current product, in order to make it better?”

Their answers will give you more clarity and better direction, way more than you trying to stay in your own head to create the ‘perfect’ product or service. Then, use their feedback to improve on the first version of your product.

4. Build a website

Your product or service needs an online home. If people search for your product or service on Google, would they find you, or not? Once you’ve created your first product or service, you need to have a website.

It can be as simple as a one-page website, showing the photos of the product or service that you currently have now. This lets you instantly share your product with anyone who wants to know more about it. Much more than an Instagram or Facebook page, you need a website that will share your current vision for what you’re building, and where things stand at the moment.

This is not only good for your potential customers, but it also helps you keep track of your progress. Because, trust me, if all you do is make products all day, your brain could easily trick you into thinking you’re making zero progress, and you might want to quit.

Which would be a big shame.

Why?

Because: People fail to build successful side hustle businesses because of two main reasons:

  1. they don’t start; or
  2. they give up too soon

You’ve already started, so you want to make sure that you don’t give up. How do you ensure that? By celebrating your small wins. If you don’t celebrate your small wins, your business may never be around for us to toast to the big successes.

So, create your website for your product or service now, share it with us here in the comments below, and let’s celebrate your accomplishments so far, because:

  1. You deserve it; and
  2. Slow and steady wins the race

And you don’t have to be a coder or programmer to build your own website. All you need to do is simply, choose a domain name and confirm that it’s available for you to use. You can get your domain name for less than $15 in many cases.

From there, you get a hosting account, so your domain name can have its own home on the Internet. Once you’re all set with your domain name and hosting, you can install WordPress. This wold help you write and manage content on your website.

Then, you can simply write about your product or service, upload some cute photos of you and your product. And bam, your business now has an online home! Yay!!!

5. Focus on one proven way, at first, to get customers

Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Without customers, a business does not exist. And for you, customers might mean clients (if you’re a service business), or subscribers (if you’re running a YouTube channel, or listeners (if you’re starting a podcast).

Whatever business you’re in, you need a way to get customers.

How?

By finding out what works for your business. For each business idea that I listed, I’ve added resources to each idea, so you can see how current business owners are getting customers for those businesses.

Your goal here is to read through the resources, and then pick one proven way to get your customers. At first, you’ll be tempted to want to choose every method to get customers faster, but don’t do it!

You need to be able to double down on one customer-generation method first, master that, and then try to expand into other methods of getting customers.

6. Listen to feedback from your customers and the market

As you get customers and grow your business, you’ll want to grow more. The secret to growing more is to listen to what your customers are asking for.

You’re the business owner, but you’re one person. It’s possible that you might run out of ideas on what to create for your customers or what the next stage in your business is. A good way out of this dilemma is to simply ask your customers, “what else would you like us to help you with?”

Another method is to study your industry, look at what others are doing, and how they’re serving your market; and then use that as inspiration to do more very well for your prospective customers.

It’s time to build your next successful side hustle

If your goal is to build a successful side hustle based on an online business that you’ve found, then you’ve started your journey towards that goal today (right now).

The beautiful thing about side hustles is that you can start small, listen to your market, adjust, refine, and improve, until the market tells you they want more of your business.

And then you’ll have the ‘good challenge’ of having to decide between staying at your job or working full-time on your successful side hustle. And that’s a good problem to have, if you ask me.

But to build and grow your business starting with a side hustle idea, you can’t just wish or hope things fall into place. You need to act. Re-read this post, if you have to, but nothing beats getting started now and not giving up.

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