15 Low-Cost Side Hustles

By Timothy Moore · September 21, 2022 · 12 minute read

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15 Low-Cost Side Hustles

Having a 9-to-5 gig is a great way to make your core income, but what if you want to earn more? Perhaps you need additional spending money to pay down your debt, build up your savings, or just keep up with your monthly bills.

If that describes your situation, a side hustle could be a great way to supplement your earnings. You’d hardly be alone if you’re looking for another way to bring in cash. In a recent survey by Insuranks, 44% of 1,000 respondents said they were trying side jobs to bring in more money.

One hurdle when trying to make ends meet: Some side hustles require a large investment, whether you need to purchase equipment, get some form of education or certification, or market yourself to a niche group of clients.

On the flip side, there are quite a few side hustles that could have lower barriers to entry. Read on to learn about these, including those that build on your particular strengths as well as those that require no special skills. You could soon be on your way to bringing in some extra income.

Is It Possible to Start a Side Hustle With Little Money?

You may worry about start-up costs for launching a side hustle: Will you need to buy expensive software, or head back to school for a certain degree? Not necessarily.

It is possible to start a low-cost side business. Whether it’s delivering groceries, narrating audiobooks, or becoming a virtual assistant, many people are able to find a side hustle with a low startup cost to supplement their income.

Plus, if their side hustles qualify them as 1099 contractors, they can use those startup costs (and any recurring costs) as a tax deduction on their income.

Also remember that one of the benefits of a side hustle can be introducing you to what might grow as a steady ongoing source of money. Or it could introduce you to a new path for a full-time career that you love.

💡 Quick Tip: Tired of paying pointless bank fees? When you open a bank account online you often avoid excess charges.

15 Inexpensive Side Hustle Ideas

So what are some low-cost side hustles that are easy to start? Here are 15 side gigs to consider without needing a large startup fund:

1. Selling an Online Course

Especially in the post-pandemic landscape, many people are turning to the internet for learning opportunities. If you know more than the average person about a specific topic that you’re passionate about — be it makeup application, flipping houses, or writing code — you can make educational content with only your smartphone and some screen-recording software. It’s a great example of a side hustle with low startup costs.

You don’t even have to worry about designing a website to host the courses you create. Websites like Skillshare and Udemy may host your content (but will take a chunk of your sales). They already have built-in audiences browsing for courses. That can mean little or no marketing is necessary on your part.

Recommended: 11 Benefits of Having a Side Hustle

2. Narrating Audiobooks

Websites like Fiverr and ACX.com have made it easy for aspiring voice-over artists (or just people looking to pick up some extra cash) to narrate audiobooks. To be successful, it’s a good idea to have a background in acting, an ability to use different voices and accents, and good enunciation.

As with many side gigs, you might have to start by taking unpaid work to establish a portfolio. Volunteering to read for the blind can be a great way to get your foot in the door, and it doesn’t hurt to have your own website promoting your skills; just make sure there are demos on the site.

Startup costs may include a high-quality microphone (with a pop filter to block out unwanted “mouth noises”), noise-canceling headphones, and the proper software (Audacity, which is free, and GarageBand are good options).
Since you’re just starting, it may be wise to look for high-quality, low-cost choices that keep costs under $100.

Recommended: Tips for Financially Surviving a Layoff

3. Tutoring

If you have a degree in a specific subject, such as math or science, and experience in and/or a talent for explaining concepts to others, you may be able to find work online or in person as a tutor. You can try posting on social media and running local ads, or you might find work on tutoring platforms like Wyzant or Varsity Tutors.

If you are interested in tutoring for standardized test prep, it can be a good idea to seek certification. Though not required, it can make it easier to land clients. Search online for options; SAT tutors can earn $100 or more an hour, depending on experience and location.

Recommended: How to Help Your Child with SAT Practice

4. Selling Handmade Items on Etsy

If you enjoy making crafts and artwork, you might find a market on Etsy or other online marketplaces. Custom signs, homemade soaps and candles, knitted scarves and blankets, and handmade jewelry are just a few examples of what artists currently sell. This can be a good opportunity to turn a hobby you love into an income stream.

Your costs will include the price of materials and shipping, but you can set your own prices for your items to offset those. To get started, check the online platform’s selling guide for beginners.

5. Building Websites with WordPress

Though the number of active websites is always changing, there are nearly two billion right now. And someone had to make each one, which highlights more inexpensive side hustles you could pursue.

Platforms like WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix make it easier for non-coders to build semi-customized websites, but there’s still a learning curve. If you’re a fast learner or have some experience in website building, this could be an easy way for you to make some quick cash — by building websites for those who don’t want to learn how or do it themselves.

You can start by making your own website to advertise your offerings. It might be a good idea to connect with friends, family, classmates, colleagues, and even local nonprofits to offer your services for free so that you can build a portfolio. Once you have enough experience under your belt and examples to showcase, finding clients for actual paid work is the next step.

Ready to expand your skill-set and play a bigger role in building sites? Several educational websites offer web development courses with (some) free content, including W3Schools and The Odin Project. Worth noting: Coding bootcamps can be expensive, but they can be helpful for some.

6. Renting Your Clothes Out to Others

While renting out your home on Airbnb or your car on Turo might be a lucrative option, not everyone has a house or a car to rent out. But you can start smaller — quite literally with the clothes on your back.

If you have a sense of style that’s always garnering compliments or have invested in luxury label items over the years, you might find that others are willing to pay to borrow your clothes. Sites like StyleLend and Rent My Wardrobe offer platforms for listing your clothes and earning some cash. Since you already own the clothes and accessories, this could be a low-cost side business.

For example, StyleLend lets you keep 80% of your profits and even has a helpful resource about which labels are most likely to bring you revenue and how to list them. How much you make will depend on how much clothing you have to rent, how prestigious its label is, and how in demand the styles are.

7. Flipping Furniture

Flipping furniture can be as easy as watching neighborhood groups on social media to see people listing furniture for free or a very low price. If a piece seems to have any value, you can claim it and then list it for sale on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Nextdoor.

You can also shop for cheap used furniture at garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales.

To make a little more per piece, it’s a good idea to slap on a fresh coat of paint and maybe install new hardware. This can be a fun, creative way to bring in money.

Recommended: 37 Places to Sell Your Stuff

8. Get Paid for Your Social Media Posts

Not everyone can be a famous influencer, but if social media and video content are your forte, you might consider building on your social media presence, from Snapchat to a YouTube channel. Even what are known as micro-influencers, with 10,000 to 100,000 followers on Instagram, can earn between $250 and $500 per post.

While it takes time, dedication, and some luck to have that many followers, it can be a path to making some cash from content you probably enjoy creating. Everything from DIY renovation to makeup tutorials to movie reviews could be fair game as your subject matter.

9. Being a Transcriptionist

Wondering, “How can I make money from home?” If you’re a fast typer, you might find side-hustle success as a transcriptionist. Companies like Rev and GoTranscript may be seeking your skills.

This is a job you can do from home (in sweat pants, no less) for as many or as few hours as you would like. Rev says its transcriptionists’ average monthly payout is $245, but one transcriptionist has taken home nearly $1,500 in a single month.

Your startup costs might only include a pair of noise-canceling headphones and audio player software.

10. Social Media Management

If you live and breathe social media, you might be able to turn it into a lucrative side gig. Consumers increasingly want their favorite brands and businesses to be on social media, but smaller, local companies might not know the first thing about creating Instagram Reels or going live.

You might start by updating your LinkedIn to show that you are looking for clients in the social media space. A website highlighting your own personal stats might be a good idea, too. To kick off your side hustle, you might consider building your portfolio by offering free services to a nonprofit or local business with a very limited (or non-existent) budget.

Keep in mind: Running your own personal Instagram will be very different from running social for businesses.
Taking a few online courses on Udemy or another platform to learn best practices for social media management could be extremely valuable.

11. Driving With Rideshare Services

Startup costs for Uber and Lyft are arguably high; you need a car after all. But if you already own a vehicle that meets a rideshare program’s criteria (and you’re already paying for the car insurance requirements), you could start offering rides with nothing more than the cost of a tank of gas. Plus, this is a side hustle that can really fit your schedule; you could do it on weekends or whenever you have a day off.

12. Delivering Food and Groceries

If driving with people in your backseat doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, consider freelance food delivery instead. Today, your options are plenty, including DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats.

Now is a great time to get in on the food delivery game; food delivery app usage skyrocketed 30% in 2020 and continued to grow (another 10%) in 2021.

Fast food delivery isn’t your only option. You can also deliver groceries with apps like Instacart, as well at many grocery chains. Again, this is a great side hustle for those who like to set their own hours to earn a bit more money. While pay will vary, you might make $15 to $20 per hour, plus tips.

13. Proofreading and Writing

Who said an English degree couldn’t get you a job? If you are an avid reader and wordsmith, you might be able to find several freelance side gigs as a proofreader or even a writer. Some might be one-off projects, like proofreading someone’s novel; others could be recurring, like working as a contributing writer to a travel website.

Like with most side hustles of this nature, having an online portfolio is a good idea. That means you might take some low-paying (or free) gigs at first until you’ve proven to potential clients that you’re worth your rate. Clients often post job listings on sites like Indeed, Upwork, FlexJobs, and Fiverr.

Having a love of books might not be enough, however; you may need to spend some money on training courses and specific style guides, like AP and Chicago. But those are likely modest expenses. Proofreaders working part-time typically pull in between $12 and $30 per hour. Writers currently average about $32 an hour for freelance work.

Recommended: High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

14. Being a Virtual Assistant

At large companies, the executives typically have their own assistants. But leaders at small businesses often wear many hats, from scheduling to accounting to sales. These leaders often need help but can’t afford more full-time help.

That’s where virtual assistants come in. These contracted administrative assistants might handle a wide range of tasks — often those that business decision-makers don’t want to do or don’t have time for. This could include data entry, scheduling, bookkeeping, travel arrangement, email management, or even social media posting.

If you’re organized and have done this kind of work before, it can be a good side hustle with no special equipment or training needed. The median hourly rate is typically $16 but could be closer to $30, depending on the exact role.

Recommended: Examples of Passive Income

15. Giving Music Lessons

If you play an instrument and can read music, you might be able to teach music lessons on the side. Having a degree in music theory may be helpful in winning over potential clients.

You can set your own rates, but finding initial students may require lower prices or even free lessons for family and friends, just to build out a network of students who will offer referrals and testimonials on your website.

Banking With SoFi

Need a safe place to store your side gig income? SoFi bank accounts are a a great option. You’ll earn a competitive APY when you open a checking and savings account with direct deposit, plus you’ll spend and save in one convenient place.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall. Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


What side hustles pay the most?

Many side hustles allow you to set your own rates and hours, so any gig can be as lucrative as you make it, depending on the hours invested. That said, you might find that side hustles that lean on a higher level of education or experience — like teaching or marketing — pay more than those that anyone could do without a degree.

What are the costs of starting a side hustle?

Most side hustles come with their own set of startup costs. Common investments include the equipment you need to get started and the cost of building a website to advertise your services. It is possible to start a side hustle with minimal (or even no) startup costs.

Can you start a side hustle with $0?

Some side hustles may have no startup costs at all. Delivering food or being a grocery shopper, for instance, come with absolutely no expenses. Even gigs like driving a rideshare are virtually free if you’re already paying for a car and insurance.

Photo credit: iStock/Yana Iskayeva

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