Let’s talk business ideas. No matter how rewarding your full-time job may be, finding the best side business ideas and eventually becoming self-employed is even more meaningful than great pay and solid benefits.
Choosing the path of entrepreneurship and working on finding great business ideas, is without a doubt riskier than being content with holding a 9-5 job. It requires more sacrifice. However, once you’re reaping the lifestyle benefits of being your own boss and hustling your way into making significantly more money with your business ideas than you ever could at your day job, the hard work will have all been worth it. So, dive into the most relevant business ideas in 2020.
And by now you probably already know… one of the lowest cost (and most attainable) business ideas you can start working on right now is launching a blog of your own. For that reason, I recently put together a free guide that breaks down how to start a blog and I share the exact strategies I’ve used to turn my blog into a more than $50,000/mo business
Best Side Business Ideas to Start in 2020 (While Working a Full-Time Job)
Now, let’s dive in.
1. Start a Blog.
Think blogging is no longer a viable source of income? Think again. Recent blogging statistics show that tens of thousands of bloggers (including yours truly) are creating profitable content on topics as diverse as scrapbooking, home cooking, travel, film, lifestyle, business, personal finance and more. The best part? It doesn’t cost much to blog—about $65/year. And more people are growing their blogs into six-figure businesses thanks to a combination of email subscribers, affiliate marketing, blog sponsorships, and other revenue streams. Your first step with starting a blog is quickly getting the technical side of things handled (my free master course on blogging will show you how), and then both understanding what your audience craves and learning how to attract those readers online.
If you want to speed up the process of launching your blog, I recommend setting up quick, affordable and easy website hosting with a company like Bluehost or one of the other best web hosting plans for bloggers, working through the process of creating a blog business plan and choosing a simple WordPress theme and working on your first post—in order to set the precedent of prioritizing your time on creating content, connecting with (and building) your audience. You’ll also need to employ the right blogging tools to grow your blog along the way.
Then once you’ve been able to build a community around your blog, you’ll want to invest in really understanding your readers—so that you can give them more of what they want.
I know first-hand that learning how to start a blog (let alone make money blogging) can be a massive new undertaking.
So, I put together a free master course for you to take that spreads out all of the work involved in starting a blog, into a series of action-packed lessons. My free course breaks the entire process of starting a blog down into an incredibly simple 7-day process for going from zero to generating creative blog post ideas, writing a blog post, optimizing and promoting your blog content in just 1 week. I can’t recommend it enough.
2. Graphic Design.
While having a formal background in graphic design is absolutely going to be helpful, it’s also relatively easy to learn the foundations of graphic design on your own. An increasingly easy-to-use Adobe Illustrator and even more easily accessible tools like Stencil and Visme are making it so that just about anyone with two opposable thumbs, a bit of creativity, and motivation can earn a side income doing things like designing (and selling) images like these motivational quotes that can be printed onto posters and sold on platforms like Etsy. Or you can find a local startup, small business owner, or photographer who could benefit from some extra help designing or altering images.
But before you can graduate from side business ideas and begin earning a full-time living as a graphic designer, you’ll need to build your skills—I recommend starting with reading the foundational book Graphic Design School and Steal Like an Artist, the incredible book by Austin Kleon about how to become more creative. To accelerate your education in becoming a graphic designer even quicker, check out the online courses Graphic Design Fundamentals and The Graphic Design Bootcamp. Then once you’re an expert at your craft, you can further your education and move up to offering more hands-on experiences like design sprints for higher-value clients around the world.
- Graphic Design Fundamentals by Timothy Samara on CreativeLive
- The Graphic Design Bootcamp by Derrick Mitchell on Udemy
3. Web Design.
Web designers are incredibly valuable for technology companies—which is why becoming a freelance web designer is a top side business idea today. Web design is all about mastering the art of creating a beautiful, value-driven experience for the people using a website or app. There are always new websites popping up in need of professional web design, and foundational books like HTML & CSS: Design and Build Websites by acclaimed web designer Jon Duckett and Don’t Make Me Think by user experience legend Steve Krug will get you started down the right path to quickly determining whether or not becoming a web designer is one of the most viable side business ideas for you.
Then you can move into more actionable online courses like Modern Web Design on CreativeLive and Learn Web Design and Profitable Freelancing on Udemy will teach you everything from foundational web design knowledge to earning your first freelance income as a web designer. On top of that, you can take even more immersive courses and learning experiences with access to direct instructor feedback and personal mentorship with platforms like Treehouse and General Assembly to get up-to-speed even quicker with this career path and listen to my podcast interview with Ian Paget about how to become a freelance designer as a side business idea.
- Modern Web Design by Andy Pratt & Jesse Arnold on CreativeLive
- Web Design & Profitable Freelancing by Cristian Barin on Udemy
4. Web Development.
As a web developer, you’ll build incredibly valuable skills that are in extremely high demand. You can get up to speed on building websites in as little as a few months with inexpensive or free online education programs like Treehouse, the Web Developer Bootcamp on Udemy and Codeacademy.
- Learn Web Design by Multiple Instructors on Treehouse
- Web Developer Bootcamp by Colt Steele on Udemy
5. Online Courses.
Using your skills for profit is a common trend with all of the best side business ideas. If you’re an expert at something, there’s likely an audience of people online who would be willing to pay to become an expert in your field—just like you. If you want to take your skills and turn them into an online course that teaches others how to get the same results you’ve achieved in your life, career, or business, start with How to Create an Awesome Online Course on Udemy, where instructor Miguel Hernandez covers how he makes over $90,000/yr teaching online. You’ll learn from more than 8 hours of video instruction.
If you want to find a profitable online course idea in the next 3 days, join my free online course Find a Profitable Business Idea today. It’ll walk you step-by-step through the process I’ve used to generate more than $15,000 in online course sales in a single week. Then once you’re ready to start teaching your own online course, I recommend using Teachable, the easiest and most affordable platform to use for creating, hosting and selling your online courses. They also have a ton of free educational resources about how to get started with creating an online course (yes, even as one of our top side business ideas) when you sign up right here.
- Create Awesome Online Courses by Miguel Hernandez on Udemy
Packaging your skills and knowledge into a downloadable eBook (like I’ve done with my best blogging books) that delivers value to those seeking to learn a skill, advance in their careers, or start their own businesses, makes for a strong value proposition if you target the right audience (which is why it makes for such sustainable business ideas for many authors). A class I took with Tara Gentile on CreativeLive will also show you how to use your existing body of work to write an eBook within the next week (even by starting with something as simple as a blog post outline to kick the process off) and turn an eBook into one of the smartest business ideas you can execute on if you have a knack for writing. Put in some serious work with your eBook, build an audience and you’ll have a platform to pitch traditional publishers on landing a book deal—then you can write one of the top business books and really build your personal brand.
7. Instagram Marketing.
Build up a following on your Instagram account and you could quickly be approached by major brands, gear companies, and other relevant businesses that sell products or services related to the type of content you share on Instagram—creating multiple potential side business ideas that’ll come to you. If you have the right marketing skills and hundreds of thousands of followers, you can easily charge anywhere between $500 to $5,000 per post (or more)—which makes for very profitable side business ideas. Once you get some traction, to cut down on the amount of time you spend uploading images, you can make your entire workflow more efficient by posting photos from your Mac or PC.
8. Online Coaching.
If you have something you’re skilled at and very passionate about, you can turn that winning combination into offering your services with one-on-one online coaching as one of the most dependable side business ideas that leverage your skills. Just be sure to implement your own opportunity management system so you don’t get caught up working with clients that you can’t measurably help. Elmira Strange will give you a step-by-step plan for putting your skills and experience to work by developing an online coaching business—even as a side business idea in the time around your full-time job—so be sure to check out her course on Udemy for a jump start on this side business idea.
On top of just the skill and experience components to being a successful online coach, this side business idea is all about building a community around the help you’re offering and fostering trust with members. Plus, your community members will learn from each other along the way. Creating the space for that community can be as simple as setting up a private Facebook group or choosing a community-building platform like Slack that has more capabilities to use your own custom URL, have internal forums, customized designs and more.
If you can create a regular audience for your podcast on a specific topic, this is a great way to get sponsors and fund this side business idea. My podcast, The Side Hustle Project is actually one of my current side business ideas I’ve been working on, and because I had an existing audience here on my blog at the time I launched the show, I was able to broker a $5,000 sponsorship from Freshbooks to place ads on the first ten episodes before I even got started.
When I used to work at CreativeLive, I regularly paid $250-$500 (or even much more depending upon audience size) per episode for 90 seconds worth of advertisements on relevant podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, the #1 business podcast right now from the 4-Hour Workweek author, Tim Ferriss. The podcast has even helped Tim launch his latest New York Times bestseller, Tools of Titans to a wider readership.
Naturally, it helps if you already have an online audience you can tap for listening to your regular podcast (like I did), but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from building successful side business ideas into lucrative podcasts—including Alex Blumberg, founder of Gimlet Media who teaches how to use storytelling and launch a podcast. You can also check out this class from podcaster and entrepreneur, Lewis Howes, about how to make money podcasting as a side business idea, which regularly broadcasts for free on CreativeLive.
10. Amazon Reselling.
Anyone can sell goods on Amazon, provided you have products to sell (or buy low, then resell). If you’re the type to hit all the local garage sales each weekend, there’s all sorts of valuable things that can be resold online as incredibly lucrative side business ideas. If you want to step your Amazon selling game up, check out this detailed story about Amazon and eBay retail arbitrage featuring an interview with several successful drop-shippers who’ve grown this home based business idea from side business into a lucrative money-maker.