January 9, 2019

side hustles that could become your full-time job

Side hustles can useful in many different ways. Some people look at side hustles as simply a way to make a little extra money. Others hope that their side hustles could become their full-time jobs. Many in the FIRE movement leverage side hustles to put more money each month in savings and investments in hopes of being able to retire earlier.

Whatever the reason may be that you want to start a side hustle, I think it’s a really great idea. But this post is specifically aimed at those who fit into category #2 – you’re looking for side hustles that could become your full-time job.

Unfortunately, when you google “best side hustles,” a lot of the ideas that pop up involve answering surveys or being someone’s virtual “gofer.”

And while you can legitimately make money with those strategies (I once received $300 for a survey I participated in), they are usually time-consuming and are not realistic career paths.

So as someone who has successfully turned a side hustle into a full-time job, I wanted to create a better guide.

So here we go. These are 5 of my favorite side hustles that could become your full-time job.

1. Blogging

Blogging is one of my favorite side hustles because not only could it someday become your main income source, but it could become a full-time passive income source.

Yes, blogs are a lot of work up front, but your blog could continue to pay you back years after you’ve stopped creating original content.

And while a lot of the most famous bloggers are bloggers who blog about blogging (try to say that 5 times fast), you can make money blogging about anything that you happen to be an expert in or have a passion for.

How to Build a Blog from Scratch

If you have no idea how to start a blog, don’t be intimidated. There are many great web-building tools available today to help you get your blog off the ground faster and easier than ever before!

The first thing you’ll need to decide on is what content management system you will use to design your website. I and a large majority of bloggers prefer using WordPress for website design because it’s (1) free and (2) incredibly feature-rich and flexible.

If you’ve never used WordPress before, check out WPBeginner. They have tutorials and guides on everything from A-Z to help you get your WordPress site off the ground.

I will be honest with you, WordPress does require a little bit of a learning curve and it’s not going to be a drag-and-drop builder like other sites you may see advertised. Once you’ve learned WordPress, though, it can actually do way more than all those easier and simpler design tools.

Alternatives to WordPress

That being said, depending on what you plan to do with your blog, one of the more user-friendly sites may have all the features you need. Here are a few of today’s popular website design sites:

Some of the sites above do offer web hosting as well. But for most of them, as well as with WordPress, you’ll have to choose a separate hosting platform for your site.

Hosting Platforms

Here are a few of the most popular hosting sites on the market today:

By doing a little bit of googling, you should be able to find first-year introductory rates on many of the above sites. You should easily be able to get your first year of hosting paid for less than $100, and just like that, you’ll be on your way!

How to Make Money Blogging

There are three main ways that you can make money blogging:

  • Ads – the most famous ad network is Google Adsense, but there are many other competitors.
  • Affiliate Marketing – this is where companies pay you to direct your readers towards products or services that you believe in. You can form direct affiliate relationships with businesses, or you can use an affiliate network, such as CJ (Commission Junction), QuinStreet, JVZoo, Rakuten Marketing, or FlexOffers.
  • Premium content – once enough monthly traffic is coming to your site to enjoy your free content, you could create e-books or courses that explain concepts in greater depth and that would require payment to access.

Building your own blog and creating great content is also a great way to showcase your writing skills and possibly give you an opportunity to get hired as a freelance writer by larger, well-established sites, as we will discuss in-depth below.

2. Freelance Writing

If blogging is the best way to use writing to build passive income for tomorrow, freelance writing is the best way to start getting paid for your writing today.

I do a lot of freelance writing in addition to creating new content for my own blog and to be completely honest, right now I make way more money from freelancing. In fact, I recently quit my job to become a full-time freelance writer.

While I look at blogging as my long-term play, it’s good to know that in the short-term I can still make bank freelancing! And you can too. 

Are you a stay at home mom? If so, freelance writing could be a great way to make money right from your couch. In fact, Kelan and Brittany from The Savyy Couple ranked freelance writing #1 in their list of the best legitimate stay at home mom jobs.

How to Get Started as a Freelance Writer

How do you get editors at midsize and large sites to hire you as a freelance writer?

Step #1- Create your own site and fill it with lots of great writing content.

Yes, that means that you’re going to be creating a lot of great content that you won’t get paid a cent for (at least not for a while), but that’s ok.

Look at your site as your resume and think of every article you write as another bullet point on your writing resume that screams, “I’m an awesome writer! You really should pay me to write for you!”

Step #2 -Connect with other people in your niche.

My favorite way to do that is by attending trade conferences.

  • For instance, in my niche, personal finance, FinCon is the biggest annual personal finance media conference.
  • Once I decided I wanted to become a freelance writer, I made it one of my earliest goals to get to FinCon and make as many connections as I could.
  • I did just that and the conference was worth every penny because it allowed me to meet so many editors face-to-face and ultimately helped me land a ton of work.

You can also connect with other people in your niche by following them on social media and sharing their content on your own pages. When you help others, they’ll be naturally more open to the idea of helping you.

Step 3 – Send in pitches

All of these ideas will hopefully help you get to know some editors in your niche that you could send a “warm pitch” too. Warm pitches are just pitches that you send people that already know who you are and are familiar with your work. These are your best prospects.

Once you’ve contacted all these individuals, then (and only then) I would try to send 5 “cold pitches” a day to editors of sites that you would love to write for.

Once you’ve exhausted all of those connections, then you can move to creating an account and bio on the most popular freelance writer job sites. These are the 6 that I recommend:

If you’re really serious about becoming a freelance writer then I highly recommend that you take my advanced course.

In my freelance writing course, I dive deep into what it takes to land freelance clients, become one their favorite writers, and steadily increase your income. Learn more.

3. Airbnb

If you live in an area that appeals to tourists, renting out a room in your home on Airbnb, or other short-term rental sites, could be a great side hustle for you.

But if you really want to ratchet up the income, then buying an investment property and turning the entire place into a vacation rental is the way to go.

We’ve been doing this ourselves for about 9 months now. We’ve learned a lot that we wished we would have known up front, but overall we’ve been incredibly pleased with how things have worked out.

If you are thinking about buying an investment property anyway, you may want to give a long, hard look into turning into an Airbnb rental. Before you make a decision, either way, make sure to read my breakdown of the pros and cons of turning an investment property into a short-term rental rather than a traditional rental.

Over time, we would like to grow our Airbnb side hustle by purchasing more investment properties. And the ultimate goal is that someday we can have enough income coming in from these properties that we could legitimately live off of our Airbnb income alone if we ever needed to.

This one is definitely more of a long-term play. But if you start Airbnb hosting as your side hustle, you can gain immediate income today, while possibly building a passive income monster for tomorrow!

Sign up to become an Airbnb host.

4. Etsy

If you are a talented artist or crafter, why not get paid for your work?

Etsy is the place where people go to buy and sell handmade decorative items from individuals. Their tagline reads: “If it’s handcrafted, vintage, custom, or unique, it’s on Etsy.”

What’s great about Etsy is that it’s a fully-online platform, so you can manage your Etsy business at night from your home laptop while still keeping up with your full-time job during the day. And if things take off, you could soon find yourself with a full-fledged business on your hands.

Sound too good to be true? Well, don’t just take my word for it. Check out the stories of these four women who have all built full-time Etsy businesses.

If you don’t even know where to start with Etsy, begin by looking over their in-house guide –  7 Steps to a Successful Etsy Business.

5. Photography

Do you have a passion for photography and the talent and know-how to produce high-quality shots? If so, you could turn your skill into a lucrative side hustle. 

Start Close to Home

Don’t know where to start with charging for your photography work? Easy. Just start spreading the word to your friends, family members, and social media followers that you are starting a photography side business and would to love to be their photographer for portraits, family photos, or events.

In the beginning, you’ll probably want to provide your services for free or at a discount, but that’s ok because you’ll gain valuable experience.

Create a Website

Once you’ve gotten some experience under your belt, you could start a formal website for your photography business (following the same steps that we covered under “Blogging.”) Also, if you can get permission from some of your early clients to post some of their photos on your website, that would be fantastic. Here’s why:

  • The truth is that when it comes to hiring a photographer, people really don’t care too much about their education or training.
  • They just want to see beautiful looking shots!

The great part about event photography is that most big events are scheduled on weekends, so it’s a perfect side hustle for someone with a Monday-Friday day job!

Another thing that’s awesome about photography is that your business can truly grow exponentially from word of mouth advertising alone.

If you do good work, more work will find you…and pretty soon you may have more work on your hands than you know what to do with.

Uploading Your Work to Stock Photo Sites

Conducting actual photo shoots and covering events is my favorite way to make money as a photographer, but it’s certainly not the only way. You can also sell your work on stock photo sites. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

Using stock photo sites is fine for bringing in a little extra passive income, but it will be hard to use them alone to build a full-time photography business due to intense competition and lower payouts than you could garner for event photography.


If you’re going to go to all the trouble and extra work of adding a side hustle on top of your 9-5, why not choose one that could someday grow large enough to replace your day job?

By choosing one of the side hustles above, you could possibly do just that.

If any of you have already had experience turning a side hustle into a full-time job (even if it was a different side hustle than the ones we covered in this article), we’d love to hear about it in the comments!

About the author 

Clint Proctor

Hi, I'm Clint! I love writing about everything personal finance. In addition to this site, my work has been featured on several major publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Credit Karma, and U.S. News and World Report. My hope is that you'll be able to find plenty of helpful information and inspiration on this site to help you reach your financial goals. Thanks for visiting!

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  1. Thanks Clint, as a new blogger there is some really helpful direction here. Just out of curiosity, who do you use for hosting? I use Godaddy and so far its working out well. At least I feel like I can talk to someone if need be.

    1. Hi JD,

      Thanks! I use Bluehost and have been happy with them so far…I do have several friends and acquaintances in the blogosphere though who have mentioned that their site speed wasn’t satisfactory with Bluehost. Many of them have decided to move to Siteground and have said that they have noticed noticeable speed differences. Personally, I haven’t had any speed issues yet and Bluehost’s customer service honestly has been great as well. Guess I’ll have to wait and see if things stay that way over time.

      Welcome to personal finance blogging! Just checked out your site and it’s really beautifully designed. You’re a great writer as well. Loved your Reed Gold Mine article. Not your typical same-old, same-old “personal finance-y” post. Keep up the great work and good luck!

  2. Thank you Clint, that means a lot! I haven’t looked into Bluehost, perhaps I will investigate them. Love your site too, look forward to following your journey. Thanks again!

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