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7 Ways To Make Your Side-Hustle Successful (and Legal)

By Catherine Hodder, Esq. | Last updated on

Everyone has a side hustle these days. Whether it is a financial advisor with a podcast, a mechanic with a “how-to" YouTube channel, or a real estate agent who is also a blogger about the local food scene, there are many creative ways to make extra income.

Side Hustle Ideas

If you look on the internet you will find hundreds of ideas and opportunities. Try taking on many side hustles such as freelance work using online businesses that match your skills to assignments or gigs. You can:

  • Do freelance writing, proofreading, or graphic design gigs from Upwork or Fiverr
  • Airbnb a spare room in your house
  • Become an Amazon Affiliate Marketer
  • Drive for a ride-share service such as Uber or Lyft
  • Deliver food for UberEats or DoorDash
  • Be a dog walker or pet sitter with Rover or Wag
  • Sell items on eBay, Craigslist, or ecommerce websites
  • Be a shopper for Instacart or grocery stores
  • Do online surveys or transcribe audio to text for companies
  • Tutor children or teach English to non-native speakers
  • Become a social media influencer and make money online from advertisements or sponsorships
  • Act as a virtual assistant, taking phone calls, making appointments, doing light bookkeeping
  • Look for ways to make passive income, such as self-publishing books, teaching online courses, or dropshipping

While making extra money in your spare time is enticing, make sure your perfect side hustle is right for you.

1. Incorporate Your Interests

The best way to make good money while enjoying what you do is to align your activity with your passions. If you are an accountant by day but creative at night, use those skills to make crafts you could sell on Etsy. And you won't enjoy that extra cash if you don't like what you are doing.

2. Make Your Side Hustle Part of Your Daily Routine

Find ways your side hustle doesn't conflict or take you away from your normal life. For example, you could make food deliveries to and from work. Or, if you enjoy exercising outdoors, start a dog walking business. A stay-at-home parent can work as a personal assistant or run errands for others while doing theirs at the same time. Finding an opportunity to make a side income that works with your own schedule will be more sustainable.

3. Be Realistic

Although you may have ideas for a great side hustle, consider your investment of time and money into that venture. If you have credit card debt or student loans, consider more reliable ways to make money, such as babysitting or tutoring. Instead of investing in a lot of equipment to become a social media influencer, you might start working as a social media manager for an influencer to learn the ropes.

4. Keep Your Day Job

The reason your full-time job is your primary job is probably because of the pay and benefits. Don't let your side gig encroach on your hours at work or make you less effective at your job.

And don't jeopardize your job by directly competing with your employer. If you design websites for your company, you may run afoul of non-compete agreements prohibiting you from doing freelance website design work. Although if you do have a non-compete agreement, look at the terms closely. If an agreement is too restrictive, it may not be enforceable. And some states prohibit non-compete agreements or restrictive covenants.

5. Protect Your Personal Assets

When you work for someone else, you are protected by their corporate entity and their insurance. However, when you go into business for yourself, you must insulate yourself from lawsuits. Many small business owners form a limited liability company (LLC) for personal liability protection. The advantages of an LLC are that it is easy to set up and maintain, your personal assets are protected from your business activities, and it provides a flexible tax structure. As an LLC, your business profits or losses pass through to your personal tax return, avoiding paying corporate taxes, called “double taxation."

6. Beware of Scams

Although there are many ways to make a little income, don't fall for “get rich quick" on-line business schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid any opportunities that may require upfront investment or revealing personal information that might result in identity theft. Check online reviews about the company and the business with the Better Business Bureau.

7. Keep on the Right Side of the Law

If you run a certain type of business activity, even if it is part-time, you must follow all laws and regulations concerning that activity. For example, if you are a home-based baker, you must follow all local licensing requirements and food-safety laws. Most business operations require some business license from the state or county. And, of course, make sure you aren't conducting any illegal activity.

Don't get caught up with trending fast money schemes. The best side hustle is one that you enjoy, works with your lifestyle, and keeps you out of trouble with the law.

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