5 Incredible Resources for ‘Side Hustle’ Ideas

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Welcome to our week-long series on How to Earn Extra Income from a Side Hustle. In this second of five articles, we look at some resources that can help you find the perfect side hustle for you.

Earlier in this series we talked about ways to supplement your income by finding a side hustle that didn’t necessarily involve working on a computer. They are great ideas and worthy of your consideration, but today we are looking at online resources. We have come a long way from looking to the classifieds, job fairs and postings as the only means to find work.

Whether you want to stick with a side hustle or grow to full-time home-based business, these resources will help you find ideas that will get you closer to your goals. Like any business (full-time or side), you have to make a decision and go for it. Hopefully these resources will help you brainstorm new ways to seek out interesting ideas for earning some extra money. These sites are sophisticated and offer a professional platform for marketing your skills and providing real opportunities that excite you.

Elance

Elance is a great site that offers opportunities for employers and freelancers to connect. We will stick to the opportunities for freelancers and save the “virtual employer” topic for another day. You can register for free and build a marketable profile within its impressive-looking site. You can also add a portfolio of your work for people to view, and you can promote your skills, experience, and areas of interest. Once you have registered (and also as a visitor) you can view positions that are available to freelancers in a multitude of areas.

All the job opportunities, regardless of category, are posted by their hourly rate or by the total amount per project. If you are interested in a posting, you prepare a proposal and bid on the job. With your free registration you are able to bid on up to 10 projects per month. If you determine that 10 bids are not sufficient for you, then you will have to consider purchasing a membership for a monthly fee. On the website you can also check out some of the freelancers who have been working through Elance. Although some have privacy settings that don’t allow you to see their incomes, others are listed.

For our purposes today, Elance is a great source of side business ideas. Let’s look at a sample work history of both a highly technical and a more creative (albeit business-minded) freelancer.

Devin, a Web Designer/Programmer — member of Elance since March 2009, worked 19 jobs this last 12 month period. He put in a total of 12 hours and made $10,380 for his efforts. That’s $865 an hour! His lifetime totals since 2009 indicate that he has worked 89 jobs for a total of 22 hours, earning him $32,372.

Marissa, A Creative Writer/PR Specialist listed with Elance since January 2009, worked 206 jobs in the last 12 months, putting in a total of 309 hours for a total of $67,062. Over her lifetime with Elance she has had 609 jobs, putting in 684 hours for a total of $207,656. We don’t know if this is her side hustle or full-time job, but at that rate it could be either.

When you consider that a regular full-time job is 40 hours a week, for a total of 2080 hours annually, you can see that it would be feasible to wedge in some freelance work to make a difference in your financial life. It’s worth spending some time on ELance to see how others are earning money. It offers a wealth of ideas.

oDesk

oDesk is another online resource for searching out employment opportunities. As with Elance, this site offers tools for linking employers with freelancers. I personally didn’t find it as appealing in appearance, but no big deal if it provides the same rewarding possibilities.

Looking through the categories they seem to be pretty much the same. I think there is more info available to the guest (before you register) which allows you to get many questions answered upfront. For instance, they explain how they protect intellectual property and explain that there is never a fee for applying for positions no matter how many times you apply. However, oDesk has a somewhat complex system where new freelancers can only apply to 3-5 positions at a time, but can earn a higher “quota” (number of applications you can make per month) based on number of jobs awarded, positive reviews, testing outcomes, and the like.

But regardless of whether you ever use oDesk to find work, it offers a lot of side hustle ideas.

eBay

eBay is great option for turning what you have into cash. I have several friends that regularly sell on eBay and love it. There’s very little that you CAN’T find on eBay, so look around and get some ideas. They provide a great tutorial that shows how to set up an account, take photos, list your item, get paid, and ship to your customers. They also explain their fees which will help you price your items (why not cover your fees). You can sell items you outgrow, don’t want, like to find at garage sales, or even new items that you make.

And many people have turned selling stuff on eBay into a full-time business. Check out this tutorial on building an eBay store. And here are some additional resources from eBay on building and marketing your store:

Even if starting an eBay store is not for you, seeing what other people are doing on eBay can be a great source of ideas.

Freelance Job Boards

One of the best ways to find ideas is to look at how other people are already making money. The flip side of this is to look at what businesses are in need of. We’ve covered this to some degree with Elance and oDesk above. But another great source of ideas come from online freelance job boards. Here are a few of my favorites:

Craigslist

We’ve all heard of Craigslist. We use it to buy used items. But Craigslist offers a lot more than that.

You’ll find people offering a variety of services and what Craigslist calls “gigs.” I spent some time on the DC page of Craislist and found all kinds of interesting side businesses. These side hustles ranged from Apple computer repair to soldering to “Audacity Mentor.”

You may have to spend some time sorting through a lot of garbage, but a site like Craigslist can be a wonderful source of ideas, too.

So I hope the above resources give you some great ideas for your next side hustle. Tomorrow we care going to take it one step further, and give you 75 Great Side Hustle Ideas.

Published or Updated: February 12, 2012
About Rob Berger

Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Comments

  1. Daniel says:

    The only problem I have with Elance is that i’ve seen people go on there to buy cheap labour. You can end up getting hugely undercut by people from abroad.

  2. Ian Ippolito says:

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for an informative article. I will also add to our list vWorker.com where over 300,000 workers are making a living and there are thousands of open jobs. Unlike Elance, there are no arbitrary bidding limits that require you to pay a subscription fee to overcome (and you have a free guarnatee of payment on every project while Elance charges $99-$199 if you get into a dispute and need arbitration). And unlike Odesk there are no quota limits that also limit your ability to bid and earn (and every project has guaranteed payment…not just hourly). I encourage your users to check us out.

    Ian Ippolito
    vWorker.com

  3. Jeff Crews says:

    If you are a writer, Textbroker.com can be a great website to gain some extra business.

  4. Annie says:

    I was thinking, based on your examples, if I have joined Elance earlier, would it make a difference? I am a newbie at freelancing but I obtained a journalism degree so I don’t think it would be difficult for me to start a freelance writing career. I started at elance and odesk, but oh boy, I have never had difficulties getting hired like this before! With great competition in the market, alongside those who wants to get paid 50 cents/article, it just makes it clear to me that I start off somewhere else. Good thing a friend recommended staff.com and that has made all the difference.

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