13 Side Hustles That Can Make You Money Online in 2024 Explained

If you're looking for a way to make some extra cash alongside your job, here's some side hustles that actually work.

If you’ve spent considerable time over the last few months searching for your dream remote job or trying to find a way to supplement your income, don’t worry – with the global economy still shrouded in uncertainty, lots of people are.

Luckily, from learning how to make money with ChatGPT or building an e-commerce store, there are lots of side hustles you pick up and use to start making money online.

In this article, we’ll give you the inside scoop on several online side hustles that actually work – but unlike some adverts you see online, we won’t mince our words when it comes to how much time and effort you’ll have to get in before you get a return. We’ll also go through some side hustles you should definitely avoid.

What to Look for in an Online Side Hustle

We’ll level with you – if you want to actually start a side hustle that will generate a significant, secondary income stream, it may take you some time to do this. You won’t start making money immediately, that’s for sure – and it’ll require considerable effort. if someone’s trying to sell you an “easy” side hustle that requires “no effort”, it’s probably too good to be true.

Online survey websites are a perfect example of this. They’re often portrayed as simple work and say you’ll get paid quickly, but in reality, most of these websites pay just a few cents to a couple of dollars per survey (more on this later).

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In reality, most profitable side hustles take a little bit more time than that – but that hasn’t stopped people from picking them up.

According to one study published in 2023, almost half of Gen Z now have a side hustle, and spend an average of 10.5 hours a week on them. So, with this in mind, you should be looking for side hustles that:

  • Are offered by legitimate businesses
  • Fit around your existing job
  • Are sustainable and practical
  • Fit with your existing skills
  • Are actually worth the time/ROI

If you’d like to try your hand at something completely different, more power to you – but if you can find a side hustle that requires a skillset you’ve already spent time developing, it’s going to take you less time to start earning money. We’ve tried to focus on side hustles that are accessible to almost everyone and are already used as ways to generate income online.

The 9 Best Side Hustles for Making Money Online

With the above in mind, here are some ideas for how you can actually make money online with a side hustle. As we’ve said, some might take you a bit of time to set up – but if it makes you a bit of extra cash, it’ll be worth it in the end.

  1. Become a Virtual Assistant
  2. Sell Printables on Etsy
  3. Create and Publish an Amazon eBook
  4. Build and Monetize a Website
  5. Start Freelance Writing or Editing
  6. Become a Retail Arbitrage Guru
  7. Become a Mystery Shopper With Field Agent
  8. Sell Your Old Clothes on Marketplaces
  9. Participate in UX Research & Focus Groups

1. Become a virtual assistant

How Much Money Can You Make? $1,000-$10,000 a year
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 4.5/5

The term “virtual assistant” was relatively unheard of outside of certain industries before the pandemic, but as lockdowns were implemented by governments across the world, many PAs swiftly turned into VAs, while many others took up full-time jobs as virtual assistants.

“Virtual assistant” is a job title that can encompass all sorts of duties, from event planning and diary organization to social media management. Some virtual assistant jobs will require you to be available during the 9-5, while others might be more light-touch. However, it’s worth seeing if there’s a job of this nature that suits your timetable.

If you want a high-paying role as your side hustle and you’re prepared to do the hard yards for some cash, search for a VA job in a country that is in a different time zone to you. Make sure you peruse social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn too, which have groups that feature callouts for assistants with specific skills.

Belay, a hiring site for virtual assistants, says that virtual assistants who use their platform to connect with clients make between $18-21 per hour. Other job listing sites like Monster have roles listed for $30 per hour.

2. Sell printables on Etsy

How Much Money Can You Make? $1,000-$10,000 a year
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 4/5

A “printable” is a 2D, digital asset – which can be anything from a worksheet to a poster – that you can design with tools like Canva or Photoshop. Once you’ve created one, you can sell it online.

It’s possible to make quite a lot of money by selling printables on Etsy – one seller who spoke to CNBC makes $10,000 a year – but others have made even more. Creating seasonal printable products, such as Christmas coloring sheets for children – as well as being generally aware of trends that could affect your sales – will help you increase your profits.

You can set up an Etsy Store really easily – all you have to do is provide a little bit of information about where you’re based and what your business is selling. You don’t need any sort of special business license to sign up for Etsy because customers are protected by Etsy’s payment protection scheme.

This is an ideal side hustle for people who have an artistic background or some experience with graphic design tools – this will greatly affect how quickly you can get going, and how much you can charge for the products you’re listing. Plus, there’s very little in terms of overheads, especially if you already have a subscription to a graphic design platform or a tool like Canva.

3. Create and publish an Amazon eBook

How Much Money Can You Make? $2.99 – $9.99 per book sold
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 3/5

Writing a book doesn’t sound like a quick and easy way to make money online, but compared to some other side hustles, it actually is – largely because you can ask ChatGPT or Bard to help you with it.

First, ask ChatGPT to write you a short story for children. We’d recommend specifying an age group (e.g. 8-10-year-olds) you’d like the book to be geared toward and making sure your prompt includes a story outline and information about the characters you want to be included. You can dictate the length you’d like the book to be by the way you ask ChatGPT to write it. It’ll produce a longer story if you request your book chapter by chapter.

Once ChatGPT has written your book, you should edit it to make sure it’s accurate and makes sense. Then, you can start selling it through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) program which allows anyone to sell and market a book. You’ll need a cover image too – some people pay a small fee for one, while others make them using Canva.

4. Build and monetize a website

How Much Money Can You Make? N/A (dependent on site type)
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 3.5/5

Building a website and then using one of the various ways to monetize it is one way to make money online. Plus, once you’re finished setting it up and you’re making revenue, maintaining it is something you can fit around your main job/source of income.

There are various ways you can make a website from scratch, such as a website builder like Wix, which is what you should opt for if you want to build an online store. However, you will have to pay upfront for a premium subscription plan if you want ecommerce features.

You can ask ChatGPT to help you generate the code for a basic HTML website for free, and then you’ll have to monetize a different way if you’re not selling products. Along with selling products and services on an ecommerce store, there are several ways you can monetize your traffic:

  • Google AdSense: You can monetize your website traffic by running ads on your site, and the easiest way to do this is through Google AdSense. However, you’ll need quite a lot of traffic (50-100K+) to make any considerable monthly profit.
  • Affiliate partnerships: some products, like VPNs, can provide you with links that you can put in your content (such as a review of their product) that will tell them people are reaching their site via your site. They will then pay you for this.
  • Drop-shipping: drop-shipping involves building an online store, but the products you’re selling are manufactured, stocked, and shipped by a third-party company.

5. Become a mystery shopper with Field Agent

How Much Money Can You Make? $3-25 per hour, job dependent
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 2/5

Mystery shopping is one of those side hustles you often hear a lot about – although not that many people take advantage of what is relatively easy work, compared to some jobs.

In a nutshell, mystery shoppers are paid to enter a store and then report back on their experience while there. Companies will often pay for mystery shoppers to attend their stores so they can get honest feedback.

Field Agent is one of the best Mystery Shopping services around, and there’s an easy-to-use app you can download on your mobile device. Taylor Hayes, CEO of personal development company Imperfect Taylor, told Yahoo News in July of this year that he used Field Agent as “a side hustle to pay off [his] debt.”

6. Start freelance writing or editing

How Much Money Can You Make? $10-40 per hour, skill dependent
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 3.5/5

There are lots of sites online where you can start writing and editing for clients on a freelance basis. You can make yourself a free profile on websites like Upwork and Fiverr and apply for editing, writing, and proofreading jobs instantly.

If you have English as a first language and/or a university degree in an essay-writing subject, and don’t charge quite as much as the full-time freelancers, it can be quite a lucrative endeavor. Some clients on UpWork spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on freelance contracts. If you’re fluent in another language, you’ll also have the capacity to provide translation services.

Another option is writing product descriptions and smaller pieces of copy via sites like Crowd Content, which take new writer sign-ups all the time. You have to work up a bit of a reputation as someone who produces good work to get paid well, but if you’re already an accomplished enough writer, you might find this a good option.

7. Become a retail arbitrage guru

How Much Money Can You Make? N/A (effort dependent)
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 3.5/5

If setting up an online store and selling original products sounds like too much effort for you, why don’t you just buy items from someone else, resell them for more money, and then just keep the profit?

This is called “retail arbitrage” – which is essentially just buying products during clearances or periods where they’re marked down, and then selling them when they become more expensive again.

This does require you to put quite a lot of effort into understanding the ecommerce platforms that you’re working on, selecting a vertical/category of products that you’re prepared to become familiar with, as well as finding tools needed to track prices.

However, if you’re someone constantly on the hunt for a deal and spend most of your time online comparing prices anyway, then you could put your skills to good use.

8. Sell your old clothes on marketplaces

How Much Money Can You Make? $1-$100 per item (but potentially more)
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 1/5

If you’re one of those people who has heaps and heaps of clothes boxed up in their attic or an ever-expanding wardrobe, selling your clothes could be a way to make a lot of money. Depending on the size of your collection, you might end up making money pretty quickly – especially if you’re prepared to put things you haven’t worn for years on sale for cheap.

It’s actually never been easier to sell your clothes or old items online. Along with sites like eBay that have existed for years, platforms like Vinted make the sale and postage process simple, and it’s easy to build up a good reputation by being punctual and communicative.

9. Participate in focus groups

How Much Money Can You Make? $50-150 per focus group
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 2.5/5

Companies need focus groups to get a good gauge of how products or services might go down with the public before they’re released. They’re also used by governments to understand how policies might be received by the general public, and digital content companies use them for UX research.

In a focus group, you’ll simply be asked for your opinion on a website, or a product, or for your perception on specific job roles or political issues.

Userinterviews.com is a good place to start if you’d explore this as a potential side hustle – you can start applying to participate straight away. Some of the focus groups listed on the site will pay upwards of $100 for just 90 minutes of your time.

The 4 Best Online Side Hustles for Students

Of course, if you’re a student, you can try your hand at all of the side hustles listed above. However, there are additional opportunities you may be able to take advantage of that non-students might not – partly because you’re studying and partly because you might have a little more time on your hands than the average 9-5 workers. These include:

1. Sell your revision notes

How Much Money Can You Make? Around $17.50 per note set
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 1.5/5

Yep, you read that right – if you’re currently studying in college or university, you can actually make money through selling your revision notes.

While this used to be a bit of a shady practice organized by some pretty questionable websites, legitimate note-selling sites like Nexus Notes now exist, and actually setting yourself up to sell notes is a pretty simple process.

Visitors to the site will pay around $35 for a set of notes they like the look of, and you’ll earn a 50% commission on that as the original notetaker.

2. Exam preparation/tutoring

How Much Money Can You Make? Around $15 – $50 per hour
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 2.5/5

If you wanted to pass an exam, who would you trust the most to help you? Perhaps someone who’s just passed the exact same exam, last year, with flying colors. That’s right – if you have an aptitude for a subject, you could be making money teaching someone how to pass an exam you recently aced.

Some students (or should we say, their parents) will pay a lot of money for this kind of service, especially if you previous people you’ve tutored have passed the exam.

3. Reselling textbooks and resources

How Much Money Can You Make? $30-$250
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 1/5

The average college student spends around $285 on course materials and resources like textbooks – so it makes sense to try and make some of that back.

The extortionately high prices students have to pay on top of their college fees just to access course content has led to a lot more people opting to buy second-hand.

You can sell your old textbooks to places like Barnes & Noble, who will give you a quote upfront if you tell them exactly what you want to sell.

4. Become a brand ambassador

How Much Money Can You Make? $10-20 per hour
Side Hustle Effort Rating: 3/5

Big brands will often employ students on a part-time or ad hoc basis to be brand ambassadors – someone who’s on the ground, on campus representing the brand.

Depending on the brand, this sort of job can be relatively well-paid – especially for a part-time student job. You can often sign up for this kind of role online – although admittedly, you’ll have to close your laptop down and stroll down to your campus to do most of your work.

Typically, your role as a brand ambassador consists of attending events, manning stalls at career fairs, and talking to other students in general about the brand or company.

If all that social interaction sounds like your worst nightmare, being a brand ambassador isn’t for you. If that sounds like easy money, then it’s time to get hunting for a role.

Side Hustle Scams You Should Watch Out for

Exploring how you could make money through a brand new side hustle is exciting, especially when you begin to think of all the things you’ll be able to buy with your new stream of income. Broadly, there are two types of scams you want to watch out for while you’re on the hunt for your new side hustle.

Hustle-less side hustles

Now, these aren’t so much a scam, just a case of misleading advertising – effectively, hustle-less side hustles present themselves as a way you can make money, but when you dig a little deeper, they’re completely unsustainable.

A good example of this is online survey taking. It’s one of the first things that pops up if you’re searching for low-effort ways to make money online. Many online survey sites claim you can earn $20, $30, or sometimes even $40 an hour by filling in surveys – but in reality, these margins are completely unrealistic.

Most online survey companies pay just cents per survey and they often take way too long to complete for this to be worth it. Considering there are lots of other options out there to choose from – ones that might even utilize your existing talents – it’s not a good return for the time you put in.

Pyramid schemes

Pyramid schemes – in the context of selling online – involve scammers “recruiting” unsuspecting side hustle hunters to their organization. Some pyramid schemes are sometimes pitched as legitimate multi-level marketing schemes.

After paying a small joining-up fee, instead of selling a product or service, you’ll instead be tasked with recruiting more and more people to do your job. Pyramid schemes are a quick – and fraudulent – way to make cash off people looking for work.

You can often spot a pyramid scheme due to huge emphases on recruitment over sales, outlandish promises of easy money and high returns over short periods of time, as well as overly complicated commission structures.

Side hustle phishing

Scammers periodically take advantage of side hustle culture – and people’s desire to take second jobs – for their own gain. In the same way, job offers and investment opportunities are sometimes leveraged in phishing scams, and so are part-time opportunities to make lots of cash.

It’s important to keep a level head and not get sucked into chasing fake “opportunities” that appear in your email inbox. It can be difficult, especially if you’re really in need of some extra cash, but going all in on something you know very little about rarely ends well.

You have to treat correspondence claiming huge payouts if you sign up immediately with caution – as well as any email that tries to get you to pay a small fee upon signing up to start your side hustle.

Whatever online side hustle you end up trying out, keep your wits about yourself when signing up online, remember to do your due diligence regarding the companies you’re working with, and most importantly, ensure you can balance it with your main hustle without burning out.

Side Hustles in 2024: Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Think about how different the internet was this time last year – ChatGPT was only a month or two old, and Twitter was, well, still called Twitter. The point is this: Things on the internet move quickly, and good, money-making ideas in particular don’t tend to stay secret for too long.

Making money online, to put it bluntly, isn’t easy. Good ideas are often snapped up quickly, while others only remain profitable until a critical mass of people engage with them, after which the market becomes saturated.

So, if you’re set on finding yourself an online side hustle in 2024 that you can do from the comfort of your own bedroom, it’s vitally important you keep your ears to the ground and one eye on the latest social media developments and updates from the tech industry. Opportunities come and go quickly, so you’ve got to grasp them while you can.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is a Lead Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol five years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs, cybersecurity, and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.
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