9 Side-hustle business models that actually work (Sidegig Ep. 1.2)

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So you’re ready to finally dive in and actually start a side-hustle. You’re excited about the idea of more side-money, more stability, less dependence on your day job. But…where do you actually start when it comes to building a successful side-hustle?

Start with a good business model in mind.

Side businesses need solid business models because, by their very nature, you have limited time and money you can sink into the project.

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

In our second episode of Sidegig, we discuss realistic business models you can run right along side your 9-to-5 job.

Some of the business models we’ll talk about include:

  • Content creation
  • Creating a digital product
  • Consulting/Coaching
  • The Gig Economy
  • A service (Freelance)
  • Physical Products
  • Project manage & outsource

You can listen to the full episode below. We’ve also included some quick-to-read notes below as well. We hope you enjoy episode two of Sidegig.

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Create content

Preston runs Millo, which is an example of a content-based business.

Content (blogs, podcasts or videos) can be created in batches, then scheduled to automatically post at convenient times. The same applies to podcasting or videos.

Just creating content alone is not a business model.

For a blog to be profitable you need to bring in advertisers or sponsors, sell information-based products such as courses or eBooks, or provide a service or consultancy.

Ryan makes money from his blog by recommending products he’s personally used. By using affiliate links within the content, it generates an average monthly passive income of $1,000 a month.

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income uses this same model, making a substantial income by sharing affiliate links in a non-spammy, helpful way that adds value to the reader/listener. He shares in-depth information on how he does this within his blog and podcast, which are worth reading.

Ian also has a blog as part of Logo Geek, where he focuses on promoting himself as an expert, as well as attracting traffic and leads from search engines and social media.

Focus on digital products

A digital product can be a training program or workshop, an eBook, or bundle of digital assets.

Digital products are mostly educational, helping your readers learn a new skill or reach a goal.

The more you can niche down what you teach, you can position yourself as the expert for that area, and teach people to make a transformation.

In reality when training people, you trade your time for money. Digital products can be made once, and can be continually sold.

Preston, for example, uses an app that teaches him something new each day. The information presented was content he could have found online, but it was presented in a convenient and useful way that made it worth the investment.

When paired with a blog that links to the course a digital product driven business model can be very profitable.

Consult and coach

Consulting is where you solve a problem, charging by the hour.

Your hourly income can be higher as a consultant since you are solving a specific problem.

Branding yourself as a ‘Consultant’ can make your business more profitable than ‘Coaching.’ A consultant works with brands, while a coach works one-on-one.

When consulting it’s also easy to block out time, meaning you can fit it around a day job. For example, during a lunch break, a commute, or you can batch the work and take a day off.

Use the gig economy

The Gig Economy refers to websites such as Fiverr, People Per Hour and Freelancer.

Business owners post on the sites when they require a specific job to be completed, and you can pick and choose which jobs you take on and how many you complete.

These websites are ideal for beginners, or those learning and testing what type of work they like.

The Gig Economy is not an ideal long-term strategy. Most freelancers using these website are not getting paid what they are worth, and are often not putting out their best work.

Success, however, can be made with the right service.

Redd Horrocks offers voice over recordings on Fiverr. She started by recording two a night. She then become a top seller and started making more money than she earned in her day job.

The Gig Economy helps you to build up your skills, find your area of specialty, and build up your portfolio to get clients of your own.

Specialist marketplaces exist, such as Contently, where the best freelancers can succeed in their chosen niche.

Offer a service (freelance)

Ian provides a logo design service. He’s able to attract inquiries and choose to work on projects when he has time available.

Logo design projects are short-term and he’s able to comfortably complete the work around a full-time job.

Freelance is a quick and easy option as a side gig since you can choose the service you wish to offer, and immediately start getting clients and an income.

Most freelancers make the mistake of leaping from a full time job to freelance. By working freelance as a side-gig you can build up a portfolio of work, gain a reputation, and have an existing platform of customers that know and trust you.

Build physical products

You can design and manufacture your own products, or buy and sell those made by others.

Ryan discusses Case Escape, a business where he sold ‘print on demand’ custom phone cases on Etsy, resulting in a yearly profit of $70,000 a year.

Kickstarter is an ideal approach for testing a product and generating capital.

Products can also be purchased and sold on eBay or Amazon.

They can also be sold in a pop-up shop, which are vacant stores that can be rented on a short-term lease (1 month).

Try account management (outsource a service)

If you enjoy being the client liaison you can act as an account manager, sourcing your own clients and working with freelancers to carry out the work.

Think of the alternative ‘Who’d have thought’

Side gigs are limited only by your imagination.

One imaginative entrepreneur, Erik from Vantigo, purchased an old VW bus, fixed it up in his free time and now provides bus tours. By using his online marketing skills he was able to transition the side-gig to a successful full-time business.

There are countless ways to start and grow a side-gig. Which ideas stood out to you?

Ready to start a side-gig? Listen the full episode here:

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About Ian Paget

Ian is a graphic designer from Manchester, UK. He runs Logo Geek, designing logos and brand identities for start-ups and SMEs. He also runs a popular social media group of the same name where he shares and creates valuable logo design resources.

Leave a Comment



  1. Thank you!! Great pod-cast.

  2. These are some great ideas Ian! Another side hustle idea related to creating content, is building an online membership website for a niche audience. I’m currently working on a membership site that will charge a monthly or annual fee to access some really valuable content for a really specific audience. Fingers crossed it works out!

  3. Very insightful and extremely helpful. Thanks!


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