21 Side Hustle Ideas and How to Get Started

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Get ready to launch your side hustle with these business ideas and tips for getting started.

[Featured image] A woman in a striped shirt selling clothes as a side hustle prepares a shipment for a customer.

A side hustle is a small business that a person starts alongside another, usually more stable, job. Side hustles tend to be labours of love—there’s a reason they’ve been deemed “hustles.” Starting a business of any type requires a certain amount of dedication, business know-how, and motivation.

People who start a side hustle are often motivated to make more money or bring a passion into their career trajectory. Some people with entrepreneurial aspirations will plant the seeds for their future full-time business by launching a side hustle. Maintaining a steady job during this transition can offer financial security as they explore what it’s like to become a small business owner.

As workers across Canada reassess their workplace needs, many are turning to side hustles. According to an H&R Block survey, 28 per cent of Canadians have a side hustle or are doing gig work [1].

Here are 21 ideas to help you identify the right side hustle for you.

Launching a side hustle: Where to begin

If you are interested in starting a side hustle, begin by identifying your “why.” What is it that you hope to achieve? Some examples of achievements may be:

  • Earn more money

  • Express creativity

  • Have more fun

  • Participate in a community

  • Learn about running a business

  • Create a launchpad for full-time self-employment

As you consider your “why,” think about ways you’ll be able to measure success. This can be related to finances, feelings, social media metrics, knowledge, or anything else that feels right for you. Remember that with your side hustle, you get to decide what “success” means.

Side hustle ideas

Once you have some clarity on your goal (or goals), it’s time to find your idea. With your objective in mind, read through the ideas below and notice if anything sparks your interest. Consider whether that spark signifies alignment with your goal, or if you’re recognizing an additional goal that you hadn’t yet considered.

Also, be sure to keep your skill set in mind. A side hustle is a great place to use skills you already possess to guide you toward your goals, as well as a mechanism to practice skills you hope to further develop.

Each of the ideas listed below offers some amount of scheduling flexibility, allowing you to pursue a side hustle while still prioritizing a full-time work schedule. Many of the ideas can also become full-time small business ventures—with the right business plan to back them up.

Lucrative side hustles

There are a number of factors that influence how much money you can make from your side hustle—including things like how much effort you put into creating your business, where you’re located, and market demand.

That being said, people tend to be able to charge more for certain services. Here are some side hustles that tend to be lucrative:

1. Social media management

Social media managers help businesses create and manage their social media presence. This can include tasks like developing strategy, creating content calendars, copywriting, and more. Social media can be a crucial part of a business’s marketing strategy, and they’re often willing to pay for expertise. Depending on experience, social media managers can make an average of $52.88 CAD per hour [2].

2. Digital marketing

Digital marketers help businesses create and manage their online presence. They may be responsible for tasks like building Google or Facebook ads, creating SEO content, or developing email marketing campaigns. Digital marketing specialists charge an average of $31.19 CAD per hour, often more with experience [3].

3. Website design

Web designers are responsible for the aesthetic appeal and usability of a website. They’ll often have some kind of design, user experience (UX), or user interface (UI) background in addition to the technical skills required to update a website. The average wage is $31.79 CAD per hour [4].

4. Website development

If you are talented in the technical aspects of building and maintaining a website, you may want to consider a side hustle as a web developer. Web developers are responsible for coding and configuring websites on the backend and developing functionality on the front end. They may charge an average of $36.06 CAD per hour [5]—and what’s more, after the site is built, clients may maintain a contract with their web developer to cover site maintenance.

5. Bookkeeping

Bookkeeping involves balancing chequebooks and reconciling budgets for businesses. It doesn’t require any formal education, though you’ll want to be comfortable with basic math and know how to use bookkeeping software. The median hourly rate for bookkeepers is $25.20 CAD per hour [6].  

6. Tutoring

If you like working with kids or teens and enjoy the learning process, you may like tutoring. There are many ways to personalize your services—for example, you may focus on a specific subject or age group or offer virtual or in-person tutoring. The average rate for a tutor in Canada is $20 per hour for secondary education and $20 for elementary years [7, 8].

7. Babysitting

If you’d prefer to play with kids rather than teach them, consider babysitting. The average rate for a babysitter in Canada is around $17 per hour, and you can adjust your rates depending on factors such as number of kids or their ages [9]. To find a babysitting job with more consistent hours, you may also want to look into part-time nannying. For this side hustle, you may want to bolster your credentials (and emergency preparedness) by getting certified in first aid and CPR.

Side hustles from home

If you have the right skill set, you can launch many of the listed side hustles right from your home—no formal office space needed. In many cases, if you have an internet connection, you can get started. Here are a few additional side hustles you can start from home:

- Proofreading or copyediting

- Transcription service

- Virtual assistant

- Dropshipping business

- Audiobook narrator


Creative side hustles

If you have a creative passion, you may be able to translate that passion into a side hustle. In fact, many people start a side hustle in an effort to monetize a hobby or add that specialized skill set to their resume in a more formal capacity.

You’ll likely want to factor upfront costs for materials and the amount of time you spend creating into the overall cost you’ll charge for your products to make these side hustles financially worth the effort—but if creativity is a priority for you, here are some ideas to consider:

8. Crafting

Sites like Etsy and Shopify make it easy for casual crafters to turn their hobby into a business, whether you make jewelry, pottery, cards, or anything else.

9. Flipping furniture

If you prefer large-scale projects, you may be able to make a business out of repurposing second-hand furniture.

10. Photography

Since many people schedule weddings and birthday parties on weekends, you could realistically run an entire photography business while still maintaining a full-time job on weekdays.

11. Graphic design

If you are skilled in digital design, you may want to consider a side hustle as a graphic designer. You can find gigs on websites like Fiverr or Upwork, or you can have your designs printed on apparel, stickers, and other products and sent directly to customers using services such as Redbubble. You can learn graphic design fundamentals with the Graphic Design specialization from CalArts.

12. Writing

For the editorially inclined, there are plenty of ways to make money as a writer. You can write for traditional publications, create copy for marketing agencies, help job seekers hone their resumes, or start your own affiliate marketing blog or newsletter.

13. Creating content

If the idea of community building excites you, you may want to consider becoming a content creator. It can take a bit of time before your audience is large enough to monetize, but the payoff for creating a successful podcast, YouTube channel, or Instagram account can be huge.

14. Baking

You may need to navigate laws regarding the sale of food, but if you enjoy baking, it may be worth bringing your kitchen up to code to start this side hustle.

15. Reselling vintage clothing

You can turn shopping into a side hustle by reselling the clothes and accessories you find while browsing your local thrift shops. To reach a wider audience, some people with an eye for fashion will open online vintage shops through sites like Instagram, Etsy, Depop, or Shopify.

Active side hustles

Incorporate movement and physical activity into your side hustle with these ideas:

16. Fitness instructor

In becoming a fitness instructor, you’ll find that there’s a wide range of specializations you can pursue, from yoga to spin to strength training. However, you will likely need to attain certain certifications or complete certain training programs in order to begin this side hustle.

17. Dog walking and pet-sitting

Dog walking is one way to turn a profit while taking a daily walk in or around your neighbourhood. Plus, when your regular clients go out of town, you may have a built-in opportunity to boost your earnings by pet-sitting for extended periods of time.

18. Referee or coach local sports

If you played a sport in high school or college, you might be able to pass down your love of the game as a referee or coach for your local sports teams. Check with your town’s parks and recreation department to learn about opportunities.

19. Junk hauling

Use your physical strength to help people get rid of the things they no longer want. If you know how to navigate your city’s waste and disposal procedures—and have an adequate mode of transportation—a junk hauling service may be the right side hustle for you.

20. Lawn care

If you prefer a more methodical side hustle, you may enjoy mowing lawns. One benefit of this side hustle is that people with lawns tend to need them cared for fairly regularly, so you’ll only need a couple of clients to fill up your part-time schedule.

21. Party entertainer

People hire party entertainers to do magic, dress in costume, or otherwise perform at parties—often children’s birthday parties. If you do well with a crowd or have a slew of party tricks up your sleeve, you may be a natural entertainer.

Passive income side hustles

Passive income is money you make without having to put in repeated, active efforts. Often, with passive income, you can make an effort one time and see frequent returns on that one-time effort. One common example of passive income would be earning interest on your savings accounts—but some people build a side hustle off of passive income.

Some passive income businesses include:

- Writing an ebook

- Selling worksheets

- Selling stock photos

- Creating an online course


Next steps

Whatever type of side hustle you start, you can hone the skills you need to launch and maintain your business with Coursera. Learn social media marketing, bookkeeping, project management, and more from top companies like Meta, Intuit, and Google with a Professional Certificate, or get organized with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint using the Microsoft 365 Fundamentals specialization.

Article sources


Financial Post. "Posthaste: Cash-strapped Canadians are taking on side hustles — but many aren't telling the CRA,  https://financialpost.com/news/cra-not-told-about-many-canadians-side-hustle-income#:~:text=A%20new%20study%20from%20tax,per%20cent%20are%20considering%20it.." Accessed June 4, 2024.

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