20 creative side hustle ideas

© Zeynep Tuck

By Zeynep Tuck, Espresso

Your co-worker does freelance writing work on weekends. Your next-door neighbor shoots videos and engages thousands of subscribers on YouTube most evenings. Your mom is even talking about selling the hats she knits on Etsy. There’s no escaping the gig economy, and side hustles are here to stay.

Taking on a side hustle can feed your passions, help you explore your entrepreneurial spirit, and especially during these trying times, it can reveal a much-needed revenue stream. If you’re looking to develop your creative talents, then a side gig as a personal shopper or affiliate marketer isn’t going to cut it. You’ll want to find a side hustle that fits into your creative wheelhouse. Perhaps you’re musically or technically inclined, and even have some training in areas like design, video production or writing. But don’t worry if you haven’t yet explored your creative talents, that’s what finding a side hustle is all about, and why you should consider one. Take a look at the creative side hustle ideas in this gallery to identify the type of work that speaks to you, motivates and stimulates you in creative ways.


Thrive at thrifting

© Pixa Bay

Take a look at your closet right now. Chances are there are a few handbags, belts, blazers or shoes you haven’t worn in at least 18 months. It’s time to find these items new owners. Turn unwanted items in your closet into a profit. Fashion apps like Poshmark are making this a lucrative business venture for some thrifters.

Get started: Check out fashion trend forecasts and curate your clothing accordingly. “Think about what’s trending in the fashion world that potential buyers would love to get their hands on,” suggests The Poshlife, Poshmark’s official blog.


Contour and highlight like a boss

© Unsplash

You’ve done a few flavors for friends and family by doing their makeup for special occasions. You have a gift for combining colors, mixing tones and “using angles” to transform people, so consider becoming a makeup artist or stylist on the side. “While working at the salon as their full-time receptionist, I was given an opportunity to do makeup. Despite having no official expertise or training in makeup application I wanted to learn,” says Leah Roberts, a self-taught freelance makeup artist.

Get started: Practice and research are the first steps toward mastering this side hustle. Then, if you’re dedicated to this craft, you can find beauty schools that provide training, and you can even specialize in areas like special effects makeup, nail care or aesthetics.


Become a social media marketer

© Pixa Bay

If you’re regularly told that your most recent tweet or LinkedIn post was super informative, funny or insightful, you could become a social media manager or marketer. Businesses see the benefits of social media and regularly hire freelancers to help them gain followers, use the right keywords and hashtags, and engage with their communities. 

Get started: Start by refining your expertise in this area. Are you particularly skilled at setting up Facebook ad campaigns? Or is it the thrill of engagement and community-building that makes you tick? Define your strengths, then go after your target clientele.


Upcycle and sell your goods online

© Zeynep Tuck

While this side hustle doesn’t sound like something that requires a whole lot of creativity, think again. Staging and promoting an item is an important part of the sale. “Nothing sells an item like a great photograph that really showcases what an awesome find it is” says a blog post on Kijiji Canada, which proceeds to offer up tips to make sure your pictures are the best they can be. Other online marketplaces like Facebook, Craigslist, Mercari and eBay can help you find buyers for items you’re itching to sell.

Get started: Refurbish an old side table, then add a book and lamp to the presentation to entice the potential buyer. Add a catchy title and a few lines to help the seller visualize this item in their home, and voilà! Sold!


Tell digital stories

© Pixa Bay

As a technical artist, you know how to tell a story with visuals in the digital world. You might be a web developer, UX or graphic designer, video producer, or VFX artist. Businesses look for independent artists who are skilled in visual storytelling. Especially those who can tell that story in a video under three minutes long.

Get started:
If you’re a versatile storyteller, you can shoot, edit and produce a series of videos for YouTube that will hook subscribers, then use this series to get sponsors to monetize this gig.


Write, write, write

© Pixa Bay

Good writers can make a website clicky, build thought leadership content, and tell a story like nobody’s business. Companies will seek out freelance writers who can distill technical ideas and data into insightful stories that sell their products and services. If you have a knack for writing, this might be the side hustle for you.

Get started: Begin by writing, of course. Build and curate your portfolio on a website. That way, when you’re networking, you can show your work on demand. If you need to sharpen your skills in this area, stream on-demand lectures from leading universities and colleges.


Embrace your inner shutterbug

© Pixa Bay

A picture is worth a thousand words. Wouldn’t you like to find out how many dollars—not words—your pictures are worth? Skilled photographers can apply to be contributors on stock art sites like Shutterstock and iStock by Getty Images. When your work is downloaded by subscribers, you’ll get royalties. Over the last 15 years, Shutterstock has paid out US$1 billion to its global community of contributors.

Get started: Certain stock sites let you build your own personalized portfolio page to promote your work. So, get clicking.


Host Paint Nights

© Instagram @followapotter

Creative genius is not only reserved for the likes of Picasso and Emily Carr. Art appreciation and a gift for inspiring creative expression through art is all you need. Enter Paint Nights. By bringing together people who admire and enjoy art for an evening of food, beverages and good company, you can guide and inspire creativity in others, like April Potter, a writer and artist who hosts regular Paint Nights in her community.

Get started: Start with a theme. “Seasonally appropriate themes are very popular,” says Potter. “I find that people enjoy a little creativity with family or friends when getting into the spirit of a holiday such as Christmas or Easter. Finding projects that will inspire others is relatively easy for these types of events.”


Start selling arts and crafts

© Pixa Bay

Your friends rave about the last necklace you upcycled from old jewelry. Perhaps you make everyone monogrammed mittens for the holidays. Or maybe you spend hours working with wood and scrap metal in the makeshift shop in your garage. If you love using your hands to create any sort of item, consider turning your crafts into cash.

Get started: Set up a page on a site like Etsy, that supports 2.5 million sellers with tools, resources, education and forums to help them sell, sell, sell. Offer buyers the option to personalize creations with either initials, names or titles like Bride-to-be or Mom of the Year for special occasions.


Share your knowledge and skills

© Pixa Bay

Chances are, you have skills and knowledge that other people want to learn. You can share these nuggets of wisdom via online courses, workshops or tutorials and make a profit. Whether you’re a skilled coder, a congenial public speaker, a master chef or creative writer, there is sure to be a group of people that are eager to learn from you.

Get started: Set up classes on platforms like Teachable or Udemy, or on your own site. “As a blogger, I realized I needed to start selling something in order to stay in business. I did 1-on-1 coaching for about 6 months... Online programs are much more scalable,” says Elizabeth Rider, a health and wellness expert who used Thinkific to monetize her blog with these courses.


Teach music

© Pixa Bay

It might finally be time to tune that dusty old guitar in your garage or put that musical training you got in college to good use. The benefits of music education have been proven time and time again. And if you’re musically inclined, teaching others could be rewarding for both parties. Your instruction could even help some adults improve their memory, speech and hearing, according to Sarah Martin McConnell, founder of Music for Seniors.

Get started: First, decide what you want to teach. Is it the classics? A specific genre? Or will the student dictate their own lesson plan? Then comes the good part, teaching. Have fun with it, and maybe you’ll learn something new in the process.


Help others learn new languages

© Pixa Bay

You’ve always loved language. Whether you speak English or five other languages, online platforms like Lingoda give teachers flexibility if they want to teach while working full-time or pursuing studies. It also gives teachers the option to instruct a global group of students or single individuals.

Get started: Think outside the box with your lesson plan. Rather than build your lessons in a linear way like the textbooks do, teach grammar or pronunciation by leading discussions about climate change, popular travel destinations or favourite foods.


Dig into landscape design

© Zeynep Tuck

If you’ve always loved the outdoors and have talents in landscape design, this is a great side hustle option. So many clients, from corporate to private, have outdoor spaces that need the TLC of a skilled and enthusiastic designer. You can build patios, design driveways, curate outdoor living spaces, and the creative possibilities are endless.

Get started: Post your profile, rates and expertise on a site like Upwork to get the ball rolling.


Get into interior decorating

© Pixa Bay

You don’t need to be the next Chip and Joanna Gaines from the Fixer Upper show to have an interest in interior décor and an eye for the design elements that make a house a “home sweet home.” In addition to home visits like most interior designers do, you could advise clients online via one-on-one chats. In a specialized online chat package, you can include shopping suggestions, provide tips on vetting and hiring a contractor, assist with colour selection and more.

Get started: If you want to be an interior designer on the side, you can get inspiration from award-winning designer Lauren Nolan-Sellers, who started the Aspiring Designers Academy to help others who share her passion learn the ropes.


Be a part of movie magic

© Joseph William

If you’ve ever set your sights on Hollywood and wondered what it’s like to work on a movie set, this could be a step in the right direction. You’ve probably heard that there’s a lot of waiting around, but production hotbeds like New York, Toronto, Los Angeles, London or Vancouver offer extras good pay, and it’s worth it for the craft services table.

Get started: Extra work for people from all walks of life is advertised on casting agency sites, Indeed, Reddit and Facebook. Use the opportunity on set to learn more about this creative business and expand your network. You never know what types of roles this work could lead to if you stick with it.


Catwalk into style coaching

© Guliz Kavuncuoglu of Guliz and Co.

If you love to coach others and help them build confidence, and you happen to adore giving free style tips to everyone you know, consider a side hustle as a style coach or image consultant. Guliz Kavuncuoglu is an entrepreneur with a side business in style coaching. “The great synergy between my professions is that since I always travel for work, I am very in tune with global trends and collect style inspirations from everywhere around the world.”

Get started: If you want to excel at color analysis and develop the superpowers of an image consultant, the Fashion Institute of Technology offers online courses.


Become a tour guide

© Pixa Bay

If you’re a history buff, you probably have a good handle on the best museums and historic sights to visit in your town. Or perhaps you have the best brunch spots in town listed in alphabetical order. If you enjoy sharing this passion and knowledge for your city with tourists and other enthusiasts, consider becoming a tour guide in your own town.

Get started: Get connected with a local tour company like ToursByLocals. They’ll do reference and background checks, then offer the training, tools and support you’ll need to guide tours in your city.


Become a virtual assistant

© Pixa Bay

Today, companies of all sizes rely on outsourcing to get certain tasks done. Some turn to organizations like Virtual Gurus, a matchmaking service that connects them with professionals to assist with a range of tasks like scheduling, bookkeeping, data entry, blogging, research, web maintenance, the list goes on. With social impact on the brain, founder and CEO Bobbie Racette takes a collaborative and inclusive approach to nurturing a database of 18,000 potential gurus.

Get started: You’ll want to brush up on a few skills in areas like virtual conferencing, social media management, graphic design, client intake and more. The Virtual Gurus Academy offers select courses and training for people who are new to the world of virtual assistance.


Keep it organized

© Pixa Bay

You’ve been called Monica from Friends, and you still dream in Tetris blocks. Put your organizational genius to good use and get paid to come up with creative solutions for most people’s “junk drawer” tendencies.

Get started: Declutter small spaces and start spring cleaning for your friends, family and neighbours. Once you get the hang of it, join a national association, like these ones in Canada and the U.S., to gain access to a pool of new clientele, access resources, take online courses and learn about upcoming conferences to hone your professional skills in this area.


Build influence

© Pixa Bay

Sure, you could become the next vlogger or social media influencer, but you’ll want to start by building an audience. You can write or produce videos to inform people about virtual events, working-from-home dos and don’ts, or insider tips for your specific industry. The key is to keep engaging your followers and connecting with your network in relevant, meaningful and sustainable ways.

Get started: Set up a blog and build your subscriber base by creating and curating content for your desired audience. Then promote this content via social media channels and an e-newsletter. Don’t forget to send links to the media and other influencers to help amplify your voice. Turn to Google for Publishers for a free way to display ads on your site to earn money.

See more at: Espresso

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