The path to entrepreneurship has many routes. Not everyone you see with a successful online business just quit their nine-to-five job one day and became profitable the next.
Some of us like to test the waters first. Maybe you know you want to start a new business but you’re not exactly sure what it should be. That’s where starting a part-time business, or a weekend business comes into play. It’s a low-risk way to experiment with different ideas while you have a full-time salary.
But turning an online business idea into reality on the side isn’t easy. You come home after a long day of work, you spend the little time you have with your family and friends, and you try to jam in a productive session, working on your side hustle before going to bed.
It takes a little mental sweat, but it’s 100% doable. This article will walk you through nine profitable part-time business ideas you can start today, with a guide for planning your weekends so you can make the most of your spare time.
9 best part time business ideas to run in your spare time
With a little know-how and hard work, you can start your own part-time business that makes more money than driving for Uber or babysitting. Check out the following nine ideas you can take advantage of to become your own boss today:
Whether you want some extra income or want to grow an online store, a dropshipping startup is the best business idea for you. Dropshipping is a fulfillment method where you don’t keep any products you sell in stock. Instead, you purchase the items from a supplier after the order is placed, and the supplier ships them to your customer.
Most drop shipping stores don’t take a lot of money or time to set up and run. When done correctly, it can be a profitable business venture for you.
Most people don’t quit their day jobs right after launching a dropshipping store. They spend time ramping up their store first, working out the customer service kinks, and finding the best suppliers, until they see a healthy cash flow. All businesses and entrepreneurs are different, but it’s possible to generate an income of $1,000 to $2,000 per month after a year of working on your store approximately 10 to 15 hours per week.
While it may seem challenging at first, this passive income idea can earn you residual income and eventually a full-time salary when done right.
Print on demand
Printing on demand is an easy way to monetize your creativity. It involves working with a supplier to customize products like tote bags or t-shirts with your own designs. The supplier sells them to you on a per-order basis with your brand. In other words, you don’t pay for any products until you’ve sold them. The company also fulfills and ships your customers’ orders.
Print on demand makes a great part-time business idea because it takes little to no investment. You don’t hold any inventory. You don’t have to spend money on materials or equipment. You just need to choose a print-on-demand company to work with, create your design, then upload them to a Shopify store.
The biggest investment you’ll make is time for creating your designs and building your online brand.
Popular print-on-demand products business sell include:
- Wall art
- Phone cases
Interested in starting a print-on-demand side business? Check out
Make and sell crafts
This is the most obvious part-time business idea for most full-time workers. Anyone can make and sell crafts from home today with the rise of eCommerce. Plus, working with your hands is good for your brain.
Experts found that using your hands on a task that doesn’t take much thinking gives your brain a chance to relax and rest. It also can give you a sense of accomplishment and reduce stress and anxiety. Think of it as a meditative practice, but one that turns a profit later down the line.
Some business ideas are:
- Starting a jewelry line
- Upcycling vintage clothing
- Starting a candle business
- Creating ceramic pots for plants
Your first thought may be to sell your crafts on sites like Etsy or eBay, and that’s not a bad idea. Yet you could also build a website and start your own business online. It’ll save you a ton of money on commission fees that marketplaces take from your sales and help you build a successful business online.
Your options are endless. Need help finding your creative calling? Take the “What type of craft should I make and sell?” quiz in our article Craft Your Own Future: 10 DIY Business Ideas You Can Start From Home.
Sell or refurbish furniture
Got a knack for working with your hands but crafts don’t spark your creativity? Try selling or refurbishing furniture online.
Woodworker Chris Hughes, the founder of Timberware, worked as a welder’s apprentice and general contractor before starting his furniture business. Being a handyman and building homes drove him to love working with wood and creating custom furniture for clients.
There are different ways to start a furniture business on the side:
- Maker: someone who builds furniture by hand.
- Designer: someone who designs furniture and has a manufacturer build it.
- Reseller: someone curates pieces and sells a number of items from different brands.
- Dropshipper: someone who works with a supplier to fulfill and ship orders.
Convinced that selling furniture is your future side business? Learn the ins and outs of starting by reading How to Sell Furniture and Home Decor Online: The Ultimate Guide.
Create non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
Maybe you’ve heard of artist Grimes selling NFTs for millions of dollars, or how billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban is betting big on them. Maybe you haven’t. But if you’re a creator, creating non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, can be a great side business to start online.
NFTs are unique pieces of art minted on a cryptocurrency blockchain or a secure ledger that records transactions for digital assets. Think of NFTs like trading cards. People can buy your NFTs in a marketplace, then sell or trade them for a higher price in the future.
NFTs can be anything from photos, videos, audio, or other types of digital files. The NFT community is also growing fast, with people from around the world coming together to learn, create, and build together online. You can even build galleries to show off your work in the metaverse.
@reylarsdam, a digital creator, explains, “NFTs, to me, are a way to reinvent oneself. It’s a new world of opportunity. My advice for anyone looking to get involved would be to become part of the community. The NFT community is the backbone of any successful venture in the NFT space.”
Many full-time business owners selling services online start part-time freelancing. Freelance means you work with different companies at different times rather than being employed by just one. It’s a popular part-time business idea because it doesn’t take any money to start. You only need the skill to sell.
Many full-time employees turn their passions into part-time businesses. For example, Marketing Director of Long Island Screen Printing Kaitlin Cremmins sells her photography services to businesses in Long Island, New York.
“I’ve always loved photography, but I could never define an exact niche,” Kaitlin says. “I love to shoot many different things, like maternity shoots, real estate tours, concerts, product shoots for local businesses. Because I work a full-time job, I can shoot photos on the weekends and on holiday breaks. It’s where my creativity shines and is something I am really passionate about. Plus, I can make a little bit of extra money.”
Freelancing comes in many forms:
- Virtual assistant
- Freelance writing
- Graphic designer
- Real estate agent
- SEO consultant
The best part? You can start a home-based business freelancing from anywhere. Freelancers like Rachael Pilcher, founder of Taco and Bean, a digital nomad lifestyle blog, say, “I worked in corporate law for 10 years. Breaking away from the rubbish like office politics and team gatherings was bliss. I also love the challenge of the nomadic lifestyle and seeing different places around the world.”
Freelancing is one of the higher growth industries for both part-timers and full-timers. It’s projected that by 2027, 86.5 million people will be freelancing in the United States, making up 50.9% of the total workforce. Many freelancers also go on to diversify their income streams by creating online courses or selling digital products online.
You could sign up for a freelance website like Fiverr or Upwork. But they cut into your earnings by taking commission fees for letting you use their websites. Instead, get your own domain name and start an online portfolio. You can scan job boards and pitch to different companies, or market yourself on social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn.
Does having a part-time gig sound interesting to you? Read Ryan Robinson’s guide to starting a freelance business on the side to learn step-by-step how to start your own.
Start a pet business
The pet industry is one of the most lucrative business opportunities for part-time entrepreneurs. It’s pandemic-proof and has shown significant growth in recent years. People are also jumping on the pet parenting trend, where owners treat their pets like family and buy them products like beds, sweaters, and raw food.
Globally, the pet care market has grown from $216 billion in 2020 to $232 billion in 2021, a 6.1% compounded annual growth rate. If you’re looking to break into the pet industry, pet food and treats make up the majority of eCommerce sales.
Even if you’re not into cooking up dog treats, you can also get into:
- Pet care services like dog walking and grooming
- Pet supplies like food dispensers
- Pet products like personalized mugs or shirt
Let the Dog Out (LTDO) is a dog-walking service based in Guelph, Ontario. LTDO offers free meet-and-greet sessions to let dogs meet their new sitter (you) and get comfortable with them.
A service-based pet business is built on personal relationships. So if you like dogs and (kind of) like people, it can be a good part-time small-business idea for you. You just need your own website to start. If your services are good, you may get new clients through word-of-mouth referrals and can grow your side business into something more full-time.
Become a livestreamer
Streaming is becoming a popular way to entertain people. A professional streamer is someone who makes money from live broadcasting games, music, art, live content, and more. Livestreaming used to be just for gamers, but there’s been a rise in IRL streamers and “just chatting” streamers, which are people who just broadcast themselves talking to their viewers.
Streamers make money through donations, advertisements, subscriptions, and sponsorships. If you’re using a streaming service like Twitch, viewers can donate money in the form of “bits,” which are worth $.01, on average.
There are many categories of live streaming, from people live-streaming their painting to personal trainers streaming classes, and more:
- Just chatting
- Music and performing arts
- Talk shows and podcasts
- Travel and outdoors
- Food and drink
- Makers and crafting
- Sports and fitness
Livestreaming as a side business takes little investment. You can start with just your phone and a tripod, which you can get for $20 on Amazon. As you can see, there are plenty of options for what you can stream and make money from. Choose your niche, then sign up for a platform like Twitch or Livestream to start streaming today.
Become an affiliate marketer
Affiliate marketing refers to earning a commission by promoting a product or service made by another company. It’s a business model where you, the affiliate partner, earn money for providing a specific result to the company or advertiser. Most of the time it’s a sale, but other programs give payouts for leads, clicks, downloads, and other business outcomes.
Affiliate programs are typically free to join, so startup costs are low. Because it’s a performance-based opportunity, you can turn this from a part-time business idea into a venture that provides residual income.
The list of affiliate marketing niches is long. You can find products to sell in any category including:
- Hobby: photography, travel, and casino.
- Money: bitcoin, investing, and credit cards.
- Health and wellness: weight loss, fitness, yoga, nutrition.
- Lifestyle: fashion, jewelry, online dating.
- Home: coffee, baby products, dogs, plants.
- Tech: web hosting, WordPress, gaming, VPN.
The way affiliate programs work is pretty straightforward. You mention a product by sharing it through your social media, blogging website, YouTube channel, podcast, etc. Then you earn a commission each time someone makes a purchase through your unique link.
Affiliate marketing is easy to execute, meaning you just need to market a product versus creating one. It’s low risk because it’s free to join a program. And it’s easy to scale because once you build an audience and create your content, you make money without having to do much manual work.
Making the most of the weekends to grow your side business
Your weekends allow you to get much more done in much larger chunks. They’re usually where you’re most capable of growing your business or having the most impact on your business when you’re working a day job.
However, are you making the most of your weekends? How often do you find yourself distracted or making excuses when you’re not getting enough done? How should you structure your weekends? What does a weekend, optimized for productivity and growing a business, look like?
I’m going to answer these questions and share what has worked, and continues to work, for me. Additionally, I’m going to share my action plan, exactly how I structure my weekends, and what I do every weekend that has helped me grow my side business and maintain a great work/work balance.
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