Do you know what one of the best ways to achieve financial independence is?

The answer: Working for yourself. I know this from experience – people always ask me for self-employment business ideas that they can do as a side hustle. I don’t mind walking them through their options, because everyone starts somewhere.

I have been working as a freelancer for the past three years now. I always have a few things in the works on the side. In this blog post, I will present to you ten business ideas for self-employment. Most (if not all) of them I have personally tried and made money in, so I will try to give you some hands-on tips.

 

Why Work on The Side AKA Side Hustle?

Picking up a side hustle seems to be becoming the norm now. According to this study, around 57 million Americans own a side business. Their main reason for starting their own business is financial gain.

financial freedom vs debt

Source: Oberlo

No matter what economic climate is ruling the Earth, having an extra income can help pay for a lot of things. Imagine being able to pay off your debt or save up for a vacation without having to touch your salary?

Or, imagine not having to be restricted to the usual 1% raise at work. Working for yourself means the amount you earn is uncapped. It will only come down to YOUR ability to negotiate your fee.

You can start small. Just work on something casual on the side and grow it as you go. A lot of people make the switch and turn their side gig into their full-time hustle. But if you want to keep it as a supplementary income, that’s okay, too!

Let’s see which of these ideas you can start TODAY!

 

10 Self-Employment Business Ideas

1. Social Media Consultant

As we know it today, social media has only been in our lives for more than a decade. It’s become part of our lives, so much so that people can’t sleep without it.

But it’s not all bad. A lot of businesses and even non-profits can attribute their successes to social media. In many cases, they employ talented social media consultants for their viral/profitable/outstanding campaigns.

image9-3

Source: Oberlo

Unlike what many would think, social media professionals are not all extroverts. As long as you are keen on using social media personally, learning the industry best practices will be easy.

Social Media Consultant Must-Have Skills

You are able to:

  • Write in a concise, interesting way
  • Multitask
  • Think creatively
  • Organize tasks even months in advance
  • Have exceptional people skills
  • Stay up to date with trends

How much can you make as a social media consultant?

Most employed social media experts make around $50,473 per year. As a consultant, you can set your fees, which means that this amount can grow significantly higher over the years.

How to Get Started

Getting the first few clients is always the hardest. I already covered this in my ”How to become a marketing manager” article. Still, the most important thing is to focus on getting experience first, even if that means working for free on a campaign or two.

Note down your most significant achievements, and don’t forget to ask for a testimonial at the end of your assignment. If your experience has been good, you can try to land a paying position with the same client.

 

2. Content Writer

Content writing may never go out of style. Today, 60% of marketers create at least one piece of content each day. Since the boom of inbound marketing, there has never been a shortage of demand for excellent content. If you can write well-converting, smart, exciting, and authentic content, you’re golden.

This self-employment niche is one of my favorites. For one, I’m a SaaS content marketer turned blogger. I am also a regular guest contributor to many leading marketing blogs, but I run my own show at Dherealmark.com.

dherealmark.com

Source: dherealmark.com

Content Writer Must-Have Skills

You are able to:

  • Write concisely and with a brand-appropriate tone
  • Adhere to basic and advanced grammar rules
  • Research your topics thoroughly
  • Adapt your copy to SEO requirements
  • Stick to deadlines

How much can you make as a content writer?

More experienced writers can expect to make around $52,807 per year. On the other hand, beginner writers often fall into the mistake of agreeing to low fees and not changing them. Don’t be like them! It’s okay to charge modestly at the beginning of your career, but you can (and you should) raise your fees as soon as six months after your start in the business.

How to Get Started

The easiest way is to start your own blog. Write about things that you like. This way, you’ll see if you’re cut out to do this full-time. You can practice your writing on a free-to-host platform like WordPress or pay for hosting, a domain name, and a website theme yourself. You can then use these articles as part of your portfolio.

 

3. Online Store

People shop online, and they shop a lot. There are over 2 billion digital buyers in the world currently. And the next big thing is already here: mobile usage is gaining traction rapidly. Around 51% of online shoppers conduct their purchases via smartphones. At this rate, they are predicting mobile commerce to take a market share of eCommerce of 72.9% by 2021.

build an online store with 3dcart

In short, it’s a lucrative business. But you can’t just jump into it. You need to take your time and find a viable product to sell if you want to become an eCommerce success story.

The best research approach is to combine the following three things:

  • Market need
  • Profitability
  • Your passion/interest

Check to see which product ticks off all of these boxes. Find people who’d likely be your target audience and evaluate their biggest pain point with similar products. This will help you hone in on your unique selling point (USP).

Online Store Owner Must-Have Skills

You are able to:

  • Perform extensive research
  • Negotiate with e-commerce partners
  • Multitask
  • Provide amazing customer service

How much can you make as an e-commerce store owner?

It’s hard to say how much because it depends on your product. According to RJMetrics’ 2015 benchmark data, average new e-commerce sites can generate just over $39,000 in monthly revenue in their first three months.

Keep in mind that this is an average out of a lot of successful sites. This means that some of them might make $150,000 and some only $30. Your best course of action is to get to know the market thoroughly before launch.

How to Get Started

As I mentioned before, step one should be meticulous research. Then, find a platform like 3dcart that provides a solid foundation for your business. It’s an excellent platform where you can quickly learn how to sell online. It’s a website builder, a design software, hosting, and much more all in one.

 

4. Consulting Services

People use the words “consulting” and “freelancing” interchangeably. While they are correct to do so, in their innate meaning, these words mean different things.

Freelancing means that you’re hired for several jobs at once, usually temporarily. You may perform high-level or day-to-day campaign tasks. On the other hand, a consultant comes to the table with strategies to solve a specific issue (e.g., to increase conversion rates or to boost email marketing revenue).

Consulting services can be offered in almost any area of expertise, such as business, marketing, PR, lifestyle, and more. You can select one you are already an expert in and connect with a startup mentor to build a sustainable consulting agency. 

Consultant Must-Have Skills

You are able to:

  • Organize
  • Multitask
  • Think creatively
  • Communicate well
  • Problem-solve
  • Collaborate
  • Utilize at least a few years of relevant experience

How much can you make offering consulting services?

According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for business consulting is $19.75. As you gain more experience and achieve tangible results over the years, you can eventually charge more, too.

How to Get Started

First, you need to decide on which area of expertise you want to work in. Do some research to see how much demand there is and who your target audience would be. Get a thorough understanding of the problems you can solve.

Then, check if you have all the qualifications. You can get certified as a business consultant through associations or institutes. Next, decide how you want to be paid: hourly or per project. You can include your calculations in your business plan.

Finally, set yourself up as a business owner and start marketing to your target audience.

 

5. Web Designer and Developer

Becoming a web designer or web developer is an excellent idea for a self-employment business - if you have a creative brain. You can even get started with no experience. Web design templates and builders like WordPress enable anyone to set up a website in no time. You just need to learn the ropes.

I started my online career by setting up websites for clients. And believe me when I say that I was a total beginner. Often, I learned new things on the job. That’s the great thing about web design and development – you have an abundance of free resources to study from, or you can just Google something as it comes up.

web designer career trajectory

Source: getsmarter.com

Web Designer/Developer Must-Have Skills

You should be:

  • Creative
  • Attentive to detail
  • Analytical
  • A good communicator
  • Interested in coding

How much can you make in web design and development?

According to Glassdoor, a web designer’s average yearly salary is $52,691. If you decide to start a self-employment business, you can aim for this amount or higher.

How to Get Started

First, decide what you want to specialize in. You can even divide the two: do you prefer designing websites or developing them? Next, think about the type of website or assets you want to create.

For example, in web development, you can focus on creating eCommerce stores, blogs, or company websites, just to mention a few. Designers can pursue editorial, branding, or typeface design.

If you’re new to the game, start with courses from Udemy. Next, get the tools you need (design software, web dev IDE, etc.) and ask around to see if anyone is looking for a freelancer.

 

6. Online Courses

Online courses had seen a boom in the past decade or so. Especially as our life shifted to a more remote-friendly culture, college and university degrees have become more of a “nice-to-have.” The online education industry is expected to grow past $241 billion by 2022.

Why? Online courses provide a cheaper and more personal alternative to traditional schooling. Classes are often held by not professors, but professionals with many years of hands-on experience. And people yearn for more practical advice more than ever.

If you have at least 5+ years of experience in your field, then starting your own online school could be an excellent business idea. You can talk about your specialty all day and get paid for it!

Online Course Lecturer Must-Have Skills

You should be good at:

  • Communication
  • Technological literacy
  • Time management
  • Assessment and evaluation skills
  • Empathy
  • Methodology

How much can you earn running your own course?

It depends. If your teaching material only covers your topic in general, you may be able to charge $25-$50 per course. If you sell 100 of these courses in a month, then that yields you $2,500-$5,000 per month.

If you go in-depth on a difficult subject, then don’t be afraid to charge even $500 per course. Now, you’ll only need to sell 10 of them to make $5,000 per month.

How to Get Started

You probably already know a lot about your subject matter. What you need to focus on is learning how to monetize your knowledge. In other words, you’ll need to get knee-deep in marketing.

First, look into LearnWorlds. It’s a great online course platform that gives you everything to get started, even from scratch.

Next, join some online groups that are geared towards course owners. It’s a great way to further familiarize yourself with tricks and tips from more experienced peers.

 

7. Virtual Assistant

What is a virtual assistant, and how can you utilize it as a self-employment business idea? A virtual assistant or a VA provides administrative, creative, or technical assistance to clients (usually business owners) remotely.

Esther Inman, the owner of 90-day VA, says: “Many people think that they need a degree or certificate or experience in order to work as a VA and the truth is - you don’t! All business owners care about is if you can do the job.”

Responsibilities most often include administrative tasks (calendar maintenance, correspondence, time management, or data entry) or light marketing tasks (social media maintenance, email marketing, or even website management).

virtual assistant vs virtual receptionist

Source: Contact Center World

Virtual Assistant Must-Have Skills

You should be good at:

  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Administration
  • Technical savviness
  • Marketing
  • Communication

How much can you make as a virtual assistant?

You can start from around $15 per hour. Don’t let much lower rates from places like UpWork dishearten you (and honestly, I wouldn’t bother with websites like this). Remember, you set your prices, and clients value a hard-working, reliable individual more than a cheap one.

How to Get Started

If you need help getting started, I’d recommend you check out 90-Day VA. This course covers the basics and more. Like the name says, they help you become a VA in 90 days, even if you’re not technically savvy or if you never worked online before.

Otherwise, simply work on your resume and make sure it reflects your knowledge of basic virtual assistant skills. Then start networking among your friends, family, and beyond to see if anyone needs help running their business.

 

8. Podcaster

Podcasting is one of the newest self-employment ideas out there. 24% of the US population listens to podcasts weekly – people love it.

If you have a golden voice (or even if you don’t), starting your own show can work well as an extension of your main business’ online presence OR as a business in its own right.

Podcasts can get you hooked the same way a TV show can. It can become a part of people’s routine, which is why podcasting can be so lucrative.

podcast infographic

Source: Visual Capitalist

Podcaster Must-Have Skills

You should have:

  • Empathy
  • Creativity
  • Organization
  • Time management
  • Charisma
  • Good speaking skills

How much can you make as a podcaster?

Podcasts make most of their money through affiliate ads. How much money your show can make depends on the number of followers and downloads you get.

Based on personal estimates, if your podcast has about 10,000 downloads per episode, you can expect to make up to $1,000 per episode in affiliate sales.

How to Get Started

First, you will need to set up your gear and plan your podcast’s content. Make sure you have a clear brand and a message that people can relate to. Next, find a file host that specializes in podcasts, such as PodBean. This is where your audio files will live publicly.

These audio files will be syndicated into an RSS feed. This feed ensures that they can be distributed through Apple Podcasts and downloaded and streamed on any device on-demand.

Finally, create a launch plan. Your first episode has to make an impact. Make sure to have a complete marketing strategy and marketing automation in place.

 

9. SEO Specialist

Becoming an SEO Specialist is a good self-employment business idea that I’d recommend to anyone. Why? Because SEO is one of those marketing elements that has become one with content writing.

One cannot live without the other. Or it can, but that would make little sense. So, SEO is not dead, and it’s here to stay.

It’s a well-documented, albeit a quite Google-dependent, profession. If this sounds like your jam, then read on.

SEO Specialist Must-Have Skills

You must be skilled at:

  • Content writing
  • Sales
  • Technical savviness
  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Adaptability

How much can you make as an SEO specialist?

According to Glassdoor, you can make around $50,000 per year as an SEO Specialist. Keep in mind that this figure is likely referring to in-house (employed) SEO specialists. As a self-employed individual, you can charge much more for your projects.

How to Get Started

If you’re a beginner, I strongly recommend that you start with Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide for beginners. This is a free resource that will give you a general idea of what SEO is all about.

Next, start following some blogs like Search Engine Journal or Search Engine Watch. SEO has fast-changing rules that you need to keep up with.

Finally, start experimenting yourself. Set up a blog and try all the techniques that you learned about. You can also consider getting a few non-paying clients just to gain some experience in the field.

Make sure to note down any successes you’ve had (e.g., you ranked XYZ page on the first page with X keyword). These results are what will sell you to paying clients down the road.

 

10. Data Analyst

data analyst infographic

Source: P4Digital

As data created by consumers and companies is growing, so does the need for Data Analysts. This role has consistently been in the top 3 best jobs list on Glassdoor for the past few years.

Data Analysts slice, dice and present data. Their direction and insights can prove invaluable when it comes to making business decisions. As a freelance Data Analyst, you can take on clients and work on projects of your preference.

You can consider deepening your knowledge of big data analytics, too. Big data analytics describes the interpretation of large and complex data sets that cannot be processed with traditional applications.

Data Analyst Must-Have Skills

You should understand:

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Data visualization
  • Computer programming
  • Analytics

How much can you make as a Data Analyst?

Since in-house Data Analysts make around $60,000, you should aim for a yearly income of this level or even higher.

How to Get Started

Nowadays, you don’t need a degree to become a Data Analyst. A simple online course can get you started on the path.

Next, get some of the most in-demand analytics software. If you want, you can also set up a basic online presence to build your credibility.

Finally, get out there and find some clients! Network and check job boards to find your first opportunity.

 

Get Started with Your Business

These are some of the most profitable self-employment ideas that you can do online. As a content marketer who has been in these roles before, I am 100% sure that you will find an idea here that stands out to you.

Whichever you pick, remember to:

  • Do your research on the niche
  • Think long-term: can you do this for years?
  • Market yourself
  • Network
  • Maintain your self-employment related tasks, such as taxes, insurance, and others

All in all, self-employment can provide a sense of flexibility and freedom. Even if you come across some hurdles, don’t let them discourage you. Keep pushing through, and you will see that it’s the best decision you’ve ever made.