Benefits of starting a side business while having a day job

Having a full-time job provides stability and steady income, but there is more to life than only serving others. What if you could find something you are passionate about as a side project? Side businesses can be a way to start chasing your personal dreams or building your own values. Starting one while working on your day job is the best low-risk way to try out, without worrying about the monthly bills to pay. It is the best moment to test your way into your products and services, take the time to build targeted connections, invest in market research, and validate your business ideas to make sure it is profitable and sustainable for you to be successfully fully self-employed.

10 Best profitable side business ideas

The best profitable side business ideas are lined out below, as a starting point for brainstorming on your passions, strengths, and potentials.

1 Blogging

This is by far my favorite side business to start. It can be set-up in less than one hour. You can post sharings of your genuine passion (e.g. interior design, wedding decorations, food, fashion, etc). To start, think of a subject that you are personally keen to share tips and information on. I will take “healthy diet” as an example. If you are a believer of “eating clean”, you can always share your experience, healthy recipes, lifestyle tips and more. These are the potential income streams for you:

  • Affiliate sales (will be covered below)
  • Brand partnerships

Brand partnerships come in to play a great role when you have built a sizeable readership, who is the major target audience as the brand itself. For instance, a zero fat organic oat milk brand will find the “healthy diet” blog a perfect partner to promote with, as the readers might be looking for a clean eating lifestyle or weight-loss, which are the product attributes provided by this oat milk brand.

How much do these brands pay? It depends on the size of the right readers you have, your positioning in the respective market, the collaborative work involved, etc. One advice I can give here is to go as niche as you can with the blog focus, as this is the stickiest reason for readers to be loyal once they find you. It could be “ultra clean diets for working mothers in their 40s”, where you can grasp the exact mentality, life situations, daily problems and habits to build around them.

I would not particularly suggest placing ads on the blog, as the content might not be something you could completely control. This would distract your readers and make you appear to be less professional or dedicated in information sharing. And if they click on those ads, you have given them a good chance to navigate away from your site without spending enough time to read the amazing contents you have put up there.

Best blogging platforms:

2 Graphic Design

If you have an eye on 2D design, or even illustrations, this is something you could consider. To begin, you can read Graphic Design 101 to get a basic background of branding, spacing, typography and how to use them.

Depending on your style and edge, these tools can help you create your designs:

A great platform to start your freelance graphic design is 99designs as you can either work directly 1-to-1 with clients or you pitch your designs via their Design Contests to earn monetary rewards.

3 Web design

Web design business is answering to millions of demands out there, where each company, no matter big or small, would need a website as a platform to showcase their products and services. One great way to start is to decide on who you want to work with – online fashion retailers, tech start-ups, finance institutes, NGOs, or freelance photographers? Each of these groups is looking for a different style and ways of communication to their target customers. If your design style or connection background surrounds a hip and trendy vibe, perhaps you might understand the freelance photographers group better.

With that in mind, you can then decide on which common platforms these photographers tend to use – wordpress, squarespace or wix would be suitable for them in terms of showcasing photos, and the potential of including an e-commerce element in it. You can consider the following ways to build income streams:

4 Online courses

It might sound like you are building a school but it isn’t about that. The key is information sharing, in a systematic way. Start with why you want to share and who you want to help with your existing knowledge and experiences. If you are a Quickbooks accountant, your experiences and insights in the industry would be valuable to those who are interested in this career or just starting there.

Below are a few great online course marketplace platforms to kickstart your online courses:

5 Remote language tutor

Language learning is essential for some of the newcomers in the city for work, and students who would like to practice their second language for school. For instance, you can help expats learn basic conversational Mandarin when they have recently moved to Shanghai, either for work purposes or daily use. To start, here are a few platforms to consider:

6 Instagram marketing

Are you keen on social media? If so, you can select a focus or topic that you would like to share, and build a following on Instagram. Once you’ve got traction, brands will be approaching you for sponsorships and partnerships to promote their products towards your followers. Price per post can range from US$100-3000, depending on the size and quality of your followers’ engagements with you.

Useful tools for posting on IG:

  • Later (post scheduling from the computer)
  • IFTTT (“If This Then That” – linking various apps’ actions when posting)
  • Influence (platform for brands to connect with social media influencers for partnerships)

7 Affiliate sales

You don’t need to produce a product to sell with affiliate marketing. There are millions of brands, online stores, and services that need the word-of-mouth to attract potential new customers. You can apply to be an affiliate sales representative via the following platforms to generate a unique sales link exclusively for you. All completed sales transactions via your link within 30days will entitle sales commission for you. (it could range from 15-60 days, depending on each merchant’s terms). Some popular affiliate platforms include:

  • VigLink (e.g. Amazon, Nike, eBay, etc)
  • Rakuten (e.g. Dyson, Adidas, Dell, BareMinerals, etc)
  • SkimLinks (e.g. Shopbop, Net-a-Porter, & Other Stories, etc)
  • AvanGate (digital products)

8 Prop stylist

A prop stylist is someone who provides, styles, arranges and makes the objects or spaces look beautiful in a photo shoot. All images in magazines require a stylist to set each object in the perfect position, no matter it is an interior design magazine or a fashion spread. Your clients would be writers and publications, where you could be connected via Inside Stylists (London based) – an interior styling community platform where you could find styling or assistant jobs, and resources to find various prop vendors.

Another way of monetizing your skill is to be an online influencer on IG or Pinterest where you can display your story-telling skills via visually impactful photos with your unique style. It works the same as being an Instagram marketer as mentioned, where brands would start approaching you once you have built a sizable and engaging following. Some cool prop stylists are doing amazing jobs on IG:

9 Local Business Consultant

If you have built invaluable skillsets or experiences over the years in a particular industry, why not share and help local businesses to grow? If you are an expert business strategist, marketer, SME tax professional or even a product manufacturer, there are various business owners who would pay for your insights and help scale the business. This is an option that you can start anytime. Check out the top tips and it won’t take you long to know if it is right for you.

10 Airbnb

Have an extra bedroom or a few flats to rent out? Airbnb and the hassle of handling the bookings are definitely already in your mind. Actually, some management companies for landlords are in the market – you only have to share approx. 10-25% of the Airbnb booking profit with these agencies, and they will handle EVERYTHING for you. One of the top rated service providers is GuestReady , who covers Paris, London, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, and more.

Set your priorities

Although side-businesses are often more fun to build, it is important to set your priorities right – your day job comes first, as it is paying all the bills before your side business is scaling and reaching a safe level for you to consider being fully self-employed. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk of being fired or sued running side businesses. It is best to review your employee’s contract, and communicating with your manager before you start.

It is definitely an amazing journey to feed the passionate soul. Subscribe below to learn more about side business tricks.

Grace Chan

Designer, sales, marketer, side project aficionado, and part-time entrepreneur. Join me here to learn how to start and build a profitable creative side-business and automatic income streams.
Grace Chan

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