7 ways to start a successful side-hustle with no money

Starting a side hustle is so trendy these days, but let’s face it: Times are truly hard and having a bit of extra income never hurts. 

Image: WOC in tech chat 

Image: WOC in tech chat 

The thing is, most guide will require you to pay some type elf money to get started. Whether it’s for blog hosting, products, or new equipment, on the surface it can seem that starting a side hustle is expensive.

But that is not the case, my friends. After many years of being a business owner- freelance and full-time - I’ve discovered a few ways to start for no money at all.

When I decided to freelance full-time, it was after my part-time job stopped paying me. After going months without a check, the company ended up closing down.

I was stuck with a mountain of bills and no immediate way to pay them. So, I buckled down and started to consider my options. I pray one, or many, of these options bless you like they have me.

If you want to sell products:

Product based businesses are taking off. The ease of access to tools and materials has made them a great, and often viable, beginner business. There are many ways to start a product based business without investing obscene amounts of money in stock. I’ve made that mistake many times, only for the stock to barely sell.

Create digital Products:

If you’re a designer, or have some design skills, perhaps think about selling digital prints. You can make each print using a tool like Canva, or Illustrator/Photoshop (take advantage of that free trial). Then use online mockup generators to create images for your products. 


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Sell online using print-on-demand services:

If you want to sell fashion, home decor, or office supplies consider using a print-on-demand service. Like with digital prints, you design the product first using their requested sizes, then upload the product to their generator to create your store.

For every sale you earn, they print and ship the product for you. My favorite sites for this include Printful, Soceity6, and Zazzle. Research each site and see which best fits your needs. Note: each site has a varying cost associated with printing and shipping.

If you want to freelance, or sell services:

The “easier” route is to start a service-based business, or freelance. To freelance you need a niche, a strong portfolio, and a website. To pick a niche, think about which type of people you want to serve: black women who specialize in fitness, artists looking to start a business, romance authors who need editing, etc.

Build a Portfolio:

If you’ve been working in your field for a minute, be sure to update your portfolio. Remove any items that are not applicable to the niche you’re trying to serve.

If you don’t have a portfolio for your desired niche, or you’re brand new to freelancing, consider creating some sample work. Design a few sample logos, build a few sample websites, or build a blog (using a free platform) to host samples of your writing.

Everything you do online can be considered part of your portfolio, so be sure to properly curate your Instagram, Twitter feed, and Facebook to demonstrate the skills you want to sell.

You can use sites like tumblr and wordpress.com to host your portfolio in a gallery format.


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Utilize freelance sites:

Next, you need to find clients. Post your work on freelance sites like UpWork, LinkedIn, Indeed, or Behance.

Once you’ve got your best work posted to a few freelance sites, take some time to learn how to properly pitch people. There are many articles online that can help. The key is identifying a strength you have that fits a need they have.

Once you have an idea on pitching, start searching, and applying, for freelance jobs. These sites often have marketplaces specifically for freelancers. If you are currently employed at a place you enjoy, consider asking them to hire you as a freelancer instead.

You can even comb your current network to find people who may need your services. Just be sure to pitch them properly and don’t pressure them into anything. At the end of the day your family and friends aren’t there to be your clientele.

How to grow your audience quickly:

The last piece of the puzzle is audience growth. To consistently make money online, and to sustain your growth, you need to work on building an audience.

There are many free ways to go about this, but the key is remembering that you are your biggest cheerleader.

Join one, or two, social media platforms, and start talking to people. Don’t be afraid to give tips to people. Answer your audience member’s questions. Be helpful. Most importantly, while you’re on social media, remember to promote your services, and advertise your portfolio. Work on and promote your portfolio daily. Be consistent and engage with your audience daily.

Consistency builds audiences, and it gives you results. But know that this process requires a bit of time, so don’t get discouraged.

When something doesn’t work, adjust. Don’t quit. You’ve got this.


By: Brittany Melton

Brittany Melton is a graphic and web designer behind xoBritDear Design.  She's worked with brands such as My Fab Finance, BMW and the University of Alabama, to provide top notch design, tech support and consulting services. After realizing a desk job as a software engineer wasn't for her, she slowing began to make the transition to freelancing. Now working for herself full-time, she uses her knowledge and skills in tech and business to share with others. 

Follow Brittany on Twitter @xoBritDear