What are some of the best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online? I am sure many of you have wondered and probably researched this topic. While you may not make quick money, the internet can be a great wealth-building tool over time. I have listed twenty-five of the best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online in this post. While I have tried to give an Indian context to most options, the methods are universal, and all these can apply to any part of the world. They can be tried out by anyone – from college students to homemakers to professionals.
(Note: Please check out my earlier articles on investing & financial planning and FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) if you haven’t done so yet. I would be eager to get your feedback on those and suggestions on topics you want me to write about).
Is it genuinely possible to earn money online?
Can a mediocre person with multiple average skills escape the nine to five? Is it possible to earn money from home online and put food on the table through that?
Here’s the first good news you probably heard in a long time: Yes, it is possible.
It is possible for the average joe – you and me – to make money from home online. How much – will depend on a lot of factors. We don’t need excellent skills to start, but we will need the patience to learn, discipline to stick to routines, and of course, a high-speed internet connection. (A laptop or a phone too, duh).
Today seems to be your lucky day – you have stumbled on this blog post that will introduce you to some of the best side hustle ideas you could check out.
Remember, don’t try to do all these at once. Also, only some of these may interest you (based on your skills) and therefore suit you. Explore and see which one you should start with and focus only on that. Once it scales, then you can look at the others. Or if you feel they are complementary, you could do both together as well.
Let me now put up the mandatory disclaimer – just because I have listed all the best side hustle ideas (well, as many as I could find), it doesn’t mean that I have made money from all these. Yes, I have tried some of them with varying degrees of success. I have also lost money on some of these.
Frankly, all I am trying to do here is sell shovels during a gold rush 😊. But on a serious note, I sincerely hope this post will help introduce you to options that may suit you and lead you to success. As Swami Vivekananda said: ‘If you win, you can lead; if you lose, you can guide.’. So there is no harm in trying – you win either way. Even if you fail, you would’ve learned something new in the process.
Here are several real ways to earn money from home online – I have tried to categorize the options based on a person’s skills/ interest below:
1.Best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online if writing is your passion
The probability of success on the internet is skewed to the writers. If you enjoy writing and are skilled at it, you can make money online by writing. There are so many ways for you to make money online.
1(a). Set up a money-making blog
Making money through blogs is now a legit, tried-and-tested method. Yes, it will definitely test your patience, but if you do it the right way, this is still one of the guaranteed ways you can make money online from home while you sleep. And before you give up on the idea, assuming you don’t have the skills to do this, check out the story of the U.S mom blogger Sarah Titus who earns $200k+ monthly from her blog!. If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.
You will find tons of content on the internet on how to set up a blog, and I will do a detailed series on how to start a blog for money sometime soon (Let me know if there is any particular area you need help on, so I can deep-dive accordingly). For now, I will list a few short pointers that will help you if you plan to pursue this option:
- While setting up and starting a blog is easy, realizing revenue from this will take some time – typically 4-6 months being the best case. Another point to note is that you will need to write consistently to achieve this – you will have to publish atleast 3-4 posts (2000+ words) weekly.
- It is best to set up a blog on one particular theme and go deep, rather than starting a generic blog with content about everything under the Sun.
- Remember that unless you are a celebrity or a known person, you will have to rely on Google for people to discover your blog. Hence you need to make sure that your article comes up on the first 2 pages on Google when people search for something related to the topic you are writing about. For this, you will need to know some basic rules about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and structure your article accordingly.
- Monetization of the blog is mainly through ad display or affiliate marketing. Essentially, the money you can earn will depend on the amount of traffic you get, i.e, the number of people who will land up on your page.
1(b). Write premium newsletters
If you can make it work, charging readers for newsletters you create is another great option to create a passive income stream. This can be coupled with your blog so that you can tap into the reach of your blog. Check out Substack to start. This is a tough route and will depend on the strength of your content. If you don’t have any credentials, you will have to build it by publishing newsletters that give tremendous value for free initially, and then slowly start monetizing it.
There may be other options, too (subscription management services like ConvertKit that you could evaluate. A note for Indian users: I have seen feedback that most of these use Stripe for payment processing, and they have seen billing failures of up to 30% for Indian cards.
1(c). Write ebook and sell on amazon
This is another great way to make passive income, and with self-publishing on Amazon becoming as easy as one-two-three, it is something every budding writer must attempt. Check out Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform for more details. With KDP, typically, you get to keep around 70% of the sales coming in. However, given the amount of content available on Amazon, it will be initially difficult for people to discover your eBook – which means you may have to figure out ways through which you can market it.
1(d). Write Guest Posts
Writing ‘Guest posts’ is not new in the blogging industry. This is where you offer to write an article for another blogger (aligned to their blog theme). This is typically done to gain exposure to your blog and earn backlinks. However, many sites offer you money to write guest posts. This is much like writing for a magazine. To find such opportunities, Google search “paid guest posts blogs“.
1(e). Write for magazines
With the editors of every publication worth it’s salt available on platforms like Twitter, it has got a lot easier to pitch to magazines. If you have a good pitch for an article, backed with a portfolio to boot, with some persistence, you will be able to convince editors to carry your first article on a magazine. If that article becomes popular, it will pave the way to your becoming a sought-after writer. Magazines in India can pay you a decent amount per article. (You can get paid in the range of Rs. 10,000 per article (approx 3000 – 4000 word articles))
1(f). Freelance writing
You can find ample opportunities for various kinds of writing on many of the freelance marketplaces. You can find various freelance writing opportunities, including Technical writing, website content writing, creative writing, blogs post writing, resume and writing. PepperContent.io from India is a brand new content marketplace you can check out. Otherwise, Google for “freelance writing jobs”, and you will find several sites you can check out (Freelancer.com, Fiverr.com, Upwork.com are among the top marketplaces for all kinds of freelancers, but you can also find several others that focus on writing services. If you know and have used any, please leave a comment so that it will be helpful for others.
2. Best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online if numbers are your thing
2(a). Stock trading
This is a no-brainer. Stock market trading has got a lot easier now, thanks to the number of brokerages coming out with beautiful, easy-to-use apps charging zero to near-zero brokerage fees. The brokers are also quite large in number and competing to give more options, better services, and lower brokerages – this is truly the age of stock traders. What is also interesting is that the learning material around stock market trading has increased leaps and bounds so that you can learn all about day trading, options trading, swing trading, and every sort of trading possibility. I know of several of my friends who are doing this full-time now and earning a good income.
One of the best sources for learning the basics of stock market trading is Zerodha University. There are enough detailed articles that can help you become a hero from zero regarding stock market trading. Currently, the best new-age brokerages in India that offer superior service at competitive brokerages are UpStox (backed by Ratan Tata, where you can open a free Demat Trading account) and Zerodha. You can, of course, check out the other leading brokerages before deciding to open your account(s) for trading.
Want to try your hand at trading in cryptocurrencies? Check out Cryptocurrency exchanges like Vauld, Coinswitch, and Wazirx. There are numerous videos available on YouTube detailing how you could start with any of these.
Open a free Demat account and start trading today using this Upstox referral code
(Please note: This is a referral link, which means if you click the link and open an account at Upstox, I will get a small referral fee. I am trying this channel out to see how effective the referral programs are, and will publish a report after a few months with my findings.)
2(b). Provide services online
There are enough freelance jobs available for people who are good with numbers. Once again, check out some of the popular freelance marketplaces (I had listed earlier in this article) to find one that suits you. Because the competition is so high, it will take some time to establish yourself as a credible freelancer. So it is best to start small, deliver well, create credibility and grow.
3. Best side hustle ideas using videos, photos, sound and art
3(a). Voiceover artist
If you have a good voice and can enunciate well, you can make a living as a voiceover artist. Several businesses need such skills, including gaming companies, eLearning companies, advertisement agencies, and IT services companies. You can choose to work in English or any language you are comfortable with. In India, you can find opportunities for voice services on voiceartistes.com, voyzapp.com (app), indian-voice-overs.com, and globally on leading sites like voice123.com and voices.com.
Keep a portfolio of different types of voiceovers handy so that you can send demos if asked for. (You could create a profile on Soundcloud.com, record some samples easily and share)
3(b). Become an ‘influencer’: Write on Linkedin/ Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter
If you have interesting things to say about current affairs, or can provide streams of short, actionable advice for better living to people (in any sphere – jobs, health, money etc.), then it is a good option to start sharing such insights as words, images or videos through some of the most popular social networks out there – Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If people find your content worth reading and sharing, you could develop a sizable following. If you can get more than Ten Thousand followers, options to monetize your popularity on these platforms will open up. You will become an ‘influencer’, and brands will offer you paid assignments.
Again, this will require discipline in sharing quality content consistently for several months before you start seeing results. So do this only if you can enjoy the journey over a long period of time and won’t get disheartened if you don’t see expected results within a short time.
3(c). Youtube/ Instagram video content creation
During this pandemic-induced lockdown, the whole world turned to YouTube for content, and boy did YouTube deliver! People worldwide are now broadcasting themselves. Many are digging gold from YouTube (To get an idea about the earnings of popular people or channels you follow on social media, you can use Socialblade.com). If you can stand out from the clutter, you will win. The more views you can garner, the more you can reap.
Of course, the amount you will get will ultimately depend on many parameters (the YouTube algo), including watch time, duration etc. Short films, Music, Cooking, Travel, Lifestyle, Personal Finance, Self Help, Health and wellness, Technology, and Sports are a few popular categories.
Podcasts have gained popularity over the years, and creating Podcasts has become another good way to earn money online. Most people listen to podcasts while exercising, cooking or driving, so it is a great option for advertisers.
Several popular Podcast platforms, including Spotify (arguably the most popular), Apple, Google, Stitcher, Audible, Pandora (not available in India), can carry your podcasts. Here is a good guide to kickstart your Podcast journey: https://www.npr.org/2018/11/15/662070097/starting-your-podcast-a-guide-for-students. You can easily create a Podcast using the Anchor app.
In India, The Musafir stories is a leading travel podcast – one where yours truly was featured. Please listen to the episode: Mangaluru with Sampath MK if you haven’t already, and drop a comment below if you like it.
3(e). Sell Images, Graphics, 3D art and such
If you are a good photographer, you can sell your images online to make good cash. You can earn money online if you are great at creating graphics and digital art (vector art, illustrations, 2D or 3D graphics – like banners, wallpapers, game backgrounds, and textures).
Several sites will pay you for your videos, photographs and digital assets (as long as your submission meets their quality criteria). Check out some popular like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Envato, Photoshelter, Stock, Getty Images and Designhill. They will pay you a portion of the revenue they make from selling your submissions.
If you are interested, please check out some of my images available on Shutterstock.
You can also choose to sell physical prints of the images you take. Darkroom.tech is one such site that offers to sell physical prints to customers. You can upload your image and configure prices for printing and framing. Here again, you will get a portion of the revenue they make from your submissions. Check out some of my images available on Darkroom.
The other way you can make money online is to freelance as a Graphic artist. Check out sites like Behance to look for gigs in the creative space.
3(f). Non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
I am sure you must’ve heard about NFTs and about a certain artist who sold his digital creation for $69 million earlier this year. Yes, NFTs have taken the art world by storm, and if you are willing to put in some work and take some risks, this option to make money online is worth exploring. If you are new to crypto art and NFTs, here is a short guide that can get you started up. Explore crypto market places like WazirX to understand the kind of art that is being sold. If you are an artist who has sold your crypto art or wants to know more details (a step-by-step guide to selling, for example), please drop a comment below.
4. Best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online if you love teaching or coaching
Teachers and coaches are very much in demand on the internet. There are several options to make money for mentors, including creating your own courses sold on marketplaces. Several new-age tutoring companies are scouting for good teachers as well. Here are some options:
4(a). Become an online Tutor
If you are good at teaching languages or subjects, check out apps and websites like iTalki, TeachAway, vnaya.com, Trivium, Tutor.com, Preply.com and iTutorGroup. These are mediums through which you can teach students from around the world. You can also find freelance teaching options at Flexjobs.com. A recent addition in India is the WONK (a mirror image of the word KNOW) app. Teachers can sign up to use WONK and get paid for taking tuition for students. If you are working as an online Tutor or are running a company that hires online tutors, please comment.
Google search for more options: ‘How to earn money tutoring in India’, ‘best online tutoring companies India.‘
4(b). Work as an Education SME (Subject Matter Expert)
This will need you to pitch to some of the EdTech (Education Technology) startups. EdTech startups have been on fire in India in the last few years, thanks to the success of the biggest of them all – Byjus. Most of these startups will welcome great teachers and coaches who are passionate about their topics and guide students well. They will need your expertise and experience to design courses to be sold. Then there are also companies like Hippocampus that are setting up learning centres across India to impart education to as many children as possible. The advantage with all these new-age EdTech companies is that you will be able to work from anywhere.
Google search for more options: ‘top ed-tech startups India‘
4(c) Design and sell courses
If you believe in yourself and that you are the best in your field, there can be no stopping you even if you are facing/have faced rejections are a teacher from organizations – the internet needs you and will welcome you. Pick a topic, record a fantastic session and put it on YouTube. Share it on Whatsapp, Facebook and all the social networks you have signed up to. If the content is good and your teaching style is great, this should be enough to get people’s attention, and they will ask you for more. And they will pay you for that.
While doing the above, check out the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course is a web-based platform anyone from anywhere can log in to access education content) like Udemy. You can design your course, name a price and sell on this platform. Similarly, you can sell your courses on Teachable, Thinkific and LearnWorlds.
Google search for more options: ‘create and sell online courses India‘
5. Best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online using your unused living spaces
If you have unused spaces – like a spare room, a vacation/farm/beach house, or an apartment, renting it out to companies that can find daily/weekly/monthly occupants will be a great way to earn a living. Below are some companies you can check out to do this:
Airbnb: From its humble beginnings, Airbnb has grown into one of the most popular and reliable options for tourists when deciding on their lodging. Explore Airbnb and also read about the preparations you need to do to become an Airbnb host.
Nestaway: This startup has grown into India’s largest property management platform over a few years. If you have an apartment or a house to rent, you can tie up with Nestaway to do so.
Booking.com: This is another site where you can list your unused space to earn money. List your apartment on Booking.com.
Google search for more options: ‘best Airbnb alternatives’, ‘how to list on Airbnb
6. Best side hustle ideas with eCommerce
6(a). Setting up your storefront
While Shopify made setting up an online storefront for selling physical products easy for everyone, we are now living in an age where you can sell anything through any of the social networking sites you use. Facebook Shops makes it easy to set up an online storefront where people can browse, explore and purchase your products directly on Facebook and Instagram. WooCommerce and Shopify help you set up storefronts on your WordPress blogs. Etsy helps you list and sell products in a jiffy, while Wix eCommerce helps set up and run your own eCommerce store. If you are a homemaker in India looking for options to make money online, please check out this article: https://www.naaree.com/money-earning-apps – it covers reselling apps like Meesho that can help you make money.
6(b). Online retail arbitrage
In straightforward terms, this option is about finding products on one eCommerce site and selling it on another site at a higher price. For example, buy on eBay or Olx and sell on Amazon. I wouldn’t recommend this option unless you can stomach the risks and effort involved.
6(c). Dropshipping and Amazon FBA
Dropshipping has been a popular mode of making money online for a few years now. It is an order fulfilment method that does not require a seller to stock inventory. Instead, the seller passes the sales order to a third-party supplier, who ships the order directly to the customer. To do this, you can create relationships with the suppliers and set up your supply chain accordingly or use companies that can help you set up a dropshipping business. In India, Baapstore, TradeIndia and JustDial are companies you can explore to set up a dropshipping business. Amazon FBA is another great option that you can explore. Read this article about Amazon FBA on the Helium10 blog to get started.
7. Best side hustle ideas if you are a programmer
If you are a programmer, you should already know of ways you can make money online. You can use this section as a refresher and also tell me options that you have tried out, which I have not included below.
7(a). Gig working and Freelancing
‘Gig’ economy has picked up in India, and we have seen a rapid increase in the gig workforce (accelerated during the pandemic). Given how it benefits both employers and gig workers, it is here to stay. The big IT companies are seeing benefits in using the gig workforce to help them remain competitive and scale on-demand. If you didn’t know, Wipro owns one of the largest gig economy platforms – TopCoder.
You can sell your programming services to startups, individuals or companies through many popular freelance marketplaces, some of which I had mentioned earlier (Freelancer.com, Fiverr.com, upwork.com and the likes.). Gumroad is another trendy option that has gained traction – you can sell almost any kind of digital service on Gumroad. Hasjob is a job board in India popular among the startup community, and you will find several short term engagement options there. You can even reach out to startup founders directly with your portfolio of work to get a good opportunity going.
7(b). Domain Flipping
Domain flipping involves buying and selling domains to earn a profit. You can list your domains for sale on marketplaces like Flippa and Afternic. To be successful, you will need to find catchy domain names that buyers will find interesting. Use Namecheap.com or Domainr.com to find interesting domain names.
7(c). Create and sell WordPress templates
If you are good at web programming, developing and selling WordPress themes can be a good option to earn money online. Marketplaces like Themeforest.net will list your themes and template for sale. To start selling, you can register as a seller in the Envato marketplace. Codester and CreativeMarket are other marketplaces where you can sell themes.
7(d). Develop an app/website
If you can create an app or web-based solution for a problem that affects a large number of people, then you can earn a lot of money online. You don’t need an amazing idea to get started; read this article on How to get Startup ideas to get inspired.
This, of course, is not a complete list of the best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online. There are several more options that you can explore, including Social Media Management, making money online through PTC (Paid to click) websites, renting out your bike through Spinlister.com, renting out your car through sites like Turo.com or opening a cloud kitchen and selling through food delivery aggregators like Zomato and Swiggy.
I hope this list of the best side hustle ideas for Indians to earn money online will open you to the world of possibilities. If you have tried out any of these or know of other options to make money online, please leave a comment here – it will help us make this a comprehensive list that can help anyone searching for how to earn money online.
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