Building experience is a big part of your early career. Your skills and quality of work play a big role in your salary, but most people don’t have what they need in their 20s to earn big bucks on their 9-5 alone.
It’s tempting to chase after passive income businesses ideas to solve this. “Make money while you sleep” is plastered over every other business blog.
Those often take years to develop any real cash flow, though. The people who have built passive incomes spent most of their 20s learning new skills to pull it off, too.
That’s why the best side hustles in your 20s are service-based businesses. Learning is earning, and this allows you to do both at the same time. You can even use these side hustles to pay off debts.
So, without further ado, here are some of the best side businesses you can start in your early career.
Content writing is perfect for anyone with a humanities background, such as history, political science, or English.
It involves researching a topic and writing about it in a long or in-depth format—usually a blog post, like this one.
Here’s why it’s one of the best side hustles to do in your 20s:
Content writing for a side hustle can also help you break into the digital marketing industry, where you can learn related skills like website development, web analytics, and strategy.
It also exposes you to a wide range of industries, which can help you land new jobs or additional clients in the future.
Copywriting is as old as marketing itself, popularized in the 1950s and 60s (think Mad Men). Copywriters come up with clever lines that convince consumers to:
It’s different from content writing, though. Whereas a content writer would research a topic and write an informative long-form article about it, the copywriter would come up with short, punchy headlines for ads and the website.
You know, something like, “Do what you do best. Azingo handles the rest.”
It makes a fantastic side hustle in your early career for many of the same reasons as content writing, plus a few others:
It’s a highly valuable skill that can help you branch into other services, like social media marketing and UX writing.
Graphic design has a relatively high barrier to entry because it requires familiarity with certain kinds of software, like Figma or Photoshop.
On the other hand, that barrier to entry reduces the competition by a fair degree.
And just like copywriting, graphic design is something that just about every company needs. Here’s what you can make for businesses around the world:
Businesses usually need at least a few of those things produced every month, if not every week—particularly if they take their marketing seriously.
Even landing just two or three clients could fill up half of your evenings with recurring work. That’s part of what makes graphic design one of the best side hustles to do in your 20s.
Just about every business needs a website these days—even traditionally “offline” ones in industries like construction and landscaping.
Some businesses can get by on their own using a pre-made WordPress theme or a visual builder, but that still takes a lot of time and effort to do correctly. Owners and even middle managers all have more important things to do.
That’s why it makes sense to hire a website designer.
It’s a highly technical service as well, so the competition is much lower than content writing, dog walking, or social media management. That scarcity commands a higher wage, too.
This is a great way to practice computer science skills if you recently graduated from that program or want to teach yourself how to do it.
The one limitation here is that you’ll need to deliver complete websites in most cases, which require a larger time commitment than writing a few blog posts.
Building a website can take months, according to Hubspot. You can cut down that time with the right tools and processes in place, but it’s still something to keep in mind (you’re the expert here, so you’ll know best).
You can bill hourly or by project, but clients probably won’t pay until you deliver a functioning and sleek website. You may need to convince them to pay you in increments instead of a lump sum at the very end.
P.S. If you get more small business inquiries than you can take on, point them this way. They’ll get a website with their Azingo subscription automatically.
Coaching is another excellent service to offer early in your career. It facilitates a subscription model (also called a retainer fee), which allows you to gain substantial revenue with a relatively low number of clients.
Most clients will need to book sessions after 5pm because they too have day jobs that require them to be present. It’s a scheduling win-win.
This side hustle comes with one unique challenge in your 20s, though: ageism.
There’s a general tendency to view 20-somethings as inexperienced and lacking insights by default, but you can overcome that mindset by positioning yourself as hyper-focused on a niche topic.
Try some of these niches to start:
Then see if you can find a sub-niche. For example, if you want to be a career coach in your 20s, then you’d probably have better luck being a coach for other people in their 20s (or even recent graduates).
Learn how to find your first coaching client to get started.
“Social media is the current state of the internet.” Brands interact with people online because, well, they don’t have much of a choice.
Also, people spend an average of 147 minutes per day using social media. It’s here to stay, and you can turn that fact into a side hustle of your own.
Most business owners don’t have the time to interact with the community while running day to day operations.
Even if they do, they may not have the communication skills needed to use social media effectively, let alone the expertise to keep up with all of the different platforms and their changing features.
That’s where you come in.
Even just bringing the basics of social media can deliver significant value to businesses who need these profiles managed effectively.
This looks like:
It takes digital fluency and communication skills that lets you charge a reasonable price. You can bill hourly or with a flat monthly fee, typically.
Aging Baby Boomers need an increasing amount of help maintaining their properties. There is a fair bit of demand here that could become an excellent side business.
You can help out with all kinds of jobs around someone’s property, including:
What makes it one of the best side hustles in your 20s is the fact that you can engage in physical activity while you do it, allowing you to earn money while you exercise.
This line of work comes with a rotating set of seasonal tasks, so be sure to include a wide range of services year ‘round. These can all be folded into a monthly subscription where clients are billed automatically (which you can set up in seconds with Azingo).
Another one of the best side hustles to do in your 20s is acting as a virtual assistant. It’s a basic job in which you help small businesses, entrepreneurs, or executives to run their day-to-day lives through administrative tasks.
As a virtual assistant you can expect do to these kinds of things:
You can do this on evenings and weekends, too. It’s simple work that pays pretty well for something that isn’t specialized.
More than 23,000,000 American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, but not everyone figured out how to exercise those pets when they had to return to the office.
You can relieve that pain point with a simple service: walking a dog.
Professional dog walkers can make surprisingly good money, even charging $30 per hour. That’s not a bad rate in your early career, especially if you need a side hustle to pay off debt.
Even better? You can arrange to pick up multiple dogs per walk to double-up on the same hours you spend working. This works particularly well in the same neighborhood.
Pro tip: offer group rates to get multiple customers in the same neighborhood, and spread the word with a referral program. Clients can get a discount and you can get more money per hour by walking multiple dogs at once.
If you are natively bilingual or if you have a background in languages, then you can certainly find work in translation.
Businesses may need translation services for all kinds of materials, especially in urban centers where the most common language can differ between neighborhoods.
A single city might have significant demographic groups that speak a range of languages, such as:
Those translations might be needed for a wide range of materials as well, which could include:
Also keep an eye out for large businesses expanding into regions where one of your languages is spoken. They might be looking for ongoing translation services, which would add a significant notch on your resume (in turn helping you command a higher freelance rate).
The pandemic forced students to learn remotely, and that caused serious problems for their learning trajectories. Many students are playing catchup in the return to school, which invites the need for tutors more than ever before.
It’s a great opportunity to build lasting client relationships that require ongoing attention, ensuring that your business won’t run dry any time soon. Even just a few clients could fill up your evenings and weekends to help their kids pass the next test.
It’s also a fantastic way to take your first steps in a teaching career, or one involved in the education industry in general.
Best of all: you can record your online sessions and save them to a personalized client area using Azingo. Students can review your lessons easily and their parents can review them to help until the next one (and to see your good work in action).
Picking up side hustles in your 20s is the key to accelerating your income, your career, and even your network. Start with one of these service businesses to get clients early, then move them onto a recurring revenue plan to build up your income.
Next, you’ll need an app to handle things like setting up meetings, subscription billing, and storing important client files.
Start with Azingo to get all of that right out of the box.