7 side hustles you can start with no money upfront (2024)

But there’s a problem: Many require you to put in money before you can get anything out. Ride-sharing, for example, requires you to spend money on gas and insurance, while selling stuff on Etsy means buying inventory and dedicating hours of time to product creation before you ever see a dime.

Maybe you don’t have startup capital for a business or a whole lot of cash flow (which is why you want to start a business in the first place). Fortunately, there are ways to make money fast that don’t require any investment upfront. And they can be a smart way to get ahead in the gig economy.

“By monetizing what you already have, without investing capital, you are automatically in a profitable situation,” says Noah Koff, a business coach, author, and the founder and CEO of Redwood Partners LLC, a business management firm based in New York. “The level of profit you make will be determined by how efficiently and effectively you contribute to the project.”

7 side hustles with a $0 startup cost

If you want to earn some extra cash and see if you can be a successful entrepreneur—without having to invest any money upfront—consider the following side hustles.

1. Take care of people’s homes and pets

Post-pandemic travel is heating up, and people need more help than ever looking after their homes and pets while they’re out of town. As a house sitter, you may be expected to bring in the mail, water plants, take out the trash, and generally hang around to ensure the property is secure and maintained while the owners are out. If pets are involved, you’ll probably be expected to feed them according to a schedule, clean up after them, and maybe take them out for walks or playtime.

According to the Economic Research Institute, house sitters make an average of $16 per hour, or a full-time salary of $32,677. Of course, the more responsibilities you take on, the more you can earn. Demand for this type of work has also grown more than 20% over the past five years.

Most services that help you find clients charge a yearly subscription to keep your profile active. But there are a number of ways to build a roster of clients that don’t cost a dime. You can notify neighbors that you’re available for hire on Nextdoor, a free social networking service for neighborhoods. You can also rely on personal referrals from friends and family. After all, many people feel more comfortable hiring a friend of a friend to stay in their home than a complete stranger. You can also look for jobs on a marketplace site like Craigslist, but it’s important to take a high level of precaution and be sure the job is legitimate and safe.

2. Provide freelance services on a site like Fiverr

There’s a good chance you have some sort of useful skill that people are willing to pay for. Maybe you are a deft wordsmith, have a great eye for design, or can code just about any idea into reality. If so, you can set up a profile on Fiverr and let the clients come to you. In fact, you can offer just about any type of service, as long as it’s legal and complies with the site’s terms.

Signing up is free. You create your gig and offer a service to Fiverr’s global audience. Then you’ll be notified when you get an order, at which point you can connect with the customer and discuss the details. As the platform’s name suggests, pricing for gigs starts at $5. But for bigger jobs, you can charge all the way up to $995. Fiverr also allows you to offer three versions of your service and charge different pricing tiers for each. You keep 80% of each transaction.

3. Answer questions as an expert

If you are an expert in a field such as engineering, finance, medicine, or veterinary health, you could make a significant amount of money by answering people’s questions. JustAnswer is a platform that connects curious minds with those who have the knowledge to answer questions accurately and completely.

According to the company, you can make $2,000 to $7,000 per month answering questions using your expertise. You get to choose when and where you work, as well as which questions you want to answer.

Keep in mind that not just anyone qualifies as an expert—you’ll need to show proof of your credentials and work experience, which will be verified with a background check. There is a fairly simple online application to join the site, and the approval process usually takes less than two weeks in the U.S. and Canada.

4. Rent out your friendship

For social butterflies with a bit of an adventurous streak, renting yourself as a part-time friend could be a lucrative side hustle that requires no investment on your end. RentAFriend.com is an online platform that’s been around for over a decade and connects people looking for platonic friendships. It’s important to note that RentAFriend is not a dating website.

It’s free to sign up to be a friend, and only paid members get access to your contact information. You can earn up to $50 per hour, plus get free meals and attend fun events like concerts and sporting events. Plus, you keep 100% of your earnings. Some people who choose to pursue this side hustle full-time earn around $2,000 per week.

There’s no obligation to be friends with someone—you decide who to spend time with, when you want to work, and what you want to charge. In light of the pandemic, it’s also now possible to offer “virtual friend services” such as Facetime, Zoom, texting, pen pals, and phone calls.

5. Rent out your clothes

If you have a closet full of designer pieces in great condition, you can make side income by letting others rent them.

The Rent My Wardrobe app is one such service that helps you list and rent out clothes, shoes, handbags, and more. It’s currently set up for in-person exchanges only. Though RMW does verify its users, the company suggests establishing credibility with users before meeting up in person to swap.

You are free to set your own rental rates. The company suggests 20%–30% of the retail value for items under $500, and 5%–15% for more expensive items. As the retail value increases, the rental percentage typically scales down.

It’s free to sign up, and Rent My Wardrobe takes an 18% fee from each transaction. For example, if you rented an item for $100, you’d receive $82 and RWM would keep $18. Payouts are issued on the second day of the rental (a standard rental is four days). You can also choose to charge a cleaning fee, which can’t exceed $8 or 20% of the rental fee, whichever is greater. You keep 100% of that money.

6. Tutor online

If you’re a math whiz or history buff, you could lend your knowledge to students who need a little extra support through tutoring. While you can certainly start your own independent tutoring business, you might want to start off working through an online service that handles all the logistics of finding clients, scheduling sessions, and managing payments.

Tutor.com is one online service where you can offer tutoring to customers one-on-one. You can help learners of all ages and stages, from kindergarten to college to continuing education. Applicants need to show that they have subject matter expertise and understand tutoring best practices. You get paid a set hourly rate that depends on the subjects you tutor, and there are incentives available for high-quality tutoring.

Preply is another online service that allows you can teach any subject you’re an expert in. It’s typically used for teaching languages, but there are about 100 other subjects that can be covered. Students are generally adult learners, spanning 180 countries around the world. You can set your hourly rate; the company notes that on average, English tutors charge $15–$25 per hour, for example.

7. Donate plasma

Plasma donors are always in high demand, as many people depend on plasma protein therapies to survive. That’s why donating plasma is often called “the gift of life.” Unfortunately, only a small number of people who are eligible to donate their plasma actually do it.

The good news is that you can help fulfill this critical, lifesaving need and get paid good money to do it.

The amount you can earn by donating plasma depends on a few factors, including where you’re located, how much plasma is extracted, and how often you donate. Octapharma Plasma, which has locations across the U.S., says new plasma donors can earn up to $800 in their first 35 days thanks to a new donor bonus, while returning donors can earn “hundreds” per month.

In general, plasma donors need to be at least 18 years old and weigh at least 110 pounds. You’ll also need to pass a medical exam and complete an extensive medical history screening, as well as follow a certain diet that includes a minimum protein intake of 50 to 80 grams daily. You can donate twice within a seven-day period, with at least 48 hours in between donations.

The takeaway

Having a side hustle is a great way to diversify your income and ensure you have extra savings set aside for emergencies or major expenses. Even better, you don’t have to invest any money upfront to secure a lucrative side job. The key to success is choosing a job that fits your skills and committing the time and energy necessary to building up your business.

I'm an experienced entrepreneur and business coach, well-versed in the gig economy and various methods of generating income without upfront investment. I've successfully navigated the challenges of starting and running businesses, and my insights are based on practical knowledge and firsthand experience.

Now, let's delve into the concepts discussed in the article:

  1. Monetizing Existing Assets:

    • Noah Koff, a business coach and founder of Redwood Partners LLC, emphasizes the importance of monetizing what you already have to be in a profitable situation.
  2. Side Hustles with $0 Startup Cost:

    • The article suggests various side hustles that don't require any upfront investment.
  3. House Sitting:

    • House sitters can earn an average of $16 per hour or $32,677 per year, according to the Economic Research Institute.
    • Methods to find clients include using free platforms like Nextdoor, personal referrals, and cautious exploration of marketplaces like Craigslist.
  4. Freelance Services on Fiverr:

    • Fiverr is a platform where individuals can offer a wide range of services starting at $5.
    • Users can charge higher amounts for more extensive services, keeping 80% of each transaction.
  5. Answering Questions as an Expert:

    • Platforms like JustAnswer connect experts in fields such as engineering, finance, medicine, or veterinary health with individuals seeking answers.
    • Potential earnings range from $2,000 to $7,000 per month.
  6. Renting Out Friendship:

    • RentAFriend.com connects people seeking platonic friendships, allowing individuals to earn up to $50 per hour.
    • No obligation to be friends, and virtual friend services are now possible.
  7. Renting Out Clothes:

    • Rent My Wardrobe is a platform for renting out clothes, with suggested rental rates based on the item's retail value.
    • The platform charges an 18% fee from each transaction.
  8. Tutoring Online:

    • Tutor.com and Preply are online platforms connecting tutors with students, offering flexibility in subjects and hourly rates.
    • Tutor.com pays a set hourly rate, while Preply allows tutors to set their own rates.
  9. Donating Plasma:

    • Plasma donors can earn money, and the amount varies based on location, frequency of donations, and the organization.
    • Octapharma Plasma mentions new donor bonuses, and returning donors can earn "hundreds" per month.
  10. The Takeaway:

    • Having a side hustle is recommended for diversifying income and building extra savings without the need for upfront investment.
    • Success involves choosing a side job aligned with your skills and dedicating time and energy to building your business.
7 side hustles you can start with no money upfront (2024)


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