One of the questions we get all the time here at brand creators is if there's one particular way that we would recommend people get started If they want to be successful in turning their side hustle into a full-time income.
Although our typical advice is that you can do this with any side hustle where you're not directly trading hours for dollars (For example, it's extremely hard to do with driving Uber but much easier to do with building a print-on-demand business), I wanted to take just a few minutes to share six side hustles that have personally earned me $50,000 in profit a year or more.
Although not all of these side hustles have the potential to give you your desired income long-term or become a brand, each of these experiences taught me a key lesson in growing the businesses I'm in now, which have made more than seven figures per year.
Flipping Products on eBay
One of the first side hustles I ever tried (and better yet, it still works today) was what some people refer to as product flipping or as it's more commonly known retail arbitrage.
Generally speaking, the point of retail arbitrage is that you can find a product sold locally that is selling for more online.
The process is fairly simple, you buy the product from your local store and list it on a marketplace, like eBay, where it's selling for more money.
When the product sells, you pocket the difference as profit.
In my case, I first stumbled across this idea when I was still running my photography studio.
One day, we went looking for a prop to use in the photography studio, a cedar bridge.
I had been doing a little bit of digging around on eBay and saw that the bridges they were selling were priced at over $160.
That price was a bit of a shock to me because I had a vague recollection of seeing the exact same miniature cedar bridge being sold at a store near me called the Christmas tree shop.
So, not wanting to spend $160 and wait a few days I decided to make the trip to my local store where I found the same bridge being sold on eBay for $160 for 29.99 at my local Christmas tree shop.
So, I grabbed one for the photography studio and another to see if I could list it and sell it on eBay.
I decided to be conservative and instead of selling it for over $160 I listed it for $150, and it sold almost immediately.
My wife and I immediately loaded up all of our children into the minivan, drove to the Christmas tree shop, and shoved as many of these cedar bridges into the back of the fan as we could fit.
The demand for this product was so consistently high, that we were able to continue this $29.99 to $150 flip for years.
Not only did this single product attempt at retail arbitrage net me more than $50,000 in profit, but This side hustle alone paid for two of my three kids to complete their entire school journey in private school.
Note: This model is difficult to turn into a long-term brand, but if you're looking to get your toes in the water with a side hustle that works and you're willing to put in the effort, retail arbitrage is definitely worth a try.
Selling Digital Transfer Kits
The second side hustle generated a full-time income as a result of those cedar bridges we were just talking about.
That early success flipping products led me to dig a little bit deeper into eBay as a platform and start to think about the other things that I could sell.
At the time, my wife and I were running a photography studio full-time and I was doing a little bit of video transfer on the side, to help take old 8 mm film that people had lying around and turn it into a more modern video format.
Now, the technology that I was using to do this was not super sophisticated, it was essentially an old projector that I had converted in my garage and it was fairly easy to replicate.
I decided to take the chance and build a few more to see if I could sell them on eBay.
As much as I love the cedar bridges, this blew them out of the water and I sold a little over $100,000 worth of these film transfer projectors in just over 2 years.
Selling GarageBand Loops
My first two early successes with eBay really got my wheels turning.
Unfortunately, with both the projectors and the cedar bridges, I was restricted by the number of bridges I could buy or projectors that I could make and sell on the platform.
Additionally, both of those projects involved me paying money out and waiting for the returns to come back.
Although I absolutely will love both of them, I was interested in finding a way that would allow me to eliminate the cost of goods and create a product that I could sell ” forever “.
Now, one of my loves in life since the time I was a young teenager has been music.
I picked up a guitar when I was 15 and some might say I've never really put it down.
Back in early 2004, Apple released a new software for the Mac called GarageBand.
The point of the software was to allow people to easily create multiple-track music in just a few clicks.
In addition to being able to record directly into the software, they had a built-in feature to allow you to select from pre-made tracks called loops.
These loops were designed to give you new riffs, rhythms, beats, etc to add to the recordings you were making personally to fill out the track.
The platform came with a bunch of built-in loops but also allowed you to upload loops from other locations and that's when the light bulb went off.
I locked myself in a room for a few days with my guitar and recorded a thousand individual loops that were designed to be uploaded into GarageBand.
I listed them on eBay for $29.99 and they immediately started selling.
When All was said and done, I sold thousands of copies of the loops that I created in just a few hours of my time.
This single experience not only generated more than $50,000 in profit, but it opened up my mind to the idea and the understanding of the power of digital products.
Selling Photoshop Templates
My fourth big side hustle came as a result of the other successes I had on eBay as a platform.
At the time I was selling the GarageBand loops and cedar Bridges, my wife and I were running a photography studio full time and I was using Photoshop daily.
If you've ever used Photoshop, you may know that there's a rather large learning curve and many of the tasks that you do can be extremely repetitive.
This gave me the idea to create a bunch of Photoshop templates, not only to make the work my wife and I were doing in our photography studio easier but also to see if other people would be interested in buying them and boy were they.
This side hustle alone helped me create an entire six-figure-per-year business selling Photoshop templates.
Selling Private Label Products on Amazon
As My wife and I were transitioning our physical photography studio into a purely online business, thanks to the help of selling those Photoshop templates on eBay, I started hearing some rumblings about private labeling.
If you're not familiar with the concept, rather than buying a product from a retailer and selling it online for a profit, you buy the products in bulk from the manufacturer, put your branding on them, and sell them under your brand.
This side hustle requires a good bit more upfront capital because you have to buy a large supply of the product upfront.
I decided to take a bit of a risk and I purchased fitness loop bands from a manufacturer, had them branded with a new brand I made up just for the occasion, and listed them on Amazon.
In the first year alone, we sold over $300,000 of this product and netted a little over $100,000 in profit.
This experience also led me to create another brand with one of my neighbors which had more than seven figures in sales and led to an extremely large exit when we sold the brand back in 2020.
If you've been a long-time listener of the podcast or reader of this website, you may also know that this first experience with private labeling is what led me to start the Amazing Seller podcast, which is what BrandCreators.com and The Rock Your Brand podcast are today.
Building Niche Websites
The last night that's all I wanted to spend a bit of time sharing with you is something that involves low upfront investment, but a little bit longer of a time frame to turn into something profitable.
If you aren't already familiar with the concept of a niche website, is essentially a website dedicated to one specific topic, like raising backyard chickens.
You, or a writer you higher, create content around every question or concern someone might have on the topic, and if you create good quality content, you're rewarded with organic traffic from search engines like Google as a result.
The most common way to monetize a side hustle like this is with ads and my wife and I still run several of these websites that each generate over $1,000 per month in revenue from ads alone.
However, there's another way to monetize this type of site and that's by adding in an e-commerce element.
After all, if our website is all about chickens, we know that all of the traffic there is interested in chickens and we can sell them chicken-related products.
In our case, my wife learned about a not-so-little platform called Etsy from one of our neighbors who had built a high six-figure business selling print-on-demand products on the platform.
My wife decided to build a store related to one of the niche websites we had already built and in her first year, she did a little over $20,000 in sales on top of the money we were generating from advertising revenue.
By combining the organic interest in our niche that's found on the Etsy platform, with the traffic we already had coming in on the niche-related website, last year this side hustle of ours generated over $50,000 in profit.
So as you've probably noticed, each of these side hustles lend me to discovering other opportunities and the skills I learned in one helped me build out the others.
I don't want your takeaway from this article to be that you should be creating a print-on-demand Etsy shop, that you should sell bridges on eBay, that you need to learn guitar so you can create garage band loops, or that you should become a Photoshop master.
Rather, I would prefer that you take away that this process doesn't need to be as difficult as many people make it out to be.
Your goal should be defined as something you can start right now and then leverage it into a long-term success.
Starting with something like print-on-demand is currently a great opportunity, but If you have extremely limited startup capital or don't have any interest in something like that, retail arbitrage is still alive and well.
At the end of the day, where you start doesn't matter it's finding something that consistently works for you and leveraging the skills you learn or the capital that you generate into something that will help you create your version of long-term success.