In 2018, I started experimenting with side hustles to pay off my $40,000 of debt in credit cards and student loans.
Today, I’ve accomplished that goal — and more. In 2021, I built enough income streams to quit my $98,500-per-year engineering job and work on my businesses full-time.
At 28 years old, I am my own boss, and I work less than four hours a day. Last year, I made more than $189,000 from seven income streams.
My biggest streams come from teaching people how to start profitable side hustles: I post educational content on YouTube, mentor people on Patreon, and sell business consulting services on Fiverr.
Here are three businesses you can start today for $50 or less:
1. Freelance your skills on Fiverr.
Cost to start: $0
Fiverr is an online marketplace for freelance services. Common jobs include graphic design, writing and translation, and digital marketing.
I created my first business consulting listing in 2021. I had a lot of success selling products on Amazon and wanted to share knowledge in e-commerce.
I charged between $60 and $350 to conduct product research. Someone would tell me what they were interested in selling, and I would find specific products in that category that were high in demand and low in competition.
Then I’d put together a research report that included product details, where to manufacture it, and a cost estimate and profit analysis. I’d sometimes consult customers on how to list the product on Amazon. I made a profit of $29,000 during my first year.
Fiverr is free to join, and you’ll only be charged a fee when you complete an order. The platform collects 20% of your revenue in fees.
Some other no-cost freelancing platforms to consider: UpWork, 99designs and Guru.
2. Use Patreon to benefit an audience.
Cost to start: $50
Patreon allows you to build and sell memberships by providing exclusive access to your work. I signed up in 2020 to teach people how to create an Amazon store.
Every month, subscribers pay a fee to communicate directly with me and learn about top-selling products in different categories. Last year, I made $33,114 through Patreon.
Signing up to create content on Patreon is free. You only pay to use the service once subscribers pay to join your group. Patreon charges between 5% and 12% of your monthly income, depending on how many features and tools you need.
Here’s how it works:
- Decide on a membership product or service. You can list anything that you have skills and experience in. Search on Patreon for creators who are working within your area of interest to see what is selling and where you have the most opportunity.
- Conduct competitive market research. Once you’ve decided on a niche, review similar creators’ pages to determine a fair monthly price to charge subscribers and what features you’ll be offering.
- Create a welcome video. Post it on your page to outline your services to potential subscribers. You don’t need to invest in video editing software — iMovie or DaVinci are free and easy to use.
- Set up a Google Ads campaign. This will help you target people looking for your product or service. I only spent $50 on my Ads campaign.
- Routinely interact with your subscribers. Listen to their feedback to figure out what features to add to your page. Word of mouth is essential to growing your Patreon business.
3. Rent out your car on Turo.
Cost to start: Varied
Own a car? Turo, a peer-to-peer car-sharing platform that lets you rent out your vehicle, is a great way to generate some extra income.
In 2019, I purchased a $22,000 Polaris Slingshot with a $2,000 down payment. I saw people in my market renting out their Slingshots for $150 a day, and since my monthly payment was around $400 (including insurance), I only had to rent my car out for at least three days a month to break even.
In 2020, you made $5,717 in gross profit.
Signing up for Turo is free, but startup costs will vary depending on your vehicle situation. Here are three tips to help maximize your profit:
- Differentiate your listing with eye-catching photos. To help my listing stand out, I took pictures of my Slingshot in front of graffiti artwork and local tourist attractions.
- Install a lockbox to save you time and offer more flexibility. I put one on the side of my house so that renters could pick up the keys if I wasn’t around. I would always request a photo of the customer’s ID to make sure it matched the details on their Turo account. Then I’d send over check-in instructions.
- Rent out vehicles that provide the highest return. Turo has data on average annual earnings for different types of cars and markets. For example, you can make more money renting out a Toyota Prius than a Land Rover Range Rover.
Josh Ellwood is the founder of Debt Two Dollars. Follow him on Instagram spirit YouTube.