5 of the best ways to earn a side income

Having some extra money on top of your main income is always great. Whether you use it to save up for your annual family holiday or put it aside to build up an emergency fund; there aren’t many people out there who wouldn’t welcome a side income. And nowadays there are countless ways to earn it! Here are 5 suggestions of ways that you can start to earn a side income.

  1. Sell unwanted items

    You can sell practically anything online, and you can really earn quite a lot if you do it consistently. Sites like eBay, Gumtree, and Facebook Marketplace are a good starting point, with thousands of people buying and selling on them every day.

    Some of the best things to sell are your old clothes, provided that they are still in relatively good shape. Even if there are signs of wear, or even tiny stains, if you outline everything in your listing you’ll probably still find someone willing to buy it.

    Other things you can sell include books, CD’s and DVD’s, computer and PC games, instruments, various electronics, or even unused cosmetics that you don’t really want. Just make sure to be familiar with the guidelines of the site you’ll be selling on – some sites don’t allow the sale of things like underwear or untested electronics for safety reasons.

    Also, make sure to be fair about your prices. Since you will probably be selling something you have already used, you definitely don’t want to be charging full price for it as nobody will want to buy it. However, do make sure not to let people low-ball you either, as there are unfortunately people who will try to pay as little as possible.

Once you get comfortable selling online (or if you are already an experienced seller) then you can start to expand your selling horizons. You could offer to sell items for friends and family on their behalf and take a cut for your efforts. Or you could ‘flip’ items. For example – you could buy old furniture, clean it up, paint it, wax it, and generally improve its condition and then sell it on for a tidy profit.

2 – Become a freelancer

This may sound unachievable and intimidating, but freelancing is actually much easier than a lot of people expect it to be. We don’t mean the sort of freelancing that promises to earn you £50k a year – those people usually have tons of experience and skill on their side.

We’re talking about taking a relatively basic skill that you probably already have or can very easily learn from free online courses, and offering up your services online.

For instance, some of the categories on freelance site include:

– Proofreading and editing

– Résumé writing and cover letters

– Transcripts
– Writing product descriptions
– Voice overs
– Subtitles
– Data entry

All of these are tasks that don’t require huge levels of skill or experience. Other simple tasks include answering people’s emails, creating item listings on eBay or inserting hyperlinks into a document. People are genuinely willing to pay others to do these things, as they are often too busy to do them during their working day or have other more interesting work they’d rather focus on.

Be aware that as the barrier to entry for these tasks is relatively low, the prices you charge will also need to be relatively low to ensure you aren’t just undercut by someone else offering to do the same work, cheaper.

Of course, if you have a genuine talent or skill such as graphic design, video-editing or being bi-lingual, then so much the better – you could make some relatively good cash as a freelancer.

3 – Rent something out

You don’t have to have a spacious second home in the countryside to be able to earn some extra money from renting. If you have a parking space that you don’t use, a garage or basement that can be turned into a little studio flat, or even just a spare bedroom in your house, you can make some profit!

Websites like Gumtree and Airbnb make advertising rentals incredibly easy. Simply snap some eye-catching pictures, add some information about what exactly you are offering and for how much, and post the listing. Just make sure to be firm about requirements to avoid any issues with time wasters.

Not only will this method bring in some extra cash, it can also qualify you for a tax break from the government. The UK government’s Rent A Room scheme allows landlords to not pay any tax on the first £7,500 they earn from renting out a room in their house. HMRC also allows certain deductions on things like utility bills and home insurance, although you do have to make sure you qualify for that.

4 – Monetise your opinions

Regularly filling out surveys can help you boost your income, even if it’s by just a little. But you do need to make sure that the sites you are signing up for are legit. Swagbucks, i-Say, and Crowdology are all reputable survey sites and are a great place to start.

Similarly, taking part in paid research and focus groups can earn you between £30 and £150 in one sitting. These obviously take more effort than filling out some simple surveys, and the requirements to join are often pretty specific, in order to prevent too many applicants. However, it’s still a very viable option, with websites like Focus4People, Research Opinions, and People For Research regularly advertising focus groups for a range of demographics.

5 – Become a mystery shopper

Plenty of companies, particularly high street shops, like to employ the services of a mystery shopper.

A mystery shopper will go into their store posing as an ordinary customer, complete a specified task (for instance, enquire about a certain product) and record their perceptions and observations in a survey afterwards.

The survey may ask questions such as, “Was the store tidy and well-presented?”, “Did you receive a friendly greeting upon arrival?”, “Did a staff member tell you about our exclusive offers?” etc.

The company can then use this feedback to improve the shopping experience and customer service in the future. To sign up as a mystery shopper you need to apply online at sites such as Retail Maxim, GBW and Grass Roots. Mystery shoppers are typically paid per assignment and can receive cash, gift vouchers or products in exchange for their service.

As you can see, there is something out there for everyone, and these are only a handful of suggestions – there are plenty more options available. Generating a side income will always take some sort of effort and commitment on your part, but once you start earning, you will never look back!


Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.

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