1. Quick Summary
  2. What are the Best Side Hustles to Start With No Money?
  3. Key Takeaways
  4. Does the IRS Require Taxes for a Side Hustle
  5. Frequently Asked Questions
  6. Start a Side Hustle with No Money

You’re flat broke and need to make some extra cash. Some people say it takes money to make money, but you just don’t have it. But wait, there are some side hustles that you can do that don’t take any money to start.

What are the Best Side Hustles to Start With No Money?

Some of the best side hustles to start with no money include pet sitting/walking, freelance writing, starting a YouTube channel, working as a virtual assistant, social media management, teaching English or music online, hosting online events, and print-on-demand businesses.

Key Takeaways

  • You can start several side hustles with no upfront costs, such as pet sitting, freelance writing, YouTube channel, virtual assistant, social media management, online teaching, hosting online events, and print on demand.

  • Requirements often include basic equipment like a computer, and internet, and skills like communication or organization.

  • These side hustles allow you to earn extra income without investing money upfront.

Does the IRS Require Taxes for a Side Hustle

The IRS requires you to pay taxes on a side hustle. There is what’s considered taxable income. If you have this, you’ll need to pay. If you are paid on a platform like PayPal or Venmo, they must report the income to the IRS. 

You will receive a Form 1099-K stating your income to file with your tax return.

You can start a side hustle without money. Sometimes it takes a little more work, but it's doable. We've compiled a list of jobs that you can start doing without cash in your pocket.

1. Pet Sitting or Walking

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If you like animals, these side hustle ideas will be a good fit for you.

You'll need to be comfortable around dogs and possibly cats. However, you might also be asked to pet-sit exotic animals like an iguana or snake.

Some clients want you to visit their home to care for their animals. This is especially true when it comes to caring for cats.

But others don’t mind if you take the pet to your house. Dogs are usually cared for this way.

To advertise your pet sitting/dog walking business, start with friends and family. Talk to local businesses such as veterinarians and let them know you offer this service. 

Social media is another place to reach potential clients.

There are also apps available that connect clients to pet sitters/walkers. These include:

  • Bark – Dog walking app that connects clients to walkers in minutes. You pay a fee to Bark for the lead, but you don’t pay them a commission on money earned. The fee is part of a “pack”. They offer a 20 percent discount on your first pack and there’s a “get hired” guarantee on your first pack as well.
  • Wag – Dog walking and pet sitting app that connects caregivers to clients. You charge the client what you want. The average sitter earns $39 to $59 for an overnight stay. But the downside is that Wag takes a 40 percent commission.
  • Rover – Dog walking and sitting platform that connects you to clients. You set your rates and post them on Rover. But unfortunately, Rover takes a 20 percent commission as a service fee.

Except for a small fee from Bark, it won’t cost you to go into the pet sitting/dog walking biz.

You can opt for this method If you are a 14-year-old kid.

2. Freelance Writing

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If you already have a computer and internet connection, you're set to go with this side hustle.

You may have to write about general subjects initially but try to settle on a specialty. Even if it's just a subject you’re enthusiastic about, it will show in your writing.

There are different types of writing. They are:

  • Business-to-business (B2B) writing.
  • Copywriting.
  • Business-to-consumer (B2C) writing.
  • Technical writing.

Choose the one that suits your style.

If you don’t have a portfolio, write a couple of articles to show as samples. If you have a blog you wrote, use that as a portfolio. Send the link to a potential client.

Go everywhere to present yourself. Some platforms for freelancers are:

  • Upwork – Propose for posted writing jobs. You'll need to write a profile, and you'll have the opportunity to receive reviews that will help you get more jobs.
  • Fiverr – You’ll write a profile and have the opportunity to be chosen by a client. You'll have the chance to increase your standing with positive reviews.
  • Freelancer – Propose for posted writing jobs. You’ll also need to write a profile of your experience.

These platforms aren't exclusive so you could be on more than one at a single time. Follow through with your writing and meet deadlines. Then you'll receive good reviews. These will help you gain more jobs.

Overall, it is one of the best ways to make money without a full-time job.

3. YouTube Channel

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Do you have a hobby or a strong opinion about a subject? Start a YouTube channel. Launching a YouTube channel is free, and you don't have to pay to be on the platform.

If you have a smartphone, you can use it to shoot your video. Use the phone's microphone at first, but eventually, you'll want to purchase a better one.

Shoot in a well-lit room. And make sure it’s in a clutter-free place.

Try not to just get in front of the camera and adlib. Have a plan. Prepare what you want to share. If you’re doing a tutorial, you really need to be organized and concise.

Most importantly, have fun with it.

But how do you make money with YouTube? You earn commission from ads.

You've seen the ads that are inserted in videos. YouTube will pay you a commission for running ads for your content. There are some eligibility requirements.

You must have 4,000 watch hours per year. You also must have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers.

This might take a while, but some people make a lot of money online on YouTube and the best part is you don't have to spend money for this hustle idea.

4. Virtual Assistant

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Virtual assistants (VAs) provide remote technical and administrative services to clients. Many of these clients are small businesses that can't afford to hire assistants with a full-time job. 

Some tasks you'll have are:

  • Managing and returning email.
  • Customer service.
  • Making appointments or travel arrangements.
  • Monitor and initiate phone calls.
  • Data entry.
  • Billing or other bookkeeping functions.
  • Manage social media.

You’ll need a smartphone, computer, and a reliable internet connection and just a few hours of your time.

Some skills you’ll need include:

  • Organizational skills.
  • Strong communication skills.
  • Computer proficiency.

When looking for a VA job, you'll want to develop a pricing structure to provide to prospects. Be prepared to accept a slightly lower payment in the beginning, but as you gain experience, it will increase.

You can check job listing boards like Indeed to find VA positions. You could also network with various business owners and professionals.

You can earn more if you specialize in a niche service.

5. Social Media Management

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Social media managers do more than post. There is a lot that goes with the title. What your responsibilities are depends on the company’s size. 

For small companies you may also be creating the content, while larger ones have a department to do that.

Many tasks go with social media management.

Increase Followers and Engagement

You’ll want to boost the company’s profile on all platforms. This is done by increasing followers and engagement. 

Some engagement is:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Shares

You may have to write or create visual posts.

Strategize Campaigns and Content

You’ll need to ideate and often execute campaigns that align with a company's larger marketing plan. Evergreen content and timely content will need to be produced. You’ll oversee this.

Repurposing user-generated content is also important

Analyzing Data

You'll analyze the data to draw conclusions about how the posts and content are performing. This includes monitoring what users say about the company, which is called social listening.

Reporting to Stakeholders

Companies want to know that their efforts are having an impact. You’ll need to report achievements or any problems that arise.

These stakeholders want to see results. You’ll need to show them and explain the analytics.

6. Teach English Online

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Teaching English online can be fulfilling and earn you some extra money. You also have the option to teach from anywhere in the world. You must be a native English speaker. But in some cases, you don’t even need a college degree.

You will need to have a legitimate TEFL certificate. That means Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It also has other names or at least similar certificates, like:

  • TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
  • ELT – English Language Teaching.
  • ESL – English as a Second Language.

There are several online schools. Many of them require a four-year degree. But others don't, as long as you have a TEFL.

You’ll need to have a laptop and webcam. You’ll also want to use a headset and microphone to ensure the communication is clear. A reliable internet connection is a must.

There are several online companies you can work for. Some include:

  • EF Education First – Requires a TEFL certificate and bachelor's degree. They have a base pay of $12 per hour with opportunities for increases. You’ll only be teaching adults for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • SkimaTalk – Must be a native English speaker. Teachers set their own pay rate for 25-minute sessions with a minimum of eight dollars. New teachers must complete their first three sessions free to learn the system and build their reputation. Paid monthly by PayPal, but SkimaTalk takes a 20 percent commission.
  • StarKid – Must be a native speaker from the US, Canada, or the UK. Must have a TEFL certificate. The hourly rate is $20 to $25 USD. You’ll be teaching children aged six to 14.

If you think you’d like to teach but haven’t had the opportunity, this is an opportunity to do what you want and be paid. The only investment is your time since most companies require a test.

It may not be a high-paying job but is a great way to earn some extra money for yourself. If you have a great English skills, you should also look for caption jobs that’ll pay you a decent amount regularly.

7. Teach Music Lessons Online

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You’ve been playing piano or bass for fun. Why not turn that into a side hustle? If you already have the instrument and computer, you can begin teaching without any startup costs.

You can reach potential students by spreading the word among friends and family that you are available online. Social media and YouTube will reach a more international audience.

There are also online sites that provide you with opportunities to teach. Here are some.

  • Preply – Although most of their instructors have a degree in music, it’s not necessary. There are positions for many instruments as well as music theory. You must have a computer with good internet access, a microphone, a webcam, and access to either Skype or Zoom. You set the rate, but Preply takes 18 to 33 percent commissions.
  • Lessonface – Must have at least two years of teaching and five years of experience in the instrument you’ll be teaching. You set the rate, but Lessonface takes a fee of 15 percent on students’ lessons that found you on Lessonface. If you bring a student to Lessonface, they charge five percent.
  • LectureOwl – Free to sign up but must go through an application process. Once they have read your application, they will proceed with a trial lesson, interview, and background check. You decide your rates. LectureOwl takes a 20 percent commission.

You can also check with area music schools to see if they need any online teachers.

Turn a hobby you love into money. Once you build up clientele, you'll generate regular pay on a weekly basis.

8. Hosting Online Events for People

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They were growing before the pandemic, but since the COVID-19 lockdown, online events have exploded. Webinars, teaching, and even trade shows are the online norm.

But not everyone wants to organize these. Companies are looking for people who can set up and even host an online event.

This is a no-cost side hustle that is great if you are organized.

What You Need to Do to Host an Online Event

You'll first have to identify your target audience and define a goal. Then, work with the company to narrow down what they want to accomplish and who they want to accomplish it with.

Once you have this, choose a brand and an appealing topic. When selecting a topic, revisit the target audience and goal. Think about what would excite your target person.

Start building a team. You’ll need tech support and some help in following up with the presenters.

Try to land a coveted speaker who’s an authority on the topic. Check social media to ensure the speaker’s persona and experience align with the target audience’s needs.

Take time to schedule the event. Choose a time and day with your target audience in mind. You’ll also need to decide what virtual platform you’ll need. That will be determined by how big the event is.

People like to network, even online. Having networking opportunities available is important. Look for software that allows live text and video chat with a live stream. Set up a virtual lobby or “cocktail lounge”. And have a virtual trade show where participants can have booths. 

Other tasks before the big day are:

  1. Sell the tickets.
  2. Send the email invitations.
  3. Prepare the presenters.
  4. Check the technology before going live.

After it ends, you’ll also want to send out a post-event survey.

Because you'll be doing this freelance for a company, you won't incur any costs yourself. But you might have noticed you will have to wear many hats and be extremely organized.

9. Print on Demand

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This is a great one for artists, writers, or photographers. Print on demand (POD) will let you sell physical products of your creations.

From t-shirts and backpacks to posters and mugs, POD is a no upfront-cost way for you to start a business. You decide what you want your design to be printed on, and then you sell it online.

When a customer buys, let's say, your t-shirt, it goes to your POD. They print the t-shirt and then send it to the customer.

The price of the original shirt comes from the customer's payment. So, when pricing your t-shirts for sale, you need to remember to factor in the production cost and your profit.

Notice how you haven't touched any of this process. You don't have to do anything besides uploading the original design.

There are a few PODs. Here are some that are available.

Just a few days ago I wrote a detailed on getting started with Printify to make money. If you haven’t checked out, you should take a look at that.

Print-on-demand only charges when something is sold, but some have a small monthly fee once you’re selling a lot of items. But when you first start, there’s no cost.

Additional Side hustles to make more money without any investment.

  1. Online business model: Start your own online store and sell products where your expertise and you can do that with your own schedule.
  2. Online surveys: There are a lot of legitimate survey sites that pay a decent amount of money without any investment from you. You can learn here how much surveys pay actually.

I have also shared legitimate part-time jobs without any investment in MoneyHawk.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are quite a few side hustles to start with no money. Many of them are enjoyable and don’t take a lot of work. But if we haven’t gone into everything you need to know, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions.

1. Does a virtual assistant need a college degree?

You don’t necessarily have to have a college degree to be a virtual assistant. But it does depend on the client. You mainly must be organized, have strong communication skills, and be computer savvy.

2. Are tips taxable?

All cash and non-cash tips received by an employee or freelancer are considered income. They are subject to federal and state income taxes.

3. Can I teach without a degree?

You don’t necessarily have to have a degree to teach. Many older people with life experiences or management experiences teach without a degree. Some online schools will allow you to teach without a college degree if you have the proper certification and experience.

Start a Side Hustle with No Money

Not every business takes money to start. There are many side hustles that can turn into lucrative businesses that won’t cost you a dime.

From being a virtual assistant or teaching online to starting a YouTube channel or running a social media campaign, you can start a side hustle today without breaking into the piggy bank.

Bob Haegele

About the Author

Bob Haegele Bob Haegele

Bob Haegele, your personal finance guru, draws on years of experience to simplify complex financial concepts and offer actionable advice.

Dedicated to helping you achieve financial success, Bob is here to guide you through every step of your journey to financial freedom with expertise in areas such as investing, student loans, and credit cards. His work has appeared on Business Insider,, and other nationally recognized outlets.

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