With the possibility of a recession on the horizon, experts say it’s time to start saving. This advice may prompt many to find additional streams of income.
Starting a side hustle can be a great way to earn that extra cash, founders told Insider. What’s more, many businesses today have zero startup costs and cheap options for scaling up.
“At the early stage, the capital needs are at their lowest ever,” Dave Mawhinney, an entrepreneurship professor and executive director at Carnegie Mellon University, previously told Insider. “So if you can bootstrap it yourself, you can do that at any time, in any economy, under any situation.”
He added that today’s costs were especially low thanks to digital technologies like social media and online marketplaces.
From blogging to selling vintage clothes, here are five side hustles to start with little or no money, as well as advice from founders who’ve done it.
Read more: Amid talk of a recession, here are 5 reasons why now good time is to start your own business, and which industries are the most promising
Multiple founders interviewed by Insider said blogging was a way to speak about a topic they’re knowledgeable about, build a brand, earn money, and find business opportunities.
For example, Tori Dunlap founded her blog in 2016 and rebranded it in 2019 to the financial-advice platform Her First $100K. Today, her business has nearly 3 million followers across TikTok and Instagram.
“It originally started as a side hustle,” she said, adding that she initially spent $40 on the website and domain name. “There’s no outside venture capital. We have never paid for ads.”
With those low startup costs, Dunlap built the brand’s revenue to more than $4 million in 2022 and has since scaled to include a podcast and best-selling book.
Read more: I launched my brand with $40 in 2016 and hit $4 million in revenue last year. Here’s how to start a business with little or no money.
Giselle González started focusing on user-generated content in March. As a mother, she wanted to find a way to work from home with flexible hours. She wasn’t an influencer and didn’t have a large online platform at the time, but she started creating more and more content about products she loved.
“When I realized that I could start creating content for brands without having a huge following, without being an influencer, I started digging,” she said.
She started filming reviews about hair-care products on her own page, and that turned into partnerships with brands she knew and loved. Now she earns $5,000 a month by creating content for other businesses.
User-generated content was a low-cost option for González because all she needed was her phone, the video-editing app InShot, and a social-media page to post on, she said. As a content-creation business grows, founders can also purchase tripods, lighting, backdrops, or other digital tools if needed.
Read more: I average $5,000 in revenue a month creating user generated content for small businesses. Here’s how I got my start and scaled my business.
Vivian Garcell has been a virtual assistant since 2017. She started freelancing as a side hustle while working a corporate job. When she decided she wanted more flexibility, and her freelance services were picking up, she transitioned to a full-time virtual assistant.
“I wanted to bring in my corporate experience and educational training into freelancing because I wanted to offer something of higher value,” she said.
Garcell didn’t purchase any equipment or take any courses to start her brands, which allowed her to launch with virtually no costs. Now she earns more than $140,000 a year in revenue, documents show.
Read more: VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS: How to start your own business, create a flexible schedule, and make six figures in revenue
Read more: I’m a virtual assistant who booked 6 figures in revenue last year. Here’s how I landed clients and launched an agency all while keeping my full-time job.
As the vintage market continues to grow in popularity, side hustlers can turn lightly used or unworn clothes in their closets into income.
Mona Mejia, a 44-year-old Poshmark seller, earned $735,000 last year reselling clothing, home goods, and toys.
She initially didn’t invest any money in her business and used clothes in her closet, she previously told Insider. Her first sale, a dress that went for $36, sold in 11 hours.
Eventually, she started selling on livestreams through Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook, which helped her business take off.
Read more: A 44-year-old mom of 3 made $735,000 last year from a reselling business she launched using just the clothes in her closet
Bri Bucks is a salon owner and business coach. When her husband died in 2018, she started thinking about ways to increase her income, she said.
Her first side hustle was launching an e-book about business credit designed for other entrepreneurs.
“It was easy because it’s a digital product, so once you create it, you don’t have to do anything else outside of marketing,” she said.
What’s more, it was also a very-low-cost experiment.
“It was free to create. I used a template in Canva, and I promoted it using social media,” she said.
E-books can generate passive, while acting as marketing material to find clients and business opportunities, founders told Insider.
Read more: A Gen Z founder used an e-book to promote one of her side hustles and net $19,000 in revenue