Ideas for side gigs that don’t take time, but can cost money.
May 12, 2019 11:35 AM   Subscribe

I’m interested in potential side gigs that, as the subject says, does not take a lot of time. I know this may sound silly, but the things I have in mind are white-label reseller ideas, drop shipping business, things like that. Unlike a lot of people looking for side gigs, I don’t have a lot of spare time but I am not adverse to spending money instead.

I looked up similar questions on AskMeFi and what I found dealt mostly with how people fell into their current side gig, usually beginning as a hobby or a one-of idea that turned out to be popular. I’m not trying to do that - I don’t have enough hours in my week to go that path.

I’m asking here because you can probably imagine how fruitless a Google search is for this type of thing. There’s thousands of hits that are all some kind of MLM or ebook scam (?) and I don’t have enough expertise to know if there are any nuggets in there.

Does anyone have any experience with successful, or at least legit, businesses like this? Or maybe resources on forums or sites where folks like that congregate?
posted by jay2dadub to Work & Money (13 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
white-label reseller ideas

I have a friend who sells collectibles as a side gig and for him, it’s still very time-consuming. Every item has to be listed, photographed (or photo found) described, payment processed, packed and driven to post office, sometimes dealing with traffic and long lines. That’s to say nothing of the time spent with communicating with buyers. That might be the part that takes the longest. Some can be really picky and the back and forth can take forever. But if you’re too quick to ditch a problem customer, expect bad reviews.

If you do this, think economy of scale. What can you sell over and over without having to write new descriptions, take new photos, find the right box, etc. Automate or standardize any parts you can to minimize your time investment. Good luck!
posted by greermahoney at 12:18 PM on May 12, 2019 [8 favorites]

recent article about a couple selling trader joe's stuff on amazon. there was some mention of more info on a youtube channel run by the couple too.
posted by noloveforned at 12:31 PM on May 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

There are quite a few of these, but dont really remember enough details offhand enough to be helpful at the moment - literally hundreds of side hustle ideas have come and gone out of my brain as I've been interested in this space for a while. Most usually revolve around some sort of retail arbitrage - the age old buy-low-sell-high idea whether it be cleaning supplies or real estate.

Another idea is affiliate marketing - basically selling things online and getting a percentage of the sale via blog posts, online reviews, etc. Traditionally there's a lot of time required up front to do this (content creation and getting traffic), but you can buy pre-made sites and let the income come in monthly.

Side Hustle School is a podcast that highlights a new side hustle every day and has for a couple years now - there's quite a significant back catalog of episodes. Some side hustles are time-intensive, but some are more cash-intensive. Buy Buttons is another resource that's basically a collection of side hustle ideas, again some requiring time, some requiring money. In general though everything requiring time could be replaced with money if you can figure out how to outsource the work, but the ROI is what will make or break you here.
posted by cgg at 12:50 PM on May 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

How much money do you have available to drop on this? Could you buy an investment property (either locally or in another market) and rent it out? That’s kind of the classic way to turn capital into income.
posted by mskyle at 1:54 PM on May 12, 2019 [5 favorites]

If you're looking too sink money rather than time into it for a return, the term you're probably looking for is "investment" rather than "side gig"
posted by mosst at 5:04 PM on May 12, 2019 [7 favorites]

Yeah to spend money and little time the way to make money is to call a broker/financial planner.

Making money is easy, when you have money.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:21 PM on May 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Right, the term for this is "passive income investing." An example is property -- rental, Air BnB, flipping. Some stocks pay dividends. You could also try to buy a fully operational business though most would probably take a bunch of time.
posted by salvia at 12:09 AM on May 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: From some of the more recent answers it is clear I should have stated what I was willing to sink into this. I am not interested in investment, I am interested in a side gig. I’m envisioning something like ~$1K initial and a few hundred bucks to feed and water it for the first little while. As it grows, I’d expect to have to spend more to keep it running.

What I want to avoid is the scenario @greemahoney talked about where their friend ended up in a high-friction gig that doesn’t scale.

The idea that fits best with what I am thinking of so far in this thread is from @cgg who talked about pre-made affiliate sites. I did not know those exist and will probably investigate that because that’s the type of idea/budget I have in mind.
posted by jay2dadub at 4:40 AM on May 13, 2019

Whatever you call it, side gig/investment/business, you need 1) some thing/some skill that not many have, 2) work really hard at something no one else wants to do but people are willing to pay for, or 3) have lots of $ and invest in 1 or 2.

I feel like 2 or 3 are not options for you, so I feel like 1 is your only option. Do you have some rare/in demand skill? Do you have access to a hard-to-find or popular item? I know someone who lives near a factory that has access to factory seconds. She sells them online and makes a decent profit.

Maybe not what you want to hear, but there is no magic money stream. And the affiliate site thing only works if you have content that brings folks to your site. So, not sure that falls under the category of self-sustaining (or even close).
posted by jraz at 5:45 AM on May 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

I think rental is the way to do it, but maybe not apartment/house rental. Tents? Tools? Bounce Houses? It will still take a decent amount of time, though. You are going to have to do legwork to build your business, probably deliver (or at least arrange pickup of) whatever you are renting, etc.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:06 AM on May 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Between "side-gig" and "investor" lies "silent partner". You buy a truck and a mower and help someone start a lawn care business, you buy a bicycle and help someone start a grocery delivery business, you buy a water jet cutter and help someone start an engraved rock business, you buy a drone with a nice camera and help someone start/expand a videography business.
posted by at at 2:54 PM on May 13, 2019 [8 favorites]

The Cut recently listed 25 side hustles: how to make money at home. And Wired had an article on pulling (and fixing) lightly damaged tech from big box store dumpsters for serious cash, but that was in 2015, and things may have changed in that "field."
posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on May 23, 2019

I think rental is the way to do it, but maybe not apartment/house rental. Tents? Tools? Bounce Houses?

Ooh, you didn't favorite this, but I think this is a good line of thinking. Wedding photo booths? Kayaks? Rain protection awnings for events?
posted by salvia at 9:26 AM on May 27, 2019

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