25 ideas for second income generation

Published • 26/10/2023 | Updated • 26/10/2023

Business ideas

25 ideas for second income generation

Published • 26/10/2023 | Updated • 26/10/2023

Business ideas

With the cost of living being so high these days, it’s not surprising that many people in the UK are generating a second income alongside their main jobs. In fact, almost 20% of adults have made their second income ideas a reality since 2020.

You might be wondering how to make a second income in the UK. The good news is there are all kinds of options to fit all kinds of personal circumstances, whether you’re after business ideas with low investment requirements you can pursue from home, or prefer the idea of getting out and about.

Many ideas will allow you to start making money straight away, which is ideal if time is of the essence. Other second income ideas are slow burners which can allow you to potentially monetise your creative side over time.

In this guide we’ll look at how to make a second income in a whole range of different ways, and hopefully inspire you to pursue the path that really suits your own personal circumstances.

Manage your business budget

Whatever kind of second income idea you choose, it’s useful to keep track of the costs and incoming payments separately from your current account. SumUp’s online business account is the ideal solution.

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25 great second income ideas to start right now

Pondering how to come up with a business idea? To help get your cogs turning, we’ve put together a variety of ideas from right across the side hustle spectrum.

Whether you’re a tech aficionado, a natural born storyteller or someone who thrives on an intense, target-driven environment, at least a few of these ideas should strike a chord. To help you navigate more easily, we’ve grouped them into these categories:

1. Social media

Social media sites might be fun to browse while you’re lazing on the sofa or procrastinating at work, but have you considered turning your interest into a potential money-spinner? 

It may sound like quite a leap to become a paid influencer or social media consultant, but with some initiative and hard work, this can rank among the most enjoyable second income categories to consider. 

Become an Instagram influencer

Instagram is far more than simply a platform for sharing photos and videos. It’s a bustling social media hub where users can craft entire personas, promote products, and establish themselves as brands. It’s also incredibly popular, with over 46% of the UK population owning Instagram accounts.

To maximise your chances of success as an Instagram influencer, you’ll need to focus on a niche. The more specific, the better. And it should be something you can really position yourself as an authority about – whether that’s fashion, makeup tips, tech, or travel.

The quality of your photos and videos needs to be impeccable, and you should consider investing in a good DSLR camera if you don’t already have one. 

Through diligent posting and careful trial and error – seeing which kinds of posts get engagement and which don’t – you may get to the position where you can make money by posting affiliate links to products. Then, when your followers click through and make purchases, you’ll be paid a commission.

You may even become sponsored by certain brands to promote their wares, making you a bona fide influencer. 

Become a Twitch streamer

The live streaming platform Twitch is best known for its video game content, with top gamers attracting millions of fans who are hooked on watching them play and commentate on top titles. 

However, many stars of the platform also have streams focused on arts and crafts, cooking, music and other hobbies that make money thanks to Twitch.

In order to utilise the built-in monetisation tools, you’ll need to become a Twitch Affiliate by streaming consistently and gathering at least 50 followers. As an Affiliate (and later on, a Twitch Partner), you can receive “bits”, which are a way for your followers to show support. Each bit is worth $0.01.

You can also make money when people become paid subscribers to your Twitch channel, and by running ads on your stream. As your profile grows, you can benefit from placing affiliate links on your channel, and gaining sponsorships.

Of course, your priority as a newcomer to the platform will be to create the best content possible. This extends beyond the streams themselves, with many Twitch creators also providing bespoke perks to followers.

These often include customised emotes and subscriber badges. If you’re not a great designer, it’s worth hiring someone from a site like Fiverr to create your own range of fun, eye-catching creations.

Create your own YouTube channel

Selecting the right niche is key to generating a second income from the world’s best-known video sharing site.

While many superstar YouTubers like MrBeast have made their fortune performing elaborate stunts in elaborate settings, you can grow your following without having to invest a lot of money. 

For example, you could review films and video games, do tech unboxing videos, or even ASMR videos from the comfort of your own bedroom or living room.

Presentation is everything – you’ll need a high quality camera and audio set up, and curate a YouTube channel page with a unique banner and a welcome video introducing your channel.

Having 500 subscribers and at least 3,000 public watch hours will allow you to apply for the YouTube Partner Programme. If you’re accepted, you can make money by running ads, accepting ‘Super Chat’ payments from followers during live chats, and gaining revenue from channel memberships.

As a YouTuber, you can also benefit from corporate sponsorships and commissions from affiliate links

Make TikTok videos

TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon, with more than a billion active users a month enjoying its seemingly limitless array of short form videos. While it’s certainly a competitive platform, there’s no reason why you can’t carve out a slice of the action and make it the source of a second revenue.

Perhaps the best way to get a feel for what people want is to gorge on as many videos as you can. You should also use popular hashtags and songs, and keep up with the hottest TikTok trends and challenges.

The site pays popular users based on their level of engagement and views. There’s also a function called Series, which allows users to place premium content behind a paywall.

If you’re thinking about how to use social media for small business income generation, it’s also worth looking into the TikTok Creator Marketplace, which connects popular TikTokers with corporate sponsors.

Become a social media consultant

You don’t need to be an influencer or creative in your own right to make a second income from social media. You can also offer your services as a consultant or strategist for businesses which want to improve their social media presence.

Even large companies will often lack the in-house resources to give their social media channels the attention they require. If you have a good knowledge of how sites like X (Twitter), LinkedIn and Instagram work, and can effectively assess engagement using analytics tools, you can provide services such as:

  • Planning both short- and long-term social media campaigns

  • Writing and designing the posts themselves

  • Responding to comments on platforms

Before launching yourself as a social media consultant, you’ll need to have a proven track record using the platforms. So, before advertising on sites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour, be sure to have your own channels on X, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook at a minimum.

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It’s important to invoice in a prompt, professional, seamless way when you’re a freelance consultant. SumUp Invoices takes all the hassle out of the process.

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2. Creative content

Turning your creative streak into a business can be risky if you’re aiming to make it your main source of income. The creative industries are notoriously competitive, and there’s no guarantee your work will resonate with enough people to generate revenue.

But, since you already have a primary job, you’ll be able to take your time, experiment, and try out new kinds of creative content, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be the end of the world if it doesn’t work out. 

Set up a Substack

Substack is an online platform that lets writers make money from blogs and newsletters, while retaining complete creative control over their work. 

Gone are the days of having to submit articles to some features editor and hoping it gets their interest – with Substack, you cultivate and communicate with your readership directly.

Many of the world’s top journalists and novelists have migrated to Substack, but what makes the platform such a game-changer is that even a newcomer can successfully generate income from writing about things they care about.

Whether you want to write about food, video games, politics, social inequality, or virtually anything else, you can go ahead and do it on your Substack page. It’s simple to upload work and process payments.

You should make all of your writing free-to-access to begin with. Your emphasis should be on building your readership, and it will help to promote your page on Twitter and other social media sites.

Once you’ve built up a solid foundation of content, you can then choose to create premium content which paying readers can access. Even if you simply opt for the minimum $5 a month access, that will amount to a healthy second income if you have a few hundred readers or more.

Become a copywriter

Companies both large and small are engaged in a constant race to rank higher on search engine listings, gain attention on social media, and generally earn and keep the attention of potential customers. They need high quality editorial content to do this, which is where you can step in as a freelance copywriter.

As a newcomer to the industry, you can post adverts on freelance marketplace sites like Fiverr and PeoplePerHour. With any luck, you’ll secure some longstanding clients who’ll commission work regularly and perhaps even recommend your services to other businesses.

There are several different types of editorial content that are always in demand. These include:

  • Website copy  

  • Blog posts

  • Social media posts

  • Marketing emails and newsletters

Copywriting is one of the most low cost high profit business ideas out there, since the overheads are minimal. Armed only with a laptop, an internet connection and some patience, it’s possible to seek out writing projects which you can fit around your day job.

Launch an affiliate marketing site

If you have a passion for a particular subject, you can turn that into an income-generator by creating a website devoted to that subject, peppered with links to related products and services

You can then get paid a commission whenever your readers follow the links and/or make purchases through them.

Your website can take any form you like – it might be a simple blog where you write about your passions, or it could be a review site

If you love Italian food, for example, you could create a blog devoted to recipes and insert affiliate links to relevant products such as pasta makers, specialist food vendors, and the like. Or, if you’re a gamer, you might want to create a big review site with links to tech products.

The important thing is you write about something you know very well, as search engines tend to prioritise content which is authoritative and provides genuinely useful information. 

You’ll want to keep up with social media talking points relating to your subject, so you know what kinds of key words and phrases to include in your content.

You can forge partnerships with product vendors through a number of affiliate networks like AffiliateFuture, Amazon Associates and ClickBank. You can even try reaching out directly to companies and see if there’s scope for an affiliate partnership.

Be a graphic designer

Graphic design is a booming industry, worth billions in the UK alone. If you’re a talented designer used to using software like Photoshop and InDesign, you might be able to capitalise on the demand.

There are various projects you can work on as a graphic designer. You might be called upon to design:

  • Corporate logos

  • Posters, leaflets and other marketing materials

  • Websites and apps

  • Product packaging

  • Book and magazine layouts

  • Patterns for clothing

As with copywriting and many other kinds of online creative services, you can advertise what you do on sites such as Fiverr and PeoplePerHour. Be sure to highlight any professional experience you have in design.

Whether or not you have a pre-existing portfolio, it will help to have your own website which will serve as a kind of shop front for your design skills. Don’t be afraid to be bold, playful and irreverent – perhaps playing around with typography and meme-style imagery to really show off your creative skills.

Create your own podcast

Podcasts have become a cultural phenomenon, with millions of people around the world eagerly listening in. Providing you’re able to invest in the basic equipment, such as a quality microphone, shock mount and headphones, you can try creating your own show, working on it in your spare hours.

Careful planning is everything when creating a podcast. If you have a strong idea in mind, check to see if it’s been covered by other podcasters. A bit of overlap isn’t necessarily a bad thing – after all, many true crime podcasts over the same cases.

However, you do want to ensure you provide your own, distinctive take on a subject, whether in terms of the tone you adopt (irreverent vs serious) or the narrative structure (long-form vs episodic). You should also soundtrack your podcast, perhaps using royalty-free music from a library like Bensound.

Podcast hosting sites such as Libsyn and Buzzsprout will help you get your show out there for listeners to find on directors like Spotify. It will inevitably take time to gain attention and generate money from the podcast, but it can be one of the most creatively rewarding ways to bring in a second income.

3. Ecommerce

The UK is one of the world’s biggest markets for ecommerce, so you can potentially tap into very high demand if you set up your stall online. And, since this kind of business is not customer-facing, it can be a great idea if you’re wondering how to make money from home.

Read on for some popular ways you can make a second income through selling items online. 

Sell pre-loved clothes

If you have an eye for fashion, you could generate a second income by reselling clothes online. You can set up an account on eBay or Asos Marketplace in moments, and then it’ll be a matter of populating it with second-hand items you can sell on for a profit.

Being a successful “fashion flipper” requires diligent sourcing of great garments. This is something you can fit into spare moments here and there. For example, you might spend your lunch break at work browsing sites like Vinted and Depop for items you can imagine selling on for a profit.

Or, enjoy pleasant weekend afternoons wandering vintage shops, pop-up markets and warehouse sales for bargains.

It’s important to present the clothes in an attractive way. Taking clear, professional-quality photos can increase the chances of getting sales. You should also keep up with current fashion tastes by keeping an eye on social media.

After all, someone’s grandmother’s hand-me-downs, tucked away in the corner of a charity shop for months, may suddenly become a must-have item you can sell for a handsome profit.

Set up your stall online

If you specialise in a particular type of flipped fashion – say, 50s and 60s styles – you can cement your brand by establishing your own online store with SumUp.

Learn more

Sell arts and crafts items

Whether your skills run to illustration, textiles, woodcraft, ceramics, or any other categories of arts and crafts, there’s an unprecedented number of online platforms which allow you to sell your creations to an appreciative public.

Etsy is the best-known of these, but others you can consider include Art in the Heart, Folksy, and Crafter’s Market UK. Once you start generating sales and create something of a name for yourself, you may choose to take the next step and set up your own online store. Having your very own virtual shopfront can help make your brand stand out and be more likely to be remembered by customers.

Being bold and daring make all the difference when you’re selling homeware, artworks, jewellery, or any other hand-made creations online. Rather than attempting to please as many people as possible, create designs you genuinely love, and which will speak to like-minded people.

This way, you can really own your own niche and stand out from the crowd. Promoting your products through photos and videos on Instagram and TikTok can also help drive your sales.

Become a dropshipper

Dropshopping has been a game-changing development in the history of ecommerce. With this sales model, your financial risk is far lower since you don’t actually need to purchase the stock you intend to sell. Instead, the manufacturer of the items in question will dispatch them to your customers directly, as and when they’re sold.

Your role is simply to promote the items through your online store. These can be anything from clothes and accessories to tech and homeware products. 

You can be as eclectic in your range as you like, though you may find it beneficial to associate your brand with a particular niche. For example, some dropshipping businesses have done very well by selling wristwatches.

Partnerships with trusted, reliable suppliers will be the foundation of any dropshipping enterprise. Fortunately, there are well-established dropshipping sites such as Worldwide Brands and SaleHoo which have already vetted thousands of wholesalers on your behalf.

You’ll also want to keep up to speed on what consumers are looking for within your niche. Make time to research the latest Google Trends and social media chatter, so you can adjust the focus of your business to cater to the ecommerce zeitgeist.

Print items on demand

If the convenience and cost-effectiveness of dropshipping appeals to you, but you’re also interested in creating your own products rather than simply acting as an intermediary for suppliers, then you should consider the print-on-demand ecommerce model 

As with standard dropshipping, no stock is purchased upfront. Instead, the products are created to order by specialist companies like Printify and Printful, which also take care of the shipping.

The way it works is very straightforward. You upload your bespoke designs on the print-on-demand company’s website. Then, select the items you’d like them to apply your design to. These can be anything from t-shirts, dresses and hoodies, to mugs, tote bags and phone cases.

You don’t even need to be a hotshot designer yourself – you can always hire professionals from Fiverr and other sites to create exclusive imagery for your label. 

With eye-catching aesthetics, your own online store, and savvy self-promotion on social media, you can have your own fashion and lifestyle brand up and running in short order.

Make and post tasty treats

If you’re a keen cook, your culinary talents could form the basis of an enjoyable side hustle. Namely, selling edible treats online.

The mail-order food industry is thriving in the UK, with everything from gourmet cakes and cookies, through to artisan pickles and chutneys, being sold via ecommerce.

As a business model, this is a good fit for people with full-time jobs. For example, if you went into business creating hand-crafted kimchi and sauerkraut, you could knock up large batches on weekends and your days off, and have them ready to send out whenever the orders come in.

Needless to say, you’ll want to ensure you have an attractive online store and are very active on social media – Instagram is a particularly good platform for showcasing your creations and getting feedback from potential customers.

Bear in mind that there are legal requirements for starting a small business in this sector. The Food Standards Agency has all the information you need.

Sell photography

Photography has the potential to be far more than just a fun hobby, with stock photo sites like Getty Images, iStock and Shutterstock paying money for images that meet their selection criteria.

Take the example of Getty, which is one of the world’s largest and most respected photo distribution sites. Contributors need to download a specific app and then submit a handful of sample photos. These will then be looked at by the editorial team.

If you pass this stage, you’ll be able to sign a non-exclusive agreement to have your photos hosted on the site. You’ll then earn money every time your photos are licensed by the site’s users, who include giant brands and multinational advertising agencies.

Be sure to make use of the resources that these sites helpfully make available. For example, Getty has a section on its site detailing the kinds of content they’re looking for.

Look out as well for special channels such as Shutterstock Custom, a pathway which Shutterstock provides for brands who are looking to hire photographers to create original, custom photos for specific projects.

4. Domestic services

Enjoy meeting people and working in a more physical way – perhaps as a welcome break from sitting at a laptop in your primary career? You might want to consider second income ideas that involve domestic work of some kind.

These can range from cleaning to providing accommodation for paying guests. Let’s consider some options which have low barriers to entry.

Become a part-time cleaner

Any list of side hustle ideas has to include domestic cleaning, because it ticks the two key boxes. First, there’s high demand throughout the country, with around a third of UK households using domestic cleaners.  

Second, sites like TaskRabbit and AirTasker allow you to work in a way that suits you. For example, AirTasker lets you browse any cleaning jobs that happen to be available in your preferred area, during your preferred time frame. On TaskRabbit, you can create a profile and set the days or hours you’re free, and wait for potential clients to contact you.

Being a cleaner doesn’t require much upfront investment – you’ll just need basic kit like mops, clothes, brushes, sprays and a vacuum cleaner. That said, you may decide to branch out into carpet cleaning too.

Our research has found that carpet cleaning is actually one of the most in-demand local business niches in the UK. So it could be a good money-maker if you have the budget to spend on a carpet cleaning machine and specialist detergents, not to mention a carpet cleaning course.

Look after pets

Being a nation of animal lovers, the UK is also a nation in need of pet sitters – and you can become one with ease thanks to sites like Rover and Pawshake.

These work in a very straightforward way. You create your profile as a prospective pet sitter, and wait to be contacted by owners in your area. You’ll have complete freedom to choose when you work and what services you offer.

Pet sitters typically walk dogs, look after pets in their own homes, and drop by pet owners’ houses to feed and play with pets while the owners are at work or on holiday.

Creating an appealing profile is key to edging out rival pet sitters in your area. So be sure to put up a nice, smiling photo of yourself, and to write in detail about your passion for animals and any relevant experience you have looking after pets.

If it goes well and you amass regular clients, you may even choose to turn this into a bona fide business with your very own website and social media profile.

Become a babysitter

If you’re good with kids and wondering how to make extra money here and there in a fuss-free way, being a babysitter can be just the thing.

There are numerous websites which can allow you to get in touch with parents and guardians requiring babysitters. One prominent platform connecting guardians with babysitters is Childcare.co.uk, which has over 2.5 million members.

This is a social networking site rather than an agency, so it’s completely free to use with no commission being taken. However, this does mean you’ll have to negotiate and process payments yourself, and upload important documents like your ID and DBS checks.

You can also apply to be on the books of online agencies. This process is more involved, as you’ll likely be interviewed more than once. They will also carry out DBS checks and other official formalities.

However you choose to become a babysitter, it can be a great way to make a modest second income with a very high profit margin.

Get paid flexibly

Handling your own payments as a babysitter? You can simply send parents and guardians SumUp Payment Links which they can use to send you money.

Find out more

Host people in your home

If you have a bedroom going spare in your home, why not turn it into a source of secondary income? Airbnb is the most well-known online marketplace for short stays, and creating a listing advertising your property is very easy and intuitive.

There are a few rules of thumb for giving yourself the best chance of attracting guests. As with online dating, great photos are crucial, and it may be worth having them professionally done. Indeed, according to Airbnb, profiles with professional photos get up to 20% more bookings and up to 20% higher earnings.

Depending on where you’re based, you may be able to utilise Airbnb’s own pro photography service. Otherwise, you can always hire someone from a site like Fiverr.

A great write-up is also important for Airbnb success. As well as describing your space, you’ll want to talk about yourself. Don’t be afraid to really go into detail about your interests, hobbies, and knowledge of your area.

Favourable reviews can also be make-or-break when it comes to making money this way. So, remember to chase up guests if they don’t leave a review of their own volition.

Work as a handyperson

If you’re wondering how to make a second income in the UK without spending too much on setting things up, being a “jack-of-all-trades” handyperson can be a good choice.

Aforementioned marketplaces like AirTaker and TaskRabbit can allow you to monetise your skills by doing odd DIY-style jobs in your area (or beyond, if you’re happy to travel).

There are three main overheads to consider. One is the cost of getting to and from people’s homes. The other is the cost of public liability insurance, which should be fairly modest but will cover you in the case of any accidents stemming from your work.

Then there’s the cost of tools like electric drills, brushes, screwdriver sets, and extension cables. Such tools will likely last you for years, if not for the rest of your working life. So after an initial outlay of perhaps a few hundred pounds, you should be all set to turn your skills into profit.

You’ll want to ensure you offer the most convenient service possible for your clients. One way to do that is to accept payments by debit and credit cards, rather than insisting they have cash to hand. That’s why a portable card reader can give you an edge when trying to establish yourself as the local go-to jack-of-all-trades.

5. Delivery driving

We’re living in an era of super-convenience, where anyone can arrange for transportation, have food delivered, and book couriers with just a few taps on an app.

All of this has created a wealth of second income opportunities for those who have a driving licence and can fit driving jobs into their schedules. Let’s consider some of the top options.

Make money as a rideshare driver

Becoming a rideshare driver, where you pick up passengers and take them where they need to go like a taxi, offers one of the most flexible ways to make a second income. You’ll be completely free to set your own schedule, whether you fancy putting in an hour or so on weeknights, or the occasional Saturday afternoon.

Uber is the best-known rideshare app, and it provides an easy sign-up process. You’ll need to have a vehicle that has four doors and is in good condition with no cosmetic damage.

A private hire licence will also be required. In London, these are handed out by Transport for London. Outside the capital, you’ll have to contact your local council. Uber has a programme called Ignition which is designed to help new drivers apply for their private hire licence.

A medical check-up and an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal records check will be part of the process. Bear in mind as well that you’ll need private hire and public liability insurance policies. Price comparison sites can help you keep these costs as low as possible.

Delivery parcels

If you prefer the thought of transporting parcels rather than people, then becoming a part-time delivery driver should be on your shortlist of second income ideas. You’ll be able to set your own hours, fitting jobs in around work and family commitments.

The Amazon Flex programme is great for anyone looking to make money on the side. If you have a driving licence and access to a mid-sized car with five seats or more, you can accept Amazon delivery jobs through the Flex app.

The application process is straightforward, and you can kick things off by downloading the app and registering your details. A criminal records check will be carried out as part of the enrolment.

You will also need commercial hire and reward insurance, and it’s worth knowing that Amazon has an insurance partnership in place. This allows you to take a policy which only requires you to pay for the blocks of time where you’re carrying out deliveries.

Become a courier

Rather than delivering parcels to the general public, you might choose to go down the business-to-business route by becoming a same-day courier. All kinds of organisations depend on efficient couriers to get everything from sensitive documents to medical supplies from A to B, and this is where you can step in.

You don’t have to go through the effort of creating a courier business from scratch. Instead, you can sign up as a self-employed courier for a company such as CitySprint or Gophr.

CitySprint, for example, has dozens of service centres across the country, with thousands of courier jobs available every single day. There are jobs available for different vehicle types, so you can enrol whether you have a bicycle, motorbike, car or van.

Such companies typically have very efficient onboarding processes, so you can easily upload the required documents (such as images of your driving licence and hire and reward insurance policy) and get yourself on their books as quickly as possible.

Deliver food 

Yet another viable option for making a second income is to deliver food for restaurants and take-aways. There are two main ways to do this.

The first is to become a delivery driver for online platforms like Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo. These sites gather together numerous food vendors in one place, and notify you of jobs as they arise.

You’ll be able to make the deliveries using your choice of transportation, so if you don’t have a driving licence you can hop on a bike instead. It’s also good to know that any tips you’re given will go straight into your pocket.

The other option is to go “old school” and deliver for one, specific restaurant or take-away. Chains like Pizza Hut will offer long-running contracts which still allow you to work flexible hours. They will also frequently provide you with transportation, not to mention meals and bonuses.

How to choose a second income idea

The second income ideas outlined above should give you plenty of food for thought. But how can you whittle down your shortlist to one idea you can take to fruition? Here are some pointers to guide you.

Follow your gut

A second income idea may sound great on paper, but fail to really excite you. In which case, you should probably skip to the next one. The fact is, committing your spare hours to a business idea is a big ask, and if you don’t feel a gut-level affinity for the idea, the chances are you’ll run out of steam very quickly.

Make sure the idea fits your personality

Some people genuinely enjoy high-pressure jobs where you’re rewarded for hitting targets. Think, making food deliveries or working as a same-day courier.

On the other hand, you might prefer a more relaxed setting, where you can take the time to work on a money-making project without having to worry about meeting immediate goals. Think, writing Substack posts or creating an affiliate marketing blog. 

So, as well as ensuring you choose an idea that excites you, you need to know you’ll enjoy the working environment itself. This will be key to maintaining that all-important sense of motivation that will lead to success.

Use your existing skills or experience

Choosing an idea that utilises your current skills brings a couple of clear benefits. For one thing, it’ll mean you can get started more quickly, and won’t have to spend money on re-training. Plus, you’ll probably feel a lot more confident providing services and/or products that you know you’re good at.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though. If there’s an idea that really interests you, and requires spending some time taking on new skills, then you should absolutely go for it if you don’t have a pressing need to generate a second income right away.

Ensure it fits your schedule

Your main career always has to come first. So, when brainstorming second income ideas, you’ll want to narrow your focus to those which can easily complement your current schedule.

If, say, your primary job involves night shifts, then there’s probably not much point pursuing a side hustle which requires doing customer-facing work. If your primary job is very intense, making it difficult to commit time and energy to another business, you might zero in on internet-based passive income ideas.

Keep it affordable

Your starting budget is a major consideration when weighing up ideas. After all, the idea is to supplement your income, not put added pressure on your resources. And, since many second income ideas may take time to yield a profit, you’ll want to keep your financial risk to an absolute minimum.

Most of the second income ideas we’ve outlined in this guide won’t cost a lot to set up. But everybody’s circumstances are different, and it’s best to stick well within your budget when starting a side hustle.

How to make a second income idea a reality

Once you’ve selected your second income idea, you’ll be ready to make it a real, profitable enterprise. Taking a methodical approach can make the process more manageable and less daunting from the outset. Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1: Do your market research

The kind of market research required will very much depend on the second income idea you’ve chosen. If, say, you’re setting yourself up as a prospective Instagram influencer, you’ll need to carefully look up other people who are already active within your niche. What kinds of content are they creating? Who is sponsoring them? How can you improve on what they do?

If, say, you want to make money as a cleaner, you’ll want to check who’s currently active in your area on sites like TaskRabbit. How much are they charging per hour? What are people saying in their reviews? Might it be worth edging out the competition by creating your own cleaning business website as well as advertising on marketplaces?

Step 2: Write a business plan

Writing a business plan will help you clarify your aims and approach. Its length and level of detail will depend on the kind of work you’ll be doing. For example, if you’re thinking of becoming a delivery driver, your business plan is likely to be fairly simple, and consist mainly of projected overheads and earnings – accounting for things like fuel and insurance costs, and planning what kinds of hours you’ll be able to work.

On the other hand, if you’re setting up a more complex business such as a YouTube channel or mail-order food enterprise, there will be more ground to cover. 

Wondering how to write a business plan? It’s pretty straightforward, just make sure you include these elements:

  • A general summary of your objectives

  • A breakdown of the market research you’ve carried out, including details of competitors and what customers are looking for

  • Financial projections, including as much detail as possible on how much you expect to spend and earn

  • Details of your marketing strategy, laying out what your approach will be on social media, if relevant

Step 3: Choose your business structure

Many side hustlers like to keep things simple and work as sole traders. This allows you to automatically keep any profit you make, and your only official requirement will be to register with HMRC for submitting your annual tax return. 

However, you may prefer to make your second income business into its own, separate legal entity by setting up a limited company

This is a bit more complicated, as it involves incorporating your business with Companies House, paying Corporation Tax, and adhering to accounting requirements.

If you’re working as, say, a handyperson or courier or pet sitter, you may not want to bother going down the limited company route. But if your work involves dealing with other businesses – for example, you’re a social media consultant – then setting up a limited company may be a good idea. That’s because many businesses prefer to partner with limited companies rather than sole traders.

Similarly, if you intend to take out a business loan – for example, to purchase the kit for creating YouTube videos – it may be a good idea to set up a limited company as you won’t be personally liable for any debts incurred through the business.

Step 4: Purchase the right insurance policies

Some sources of secondary income will require you to take out particular insurance cover. Say you’re working as a freelance copywriter and have been commissioned to ghostwrite an industry white paper for a corporate client. Having personal indemnity insurance will cover you if an error you make in the copy ends up costing your client money.

Meanwhile, if you’re a cleaner, you may want to take out public liability insurance to cover you if someone were to slip and injure themselves on a floor you’ve just mopped. Rideshare and delivery drivers also have vehicle-related insurance to factor into their costings.

Step 5: Set up a business account

Before you launch your second income idea, it’s a good idea to set up a business account. This will make it easier to keep tabs on how much you’re spending and how much you’re getting paid. 

You can set up SumUp’s business account online in moments, and be all set to make free bank transfers and manage your business finances wherever you are using the app.


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