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How to make extra money in the UK without annoying the tax man

Facing rising costs across all aspects of life, many people in the UK have started side hustles to rack up some spending money for little treats, weekends away or even holidays. 

Unlike a full-time job, a side hustle describes a way to make additional income outside of typical working hours and routines. Most side hustles take up just a few hours each week and earn you more modest sums compared to your primary salary – but that’s not always the case. 

In some instances, side hustles grow into entire businesses. Either way, if you’re already earning from a main job, you need to know how earning any additional income can affect your tax position. 

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the UK’s best side hustle opportunities and also explain how to keep yourself on the right side of HMRC’s strict rules.

What is a side hustle?

A ‘side hustle’ is a slang term for any activity earning you additional income outside your main job. There’s no real legal definition – a part-time job at a cafe could technically count as one. 

More commonly, however, people use the term ‘side hustle’ to describe casual entrepreneurship ideas like buying and selling goods, language tuition, or festival catering. These ‘hustles’ are usually chosen as a result of interests, passions and hobbies and are flexible around someone’s lifestyle. 

There is an almost endless stream of side hustle concepts available on the internet, but only some of them will be practical for UK workers already engaged in full-time employment. 

Read our dedicated guide to learn more about getting started with your side hustle.

Side hustles versus full-time jobs

Side Hustle Job
Casual and flexible Usually work fixed hours
Can usually work from home/remotely Often office-based with remote work permitted by agreement
More opportunity to explore passions/ interests/hobbies Career path generally formed by qualifications and experience
Earnings separate from PAYE - you may need to register for Self Assessment Earnings and tax through PAYE– only high earners (taxable income of £150,000 or more) need to complete a Self Assessment

How to choose the right side hustle

Side hustles should be something you’re passionate about. As a pursuit that sits outside of your working life, you’ll need enthusiasm and energy even after a hard day’s work at your main job – so carrying that passion is vital. 

Passion and interest are only part of the puzzle. Side hustles need to offer financial rewards, too. When you’re trying to pick one, you need to find an idea that not only appeals to your personality but also your lifestyle and goals. If you choose something that you absolutely love but eats up too much free time for too low an income, you might resent it. 

A good side hustle, then, is something that doesn’t require huge amounts of time and generates income you can enjoy without having too much of a detriment on your daily life. Choosing one relies on a combination of the following: 

Tips for choosing a side hustle
  • Weigh up the potential earnings against the investment required – both in terms of financial costs and the time you’ll need to invest. 
  • Consider the external commitments you’ll need to make with a side hustle. If, for example, you want to buy and sell products, you may need additional storage facilities to house stock. 
  • Don’t overcommit yourself—a side hustle is meant to be an additional source of income based on your passions/interests, not something that eats up all of your spare time and leads to overwork and stress. 
  • Select a side hustle that aligns with your experience – even if that’s just casual experience through hobbies or interests. Though some businesses can succeed with an inexperienced owner, it’s best to hit the ground running with a side hustle because you’re already committed to your other job and won’t be able to devote enough time to learning. 
  • Once you have an idea of what you want to do, research similar side hustles online to see how other people are managing their time. YouTube and social media platforms will have guides, vlogs and discussions galore, so get involved! 
  • Check your job contract, as some employers limit what side hustles an employee can take part in. If you’re not sure, ask your employer – or consult a legal professional if you want a more independent answer.

Passive vs hands-on side hustles

Passive income describes a venture that generates money without much input on your end, whether that’s time, attention or resources. For a side hustle to ever become a viable source of passive income, it must be nurtured and grown through active hard work. 

The vast majority of side hustles, even those that claim they’re great sources of ‘passive’ income, need you to pour lots of time and energy into them before they can sustain themselves. That’s why, in our big list of side hustle ideas, we’re trying to avoid the term ‘passive income’ as much as we can. 

In contrast, ‘hands-on’ side hustles are those with more physical demands that impact your success. Dog-walking, for example, requires you to organise with customers, travel to their home, complete the actual walk, etc. This needs to be factored into your decision-making process before you commit. 

Is Amazon FBA worth it?

Top 25+ side hustle ideas 

We’ve divided this section into several categories to help you find a side hustle that suits your needs. From the latest in-demand opportunities to quirky alternatives, here are our picks. 

The most in-demand side hustles in 2024

  1. Create a digital course

If you’ve got experience, passion or expertise in any field, you may be able to turn it into a profitable side hustle by creating and selling an online course. Though you’ll need to invest time and money in the process, you can streamline the whole thing via any number of specialist course platforms like Udemy and Skillshare. Make sure you research how to protect your online store, it might be worth looking at E-commerce business insurance depending on your set up.

  1. Start a blog

Create your own blog and share your writing with the world. If you can grow it to a decent readership, you can monetise your new creation with advertisements and affiliate deals. 

  1. Write an eBook

If you’re an expert on a subject, write about it! Creating an eBook is easy in this day and age, all you’ll need to do is follow Amazon’s self-publishing guidelines and make sure you have a good cover artist to grab readers in! 

  1. Launch a VA service

If you’re naturally organised, you might find your calling as a VA, or virtual assistant. You’ll set up meetings, organise calendars and sort emails for busy online professionals. Find work using popular gig sites like Upwork and Fiverr.  

  1. Become a social media manager

Fancy yourself a social media maverick? Try managing social pages for local businesses and help them rack up likes, followers and engagement. You don’t need any official qualifications, but having some form of demonstrable experience will be critical in finding your first clients. Use a social media management tool to group accounts together, automate posting and generally make your new side hustle more sustainable over time. 

  1. Test digital products/apps

Though building and launching your own app involves a little too much for it to meet the ‘side hustle’ criteria, testing them is a great little way to earn extra money. Sites such as User Testing will match you with digital products and sites, then ask you questions to help the developers make changes. In return for some of your time, you’ll be compensated in cash or vouchers. 

There are a LOT of survey and testing sites/apps out there. Make sure you choose one with good reviews that won’t eat up too much of your time for too little reward. 

  1. Produce engaging content

If you love something, why not try making content about it? If you can find a fanbase, you can begin building an audience and either making money from advertisements or fan platforms like Patreon. Don’t commit to a ‘type’ of content until you know what you want to make and who your audience is – some audiences are obsessed with podcasts, others love YouTube. Find what works for them AND for you. 

  1. Launch a dropshipping shop

If you’ve ever wanted to run a shop but don’t have the time or space to invest in a shopfront or storage, you could explore a dropshipping business on the side. You’ll need to find a dropshipping supplier and then start by setting up an online store filled with products your dropshipping supplier can provide. When a customer orders, it will be your supplier that fulfils it, so you never have to worry about storing products or packing orders. 

Check out our HMRC eBay tax guide

  1. Set up as a tutor

If you have a teachable skill, have you ever thought about tutoring? You can find students for virtually any subject using the internet, with video conferencing tools making it straightforward to deliver sessions flexibly and from the comfort of your home. If you have a commonly tutored skill,  such as a foreign language, there are also websites where you can register to become a tutor – but these arrangements can eat into your time and feel more like a job. Instead, try exploring freelancing boards such as Fiverr to advertise your skills. 

Practical side hustles

  1. Get tails wagging as a dog walker

Good with animals? You don’t need to be a qualified vet to make money from spending time with our furry friends. Dog owners often need help giving their beloved pet the right amount of exercise and turn to dog walkers to help. You can get started by offering walks in your local area, or if you have transport you can market yourself further afield. 

  1. Try out pet sitting

Though most people think of dog walking when it comes to animal-related side hustles, becoming a pet sitter might be an even better idea. Sitting involves visiting a customer’s home to look after their pets, typically dogs or cats, and usually includes overnight or multi-day sitting whilst the owner is on holiday. 

  1. Babysit like a pro

Babysitting gets a mixed rep thanks to American film and TV that depicts it as a lazy teenage excuse to make money. In reality, parents will happily pay for a trusted babysitter to take care of their children when they need a night out of the house. Anyone can be a babysitter – though your success will rightly depend on your reputation in your community, so make sure you have an up-to-date DBS check and public liability insurance.  

  1. Rent out your home/space

Digital tools have transformed our physical realities, especially when it comes to finding places to stay when travelling either in the UK or abroad. Platforms like Airbnb make it simple for anyone to rent out either part of their home or the full thing. 

Thanks to the proven need for this flexible rental model, there’s a whole range of spaces you might also want to rent. Garages and private parking spots in busy cities, for example, are great options from which you can turn a profit via sites such as JustPark. 

  1. Tidy gardens

You don’t need to be a garden expert to help people tidy their lawns, pull out weeds and remove rubbish. With just a few tools and some self-marketing, you can secure yourself a loyal local customer base and enjoy the sunshine on your back whilst you work. 

  1. Drive delivery gigs

The ‘gig’ economy attached to Deliveroo, UberEats and other delivery services might be a little concerning, but it’s also a flexible way for people with free time on their hands to explore a side hustle. If the service you choose lets you ditch the car and cycle instead, you’ll be saving the planet and reducing your costs, meaning more money in your pocket. 

  1. Buy and sell used goods

Though buying and selling used products is a fairly all-encompassing idea, it is a fundamentally proven method that you can scale up from selling unused items around your home, actively researching in-demand second-hand goods, sourcing them in charity shops or wholesalers, and then selling them online for a profit. 

Digital marketplaces have made it easy to set up and sell, wherever you are. You don’t even have to stick to one platform – but you do need to keep track of where your products are listed and how much you sell them for. Once you earn more than the £1000 trading allowance, you’ll have additional tax obligations to deal with. 

  1. Upcycle furniture & accessories

Ever fancied flexing your creative side? Get hands on by learning how to make and sell furniture and decor for the home and garden. You can either take existing furniture being thrown away or sold cheaply and then restore it, or create unique items from scratch. Take a look at Pinterest for inspiration and see where it takes you. 

  1. Sell baked goods 

Baking exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, with people across the UK suddenly finding themselves with the time to learn how to bake perfect sourdough bread or traybakes. Why give up your talent when you can make money from it? Set up a local baking page and sell your tasty goods to friends, family and neighbours – though you’ll need to register with the local authority and check you have permission from your landlord or mortgage provider. 

  1. Capitalise on car knowledge

If you’ve got any motoring knowledge, you might be able to make money by purchasing cars at auction, making any necessary repairs and then selling them for profit. Your success will depend on how good you are at spotting issues, as many cars sold at auction need lots of work before they’re desirable to the average buyer. 

Unusual & quirky side hustles

  1. Become a children’s entertainer

If you can sing, dance or act, have you thought about entertaining little ones at birthday parties and other events? Buying a themed costume and performing is a great way to make a good side income, especially if you’re a good performer and have the patience required to work with small children. You can either start your own social media pages to market yourself, or offer your services to an existing children’s entertainment business. Due to the risks involved, you’ll need public liability insurance and an up-to-date DBS check.

  1. Rent party equipment

If you’re not up to direct entertainment, the children’s party industry is still a great source of side income. Invest in a bouncy castle, soft play equipment or something more unique and rent them out for parties in your area. You’ll need a way to market yourself and transport the equipment, but once the set-up is done you’re all set to start earning. 

  1. Explore 3D printing

3D printing allows you to take an .STL file and print it out into the physical world – making ‘something from nothing’ in a way few other methods can match. The cost of 3D printers continues to fall, making it easier than ever for a newcomer to acquire one and start experimenting. Due to the calibrations, settings and active management required, 3D printing is a skill in itself. Once mastered, you can start printing anything from miniatures for wargaming to make-up stations, kitchen accessories and more – all of which you can then sell online.

  1. Become a local guide

Do you live in a popular city? Have you ever considered becoming a tour guide? What about taking a niche hobby or interest you’ve explored in your own town, such as the best spots for vegetarian food, and creating a walking tour out of it? Becoming a guide isn’t for everyone – but it can be a great side hustle for extroverted people with a passion for their local area. 

  1. Get seen on screen as a TV/film extra

If you’d love to see yourself on the big screen but don’t have time for full-time drama school, you may be in luck! TV and film extra gigs offer flexible, casual work – but typically require tricky hours that make taking part hard for people who work standard full-time hours. If you’ve got a flexible diary, however, you can give it a try to make extra money AND see yourself on the tele. 

  1. DJing

If you’ve got a passion for music and an eye for a crowd, you can start a small DJing side hustle with very little investment. Once you’ve got a few small events booked, you can start approaching larger venues to advertise your services.

Tips for success in your side hustle

Choosing a side hustle isn’t the same as succeeding with one – otherwise, everyone would do it. 

The flexible, casual nature of each side hustle we’ve listed means you need to commit to your new endeavour if you want to stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips for success: 

  • Treat your side hustle like a business by writing a basic business plan and defining your goals. 
  • Track your finances carefully using a tool like Crunch so you are always aware of costs vs profit and how your side hustle affects your main income and tax eligibility. 
  • Build a network of clients and collaborators by joining relevant local groups either online or in person. Spread the word behind your business to as many people as you can. 
  • Invest some of your profits back into your side hustle to ensure you keep growing. Marketing and advertising costs can be steep, so it’s important you can balance them against potential rewards. 

FAQs about side hustles in the UK

What is the best side hustle in the UK?

There’s no real ‘best’ side hustle; it all depends on your experience. However, in terms of risk and reward, one of the best and most welcoming is buying and selling used goods. With eBay and other second-hand selling apps, it’s never been easier to set yourself up and start selling old clothes, jewellery, furniture, board games and more. 

How can I make an extra £1000 a month in the UK?

Making £1000 is all about setting the right goal with your side hustle based entirely on how long you want to spend doing it. If you’re spending 10 hours each week practising your new venture, you need a target rate of £25 per hour to hit £1000 each month. 

Is that feasible? Some specialised side hustles command higher rates far over £25, but others are subject to the wider market. A quick Google search shows you that dog walkers charge around £10-15 per dog per hour, so you’re unlikely to hit a £1000 goal unless you take multiple dogs at a time or commit even more of your time to your side hustle.

How to make extra money in the UK without a job?

You don’t need a job to make money in the UK – you can instead start a side hustle which can see you become a sole trader or limited business. There are plenty of options depending on your experience, from entry-level side hustles such as product testing or delivery driving through to children’s entertainment, upcycling and baking. 

What's the most lucrative side hustle?

The most ‘lucrative’ side hustle really depends on your experience and ability to spot the right market. In general, the best activities require the smallest investment in terms of time and money to drive the highest rewards, so online side hustles such as social media management and selling courses or eBooks are a good place to start. 

Start your side hustle right

Ready to start a side hustle? Remember: you need to properly track and account for your new income stream in case you fall afoul of HMRC. Use Crunch to stay on the right track and build a more complete picture of your side hustle’s success. Try it out today. 

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Updated on
July 4, 2024

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