Unique Side Hustle Ideas for Twenty-Somethings (That I Actually Did)
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with business. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs and I grew up seeing the freedom that came with that. The concept of earning money has always fascinated me and has been heavily embedded in my upbringing. Growing up, having a job in high school was a must if we wanted a car or extra cash. Money wasn’t just handed to us, it was earned. So when it came to side hustling, I felt right at home! Here is a rundown of my past side hustles starting from when I was in college. And if you’re looking to start a business, there are all fantastic side hustle ideas for twenty something year olds.
Running A Side Hustle In Your Twenties
There are many reasons you may be considering starting a side hustle in your twenties. Your twenties are an ever-changing season of life. You may be seeking higher education. You may already be in the workforce. Whatever the case, chances are you’re simply trying to figure out this thing called life. And what better ways to figure it out than these two things; money and experience?
For those who are starting a side hustle in their twenties, you’re likely trying to earn more money or gain more experience. Or if you’re like me, a little of both. Money and experience are harder to come by when you’re first stepping into adulthood. Therefore, side hustling is a fanatic option to take opportunity into your own hands to make it happen. And for twenty year olds starting out, there are so many fun and unique side hustle ideas waiting for you!
Why Have A Side Hustle In Your Twenties Is Important
When we are in the early stages of our careers, it’s just as important to focus on self-development as career development. During your twenties, you begin to develop decision-making and work ethic behavior that will likely follow you all throughout your career. Side hustling is a fantastic way to both develop yourself, earn income, and gain experience working. No matter the work.
For me, side hustling has been a way to enjoy work and enjoy how I earn income. This isn’t the case for everyone. However, it has been my own path into entrepreneurship and has now led me to educate others. Here is a rundown of all of my past side hustles. If you’re currently looking to start a business, these are fantastic side hustle ideas for twenty year olds. You can even email me here if you have specific questions on any of them!
Side Hustle Ideas For Twenty Year Olds:
My very first legit business was a cleaning business I started in college called Soaps and Suds Cleaning Buds LLC. And yes, this was the actual name. My dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer and I discovered quickly that I needed a job with flexibility. So I started building my company and eventually left my restaurant job to pursue it.
I cleaned houses in about a 30-mile radius of my college and drove to and from jobs in-between classes. And yes, I smelled like cleaning supplies 24/7. I provided various packages, brought my own supplies and provided my clients with convenience.
WHAT I DID RIGHT:
I owned a legit business. I went by the book, paid my taxes, created a website, made business cards, and the whole nine yards. Customer service also was at the top of my priority list. I left all of my houses with a thank you note, an “in-between cleanings” mini cleaning bottle, and captured reviews. I also worked by booty off and ran that business FEARLESSLY!
WHAT I DID WRONG:
Well, this can be a long list so I’ll keep it short. With Soaps and Suds, I actually tried to grow the company too quickly and underestimated the seasons of life and how that effects business. During my summer internship out of state, Soaps and Suds had been operating for about 8 months. I actually tried to hire someone to take my place while I was gone over the summer. Long story short; I didn’t know how to properly onboard a new-hire or onboard my clients for the change. My business suffered.
Pet photography was my second side hustle idea I created and started in my twenties. I began my pet photography business while I worked my first ever corporate job out of college. I didn’t have a ton of business experience past Soaps and Suds. However, I began becoming obsessed with business podcasts and the idea of profitable niches.
With my pet photography business, I wanted to capture the love between pet and owner and do it in a beautiful portrait-styled way. This business saw a lot of feedback pretty early on and gave me a really fun experience in marketing since it was so niche and unique.
WHAT I DID RIGHT:
I really put myself and my business out there for others to see. There wasn’t a lot of fear stopping me and I felt brave to do it. I also did a great job of finding a profitable niche. I knew the pet industry was always profitable and growing year after year. So niching down and only providing pet photography was a smart move.
I also did a good job of bridging the “problem and solution” inside this business. The problem was we don’t have quality memories captured with those we love most, etc. Photography was only seen for momentous occasions or for romantic relationships. Therefore pet owners didn’t have the type of photos that matched the love they had for their pets. The solution was my pet photography services.
WHAT I DID WRONG:
I did not price my services well. At all. I actually lost money on this business, big time. I gave away a lot of free sessions in order to “create my portfolio”. Looking back, I wish I would have charged a smaller fee for these “sample sessions”, captured a review from everyone, and created some type of affiliate program for the participants so they would spread the word about me. Instead, I performed about 20 free sessions. This was a big lesson learned on my end.
If you’re looking for unique side hustle ideas perfect for twenty year olds, consider a product shop. While I was still building my pet photography business, I started a product shop on Etsy. That’s right, I doubled down on side hustles. Based off of the pet themed career I had at the time, I created coffee mugs with dog and cat illustrations on them.
I worked with a local artist out of Charleston to create custom watercolor illustrations. I then took these illustrations, purchased a coffee mug heat press and created my product line. My shop offered coffee mugs, travel mugs, latte mugs and a custom design option for buyers when they submit a photo of their pet.
WHAT I DID RIGHT:
I did a lot of research for the equipment I used to press ink onto mugs. And because of this, my products were really great in quality. I also had a business coach at this point who taught me a lot about Etsy SEO. Soon, my shop listings were appearing on the first page of Etsy when you searched “pet coffee mug”. This was a huge accomplishment. It also helped drive sales.
WHAT I DID WRONG:
Well for starters, I started this business while growing another. Looking back, I should have slowed down in order to give both businesses a proper run. My Etsy shop was seeing daily sales. However, I didn’t see a lot of profit. Instead of strategically pricing my store, I priced my store only compared to my competition. This had a long-term effect when it came to purchasing materials, shipping, etc.
Wedding & Portrait Photography
Wedding photography was actually my first side hustle turned full-time career. So this was a big chapter in my entrepreneurial career. Like my product shop, I probably didn’t give pet photography it’s full run. However, your twenties are a decade of exploration. And when it came to creative careers, I definitely explored.
I owned a wedding photography company in the Chicago area for about 3 years. In the beginning, I was begging people to stand in front of my camera. And at the end, I built a great client base, and getting new leads felt like a weekly occurrence.
WHAT I DID RIGHT:
I built my business around customer service. I was great at talking to brides, focusing on them, and truly serving my couples. Workflows were also a big part of my success. From the beginning, I was obsessed with streamlining the process of my brides from booking, and engagement sessions to final delivery. There were touch points for everything and a whole lot of customer service in between.
WHAT I DID WRONG:
Okay, this is a biggie. I built and grew a wedding photography business in Chicago that occurred income only from wedding photography services inside of the Chicago area. Well long story short, I found myself moving back home to South Carolina and suddenly felt unemployed. And I owned my own business!!
I didn’t take into account building out multiple streams of income. And I didn’t consider what starting a service-based business (not in my home state) would mean years later. This was my first big awakening to multiple streams of income and job security (especially in the entrepreneurial world).
Candle and Soap Making
This one is the shortest yet. However, I felt the need to mention it and not skip over the details. I almost didn’t include candle making, well because the business never saw the light of day. Ironically. However, it’s important for readers to understand now all business plans work out. Not all of them get off the launch pad. And even though at this point, I had learned so many business lessons (see above), this business completely failed.
The idea for this business was to create a boutique product shop again filled with lovely candles, soaps, body scrubs, and gift boxes. I loved the idea of inventory and shipping and having a storefront. I still do. However, while this business venture was living in my head, I was living in my worst time. This was the hands-down, worst time of my life. For details that I won’t go into here. However, when I look back, I can see so clearly why this wasn’t a success. And I’m honestly thankful it wasn’t.
Becoming a virtual assistant or picking up any type of VA work is a great side hustle idea for twenty-somethings. And I’m so happy it’s a part of my story. After my soap-making downfall and my wedding photography unemployment, I found myself falling back on my college degree back in South Carolina where I worked in corporate construction. However, this side hustler couldn’t change her stripes.
I found myself picking up VA work just a few hours each week. And even though this didn’t add up to a ton of income, it still felt amazing earning. Working my virtual assistant side hustle shook the cob webs off of my side hustling pants and helped me put things in gear.
And for the grand finale, Lemon Squeezy Studios! Lemon Squeezy was the first creative side hustle I picked up and really gave a shot since my rock bottom. I began food photography while working my corporate 9-5 job back home in South Carolina. But let’s be honest, it was more like a 7-5 job. On the weekends I would cook recipes, shoot them from start to finish and sell them to food bloggers for them to use on their websites.
I did this side hustle for about 1-1/2 years before going full-time with it. There is so much I could say about this side hustle. However, let’s just say it has hands down taught me the most about business, hiring, profit, patience and payoff.
Start Your Unique Side Hustle Today
Starting a side hustle can teach you so much while benefitting your skillset, career and wallet. Looking back on my side hustles, I can see clearly every business lesson learned and how I developed as both a business owner and person. There are so many unique and creative side hustle ideas out there for twenty year olds finding their way into adulthood.
If this post reminds you of your personal entrepreneurial journey, know you’re not alone. Like everything, business requires practice to get better. We are not supposed to have it figured out, out of the gate.
For more side hustle ideas perfect for twenty year olds, check out this blog post.