Recent events have shown us how important it is to have a backup plan, especially when it comes to our business and income. Established Canadian small businesses and home business owners naturally coped better with multiple revenue streams and digital options to serve consumers. Others did a massive pivot and managed to remain profitable.
The entire situation kicked innovative thinking into overdrive. As a result, ideas like diversifying revenue sources to include multiple side hustles has become a lucrative option. In fact, having more than one side hustle has doubled among Canadian businesses started within the last couple of years. Whether you have a current business offline or online, or want to start one, side hustles can significantly improve your chances of success.
Canadian Entrepreneurs and Their Side Hustles
The explosion of side hustling is a global phenomenon:
- Zapier recently reported that 40 percent of global respondents to their survey have a side hustle.
- 36 percent have started or plan to start a side hustle before the end of this year.
The New Generation of Entrepreneurship in Canada polled Canadian entrepreneurs on the topic.
- 25 percent of Canadian small businesses identify as side hustles.
- Canadians who started their business in the past two years are almost twice as likely to have multiple businesses.
- 27 percent of new small business owners who have multiple side hustles do so to supplement their income due to inflation.
- 63 percent of new, Canadian entrepreneurs who had a job prior to starting their business, earn more money as a small business owner.
“The main reasons for owning multiple businesses are the desire to have multiple streams of income (57 percent), an interest in various industries (46 percent) and to challenge themselves (34 percent),” states the report.
6 Online Businesses for Multiple Side Hustlers
Time is the most important factor to consider before you commit to another business, followed by income potential and how well the side hustle compliments your primary source of revenue.
Whether you plan to start one online business or five, you’ll need an online base of operations. That’s why it all starts with a website. In this case, your website or blog will likely be (or contain) your primary business.
Once you have a website, you can use it to support multiple types of online businesses, all with their own income. It’s so much easier and efficient to maintain and promote them all in one place. The fact is, most online businesses are a combination of side hustles, we just call it multiple revenue streams. You can combine any number of them into a profitable business.
I built my first website over two decades ago. Based on my experience, the following online business side hustles can be profitably combined into one online business. They’re easy to bring together under one umbrella (your site or primary business) and can work with virtually any niche. You’ll find several more on this site that could be even better options for your specific business.
If you need some guidance to get started, go through our Checklist: How to Start a Profitable Online Business in Canada.
1. Digital Downloads
Digital downloads can both compliment a business and be a business. Because there is such a wide array of options, these digital products can branch into multiple side hustles. Info products make excellent side hustles for the multi-entrepreneur because they often require little effort after the initial creation of the product. Even marketing these products can be largely automated.
Downloadable products include ebooks, apps, software, website themes, templates, plugins, photos, printables, and so on. Try to choose products that require minimal customer service. Online courses, for example, can demand customer service and student support, which takes up a lot of time. Creating an ebook to sell on Amazon may be more feasible.
Read How to Create and Develop Your Own Digital Learning Products for detailed information about this income opportunity.
2. Online Consulting/Coaching & Other Services
One of the benefits of having a blog or a similar content platform, is you can demonstrate your expertise on a topic or show off your online business, marketing or design skills. That can lead to opportunities to contract out your services, provide individual consulting/coaching, or even book speaking gigs if that interests you.
Services are often intertwined with side hustles, be it the primary business function or a side hustle itself. For example, you may design Canva (or other) templates for people to customize, plus offer to do the customization for them. Alternately, you could provide something like cloud accounting services as a home business and also offer related digital products as the side hustle. If you decide to offer a service online, make sure you’ll have the time to both support the service and deal directly with consumers.
3. Auctions and Online Marketplaces
If you’d like to add products as a side hustle or main business, one way you can save time is by controlling growth. If you decide to sell products through online marketplaces, it’s up to you how many products you list.
You can also save an enormous amount of time by using fulfillment services. That might involve in-house options like Fulfillment by Amazon, or through 3PL services. Fulfillment services may include storage, shipping, packaging and more.
While I always recommend having a website, even that isn’t absolutely necessary if you sell through these platforms.
Check out our list of Online Marketplaces for Canadian Sellers for more sales platforms.
4. Direct Advertising
From banner (display) ads to sponsored content, selling advertising directly to businesses can be a significant source of revenue. The trick is in finding advertisers that compliment your niche without promoting the competition.
Once your traffic has reached a level high enough to catch the eye of advertisers, you will have the opportunity to make private deals for ad placement on your site (direct advertising). The more you grow, the more you can charge. Most private advertising is paid by the month or annually. If your traffic volume isn’t high enough yet, you can use affiliate advertising (see below) in the meantime.
When your traffic volume is high enough, you can also join ad networks like Media.net and Google Adsense, ad management companies like MediaVine.com, or diverse ad solutions like Sovrn.com. However, you’ll have less control over what ads appear on your site.
5. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the rare businesses that don’t require customer service. It’s probably the most hands-off way to make money online.
Affiliate programs allow you to advertise for a company and earn a percentage of the sales you generate for them. Once you’ve established a following, both on your website and in newsletter subscribers, your income will grow.
6. Email Marketing
The list you build in association with your online business can become a source of additional revenue. Several of the website monetization methods mentioned above can be applied to your email list, including affiliate marketing, sponsor advertising and solo ads, and email courses. Familiarize yourself with CASL and the anti-spam laws of any country your subscribers might be from.
Do You Have Time for More Than One Side Hustle?
Time is an important factor when it comes to side hustling at this level. You have to be careful to consider the time it takes to perform the task, create support materials, do the marketing and provide customer service if necessary.
Take a realistic picture of what each side hustle will involve and estimate how much time it will require. Subtract it from a conservative estimate of how much time you have available to pull it off. If you don’t have time for one option, try to make something else work. Most of the above suggestions are fluid enough to work together and you’ll find the right combination for your lifestyle eventually.
If you manage your time well and work with what you have, you can find time to start an online business as a side hustle. If you can’t grow slowly and you have a decent budget, you can outsource just about any task. Then, you can focus your time and effort on what you’re best at.
We invite you to ask any questions about online side hustles below, or join us in the Online Business Canada Facebook group.
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In over 20 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and eCommerce websites.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.