The 10 best side hustles in 2021 for Canadians

Daneille Mattis

Plus, what to know if you’re looking to join the gig economy or become an entrepreneur

For many Canadians, breaking the cycle of juggling debt and living paycheque to paycheque requires more than just smart spending choices—many need to bring in extra cash in order to pay off debt, build a rainy-day fund or save up for special purchases. Having a “side hustle”—a money-making project that offers added income on top of your main job—can help.    

If you’ve been thinking of starting a side hustle to increase your income, you’re far from alone. In 2019, about 30 percent of Canadians had a side gig, and that number has grown over the past year. One in three respondents of a 2021 survey said that they started a “side hustle” since the Covid-19 pandemic started—or they plan to this year. Some of these Canadians need the extra funds in order to make ends meet, while others are looking for new career opportunities or creating back-up plans for an uncertain economy.

Luckily, between the rise of the “gig economy” and the rapid growth of online platforms that let you turn your passions into profits, the options for part-time entrepreneurs keep expanding. And you can do many of these part-time gigs from home and on your own schedule!

Ready to get started? Here are ten great options for Canadians who are considering a side hustle. 

1. Digital marketer

For anyone with digital skills, the gig economy can offer many well-paying opportunities. If you have experience with email and social-media marketing, Google AdWords, or search engine optimization (SEO), then consider offering your digital marketing services to small-business owners in your neighbourhood and online. You could offer clients a one-time consult, or sign them up for a monthly or annual agreement. And even if you’re a curious outsider to that world, Google and Facebook both offer free courses to learn their marketing platforms.

2. Crafter 

Many Canadians are opening shops on Etsy and other online marketplaces to sell handmade items ranging from face masks to scented candles to macrame wall hangings. If you have a craft hobby that you’re good at, such as pottery, embroidery, or even woodworking, it may translate into a product that others want to buy. Starting a business in Canada can be a relatively simple process, and you’ll get to see buyers appreciating and enjoying your creations.

3. Dog walker 

Wondering how you can start a dog-walking business in Canada? It can be as easy as advertising your services to neighbours with pets and taking Fido to the park once or twice a day! You can work solo, or sign up to be a walker or sitter with an established service like Rover. There are also a number of training courses and industry certifications you can obtain in order to stand out and charge more for your services. But heads up: depending on where you live and the number of dogs you would be walking at a time, you might need to get a commercial dog walker permit

4. Social media manager

Social media management can be a great side hustle for underemployed millennials with extensive online experience and knowledge of new and emerging platforms like TikTok and Clubhouse. You could offer consulting services to other small and medium-sized businesses, help them develop and share relevant content for multiple platforms, and run their social media accounts. If you have the skills to build a small but dedicated personal following on new platforms, you’ll be in a great position to help small businesses that don’t have the time or expertise to manage their own social media presence.

5. Virtual assistant

Looking for a part-time job that you can do from home even post-Covid-19? Consider becoming a virtual assistant for a busy professional or executive, either on your own or through a staffing agency. Usually there’s no formal education or training required, and you can expect to be helping your clients with everything from email to administrative tasks to personal errands that can be done remotely. Virtual assistants in Canada make on average $22.50 an hour, but you can set your own hourly rate depending on your skills and level of experience.

6. Vintage reseller

It’s now easier than ever to sell things online. You can set up an online marketplace or your own website, or simply sell your wares directly to potential buyers on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Whether you choose to sell vintage concert tees or thrifted mid-century furniture, consider focusing on a product category that you’re passionate or knowledgeable about. 

7. Graphic designer

Are you a wiz with graphic design software like Adobe InDesign and Canva? Consider taking on freelance clients as a graphic designer. You can charge an hourly or per-project rate to help them with everything from logo design and social media graphics to marketing brochures. Bonus: if you’re still a student or you’re just getting started in your creative career, these side projects are also an opportunity to build up your professional portfolio. 

8. Consultant

Consulting is a popular side hustle for busy professionals looking to increase their income. If your day job involves specialized skills, whether you’re an arborist or an office administrator, you can earn extra money on the side by taking on freelance clients outside of regular business hours. 

9. Freelance writer

If you’re good with words, freelance writing is a side hustle that you can do from anywhere and on your own schedule. You can write and edit communications materials for organizations, articles for magazines and websites, social media copy for brands, and even product captions for e-commerce businesses. With freelance writing, rates can vary widely, but you’ll be able to charge more and attract top clients once you have built a strong portfolio.  

10. Online tutor

With remote schooling being offered much more widely this year for kids and teenagers, there is additional demand for tutors who can help students keep up. No special training or certification is required for most positions, and you can either work for yourself or sign up with a tutoring centre. Plus, the hours can be relatively flexible with tutoring, and you can work as little as an hour or two a week.

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