Start your side hustle online

Yes, it's possible to earn money without being a full-time influencer or top YouTuber

Sell to the world, even with a tight budget

If you want to start a small online business but lack the funds, drop-shipping is a relatively low-risk and fuss-free way to start a side hustle.

Basically, there is no need to fork out any money up front to invest in an inventory of items.

Instead, you can trawl websites such as and (through its Fulfillment by Amazon programme) for drop-shipping manufacturers and choose what you want to sell from their catalogues.

All you have to do is set up a website with an e-commerce store and promote the things that you are selling online.

When a sale is made on your website, you simply act as a middleman to transfer the customer's orders and shipment details to the manufacturer, who will ship the items directly to the customer. You then earn a cut out of each sale.

Miss Cherie Lim, a 22-year-old business and marketing undergraduate, dabbled in drop-shipping for four years.

She said: "I found the cheapest ways to set up my website. I experimented with Shopify, Wix and WooCommerce, and I am still exploring other platforms."

Miss Lim worked fast as a one-woman show, capitalising on the free two-week trial on e-commerce platforms to launch the site to save cost and test if the products were saleable. If they were, she would continue subscribing to the e-commerce service.

She spent about $100 a month on social media ads to promote the products she was selling.

Miss Lim said drop-shipping is one of the best ways for students or those with low capital to start a business.

She sold products - from beauty to fashion - on multiple websites that she created quickly and her biggest earnings in a month was $5,000.

Picking up digital marketing skills was also an upside.

"Drop-shipping sparked my entrepreneurial spirit," she said. "It was manageable for me, juggling my studies at the same time."

Teach the world and earn passive income

Teaching is no longer restricted to a traditional classroom.

Conducting virtual lessons or e-teaching, which has become more popular globally due the Covid-19 pandemic, is the new way to fully utilise your skills in your spare time.

This is what rocket scientist Marianne N. Michaels has been doing for five years now.

When not creating Python code or training the Nasa Mars Rovers how to classify the terrain on Mars while working as a Nasa citizen scientist, she enjoys creating course curriculum related to mathematics and the environment through online learning platform Udemy.

She said: "The platform allows students from anywhere around the world to purchase my courses and learn at their own pace. They can jump in and out, any time they want. Plus, they can revisit as often as they like, as their purchase comes with lifetime access."

She said: "How much an instructor makes really depends on the time they spend on marketing. Some can earn quite a lot and generate a good profit from such a passive income stream.

"For me, when I am not marketing, it is all about the joy of sharing knowledge. That is why I continuously add new curriculum, all the time."

Make money from social media without being a pro

Imagine waking up in the morning and realising you made hundreds of dollars overnight - and all you did was share a link on your website and social media accounts. This is affiliate marketing, where one promotes other people's products to your network of friends and family, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.

Today, affiliate programmes have grown in size, especially with the availability of new software that supports such businesses.

One affiliate marketer is digital content creator Cheryl Tay.

In April, the 33-year-old fitness influencer joined an affiliate programme by Pruvit, a US company that specialises in ketone health supplements.

Ms Tay said: "As affiliates, we are not resellers or distributors. We have a unique referral link given to us, which many of us attach to our social media sites. My sales are mostly through Instagram and word of mouth."

The barrier to entry for an affiliate is low, and one does not hold on to an inventory of physical stock.

This means marketers do not have to deal with the shipping process as it is managed by the source (of the products) who will ship the items to customers.

If you are looking to earn a sizeable profit (more than covering your grocery expenses), you have to be consistent in promoting the link.

"There are people who do it full-time, while others like me do it as a side hustle and find pockets of their day to do the business," she said.

"The key is to be consistent as with building anything worthwhile."

Get clued in on growing a successful content site

With many people looking for information online today, a useful content website can generate advertising income and commercial engagement for the author of the site.

Ms Dawn Cher, 30, who is behind the popular finance blogging site, said: "It should be content that you love. I advise others to think about what their passion is before setting up a website."

Setting yourself apart from others is also key.

"I started my website in 2014 because I saw many gaps when it came to financial and life advice for women.

"I have a full-time job, but I do take on the occasional sponsored post on a project basis," said Ms Cher, who works as a freelance public relations consultant and tutor.

Her success boils down to having evergreen and easy to understand financial topics, publishing a wide variety of articles consistently and keen engagement with the audience.

Website-building platforms like Wix, WordPress, Squarespace and Weebly, which offer thousands of custom templates for your site's design, are also instrumental.

She said: "With a plethora of web-creator services today, it is definitely easier now to build a website as web services have a more user-friendly interface."

Make money from views even if not top Youtuber

Today, anyone can earn a side income through video hosting channels, said Ms Tiara Surya Dusqie, who is behind fashion and make-up YouTube channel Tiara S. Dusqie.

The 28-year-old said: "I began with make-up tutorials because my friends were asking me for eye make-up tips. So I decided to share my passion by creating videos on the platform."

Ms Dusqie started her channel in 2013 and has 4,400 subscribers.

One can earn an income through videos on YouTube by signing up as a YouTube Partner.

YouTube pays content creators by inserting ads into your videos. You can choose the number of advertisements to insert and the timestamp where you want them to appear.

Having run her video channel for nearly seven years, Ms Dusqie said she makes "a significant amount to cover her daily expenses".

But gaining followers can be an uphill task.

She said: "YouTube is a very saturated platform, so you should rely on other platforms to promote your videos in order to gain traction on your YouTube channel."

This article was first published in Her World Online (