woman writing

What is a Side Hustle, and why should I consider it?

Are you looking to make some extra money? Have an idea for a business that could generate some extra cash but don’t know where to start? Consider your options to start a side hustle! Side hustles are different from traditional jobs by allowing individuals to pursue their ideas and projects for extra money on the side of their day job.

Whether you’re looking for extra cash or building something more significant, a side hustle can be a great way to get started on your own schedule. The extraordinary thing about side hustles is that you can tailor them to fit any budget, lifestyle, and level of commitment.

Let’s discuss how you can successfully launch your side hustle, make more money, and how we can help. From dog walking to online recurring revenue streams, we’ll discuss the basics of setting up a business, tips for increasing profits, getting the word out about your business, opening a business account, and more.

Getting Started: Finding the Right Business Idea for You

The first step to starting a side hustle is to find the right side hustle idea. Think about what you are passionate about, the skills you can use in a business, and how much time and money you can commit to it.

“If you’re willing to give your company 40 hours a week, give your dreams 10,” says Jay Behrends Treasury Management Banker at First Bankers Trust Company. "Anything you’re passionate about, there’s a way to monetize it. In 2 years of “working” an 8-10pm shift each night after my 9-5, I was able to create multiple streams of income off things I enjoy.”

Consider brainstorming ideas with friends or family who may have experience setting up businesses. It’s also essential to research what other businesses are already out there and the market value for such work. This investigation will help you determine which options are the best side hustle ideas with the most potential to make you enough money to make your side business worth it.

Side hustle ideas to get you started

If you're having trouble coming up with the right business idea, here are some popular side gig ideas to get you started:

  • Freelance writing or editing
  • An online business selling handmade items
  • Tutoring students online or in person
  • Consulting services (business, marketing, legal advice)
  • Virtual assistant services
  • Social media management
  • Web development services
  • Graphic design services
  • Photography services
  • Dog walking or pet sitting
  • Either deliver food or deliver groceries

If you are simply looking to make a few thousand dollars on the side and not consistent extra income, here are some hustle ideas for extra cash:

  • Rent a spare room
  • Garage Sales
  • Completing online surveys
  • Participating in a focus group

But there is more than one Side Hustle idea to be skeptical of...

The only downside to the side hustle world is that the internet is full of people who prey on our desires to leave the corporate world, promising “get rich quick” schemes or quickly making good money online to leave your full-time job.

These are usually scams that require you to pay to join, offer no real value, and often leave you with nothing. In many cases thinking, "If this is such a great way to make passive income, why is this person telling me rather than making more money doing whatever thing they are selling."

Some common examples include:

  • Programs to start a dropshipping business

  • Sketchy Ads for real estate investing or to invest money, in general,

  • Affiliate Marketing Programs (Which can be legitimate but often understate the work and creative skills necessary to make this work)

Once you’ve identified the perfect side hustle ideas (and avoided shady side hustlers), it’s time to start planning your road to a better financial future. Consider every aspect of your side hustle and how you can maximize this extra income. From choosing a business name to setting up accounts, write down every detail so you can reference this information in the future on your quest for extra cash.


man at computer

Formalizing your Side Hustle

What do you need to turn your passion project into a business? You have some decisions to make when getting started with a side hustle. Do you need a corporate structure? What kind? Do you need any licenses? Bank account? Taxes?

How about we start with a breather? All these questions can seem overwhelming, but besides this article, our Tri-State Area proudly boasts terrific entrepreneurial resources (Check the Resources Section Below for more information). Let's jump in on how to start thinking like a business owner!

Forming your Side Hustle

Each option has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. For example, if you choose to operate your side hustle as an individual, it will be easier to get, but you’ll be personally liable for any legal issues or debts.

On the other hand, forming an LLC or other entity can provide you with more protection from personal liability and help your business grow. We recommend doing some research on each of these options to determine which one will best suit your needs.

Once you’ve decided, it’s time to get the business up and running. Some steps include obtaining necessary licenses or permits for your side hustle, registering your business name with the state, setting up a business bank account and bookkeeping practices, and more.

These steps are essential for protecting you and your side hustle, whether you pet sit or are a freelance writer, in case of legal or financial issues.

Opening a Business Account

Time for a shameless plug; you also need a business checking account to get your side hustle running smoothly. That's where First Bankers comes in!

Keeping your personal and business accounts separate helps track when you earn money and avoid mix-ups when filing taxes. Future, you will be grateful you took steps now to help make this complicated process more straightforward. Or, if you're looking to open a side hustle bank account for your extra money, click here!

Licensing and Permits

Depending on your side hustle, you may need to apply for licenses, like a business license, trade license, and/or a seller’s permit. Research to determine if any of these are necessary for your own business.

These requirements vary by state, so check with local authorities or consult an attorney to ensure you comply with the law.

Finally, once you have checked off every box on your To-Do list, it is time to start hustling and marketing your business. You are well on your way to making extra money and earning financial independence.

Let's jump into that next!

man working at desk

Growing Your Business: Tips for Scaling Up in 2023

A successful side hustle is all about growth. You can use many strategies to scale your business and increase profits in 2023. Here are a few tips:

Utilize Social Media

Promoting your small business using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and even LinkedIn, is a great way to find clients where they spend a large portion of their time.

According to Business of Apps, 82% of consumers have purchased a product they saw advertised on a brand’s social media page or post.

Do a little research to find out which social media sites your target audience uses most and set up business profiles for your company.

For local businesses, it may be enough to engage with regional users via these platforms. But many allow you to promote your page or website with advertisements and sponsored posts, as well—something to investigate if your business is still growing.

Check out WordStream’s guide to Social Media Marketing for Businesses for a crash course in the basics.

Promote Your Business at Local Events

Whether you are selling a specific product or service, consider reserving a table or booth at local events, from flea markets to farmer’s markets, in your spare time. These events provide excellent opportunities for people in your community to get to know your brand and see your products.

Even if you earn a little extra money, getting your name out is a critical preliminary step in establishing your side hustle and connecting to potential customers.

If you are selling food items, crafts, beauty products, decorations, or other small products, opening a regular stand at a local market can be a great way to ease your way into a larger storefront.

Consider the Quincy Farmers Market in Washington Park, the Vine Street Market at O’Fallon Station, or the Northfield Flea Market or Springfield Flea Market in Springfield.

Create a Customer Experience

Creating a script, onboarding routine, or another type of experience to use with every new customer can streamline your operations while guaranteeing a pleasant and productive encounter.

Depending on your small business type, this could look like this:

  •  A standard greeting for every customer who enters your retail store.
  • Automated emails to follow up with new customers after their first purchase or interaction.
  • A live chatbot for your website to greet prospects as they browse your site.
  • Investing in customer service training for employees.
  • A loyalty program sign-up integrated into your point-of-sale software.

You can always visit your competitors, online or in person, to get inspiration from their customer experience.

Take Advantage of Online Advertising

Investing in digital advertisements is a great way to scale up your small business to the point of making money. You can leverage online platforms like Google Ads and Facebook Ads to reach people who may have yet to hear of your company but are likely interested in what you offer. Both platforms provide tools that allow advertisers to target specific audiences based on their interests, location, age, and more.

These ads can be highly effective when generating new leads or customers and can be an excellent way to grow your business at a low cost quickly. Consider taking an online course to build these creative skills (more information in the resources section).

Network and Collaborate With Others

Networking with professionals in your industry can help you get the word out about your side hustle and build relationships that may lead to future opportunities in a fun way.

If you have products or services to sell, consider which partnerships you could form to help you distribute your goods, get your name out, and develop additional networking opportunities.

There are many ways you can work with other area businesses to build each other’s reputation and find clients for each of you. Here are some possibilities:

  • Are there any stores that sell your products? Consider what area businesses pair well with yours and see if they will sell your products. If you make specialty food items, reach out to small grocery stores to see if they will distribute them. Do you make a craft? A gift shop may carry your merchandise.
  • Cross-promote on social media. Offer to post about another business’s products or services in exchange for them doing the same for you. Consider running a promotion at the same time just for customers of that small business.
  • Ask another business to display your information. See if any local companies whose products or services are relevant to your own will display your business cards, postcards, or promotional materials. Sweeten the deal by offering the business and its clients a discount.

Create a Digital Store Front

When marketing your products or services, an online store can do the heavy lifting. If you are selling physical goods, having a storefront on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, Etsy, or even an Instagram page can help customers find your items more quickly than if they had to search your website.

For services-based businesses, setting up shop on websites such as Fiverr or Upwork can help you get your name out there and find clients.

Creating an online store is essential for staying competitive in today’s digital world. Not only does it make it easier for potential customers to find you, but having a website or online store also helps build trust when considering buying.

Building a Website

Having the capital to invest in a website can significantly increase your visibility and credibility. And most importantly, it can save you the fees charged by third-party sites like Etsy or Upwork (which can be up to 20%, yikes).

A website allows customers to spend time browsing products and services instead of feeling rushed in a physical storefront.

Creating your own online shop also enables you to add trust signals such as customer reviews, safety seals, and real-time chat options for visitors who have questions. Websites also make it easier to offer customers discounts, exclusive products, loyalty programs, and ultimately generate extra income.

You can easily track customer behavior with a website and use that data to inform your marketing decisions. Finally, websites allow you to reach people outside your local area through SEO and digital marketing strategies such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Having a website is a great way to help your side hustle take off, and it’s easier than ever to set one up with modern solutions such as WordPress or Squarespace.

employee shaking hands with customer

How First Bankers Can Help You Succeed with Your Side Hustle

At First Bankers, we understand that starting a side hustle can be overwhelming. That’s why we offer resources to entrepreneurs and small business owners, including robust Business, Checking Accounts, Business Financing, Treasury Management Services, and much more!

We are here to help you achieve your dreams - maximizing the extra income from your side hustle or a full-fledged company.

Simply Free Business Checking

Get your own business off the ground with a free checking account; you'll only need a minimum of $50 for an opening deposit.

Plus, you'll get 1,000 free monthly transactions and up to 10,000 in coin and currency deposits/withdrawals, including change orders per month - with no minimum balance requirement after account opening. If you're interested, here is the Fee Schedule for other services.

Plus, you'll have access to our powerful Digital Business Banking Suite that empowers you to run your side hustle - wherever it takes you. With cutting-edge tools to save you time and money, you'll have the freedom to manage your business finances easily.

Business Financing

At First Bankers, we understand that taking the next step with your side hustle requires capital. That’s why we offer flexible financing options such as Term Financing, Line of Credit, Business Credit Cards, or Business Lending. Our financing includes competitive rates and terms to help you reach your goals.

Treasury Management

Our Treasury Management Services allow you to manage your business finances easily. You can access features such as ACH origination, Wire Transfers, Positive Pay, and Remote Deposit Capture, giving you more control over cash flow and reducing manual tasks.

Turning Your Side Hustle into a Profit-Generating Venture 

At First Bankers Trust Company, we understand that starting a side hustle isn’t always easy. We are here to help you succeed with our business banking products and services.

With the right tools and resources, you can turn your side hustle into a profitable venture this year and beyond!

Start your journey with First Bankers today, and let us help you reach your goals! Contact a representative to learn more about our products and services.




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Coursera - Get certified in Digital Marketing, Data Science, and more!

Udemy - Learn from over 100,000 online courses.


Business Related

Illinois Small Business Association

U.S. Small Business Administration


The National Association for the Self-Employed

The U.S Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Development Center

U.S Department of Labor

Illinois Small Business Development Centers Network

Small Business Taxes & Management

Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County ED