Side Hustles for Writers

I’m a literary agent, but I have a side hustle as an online educator teaching a course for writers. These days, lots of people have “side hustles” including those who are full-time parents and others who work a job full time. Side hustles are a perfect way for writers to make more money and expand their influence. For authors who dream of “quitting their day job,” a side hustle in addition to income from writing can make the difference.

The great thing about side hustles is that they can be anything you dream up — anything that serves a purpose in the world and provides value people will pay for. It’s only limited by your own imagination. And it’s driven by your own expertise, interests, and skillset.

Recently at the Books & Such client retreat, I sat around a table with several writers and we brainstormed potential side hustles for each of them. They’re all published authors, and they all wish to increase their income so they don’t have to get a “day job.” We had a lot of fun digging in to each one’s interests and skills, in addition to their book topics, to come up with side hustles that would not only make them some extra money but also help build their brand.

One author lives on a farm, writes kids’ books about animals, and is familiar with YouTube. We dreamed up a YouTube channel in which she would create videos teaching kids about working with the animals. We know kids watch YouTube, and this author has ready access to the animals, so this idea was a great fit.

Another author is an accomplished public speaker, and she told us she spends a great deal of time answering questions and helping novice speakers figure out how to launch a speaking career. She seemed a natural to open a business as a speaking coach, offering packages at various price-points, to coach people in getting their speaking business started.

A writer who has 20+ years experience as a homeschooler and a leader in the homeschooling movement was excited about the prospect of creating online courses for homeschooling parents.

Each of these side hustles is directly related to the authors’ book topics, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A side hustle can be anything. It can be hard to think of what kind of side hustle might work for you, so I highly recommend Chris Guillebeau’s daily podcast, Side Hustle School. It’s only about 8 minutes long, and every day he shares a story of one person and the side hustle they developed. Some recent interesting side hustles he profiled:

  • A person suffering back pain invents a unique laptop stand that solves the problem.
  • A marketing executive creates branded candy hearts for businesses.
  • An IT manager helps people set up their WordPress websites.
  • An expat coaches families on how to settle in another country.
  • A scientist has a blog and YouTube channel helping college students with Organic Chemistry.

If you want to read about a whole bunch of side hustles in one place, the new book 100 Side Hustles illustrates the unlimited variety of business ideas, and will spur your imagination.


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Jeff Iverson on July 8, 2019 at 12:01 PM

    Thank you. For a struggling author, any help is appreciated. After so many rejections, it’s easy to give up.

  2. Richard Mabry on July 8, 2019 at 6:27 AM

    Rachelle, it seems that more authors, as well as some agents, have a side hustle. Is this a sign of the times, a consequence of changes in the publishing business, or what?