Home Cyberpsychology & Technology These Are the Top 9 Side Hustles Skyrocketing in Popularity as People Combat the Cost of Living Crisis

These Are the Top 9 Side Hustles Skyrocketing in Popularity as People Combat the Cost of Living Crisis

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From Uber to OnlyFans, side hustles have surged in popularity in recent years, with Google registering approximately 3,800 monthly searches for “easy ways to make money” and a staggering 24,000 for “how to make money online”. As the cost of living crisis deepens and further strains budgets, an increasing number of people are seeking alternative or supplementary sources of income.

Fasthosts, a domain and hosting provider, has leveraged Google search data to compile the top nine most searched side hustles and interviewed someone who decided to join the side hustle movement.

Here are the nine most-searched-for side hustles:

1. “Paid surveys”

Average monthly searches: 5,200

Top of the list for the most popular ways to make money at home. “Paid surveys” has seen a startling 49% increase in search volume between December 2021 – just before the cost of living crisis really started hitting home – and now. We’re not surprised. If you find a provider that has payouts and does so quickly, it’s something you can accomplish in your spare time with the TV on in the background.

2. “Sell clothes online”

Average monthly searches: 3,300

Since December 2021, the term “sell clothes online” has seen a 72% increase in searches to roughly 3,300 per month. With websites like eBay that have been around forever and newer apps such as Vinted and Depop letting people snap a picture and sell their unwanted clothes from the comfort of their own home, it’s no surprise people are looking to declutter and make cash at the same time.

3. “How to make money on TikTok”

Average monthly searches: 2,600

It may be a saturated market, with roughly 1 billion users as of the end of 2021, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to capitalise on their TikTok accounts. “How to make money on TikTok” has seen a 24% increase in searches since December 2021. There are a number of ways to cash in with TikTok: you could join the Creator Fund, sell merchandise to your followers, go live and collect gifts, or partner with brands for collaborations. Of course, you’ll need a significant following to do the majority of these.

4. “How to sell feet pics”

Average monthly searches: 2,100

Perhaps one of the more intriguing side hustles on this list involves individuals seeking to earn some additional income by leveraging a rather unconventional asset. In comparison to the data from December 2021, there has been a staggering 96% increase in the number of people searching for information on “how to sell feet pictures online.” Several websites are dedicated to facilitating the sale of these peculiar snapshots, all while allowing sellers to maintain their anonymity. For instance, the platform Fansly has witnessed a surge in popularity, prompting many creators to enlist the services of management agencies to assist them in posting captivating and distinctive photos, videos, and live footage for a specific target audience. Also, individuals can opt for setting up a virtual private server (VPN) to enhance their privacy, coupled with the use of a pseudonym, ensuring complete incognito status. 

5. “How to become a virtual assistant”

Average monthly searches: 1,200 

The side hustle that’s seen the highest increase in searches in the past year or so, “how to become a virtual assistant” has seen a 170% rise. Usually working from home, a virtual assistant will carry out administrative duties, such as appointment scheduling and diary management, for clients and executives.

6. “How to start dropshipping”

Average monthly searches: 900

Those interested in starting a lucrative side hustle may have seen “get rich quick” videos popping up on their social media, with dropshipping being a prominent feature. For the uninitiated, dropshipping is a method of order fulfilment where a seller doesn’t need to have the products it sells in stock. Instead, the seller purchases inventory as needed from a third party, like a manufacturer or a wholesaler, who will send and fulfil orders. There’s been a 25% increase in searches for ‘how to start dropshipping’ since the end of 2021, but not so many people that it’s become an oversaturated market. 

Kane Gillard, now an account manager, turned to dropshipping in the early days of the pandemic after losing his job and needing to supplement his income due to big plans with his girlfriend.

“Like so many, we were hit hard during the lockdown. As my girlfriend and I had big plans for the future that we didn’t want to let go of – travelling and buying a house – I started looking into alternative ways to make money almost instantly. 

“Dropshipping wasn’t as saturated as it is now, so there was a real opportunity for it. I read guides and watched videos and did a tonne of research into exactly how it worked and what I would need to get started. The area I spent the most time researching was which products were going to be the most lucrative for me in terms of profit – they were cheap to get hold of from a wholesaler and would fetch the most profit on platforms such as Amazon. 

“I honestly didn’t expect it to be as rewarding as it ended up being. Things started off slow as I got into the swing of things, and there were a couple of “bad” choices when it came to products, but I’d say after about three to four weeks, the orders started coming in through my online accounts. I didn’t need to pay for my own website hosting as I was using online merchants like Amazon, so my overheads were pretty low. But quite quickly, I was earning between £500 and £1,000 just through dropshipping.

“My next steps into dropshipping were placing products on Facebook through targeted ads and letting the orders come in from there. Women’s clothing, baby products, ring lights, wireless cameras, and small car accessories like phone holders were all high-paying niches and certainly where I saw the most orders coming in. At its highest, I would say I was bringing in just north of £2,000 per month in dropshipping alone.

“As the cost of living crisis continues on, dropshipping is something I try to stay on top of alongside my full-time job. As long as I keep an eye on stock levels and keep regular ads going on Facebook, I find that I can add an extra £500–£700 to my paycheque at the end of the month. I don’t think I’d be able to save for a mortgage without it.”

7. “App tester”

Average monthly searches: 800

A modest 800 searches per month for “app tester”, and one that has seen no increase or decrease in popularity over the past year or so. App testing paints the picture of requiring more time, and as we alluded to earlier, people are all about making money quickly and easily – with very little effort.

8. “Earn money playing games”

Average monthly searches: 600 per month

Coming in at the penultimate spot is “earn money playing games” with around 600 searches per month, a 2% increase in December 2021. If you’re playing games in any way, you might as well get paid for it, right? We can’t see this being as lucrative as work-from-home employees may believe, or more likely to pay in vouchers rather than actual cash, which may explain its lower search volume.

9. “How to earn money on YouTube”

Average monthly searches: 600

Unsurprisingly, “how to earn money on youtube” has seen much fewer searches than TikTok, given the meteoric rise of the app. This term hasn’t seen any increase or decrease in popularity over the past year, but it’s still a sought-after source for people looking for a side hustle. 


The growing interest in side hustles demonstrates a shift in the way individuals approach income generation and financial stability. The variety of opportunities available, from paid surveys to dropshipping, provides accessible options for people with diverse skills, interests, and availability. As the cost of living crisis continues, side hustles not only offer a means to ease financial burdens but also enable individuals to explore new passions and develop entrepreneurial skills. The resilience and adaptability showcased by those embracing side hustles in these challenging times exemplify the power of innovation and resourcefulness in the face of adversity.

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