What is the most profitable niche for a side-hustle or passive income?

Published: October 18, 2021 at 8:39 am

Every week we receive questions related to our articles on side-hustle and passive income. There is one common thread to many of these questions. Readers appreciate the importance of building multiple income streams for retirement but don’t know where to start. So they ask what is the best niche or the most profitable niche for a side income?

I am afraid this is also the number one mistake made by anyone desiring a side income. No one can tell which niche or area you should work on. We cannot approach this like we approach choosing college degrees.

Even today, many parents (and children) ask, “which area has good scope?” before enrolling their child on college. What they are saying is, “Tell me a degree that has good placement opportunities so that my child can get a good salary”.

That might work for a salaried existence (only to see the frustration creep in slowly), but it will certainly not work for anyone wanting to build a passive income stream. Here it would be best if you thought like an entrepreneur:

  1. What are my skills?
  2. What problems can I solve with my skills? In other words, how can I help people with my skills?
  3. What difference can I make when so many others with my skills are already working on the same problems?

No one except you can answer these questions. Many creators who sell online courses mislead buyers into believing buying the course will help them choose an area (niche). It does not work that way.


Choosing a niche is often a trial and error activity. It should be done without worrying about making money. Don’t dream about side hustles or passive income unless your primary goal is to help other people.

This is the only way you can make others consume your content. And this is the only way to understand the real problems faced by others. New stock market investors are often asked to buy stocks of products that they use.

Similarly, one of the first aspects discussed in our Earn from skills course is to create content around our daily searches. For example, I have multiple Gmail accounts (personal + work). I wanted to create a chrome profile shortcut for each account to access associated accounts like Google drives on separate Chrome windows.

It is a trivial issue; however, when I searched for information on this, it was either not what I wanted or outdated. So I after I eventually found a solution, I decided to write about it on the Earn from Skills site: How to create a desktop shortcut for your chrome profile.

I just assumed there would be others like me looking for such information. So if they search for this on Google, maybe, just maybe, they will land up on my page. A fraction of them may end up exploring the other content; sign up for the newsletter. That is one of the ways by which you build a community gradually. So many opportunities to grow traffic from our everyday searches!

This community will tell you which problems to solve, and as you continue to do that, they will be ready to buy products or services from you.

If a particular topic is not gaining traction, you can either focus on better quality content or switch to another topic – as long as you have the discipline and patience. No one will immediately pay you or hire you. Reader acquisition takes time. This is why online advertising is also often (but not always) a waste of money.

Trial and error is the only option if you do not immediately know which topic you would like to work on. In either case, monetization should not be the priority.

So the most profitable niche is the one in which you can make a difference in the lives of others.  Only you can find out what that is, either following your passions or by trial and error. No one else can teach to do this.

Once you have identified such skills, you can learn how to build a winning web presence, build online trust, and build a loyal community that would buy what you have to offer.

Here are some resources to help you get started:

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About the Author Pattabiraman editor freefincalM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. since Aug 2006. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books, You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18), Gamechanger, Chinchu Gets a Superpower! and seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates and associations based on money management. Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, Cognizant, Madras Atomic Power Station, Honeywell, Tamil Nadu Investors Association, IIST Alumni Association. For speaking engagements, write to pattu [at] freefincal [dot] com
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