Side Hustles for Busy Parents

Raising a child is already a full-time gig. But what can parents do to increase their cash flow while still being present in their young kids’ lives? For many parents in Indianapolis, finding the right side hustle has been the answer. Though certainly not full-time, side hustles aren’t quite part-time either (and are usually done from home), cementing their appeal among our city’s busy moms and dads. Here are some ideas from other Indy parents for creating a side hustle all your own.

Turn Your Creative Outlet into Income

Photographer and business owner, Dena Barrie of Images by Dena, didn’t need a lot of money to start her photography side hustle. “I only needed my camera and my knowledge of photography to get started, and for a side hustle, that’s a fairly low startup cost,” Barrie says. Plus, she was able to book photography sessions around her family’s schedule. “If there was a game on Saturday, I took bookings on Sunday.”

Today, Barrie has turned her side hustle into another extra gig. She helps others create photography. “With my online classes and mentoring programs, I have taught students to take better photos,” she says. “Many of my students have gone on to start successful photography side businesses, use the knowledge they learned to increase their social media presence, and create product photos for their side hustles. Some have sold their works in galleries.”

But Barrie warns that creative work can take a while to develop into a successful side hustle. When she first started hustling, she was new to photography and had to take classes to really hone her skills. “And for many years, I was everything. The tech person, the marketing person, the creative—you name it,” she says. 

Nevertheless, keep at it. “I would say the best place to start is at the start! Draft a business plan and register your business. Look into good support networks in your community. Indianapolis has some great small business groups and meetups, as does Central Indiana Women in Business.”

Expand Your Day Job into a Side Hustle

Another way to make extra income is to build on your day job’s skills. Stephanie Ryan, owner of Ryan Education Consulting LLC, writes STEM curriculum materials and assessments for K-12 and college students. She also wrote a children’s book, Let’s Learn about Chemistry, as a passion project in 2020. But during the pandemic, typical book tours were out of the question, so instead, she decided to do science demonstrations on Instagram with influencers to market the book.

This led Ryan to document her own path with her son’s pandemic preschooling. And her side hustle, Lets Learn About Science, was born. “It started out as an Instagram account. Then one day, I posted one of the activities to TikTok and it went viral, so that became a platform too,” Ryan says. She also shares Reels on Facebook, generates money through ads and post interactions on other socials, and is sometimes paid to test science education products on her channels.

“Companies will send STEM products to my son and me to test and either share or give feedback. I love helping parents sift through the products out there because not all STEM products are actually good or STEM related,” Ryan says.

According to Ryan, if parents have something unique to offer the world and the time to learn how to create videos and follow trends, they could make some money on social media. “But it truly does take a lot of time,” she cautions. “I wasn’t trying to do it and in fact, it was making nothing until one day a video went viral and I was surprised to see the large number that month.”

But the work is fun, and it gives Ryan opportunities to work from home and create something with her son. “My advice for a side hustle is to not do it out of desperation but as a fun side passion project,” she says. “That way, when it takes a lot of work one month and doesn’t yield quite as much, it was still a blast to do.”

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