5 Southern Cities for Side Hustles

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Southern cities for side hustles

There are tons of cities to start a side hustle in. The number of side hustles you can begin in your area may differ depending on where you live.

LLC.org wrote an article covering America’s best cities to start a side hustle. Since I live in Atlanta, I wanted to dig deeper and focus on southern cities for side hustles. If you are ready to hustle, keep reading.

We’re about to explore some Southern gems perfect for launching your side hustle. First, we’ve got Raleigh and Tampa, two cities buzzing with opportunity.

But we’re not stopping there. We’ll also dive into what makes Lexington, Atlanta, and Plano the ideal backdrops for your entrepreneurial dreams. So, put your work boots on; we have a lot to discuss!

Southern Cities For Side Hustles

Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh NC

Let’s focus on Raleigh, North Carolina. This city is more than just BBQ and sweet tea; it’s a booming tech, healthcare, and education hub. The job market is thriving, and the cost of living is manageable, making it a magnet for opportunity seekers.

What sets Raleigh apart? The entrepreneurial spirit is palpable. From co-working spaces sprouting up to networking events, the city is a playground for side hustlers.

Make Money Giving Historic Downtown Raleigh Walking Tours

Ready to monetize your love for history? Downtown Raleigh is your stage. Start with the North Carolina State Capitol. This Greek Revival surprise has been the legislative seat since 1840. Oh, and George Washington in bronze? A selfie magnet.

Move on to the North Carolina Executive Mansion. It’s not just a house; it’s a Queen Anne-style historic landmark. Completed in 1891, it’s where the governor calls home.

City Market is next. Established in 1914, it’s a cornerstone for Raleigh’s African-American community. Plus, it’s got a fresh facelift.

Don’t overlook Mordecai Historic Park. The 1785 Mordecai House is one of Raleigh’s oldest homes. And St. Mark’s Chapel? A hidden gem.

Tucker House is a must-see. Built-in 1816, it’s a rare slice of federal-style architecture.

Now, the neighborhoods. Oakwood is a Victorian wonderland. Blount Street? A time capsule with Queen Anne and neoclassical houses. Boylan Heights? Think charming bungalows and four-square homes.

So, lace up those walking shoes. Raleigh’s history is your new revenue stream.

Give Kayak Tours on Raleigh’s Neuse River

Thinking of paddling your way to some extra income? Raleigh’s Neuse River could be your goldmine. First things first, get your legal ducks in a row. You’ll need permits, business licenses, and insurance. No shortcuts here.

Market research is your friend. Check out search volume, social media buzz, and what the competition is up to. You want to know if people are actually interested in kayaking before you dive in.

Now, let’s talk tours. Offer options based on experience level, duration, and what folks might see along the way. Guided or self-guided? Both have their merits.

Safety is king. Make sure you and your staff know water safety and first aid. Get that kayak rental insurance, too.

Marketing time! Hit social media hard, cozy up to travel sites, and network with local businesses. Make booking a breeze and highlight the excellent experience you offer.

Location, location, location. Pick your river access points wisely. Think about parking, amenities, and water conditions.

Customer service can make or break you. Be upfront with safety info and ensure your clients feel cared for.

Budgeting isn’t just for your grandma. Factor in costs for kayaks, gear, staffing, and marketing. Do the math to see if the juice is worth the squeeze.

Farmers’ Market Vendor

Are you diving into the Farmers’ Market scene with baked goods and jams? Let’s get down to brass tacks. Compliance is your first hurdle. Every ingredient needs to be listed, especially for those with allergies. Your kitchen? It better be licensed and inspected, thanks to North Carolina’s cottage food laws.

Now, onto the crowd-pleasers. Breads, muffins, cookies, pies, and granola are your best bets. But don’t just stick to the basics. Creative flavors and eye-catching presentations can make your booth the talk of the town.

Safety isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity. Proper cooling techniques and insulated containers for transport are non-negotiable.

Don’t underestimate the power of social media. A well-curated Instagram or Facebook page can be a magnet for customers.

Switching to jams and preserves, these must be processed in a water bath canner for shelf stability. And yes, some markets might ask for your methods, so be prepared.

Labeling is more than just a sticker on a jar. It should include the product type, ingredients, net weight, and your contact info. Want to stand out? Unique flavors like strawberry-basil or mango-habanero can give you that edge.

Last but not least, packaging. A well-designed label can distinguish between people walking past or stopping to buy.

Bicycle Repair

Bicycle repair is a solid side hustle, especially in a city like Raleigh, with its strong cycling culture and a population exceeding 500,000.

You’ll need tools to get started. Expect an initial investment of $200-$500 for a basic toolkit. These tools are readily available wherever bicycle tools are sold.

Workspace is key. Whether it’s a home setup or a rented garage, ensure you have electricity and good lighting. A professional repair stand is a worthy investment.

Remember the paperwork. You’ll need a business license or permit, and let’s take advantage of liability insurance.

Marketing is your friend. An online presence can go a long way. Think websites, social media, and even classified ads. Partnering with local bike shops can also boost your visibility.

Mobile mechanics are in demand. Offering on-location repairs can widen your customer base.

Tampa, Florida

Tampa Bay

Tampa, Florida, is a bustling Gulf Coast city with a population of nearly 400,000. Known for its scenic waterfronts, Tampa has a diverse economy that spans tourism, health care, and technology.

Part of a larger metro area with over 3 million residents, the city offers a range of opportunities. From the historic Ybor City to outdoor activities, Tampa is ripe for various side hustles.

Soak Up the Sunshine with Pool & Beach Gigs

Tampa’s warm weather and beachfront hotels make it a hotspot for pool and beach gigs. Resorts often need seasonal help to manage umbrellas, chairs, and towels. You’ll also keep the area clean so guests can enjoy their time.

Are you worried about experience? Don’t be. Most places offer on-the-job training. What you need is reliability and a knack for customer service.

As for the pay, you’re looking at around $10 an hour, plus tips. You could pocket $300 to $500 a week. Your work hours will align with when people want to be at the pool or beach—think late mornings to early evenings.

If you’re a student on summer break, this is a solid gig. You’ll earn money and get to enjoy that Tampa sunshine.

Before diving in, see if certifications like CPR could make you stand out. It could be the cherry on top of your application.

Gasparilla Pirate Festival Vendor

The Gasparilla Pirate Festival in Tampa is a big deal, drawing a crowd of over 250,000. Want to cash in as a vendor? You’ll need to go through EventFest, Inc. They’re the gatekeepers for all novelty and food vending.

Don’t even think about setting up shop without an official permit. The city’s Code Enforcement will shut you down faster than you can say, “Arrr!” Submit your application through the proper channels to avoid any drama.

Stock up because this crowd is hungry for more than just pirate action. EventFest might even do a “spot audit” to make sure you’re on the up and up.

Follow the rules, folks. City, state, federal—you name it. Slip up, and you could walk the plank without a refund to cushion the fall.

Turn Tampa’s Sea Shells into Cash

Tampa’s beaches are a goldmine, not just for sun and surf but for seashells too. Millions of tourists flock here, and they love souvenirs. Why not sell them some shells?

Timing is everything. Hit the beaches early, especially after high tides or storms. That’s when you’ll find the best shells for which tourists will pay top dollar.

Not a morning person? No worries. You can also buy shells and mark them up for resale. Just make sure you’re still offering something unique.

What are your selling options? You’ve got a few. Set up a stand or walk the beach with a bag of your finds. Catch beachgoers before they head home.

Pricing is an art. Mark up your shells 3-5 times or use a sliding scale. Know what each shell is worth, and don’t be shy about it.

Presentation matters. Arrange your shells in baskets or trays, all neatly labeled and sorted. It’s like window dressing for the beach.

This is a flexible gig with a lot of upside. Beaches near hotels and resorts offer the most foot traffic, so consider that when choosing your spot.

Ybor City Ghost Tour Guide

Ybor City in Tampa is a hotspot for ghost enthusiasts. Known as one of the most haunted areas in the U.S., it’s a goldmine for side hustlers with a knack for storytelling.

Ghost tours here usually last between 1.5 to 2 hours. You’ll be walking folks around, diving into the eerie past of places like the Cuban Club and various historic social clubs.

The price point is decent. Adults shell out around $25, and it’s $10 for the kiddos. So, the earning potential? Pretty solid.

Some tours even spice things up with pit stops at local bars and pubs. A little liquid courage never hurt anyone, right?

The demand is consistent but shoots up around Halloween. More tours, more money. Remember, you’re not just a guide but an entertainer. Keep those ghost stories engaging, and watch your side hustle take off.

Lexington, Kentucky

side hustles

Lexington, Kentucky, known as the “Horse Capital of the World,” is a charming city that seamlessly blends Southern hospitality with a modern urban atmosphere. Its vibrant arts scene, historic architecture, and bustling downtown area make it a magnet for both locals and tourists.

The city’s relatively low cost of living is a standout feature, allowing residents to enjoy a quality lifestyle without breaking the bank. With its unique blend of cultural attractions and natural beauty, Lexington offers an inviting backdrop for anyone looking to make the most of life.

Horse Farm Tour Guide

Being a horse farm tour guide in Lexington is like hitting the jackpot for side hustles. The area is teeming with horse farms, and people are eager to learn about them. Build rapport with farm owners; you’ll need their green light to show folks around.

Your role is more than pointing and describing; you’re the narrator of a living history book. Brush up on thoroughbred lineage, breeding nuances, and the ins and outs of the equestrian industry.

Legalities first—make sure you’ve got all the required permits and licenses. No one likes a tour that’s cut short by red tape.

Promotion is key. Utilize local tourism boards, cozy up to hotel concierges, and make your online presence known.

Offer tours that people will rave about, and you’ll find yourself in a lucrative side hustle that’s as engaging as it is rewarding.

Cash in on Wildcat Fever

Lexington is a hotbed for University of Kentucky sports, especially basketball and football. This is a golden opportunity to sell UK-themed crafts and apparel. Think t-shirts, hats, and even quirky jewelry.

Creativity is your best friend here. Unique designs with team colors, slogans, or mascots can make your items a hit.

Location matters. Tailgating spots outside Commonwealth Stadium are prime real estate for football fans. Don’t overlook basketball; Rupp Arena is another hotspot.

Timing is crucial. Be there before the game starts and hang around for the after-party. Fans in high spirits are more likely to splurge.

See Yourself on the Screen

Lexington isn’t just about horses and basketball; it’s also a backdrop for movies and TV shows. Think Secretariat and Justified. When the cameras roll, they need extras. That could be you.

Check casting call websites regularly. You’ll find a variety of roles that need filling. It’s like job hunting but way more relaxed.

Do you have a profile with a casting agency? Even better. They’ll notify you when something comes up. It’s like having a talent scout in your pocket.

What’s the gig like? You might walk around, sit, or even cross the street. It’s not rocket science, but it’s paid.

Punctuality is key. Show up early, stay late. No one likes a diva when they’re trying to make movie magic.

The pay’s decent, and you can rub elbows with the stars. Every gig is a new line on your resume and a step closer to your next opportunity.

Share Your Love of Bourbon

Lexington is Bourbon Central. Why not cash in by hosting tastings? Tourists and locals are always up for a good sip.

Team up with local distilleries. They get exposure; you get the good stuff to share. It’s a win-win.

Know your bourbon. Educate folks on what they’re tasting. Is it oaky, fruity, or does it have a hint of vanilla?

Food pairings are a must. Cheese and bourbon? Surprisingly good. Throw in some smoked meats, and you’re the talk of the town.

Location matters. Restaurants, bars, or even private event spaces can serve as your bourbon sanctuary. Get the word out on bourbon tourism sites.

Want to spice things up? How about a Kentucky vs. the World tasting? Or focus on a single distillery’s lineup.

Are you feeling fancy? Host a full-on bourbon dinner. Multiple courses, each paired with a different bourbon. Cheers to that!

Share Your Picking Skills

Lexington’s got a rich bluegrass scene. Perfect for offering guitar, mandolin, banjo lessons—you name it.

Teaching isn’t just about scales and chords. Show them the fast-paced licks that make bluegrass, well, bluegrass.

Skills like flatpicking? Essential. Don’t forget chord changes and how to use a capo.

Jam sessions aren’t just fun; they’re practical. It helps students apply what they’ve learned. Plus, it builds a sense of community among your students.

You’re not just a teacher; you’re a talent scout. Partner with local venues to find your next star student. This also strengthens your network in the local music scene.

Specialize to monetize. Offer lessons in specific bluegrass genres. This sets you apart and allows you to charge a premium for specialized knowledge.

Atlanta, Georgia

southern cities for side hustles

Atlanta, Georgia, is a dynamic city known for its diverse culture and booming business sector. This vibrant atmosphere makes it a fertile ground for various entrepreneurial endeavors and side hustles.

With a mix of young professionals, students, and tourists, the city offers a wide audience for anyone looking to diversify their income streams. Whether you’re a local or new to the city, Atlanta provides endless opportunities to turn your skills and passions into profit.

Charge Electric Scooters

Charging electric scooters can be a solid side hustle. The rest of the process is straightforward. Companies like Bird and Lime are always on the hunt for “chargers.” You’ll keep those scooters juiced up and ready to roll.

Sign up, get approved, and they’ll send you the charging gear. There are no upfront costs on your end.

Your phone becomes your treasure map. The Bird or Lime app shows you where to find low-battery scooters. Yep, they even make noise and flashlights to get your attention.

Once you collect them, it’s charging time. Your living room, garage, wherever you have space. Just make sure they’re at least 95% charged by morning.

Early bird gets the worm, or in this case, the best drop-off spots. You’ll need to return the scooters to specific locations around the city.

The pay? It’s not chump change. You’re looking at $3 to $20 per scooter. And if you’re really good, you can pull in over $20 an hour.

Do you have a van or a large SUV? Perfect. The more scooters you can haul, the more cash you’ll make. So go ahead, be the fuel that keeps Atlanta scooting.

Become an Atlanta Nightlife Promoter

Atlanta’s nightlife is buzzing, and guess what? You can cash in on it by becoming a promoter. Clubs and bars are always looking for that special someone to pack their venues.

Your toolkit? Social media, flyers, and good old texting. Get creative and get those RSVPs.

You’re not tied down to one venue. Feel free to spread your talents across multiple hotspots.

Money talks. Negotiate your cut based on the crowd you pull in. The more, the merrier, and the richer you get.

Don’t just stick to the old guard. New venues need love, too. Help them make a grand entrance into the scene.

Find your groove. Whether it’s hip-hop nights or salsa evenings, specialize and become the go-to promoter for that niche.

Entertain Atlantans as a Street Performer

In Atlanta, you can busk without a permit, but you do need to follow noise and solicitation rules. If you’re near Decatur, a free monthly permit is required. MARTA stations also welcome buskers.

Choose high-traffic locations like Woodruff Park or Piedmont Park. Weekends and evenings are prime time, so arrive early to claim a good spot.

Your performance should be engaging. Whether you’re into music or magic, keep the audience hooked. Use signs and tip jars to encourage donations, and remember to interact with your crowd.

Family-friendly acts are always a good idea; collaborating with other performers can draw in larger audiences.

Your choice of instrument can make you stand out. Make sure your act is well-rehearsed. Accept cash and digital tips, and consider selling merchandise to boost your income.

Always prioritize safety and be respectful of your surroundings. Use social media for promotion to get the word out. Most importantly, enjoy your performance.

Plano, Texas

southern side hustle cities

Plano, Texas, is more than a Dallas suburb. It’s an economic hub with a strong job market, ideal for diversifying income. The city’s high standard of living means people have money to spend, making it ripe for side gigs.

What sets Plano apart is its supportive vibe. The city offers resources like co-working spaces and networking events. This diverse, affluent population makes Plano a top spot for extra income.

Work Events and Concerts at Plano Venues

Plano’s got some hot spots for event gigs. Think Legacy Hall and its Lexus Box Garden. Live music, movies, you name it, they’ve got it.

Oak Point Park Amphitheater isn’t small potatoes either—it seats 3,000 and hosts outdoor concerts.

Don’t overlook the little guys. Courtyard Theater, Cox Playhouse, and McCall Plaza offer indoor gigs.

So, what do you need to get started? Flexibility is key. Nights and weekends, be ready.

Customer service chops? Golden. You’ll be dealing with people, so play nice.

Standing for hours isn’t for the faint of heart. Make sure you’re up for it.

Want to know what’s happening and where? Check out Eventbrite, Facebook events, RunGuides, and local publications. They’ll keep you in the loop on upcoming gigs.

Start Up a Boat Cleaning Business

The boat cleaning business is a solid choice. Start by offering basic wash and vacuum packages, and then elevate your services by adding detailing options like polishing and waxing.

If you’re handy, consider offering light repairs and maintenance services. To stand out, provide ceramic coating services for that extra layer of protection on boats.

Initial costs are part of the game. Expect to spend around $2,000 on equipment like vacuums, brushes, and polishers. Also, budget for ongoing material costs, insurance, and those unavoidable licensing fees.

Regarding pricing, the industry standard is usually by the foot. You’re looking at $5-10 for a basic wash and $10-15 for detailing. Feel free to charge a premium if you deal with bigger or more complex boats.

Customer retention is vital. To keep your clients coming back, offer package deals or loyalty discounts for regular services.

Don’t overlook the paperwork. Secure all the necessary business licenses and tax IDs for Plano and Collin County operations. Liability insurance is also a must to cover any accidental damages.

Marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought. Create a professional website to showcase your services and pricing. Complement this with flyers and business cards distributed at local marinas.

Networking is your secret weapon. Build relationships with boat owners and marina staff. Also, don’t underestimate the power of online boating forums for generating leads.

Starting small is okay. Begin part-time to gauge demand. As your client list grows, consider bringing on additional help.

Being organized will save you time and money. Develop efficient schedules and routines for cleaning. Building good relationships with marina staff can also give you the inside track on potential clients.

Offer Car Detailing Services Aimed at Luxury Cars

Starting a car detailing service focused on luxury vehicles can be lucrative. High-end neighborhoods like Chase Oaks and Willow Bend are prime locations. Luxury apartment complexes, especially those with valet and concierge services, are also ideal.

Consider luxury car dealerships as a gateway to corporate clients. Office parks like Legacy Business Park house executives who might be interested in fleet detailing services.

Your service menu should be comprehensive. Offer full exterior and interior details and throw in engine bay cleaning. Headlight restoration is a nice touch. Ceramic coating is almost a given for this market.

Mobile services are a game-changer. Offer to detail cars at the client’s home or workplace. It’s all about convenience. Keep tabs on office parks like Granite Park and Headquarters Drive. They’re filled with potential clients who value their time.

Start a Solar Panel Cleaning Business

The solar panel cleaning business is booming, especially in neighborhoods like Chase Oaks. To get started, consider forming partnerships with solar companies for quick referrals.

Investing in quality tools is crucial. Opt for soft brushes and squeegees, and make sure to have safety gear like harnesses. A van or trailer will also be necessary for transporting your equipment.

When it comes to pricing, consider the panels’ size and the job’s complexity. Offering discounts for regular service can attract long-term clients. Your business plan should outline all costs, expected revenues, and a diverse marketing strategy that includes social media and SEO.

Being eco-friendly can set you apart. Emphasize the environmental benefits of clean panels, join sustainability organizations for networking, and think about becoming a certified green business.


You’ve got the lowdown on Southern cities teeming with side hustle potential. Raleigh’s got history, Tampa’s all about the beach life, and Lexington? Horses, of course. Atlanta’s a bustling hub, and Plano’s your affluent suburb. Each city is a goldmine for different talents and interests.

But let’s get real. A side hustle isn’t just a quick cash grab. It’s about building something that lasts. Turn your skills into a business that pays the bills and then some. So, pick your city, choose your hustle, and get to work. Your future self is already giving you a high-five.

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Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.