How to Make Money In a Small Town (Business Ideas & Side Hustles)
This page may contain links from our sponsors. Here’s how we make money.
Without a doubt, living in a small town has many perks. The sense of community and friendliness, lower crime rates, lower cost of living, and you’re never too far from a familiar face. However, it can also feel like your options for earning a living are limited.
It’s easy to get caught up in the mindset that your surroundings are holding you back. There might not be as many job opportunities, and you might feel destined to work a minimum-wage job that doesn’t interest you. Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
Remote work is on the rise, and there’s a vast range of jobs that offer complete freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere in the world and earn an excellent income.
If remote working is not for you, small towns and rural areas also come with opportunities and benefits. Working within a small community in a sector that interests you and fulfills your passion is extremely rewarding and engaging. It also means contributing and giving back to your local community and economy.
Jobs That Can Be Done Anywhere
Here you will find a list of jobs that can be undertaken regardless of where you live. And with more and more companies hiring remote employees, the possibilities really are endless (see this list of the top 100 remote companies for ideas).
Working freelance enables you to work and earn money from anywhere in the world. Most freelancing jobs are submitted or carried out online, meaning you only need a computer or laptop and a stable internet connection.
You might work as a freelance writer, graphic designer, web developer, or any other job which lends itself to freelance work. Not only do you have the freedom to work from home or anywhere you choose, but freelancing jobs often come with the added flexibility of choosing your working hours and setting your pay rates.
Freelancing can be an excellent choice for those who live in small towns. You may be working with clients from all over the world, and the rates you can charge aren’t really impacted by where you live unless you’re only working with local clients. As a freelancer, you’ll essentially be getting a pay raise to live in a lower-cost-of-living area.
Generally, those with the most proven experience and expertise will be able to charge the highest rates, but it is also possible to find work as a freelancer in the early stages of your career. Sites like UpWork and Freelancer make it extremely easy to connect with potential clients and find work in your chosen field.
Freelancing can be competitive, and you might need to start with some lower-paid jobs to gain experience, but the flexibility and freedom it affords you make it well worthwhile.
2. Virtual Assistant
Virtual Assistants are in high demand, and there are many VA jobs available. As a virtual assistant, you can offer your employer or client a wide range of services. If you’re skilled in administration, management, HR, finance, or any other business-related roles, you might be able to capitalize on these by becoming a virtual assistant.
Like freelancing, working as a virtual assistant means working from wherever you choose and earning good money.
As the world becomes increasingly digitized, more and more companies are looking to outsource elements of their business to remote workers. For the company, it means fewer costs on office space and insurance, and for the virtual assistant, it means freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to earn an excellent income.
Again, many sites are designed to enable contractors to network with prospective clients and negotiate contracts. If you have administrative experience of some sort and like the idea of working from home on a long-term basis, this could be an excellent opportunity. If you’re unsure how to get started, excellent virtual assistant training is available.
Transcriptionists are skilled workers who reproduce audio files into a written format. The job lends itself particularly well to remote work as it requires high focus and concentration. Most transcriptionists find working with a good quality headset, and foot pedal makes the process increasingly efficient and easy, although these are not necessarily essential.
Even those without previous transcription experience can find work in this field, as many transcription jobs are available. A range of websites offer free transcription guides and training courses, as well as job opportunities and vacancies.
This takes practice, and you’ll need to invest time in the training process if you are not experienced in transcription. The pay rates can be low for entry-level jobs, but once you have gained experience and skills, the rates increase dramatically.
You could work as a transcriptionist full-time, or do it on the side to make extra money.
Learn how to get started as a transcriptionist with this free 7-lesson course from Janet Shaughnessy of Transcribe Anywhere.
- Learn the two keys to success as a transcriptionist
- Use your existing typing skills
- Work part-time or full-time
- Work from home or anywhere with an internet connection
Blogging is a relatively new industry that offers an opportunity to make a significant income.
Starting your own blog is free and easy and can be done from anywhere in the world. For many bloggers, the best part about this industry is that you can monetize your own interests and hobbies.
You can start a blog about anything you choose: sports, lifestyle, health & wellness, fashion, or any other subject that interests you! While this is a fun hobby, it can take some time to capitalize on this pastime.
Generally, bloggers generate income through advertising revenue, affiliate links, and website traffic. Building an audience and engaging with them regularly is the key to earning money from your blog. If you have a good knowledge of SEO, this can help to enhance your blog’s traffic and audience engagement.
What better way to make money than by writing about things that you are passionate about?
According to recent statistics, in 2022, 62% of people listened to podcasts. This industry is currently experiencing exponential growth, and there couldn’t be a better time to cash in on it.
Podcasts are very similar to blog posts, only they’re consumed in audio format. It’s thought that there are around two million podcasts currently, so there is a lot of competition, but much less than blogging. There is still plenty of room for newcomers and more money to be made.
Again, building an engaged audience is the key to successfully earning money through a podcast. Podcasters earn money through audience engagement and advertising, so you need an interested and consistent target audience.
Once you’ve established your audience, the sky is the limit. Your podcast can cover any topic you choose, and you’re free to record from anywhere in the world.
6. Self-Published Author
In recent years, more talented authors are choosing to self-publish their work. There are multiple reasons for this: more artistic control, no splitting of profits, and much quicker publishing times.
Traditionally, self-publishing required more upfront costs because you have to pay for the books to be printed before you can sell them. However, modern self-publishing through platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allows anyone to self-publish without investment. Through KDP, you can sell e-books and paperbacks that are printed on demand as they’re sold.
Amazon makes it extremely easy to sell books and e-books on their site, so almost anyone can have a go at writing and self-publishing.
If you’ve been sitting on the idea for a novel, self-help book, or personal memoir, why not give it a shot? At worst, you have produced your own creative legacy, and at best, you could have a future bestseller on your hands.
7. Social Media Manager
Unsurprisingly, the majority of social media management work is carried out online. Because of this, the job is very well suited to remote working.
Social media is an invaluable tool used by many businesses to increase brand awareness, audience engagement, and to carry out relevant market research.
If you have experience in digital marketing, the chances are you have worked with social media platforms in some capacity. Offering this service to companies is a great way to earn money while working from the comfort of your home.
As a social media manager, you’ll likely take on the responsibilities of producing and editing content, scheduling posts, replying to messages and engaging with audiences, updating information, and maintaining an active presence across the platforms.
Other Jobs and Side Hustles for Small Towns
If remote or online working isn’t for you, there are plenty of other cash-earning opportunities for you to capitalize on. Some of us prefer the in-person social interactions that accompany working as part of a team or providing a face-to-face service.
Here are some examples of jobs and small businesses that are accessible and in demand, no matter where you live or the scale of your local area:
1. Flea Market Flipping
Anyone who has attended a flea market knows these can be treasure troves of low-priced items that can be flipped for significant profits. Granted, you often have to trifle through some less desirable items to get to the good stuff, but when you know what you’re looking for and what is likely to sell for a profit, flea markets are great places to get started.
Some of the easiest items to flip are vintage clothes, power tools, handmade crafts, antiques, and collectibles. The profits will likely be even higher if you can find these items in higher quantities to sell in bulk. It’s all about knowing what you’re looking for and being willing to take the time to work through all of the other items to get to the ones of potential value.
2. Flipping Furniture
Similarly, yard sales are excellent places to find hidden gems and unidentified treasures. Often the prices are extremely low because the owner is looking for a quick and easy sale, and if not, they’re almost always open to negotiations.
One thing to look out for in particular is any cheap wood furniture. Wooden furniture is easy to upcycle. Whether it’s with a simple coat of paint, some basic repair work, or refinishing, you’re almost guaranteed to make a profit with these items.
Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist make selling your upcycled furniture incredibly easy. People look to these platforms for one-of-a-kind pieces that can’t be found in big mainstream stores.
Of course, this kind of work takes time and effort, but the skills can be learned relatively quickly (see Flipping Furniture for Profit to learn more). Some people have found that it has enabled them to quit their regular nine-to-five jobs and earn their living solely from buying and reselling furniture. If you have a creative eye and the skill to paint or refinish furniture, this is a great hobby that can earn a lot of cash or some extra income on the side.
3. Dog Walker / Pet Sitter
Offering dog walking or pet sitting services in your local area is an excellent way to earn extra money. For many people, the prospect of being paid to spend time with animals is a dream come true!
You might have a dog and you’re able to take other dogs along on your daily walks, or you might be unable to own a dog but like the idea of getting out in nature while walking someone else’s and earning money. Either way, this is a great money-making opportunity.
Offering additional services like pet daycare or overnight stays could mean you’re able to earn even more money. It also provides you with complete flexibility to choose your own rates and working hours.
Apps like Rover make this an even easier endeavor, connecting pet sitters and dog-walkers with animal owners in their local area. If you love animals and have the facility and the time to care for them, why not give it a go?
Childcare is a significant cost for many parents, so they often look to people within their local area who may be offering childcare or babysitting services.
This type of work is likely to require some basic background checks, and you might need to invest in some insurance before you get started. Your initial costs will depend on whether you work for an employer, an agency, or independently.
Working within childcare means taking on a high level of responsibility, so it is helpful to have some previous childcare experience or training. That way, parents and guardians can rest assured that their children are left in capable and responsible hands.
5. Cleaning Houses
Another service you can offer to local people in your area, cleaning houses is an excellent way of earning some extra cash. Many people find that they are either too busy with work or childcare or simply don’t have the ability or desire to spend time each week meticulously cleaning their homes. Often this means that these people are willing to outsource this chore by employing a professional cleaner.
This is an excellent way of earning money while helping out local people. You might find yourself working for a local family occupied with childcare and work commitments, an elderly couple who need a little extra help around the house, or a myriad of other people from all walks of life.
For those that enjoy the satisfaction of cleaning a space and leaving it clutter-free and ready to be lived in, this is a great job with freedom, flexibility, and reasonable rates of pay.
Similarly, if your skills and expertise lend themselves to it, you could offer your services as a handyman/woman. Daily household jobs such as hanging photo frames, fixing garden fences, or building furniture might be part of your repertoire and are all things that many local people are likely to require assistance with.
Word of mouth is an excellent marketing tool in this line of work, so building good client relationships is the best way of gaining more work and establishing yourself as a trusted handyman or woman in your area.
Those without formal qualifications or people with skills that cover a variety of trade areas often find that by marketing themselves as a local handyman/woman, they can utilize all of their skills while earning money and helping local people.
To learn more, see How to Become a Handyman.
7. Lawncare / Landscaping
Both lawn care and landscaping are skilled professions valued highly in most areas. You could specialize in domestic landscaping or landscaping on a larger scale, tending to sports grounds or public parks. Either way, those with the highest experience and skill levels are well paid, and their work is in high demand.
The work is very physical, so it requires good fitness and strength. It’s also highly detailed, creative work. Excellent plant care and gardening knowledge are necessary. Clearly, this line of work calls on many skills, so it makes sense that people are willing to pay generously for top-quality service.
Most localities require some form of landscaping or lawn care, and again, proof of your work and word of mouth are some of your most valuable advertising tools. You might start by advertising your services on local forums or Facebook groups to build your reputation and client group.
8. Sell Produce
Growing and selling your own produce is a rewarding way of contributing to your local community and earning some extra money.
Many people enjoy gardening and growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs, so why not capitalize on this? People are willing to pay for local produce that they know has been organically sourced, free from pesticides and other harmful substances, so if you’re able to offer this service, it’s a great way to monetize your hobby and skills.
Local farmer’s markets are the best place to sell your produce. You get to earn money for your hard work, and it also means more time spent outdoors in nature, the rewarding satisfaction of providing high-quality, healthy produce, and the added benefits of socializing with local customers.
9. Auto Detailing
Auto detailing covers all maintenance procedures that keep your car looking its best. Detailing tends to focus on the cosmetic elements of car maintenance rather than the mechanical upkeep.
The process offers professional, meticulous cleaning of the car inside and out. It’s considered a step beyond your standard cleaning or valet service.
This is a skilled job and requires some materials and tools, so detailing specialists can charge high rates for their services. It’s a long process, so even the most inundated specialists will usually complete a maximum of three cars daily, depending on their condition and size. It can also be taxing work and requires impeccable attention to detail.
For those interested in cars and with a passion for restoring them to their prime, auto detailing is an exciting and rewarding career choice.
10. Start a Rental Business
The rental of goods or property is a highly profitable market. Whether you specialize in car rentals, property or space rentals, equipment rentals, or leisure rentals, there is the potential within these markets to earn a significant amount of money.
The easiest way to get started is by renting whatever you already have, as opposed to going out and buying things for the sake of renting them out. If you happen to have a garage or basement you’re noting using, and you could rent it out for storage space. If you have a truck or RV, rent it out when you’re not using it. You can even rent your car when you don’t need it. There are lots of possibilities and you can learn more in our article about making money with rentals.
The great thing about this line of work is that your profits are unrestricted beyond the initial costs and any maintenance or upkeep. Outsourcing some of the care to an external agency or workforce also means that the income has the potential to be completely passive, leaving you free to spend your time earning elsewhere or enjoying your profits.
Neighbor makes it easy to earn extra cash by renting out storage space in your basement, attic, garage, or even a shed. Make extra money each month without needing to spend time on a side hustle.
- Earn thousands of dollars per year
- Very little time or effort required
- Neighbor markets your space to people in your local area
- Set your own rates
- Neighbor handles all the payments for you
Small towns are great places to live. They offer security, community, and opportunity. It’s easy to be convinced that to prosper financially, you need to move to the big city and embark on a corporate career, but this isn’t the case.
By looking into some of these employment opportunities, hopefully, you realize that prosperity is possible wherever you are and lies within your determination, skills, and work ethic. If you live in a rural area, there are plenty of options.
Stocks & alternative investments, plus social community
Up to $300 in free stock
Advanced tools for active traders
Up to 15 free stocks
Invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto
Up to 12 free stocks
Passively invest in real estate with as little as $10